30 December 2008

BB squat:
50 kg x 5
60 kg x 3
80 kg x 2
90 kg x 5 x 2 sets
90 kg x 3

3 km treadmill run.
Making progress, ran at 9 - 10.5 km/hour

24 December 2008

The leap, albeit small: I have finally found the time (and overcome my lazyness) and filled my Etalon bells with extra 2 kg of leadshot. So now I am working out with 18 kg bells. They don't seem much heavier, to be honest. As the workout progressed though the I became conscious of extra kilos.

We just came back from a restaurant, so I didn't want to try something very strenuous. Due to the lack of imagination I decided, what the hell, I will start Russian EDT all over again with the new bells. So here it was:

2 x 18 kg jerks:
10 x 1 min sets, 1 min rest in between, 8 reps/min

2 x 18 kg LC: 2 min/10 reps
2 x 18 kg cleans: 15 reps

While doing the LC I realized that I really suck at it (even more than at jerks!), the main problem being poor clean technique. As cleans are a good exercise for general purposes I decided to do some. Planning to include them in future sessions.

Total volume - 3780 kg.

Push press

Browsing through the old posts of Rybinsk forum I noticed the thread on schwoong, or push press, assistance drill popular among many Russian gireviks. The initial question was on the technique of this drill. One poster, Mandrigelya, who happens to be a GS coach, replied that he discourages his trainees to do it. According to him the jerk is done mostly with the legs and not the arms. He says once you learn pressing with the arms - the legitimate part of push press - you may have hard time unlearning - or not doing it - during jerks. Interesting.

Working on speed

If you read my blog and posts on IGx you probably know that I am not a big fan of long timed sets, at least at this stage of my GS training. I recently tried 10 minute double jerks with two 16-s and got 65 reps. If you check previous posts, you will see that the focus of my training was building the session volume and had I never done a set longer than 5 minutes before. Now that I can last whole 10 minutes, the question is how to increase the cadence. OTWers generally recommend to re-start from 3 minute sets at higher cadence and work up to 10 minutes or even longer. While this approach is valid, I was curious about other methods and posted the appropriate question on Rybinsk GS forum.

One of the posters (he is MS) suggested the following. The basis is to do multiple sets at high(er) cadence, in one of the two ways.

1. Lift at maximal cadence trying to keep the tempo constant. As the tempo starts decreasing - stop the set and take liberal rest. Repeat. Build up the number of sets in a workout. This particular guy, Valentin, says that his normal tempo with 32-s is about 8-9 per minute, so he does speed sets at about 15 per minute and manages to do about six sets in a workout.

2. Set the tempo of the set slightly higher than your usual and try to keep it constant. When the tempo starts falling - stop. Next set - increase the tempo more, and so on. This type of training is ideally suitable for training with a partner: it becomes more competitive and you can keep the score for each other.

Valentin also recommends doing control sets – 7, 8 or 9 minutes (in different sessions) and doing 3-4 sets of 3-4 minutes at higher tempo.

This is fully in keeping with what I believe works: volume (I guess Pavel must have subliminal influence on me!)

21 December 2008

BB squat:
50 x 5
60 x 3
65 x 5
70 x 5 x 4 sets

3.1 km treadmill run

Still far from reasonable runner, I am making modest progress. Couple of months ago I ran at 6.5 - 7.0 km/hour, today I set the speed at 8.0 and made it fairly comfortably. Taking into account that I run after doing squats, the progress is ok. I am getting to the point where I can understand (though remotely) how some people enjoy running.

20 December 2008

20 kg snatch:

Untimed rest - sort of GTG workout.
160 reps total (volume 3200 kg)

16 December 2008

BB squat:
50 kg x 3
70 kg x 2
80 kg x 2
90 kg x 5 x 5

3.2 km treadmill run

14 December 2008

2 x 16 jerks:
20 reps/1.5 min

2 x 24 jerks:
12/10/10/10/10/10/10/10/6/7/5 = 100 reps total (!)
Fairly fast (8-10 reps/min)
liberal rest in between the sets

Total training volume - 5440 kg (11968 lbs., I wonder if there are smaller units to make it look more respectable :)

10 December 2008

16 kg snatch:
arm switch every 10 reps, 200 reps total
about 15 min

BB squat:
50 kg x 4
65 kg x 4 x 4

6 December 2008

2 x 16 kg jerks: 10 min/50 reps
2 x 16 kg jerks: 5 min/35 reps (sprint on the last minute)

24 kg OA Press: 10L/10R

3 December 2008

2 x 24 kg jerks:
10 x 1 min sets
1 min breaks
5 - 7 reps/min
58 reps total

Sweaty... Will call it "easy session"...

1 December 2008

BB squats: 85 kg x 5 x 5
3.5km treadmill run

Main observation: squats progressing better than double jerks.

29 November 2008

2 x 16 kg jerk: 10 reps
2 x 24 kg jerk:
2 min/10 reps
4 min/21 reps

Wanted to do another minute, but old friend fucking headache came back. Shit, I was feeling so strong. Will have to stick to one arm and assistance stuff. Still, my (paultry) new best... by one rep...

32 kg OAJ: 10L/10R
24 kg OAJ: 15L/15R

50 kg jump squats: 35 reps
60 kg jump squats: 30 reps

Headache is getting worse, should stop (hope I'm not popping an aneurism!)

Two thoughts from today's workout. First, warmup is important. I am sure my headache is coming from the strain in the neck. I guess for PTP type workout it is ok not to do it, but for strenuous endurance stuff it is. Next time I am going to get the shoulders and the neck ready for jerks.

Second - I think I am getting the technique of jerks, at least improving in it. Couple of aspects I got good feeling of are: a) resting the elbows on the iliac spines and keeping the arms and shoulders as relaxed as possible b) pushing the bells with the legs through the hips, through the arms, with the latter getting into the lift as late as possible c) finding the least strenuous overhead position d) on the way down exclude th arm completely; rolling the bells over the shoulders helps a lot. Oh yeah, keeping the legs straight in the rack position. It is easier if you do some hip flexor stretches before the workout. Another one - taking an extra breath in the overhead position, it is easier with the bells up there than with the forearms pressing on the abdomen.

That'll be all for today. I am going to shut up now...

26 November 2008

60 kg BB squat: 60 x 4 x 4
24 kg snatch: 10L/10R
16 kg snatch: 30L/30R
2 x 16 kg jerk: 3 min/25 reps

Feeling very weak today for some reason.

23 November 2008

Barbell squats:
80 kg x 5 x 5

Treadmill run: 30 minutes
Still a shit runner, but getting marginally better.

It looks like I am progressing better in squats than GS! Should I switch to PL?


Or rather Supermethods of Special Physical Preparation of High Class Athletes, the article by Professor Yuri Verkhoshansky, well known world sports scientist. I wanted to discuss it here as I think it is applicable to girevoy sport training, even for low ranked amateurs. Full text of the article can be found on Verkhoshansky’s site.

There is a lot of theory in the article that I am not going to bore you with. Those interested can read the original. In short, the Professor states that the key mechanism behind sports mastery in the specific motor potential and the ability of the athlete to utilize in during competition. The development of this motor potential is achieved by methods of Special Physical Preparation (SPP). Finally, the progress in sport is based on very specific morpho-functional specialization, which can only develop if SPP is applied during many years of training.

So, what are these methods and what makes them different from “normal” training. Now it is getting interesting. Traditional training depends on conscious effort. For example, you load the bar, squat and then try to stand up. The load is gradually increased and you get stronger. At some point, however, the point will be reached when you cannot get up with the bar no matter what reward is promised to you. From this it follows that the effect of the traditional training is determined by the athlete strength of will.

It is known, however, that under hypnosis or under extreme conditions people are capable of demonstrating remarkable feats of strength. We have all heard stories about women lifting cars off their sons, small guys fighting off big badassess and elderly people lifting their very heavy belongings and carrying them out of a house engulfed by fire. Somewhat similar conditions can be recreated in the laboratory by forcing the body to perform work above the limit. The simplest example is running down a slight incline at maximum speed: you are forced to run faster than you possibly can on the even surface, and this extra speed is largely independent on your will power, you just have to do it if you don’t want to fall.

Apparently, there are four groups of innate potential of the human organism:

Reserves used in reactive movements. Usual level of activity, constitutes about 15% of the maximum possible effort.

Reserves used in under conditions of elevated muscular activity. That would be sports training, among other things, about 20%.

“Special” reserves utilized only under conditions of great intensity or duration, about 35%. The example would be performance at the Olympic Games.

Finally, “innately defended” physical potential, used only under extreme, life-threatening conditions.

The last two potentials are locked by the body behind some sort of mobilization barrier. Central nervous system normally simply inhibits your efforts at developing maximally possible effort your body is capable of. The reason behind it is the protection of the musculo-skeletal system. I frequently anaesthetize patients for Achilles tendon repair. It is interesting, that Achilles ruptures are often seen in reasonably fit individuals, not overweight middle aged guys as you should logically expect. One of the surgeons told me that such tears most commonly happen when the load is applied unexpectedly. For instance, when a person misses the last step on the stairs in the darkness. What happens, I suppose, is that the calf muscles contract reflexively, and the inhibitory control of the central nervous system is lost for a moment. As the result the muscles contract with the force exceeding the strength of the Achilles tendon and it ruptures. It would be nice, of course, to be able to show off extraordinary strength, but these demonstrations in normal people are more likely to end up in serious trauma.

In his article Verkhoshansky has an illustration of mechanical response of triceps muscles of gymnasts of various ages, achieved by either voluntary contraction or by electric stimulation. As expected, by voluntary flexing (rather extending) the triceps 10 – 14 year old athletes show the weakest force of contraction, 17 – 18 year olds develop more force and 19 – 21 year old guys develop the highest force. Amazingly, when the triceps muscles of the same guys are electrically stimulated that develop similar force, which is higher than in the three preceding examples! The evidence that the nervous system is the main limiting factor in muscular strength, not the muscles themselves. So the skill of the high class athlete is the ability to utilize this extra potential that has been there all along.

One way to overcome the inhibitory barrier of the nervous system is doping. As it follows from the example above, this way of increasing your muscular potential is dangerous and can be lethal.

Better way to do it is to trick the body into using more power. But how? Professor talks about two main ways: the shock method and the stimulation method.

Shock method.

This method, developed in the 1950-s, is intended for the explosive ability of the muscles and the reactive ability of the neuro-muscular apparatus. It is the same as plyometric method. The essence of the method consists of a stimulatory muscle stretch created by the kinetic energy accumulated from the athlete’s falling body from the specific, strictly proscribed height. The resistance of the falling body is sharply stopped and reversed. The stretching of the muscles triggers the stretch-contraction reflex, which adds to the voluntary action of the muscles. The simplest example of this method is depth jump: jumping off a chair and bouncing off the floor trying to jump as high as possible. Before you try it – warning: try something lower first, it is possible to screw up your knees from the first attempt if you haven’t done it before.

Verkhoshansky quotes an experiment on weightlifters. Experimental group did depth jumps for three weeks, three times a week, 40 jumps per session. Squats and traditional jumping experiments were removed from their training program. Those in control group continued traditional training. After three weeks speed of movement, maximum effort, maximum strength and power of effort was considerably higher in the experimental group. There are no actual numbers in the text, only the graph, and visually it looks like 2 – 4 times difference in parameters.

When you think about it, it makes sense to use plyometrics in GS training. In fact, the sharp reversal of the bell at the bottom of the snatch makes it a plyometric exercise to a degree to start with. Maybe that is why its impact on strength and power is so remarkable. I also think that plyometrics can be useful for training for double jerks. And one such exercise is included in the AKC methodology: jump squat, a nice video of which has been posted on Youtube (and Igx), coming from the Father of AKC philosophy, coach Philikidi. The video is at this link:


The original jump squats should be useful for GS as well, and the load can be regulated by the height of the step from which you jump and the depth of the squat. We can leave it to Kenneth Jay to put it into math, for me it is enough to know that the higher the initial height, the more profound the impact of the jump. You can also do just series of continuous jumps, from very low to very high positions, for numbers or for the distance. Here is some cool video:


It is important to remember that it is a high impact exercise and must be introduced very carefully. In fact, the Professor insists that it should not be used in children or athletes of low rankings. I think it should be ok, as long as the load is selected wisely.

There are plyometric exercises for the upper body as well, an example of a pushup is here:


There are some videos of pushups done on unstable medicine balls. I don't think it is a good idea. The whole point of the shock method is maximal mobilization of physical reserves, and doing it an unstable objects reduces the effect and mixes the goals.

Another exercise that fits shock method is skipping rope jumping. You can also regulate the load by adjusting the depth of jumps. It is good cardio exercise as well. I came across a site on the Net that offers heavy skipping ropes, up to 3 kg I think. I believe it would be more appropriate to place the load on the hips, so that the impact of jumping and the corresponding stretch reflex are amplified.

Stimulation method.

Another way to trick the body. It essence lies in performing traditional exercise with considerable load (80% RM) and then performing sport specific routines. For example, sprints after doing 2 sets of barbell squat for 4-6 repetitions and 3-4 minutes break between sets. In the experiment quoted in the article doing back squat increased explosive isometric effort of leg extensors by 26% after the first minute, and then by 65% after 4-5 minutes.

The stimulating effect of the initial exercise does not last long, and it is important to time the main exercise appropriately. It seems like 4-5 minutes is the optimal time.

Paul Tucker once mentioned that doing 2 x 24 kg jerks at the beginning of the session makes the consecutive sets with 16s easier, as the body is primed by heavier bells. I also noticed that when working with heavy(er) bells the third and fourth sets are the most productive. Stimulation method in practice, I guess.

Verkhoshansky’s primary interest is track and field, and the examples of exercises in his article are selected appropriately. It is almost always squat with 80% RM first, followed by running or jumping. It can also be combined with deep jumps. It goes without saying that it should be done very carefully.

The form of the priming exercise has no value and is not important, as long as appropriate groups of muscles are employed, i.e. those that are targeted in the main exercise. Between the sets flexibility and relaxation exercises should be performed. Stimulation method should not be used at the end of the session or in fatigued state. It is a powerful training method and should not be used too often.

Here you are two methods to force the body to utilize its carefully guarded reserves for your disposal. Feel free to report the experiences.

22 November 2008

I am away from home and on call, so workout is going to be fragmented.

20 kg snatch:
3 min each arm (1 switch), 50 rep/arm

Skipping rope: 5 minutes

20 November 2008

2 x 24 kg jerk:

2 min/10 reps
2 min/10 reps
3 min/15 reps
3 min/15 reps
2 min/10 reps

Rest 3-4 minutes between sets

60 reps total (2880 kg)

BB squat 55 kg:
4 sets of 4 reps

Who is who in nutritional supplements by Dr.Lyuber

Sports nutrition: who is who (or what is what)

Dr Lyuber is not completely unknown to the Western public: his workout routines have been mentioned by Pavel in Beyond Bodybuilding. I have read his book Bodybuilding Our Way and have a lot of respect for him. His main goal of training is getting big by lifting bigger weights and getting strong, not meaninglessly pumping muscles for show.

I came across his article on nutritional supplements at http://www.ironworld.ru/diet/detail.php?ID=1960 , the site mostly aimed at bodybuilders. As with everything else Dr Lyuber writes about, this article is logical, consistent and makes a lot of sense. Below is somewhat shortened version of the article translated to English.

Frankly speaking, starts Dr Lyuber, for the last ten years I have not been involved in the intricacies of the topic of nutritional supplements, mostly because I have already burned myself with it. When supplements became popular in Russia I, like majority of people, was charmed by the advertisements of the industry (in my case it concerned Weider, Twinlab and Cybergenics), almost believed the scary fairy tales about steroids and started using “miracle-products” from “over the curtain”. The consequence – three years of my life and not one thousand dollars were wasted, and while deciding which super-duper supplement differs from the other I managed to lose around twenty kilos in bench press and several centimeter of biceps, while acquiring the “ears” on the waistline (love handles). One day I got fed up with this “progress”, roids were unconditionally rehabilitated and life miraculously transformed: the waistline god “dryer”, the weights started moving up again, and again I was not ashamed to wear short sleeved T-shirts. And the hobby of bodybuilding became way cheaper.

Recently, however, the doubt has returned: maybe in recent years food technology was “revolutionized”, made “breakthrough to the future” and turned from means of pumping money from trusting like children “muscle pumpers” into something really worthwhile and necessary? Reading articles in various journals added to the confusion and the feeling of being left behind. Thankfully, the period of intellectual suffering didn’t last long, and having dived into the bodybuilding movement and communicated with those who have been there all along the spirit relaxed again and the confusion has left.

Some aspects of nutritional supplements

I can dig out a lot of these aspects, but the first one, visible without glasses, I would call “aspect of incorrect directive”. For many neophytes who set feet in the gym for the first time the only information on bodybuilding is that from magazines with shiny covers, and they religiously believe that as soon as the start taking this or that advertised supplement their muscles will immediately proliferate and they will soon look similar to that big guy on the picture. When it doesn’t happen, they direct all their enthusiasm to experiments with the next product that “explodes the most hopeless muscles”. Sad, these “musculateurs” don’t realize that nutritional supplements are nothing more than SUPPLEMENTS, and without well planned training, balanced nutrition with “usual” products and proper rest any supplements will be useless. Exchanging the directive to “plow” with the directive to “search for a miracle” is the road to nowhere.

Another side of the same aspect is that if you want not only “build a bit of muscle” but body composition that fills modern bodybuilding magazines and believe that can get away only by finding proper nutritional supplement – I recommend you to take off the “pink glasses”. If you think that athletes whose bodies decorate advertising posters take the same stuff that they advertise – it is completely true, and if they do, then it constitutes only small addition to the real “formula of champions”. This formula is well known, but not widely advertised due to tradition. At the first glance it looks like this: “steroids + HGH + insulin + synthol + other small stuff (thyroid, clenbuterol, antiestrogens, diuretics and so on)”. And if someone standing at the highest step of the pedestal tells you that he never took anything from the above list but “became massive and defined thanks to the products of ISS – BSN – Dymazite” – take it as you take the TV adverts of beer: everyone on the screen is young, slim, beautiful and smart, but in real life we see only stinking idiots with big bellies. I am exaggerating, of course, but the distance between the promised and delivered for nutritional supplements is similar.

Anyway, let’s not shake the air for no reason and rather discuss another aspect of supplements, purely “applied”: is it really necessary to take great amounts of supplements and is it really useful? In order not to pile everything in the same heap I suggest that we classify the abundance of nutritional supplements into several groups. It can look like this:

Protein powders, amino acids, food substitutes
Gainers and energetics
Vitamins and minerals
Preparations for joints and ligaments
Fat burners
Creating and its derivatives; nitric oxide
Potency stimulants
General tonics

Useful effects of nutritional supplements

We will now discuss useful effects of supplements in relation to the goals of bodybuilding and the necessity of every group from the position of average athlete, never mind on steroids or not, who does not have an extra suitcase of money.


The fact that a bodybuilder needs considerably more protein than usual person has been established and proven long ago. And if it is not possible to get the necessary dose from food, the only way out is to add protein cocktail, food replacer or amino acids to the ration. Another matter is that it should not cross reasonable limits and these should not replace the usual food. On the other hand, addition of special additions like metoxyipriflavone to the powder does not carry any additional benefits and only allows the manufacturer charge extra dollars for usual protein.

Gainers and energetics

The usefulness of these is very doubtful. They can indeed help increase the bodyweight, but large part of the gain will be fat, for simple reason that the amount of calories that these gainers carry is difficult to direct to the muscle building, and currently used training methods often don’t have significant energy requirements. And if you need a “gainer” you can construct it at home: add couple of teaspoons of sugar to your protein and you will get your happiness.

Vitamins and minerals

It would be silly to argue that extra doses of vitamins and minerals are needed for bodybuilders, especially C, E and B group. Another thing that multivits can be successfully bought at the pharmacy. And it will be several times cheaper than getting it from a sports nutrition shop.

Preparations for joints and ligaments

Everyone seriously working out with iron has had problems with joints and ligaments: the load is definitely “unphysiological”. This topic is even more acute for steroid use, when joints and ligaments fall behind the development of muscles. And thank God that in addition to the grandfathers’ advice to “eat some gelatin” we have chondroitin and glucosamine. They are definitely working and helping. If they contain what is stated on the label. So far I have tried only one supplement whose effect I felt the next day.

Fat burners

The situation with fat burners is ambiguous: on one hand those who while fighting with fat has tried very hard diet in addition to large volume of aerobic exercise and did not get desired results – these supplements are necessary. On the other – the majority of names that are currently advertised is frank garbage created for pulling money from trusting consumers. In addition, after banning ephedrine which substances are not credited with fat burning properties? Open any fitness magazine – and will definitely find “new discovery”. But honestly – there has never been an alternative to ephedrine for burning fat. Rumors are that the ban will be removed, at least in the USA.


Creatine and its derivatives: the furor doesn’t stop. No doubt, the logic is there, as creatine is indeed “working” supplement and can help some athletes to increase – sometimes significantly – the strength and muscle mass. However don’t forget the fact that 30-40 percent of athletes creatine brings nothing, except wasting money (to the lesser degree it is true for “transport forms of creatine”). The story is similar for the newly fashionable nitric oxide: some blow up on it, some – not a sneeze. The only way to see which group you belong to is the method of “scientific poking”: i.e. to at least once try the action of creatine and nitric oxide. The best time for such experiments for the “natural” is the period of heavy loads, for a “chemist” – the time between [steroid] cycles.


Not so long ago there was unbelievable fuss regarding this group of supplements. Some even claimed that this is the alternative to steroids (?!) Now this craziness has died out, and prohormones are sold only in the black market, as these drugs are on the list of illegal substances. And has melted away the only advantage of prohormones as opposed to steroids - similar though much weaker action – that those using them could still call themselves “natural bodybuilders”. Now the future of prohormones is very questionable, and the number of the “naturals” on the pages of Ironman should go down.

Potency stimulators

Confused by the advertising industry neophytes place large hopes on various potency stimulators – yohimbine, tribestan and so on. As far as the intended effect is concerned, I can say from my own experience and the experience of close friends – some of it indeed “works”. As far as their effect on training – it is under a very large question mark.


Supplements based on adaptogens – ginseng, eleuterococc etc. – help normalizing body functions and improve work capacity after overtraining. However the effect is not as remarkable as is claimed, and therefore do not get your hopes too high. Moreover, these supplements are considerably more expensive than their full analogs sold in pharmacies.


This group contains the largest number of names, probably thirty percent of all that is offered for sale. Here I classified all products that have not made it into the remaining groups, despite of their diversity: shark cartilage, vanadium, collagen, G-factor, Pro-h GH, Ginkgo Biloba, Saw Palmetto and whatever else. They are all united by one quality: while there is possibility that they may be somewhat useful for the main goals of bodybuilding – increase of muscle mass and getting rid of fat – they are absolutely useless: in most athletes they don’t lead to any changes.

Putting it all together.

If we summarize all of the above about the applied aspects of supplements, the result is far from optimistic. We can conclude the following.

Certain supplements may optimize the diet, i.e. eliminate the deficit of certain ingredients. At the same time, if you have the opportunity to balance your ration with natural products, extra intake of surrogate supplements is not that important. The exception is only vitamins, because getting the necessary amount from food is problematic. I will also make the disclaimer: “chemists” are excluded: to get 300 – 400 gram of protein from usual food is simply unreal.

There are working supplements, however much of what is on offer is inefficient and has not been able to confirm promises given in the advertising “traps”.

There is no supplement in regards to their effects on the muscle that comes close to steroids. And so far there is nothing on the horizon that could constitute competition to the “champion’s formula”.

[There are two more conclusions that are specific to Russian readers; therefore I am not citing them here]

That’s it. As always from Dr Lyuber, honest and down to earth. Do nutritional supplements work? I agree with Dr.Lyuber in that most of them show various results for different users. I guess there is no harm trying, except for the wallet. But what the hell, this pill can be your door to fame and world records… On the other hand, what achievements are actually expected from amateur athletes, the majority of visiting fitness forums and reading this blog? Does forty-something guys like me need to take complex composition of protein, nitric oxide releaser, high absorption glutamine and what not, because its manufacturer promises great results in only six weeks, just to add ten more reps to my jerks with two sixteens? Or maybe just eating enough food is enough? Sure, enough protein is important for those who want to build mega muscles. But other calories can be obtained from other, more conventional sources.

Luber’s views are in coherence with what I have believed for a few years now, namely that most supplements are useless and are not needed if things are kept in perspective. Most of us don’t make a living by being a professional athlete, why bother?

One group that always attracts my attention is vitamins. Multivits are the subject of various scams, celebrity adverts and pyramid marketing. You can show me all the studies you want, but the cheapest brand sold at supermarkets is no worse (or not much worse, at least not as much as the price would suggest) that expensive brands sold by post orders. Latest variations like Juice Plus make sense, but I am still to see some evidence that they make any difference in people's health. One company marketing these things actually uses some sort of transcutaneous chromatography that demonstrates that their supplements increase antioxidant capacity/activity of blood. Great. But I want to see is this increased number will make me live longer or get sick less likely. On the other hand, well structured training without overloading yourself, eating sensibly and sleeping enough will do ninety percent of the trick.

17 November 2008

Away from home, training at the commercial gym. I generally hate it: the music is deafening and couple of guys are queuing for the squatting rack breathing down my neck - for doing biceps curls from its safety bars. Biceps curls either with barballs or dumbbells seem to be tha main exercise done by everybody!

Anyway, today:

BB squat: 75 kg x 5 x 5
Bench press: 50 kg x 5 x 2 sets
DB MP: 2 x 20 kg, 2 sets of 5

Haven't done BP for ages, and not going to start. This exercise is something I have unlearned in the last year. On the other hand, squat is feeling good.

16 November 2008

Had a very nice - intensive - session in the sauna yesterday. It is so good. If you ramp the steam high enough the body stop distinguishing very hot from cold when you slap yourself with a wisker. After I finished it took about ten minutes to pass out in front of the TV. Slept like a baby through the night.

Today - indoor rockclimbing session with my wife and younger daughter. Though it is not very strenuous, forearms are fairly worked up.

At home some GS:

2 x 16 kg: 3 of 4 min sets/4 min rest
39, 39 and 29 reps

Short and simple, still about three and a half tons in volume.

Mental Preparation

We tend to concentrate on sets and reps and the technique when discussing GS training. This article from Rybinsk Girevoy Sport Forum discusses mental endurance training and mental tricks to increase the numbers. ote on the Static Dynamic Method, http://girevoysportafter40.blogspot.com/2008/10/static-dynamic-method-in-girevoy-sport.html

Methods of Training Mental Stability in Gireviks.

Girevoy Sport is probably the only sport that allows developing fantastic strength and general endurance by using free weights – kettlebells. In order to overcome the increasing physical fatigue during competition lifts girevik has to display willpower of special kind: it should not be impulsive, as the athlete has to last for ten minutes of competition set. Neither should it be too “soft”, as the intensity of lifting is fairly high, and the athlete has to motivate himself virtually every second.

An experiment was conducted at the Youth Sport School No.3 of Tambov City (Department of Girevoy Sport). Its main goal was the implementation of various methods for the development of mental endurance among gireviks. The experiment included 12 trainees, aged from 14 to 21 years, at the level of KMS (not bad, KMS at 14!) We would like to note beforehand that the methods tested have improved the results and may be used elsewhere for the same purpose.
The following methods of mental training were used:

1. Physical methods

1.1. Between sets of isometric or dynamic exercises the athlete is pushing the exercised bodyparts against an immobile object or fully flexes the limbs and holds them in this position, in order to impair the blood flow during the recovery phase.

1.2. Competition method. Kettlebell sparring: the athletes stand in front of each other and perform the lifts in synchronized fashion. One of them is setting the tempo at any rate he wishes, another girevik follows. After one minute the roles change; and so on until 10 minutes expire.

1.3. Varying of the goals of training. During one session the goal would be keeping the tempo constant during certain time, during another – performing certain number of repetitions (fairly high) independently of time.
1.4. Methodof “covering the distance”. For instance, after each snatch th athlete makes a step forward. The goal is to cover the distance, not the number of repetitions.

2. Psychological methods

2.1. Active vocal support. The embers of the team shouting “go on”, “you can do it”, “hang in there” and so on.

2.2. The coach councels the athlete that the physical sensation during competition lifting is unique and cannot ever be repeated again. Therefore the athlete has to force himself to experience positive emotions during the set.

2.3. Mental division of the set into parts. For example 100 repetitions are broken down into 25s, and the last 25 into 5 of 5. This mental manipulation of numbers is fairly useful for improving the final result, as imagining large numbers is mentally more difficult than moving towards the goal by making “short steps” and reduces mental strain.

2.4. In order to improve overhead fixation the athlete can mentally repeat some long number, for instance “one hundred and twenty”.

2.5. Distraction method for isometric exercises and static holds. During exercises a music is played, and the signal to end is the end of the song/piece.

2.6. Change of the weight of the bells without telling the athlete (by adding the lead shot)

2.7. Good communication with the coach and convincing the athlete that he can achieve the goals.

2.8. Intentional incorrect counting by the coach of reps during high intensity and control sets.

2.9. Playing back various distracting noises, such as noise in the competition hall.

Nothing fantastic, but fairly useful hints. I have been using the breakdown of long numbers for a while now. It is indeed easier to stand longer sets by doing so. Playing noises seems to make sense too, it sort of gets you out of the comfort zone of the basement or the friendly training gym.

12 November 2008

16 kg snatch: 10L/10R
2 x 16 kg jerk: 10 reps

2 x 24 kg jerk:
4 sets of 2 min/10 reps, rest 3 min

5 min rest then
2 x 16 kg jerk: 3 min/30 reps

16s feel very light for a few first reps after working with 24s. Some guys on Russian GS forums mentioned that in order to improve their snatch numbers with 32 kg they train with 38 - 40 kg bells. Feels right.

08 November 2008

I hope assembling Ikea furniture counts for a workout, because I am tired as shit after about five hours of screwing (in the literal technical sense, with a screwdriver, even though electrical). Have a bit of time, so did few kettlebell tricks too.

2 x 24 kg LCC&J - 5 x 5
Not easy. Never done it before with this weight, so co-ordination is seriously off: cleaning the bells far apart, rocking on the heels etc. Anyway, the first pancake always comes out crumbled as they say in Russia.

3 pulovers on the pullup bar, for the heck of it.
24 kg snatch: 10L/10R; 5L/5R/5L/5R

Gotta go, friend's birthday. Tomorrow have to do errand running, hopefully will be able to find time for working out.

6 November 2008

Tried to squeeze in a short workout.

16 kg snatch:
switch on the minute, 14 minutes, 210 reps.
(Had 160 reps at 10 minutes)

Volume - 3360 kg

05 November 2008. Dedicated to enemabagg!

2 x 16 jerk: 10 reps warm up
2 x 16 jerk: 10 minutes 65 reps

BB squat: 75 kg x 5 x 4 sets

Volume - 3900

Ryabchenko 2 - on rack

Yesterday I turned 46. So this blog becomes more relevant to older athletes (that’s how I want to call myself). Last week I spent four days in the Blue Mountains, the area couple of hours of driving west of Sydney. Very nice. Lots of food and wine. No training except for walking in the bush. It (lots of food) culminated at Uighur restaurant and was accompanied by generous amounts of Vodka.

Today I noticed that someone posted the review of Sonnon’s DVDs on the Irongarm, and another poster questioned the correctness of the rack position on the promotional photo. As far as I know Scott Sonnon has been interested in classic GS for a while now and probably has a good idea about the rack. I am definitely not the one to question his technique. But the post reminded me of a page in Ryabchenko’s article discussing this, and I thought I should post it here. Yes, it is the same article by the Maestro with the famous training protocol. There is much more in it on various aspects of the technique and teaching GS lifts. Here is what he has to say about the rack position.

According to Ryabchenko, the rack is the foundation of GS, and there is no sense to teach complicated moves without getting the rack right first. There is simply no good girevik without good rack (as well as without correct breathing). There are two basic variants of rack position.

On the picture above is the diagram of the rack where the hands are parallel to each other and at the same time perpendicular to the body. Ryabchenko calls this rack classical. The photo that follows shows Andrey Popov, many times champion of Russia and the World, typical example of such rack position.

The next figure shows another variant: the hands are parallel to the body and at the same time are turned away from it, while the bells are sort of resting on the forearms. The photo shows Ilia Popov, also many times Junior champion of Russian Federation and the World.

First time Ryabchenko noticed this variant of rack used by Ivan Ament from Kazakhstan, and he was immediately impressed by the rationality of it. In this variant the bells travel shorter distance and therefore less energy is spent during each lift.

Obviously, there is unlimited number of intermediate positions between the two variants, the most typical shown on the next figure.

Sometimes because of the mistakes made by coaches or, more commonly, when the athletes at the beginning train without guidance, they learn incorrect habits, which are especially visible in rack position. The next picture demonstrates the extreme bad case of incorrect rack.

In such position the bells are constantly pulling out, thus wrecking the coordination of the muscles. The arms fatigue faster. There is also another danger. Because in such rack the bells are positioned further forward, the center of gravity is also shifted in the same direction. When the bells are lowered the athlete is forced to extend his back more, and this increases the risk of trauma, which increases even more as the athlete gets tired.

I tried the second variant of the rack and have to admit that it did not feel comfortable at all. It may be my anatomy or bad habits, I don’t know. Most importantly, I am paying attention to not turning my palms in and to keeping them at least parallel to each other, as in the classical variant. Feel free to experiment and let me know how it feels.

26 October 2008

Away from home this weekend and had to train at the gym.

BB squats:
40 kg x 5
50 kg x 5
70 kg x 5 x 5 sets

3 km run
Shit, I hate running. Because I am a shit runner.

Training volume - 1750 kg

Snatch Training idea

Rashid Muftakhov is one of the posters on a RUssian GS forum http://girikms.forum24.ru/ He regularly posts interesting and useful ideas regarding trainig. I already mentioned his post on re-fatigue method for training on IGX, here is another one.

Rashid suggests when training for the snatch to always go for maximum reps. However, in a little different way: training each arm separately. In other words get your max reps for the left arm, put the bell down for several minutes, rest and then do the right arm. The rationale behind it is that after maxing out on one arm you are tired, and the technique after switching deteriorates, leading to the reduced training effect.

I think he has a point. These kind of sets may be done several times during training session. They can help doing more volume wiht better technique while still keeping the OTW principles alive. They can also serve as pre-fatiguig sets: by the time you get to the second or third set with the initial arm, the forearm is tired - maxed out - and you will have to seriously watch your technique in order not to let the bell fly away.

Just another trick in the hat.

After thinking about it for a while, I like Rashid's idea more and more. Snatching sets to the max with one arm would seriously load the forearm and the wrist, the main areas that limit reps in snatches. On the other hand, switching hands every minute or ten reps allows for longer sets which, in turn, will get cardiovascular system going along with the big muscles of the legs and back. And control sets according to GS rules - ten minutes to the max with one hand switch - will imitate comtetition. Therefore, all three may have value.

25 October 2008

20 kg snatch:
10 reps, switch hands every 10 reps

20 kg snatch:
switch hands every minute, 6 min - 88 reps
+ 30 sec each arm - 104 reps total

Volume - 4080 kg

More GS Science

I was browsing through the Annual Digest of Weightlifting of 1986. It is the compilation of articles on the subject of training in this sport in Russian (Ezhegodnik. Tyazhelaya Atletika). In that particular issue there were a few articles on Girevoy Sport. One of them touched on the subject that may spark some debate between HS and OTW gangs.

G Vinogradov and M Lukyanov from the Institute of Physical Culture in Leningrad (this is the institution equivalent to Universities in the West where coaches get their degrees, by the way; study time is five years) were evaluating the ways of assessing physical qualities of gireviks. The study was based on several premises.

One. Girevoy Sport can be classified as cyclical sport, and the most important quality required for it is strength endurance.

Two. As this sport is associated with significant strain, it is necessary to conduct special training directed to the development of strength.

Three. Research shows that the significant achievement in one physical quality is possible only when other physical qualities have reached appropriate (optimal) levels. (Remember the subordinate relationship between functions in Supertraining 1 post?) That’s why strength endurance should be developed on the foundation of general endurance.

Therefore the goals of training in GS include: development of general endurance, development of optimal strength and building of strength endurance on the basis of general endurance and strength.

The main point of the study was to study the associations between various tests for assessment of physical qualities and best results (control runs during training sessions) of gireviks of 2nd and 3rd ranks. In total 16 athletes were studied.

The parameters that correlated best with the results were those reflecting maximal strength:

Bench press (r = 0.75-0.97)
Barbell squat (r = 0.72 – 0.89)
Deadlift (r = 0.64 – 0.87)
Dynamometry of the strongest hand (r = 0.83 – 0.93)

Other correlated variables:

Dips (reps) (r = 0.74 – 0.89)
Pull-ups (r = 0.62 – 0.73)
1000m run (r = - 0.79 to -0.97) – the shorter the time the better the GS performance.

Interesting, but there was no correlation between the GS results and parameters reflecting the ability to develop explosive force – jump and 60m sprint.

In conclusion the authors note that more research is needed.

Of course, this article has flaws, the main being small group of subjects. Yet, the results indicate some trends. Better gireviks are stronger and have better endurance. Are they better in GS because they are stronger and tougher, or they are stronger and tougher because they are better gireviks and are better for some other reasons? Strictly speaking it is impossible to say based on these numbers, and only some kind of intervention study could answer this question.

On the other hand it makes sense: the person who can snatch 100 kg will be able to do more 24 kg snatches than those whose max snatch is only 50 kg. The same goes for endurance: the better your cardiovascular system, the easier it is going to be to last for ten minutes under the bells.

The point? The debates regarding Hardstyle versus OTW keep popping up on IGX. While there should be no debates. Girevoy Sport should always start with Hardstyle for beginners. One needs to build some strength and endurance base before getting onto the intensive training with timed sets.

23 October 2008

16 kg snatch:

2 x 24 kg jerk:
11 reps/ 3min rest
12 reps/3 min rest
10 reps

2 x 24kg overhead holds:
30 sec x 2

24 kg snatch:

24 kg OAC&J:

Total volume: 2944 kg


Not related to training. I just found this cool set of toys here http://whos.amung.us/ It is the site that keeps stats of your website: who's onlyne and where they are from. You can see the map on the right side of the blog, below the archive list. They say the only difference between boys and men is their toys. I say it is correct.

20 October 2008

BB squat: 50kg x 5
60kg x 4
65kg x 5 x 5

BB push press: 40kg x 10 x 2 sets
Good mornings: 20kg x 10
40kg x 10

Treadmill run/fast walk: 20 min

Total session volume - 3515kg.

19 October 2008

2 x 16 kg jerks: 15
2 x 24 kg jerks: 20 reps in a little over 3 minutes.

Headache, have to stop.

This is my personal best for 24 kg jerks. Still laughable, but getting better. My previous best was 15 reps on the 6th of September. I guess if I can add 5 reps every month in a year it wouldn't look so bad (hopefully).

Static-dynamic Method in Girevoy Sport

This title will attract attention of anybody, no doubt. Recently an article was posted on the Rybinsk Forum of Girevoy Sport by one of its members, Alexey. In case someone wants to read the original post, here is the link: http://girevoirybinsk.borda.ru/?1-1-0-00000178-000-0-0-1224153845 It is the article on the method of training applied to GS that the authors coined “static-dynamic”. Why it is called this way will be clear from the text. There are no details about the authors or where it was originally published. However, it is real, good quality sports research, and I cannot miss the opportunity to convey it to the enthusiasts of girevoy sport. Below follows the text of the article.

The reason to write this article were publications on statodynamic training in athletics, published in the journal”Legkaya Atletika”, No. 3-6 in 2003. The results of action of the static-dynamic method on the physical state of runners, throwers and jumpers were published. The works were performed by Victor Seluyanov [remember “The Heart is not a Machine” post that was based on his book?] We implemented Seluyanov’s methods in athletes and gireviks of Youth Sports School No.3 in Tambov, and we were convinced by the results and thus created modified method of static-dynamic training which allows achieving even stronger training effect in all athletes, and gireviks in particular.

First of all, what is the idea behind the “classic” static-dynamic training (SDT for the sake of space)? An introduction is necessary. It was established that work capacity in aerobic-anaerobic regime (as in girevoy sport) is closely related to the composition of the muscle. The more oxidative fibers an athlete has, the higher is the anaerobic threshold. It happens because during the contraction of oxidative fibers there is no lactic acid production. This leads to less acidosis (therefore fatigue) of the muscle compared to glycolytic fibers.

When training is planned correctly it is possible to increase the number of oxidative fibers in those muscles that perform prolonged work medium intensity, such as the anterior surface of the femur, muscles of hands and forearms, long muscles of the back, triceps in gireviks. The increase of oxidative fibers is tightly related to the strength training methods. During traditional strength training types of muscle fibers are recruited, slow (oxidative) and fast. However, only the latter are stimulated enough to cause training effect. As this is a dynamic process – the muscle periodically contracts and relaxes during the exercise – oxidative fibers receive adequate blood flow and the accumulation of hydrogen ions does not occur. However, without acidosis there is no training effect in these fibers. Therefore it is necessary to impair blood circulation in slow fibers during exercise, by keeping them tense and avoiding relaxation. In other words, in order to facilitate the process of forming new muscle fibers one has to impair blood flow through the muscle and make it acidotic. This will have more pronounced training effect and as the result better strength gains. This is the main premise behind the static-dynamic training method (SDT) developed by Seluyanov and his co-workers. The exercise should be performed slowly and without full straightening in the joints, not letting the muscle relax and keeping the capillaries compressed. The loads are moderate, so that fatigue occurs in about 40 seconds. The range of movement in the joints is reduced and is somewhere in the middle of maximal. If you look at the trainee from the side, it looks if the training part of the body performs “swinging” up and down, spending 1 – 1.5 seconds in concentric (shortening while generating force) and 2 – 3 seconds in eccentric phase. During each set the muscle works o.5 – 1.2 minutes. Therefore, SDT is the combination of two working regimes: dynamic and isometric, but without relaxation phase. The advantage of this method is that the central nervous system is not taxed as much as in isometric training alone.

Having described “classic” SDT we will now introduce modifications that have been implemented in the training process of gireviks in our Children’s Sports School No.3 and which considerably increased the efficiency of the initial method.

The essence of our modifications has been as follows. IN the 1st variant the capillaries in the muscles remained compressed between sets, and during rest the muscles were either stretched or wrapped with elastic bandages. In the 2nd variant during rest the muscles performed light work: movements without load or “punching” or “kicking” movements of forearms, upper and lower legs. These methods will be called accordingly SDT1 and SDT2. The following experiment was conducted in our institution, the Children’s’ Sports School No.3 of Tambov City in 2003-2004. The subjects were divided into 4 groups of 10: 1 – control, 2 – classic SDT method, 3 – SDT1 and 4 – SDT2. The qualifications of the participants were rank 2 and lower. The age of the subjects was 14 to 16 years and their body weight in the range between 60 and 80 kg. All were males. The experiment lasted for 6 months, at the end of which the subjects participated in regional competition (bells 24 kg) the results of which was used to gauge the efficacy of training methods.

Girevoy Sport demands serious qualities of its participants. The main load is placed on the muscles of the anterior upper legs, back, triceps, muscles of hands and forearms. Moreover, these muscles have to work not only in dynamic but also in isometric regime. This fact is what determined the choice of exercises to test SDT methods.

In the 1st group – control – training was conducted in usual fashion, and every third day the session included isometric work, i.e.holding weights in certain position for 6–12 seconds with 5 seconds rest (3-4 sets). In the 2nd, 3rd and 4th groups training regime was similar, but instead of isometric exercises work was performed with the same loads but according to the modifications of SDT methods, also in 3-4 sets.

Therefore, the 1st group performed the following exercises: static barbell half squat, static good morning with straight legs, overhead static holds of two 16kg bells overheads (arms parallel, elbows bent at 90 degrees), static wrist curls with barbell. In the other groups the structure of exercises was the same, but with modifications appropriate for the SDT methods.

After six months and participation of regional competition each group was evaluated. The following formula was used: S = N – n, where N – number of repetitions in competition and n – number of repetitions required for completion of 2nd rank. Therefore S is the excess of achieved repetitions over required for 2nd rank. Average values were calculated for each group as follows below:

1st group – 12.1
2nd group – 18.3
3rd group – 27.7
4th group – 27.9

The results demonstrate that SDT1 and SDT2 are the most efficient methods.

We have also successfully tried using these methods together with dynamic exercises by either stretching the muscles or performing bouncing movements during rest periods. For example, well known “frog jumps” were performed in the following manner. After the set of high jumps from low squat the trainee had a “rest” which consisted of performing bouncing squats with very low amplitude – not moving the pelvis up by much – for a minute. Doing frog jumps this way resulted in better physical indicators required for moving the trainees to more advanced training classes.

In conclusion we would like to mention that we have not come across the description of SDT methods used in our work in sports literature. We conclude therefore that the use of this methodology in the training process of gireviks has been demonstrated here for the first time. The end of article.

Here it is. In my opinion this article is brilliant. The hypothesis is proposed, appropriate training methods are tested and compared and conclusions are made. The results are also quite remarkable: the difference in results is not 10-20% as we often see in this kind of work. It is remarkable without exhaggeration. It is low tech and outcome targeted, measuring sports results and not some chemical intermediates, such as testosterone or lactic acid levels in blood and drawing long reaching conclusions. Any personal trainer can make research like this. At the very least it is interesting and worthwhile to try.

15 October 2008

Got some time to train only at half past nine in the evening. Inspired by the latest article by Dan John I decided to do four minutes of forgotten Tabata, as follows.

20 kg snatches: 20 seconds/10 seconds rest, switching hands every interval, about 7 reps per interval, 4 minutes total as per Maestro.

It seems like nothing while you are doing it. But now my trachea actually fucking hurts! Because time intervals are so short you tend to push the tempo - as you are supposed to. At the end it all adds together though. I think I should do it more often.

13 October 2008

We went away for the weekend, and I was planning big workout on Monday. We are doing low scale renovations at home, and I took a day of to put together cupboards from Ikea. I did put them together... But there was no chance I could lift another kilo after that. It was a combination of weight training - carrying hevy boards to the third level - and some imitation of Yoga - lots of movement with the electric driver, bending, twisting etc. I just hope there is carry over to my jerk numbers.

Stages of Training

I offer to you the translation of another article from Rostov site Main Stages of the Teaching Process in Girevoy Sport and their Characteristics by Gomonov VN, PhD, Machotkin BV, Master of Sports, Gamzov SA. Moscow University of MVD, Branch of Bryansk.

It discusses the main stages of training of gireviks and has some novel ideas. The most interesting for me was the use of static holds at the beginner stage for learning the elements of the technique. The article in Russian is available at the link: http://www.fgsrostov.aaanet.ru/Gomonov.doc

The text follows.

The distinctive quality of the initial stage of teaching is the fact that beginners assess the movements by their form and don’t take into account the dynamic and coordination structure. At best the beginner is capable to obediently copy the external form of lifts without proper coordination of the movements of the trunk, legs and arms. At this stage the reaction is slow. For instance, the athlete does not timely react to the deviation of the kettlebell from the vertical in the overhead fixation phase, and this causes unnecessary muscular strain in order to bring the bells in line. The absence of sufficient stability is typical for this stage. Another important characteristic of the beginning stage of learning is insufficient coordination of various functions, in particular muscular, respiratory and cardiovascular, which, of course, is reflected in the body’s reaction to exercise.
Taking into account these characteristics we propose the following method of teaching jerk.
While learning separate elements of the technique the emphasis should be placed on the visual aspects, using simple demonstration and conveying only basics of movements to gireviks. This demonstration should be conducted in three speeds: normal, slow and fast. One should not explain the technique in detail, as the trainees will not be able to properly follow the directions.
At initial stages the novices simply repeat the movements after the coach without experimenting, only striving to achieve maximum similarity. While teaching the elements of the technique the coach must find such exercises that are the closest to the element studied in terms of the structure of movement. For example, performing short put while emphasizing the higher trajectory or throwing a medicine ball (partner to partner) help teaching the array of movements necessary for kettlebell jerk.

Static holds are widely used in weightlifting. While imitating the olympic lift with a metal rod, the athlete stops the movement and holds it in certain position. This method is most accessible for the initial stages of training.
We have developed key positions for using this method for teaching kettlebell jerks (figures 1 and 2)
One has to remember that the method of static holds does not always bring positive results. For instance, when training the second dip position the athlete has to stop. It However when this hold is performed for prolonged period of time the athlete can get erroneous impression about the technique, as stopping during actual lift is a serious mistake.

Therefore, the method of static holds helps to learn the technique of the lift faster and more effective and understand the position of the body, but requires control over dynamics and general rhythm of the movement.

a b c

Figure 1. Key positions in teaching jerks. a – the rack (starting position, b – first dip, c – pushing up (based on the video materials of jerk performed by the world record holder M Parshov)

Doing the lift slowly allows getting better feel for the technique. Another teaching method, loosely translated as “following the movement” is used for this purpose. The athlete holds the bells in the rack position and performs the lift [at various speeds, as I understand it – Smet]. The coach is standing at the side-back of the athlete and uses his one hand to control the movement of the bells and the other to control the athlete’s pelvis. If the athlete during the first dip pushes the pelvis backwards and in order to prevent the bells falling forward uses the muscles of his arms, the coach intentionally limits the movement of the athlete’s pelvis with his hand [sounds kinky, but I think you get the idea – Smet]
Using static holds at initial stages of training and “following the movement” facilitates the development of specific learning of the girevik.

Figure 2. Static holds: second dip and fixation

General fitness of the beginner athletes is the main obstacle to increases in volume and intensity of training load. At the same time the efficiency of learning of new movements is lower when the athlete is tired. Because of that it makes sense to use not more than one or two new exercises in a session. It is also necessary to take into account the phenomenon of positive and negative transfer. In order to do tat one session should include exercises similar in terms of structure, this will facilitate the training effect.
For the next training stage, deepened beginning stage, it is typical that gireviks have general idea regarding basic components of the technique based on learned visual and, in part, proprioceptive sensation; lack of resistance of the technique against distracting factors; the ability to perform the lift as the whole while having serious weaknesses in details. At this training stage gireviks are supposed to fully learn the technique as well as doing general and special weight exercises. The athlete has to achieve sufficient freedom while performing the lift and during training session eliminate technical errors. The skill of movement in every basic lift gradually becomes automatic and becomes a habit.

Forming of specific sensation regarding the technique occurs while actually performing classical lift. First of all it is important to form rhythmic structure of the jerk, as it is basic for further improvement of coordination and dynamic structure. Learning the correct rhythm facilitates alternating tension and relaxation of the muscles which also allows learning specific neuromuscular patterns.

This stage of learning can be considered completed if the girevik’s structure of movement is stable while working at moderate speed. It means that the interaction of the athlete with the bells has reached required level of stability and it is now possible to start perfecting separate elements of movement or particular parameters of the technique.

Next training stage, the period of perfecting technical mastery is characterized by stable general structure of movement, satisfactory interaction of the girevik with kettlebells, reasonably well developed specific sensation, the ability of the athlete to change separate parameters of the technique without violating general structure of the lift and development of the individual style of lifting.

The movements used at this stage vary in speed, rhythm, the effort required, while performing separate elements of the lift. At this stage it is typical for the athlete to perform the lifts with rhythm and amplitude in his own style, including other biomechanical characteristics typical for this particular athlete. All elements of the technique are performed freely, without conscious control.

It is important to distinguish technical errors from physical inability of the athlete to perform the lift correctly. For instance, beginner girevik of microsomatic body type can perform 24 kg jerk several times but while doing it with 32 kg bells he makes mistakes – pressing at the top, deep second dip etc. In this case it is necessary to work on this athlete’s strength.

8 October 2008

2 x 16 kg jerks: 20/20/20/25/25/20/20/10
Rest - several minutes. All untimed.
Total - 160 reps/5120 kg.

Misplaced post

Scroll down couple of posts and find "Conceptual Basics of GS Training". Or click on the link: http://girevoysportafter40.blogspot.com/2008/10/conceptual-basics-of-training.html.

Due to my computer illiteracy it has been posted not at the top of the blog. Enjoy.

I am very gratefu to one of my readers from Finland for emailing the original of the article to me.

5 October 2008

2 x 16 kg jerks: 10
2 x 24 kg jerks: 10/10/10/10/10
50 kg barbell: press behind the neck - 10
24 kg OAJ: 15L/15R

Total volume: 3740 kg (lb.8228)

4 October 2008

16kg snatch: 30L/30R; 20L-20R-10L-10R-10L-10R-10L-10R (total - 100 reps). Untimed, about 17 rpm.

60 kg barbell squat: 5 x 5 sets
24 kg x 2: 30 sec overhead hold x 2

Conceptual basics of training

One of the readers of my blog posted a question related to an article from Rostov site which I missed for some reason, probably because my PC did not want to open it. The reader kindly emaild the article to me, and I did monumental job of translating it. It was worth every line. The article is called Conceptual Basics of the Training Process in Girevoy Sport and is written by Romashin YA. Honorary Coach of Russia, Master of Sports. Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Physical Preparation and Sport of Serpukhov Institute of Missile Armed Forces. As I mentioned, it is published on the site of GS Federation of Rostov District, http://www.fgsrostov.aaanet.ru/ The article is long and will require some tedious reading. On the other hand you can print it out and use it as the training manual, it is so comprehensive. Forgive the clumsy style at times, I did the best I could to convey the meaning.

Training for sports is none other that one of the most important means of “changing one’s nature”. Exercises used in training considerably change the abilities of the body. When training with kettlebells adaptation is expressed in the growth of the musculature, strength and strength endurance increases. Let’s consider the theoretical aspect of training the most important physical qualities of a girevik.

One of the most important qualities in GS is muscular strength. It has various manifestations: maximal strength, for instance in barbell squats, barbell and kettlebell presses; speed-strength – kettlebell snatch and jerk; speed – throwing of the tennis ball. For girevoy sport maximal strength and speed-strength are defining qualities.

Incorrect strength topography can impede interfere with learning rational technique in GS. Often in beginner gireviks the strength of the flexors predominates over the extensors, the leg muscles are undeveloped. They try to perform the lifts by using the muscles of the arms and insufficiently involve the muscles of the legs and the trunk.

As mastership develops the strength of arm and trunk flexors does not change considerably, and in best gireviks the strength of flexors is the same as in gireviks with first ranks, while that of extensors is considerably higher.

General endurance is especially important for gireviks. It allows handling large volume of exercises, not to get overly tired from the warm-up and prolonged competition, recover faster and train more effectively. High level of strength endurance is one of important indicators of athlete’s health.

Endurance is defined as the ability to overcome fatigue. Only training to fatigue and overcoming this fatigue can improve endurance.

In regards to the development of strength endurance the opinion is sufficiently unanimous that the best way for its development is to perform competition lifts in difficult conditions or in large volume. This does not preclude, however, the use of special strength exercises, which is confirmed by current methods of training elite gireviks. Strength endurance depends on the economy of the energetic processes and the rate of recovery of energy resources, on anaerobic and aerobic capacity of the body and on the so called “strength reserve” from max strength.

The relationship between the load and the number of repetitions has been established by Zatsiorsky in 1970. The number of repetitions is dependent on maximal strength when the load is sufficiently high and is not less than 25-30% of 1RM. That’s why if it is required to repetitively overcome higher resistance – more than 70 – 80% of 1RM – then endurance gain happens automatically because of increases in max strength, and in that case it is not important to specially develop it (for instance, for a weightlifter). However, when the load is lower, it is important to train for both: strength and endurance. Therefore, if a girevik can press two two-pooders 3-5 times then he has to pay more attention to strength training. But if he can jerk two bells 20 times and cannot do it 30 times, he has to develop strength endurance.

The following combinations of methods to develop strength and strength endurance may be used in training.

Maximal effort method.
Load: 1-3 RM
Number of repetitions: 1-3.

Repeated efforts method. Repetitive overcoming of non-maximal resistance with non-maximal numbers of repetitions.
Load: 6-8 RM
Number of repetitions: 4-6

Same but:
Load: 12-15 RM
Number of reps: 8-10

Other variants of the above method:

Repetitive overcoming of non-maximal resistance
Load: 20-30 RM
Number of reps: to failure

Same but not to failure
Load: 35-60 RM
Number of reps: 15 and more

The methods closer to the top develop predominantly strength, while those at the bottom are aimed at endurance, with strength endurance in the middle.

Depending on the exercise used and the methods and the amount of work, training load may be higher or lower and have either global or local effect on the athlete’s body.

The selection of loads that are adequate to the athlete's condition is one of the most important problems of training. The loads must ensure the best effect for improving the results.

For evaluation of the training load in girevoy sport various criteria are used, such as volume, intensity, the number and the sequence of exercises, regime of muscular activity etc.

Volume and intensity characterize training load. At the same time coordination difficulty, mental intensity and environmental factors are taken into account. The amount of weigh lifted during training session is volume, and the amount of work performed per unit of time is intensity.

By volume the total weight lifted during one session, week, cycle etc. is implied and is expressed in kilograms or tones. Volume in GS in classic lifts is often measured by the number of repetitions. For convenience of planning volume is classified into low, medium or high. Absolute value of volume change depending on the athlete’s level and period of training. Usually low volume is below 50%, medium 50 – 70%, high 70 – 90% and maximal more than 90% of athlete’s maximum.

The volume used by gireviks of high qualifications in one session can be 1 – 3 tons, in a week – 20 to 60 tons and more, in a month – 60 to 300 tons, year – 600 to 3000 tons and even more.

Volume determines the athlete’s technique. Large loads that cause fatigue have destabilizing effect. That is why it is important to find for each athlete not the maximal load but optimal, providing the best training effect. Without volume work it is impossible to create solid functional base for increasing the intensity of loads and, therefore, the improvement of the results. That is why the volume and intensity are always tightly connected.

In girevoy sport intensity is usually defined as percent of maximal result in jerk or snatch. It can also be expressed as the degree of strain during each exercise. For example, kettlebell snatch at intensity of 70% of maximal. Or as performing part of training with increased intensity in part of training session. In this instance, part of the training session – say, several sets of snatches - would be done at higher intensity. The former instance refers to the intensity of the exercise, the latter - intensity of training session.

Intensity of session is determined by the number of exercises, the level of effort while doing them and the duration of rest in between. Varying the degree of effort (the number of repetitions) and time of rest allows manipulating the intensity of training.

Increasing intensity by increasing the effort in a lift is necessary for a girevik in order to improve functional ability of organs and systems, the organism as a whole in regards to the specific demands of girevoy sport as well as general physical preparedness and development of strength. Increasing intensity by increasing the density (precise translation – Smet) of the session serves improving strength endurance.

It is well established that with increasing the load heart rate increases and vice versa. Because of that dosing the load based on heart rate is popular in sports practice, by referring to the maximal heart rate of the athlete. This method is most applicable for classical GS lifts, as they have cyclical character. In training for strength intensity is defined as percent of 1RM.

Changing volume and intensity of training it is possible to manipulate the result. The relationship between volume and intensity is established first of all by setting the goal and only then by determining the volume that the athlete is capable of. Every athlete is unique, different, that is why training load must be defined individually. Only then it is possible to achieve the best result.

Planning of Training

Continuous improvement cannot be possible without planning of the training process. The tables below contain approximate training template for a month. Do not ask me why longer tables are narrower than others, it is because of my Webdesign skills (about 2 out of 10). The columns in all six tables are supposed to be continuous.


In kettlebell exercises – numbers are percent of maximum for each set
In barbell exercises – percent of 1RM times reps times sets
C – control set (going for the max)
“+” – the quantity defined by trainee/coach

As mentioned above, the most important quality for GS is strength endurance, and the athlete must constantly monitor his strength level as well as special endurance. Because of that training session must be constructed in a way that ensures the development of both strength and endurance.

Yearly training period is divided into two half year cycles. The first one has two periods: preparatory and competitive, the second – three: preparatory, competitive and transitional.

The large training cycle general physical preparedness is built, on which further foundation is built. This foundation then serves as the stage for the development of high level of physical qualities. The process can be compared with three steps in a staircase. The stronger the first step the stronger and higher can be the second one which, in turn, will allow reaching higher level of physical qualities of the athlete. It is important to remember that the level of the first two steps must be maintained at constant level until new level of training demands their further improvement. At each new training stage volume should decrease (or maintained at the same level) and intensity must increase – this is the basic principle of training for exercises (movements) that define the success of the athlete in his sport. In GS it is obviously jerks, snatches and long cycle.

In other exercises the progress may follow different principles. It is very important to be consistent in the development of every physical quality. It means that exercises used at lower levels of training – for the development of strength and endurance – must gradually be replaced with exercises aimed at improving strength endurance, the quality that defines the final result.

In the macrocycle first two steps of training coincide with preparatory period of training, the third – with the competitive.

In the preparatory period of GS training is directed at improving health, building the base for successful learning of the technique and its improvement, improving general and special physical preparedness, developing mental qualities, improving theoretical knowledge in methodology, physiology and hygiene of the sport.

In half yearly cycle the preparatory period lasts for up to three months. During the first step of training the session (two months) is planned in such a way that half of it is devoted to the development of strength, and half to general endurance. This step is characterized by large volume at moderate intensity. During the second step two thirds of training is devoted to strength endurance and one third to strength. Volume decreases or stays the same while intensity increases.

Competitive period in the half yearly cycle lasts for 1.5 – 2 months and is divided into three periods. First two of them are pre-competition. During the first period 2/3 of the load are directed to strength endurance and 1/3 to strength. During second – ¾ to strength endurance and ¼ to strength. In the third, which is the period of competition – all loads is used for the development of strength endurance and main emphasis is on classic kettlebell lifts.

During competitive period the share of exercises for general physical preparation is decreased. Volume decreases, intensity keeps increasing. 7-10 days before competition volume and intensity are decreased, and 1 – 3 days before competition the athlete is given rest.

Transitional period in half yearly cycle lasts for up to four weeks. It completes the cycle and lies in between the yearly macrocycles. During this period the athlete performs some general exercises as well as exercises from other sports: skiing, athletics, swimming.

For athletes of high qualifications who often participate in competition and demonstrate high results throughout the whole season it is recommended to use multicycle planning of training. The first cycle lasts for 3-5 months. The number of other cycles depends on the competition calendar and usually is equal to the number of competitions.

The effect of training for strength endurance is defined by the following parameters: the size of the load (weight), the tempo, duration of work and its character, rest intervals, duration of training session, initial level of strength endurance and the capacity of the cardiovascular system. The basic means for the development of strength endurance are classic GS lifts as well as other exercises with weights performed mostly with multiple repetitions of non-maximal resistance until significant fatigue.

If barbell exercises are used for strength endurance, the weight is 40 – 60% RM, 10 – 18 repetitions and 4 – 6 sets.

If working with kettlebells for strength endurance the methods vary depending on the stage of training, as in the table below.

In kettlebell exercises the load must change from 25% to 75-80% of athlete’s maximum. For instance the load in double jerk in multiple sets may look like this: 25, 30, 80, 45 and 35 %. Endurance is better trained with exercises done at moderate rate. According to the laboratory data, in this case the individual is capable of performing work 40 times higher than at the beginning of the experiment, while if working at high rate the increase is only 4.5 times.

In the process of developing strength endurance it is appropriate to perform work in difficult conditions but in movements that by structure and coordination are close to the specialized lifts. Using 16 and 24 kg bells it is necessary to work to failure, thus increasing aerobic capacity of the body. Using 32 kg bells and heavier facilitates improving work capacity in “complicated” conditions. The athlete is forced to significantly increase the effort while the structure of the movement is more or less preserved. This trick also has certain psychological effect, and when he competes in “normal” conditions after “complicated” he is expecting good results from himself. This “complicating” should not be excessive as it can cause considerable problems with the technique and learning incorrect habits.

Depending on the period of training and goals rest time between sets fluctuates from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. For example, when doing interval training rest is decreased to the minimum while reps per set are increased.

Therefore, having the knowledge of the basic principles of GS training, methodology of the development of basic physical qualities and properly planning the training process it is possible to achieve outstanding results in this sport.

1 October 2008

2 x 16 kg jerks: 2 sets of 5 minutes (43 and 41 reps), 5 minutes rest in between, 4 min rest and untimed set of 20 jerks (about 2.5 minutes).

Total - 104 jerks.

50 kg barbell squats: 4 x 5 sets.

I like my progress, even though it is fairly slow. On the other hand I am enjoying my training and don't have painful shoulders or "sensitive" back. When I started training in May, five minute set used to be an absolute torture. As I posted earlier, I did only one timed set and then snatches and assistance exercises. After changing my training scheme I pushed myself for modestly long sets only rarely and was rather building volume. Surprise - there is progress! The first five minutes felt reasonably easy, and I could go for another minute or so if needed. Volume, baby, volume. Pavel is not wrong after all... My next intermediate goal (one of them) will be doing 200 double jerks in one workout, whatever the duration of the sets.

28 September 2008

Time set:

OAC&J 20 kg: switching hands on the minute, 20 minutes.
I lost count of reps, but the tempo was around 6 - 8/min, so total is somewhere around 150.

It was a good sweatbreaker.
For the workout I used a little program created by Wild Bill from IGX. It is available at http://slil.ru/26173790/235d1aae.48da0708/TIMER.zip It is a stopwatch that beeps at intervals that you set up, so that you don't have to watch the clock al the time. Very helpful, thanks Wild Bill!

Supertraining 1.

I bought Mel Siff’s Supertraining couple of years ago. It is not a popular kind of reading but a serious scientific text on training. Which I didn’t realize at the time of buying. Nevertheless, I read parts of it sometimes. Like with many books of this kind, you tend to understand more as time goes by and your knowledge and understanding of the subject – sports training in our case – deepens (hopefully).

There are two things I like about this book. One, most references are to Russian (or rather Soviet) sources. Two, you can find evidence for many, often opposite points of view regarding training principles. Just like you can support your point of view by citing the Bible: you can find whatever you want – or interpret it whichever way you please.

This post is the first of many where I am going to discuss ideas from Supertraining, hence the numerical ending oin the title.

This time I was reading about strength training and endurance and learned couple of interesting things. First, I liked Siff’s paragraph on the Process of Functional Specialization which I will recite below.

According to Siff, if we focus on the process of functional specialization over many years of training, its most general features may be represented in an ascending flowchart.

Level 4.
Structure of special physical preparedness

Level 3.
Ability to display explosive force
Specific endurance

Level 2.

Level 1.
Speed, Strength, Endurance

We are endowed with an enormous ability to execute any motor task and perfect this ability. We have flexible mechanisms of coordination, regulation and energy production for motor function, and the ability to produce movements which require the display of speed, strength, or endurance. These mechanisms ensure the success of human activities in daily life and offer extensive possibilities for adaptation – that’s the qualities of Level 1. We start training for sport, and this training stimulates the motor function, which coordinates all muscular activity (Level 2). The motor function specializes chiefly by developing the ability to display explosive force and specific endurance independent of the type of the sport (Level 3). The specific endurance may be predominantly cardiovascular or local muscular in nature. In addition, explosive force relates closely to the motor qualities of starting strength, acceleration-strength and absolute strength. The intensive stage of functional specialization follows which forms the structure of special preparedness (Level 4). The latter displays its own form with respect to interactions of the cardiovascular-respiratory and motor systems, which secure the athlete’s high work capacity.

And now the most important part. Within the confines of such structures, the functional systems interact in cooperative and subordinate relationships. Cooperation implies the relationship that is characterized by the effective interaction of all the systems responsible for producing the working capabilities of the body. Subordinate relationship means that the productivity of one system is enhanced by the functional potentials of the others. The structure of the special physical preparedness is determined by the specific training regime, and does not relate to conditions imposed by other sporting activities. End of paragraph.

For me the most revealing concept is the system interaction. In GS strength, endurance, special endurance, mental toughness, maximum strength and who knows what other qualities are all important for achieving results. Is it reasonable to insist that the only way to train for it is to imitate the competition conditions by doing timed sets? I do not believe so. If it was the case then boxers, for example, would only fight all the time, runners run their distance – no weights – and rugby players would just play their game every day. Unfortunately it is not that simple, and many modes of training directed at the development of different qualities are employed in most sports. Highly specialized training makes sense only at very high level of development.

When arguing about correct ways to train for GS Enemabagg from IGX (I apologize for his posting name and would like to use this opportunity to declare that I do not share his attraction to certain insertable devices!) - well, Enemabagg mentioned that he used to train several years mostly interval style without any sensible progress. Until his coach grabbed him and said "Train GS way, you bitch!". After which the numbers went right up. Jokes aside, I believe that the reason he improved is that by doing intervals he built the base for specialized training and that without it timed sets would not be as efficient. This suggestion is sort of reinforced by another poster, the convert from Hardstyle, who shared his impressions of the first timed set. He managed ten minutes when trying it for the first time, even though his previous training was mostly a la Pavel.

All I am saying is that Girevoy Sport is no different from other cyclical sports in that there is no OTW. Max strength is best developed by heavy lifting with low number of repetitions per set. Endurance – running, timed sets, interval training and assistance exercises for high reps or long time. Speed strength – fast lifting, both heavy and light (or lighter). And so on. Level one represents the most generalized, while at level four you have to display highly specialized physical abilities. Even though “you cannot run before you can crawl” is an annoying cliché, it is still correct. Why GS should be an exception - I have no idea.