Workout was ruined: I was called to work. Hopefully will have better one tomorrow.
Much later, while watching rugby:
Skipping rope, several rallies of 50 - 100 skips
20 kg Military Press: 10L/10R, 10L/10R.
20 kg OAC&J - 10L/10R
(I am actually doing it at 1 a.m.) I think it is because of my current conditioning South Africa is winning.
GO BOKKE !!!
What is happening to the heart during training? It is important to understand that the heart is not a mechanical machine and it is relatively easy to damage it by training incorrectly. The main effect of training on the heart is the increase in minute volume, the amount of blood the heart is able to pump in a minute. The heart gets larger, or develops hypertrophy. There are two types of cardiac hypertrophy: L-type, when the heart muscle stretches, its muscle fibers get longer and the volume of the heart increases; and D-type, when the thickness of the heart wall increases, therefore increasing the strength of contraction.
In order to increase the volume of the heart they use training at heart rates corresponding to the maximal stroke volume. Just as the reminder, stroke volume is the volume of blood expelled by the heart during one contraction. Usually stroke volume sharply increases at HR of 100/min, at 120 increases more and in some individuals still increases until HR of 150. Prolonged training at maximal stroke volume is, figuratively speaking, “stretching exercise” for the heart. Muscles pump the blood, and the heart get stretched by the increased flow. As the consequence the heart dilates. It is possible to double its size, and 30-40% is almost a guarantee. That’s what is meant by coaches when they say “building the base”; it is, in fact, stretching of the heart.
D-type hypertrophy is stimulated by the work at heart rates close to maximal – 180.min and higher. Again, a little reminder of physiology. The heart is the muscle and therefore needs the blood in order to contract. The blood is delivered to it mostly during diastole, or relaxation phase. When working at maximal heart rate, the heart does not fully relax, and the blood supply is impaired to some degree. What follows is the accumulation of acidic substances leading to acidosis which, in turn, stimulates growth of the heart muscle. This is typical interval training, the rave of the fitness crowd in recent years. The problem starts when this kind of training is done too often. If the heart does not relax, its blood supply is impaired, the delivery of oxygen becomes inadequate and anaerobic glycolysis starts. As the results lactic acid is produced and leads to the acidosis inside the cell. If it lasts long enough, some cellular structures die. And if it lasts some more, the whole myocardiocytes – heart muscle cells – can die. This is microinfarction. If the training of this intensity is repeated again and again, more cells die and are replaced with the connective tissue which, in turn, is poorly distensible and does not properly conduct electric impulses necessary for adequate cardiac contraction. Apparently this has been confirmed by autopsies of athletes who suddenly died during physical activity.
That is why it is important to first build the base – dilate the heart – and only then increase intensity. Working at heart rates close to maximal must be introduced gradually and done infrequently, especially at the early stages of training.
This also brings us to the topic of recovery and frequency of training. If your muscles are sore after a workout, you take a day or two off and allow them to recover, to heal. Why should the heart be different? Adaptation takes days and the heart muscle needs rest in order for these processes to take place.
This is not just a theory. Every year you hear of a few athletes dying as the result of sports activity, both professional and amateur. This year a 27 year old man died during City to Surf race in Sydney, the run only 14 km long. Did he have some undiagnosed cardiac condition? It is possible. But it is also possible that his heart was damaged by overzealous training.
Does any of this apply to GS? I think it does. GS is primarily an endurance activity with the intensity on top of it, and its effects are very demanding on the recovery ability of the body. Both snatches and jerks done at high tempo for prolonged period of time shoots the heart rate close to the maximum. I am not aware of any studies on the volume of the heart in gireviks, but would expect them to have hypertrophy of various degrees. So it would make sense to regularly do some aerobic activity: running, swimming, cycling, playing soccer etc., just as Russians recommend. Also, as it follows from the earlier post, intensity is the amount of weight lifted per minute. If you agree with this statement you would also agree that doing longer sets means increasing intensity. Higher intensity leads to higher heart rate. From the info above it would follow that doing it too often is “ne harasho”, not good.
It was suggested by Andrey at IGX that monitoring the heart rate may be useful in order to gauge the intensity. After reading the discussion above it seems like a good idea. For some of us five minute set of 2 x 24 kg jerks is no big deal, whereas for some it is, and heart rate can give an indication of the relative intensity. Of course, as pointed out by some, wearing heart rate monitor during the set of snatches or jerks is impractical. But at least it can be checked at the end of the set in order to make sure that it does not go too high too often.
The numbers are easy to figure out, but just in case, they mean weight, reps and the duration of the set. The rest between 32 and 24 kg is not noted in the table, and I suppose you can experiment, taking plenty of rest, especially at later stages of the mesocycle.
Day 1. 32+32 / 16 / - 2'00" + 24+24 / 30/ - 3'00"
Day 2. 32+32 / 20 / - 2'30" + 24+24 / 42 / - 3'30"
Day 3. 32+32 / 24 / - 3'00" + 24+24 / 48 / - 4'00"
Day 4. 32+32 / 28 / - 3'30" + 24+24 / 60 / - 5'00"
Day 5. 32+32 / 32 / - 4'00" + 24+24 / 72 / - 6'00"
Day 1. 32+32 / 10 / x 9 = 1'00", rest 1'00"
Day 2. 32+32 / 13-14 / x 6 = 1'40", rest 1'00"
Day 3. 24+24 / 48/ - 4'00"
Day 4. 32+32 / 15-16 / x 5 = 2'00", rest 1'00"
Day 1. 32+32 /4-5/ - 30" + 32+32 /12-14/ - 1'30" + 24+24 / 24 / - 2'00"
Day 2. 32+32 / 9 / - 1'00" + 32+32 / 17 / - 2'00" + 24+24 / 30 / - 2'30"
Day 3. 32+32 / 24 / - 3'00" + 24+24 / 42 / - 3'30"
Day 4. 32+32 / 38-48 / --- 5'00"-6'00"
Day 1. 32+32 / 16-17 / - 2'00" + 32+32 / 16-17 / - 2'00" + 24+24 / 50 / -5'00"
Day 2. 32+32 / 22-24 / - 2'00" + 32+32 / 22-24 / - 2'00" + 24+24 / 60 / -6'00"
Day 3. 32+32 / 56-64 / -- 8'00"
This is the training table for very advanced trainees going for Master of Sport level. The load is building up during the mesocycle, waving up and down in the middle.
As it is mentioned, this template is aimed at very advanced trainees. However, if the weight of the bells is reduced to 24 and 16 kg, or 16 and 12 (or whatever if you have adjustable bells), this program becomes more suitable for mere mortals. I suppose it is acceptable to add assistance work at the end of the session.
Just as a sideline, some comments. This template is from Russia, the country where sports philosophy of pushing yourself to the limit is sort of accepted norm. Not only that, but it is coming from a military, where you don’t expect to be asked how difficult your training feels. It is also aimed at advanced trainees who are used to high intensity and volume. Yet, strange as it might seem to some, there aren’t many long sets in it. In fact, there are one 8 minute set, two 5 minute, two 6 minute and one set marked “5–6” minutes in 17 sessions. In other words, only one in every 7 sets in the cycle is 5 minutes or longer, and only about one in three sessions has a long set in it. In fact, the whole second and most of the third microcycle are composed of short sets, and the intensity is manipulated by changing reps per minute.
Two thirds of the program consists of shorter sets, below 4 minutes. Also, in most sessions total set time is below 10 minutes. And the second microcycle starts with 9 “mindless” (according to some AKC authorities) sets of 10 reps! It looks like the Honorary Coach Rudnev is not familiar with the OTW, otherwise the program would consist of several 10 minute sets every session! Maybe I should email him with the suggestion of doing AKC certificate…
Or maybe it just makes sense. Increasing the length of the set means increasing intensity, and working often at high intensity is “ne harasho” - not good. As I said before, long sets done often wear you out, both physically and mentally, and pushing yourself every workout leads to fatigue, loss of interest and injury. And maybe, just maybe, there are other ways besides OTW to achieve results in Girevoy Sport.
16 kg OAC&J - 10L/10R
16 kg MP - 10L/10R
32 kg OAJ - 7L/7R
24 kg OAC&J - 5L/5R
24 kg OAC&J - 10L/10R (3 min)
24 kg MP - 10L/8R
Good mornings 30 kg BB x 30
Training next day after the traditional Russian evening with Russian friends at a Russian restaurant with a lot of calorie dense food and vodka... A little difficult.
Now to the sauna. Steam and wiskers...
In Pavel’s Beyond Bodybuilding there is a chapter on Pete Sisco’s Power Coefficient. I don’t remember exactly how it was calculated, but the idea was to combine weights, reps, sets and time into some sort of coefficient which can then be used to plot progress. The idea was criticized on bodybuilding.com, but I think overall approach is valid. In any case it is fun to play with numbers.
I could think of several parameters of training session. I was using Excel spreadsheet while playing with them, so that I could compare different workouts.
First, total load lifted. You are doing jerks with 2 x 16 kg and did 10 of 1 minute sets at 10 reps per minute. Total load is 10 x 10 x 32 kg = 32000 kg.
Next, load per minute. In the example above you rested 1 minute between sets. Therefore you lifted 3200 kg in 19 minutes (10 min for sets and 9 min rest in between). 3200/19 = 168 kg/min. Playing with this parameter is interesting. If you follow the EDT sequence from the earlier post, http://girevoysportafter40.blogspot.com/2008/07/russian-edt-in-gs.html where rest time equals set time, you can compare the load of different levels. Doing 5 sets of 2 minutes each at 10 reps/min is more difficult, as the total time is 18 min and the load/min is 178 kg. Similarly, doing 4 sets of 3 min or 3 sets of 4 min results in loads of 183 and 192 kg/min, respectively, because of different total times, 21 vs. 20 minutes. Two 5 minute sets give 213 kg/min.
Load per minute, however, does not tell the whole story. What is more difficult, two sets of 5 min with 5 min in between or 1 set of 6 minutes at the same reps/min? In order to combine volume and intensity I multiplied load per minute by total weight lifted (divided by 10,000 to make the number manageable). As the reminder, something like this was done by Peter Sisco, and I will also call it Power Coefficient (PC).
Taking all three coefficients together allows to compare training sessions. Comparing two sets of 5 minutes resting 5 minutes with one set of 6 minutes, both at 10 reps per minute produces the following numbers.
Total weight lifted: 3200 vs. 1920 kg.
Load per minute: 213 vs. 320 kg/min
PC: 68 vs. 61.
Six minute set is more intense. That is why long timed sets are so difficult: the load is more concentrated in time. Even though you lift less in 6 minute set, the load per minute is 50% higher. This parameter may be used as the measure of intensity in GS. At the same time total weight lifted – training volume - is much higher during 5 minute sets. Combining load per minute and total weight lifted into PC gives some sort of balanced estimate, hybrid between volume and intensity.
I don’t know, maybe it is a good way to gauge the load parameters with these numbers. Keep the PC more or less constant and tweak total weight lifted and load per minute. Or keep either volume and/or intensity the same and vary the PC when planning microcycles. It might also make sense to include assistance exercises into calculations.
This post is based on the article by Russian GS authority Gomonov* which was adapted from the website of Girevoy Sport Federation of Rostov District, http://www.fgsrostov.aaanet.ru/
The authors believe that phase analysis of jerk is one of the most useful ways to achieve biomechanical control. In the article they discuss the role of flexibility and muscular strength topography in the structure of jerk.
On the basis of video analysis of athletes at one of the international GS tournaments in 1998 the athletes were divided into two classes: those with predominantly upper or lower muscular distribution. It is interesting that after episodic layoffs athletes with the upper muscular type preserved the ability to show good results in pushups and pull-ups and at the same time their results in exercises that reflect the strength of lower limbs sharply decreased. Vice versa, athletes with predominantly lower muscular distribution kept the results in jumps and squats but lost it in pushups and pull-ups.
Six phases of jerk were isolated. They are shown on the diagram below.
Phase 1. Flexibility is of particular importance in starting position. This phase – phase 1 – is sort of “fuelling station” where the body gets rid of the fatigue accumulated during working phases. Lack of flexibility in the hips and the spine does not allow deviating the trunk backwards without bending the knees. Therefore, instead of accumulating the strength before the next attack at the bells the athlete with limited flexibility has to perform static work with the knees bent. It is impossible to prevent the bells falling forward-down without deviating the trunk backwards, unless one uses additional effort of the arms, which, in turn, is also inefficient.
Phase 2: first dip, or half-squat. The athlete bends the legs in the knee joints to about 120 degrees. At the same time bodyweight is distributed evenly on the soles of the feet. Athletes with the lower muscular distribution bend the knees a little less because they have enough strength to accelerate the bells during shorter traveling distance. Those with low flexibility of the ankles lose contact of the heels with the floor and the muscles of the calves get involved prematurely.
Phase 3: jerking. It is performed by sharp straightening of the knees immediately after the dip. Contact of the arms with the trunk and elbows with the pelvis during this phase is maximal. Straightening of the knees ends up with the plantar flexion of the ankles – getting onto the balls of the feet. Arms are switched on only at the last moment, allowing to slow down vertical movement of the body and start the second dip. And again athletes with low flexibility are at disadvantage: the only difference between the final position of this phase and starting position is flexion of the feet. As you remember, low flexibility in SP does not allow complete straightening of the knees. These athletes have two possibilities: switch on the arms prematurely (in order to prevent the bells falling) or start the second dip before straightening the knees completely.
Phase 4: second dip. The goal of this phase is to catch the bells with the straight arms. The athlete bends the knees and the body moves downwards faster than the acceleration of the free falling object – because of the active straightening of the arms. Unlike during the first dip, during the second dip the pelvis moves not forward-down, but backwards-down.
Flexibility of the spine and the shoulders again determine the efficiency of this phase. Athletes with good flexibility reach optimal depth of the second dip by bending the knees less, to about 100 – 120 degrees in the knee joints. This allows distributing the load more evenly: moving part of it from the extensors of the hips and calves to the extensors of the trunk. Even by bending the trunk forward flexible athletes are able to get the bells overhead.
Gireviks with low shoulder flexibility, in order to keep the arms vertical have to deviate the trunk even a little backwards, and optimal depth of the second dip is achieved by sharper angle in the knee joints, 100 – 110 degrees.
Phase 5: fixation. When analyzing the rhythm of the jerk – relative duration of the phases – the authors noticed that the athletes with predominantly upper muscular distribution tend to pause in this phase. It is easily explainable. During this phase the muscles of the lower limbs are maximally relaxed, and muscles of the arms and the shoulder girdle allow reducing the fatigue of the quadriceps muscles by letting them stay relaxed longer (0.8 to 2.6 seconds). This sequence of events will be violated if the athlete with the upper type of distribution has low shoulder flexibility. This athlete will waste a lot of energy during fixation phase, fighting the tension of tight muscles-antagonists. In addition his chest is in less optimal condition for breathing, as it is limited by excessively stretched muscles.
There are no comments on phase 6 in the article which, I suppose, has the same issues with the flexibility as the starting position.
At the end of the article the authors propose complex of exercises aimed at improving flexibility of shoulders and elbows which, authors believe, will improve the phases of both dips and fixation. The picture below needs no explanations.
Maximal range of movement in joints is limited by stretching reflex, which serves protective purpose. If the maximal amplitude is held in static position this reflex fades and disappears in 25 – 30 seconds.
While I was reading this material I realized that movements in the shoulder joint are not easy to describe. In angular joints, such as knee, flexion means decreasing the angle between the connecting bones: knee flexes and the angle between the femur and the tibia decreases. In the shoulder it is more complicated and somewhat confusing. Shoulder flexion occurs when the arm is raised forward to the horizontal level and further. So bringing the arms up and behind the ears would be hyper flexion. Basic description of shoulder movements may be found here: http://www.exrx.net/Articulations/Shoulder.html
As with any stretching, its general principles are applicable to the proposed complex. As you probably know, there are three ways to stretch: static, ballistic and isometric. They are well described in many books and articles on stretching and can also be found on the Net. My favorite book on stretching is one by Thomas Kurz, Stretching Scientifically. Pavel’s stretching books are also good.
As if the headache of pushing through hundreds of jerks wasn't enough here is something else to do. Enjoy.
*Gomonov VN, PhD., Makhotkin BV, Master of Sports. University of MVD, Bryansk. Variability of the Technique of Jerk Depending on the Range of Movement and Anatomy of Muscular Strength of Girevik.
10 reps x 10 sets
12 x 8
16 x 6
20 x 5
25 x 4
30 x 3
50 x 2
? x 1 – competition or prikidka (tryout)
If on the average each level takes about two weeks to achieve, the program will last about 16 weeks or 4 months. Though I think for the average beginner it may take considerably longer.
The sessions must alternate between easy, medium and hard by adding or skipping snatches and/or assistance exercises. One must also follow some sort of periodisation. One way to do it is to build the number of sets in each level gradually. For example, achieving 10 sets of 10 reps is one microcycle. Next cycle starts with 3 sets of 12 reps, next – 5 sets, then 8 etc. Work out a system of alternating rep based sets with timed ones, as well as a way of controlling your pace.
Once you achieve the 100 reps with 16 kg in one set, take a break and restart the sequence with 18 kg bells.
Personal remark. Long timed sets are hard, and I cannot work at my maximum every workout, both physically and mentally. I get tired and lose interest. Yes, I am a whimpering pussy! However, I believe that I am not alone here, and long sets done too often are too grueling and unnecessary. Training sequences like the one above makes training easier. I also believe that it also lowers the risk of trauma. Arguments are welcome.
Starting position (SP) determines the effectiveness of the consequent phases of the jerk. It is, as said by another Russian scientist A Ukhtomsky, the state of “operational rest”, and though there is no visible movement in that position, it signifies readiness to action.
If you look at the pelvis from the side you can picture it as an upside down triangle where the top is the hip joint. The body is naturally balanced on top of the pelvis, so that the lines of the projected forces of gravity from the anterior and posterior parts of the body end up in front and behind the feet respectively.
Observing the GS athletes, Tikhonov and his colleagues discovered two variants of starting position, one characteristic for beginners and another adopted by advanced gireviks. The diagram above depicts ineffective SP. You can see that the line of projected force of gravity drawn from kettlebells down extends through the hip joint and further behind the knee, “forcing” the knee joint to flex, or bend. At the same time the weight of the athlete’s trunk and the head exerts extending force on the hip joint – bending backwards - and further flexing momentum in the knee joint. In order to keep the balance the athlete is forced to constantly strain flexor muscles of the back and quads. Novices instinctively bend the back, as well as bend and bring down the head. It allows bringing together projected lines of gravity of kettlebells and the trunk thus reducing the action of momentum of these forces. Inability to relax the deltoids and traps results in the inability to rest the elbows on the iliac bones of the pelvis. As the result inexperienced gireviks bend the knees and the back which, in turn, leads to excessive strain in those areas.
Placing the handles of kettlebells on the heels of the hands, putting the elbows onto the iliac bones while knees are straightened and muscles of the arms are maximally relaxed reduce the excessive action of forces in these joints and improve the economy of movement. From this description it is obvious that flexibility of the hip joints is very important for achieving adequate starting position. According to Tikhonov, as a rule, athletes who don’t pay enough attention to the flexibility and mobility in the joints do not reach high levels in girevoy sport. Most of them remain at the level of CMS.
The authors come to the following conclusions.
1. The main source of trauma in GS is the attempt to get high numbers using strength. This leads to the excessive strain in the knee joints and lumbar spine.
2. Prevention of spinal strain can be achieved by proper compensation of the various forces exerted on the spine or.
3. The solution lies in the improvement of the technique.
*The Sources of Trauma in Exercises of Girevoy Sport. (Источники травматизма в гиревом спорте). Tikhonov VF, PhD. State University of Chuvashia. Downloaded from the site of Federation of Girevoy Sport of Rostov District, http://www.fgsrostov.aaanet.ru/ .
In order to be good at jerk one has to have strong legs. It makes sense, as the muscles of the legs are much stronger than those of the arms, and it is reasonable to use them maximally during this lift. During the first dip - or rather coming out of it - you push the bells that are resting on the chest right up. Second dip allows reducing the effort necessary to lift the bells. Arm get involved only when the giri are already close to the top, or for fixation. After fixation the bells are dropped onto the chest, and during this phase the arms must be maximally relaxed.
If you want to be able to perform jerk for the whole ten minutes it is important to train cardio-respiratory endurance. This is achieved by doing cyclic sports activity, such as cycling, running, skiing and rowing). Moreover, the most important is the duration of the activity rather than intensity. In other words, it is better to run 10 - 15 km slowly than 1 - 2 km fast.
1. In the beginning stages of training it is recommended to perform static hold in the rack position for as long as possible. It helps to find the most optimal and comfortable position of bells on the chest. It is important to find the way to keep kettlebells on the chest with the muscles maximally relaxed. For that the elbows must be resting on either the hips or the belt. The weight of the bells must be gradually increased, and it is better to use the weight higher than that used in competition.
2. Static holds in top position. Again, you should try and make sure that the muscles of the arms and shoulders are maximally relaxed. This is possible only if the flexibility of the shoulders and elbows is adequate.
These two exercises may be combined in the following way. Jerk two bells and hold them for maximum time in the top position. Then drop them on the chest and hold them for the same duration as in the previous position. Repeat up to 10 minutes or longer, 3 to 6 sets in total. Like with any exercise it is important to increase the duration and the load gradually, so that first time you should not do more than one set.
Even better training effect is achieved by walking with the bells in the top position either on the even surface or stairs.
3. For developing leg muscles it is recommended to do squats with kettlebells in the rack position. You must do them as fast as you can and the elbows should be as close to the body as possible. Up to 6 sets of 20 reps are recommended.
4. In order to develop delts and triceps one should do presses, one or two arms. If you cannot do simultaneous two arm presses alternate arms (see-saw press by Pavel). 3-6 sets of 20 repetitions.
1. Gradual method.
The number of repetitions increases from set to set. In the first set the number of reps is 20% of the maximum. During the next sets the number increases and reaches 60 – 80% in the last set, depending on the athlete’s ability. The number of sets is 5 – 6.
The advantage of this method is that earlier sets serve as a warm-up, therefore reducing the chance of trauma with higher loads.
2. Pyramid method.
As an example let’s consider the session with 6 sets. In the first set you perform 20% reps of your max, the second – 40%, third and fourth – 60 – 70%, these are main sets. Then in the fifth set – 30 – 40% and the sixth – 25%. Last sets are the most difficult as the athlete is tired after the 3rd and 4th sets. It is recommended to do an additional set with lighter bells.
3. Equal load method.
The number of reps in every set does not change. For instance, 6 sets of 50% reps of max.
4-6. Timed sets.
Same as the three methods above, but instead of repetitions you go for time. Timed pyramid method, for example, would look like this:
1 set – 2 min
2 set – 4 min
3 set – 6 min
4 set – 6 min
5 set – 4min
6 set – 2 min
The duration depends on the abilities of the athlete. Apparently timed method is more commonly used by athletes over 70 kg and those who can show high result (more than 100 reps with 32 kg in 10 minutes).
7. Maximal load method.
Only 3 sets. In the first set the load is 10 – 15% of maximal, second – 90 – 105%, third – 45 – 50% of max. This method of training should not be used for a long time as there is the potential for overtraining. It also should not be used more than twice a week. This method is often used by athletes with the bodyweight below 70 kg.
Therefore, there are seven basic methods of training of jerk. If one method is used for a prolonged period of time the body adapts to training and progress stops. Therefore it makes sense to alternate these methods. If every method is used for 2-3 months alternated with the periods of active rest, they will comprise the annual cycle – or macrocycle. It will consist of mesocycles – 2 – 3 months each which will contain microcycles – 1 – 2 weeks.
At the end of the day each athlete has to choose the method that works for him. There is not much research on training methods for jerk, so every method has to be tried personally.