tisdag 10 maj 2011

Front Split Revisited

I have no idea how it happened.

The stretch-class that I started in November didn't last long. I quit four weeks after I started when an evil dance chic (you know the type: gourgeous, ice-cold with mean black eyes) had tried to let me know my place in the hierachy while "helping" me stretch and had ripped my hamstrings to shreds before I even had time to react.

So basically I have been laying very low on any type of hardcore stretch work lately. About a month ago I felt like going again. Been starting slow which means I have only done a few minutes a couple of times a week just after ballet class, apart from the normal softer dance warmup and some sun-salutationes.

Today inbetween contemporary and ballet class I felt better than ever in hamstrings and hipflexors, strong and full of energy but like they would let go and not tighten up if I would give them a yank. Tried a front split and there it was!

Perhaps the new stretch-methodology is to not dedicate more than a few minutes here and there to the painful stuff and let your body soften up while going easy the rest of the time.

Or is the reason for todays succes just to be living happily in Barcelona with 25 perfect degrees, going to fantastic dance classes, eating sweet tomatoes and a chilling on the terrace with 'mi Amor'?

fredag 6 maj 2011

KB-muscle Re-visited - Good News

We're on our last moth in Bcn so I wanted to put some more itensity into my training and perhaps re-live some memories. Incipit Geoff Neupert's kettlebell complexes in Kettlebell Muscle. Last time I did half the program - 6 weeks - with double 20s. Then I got bored and the 20s were stolen so no more KB-muscle. Now I'm through first weeks with double 24s and it feels great. It basically feels the same as it did with double 20s 6 months ago. It's heavy but not at all too heavy. I don't care too much about Neupert's prescribed rest period between sets. Generally I have rested about 3 min., sometimes a bit longer. During hard day I have to put the bell down in the last sets before the last squats but apart from that I do it as prescribed. I don't think I will stay with it for the whole 12 weeks but I'm planning to do it for the rest of the month....if it still feels good.
Anyway, I can do something today that I could not do 6 months ago. Getting stronger. Happy.
Here is a video of the last set:

onsdag 27 april 2011

My Gym Movement

To make it clear from the beginning: I do not confess myself to Gym Movement. Neither do I confess myself to RKC (yes I know I have an RKC badge on the blog) , Crossfit or anything else. Not because I have something against these but because I don't want to be identified with something outside my control. I have however learned from all of these three aswell as from numerous other sources. Here I wan't to write a bit about what I have learned from Gym Movement.
I became interested in Gym Movement when I first saw Adam T. Glass videos on Youtube 1 1/2 years ago or so. It reminded me of something that I read many years ago about bodybuilder Victor Richards. At that time I was doing a classical bodybuilding three day split and wondering if a four day split perhaps was better or if I should split the day into two separate sessions. Richards however wasn't following a program at all. He did what he felt like each day. This idea sort of stuck with me but it wasn't until I heard of GM that it resurfaced again.
For me this is the core of the GM idea: not to force me into a pre set mold that does not take the specificity of my body and my present situation into consideration. Everybody that trains knows about good days and bad days. Days when you for some unexplainable reason are really strong or really weak. My experience with the weak days has generally been that if I push through and lift according to schedule I lift less than I should have done and that it leaves me depressed and down.
Today I choose not to push through but rather to walk around. Rather than doing something that really doesn't feel good I do something similar - another weight, other reps/sets, other exercise - and if that doesn't feel good either I do something completely different.
I don't test movements the way GM do. Mainly because I can't get it to work. I never see any differences in my toe touch or shoulder ROM no matter what I do and I don't have a mesauring device for grip strength. Instead I try to listen "inwards" so to speak. This of course means that I have to learn the difference beween a weak mind and a body telling me no.
It is not totally random training though. I do have a plan based on my goals. For example I plan to squat every second day. I have a plan for how to progress. If everything feels good I squat and follow this plan. If it doesn't feel good - which basicalyy means that I feel that I will not be able to do what I have planned to do in a good way - then I start making adjustments. If I have planned to do five sets of five reps kettlebell front squats with double 32s and that doesn't feel good I might go for 6 sets of 4 instead, or for longer rest between sets, or more reps with a lower weight. Sometimes squatting seems like a bad idea period and then i do something else. I love to train. I don't need to force myself to do it. If I don't squat today I will do it tomorrow.
I also keep a fairly detailed logbook. It is essential for knowing where to go next. If I for example choses to lower the weight in the frontsquats to double 24s then I know what my best set with these are and if I belive that I can beat it then I go for it. This leads me to another part of the GM philosophy: PR everytime.
I chose to leave the term PR for more dramatic occurences such as 1 RM but I do sympathize with the idea of perpetual progress. For me this means that I in my daily training chose to do excercises that I will have progress with. If I feel that I will not do better than last time then I don't do it. The progress is usually very slow - one more rep, one more set, one more kilo - but it is almost always there.
One last thing that I really like with GM is that nobody from there will frown upon me if some of my goals are purely aesthetical. So what if biceps curls are not "functional"? I want liquor strong and my guns big.
All in all, since I've started to experiment with the GM-ideas my training is more relaxed, it shows a more steady progress and it is easier.

tisdag 1 mars 2011

The narcissism of minor difference - Snatches, Logan Christopher and Freud

It's been a while since we wrote anything. I don't want to bore anyone with a simple training log, especially since the weights I move hardly can be considered extraordinary. I did have a pretty nice pull-up session the otherday though where I easily did pull-ups with +48 kgs and had a very good try (bar to the chin but not under) with +56 kgs.
Thats not what I'm writing about now anyway. If you are a part of the world kettkebell community on Facebook and internet you have probably heard of or seen Logan Christophers 301 snatches in 10 minutes with a 24 kg bell. You have probably also not missed the debate it has stirred.
The major objection to Logans feat is (no surprise here) technique.
"That's not a snatch", "There is no lockout", "What's the point?".
There seems to be an impulse in human beings to sniff up the weakest point in other human beings that they encounter and attack it. Or to quote Tool: "I will find the center in you, I will chew it up and leave".
In Civilization and its Discontents Freud writes about "the narcissism of minor/small difference" as the impulse that makes one human being separate himself/herself from others through focusing of differences and thereby creating an other, an enemy. Michael Ignatieff uses the concept to discuss genocide in general and Rwanda in particular.
Though the kettlebell world is a long way from Rwanda in the early 90s the concept still applies.
The kettlebell world is small. It's a bunch of people who uses the same tool in a similar way. Basically everyone in the kettlebell world agree on some basic premises, e.g. that free weights are superior to machines or that strength and conditioning should go hand in hand. These similarities are a lot bigger than the differences, e.g. technique or design of the bells. In despite of that, the reaction to Logans 301 snatches is not awe but ridicule (there's a lot of awe also but that's not a problem).

"...are engaged in constant feuds and ridiculing each other' - 'such sensitiveness...to just these details of differentiation"
From Wikipedia

Anyone who has ever lifted a 24 kg kettlebell knows how almost inhumanly hard it is to do what Logan did. Why do they choose to focus on the lack of a lockout rather than the accomplishment?
This narcissism of minor difference is like a virus on the internet. Look at the comments on any youtube video of someone doing anything hard. If someone deadlifts 400 kgs, someone thinks that the back isn't straight enough; if someone BUPs 60 kg, someone thinks that there's not enough control in the lockout etc. etc. ad infinitum.
I admit, when I saw Logans video my first thought was: "he's not locking his elbow and the ROM is short". But just looking for a few minutes more, listening to his breath, pretty quickly changed that thought into: "maaaaaaaaan!!!! I'm not even close to be able to do that, not even in the same universe!!".
To critizise someones technique without acknowledging their achivements is putting the bar higher for others than for yourself. If you want better, DO better. If you can't DO better then at least have the courtesy to be silent. The world is big enough for all kinds of snatches.

Do I think that it is possible to do 301 locked elbow snatches with a 24 kg bell in 10 minutes? Well I went out on the terrace to do an experiment: to do 30 locked elbow snatches with the 24 in one minute. It worked, with one slow hand change (can't do the flashy air changes yet). Would I be able to keep that tempo for 10 minutes? Ha ha ha ha ha.....no way. But I do think it is possible.

fredag 4 februari 2011

100 tons of DOMS

So. I did my 100 tons project. It took me 5 hours and 50 minutes and it brought me no happiness.
I followed a very simple program based on light deadlifts, squats or lunges, floor presses and snatches or rows. Everything done with kettlebells. Each "set" took approx. 5 minutes which gave me 5 minutes of rest in between. It took a lot shorter time than I thought. I had planned for 10 hours and hoped for less than 8 so less than 6 was great. All in all however it's not a workout that I recommend if you're no really set on proving something for yourself. The first hour was cool. The second was good. The third started to get to med and when I got to the fourth it was nothing but stubborn will that had med going. It's easy psyching yourself up for an hour or two but after a while all endorphines are gone and it's just about grinding it out. I have never ran for more man three hours but I have walked for a lot longer and that puts you in a sort of meditative dream state where tou can keep on going for ever. This doesn't happen when you lift. It is too much on/off/on/off. The last two hours were horrible. I felt no joy or power whatsoever.
The original idea of doing this came when we did a 16 tons workout dedicated to the Merle Travis song 16 tons. The song is about the life of a coal miner lifting 16 tons of coal. 100 tons is probably closer to the daily workload of a coal miner in the 19th century and I can tell you it sucked. It's just hard work. Nothing else. It might make you harder but it doesn't make you stronger. The soreness i have had in my legs since then is of Biblical proportions. Bending the knees has been a horror. The last few days I have rather left stuff that I have dropped on the floor than picked it up.
Once upon a time I really liked DOMS. It was a proof that I had done well in the gym. Getting older however has also made me wiser. There are more than one reason why DOMS should be avoided.
It stops you from training. Squatting, deadlifting, swinging or anything else making use of the legs has been out of question the last few days.
It makes you weaker. Even in movements that does not directly involve the legs I have been substantially weaker the last few days.
It makes you tired. Having constant pain in the largest muscles of the body spends a lot of energy and it effects your sleep.
It changes your movement patterns. If bending your knees are painful, walking is painful. And if walking is painful your whole movement pattern changes. Walking becomes much harder and delivers more impact on the knees.

So even though I do not even for a moment regret lifting 100 tons I will not do it again anytime soon.

söndag 23 januari 2011

Superhuman: Intermission

In a comment to my last blogpost an anonymous reader asked what the point of this whole "lifting 100 tons in one day" project is. I guess it's a valid question.
My answer is that there really is no point. I do it because I got the idea. I do it as a way of structuring my training and as an experiment. I do it to have a good time, to test my limits and to learn something.
My anonymous reader correctly hinted that the rules that I have set out for this project is - to say the least - arbitrary. This is of course true - they are not the laws of logic, they are a posteriori - but they are not entirely random. The excersises that are "permitted" in the project are excersises that I normally use. I don't invent new excersises to suit my needs but I do adjust the weights for me to be able to complete the project. I have chosen not to include bodyweight squats as a "permitted" excersise. I could probably come up with a good reason for this but to the question why?, the most honest answer is probably that it didn't feel right. An arbitrary rule yes but as such not different to any other rules in sports or jurisprudence.
In the end this is a game not so different from other games. It has a set of rules that are set to make it function. In this case the game has one sole practitioner: me, it's creator.
So the answer to the question why I just don't run 10K and count that as 425 tons in 45 minutes is that it is not allowed by the rules because it would render the game meaningless for it's sole practitioner.
If anyone else wants lift 100 tons in one day I would applaud their decision and leave them to it. How you do it is up to you. Or to quote Pavel: "You're on the honour system now". If you decide that only lifts where the weight travels at least the distance between the knees and the head are allowed then that is the rule you abide by.
And finally: why do I think it's better to cheat than to quit?
To start with: I just do. I prefer to finish what I started even though it means that I have to use aid (wrist straps) that I usually not use. I prefer to do it without them but I don't want to quit because my grip fails. Again an arbitrary decision. Why draw the line there? Because it has to be drawn somewhere and I find that drawing it there works for me. If you rather draw it somewhere else be my guest. For all that I care you can do the whole thing on a BOSU ball only using your teeth.
So. Dear anonymous reader. I will be very happy to share your ideas on how a proper 100 ton workout should be done and I also look forward to reading about your progress and results in executing it. Power to you!

lördag 22 januari 2011

Superhuman: 4th test run

No Eskrima practise today so why not continue the Superhuman experiment?
The original idea was to try if I could do 10 tons worth of 32 kg swings in one hour but as I suspected it became too hard for my grip pretty quickly so I switched over to light deadlifts for the rest of the hour which proved to be an excellent idea.
Two handed swings, 32 kg: 35, 35,
Deadlifts, 56 kg: 22, 30, 30, 30, 30, 20, 15, 15, 15, 15, 15
=15512 kg in 50 minutes

Conclusion: Light deadlifts are a pretty good idea if you want to lift a lot of weight during a long time. It does tax the grip but not as bad as swings or snatches and if I really loose the grip after a few hours I can wrap a belt around the handle and my wrists. I would feel a bit like cheating but it is better than quitting.

fredag 21 januari 2011

Can he flip it? Yes he can!

Today I was really ment to do ten tons of swings in an hour to see how that felt but since the weather was great and I felt strong I loaded a 56 bell on the hand truck and headed for the park.

I was pretty sure I was going to be able to flip it - if you can swing it, you can flip it - but it took a couple of tries to get it right.
I started with just deadlifting it for warmup. Then swinging it and after that flipping it without catching. After I got that right I went for the catch and got it.
I was not able to do 10 unbroken flips. If you don't do it immediately you really don't have the power to do it later. It didn't feel as it would be a problem in the future though. Next time I'll move up to front flips and then to the double 32s.
Tried to do a one arm flip but that felt pretty far away. Maybe in a couple of months...

onsdag 19 januari 2011

Superhuman: 3d test run

Todays 13 tons looked like this:
Snatch, 16 kg, 15/15/15/15
Lunge, 2x16 kg, 5/5
Bent-over row, 24 kg, 10/10
Lunge, 2x16 kg, 5/5
Bent-over row, 24 kg, 10/10
5 times in 55 minutes.
=12800 kgs

The easiest workout this far. The only drawback being that the snatches taxed the hands but with a bit of handcare it should be ok.
Rest day tomorrow. On friday I'll start putting it all together.

tisdag 18 januari 2011

Superhuman: 2nd test run

I felt yesterdays workout when I got out of bed this morning. Not much. Just like a pat on my back.
Today it was time to try out a new design of the 100 ton workout. This was todays version:
Two round of
5 x ringdips
10 x C/P (2x16kg)
5 x floorpress (2x24kg)
approx. once every 15 minutes for 55 minutes (5 times)

= 12800 kg (233kg/min.)

As with the first test workout this is also too heavy to do for 100 tons but that is mainly because it is so focused on pecs, shoulders and triceps. I need to mix todays excercises with more pulling and lower body excercises such as lunges and bent over rows.
It was however a good idea to split the workout into two rounds rather than just do it all in a row. I think this might be an important key to finishing the 100 ton workout: to divide it into as efficient "portions" as possible.
I think tomorrow will be something like lunges with double 16, bent over row with double 24 and high rep snatches with 16.

måndag 17 januari 2011

Superhuman: 1st test run

I thought it might be a good idea to do a few test workouts before the actual 10 hour run.
Today I had a go at my first workout design:
13xPullups at a bodyweight of 80 kgs (=1040 kg)
A complex of 5x(swing/high-pull/clean/squat/push-press) with double 24s (=1200 kg)
5xdeadlift with double 56 (=560 kg)
=2800 kg

The idea is to do it once every 15 minutes but I squeezed in one extra and did 5 in an hour. It went fine but it is way to heavy to do for 10 hours so my idea now is to it perhaps 3 times during 10 hours and to mix it up with lighter more rep intensive blocks. A lot of snatches with the 16 for example. I also need to get something in the doesen't tax the grip at all. Any ideas?

Superhuman: Potentially incalculable, able to lift in excess of 100 tons

About a year and a half ago we posted the 16 ton challenge on this blog. Now it's time to take it up a notch. I have been fascinated by ultra runners for a long time. People running double, triple or quadruple marathons. Now I want to translate that into lifting. So within the next two weeks I will do my own Iron Ultra: lift in excess of 100 tons in one day.
The rules are as follows:
Bodyweight excercise is allowed but only excercises such as chins, dips and handstand pushups. Regular pushups. or squats are not allowed.
Any kind of quantifiable excercises and/or tools are allowed.
The goal is to reach 100 tons lifted in total, e.g. 1000 reps of 100 kg deadlift.
There is no limit to how many excercises that are allowed. If you just want to do snatches that's ok but it is also ok to do a large variety of different excercises.
My plan is to lift 2.5 tons every 15 min. for 10 hours.
Anyone up for it?

tisdag 11 januari 2011

Time on my hands

Oscar came by yesterday and held a handstand/ juggling session for us.

First of all I would like to say something about the beauty of someone performing a good handstand. You know, most of us have seen video clips of everything from groups of flexy three year olds handstanding on eachothers forehead to russian guys sprayed with gold doing...well, virtually the same. And it's easy to become blasé when you've seen everything and more on Youtube. But how often do we experience these things live? Sometimes we go to the cirkus and we see them on stage but that is still a bit surreal in a way. It's a show, there's bright lights and usually a lot of things going on at the same time.

I mean really live. Having a tall, handsome guy performing what he calls the handstand basics - two-handed, perfectly quiet, and deadstill - one metre from you away in our tiny flat was breathtaking. Almost touching. It was so perfect and it struck me in a way nothings ever done on youtube. Well, except for Sneezing Panda and all clips tagged Ultra Kawaii, of course.

After that we went on to juggling, what's next, dreadlocks!? Oscar said it was easy as pie and that it should be learned in no more that 20 minutes. I kind of got it after 19 minutes and 17 seconds. Yes, we timed it. Jon is practicing as we speak and every now and then he accidentally drops an orange on my head.

Thank you Oscar for your time, skills and help.

It's not what it looks like

He's assesing my balance

By the way, do a search for 'time on my hands' on Spotify. A lot of fun to find there. Styx and Pet Shop Boys are my favorites.

tisdag 4 januari 2011

Eccentric Flu

Some of the positive vibes concerning year 2011 were spoiled after getting the flue on the third day of the year. And here I still am: in bed on day two. No training, no fun n' games, no nothing. What I do have - although it's waining - is one hell of a DOMS (träningsvärk/muscle soreness) in my trapezius. Can't thing of another time when it has hurt so much and it got me thinking. It is of course a result of sundays snatching and juggling but why so much? Freshened up a little on my DOMS knowledge and there it was: eccentric training. Eccentric training is known to create DOMS and both snatching and - perhaps even more so - heavy juggling are examples of eccentric training.
I have sung the praise of kb juggling before and I will do it again. Not only is it a more creative and free break from sometimes tedious routines. It also trains hand to eye cordination, makes you work off balance and explore meridians of you movement that you usually do not explore and it works the muscles both concentric and eccentric. The only drawback being that it gives you the flu.

söndag 2 januari 2011

Last day of fun n' games - snatch test revisited

The quest for my 2011 goals starts tomorrow so today I took the opportunity of just playing around. Brought a 24 to Ciutadella to do some juggling and winded up doing a snatch test.
It was the first time I really juggled with a 24. I have tried it back in Sweden but since my Powermax bell is as well balanced as a teenage Brit in Ibiza it was really hopeless.
Much better with the Eleiko bells. It went pretty ok for being the first times. It's quite unforgiving to juggle a heavy bell but it is also much more steady. It takes more power to move it but because of that it also take much more power to tilt it and it stays on the given path. I can do a lot of the things that I can do with a 16 but for example flipping it between the legs vill have to wait for a while. It is not only the weight that is different but also the size which becomes most appearent in the "behind the back" and "between the legs" stuff. I'll get it soon though.

Juggling a 24 kg kettlebell from youmakelovingfun on Vimeo.

After half an hour of juggling form started to deteriorate so that was the end of that. Didn't feel quite ready yet so I tried to do the snatch test for the first time since the RKC (I think..). It went...very easy. Done in under 3:50. Did it without looking at the clock and could probably speed it up some more, It feels like 3:30 might be quite possible.

Grass is always greener...

Life here is fantastic, bur damn how I would like to go cross-country skiing right now!

lördag 1 januari 2011

Slip, juggle and roll

We had a wonderful day in the park today. Mostly playing, laughing and fooling around. Was doing a few rounds of Fredriks 'the idiot'. You are standing in the middle of eight stations then running to touch the one Jon is calling out, then back to the middle, then run to the next one a.s.o. Then, while Jon was practicing juggling three bells, I practiced some Ninja rolls (it's my secret dream to be one and yes I know that everone but me thinks it's dorky and stupid but in fact, I just bought some new ninja shoes the other day so slowly but surely I'm getting there, just the rolls left now).

These puppies are quieter than an assasins rifle, have got a deadly grip and were cheap as chips!

I tried out my new killer super-ab-plank on Jon and I forced Jon to be my sparring partner as I wanted to practice some slips and boxing defence. 'Not so fast!' 'NO, not so slow' Ha ha, he couldn't do anything right but we had a lot of fun and I will feel it in my obliques tomorrow.

We finished of with some partner juggling. (Somebody give me a better word for it!) Trying to get into the groove and freestyle. More training should be like this. No grunting, no comfort zones to get out of, no PRs, no counting, no yelling, no pain. Just moving and having fun on a piece of grass with my loved one. Tomorrow, my best friend Nonno is coming to visit. She actually practiced Ninjutsu during one semester like ten years ago. I'll take her down to the park for a few rolls.

Well, it wasn't my idea! Jon is getting all geared up with all the new film editing options his latest App has to offer.