31 January 2009

2 x 18 kg jerk x 10 reps
2 x 24 kg jerk x 15 reps

24 kg snatch: 10L/10R
18 kg snatch:

Vorotincev's training methods

There were requests to translate Voritincev’s text on girevoy sport. The book was written in 1988, and from what information I can gather training methods changed since then. Still, Vorotincev was USSR champion and also coached numerous elite gireviks, and at least for intermediate level athletes his methods are as valid now as they were couple of decades ago.

The principles of the annual planning of the training process are the same as in Horonenko-Romashin article; I suspect they took it from Vorotincev’s book. In the section of training Vorotincev has examples of training sessions for gireviks of various level of development, I will present them in this post.

Aproximate training plan during the 2-nd month of trainig for beginner gireviks with intermediate level of physical preparedness.

Session 5.

Goals. Improvement of the technique of jerk; development of the muscle strength of the back and legs; general endurance.

Warm-up – 15 min. Light jogging 500 m; mobility and dumbbell exercises; assistance exercises with light bells.

Main part – 70 min.

Jerk – 15 min. 2 x 16 kg, 5 sets of 10-12 reps, rest 2-2.5 minutes
Special attention at coordination of movement and breathing.

Assistance drills for jerk – 20 minutes, preformed with light bells.
Good morning with the kettlebell behind the head (10 min), 16 – 24 kg, 8-10 reps, 3 sets. Rest 2 minutes.

Squat with the bells on the shoulders (15 min), 2 x 16 kg, 10 reps, 1 set; 2 x 24 kg, 6-8 reps, 4 sets, rest 2-2.5 minutes

Playing soccer or handball, 30 min.
Walking, mobility drills, breathing exercises.

Session 6.

For this and next sessions I will only quote main training part.

Goals: snatch training.

Assistance drills for snatch, 20 min. Special attention to the coordination of movement with breathing.

Sitting one arm KB press (15 min). 12 kg x 10 x 1set. !6 kg x 15-20 reps x 3 sets. Rest 2 min.

Squats with bels on the shoulders (15 min). 2 x 16 kg x 10 reps x 1 set. 2 x 24 kg x 6–10 reps x 4 sets, rest 1.5-2 min)

Jogging at moderate speed, 15 min.

Session 7.

Jerk – 20 min. 2 x 16 kg x 10 reps x 1 set. 2 x 16 kg x 16-20 reps x 5 sets. Rest 2 min.

Assistance drills for jerk – 15 min.

Good mornings – 12 min. 16 kg x 6-8 reps x 1 set. 24 kg x 8-10 reps x 3 sets. Rest 2 min.

Squats – 18 min. 2 x 16 kg x 10 reps x 1 set. 2 x 24 kg x 8-10 reps x 4-5 sets. Rest 2-2.5 min.

Playing games.

Session 8.

Snatch of light bell – 15 min. 12 kg x 25 reps x 1 set. 16 kg x 25-30 reps x 3 sets. Rest 2 min.

KB row to the chin level – 10 min. 12 kg x 10 reps x 1 set. 16 kg x 10-12 reps x 3 sets. Rest 2 min.

Bench press of two KBs – 10 min. 2 x 16 kg x 10-15 reps x 4 sets. Rest 2 min.

Jogging at moderate speed, 15 min.

Vorotincev recommends concentrating on one competition lift in a session, alternating jerk and snatch.

Aproximate training plan during the 2-nd monthly cycle for beginner gireviks with intermediate level of physical preparedness.

Less details in this section, and Vorotincev only gives the principles of training. Here are the examples of backbone templates for jerk for beginner gireviks in slightly more advanced stages of training.

2 x 16 kg x 10 reps x 5 sets. Rest 2 min.

2 x 16 kg. 5, 7, 10, 20, 15, 10, 7 reps. Rest 2 min

2 x 16 kg. 5, 10, 5, 15, 5, 20, 5, 15 reps. Rest 2 min

2 x 16 kg. 30, 25, 15, 10 reps. Rest 2-2.5 min

This is the repetitive training method which, in Vorotincev’s opinion, is the most effective way of improving the technique and increasing special endurance at this – beginner - stage of training. The same principles are used for training of snatch. In approximately one to two months these templates become more complicated: more sets, reps in every set, weight of the bells – by 2-4 kg - and so on. The main goal is gradual increase in training volume. In parallel, intensity is also increased, with the rate of the increase not exceeding that of the volume.

Aproximate training plan during the last months of the second part of the preparatory period.

Again, just basic templates for competition lifts.


2 x 20 kg x 10-20 reps x 4-5 sets, rest 15-30 seconds.
2 x 20 kg. 30, 15, 12, 10, 8, 5 reps. Rest 15-30 seconds.
2 x 20 kg x 25 reps, then 2 x 16 kg x 25 reps, no rest
2 x 20 kg x 25 reps, then 2 x 16 kg, 15, 12, 10, 8 reps. Rest 10 – 15 seconds
2 x 20 kg x 30 reps, then AOJ 20 kg x 15 reps, no rest.

During the 2ng part of the preparatory period athletes perform more work with the competition weights, 24 or 32 kg. The principles are the same: increasing the volume and the the intensity of exercise.

AKC, rejoyce! Vorotincev recommends that the tempo of lifting of competition weights should not be increased until the athlete can do 10 minute set at slow cadence. Unfortunately it is not mentioned in the book how often and when control sets should be done. Keeping with the general style of Vorotincev’s methodology, I’d say seldom.

Example of training sessions at the end of the preparatory period for 1st year gireviks.

Session 1.

One arm push press. 20 kg x 10-15 reps x 2 sets. 20 kg x 20-25 reps x 2 sets. Rest 2 minutes.
Jerk. 2 x 20 kg x 10-20 reps x 6 sets, rest 30 seconds. 2 x 16 kg x 60-70% of max result.
Half jerk, without separating the bells from the chest. 2 x 24 kg x 70-80% x 4 sets. Rest 3 min.
Barbell squat, 60-70% 1RM, 5-7 reps, 4-5 sets. Rest 2.5-3 minutes.

Session 2.

Snatch. 20 kg x 7-10 reps x 2 sets. 24 kg x 10-15 reps x 4 sets. Rest 1-2 min.
Snatch 16 kg x 50 reps x 2 sets. Rest 3-4 min.

On arm swingson fingertips, switch every 4-5 reps. 16 kg x 50 reps total x 2 sets. Rest 3 minutes
Jogging 15 min.

Session 3.

Jerk. 2 x 20 kg x 10 reps x 2 sets. 2 x 24 kg, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 12, 10, 7 reps, rest 1-2 min.
Jerk. 2 x 16 kg 50-60 reps x 2 sets. Rest 4 minutes.

BB squats. 60-70% 1RM x 4-5 reps x 4 sets. Rest 3 min.
Top presses. 16 kg x 40-50 reps x 3-4 sets. Rest 3 minutes.
Partial overhead squats of variable depth. 2 x 16 kg x 15 reps x 3 sets.
Jogging 15 min.

Session 4.

Swings, switch every rep: 16 kg x 50 reps total x 1 set.
Same, 24 kg x 75-10 reps total x 3 sets.
Same, 16 kg x 75 reps total x 1 set. Rest 4 min between sets.

Alternate the height of the swing.

BB squat: 50% 1RM x 6-8 reps x 1 set; 60% 1RM x 6-8 reps x 1 set;
75% 1RM x 5-6 reps x 4 sets. Rest 4 min.

That’s it. Next chapters of the book deal with the training of masters of sport.

I am not going to comment on the program and principles; I am too tired to argue. It seems that Vorotincev favors volume training... No,can't be... If you wish – take the lines with long sets out of the context and say “I told you so”. On the other hand you may notice, there are a lot of sets of tens. Even fives. You may want to re-read the post with Romashin’s article on the conceptual principles of training to refresh the principle of the planning of the annual cycle. Take what you want out of it.

27 January 2009

2 x 18 kg jerk:
50 reps/slightly over 7 minutes

24 kg snatch:

A little analysis

I had time to kill and for interest’s sake plotted the training volume of Spiridon’s program. Here it is, red for snatches and maroon for jerks, all in kilograms.

Not surprisingly, the volume follows see-saw-like shape, just like in the books. As the intensity rises, the volume decreases. Another observation – in snatch the volume actually goes down over three microcycles as more work is done with heavier bells. Nice illustration of how to train correctly.

26 January 2009

For personal health reasons I have to have rather easy session, and I decided to try "breathing workouts". I used Wild Bill's timer. When I had to switch hands I racked the bell and waited for the next ring.

20 kg OA breathing MP:
Interval 11 seconds
Emphasis on good elbow extension
Duration - 3.5 minutes

20 kg OAJ:
Interval 10 seconds
Duration - 5min 50sec

I must say, it feels cool. Forces you to find optimal top position: shoulder rotation, grip, extended elbow. I also think this type of workout is better done on its own, not as an assistance finisher. Now that I think of it, I concentrated on time intervals and totally forgot about breathing. Not so much "breathing" workout after all.

"Breathing" lifts

Remember "breathing squats". I think this name was coined by Strossen in his Supersquats. I am sure everyone knows what they are, but just in case there is an absolute beginner reading this, let me pretend I am the only one who can convey this secret method to a novice.

You determine your 10 rep max. Next time you train you put a barbell with this weight on your shoulders and squat in the following way. Squat once, take three long breaths, squat again, three more breath and so on, for 20 reps. In other words doing the squats slowly and trying to relax lets you stretch it for double number of reps. Strossen marketed it for gaining mass quickly, and you are supposed to increase the weight by 5 lbs or 2.5 kg every workout.

Besides being able to put some serious muscle, these squats are just tremendous exercise. Not so useful for power- or oly weighlifters, but for the fitness crowd for getting strong and tough, both physically and mentally. I did this routine twice, although without really pushing the envelop. And both times I felt in awe of it: it is so difficult and the results are soo great, you hardly need any other exercises in a workout. I also think that doing high rep squats sets this way is beneficial for GS.

As it turned out, this "breathing" way of working out is not unknown to Russian gireviks either. First time I came across it in Ryabchenko's article describing his famous routine. First set with the heaviest bells is always done in "breathing" manner: a number breaths between reps, increasing from workout to workout. You can check the appropriate post here for details.

Yesterday I came across another application of this method. Discussing how to improve snatch, Fly, the poster on Rybinsk forum, shared his method that apparently helped him to increase his numbers (his best is 140 snatches with 24 kg in sligthly over 9 minutes).

Fly uses 28 kg KB in this method, the essence of which is "breathing ladders". As the sideline, isn't it funny, ladders - something so HS - is used in the authentic Russian GS environment! Never mind. It goes like this. You snatch 28 kg every 5 breaths (fixation overhead, of course) for 3-5-7 reps, swapping hands and non-stop. So, 3 left, then 3 right, 5 left, 5 right, 7 left, 7 right. Fly takes about 6-7 seconds for 5 breaths. Therefore, the 3-5-7 ladder will take just under 3 minutes or so. He also mentioned that he did 8-10-12 ladders in this format, and it rook him over 9 minutes. I think there would be nothing wrong with experimenting and substituting breathing for time, say 10-15 second pause at the top. I also think this method may be useful for jerk training, performing OAJ or OALC this way, resting either at the top or rack.

The method implies using heavier kettlebell, that's why the total number of reps is not that high. Ladders are great way to increase volume of training. In this case the duration of the set is also increased by long pauses between reps. This is the best of both worlds: long set that would please the OTW fraternity, and the ladder format will please RKC. Peace at last!

Ryabchenko modified

Yesterday I came across this gem, elegantly designed program shared by the poster SPIRIDON on Rybinsk forum. It was designed for him by his coach, Yevgeny Brevnov. Have a look. I apologize for the raw format; I am too lazy to put it in a spreadsheet.

In the left column you have the session number. ТОЛЧОК = jerk, РЫВОК = snatch. The numbers in the second line are obviously weights. For jerks rest intervals are not more than 1 minute. For snatch – no rest between sets.

As you can see, training is organised into microcycles 6 sessions each. At the beginning of the cycle - when the intensity is low – assistance exercises are added (squats, jump squats, hyperextensions). Spiridon also tries to incorporate at least two sessions of static holds into a microcycle (alternating 30 sec holds in top and rack); he believes they are valuable for improving rep numbers. As the microcycle progresses the volume of assistance exercises in a workout decreases or not done at all. There is also an interesting intensity progression from microcycle to microcycle: more reps are done with heavier weights.

The word at the bottom of the table, ПРИКИДКА, means control set. It is done only once every 20 sessions and after considerably scaling down the intensity and volume. Spiridon does not mention what happens after session 20, and you can use your imagination and inventiveness to work it out. You can repeat the whole sequence while reducing rest intervals between sets and/or lifting at higher cadence. Or you can add a rep to the numbers in the first line of the table and build other numbers from there. Or you can keep the starting number the same and increase the step of the increase, reducing number of sessions in the microcycle.
This program somewhat contradicts the way of progression popular in certain USA circles: achieving certain set time with the light weight, then increasing the tempo of lifting, the slightly increasing the weight of the bells and so on. This method gets you working with heavier bells straight away and varies the weight during the same workout.

Obviously, this program can be modified further: different weights for less advanced gireviks, different steps of rep increase from workout to workout. As long as the same old rules are followed: go all out seldom, increase the intensity and volume gradually, scale down regularly. Enjoy.
Wild Bill already explained this in the comments; I just want to put it here. 13 + 15 in jerk means doing two sets of reps prescribed, rest as between other sets. For snatch - do 13 reps left, 13 reps right, then 15 reps left and 15 reps right.

21 January 2009

18 kg swings: 10 reps
2 x 18 kg jerks:
10 reps - warmup
42 reps/under 6 min
30 reps/about 4 min
20 reps/about 3 min
10 reps, fast (finisher)

112 reps total, liberal rest.

GS motivator for older guys

I have a new book on GS, by Vorotincev. Not new, actually, and it’s been sitting on my PC for about a year. Vorotincev’s name is known in Russia, he is one of the first serious athletes and coaches of this sport.

The book deals with the usual issues of GS training, technique of snatch and jerk and planning of the training process. The latter is of particular interest to me, as the debate regarding OTW vs. something else has been hot for quite a while now. I will definitely do compressed translation of all topics of the book. In this post though I want to remind you of the benefits of girevoy sport for older trainees, as told by Maestro Vorotincev himself.

According to the Master, it is difficult to overestimate the benefits of GS for those over 50 years old. Due to sedentary life style many people at this age start complaining of various problems with the heart, unpleasant pains in the lower back, digestive problems and so on. Simplest kettlebell exercises, such as swings, simple juggling elements and good mornings with the bells behind the neck done for multiple repetitions are very useful as the prophylaxis of various maladies. Swinging the bell for many reps in its effect is similar to jogging and is good for the cardiovascular system, and various loaded body bends done vigorously have therapeutic effect not only on the spine, but virtually all other internal organs. After doing core exercises with kettlebells (I apologize for the “core”, this is the best translation I can manage! For 2-3 months pain in the back disappears.

These conclusions are made from personal experience. In 1987, at the age of 44 Vorotincev decided that he is not able to compete with younger athletes and decided to retire from the sport. Even though he was relatively active, by the age of 52 his blood pressure suddenly jumped to 165/105, physical activity started causing shortness of breath, and because of various aches around the body sleeping on soft mattress became a problem. Vorotincev decided that these are “normal” changes characteristic for the old age and even assumed that they may be the result of his involvement in strenuous exercises with kettlebells. In 1996 the International Federation of GS decided to conduct the first world GS championship among veterans, and Vorotincev could not resist the temptation.

When he went for the medical he had clear signs of hypertension, and is doctors forbade him to train with giryas. However, before taking medication, Vorotincev decided to try well tried treatment working for all ailments: prolonged jogging. At first he was jogging for 20 minutes and within 2 months extended the time to 90 minutes. The blood pressure went to 140/90. After 5-6 months after exercising with kettlebells and continuing jogging, blood pressure decreased to 130/80. Vorotincev won world championship. Aches and pains in the body completely disappeared. After a year of training with seriously large volume and intensity he achieved the record in 16 kg snatch for one hour: 1723 repetitions (remember – that was when this guy was in his 50-s! – Smet).

At the time of writing Vorotincev was 58 years old. He was planning to set the record in 16 kg snatch for 2 hours – 3000 reps (!) and 24 kg snatch with only one arm, aiming at 325-350 reps.

Vorotincev warns that his example is not necessarily applicable to everyone and that it is necessary to exercise caution. Unreasonable experiments with kettlebells may, instead of healing, lead to injury.

The author mentions other examples of kettlebells in helping people improve health. One such example is Dr Anatoly Dolgy, an orthopaedic surgeon who in 1998 participated in another GS world championship among veterans. He was born in 1936. At the age of 2 years he contracted poliomyelitis, one of his legs completely atrophied. He learned to walk with crutches at the age of 13 and started training with various weights. From the age of 29 he was training with kettlebells. By this time he could bench press 137.5 kg, and press behind the head 80 kg barbell. Later on he pressed two 24 kg kettlebells for 47 times, that’s standing on one leg (!), and snatched 24 kg for 90 reps with the left and 100 with the right arm. At the age of 44 he completed Master of Sport of the Ukraine in GS. He strongly believes that GS or some of its exercises are the best way to improve health.

Another impressive example – Ryurik Karnaukhov, born in 1939. He is disabled: lost four fingers on one hand and has severe arthritis of both hip joints. He struggles to walk without crutches. Using special hand prosthesis that he has build himself this gentleman has lifted two 24 kg bells 75 times (own weight 70 kg), though without fixation. Completed KMS. Bench pressed 100 kg barbell. Participates in every GS competition. According to Vorotincev, these guys never talk about their age; he believes that their souls are much younger than the age recorded in their passports.

There are probably too many exclamation marks in this post, and I am probably going sentimental, I don’t know. But these examples impress me. They are also the testimony to the benefits of training with the good old traditional Russian ball with a handle. Sort of makes me proud by default. Even though I have nothing to do with the stories.

Next step now is to decide what way of working out is best. Not that I hope there is ever going to be the consensus, but at least arguing about it is a lot of fun.

18 January 2009

BB squat:
50 kg x 5
70 kg x 5

Quarter BB squats:
70 kg x 40
70 kg x 30

50 kg overhead BB hold:
2 x 45 sec

3 km treadmill run (about 20 min)

20 kg OA paced KB press:

17 January 2009

20 kg snatch:

15 January 2009

24 kg snatch: 5L/5R
32 kg snatch: 3R/3L
(too early - too weak for 32s)

2 x 18 kg LC: 20 reps/about 4 min
These 50 rep squats and probably 100 rep OALC in the previous two days make themselves remembered - by total lack of strength in the legs necessary for jerks.

18 kg snatch: 20L/20R/20L/20R/10L/10R - 100 reps/about 6 min 32 kg AO swings: 45 sec/arm

14 January 2009

20 kg OALC:
100 reps (50 reps/arm, one switch)
took about 15 minutes
Honestly, lockout was not ideal closer to the end of the set

Rope jumping - 5 minutes.
(sets of 100 - 130 jumps, not continuous jumping)

Rope jumping is possibly another exercise overlooked by gireviks. It is endurance aimed and loads the legs and cardiovascular system quite well. Jumping for one minute fatigues me considerably.

13 January 2009

50 kg BB squats (below parallel): 50 reps/about 6minutes
70 kg BB quarter squats: 30 reps

50 kg BB overhead static hold:
40 sec x 2

18 kg top presses: 20 reps

1 km treadmill run at 11.5 km/h

Static holds is a good exercise for getting the top fixation right. The idea is to hols the weight while trying to be as relaxed as possible. For that the shoulders must be pulled in and somewhat hyperextended, elbows fully extended and the lumbar back arched. Good flexibility drill.

Top presses are good assistance exercise for improving overhead fixation phase. As the reps progress, many of us don't fully extend the elbows. This a) leads to fatigue and b) is against the GS rules, so that the rep mayn ot be counted. Top presses are done the following way. Press the weight overhead (KBs, dumbbells or barbell), lower it by 10 cm, press back up, placing special emphasis on fully extended elbows. Recommended to do for high reps, 30 to 100.

Two roads to the same end

I already mentioned the book by Polyakov and Voropaev that I got from the Net. One chapter in it compares training programs used by two serious gireviks. One, S.Rekston, is a medalist of the USSR National Championship in under 80 kg. Another – S.Mishin, absolute USSR Champion in over 90 kg.

Mr.Rekston trained three days on, one day off. The number of exercises practically did not change, preference was given to competition lifts, and isometric drills were performed at the end of the session. The intensity was increased every two weeks. During that time the number of assistance exercises (including those with a barbell) decreased. Every two weeks control sets were performed, and two days before competition – active rest. Here is the plan of his training as presented in the book.

Day 1.

Bench press
Barbell press from behind the head, wide grip
Isometric drills

Day 2.

One arm press
Jumps with a barbell from half squat
Isometric drills

Day 3.

Loaded dips
BB press from behind the head, wide grip
Isometric drills

Day 4 – active rest

Cross country run 6-8 km (4.30 min/km)
Other means of active rest

After that the three days sequence is repeated, independently of the weekly cycle.

Mr.Mishin was using quite different template. The book presents three months of his training in detail, and it is not practical to reproduce it here. I will give the basic outline of the principles.

He was training six times per week, using Saturdays as active recovery days and off on SUndays. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays – two training sessions. On Mondays both jerk or snatch were worked on, on other days – one of the competition lifts.

Depending on the day, from two to four sets of classic lifts were performed. Jerks were often done with 2 x 40 kg or 2 x 32 kg. The reps were built up following the two weekly cyclical progression, from 7-10 at the beginning of the microcycle to 15, 20, 25 with 40s (2-3 sets) and 20 – 40 (sometimes 50) with 32s (3-4 sets). One weight was used for the session.

Snatch was done only with 32s, doing two to four sets and also building the reps during two weeks, up to 40 reps per arm.

Various assistance exercises with kettlebells and barbells were used: presses, half squats, squats, good mornings, side bends and jogging at moderate speed. Unfortunately, there are no more details in regards to these guys’ training, such as rest periods, the rate of lifting etc. I suspect that at that stage of the GS development lots of training was done by feel, without precise methodology. Still, these guys were champions with respectable reps.

Commenting on the templates of the two athletes the authors of the book point out the differences in their training. Rekston gradually increased the intensity of classic lifts, whereas Mishin the number of reps stayed at certain level: 25-30% of max for the jerk and 30-35% for the snatch.

At the same time there are similarities. First, both of them worked on the technique of jerk and snatch alsmost every training session. Second, the number of exercises in the training arsenal wasn’t high, about 10-12. Both athletes had favorite drills for developing flexibility.

Here you go, two different ways, both getting the medals. Rekston’s emphasis was on increasing intensity, Mishin’s was more on volume – training much more often - and occasional intensity, going to 50 reps in jerk with 32 kgs. I wasn’t able to get competition records of those years (the book was written in 1988) and cannot compare training intensity with the comp reps; we’ll have to trust the authors comments.

The book, of course, is a bit dated, and GS methodology has changed since then a lot. Still, the programs mentioned and the principles behind them are interesting. One athlete increases intensity while reducing volume, and another uses high volume while keeping the intensity constant. Who’s right? May that be that both are?

11 January 2009

18 kg snatch: 10L/10R

2 x 18 kg jerk:
40 reps @7 reps/min

2 x 24 kg jerks:
16 reps/2.5 min
(planned to go for longer, but the form started breaking)

2 x 18 kg jerk:
25 reps/3 min

I was doing the first set with 2 x 18 by feel, without looking much at the clock, trying to get to 40 reps rather than staying the time. My feelings confirm conclusions I reached in the post on math: going longer means higher intensity, not so much volume. Even though the set was paced and not rushed, it felt rather heavy. I am going to gradually increase the intensity - the duration of the sets as well as the weights of KBs, while decreasing the total volume of the workout, in order to get to my goals by May.

10 January 2009

Went for 20 min run with my wife. I find jogging in the morning really hard.

Philosophy of GS training (from the amateur - again!)

The debate regarding the best way to train for Girevoy Sport continues on IGx, albeit in a less emotional way. Jokes and mockings aside, I've been facing this dilemma for a while now. On one hand, GS is about lifting for 10 minutes, on the other, doing it every training session is too strenuous, both physically and emotionally. For couple of months I trained with true OTW follower Dmitri Sataev and had to do 5 minutes of jerks every session. That burned me out, and I was not looking forward to training. One can start the rant about determination and willpower, but I am not buying it: most of us are amateur athletes and don't have to push ourselves every time we train. The argument in a way similar to that regarding strategies for weight loss: everyone knows that eating less will get you lose unwanted fat. However, it was shown numerous times in most rigorous research that it does not work for the long term: there are other factors involved, such as hunger and the drive to move around, both of which are regulated by the nervous system and are extremely difficult to fight. Many professional bodybuilders, whose income depends on how they look, often stay fat out of season, yet we expect mere mortals to have the discipline to exercise and eat for the rest of their lives. Anyway, this post is not about the treatment of obesity, and I won't start the detailed discussion now.

The analogy is right on when it comes to training though, in any sport. Training requires doing something on regular basis in order to develop good technique and physical qualities necessary for the sport, GS in our case. If you have to overcome yourself every time you train you are not likely to continue it for long term. That is why - for me at least, Pavel's PTP was such a revelation: you don't have to lift to failure. This variable alone changed my training from sporadic periods of hard working at the gym, just to get tired (and sometimes sick) and find an excuse to stop doing it, to regular and enjoyable, actually looking forward to lifting. No, I still haven't achieved anything respectable from powerlifters' point of view, but I do it regularly and enjoy it, without getting injured, which at my age is the most importan achievement there is.

Training for GS is no different. The sport is hard and requires discipline and serious effort, but not every time you train (ok, I train). And this dilemma has been haunting me ever since I started jerking and snatching for reps, which is several months now. Only several months that is, and I do not claim expertise to GS whatsoever, all I am doing is trying to find the way for a 46 year old professional to progress in GS while not hating it. Anyway, at this stage I have some ideas in regards to GS training and would like to share them with whoever wants to listen - and argue. Here it is.

I see two polar approaches to GS training which can compared to training for running. For achieving results in, say, 5000 m distance you can train in two ways. One way is to run slowly for long distance and build the volume and endurance. When you can run 15 km slowly it will be relatively easy to run 5 km faster. This is OTW in GS. This, incidentally, is also the basis for the actual training for the mentioned. Apparently, that is how the English - then champions - trained for the marathon in the 1950s, running actual marathon distance every week.

Another way is to run shorter distances, say 0.5 - 2 km, at high(er) pace several times during the session. This way you build intensity, and when you can run couple of kilometers quite fast, you can run 5 km at slower pace. This approach is the opposite of OTW. And though I am not sure of the exact facts, something like this has changed training for marathon in the 1950 - 60s: Finns introduced interval training for their marathoners and sharply reduced traning volume for their athletes, who eventually went on to win one of the Olympics. As I said, I am not sure of the exact facts, but something like this has happened.

The examples above, of course, are just illustration of the principles, and though coaches prefer this or that approach, the methods are mixed to a large degree. Runners of all distances use both volume and intensity training, as well as strength and special exercises and play training (soccer and other games).

The cardinal difference in OTW approach in GS and running, of course, is intensity. Running for an hour can be enjoyable, while doing double jerks is hard. Because of the weight factor the intensity in GS is closely related to the duration of the set - translated into the weight lifted per unit of time. That is why the analogy does not work in direct fashion. I am not sure how exactly, but it seems to me that with longer and longer distances in running the intensity translates into the distance itself: never mind how slowly, running for 3 hours becomes intense.

Ok, where it is all going. I am not so sure myself and opinions on the subject are very welcome. I personally believe in building volume by doing multiple shorter sets, then increasing intensity. As if there was not enough confusion - what's intensity? The weight lifted, the rate of lifting and the duration of the set, and the combinations of these variables are virtually endless. The first example of this approach is Russian EDT as per coach Mandrigelya from Rybinsk forum.

Another example - many Russian guys snatch 40 kg bell during training; then 32 kg seems light and can be lifted for longer. I also believe that going from heavier to lighter makes more sense: if you press 100 kg once, you will do more reps with 50 kg. But if you train to press 50 kg for 50 reps, will you be able to press 100 kg once? I am sure mutants like Valery Fedorenko, but I am wondering about mere mortals.

Of course, as GS is all about lifting for longer, it is necessary to lift for longer, at least occasionally. Just like running the full marathon distance is important for a marathoner. I just don't think it should be done that often. There is an opinion among some powerlifters that lifting for the max should not be done during training at all and should be left for competitions. GS carries much less risk of trauma, so going for the max is not as dramatic. Still, doing it too often may lead to burnout. Or maybe I am just a wuss.

Oh yeah, something else! When talking about timed sets and long sets I totally forgot to mention the most important factor: perceived difficulty. Coming back to training with Sataev, at that point in time 5 minute set of jerks was about my limit. Now, after building volume with shorter sets and EDT, it is not so strenuous at around 8 reps per minute. While 10 minutes is still hard, though possible. That's why the intensity of training will ultimately be determined by PRE, Perceived Rate of Exertion, the parameter presently very much in vogue in the fitness industry (even though only a fraction of personal trainers use it). Set it as you wish, on the scale from 1 to 10 or "easy, medium, hard", whatever. I think one should not go to high levels of exertion too often, maybe every 5th session or less. Horonenko's method implies control sets once a month when training three times a week, that's every 12th session, even though on some days the intensity and volume are quite high.

Circle training GS style

Over the last several months I translated every worthwhile article on GS I could get my hands on and by about November last year I was out of material, as evidenced by the lack of posts on the blog. Luck smiled upon me, however, and a month ago I came across a second hand book shop in Russia which happened to have an early GS book by Polyakov and Voropaev with the title... "Girevoy Sport". Thanks to Pavel, Voropaev's name is not unfamiliar to Western readers. The book is quite small, about 80 pages and was published in 1988. Even though the methodology of training has changed considerably since then, I believe that basic principles have not.

So far I have only read bits and pieces of the book, and some stuff is quite interesting. One of the chapters discusses strength endurance as the key quality of GS. I will rehash this chapter at the later stage, and in this post I will quickly run through the author's ideas of circle training.

According to Polyakov and Voropaev this method is very useful for the development of strength endurance and can be used at any stage of training, from beginners to highly qualified gireviks. It's advantages lie in the fact that one session includes many exercises. All exercises are performed several times and their intensity should be lower than during usual training. The emotional background and the variety and total training volume are very important. The complex recommended by the authors is as follows.

1. Snatch, each arm - 30-40% of maximum
2. Pushups - to the maximum
3. Cleans, two bells, 5-10 reps
4. Two KB press from the head level, 5-10 reps
5. Rope climbing, 3 times
6. Jerk, two bells, 50-60% of maximum
7. Pullovers on the bar, 3-5 times

Depending on the period of preparation this circle may be repeated 2-3 times.

Polyakov and Voropaev believe that circle method allows the coaches to show their creativity, as the choice of exercises, the quantity and quality of load may vary within very wide range. This method is best used in the preparatory period, when you need to improve general physical preparedness within shortest period of time.

As far as I am concerned, this method looks interesting. As you can see, it is a hybrid of OTW and HS (I know, I know, but let's not get into the whole thing of excessive tension and velocity). It is very similar to the circuits used by Dragondoor crowd, except that classic lifts are done for considerably higher numbers. This will teach the corret technique and the ability to set pace, even the ability to rest with the bells in your hands, while other stuff done for low reps will develop strength. Moreover, presses will fatigue the arms and will facilitate the technique of classic lifts, especially of jerks during the next circle. While doing this stuff non-stop will fry your cardiovascular system. The whole session should not last longer than 30 minutes for mere mortals. Feedback is welcome.

7 January 2009

18 kg snatch: 30 reps/arm

2 x 24 kg jerk:
2 min/10 reps
2 min/12 reps
2 min/13 reps
2 min/14 reps

long rest between sets

2 x 18 kg clean:
25 reps, paced

I am beginning to understand why some specialize in Long Cycle.

5 January 2009

BB incline bench press:
30 kg x 5
35 kg x 5
40 kg x 5 x 3

2 x 18 kg KB overhead squat:
5 reps. Much more difficult than I expected. Must do them more often!

2 x 18 kg cleans:
10 x 2 sets

24 kg OAJ:
switch hands on the minute
6 min/28 reps/arm

4 January 2009

Happy New Year everyone!

I have to set goals for the year and in fact did that last year: I have to jerk two 16s 100 times in May (and, if possible two 24s for 50 reps). So I guess now I have to step into the second stage of the annual cycle, where I have to ramp up the intensity - that is, according to the Horonenko-Romashin template (see the post on The Conceptual Principles of GS training).

Now, after finding excuses for feasting and binging on all kind of food for couple of weeks it is time to get back. First training session of the year today, and I was not going to kill myself. I'll call it a variety day to justify being short of breath from more or less the first set.

2 x 18 kg jerks:
5 sets x 2 min: 17/17/15/16/16 reps (81 total)

18 kg snatch: 1.5 min - 23 reps/arm

That's it for the modest start.