Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just come back from assisting at the San Jose RKC

I just got back from assisting at the San Jose 2010 RKC. Awesome experience as usual.Here are some very quick thoughts from the experience:

1) The RKC system is ever evolving. As great as the teaching was at my original certification, it was two years SHARPER at this one. I was especially impressed with the how much the teaching of the swing and the turkish get up have been honed. The first day alone was dedicated to mastering these two exercises. As Jeff O'Conner said, if you don't have the get up mastered, you will not be able to RECEIVE the instruction of the other exercises. The teaching of the exercises was predicated on "AHA" exercise that make execution virtually automatic.

2) I said in my review of the last cert that it was amazing that some people were not prepared for the snatch test. I would say that pass/fail stats were similar this year. I believe that the current test (100 snatches in 5:00) is a little bit easier to prepare for and pass then the previous test (x number of consecutive snatches with only one hand swing). Not only that, I think the old test is more forgiving of faults in your snatch (casting, bell resting too high at the top, raising the shoulder, minimal hip action). I expressed this though at the RKC, and it was pointed out to me that the snatch test is really like a "cover charge" at a bar. It is not meant to keep people out, but serve to show that people have a minimum amount of shoulder mobility, conditioning, and time under their belt to be instructors. I am fine with that. That being said, it is still inexcusable to not be prepared for this if you are spending over $1000 for the certification.

3) I was amazed at the number of safety violations that I saw. I don't know how many times that I had to move bells because they posed a danger to those participating. It is this simple, DON'T CONTEND WITH SPACE WITH A KETTLEBELL.

4) As we get more certifications in more parts of the country, they are going to be more localized. There was definitely a California feel to this cert. A VERY HIGH percentage of people drove to this certification (some as far as 14 hours). Again, this is a good thing, but if there was anything that stood out from this certification, this was it. Also, with the effective cost of the certification goes down since many don't have to pay for airlines, hotels, lost work days, and meals. This also means that you are more likely to see more reschedules and the cost of quitting also goes down.

5) One thing that I will say: The RKC community is getting stronger. Not only the people, but also the amount of collateral that there is. There have been so many quality books and DVDs produced since 2007. I was like a kid in the candy store.

6) Marcus Martinez (RKC/Orange County, CA) got some club bells. I got to try them with David Cohn (RKC/Pheonix, AZ). All I have to say is "WOW!" If you want to work on your shoulder and wrist mobility, check these out. You can get them off of the Dragon Door site. Get the video, because the exercises are not in the least self-explanatory.

7) Even though I was an assistant, I learned a lot from the students. Many of them have big training businesses and/or are experts in their discipline. I picked the brains of as many people as I could. That being said, when you are an assistant, you also have more access to the Team Leaders and Pavel, and you can't put a price tag on that.

8) During the instructors' meetings, the Team Leaders are interested in what you have to say. That is really a big deal. Also, you pick up a lot of real interesting things. One instance I really remember is watching the Technique Competition with David Whitley. He really had an eye for what to look for.

9) Basic KB stuff, if you are demonstrating a kettlebell exercise for a client, watch your head position. A lot of times, technique flaws can simply be fixed by correcting the head position. Also, if the head position is not correct, exercise execution is very hard to correct. "Look at" cues are some of the best. Just like dysfunction often flows from the head down, so do improper kettlebell mechanics. Fix the head first.

10) Another basic, use what you learned. There is a reason that it was being taught. During the Instruction portion of the cert, a number of students did not use the drills they were taught, and would tell the person what to fix. Use the "Aha" drills that you were taught. Plus, they make you look smart.

11) Also, a KB that is too light is just as bad as one that is too heavy. If you don't believe me, watch a kettlenetics or KettleWorx video. For those of you that train female clients, don't tell them how much something weighs, it doesn't matter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ideal Client/Gym Movement Thoughts

"Great motivator and teacher"

I had never been in a gym until October of '09. I signed on and have been seeing Faizal once a week ever since. He's taught me many things in terms of technique and fitness. He's super easy to get along with and I'd recommend him to anyone looking for a trainer whether it be w/ kettlebells or your standard gym machines and free weights. I learn something new every time we get together."

Name and Address withheld by me (actually name is in official Dragon Door review).


He is being very modest. He had never been in the gym before working with me, and he is in his mid-40s, but now he can pass for his twenties. I have been working with him since November, and in that time his BF has gone from about 16% to about 9.5%. Greg has been a model client for the following reasons:

* CONSISTENCY: He shows up every time he makes an appointment. He has not missed one session with me, and more importantly, he brings it between our workouts as well. It is easy to motivate people during a one-on-one session, but the other 167.5 hours of the week is what gets you in shape. He rarely ever misses the prescribe volume, and if he does, it is not because of a lack of effort. Someone who works out four days/week will beat someone who one does one day/week, no matter how optimal that one day is. SHOW UP.

* UNDERSTANDING: He asks questions when he does not understand something. This is the most important reason why he learns something in each and every session. No blissful ignorance here.

* ACCURATE RECORD KEEPING: He writes everything down. I can't even begin to tell you how important this is. When I see him on Monday afternoon, he has written down everything he did that week (exercises prescribe, sets, poundages, how he is feeling). This helps me know EXACTLY what to do for the following week, included what new progressions he is ready for, what protocols, do we need to back off?, etc.

* DESIRE: He wants to make changes. While there are some people who are "in love with the process," he is looking to make changes. He has his EYE ON THE PRIZE. External motivation eventually dies, but internal motivation is very robust.

* INTEGRITY: He isn't full of shi'ite. If I ask him a question, he answers it honestly. He understands that the words that comes out of his mouth are not going to get results, but the actions. I cannot tell you in probably how many intake interview where people said they have a grilled chicken breast and a salad for dinner when I can literally smell the BIG MAC on their breath! Oh yeah, and everyone drinks a gallon of water a day.

* MASTERY OF THE BASICS: One thing that I will say works in his favor is this. He is an accomplish guitarist, and he has been formally trained. One thing that this means is that he has an appreciation for the fundamentals. He has no problem practicing something until it is automatic, even if it is boring. No Bosu, no walking lunges. Even though this our dedication to the fundamentals may have been boring at first, its has given him the foundation to build on new skills. This is one of the reason that his progress is continuing well into his fourth month while others plateau and/or quit (usually with a lame excuse). Many time, esp. in the boot camp mentality, start to early with complicated routines and circuits without building up that foundation of correct, strong movement. Two things usually happen:

1) The client gets hurt because they are stressing quantity before quality.

2) The client never builds a foundation of strength and work capacity, and they can't really do any volume of quality work. I see this when some yahoo sends me a "killer workout", but the heaviest bell used is the 12kg because they aren't strong or skilled enough to use anything heavier.

==> A good example of stressing quality before quantity is MASTERING "ENTER THE KETTLEBELL" (strength and quality movement the TGU/swing/C&P/snatch) before going onto "RETURN OF THE KETTLEBELL" (density training with the double military press, long cycle clean and jerk, double snatches, and double dead clean). If you did RTK first, you would either 1) kill your client, or 2) have the client only working with trivial weights while gaining balloon muscle.


There is a lot of talk about the Gym Movement, and whether it is great or not. I have reserved judgment for the following reason: You really can't appreciate it until you have tried it.

When I first got into KBs, ETK had just come out. Just reading the book, I was not overly impressed. The production qualities were not slick, and the workout protocol was not quite familiar to either the bodybuilding (2-5 day/week bodypart splits) or the Westside Barbell conjugate method that I was familiar with. So upon first look at it, I was not wowwed by it, simply because I could not deeply relate to it. You don't learn something by reading about it, you learn by doing it. This is why I hate when (dumpy) people criticize me when I eat a sandwich. "Too many carbs!" Now, if I tell them how to incorporate veggies, whole grains, fruits, and even the occasional candy bar so that they will optimize blood sugar, regulate hormone levels, and improve performance - they will not "get it" until they "feel it" for themselves. Frequent practice, "waving the intensity" even though you are keeping exercises the same, "rolling the dice", back off weeks, never to failure were ideas that you really can't understand until you "feel it" for yourself. Same for RTK, you don't understand long-cycle clean and jerk ladders until you do them. If you ask "can I do Atkins while doing RTK because I am not interested in mass?", I will know damn well that you have not done long cycle. You may understand it logically, but you don't know it until you experience for yourself. In the "sacred cows" video, I understood why the stuff was happening, but I won't pass judgment until I can experience it for myself. Personally, I don't find it at all in conflict with the RKC. In the normal programming world, you design a program so that you can always move forward. In Gym Movement, you use biofeedback to determine what your body wants to/can best do to move forward. Certainly interesting on some level.

Brutal Workout....

Descending ladder of x = {10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1} of
x Double 24kg KB snatches followed by x Double 24kg KB cleans without putting the bells down.
==> x = 10 was not bad, x = 9,8,7,6 really sucked, and x = 3,2,1 were all done without putting the bells down.

Followed by Renegade Rows from {10,8,6,4,2}

Completed in 26 minutes. 55 double snatches, 55 double cleans, and 30 renegade rows.

Learned: How to moves the hips better.

Had to fire another client today....

...want to avoid getting fired: SHOW UP! I have looked at the people that I have fired this year, and it all had to do with showing up. If you show up, you get results.

I am getting some great rewarding training done with a number of my new clients. It is really an exciting time right now. I am going to be starting classes in another (third) setting real soon.

Also, I will be starting a new full time job real soon. Due to limited availability and a full schedule, I am going to have to raise my rates across the board.

Everyone is on a short leash. I have guys doing leverage presses and get ups and passing the RKC snatch test with ease. I have women flipping tires and snatching. Everybody is improving strength, body comp, and conditioning. The training works, if you do it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

USF Kettlebell Club rocks

We decided to have some fun after our session and put it on video. The guys and gals are really coming along. We got some fun stuff on here:
* Pinky Press (not quite the DW pinky press, but the pinky was the only one around the bell), FSE, 32kg x 5
* Waiters Press, PB and LH, 32kg
* Bottoms up get up, JW, 16kg
* Stacked Presses, FSE, 40kg x 4
* Swings

Videos to follow.

The guys are coming along fantastic. The guys and girls who are committed are getting fantastic results and having a good time.

The club meets Tue, Thu, and Sun, and I am there on Sun and most Tues.

Because of the success and fun of these classes, I am upping my personal training rate and adding more group classes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Work Capacity Challenge....

As in a previous post, Jack Reape has posed the following open challenge to you hard core workout fanatics. The challenge is this simple:

How many 315lb deadlifts can you do in 30 minutes?

Give it a try and post your results to comments.

I have 3 results so far:
FSE: 154
Client 1: ~83
Client 2: ~55

While this was a simple challenge, I really learned a lot from it:
1) Even if your max deadlift is conventional rather than sumo, you will be better of doing this challenge sumo style. The reason is that this is a max volume challenge, and not a max effort challenge. Sumo spreads the load over more muscles.

2) A simple challenge like this will help you find the optimal groove at a suboptimal weight.

3) If you use your lower back for the deadlift, you will get instead feedback.

4) If you have a problem with "slack in the arms" in the deadlift, this will give you a lot of practice to get that down. "Slack" means that you start the pull, but your arm joints, have slack in the. This means that you are disconnected from the bar and you have an energy leakage.

5) This will also reinforce more hip action rather than lower back action.

6) You will absolutely sweat buckets doing this. After your metabolism (i.e., heart rate) is jacked for at least the next four hours, you will realize the effect that "max volume" workouts have on metabolism.

7) If you spent more time on a Bosu ball than with a barbell in your hand, you will run from this challenge anyway.

I have some modifications for this programs:
1) If your max deadlift is under 405lbs, you will drop down to 275lb.
2) If your max deadlift is under 315lbs, you have absolutely no business doing a challenge like this. Learn how to deadlift. Putting volume before technique is a recipe for disaster.
3) If you are female, and your max is over 225lb, you will use 135lb. If not, don't do this challenge at all.
4) People have asked about straps. My only advise here is "if you are using straps, it is not a deadlift". Plus, it will slow you down because you will need to reset your hands. Bring a towel to wipe off the bar -- you will sweat buckets.

Post name (or nickname), height, weight, city, barbell weight, and count in comments.