Tag Archives: RKC

32kg (70lb) kettlebell

Welcome to the family.
Time to get back to work.

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Big Push and a Big Pull: Fitness made simple

Fitness programs should be simple and goal oriented.  Even if the goal is general fitness.  My goal is heavy presses, heavy deadlift, heavy getup and a high level of cardio.  I will achieve this goal through a big push and a big pull day.

A big push and a big pull works the entire body.  Heavy presses, coupled with a heavy deadlift will work your body quickly and efficiently.  Add in some turkish getups as well as some swings and snatches and you can have an entire workout in short order.  Modern day fitness programs rely on constantly changing the workout.  Some modern day fitness instructors rely on the ignorance of their client in order to fleece their gold from their clients.  Our “modern” age would have us believe that we require an expert for everything.  Fitness is not this way.  

If you want to get stronger, lift heavier things more often.

If you want to lose fat, eat healthy and real food, less of it, once a day if possible, lift heavy and perform high intensity cardio…and prioritize sleep.

The human body moves in two major ways.  Through a big push and a big pull.  As individuals we either pick things up from the ground or put things overhead.  Two movements cover the basis of movement for human strength.  The deadlift works the entire posterior chain as well as the core in particular.  The press covers the rest of the body.  In addition to these two movements I suggest adding in swings/snatches for high rep high intensity cardio as well as the turkish getup as a great movement to teach the interconnectedness of the human body.

Due to the fact that individuals can only do a few things well at any given time, my workout program has been broken down into two routines covering only 4 days a week.  A big push and a big pull day.

Big Push Day

Kettlebell Turkish Getups x 3 minutes with a focus on irradiation, tension, and form.  More for tension practice and time under the bell.  Only three minutes in order to allow me the full use of my faculties while pressing.

After the getup my focus turns to ladders of kettlebell clean and presses.  Heavy ladders of kettlebell clean and presses in a heavy, light, medium format as described by Pavel Tsatsouline in ‘Enter the Kettlebell’.  Increasing the weight as you become comfortable with the full heavy day of presses.

It sounds simple but remaining focussed during the presses can be tough.  It is important to focus on the correct movement throughout.  

Odd as it may seem, the final presses that I do often feel like my strongest.  This is because the fatigue that begins to set in forces me to use my entire body to press the bell.  By using the entire body I mean that I tense my entire body more thoroughly.  Not kipping or cheating the bell up.

Big Pull Day

Big pull day starts with the deadlift.  There’s a multitude of ways to focus on the deadlift.  I perform sets of 5 in the standard prescribed by Pavel Tsatsouline in ‘Power to the People’.  I will have increase the weight with each workout while cycling the weight overall.  This will allow continuous progress.  Furthermore, I will have a heavy day and a lighter day.  The heavy deadlift day will start with the workout weight for 5.  drop 10% for another 5, then drop another 10% for the duration of sets of 5 until form breaks or most likely to a total of 5 sets.  The light day will consist of the same, but with the last sets not going over 4 sets.  The amount of reps/sets will decrease as the weight increases, peaking with a new PR of 1-3 reps.  At this time I will cycle the workout weights down and then increase once again to progressively heavier lifts.

After this is completed I perform swings or snatches to finish out the day.

The Goal

The goal of my program is to be able to deadlift 400 pounds, press the 106 pound kettlebell with each arm, do a getup with the 106 pound kettlebell, and snatch the 53 pound kettlebell 200 times in 10 minutes. I currently weigh 165 pounds at 5’10.

The Plan

For the next few months It is my intention to bring my deadlift up to a 300 pound range for sets of 5 as well as to become comfortable with the 70 pound kettlebell.  At that point I will increase the press to the 88 pound kettlebell and work on the 106 pound kettlebell until next December while bringing the deadlift to the 400 pound range.  

While I work on the 70 pound press and until I get the deadlift up to the 300 pound range I am going to have a 5 day workout program.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will be dedicated to pushes.  Tuesday and Thursday’s are dedicated to the pull.

My 4 day program is as follows.

Monday – getup and “heavy” presses (upward of 5 sets of russian ladders to 5, 75 total presses/side)

Tuesday – “light” deadlift and swings

Wednesday – off day

Thursday – getup and “medium or light” presses (5 sets of russian ladders to 3 or 4, 30 or 50 presses/side depending on how I feel)  Will lean towards medium presses.

Friday – “heavy” deadlift and snatches

It is my belief that this program will allow me to reach a high level of strength and general fitness over the next year by applying everything that I have learned in terms of fitness and nutrition.  

Check out the top of the page in order to find quick links to previous articles.  There is lots of information about cycling of your workout and nutrition.

Introductory Guide to Great Health and Longevity Part 3 (Training Philosophy)

Training Phiosophy

My goal now is to be fitter next year than I am now, and to do that without injury, feeling worn down or getting bored. It should be yours as well. I want to increase my strength and conditioning in a patterned, structured way. I want to train effectively and intelligently and I want to enjoy it. Also, I want to be able to enjoy my time between workouts without pain or complete exhaustion.

In order to do this I have switched almost completely over to kettlebell training. I follow the advice of a trainer named Pavel Tsoutline. His method is that of low rep ladders for slow strength and high rep ballistic movements for cardio and endurance training. This allows you to do as much work as possible while being as fresh as possible. The intention with kettlebells is to build strength and endurance without building an unreasonable amount of size. They will allow you to become stronger while maintaining functionality.

If you would like to use barbells he has a plan for you as well. Two sets of 5. As heavy as you can go while leaving one or two in the hole (i.e.…never going to failure). You must also use some form of cycling. Cycling is when you start out at at weight you can perform fairly easily and increase that weight. You continue to increase this weight until you are unable to perform 2 sets of 5 with a given weight. At this point, instead of getting stuck on a plateau, you drop the weight down to a lighter weight (but heavier than the original starting point). Then you work your way up once again, this time surpassing your previous plateau and continue training. This will allow you to build strength without injuring yourself or overtraining.

I am more interested in training for lifetime fitness and functional strength instead of looks. Here is a great part of an interview with Pavel Tsoutline.

How do you train soldiers differently than civilians? For example, how would the training of a soldier compare to the training of an athlete?

Pavel: Let us use strength as an example. An athlete can afford to be strong due to large muscles but a soldier or a Marine cannot. In wartime and even during exercises muscle rapidly melts away, thanks to malnutrition, sleep deprivation, and stress. A military man must gain strength by retraining his nervous system to contract his, even shrunken, muscles harder.

The above style of neural strength training is ideally done when the trainee is totally fresh. But a soldier must exert himself when he is exhausted. Therefore at least some of the strength practice must be conducted in a state of fatigue, sometimes extreme fatigue. In the Spetsnaz it is an SOP to initiate a new guy by putting him through all sorts of hell and then have him fight a few fresh and experienced guys hand to hand. Applied to neural strength training, you could hump ninety pounds of gear on uneven terrain or go for an ocean swim, and then do your pullups and kettlebell snatches.

To sum with an analogy, an athlete is like a racecar that performs like a clock on a perfect track, with top grade fuel and oil, etc. Pull it out of its ideal environment and you have got a problem. A soldier is a Hummer that will perform under most adverse conditions.

The above is from Girevik Magazine. http://www.powerathletesmag.com/archives/Girevik/First/interview.html

I would much prefer to be the Hummer with a social life than a racecar without one. In fact I just recently ran all over Enchanted Rock (Texas) with a light pack on with my girlfriend and dog at the tail end of a bout of illness without much difficulty. I am very pleased with the efficiency of my workouts. Ill continue to train with kettlebells and will probably add in free weights when I get a chance down the line.

One Month In: RKC program minimum completed

1 month of warmups, swings and getups. That is the program minimum.

After several years of tossing kettlebells around without a real vision I’ve decided to get back to the roots of them. So, I purchased Enter the Kettlebell (Pavel) once again and I found this program guide

(http://thief.mars.ucla.edu/piefiles/AOS%20-%20Enter%20The%20Kettlebell%20Workbook.pdf)

by Anthony DiLuglio, RKC http://www.artofstrength.com and I’ve followed it. Refocusing my energies on the basics, proper body mechanics and form. My body has been rewarded.

The program consists of three parts. A 10 minute warmup at the beginning of each workout, and four days working out. Two days doing swings and two days doing getups. Since I had a significant amount of previous experience I jumped right in with a heavy 24 kg (53lb) kettlebell for 1 month. It is suggested that the average male start with a 16kg (35lb) kettlebell. Several years ago this is what I started with and have since moved to the 20kg (44lb) kettlebell then to my present 24kg (53lb) one.

The goal of the warmup is to prepare the body for the workout, as well as to increase your mobility. It has three exercises. Each performed 10 times in a circuit until 10 minutes has passed.

1. Face-the-Wall squat
2. Halo
3. Pump

The face-the-wall squat is a fantastic exercise for teaching proper squatting technique as well as proper swing movement. This exercise is a must do.

“Modified for our needs, it is an outstanding drill for developing the back and hip flexibility needed for pulling and squatting.”
This quote is from Enter The Kettlebell by Pavel on page 9.

The second exercise is the halo. It is performed 5 times each direction for a total of ten repetitions per set. This is a really good exercises for shoulder mobility.

The third exercise of the warmup is the pump. This exercise is used to stretch your hip flexors and shoulders.

These exercises should not be rushed through. You have ten minutes to perform the sets and to warmup. I would complete three rounds of these exercises. It is important to remember that this is the warmup to the workout. Not the workout itself.

After the warmup you do either swings or getups. 4 workouts per week, 2 swing days and 2 getup days.

On the swing days you perform twelve minutes of swings. Starting with sets of 20 and increasing to sets of 50. After you complete each set you then do a 1 minute active recovery such as jogging, jumping jacks, pushups to squat or mountain climbers. It is very important to do active recovery instead of just stopping.

Physiologically it is easier on your heart to continue moving and perform active recovery or a cool down because the venous system is a passive system and when your muscle contracts it pushes the blood back to your heart. This in turn fills the heart more fully and assists in the next heart beat. By helping the blood return to the heart it actually means that the heart does not have to work as hard.

Twice a week you do swings. They are hard, quick and very intense. They will toughen your mind as well as your body. They will increase your conditioning dramatically and they build your entire posterior chain (back) from head to heel with power, strength and speed. By the time I got near the end of the month I was doing as many as I could, then setting the bell down for a few seconds before finishing out the set. It is always important to remember that while you are working out, during the program minimum you are practicing these exercises and the focus should be on proper form instead of trying to smoke yourself to death.

“I dare you to find a single exercise, kettlebell or not, that delivers more benefits than the kettlebell swing! Senior RKC instructor Steve Maxwell, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion, had flat-out stated that doing the perfect kettlebell swing alone is superior to 99 percent of the sophisticated strength and conditioning programs out there.”

An excerpt from “Enter the Kettlebell” by Pavel on page 43.

I love the swing. Plain and simple.

Another exercise that I love is the getup. This is performed twice a week for 5 minutes non stop switching arms on each rep. It requires constant focus and every muscle in your body. 5 minutes might not seem like a longtime, but I can certainly feel it after pressing a 24kg (53 lb) bell five or six times per side.

“The one-arm get-up is a general test of strength which had considerable appeal to most strongmen of yesteryear. Siegmund Klein” (“Enter the Kettlbell” by Pavel on page 61)

The purpose of this exercise is to develop shoulder strength and mobility as well as teaching full body tension. Everything must work together to press a heavy kettlebell from the ground up. It is known to be great for the rehabilitation of shoulders through increased shoulder mobility and stability as well as increased shoulder strength.

Next on my list is the Rite of Passage. I’ll be chronicling this as well when I finish it in a couple of months. The program minimum has been a great refocusing of my kettlebell energies. It has been well worth the effort to take a step back and really focus on performing the exercises correctly and allowing for proper recovery. Historically I always hit the gym as hard as I could and I usually over trained. This led to illness and set backs. It’s time to train smarter.

If you’re interested in this type of training then you should purchase Enter the Kettlebell and/or consult with a RKC instructor.

When I first began this program I was only able to do 1.5 Getups/side. By the end I was doing 6/side. I also started out doing 140 swings in the twelve minutes and my last swing day I did 225. Doing sets of 50 was brutal on my forearms. Sets of 40 was much more manageable, but my grip strength will continue to increase. I also finished with a resting heart rate of 52bpm (resting heart rate is best taken while still in bed in the morning before getting up for the day).

Keep in mind that this is only one month into the program. Also it is only the preparation to the actual program. This intro phase consisted of 40min a week of warm ups and 34 minutes of actual workout time for a total of only 1 hour and 14 mins per week.

While I made improvements in my fitness, and i do feel stronger, this program is more of an opportunity to learn the ropes and practice proper technique rather than the workout itself. I would expect to be comfortable with the kettlebell and prepared for the next phase.

There is room for interpretation in this book. I enjoyed this program as it was laid out in the above PDF. If you’re interested grab yourself a kettlebell and take the challenge with me. We’ll both be better people because of it.

I do not have any affiliation with dragondoor or Pavel.