Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An epiphany about the RKC Snatch Test after a 5K run

Today at Xtreme Athletix the workout of the day was something I did not expect. It was a simple one: Run a 5K

This was not something I was expecting, what made it worse was that:

1) It was hot as balls out, about 95F, and humid.

2) I was expecting a lifting workout. I wore my Converse All-Stars, and not running shoes. And no socks to boot.

3) Due to a miscalculation in laundry, I did not have any gym shorts. All I had were cargo shorts that hung lower than my knees.

Not exactly ideal conditions.

I finished 3 minutes before everyone in the class, even some runners. My coach asked me how long it has been since I ran that distance, and I said "1997". I have no idea if that is right, but I know I hate running.

About 3 hours later it got me thinking. Why did I do so well in a relative sense? I think that it was two reasons:

1) I am in shape, and

2) I know how to run. I actually scribed a running workshop about 1.5 months ago.

The first point I won't say much on, other than the fact that all things being equal, the fittest person wins. The cardiovascular system is not that specific to the task at hand. If you can move blood and exchange air using kettlebells, you can do it in any movement.

The second point I think is a big one. I learned how to run when I was 10 months old, so I really do see any reason to practice it. I know that if I need to, I will be able to do it. Not exactly a high skill endeavor (on a scale of 0-10, it would be in the square root club). What still surprises me is how many people run, and have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE how to do the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other. Here are some of the common errors that I see:

* Heel striking, putting undue forces on knees, backs, and ankles.
* Running upright, poor directionality of force.
* Arms are all over the place, leaking energy.
* Poor core function.
* Mouth breathing, inefficient use of the lungs.

A recent study showed that about 66% of runners get injured doing something that is a sub activity of most sports with much lower injury rates.

This got me thinking about the RKC snatch test, if you don't have to practice running all the time to be decent at running, why do people feel that they need to practice the snatch test to get decent at snatching. Why don't they just:

1) Get in shape, and

2) Learn to snatch.

I think the best example of this is how they program it in Enter The Kettlebell. I won't divulge the whole program, but you only snatch once a week. This program will get you in shape and you will groove a decent snatch technique, and that is all you need.

Enter the Kettlebell Book

But what is strange, is that when someone says "I want to be an RKC.", they think now they have to snatch all the time. You don't. Skill level wise, the snatch test is not in the square root club, but it is less than the number of toes you have on ONE of your Vibrams. Eventually, that person will probably tear up their hands or jack up their body. Here are some common errors that people make when programming their snatch preparation:

1) They practice way too often. Again, it is low skill level. You don't need to practice it every day or even every other day.

2) They start snatching before they have good swing technique and overhead mobility. The foundation is not their, but they are trying to build a house on it.

3) They add volume before the have good technique. All you are doing is learning how to snatch poorly. If you can't get nine reps in fifteen seconds in MaxVO2 with a light bell, and you are doing 25-40 minutes, put yourself in this category.

3) They never work on remedial snatch drills. Heavy snatches, dead snatches, double snatches, hang snatches, and fast snatches all have their place in improving different parts of the snatch path. It is amazing how many people "think" they always have to snatch the 24kg bell. Heavy bells work on force production, dead snatch FORCE hips to be first, doubles virtually eliminate an arm cast, and light/fast snatches eliminate motion leaks, hang snatches teach you to catch the bell with your hips and not your arms. When I see someone get hurt during snatches, usually their technique is jacked. When I see someone fail the snatch test, if it more likely their technique is subpar rather than their conditioning. They have probably been practicing garbage for months.

4) They don't wave intensity/weight and volume/duration. If you don't understand this concept, you have no business teaching anything other than a beach burpee boot camp. If you want to develop athletes, you have to balance frequency and load.

5) They test way too often. It this regard, testing is like looking in the mirror or weighing yourself. It doesn't change anything. Testing is not going to get you in shape or improve technique. What is also does is limit how often you can practice techique or remedial drills.

So if you are preparing for the RKC, does your preparation make sense, or are you being shortsighted? When my guys and gals take the snatch test, they almost always pass the first time. Why? I don't let them test until they are in shape and know how to snatch. This checkpoint actually lets someone be able to do this after 3-5 months of training. One last thing I will say is that when a runner trains with me, they get better at running, even though I do NO RUNNING with them.

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