29 March 2009

16 kg snatch:
switch arms each minute
14 minutes/196 reps

28 March 2009

16 kg snatch: 10L/10R

2 x 24 kg jerk:
6 x 10 sets
10 x 2 sets

24 kg snatch:

Liberal rests between sets.

I haven't worked with 24s for a while, that's why they feel sort of heavy. The technique also tends to get worse with heavier bells, as far as I can tell. In any case I managed a reasonable volume. Could do more in both lifts but a bit cautious for my recently healed back.

Three Plus Two

I like theoretical aspects of sports training (maybe even more than practical ones, judging by my own achievements in GS). There is a big difference in training when you are 18 years old and can push yourself with little consideration to recovery and when you hit forty. Restoration becomes slower with age, and with these come dangers of overreaching, overtraining and getting injured. On injuries I can testify myself. During my university years I did gymnastics. Nothing serious, and the main goal was to get big pecs for the beach season. I could train every day, as long as I could eat before training! Sleep was not under any consideration and sprains and strains healed in a day or two.

Now it is different. Sleeping less has not only become more frequent, thanks to night shifts, I also tolerate it much worse. I also have less energy, so that training after getting home at seven in the evening after ten hour work day is problematic, both for physical and family reasons. There are also more commitments as you get older, and the mind is often occupied with various junk: mortgage, private school, work report, tax return and what not. Some of us also start getting chronic illnesses, the symptoms of which may interfere with training.

The point of these musings is that for various reasons the ability to train in sports declines as you get over forty. That’s why I am very interested in structuring and planning of training in the most efficient way, so that you get best results with least expenditure of energy and time.
Is it possible?

The first post of this blog told the tale of Professor Sergeev and his experiments in the seventies. His rowers spent less – much less, in fact – time training while achieving results better than groups which was coached in traditional ways. Closer to home is the methodology of Mike Mentzer and Stuart McRobert who, among others, recommended reducing training time in order to improve progress. Mike Mentzer mentions bodybuilders who benefited from cutting their training frequency to less than once a week!

One of the Russian bodybuilding sites displays the book by Vadim Protasenko, “Brawn! Or Supertraining without Misconceptions” where he digs deep into the physiology of muscle growth in order to explain why training less may be beneficial.

Last week I had to wait for my daughter at a shopping center. I was sitting in the book shop and browsing through books in the sports section when I came across the title “Runner’s World Run Less Run Faster…” Doing less for something always appeals to me, and I flipped through its pages. As it often happens, the essence of the book was explained in five or so pages and the rest was filled with details and praises. The cornerstone of the book is the program developed by the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (http://www.furman.edu/first/fmtp.htm). As it follows from the title, the program is for runners, from 5K to full marathon. The ideas in the book were previously published in the Runner’s World magazine, in the August 2004 issue, which is available at the website (http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-244--8257-6-1X2X3X4X5X6-7,00.html). The first chapter of the book is available online at http://images.rodale.com/wcpe/USRodaleStore/pdf/120791/159486649X_chap.pdf This chapter covers the history and basic methodology of the system, and instead of me rehashing it here those interested can enjoy the original. There are also several interesting articles on Furman Institute website. In this post I want to briefly cover this training plan and, of course, draw parallels with girevoy sport.

The system is called 3plus2 and consists of three key runs and two cross training sessions a week. Key runs are as follows:

Key run 1.
Speed run. This is the variation of interval running: 8x400m, 4x1200m, 6x800m and so on. Rest is defined more precisely in the tables on Furman Institute site.

Key run 2.
Tempo run. Distance from 3 to 10 miles.

Key run 3.
Long slow run, 10 to 20 miles.

The real key is in the pace of the runs.
Long run: 10K pace + 60-75 seconds/mile
Tempo runs: 10K pace + 0 to 35 seconds per mile, depending on the distance – the longer the run the more time is added.
Intervals: 10K pace – 35 to 60 seconds per mile, depending on the distance – the shorter the interval the more is subtracted. The tempo is different depending on the distance you train for, from 5K to marathon.

It is suggested that the runs are done on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with cross-training on Wednesdays and Fridays. Cross-training is anything but running: swimming, games and so on. This apparently introduces variety and prevents burnout.

What I like in this system is that it mixes different ways of training, from long purely endurance aimed runs to intervals. The pace of running – the intensity - is somewhat higher than in conventional templates, but the volume is lower. The book – and the article in the link above – contains testimonials from happy customers (not that it actually means anything, but still).

There is a temptation to extrapolate this program to GS. Long runs are similar to long timed sets with light bells, and intervals are - well, intervals. Middle distance runs may be equivalent to 5-7 minute heavy paced sets, maybe. It’s not the point though. The lesson I take from this program is that mixing various modalities can be useful and time efficient. At the very least this program may be useful to those of us who go for runs in addition to GS.

24 March 2009

My back is sore and I didn't want to do anything strenuous today. So I decided to try something I read about in an article "Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain" (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18362686?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
It's a review on High Intensity Interval training and its benefits, as well as its physiological basis.

This article mentions Wingate protocol developed by the authors and tested on various athletes. It is the usual interval workout on a stationary bike, 30 sec work and 4 minutes rest, repeated for 4 to 6 times - which makes total workout time 2-3 minutes.

I decided what the hell, let's do this today. An so it went:

Treadmill run 10 minutes at 8km/hour, then

Stationary bike Wingate workout: 30 sec/4 min x 4

That's it. And I am absolutely FUCKED!!! I could hardly walk away from the bike, the legs felt like wet cottonwool. Heart rate during the sprints went to 180/min, though - thanks to the previous GS work - declined fairly fast to 140-120. I am going to incorporate more of this workouts in my training, if only for variety.

22 March 2009

2 x 16 kg jerks:
10 minutes/50 reps
good rest
5 min/25 reps

16 kg snatch:
3 min/35 reps per arm

Volume - 3520 kg

Downside of vanity.

I work as an anaesthetist. Last week they brought the patient to the operating theatre on a broken bed: the weels were not turning properly. Partly because I wanted the job done, partly because of vanity I lifted the end of the bed and moved it to the desired opsition. Not much, about a meter, and the weight I lifted was - as you can imagine - not of olympic proportions. Yet it was heavy enough to draw the comments "mr. muscle" from my nurses. The downside - the next day my lower back was sore. That's how it usually reacts to stupid actions, with considerable delay.

I took it easy for couple of days and paid careful attention to the form of snatches during the weekend. Same yesterday while doing LC with two 20 kgs. In spite of being careful though my lower back is not doing well today. I also atribute it to the poor cleaning technique yesterday.

Morale? First, do not show off, its benefits - several admiring remarks - are quickly overwhelmed by the downside, discomfort and inability to train. Second - take care of your back. Stretching, mobility and may be gentle "incorrect" lifting a la Mel Siff should take larger place in my training. I wish I learned from mistakes...

18 March 2009

16 kg snatch: 10L/10R

2 x 20 LCC&J:
2nd step in the progression:
1 min 15 sec sets, 1 min rest
Reps: 7/8/7/8/7/8/7/7 Total - 59

2 x 20 kg swings/cleans
15 reps
1 clean for every 2-3 swings

2 x 20 kg jerk:
20 reps/4 minutes

Total volume: 3760 kg

Jerks definitely feel much easier since the drop became less strenuous. Now I just have to figure out the correct way to clean... probably will take another 10 months :(

15 March 2009

20 kg snatch
hand switch every 30 seconds
10 min total @14 reps/minute

It is actually difficult to snatch slowly!

14 March 2009

3 km treadmill run
19 minutes
large part of the run was at 12 km/hour

The technique, the belt and the elbows

A conversation from Rybinsk GS forum. It is part of the tread "Jerk". I slightly edited it (inevitable when translating).

Ванёк: Hi everyone. I would like to ask the experienced - is it alowed to rest the elbows on the belt in rack position? Samarets (another poster) was recently telling that he made special pockets on his belt for better elbow rest. What's the attitude to these kind of modernizations at the competitions? As far as I know the rules only state the width of the belt (not wider than 10 cm) and that’s it, nothing else.

ДЮСШ (GS coach - smet): Rules also state the thickness of the belt, 10 mm. At national Russian competitions all “inventions” in regards to the belt are stopped in their tracks. Resting the elbows on the belt hasn’t been banned yet, it looks.

GirEV (not sure,but I think he is MSMC; at least MS - smet): Exerpt from the Rules of GS Competition.

Athletes uniform.
- it is allowed to use standard weightlifting belt not wider than 12 cm, bandages not longer than 1.5 m…

ДЮСШ: Read further, the comments to the paragraphs.

…weightlifting belt must be standard. Rear part of the belt not wider than 12 cm, front part not wider than 6 cm, thickness of the frontpart no more than 0.8 cm…

Ванёк: Thanks. Everything is clear

GirEV: ДЮСШ, have you re-phrased my post? :)

ДЮСШ: Not at all. Read very carefully. It is not my “opus”. The exerpt is taken from the Rules published on the VFGS (Russian GS Federation). The difference is that the thickness of the belt is stated, 0.8 cm. The poster was asking about pockets on the belt to make the jerk easier. It will obviously alter its thickness, or width and obviously the whole look.

Антоний: As far as uniform is concerned, everything is clear. As far as elbows touching the belt – not really.

GirEV: Elbows are allowed to touch the belt!

Ванёк: In regards to the thickness and the pockets everything is clear. What’s not clear – yestesrday I saw on the Net – not gonna lie (not sure), I think it was Denisov at some competition. Well, this girevik – when I looked carefully – his belt was bent outwards in places where the elbows were leaning, sort of semicircles.Therefore the thickness of the belt is standard, but the shape is deformed.

The reason I am asking is because when I was training with mostly 24s – had no problems and I was able to rest in the rack position. For the last 4 months I train with 32s and 29s and cannot properly relax my arms. Because of that already after 3 minutes my triceps is beaten up, and after 5 minutes feels as it ismade of wood. I will try to post the file here.

ДЮСШ: If you pay attention you may notice that the great are forgiven for many sins! Overall though, do not concentrate on the belt too much. It impedes progress. Train for a week without the belt. Especially the rack. Roll the bells onto the chest, and bend backwards in the lower back. If your legs are strong, place the feet wider, point the toesoutwards. In other words, find the position in which the arms rest the most.

Ванёк: Thanks, I am gonna try.

SPIRIDON: I fully agree, and it has been written numerous times: the belt is not the means of elbow support, but the device for the protection of the spine. Tighten it up, and you can push one hundred percent, without fears to pull the lower back.

As far as relaxing in the rack – I find static exercises very helpful.

End of tread.

12 March 2009

2 x 16 kg LCC&J:
1 min sets x 10, rest 1 min
6 reps/set/60 reps total

I am beginning to fully realize the value of a coach. I think I am just getting the right idea of how to lower the bells from the top to the rack. That's after about 10 months of training. Shit! Anyway, I guess later is better than never. Today I felt for the first time how to fully relax the arms during the drop. The key for me was leaning the torso back more and moving the hips forward. Doing it with light kettlebells at relatively low tempo makes it easier to grasp the technique. I admit that this part of AKC teaching is spot on (when I am wrong I am wrong).

2 x 16 kg jerks:
30 reps/5 minutes

That was the test of the newly acquired technical nuance. These 5 minutes felt good, and the arms were not tired (not THAT tired) at the end of it. To help relaxing arms during the drop it helps to make a slight hint at actively pulling the elbows to the hips. Interesting side effect of relaxed drop: the heels of the palms where the handles are sitting are hurting a bit.

16 kg snatch:
30 sec sets/switch every set/no rest
9 reps/set/3 min/54 reps
Too lazy...

9 March 2009

5 km treadmill run
32 minutes, that makes it slightly over 9 km/hour. I am proud of myself!

Biggest Loser, who?

I generally don't watch reality shows and came across one of the recent Biggest Loser episodes by chance. It was interesting, and I kept watching for a while. I find it absolutely fascinating, though not for the traditional reasons - human spirit, determination and so on. What I find fascinating is how people fall for the drama, where there should not be one.

The very idea - fat people who lose least amount of weight getting kicked out of the show is - in my opinion - ridiculous. These are the people who need more help, yet they are excluded from it. Similar situation existed in the USSR of the 70-s in sport. When I was about eight, my mom got me into swimming. It was not as simple as it is in Sydney or any other civilized place now: go to the nearest swimming pool, join the group, pay the fee - very reasonable - and off you go. In Riga, the city with the population of almost 1 million there was one public swimming pool, and couple of others without the public access. In any case, I have always been a small kid, and at that time did not catch up with the kids around me. After six months and no progress the coach asked me (my mom) to leave. I learned swimming later, when I was about 35 years old. I am not bitter, but I believe that if I received a biot of personalized attention I could learn to swim and may be even make some junior rank, the pride of schoolkids in those times.

Besides kicking out those with most resistant obesity, another aspect of this program drew my attention: nazi style of coaching. For some reason tears and anger appeals to the general public. It must be extrapolated from the events like Olympic Games, where the athlete gives - justly so - everything he or she has for the victory, with tears, anguish and joy. Why it is supposed to be the same for those exercising for less glorious reasons - I don't know.

Couple of months ago I was in a commercial gym in small town in Australia and was watching a lady of about 55 - 60 "coached" by a personal trainer. She did about 15 minutes on the stationary bike, then 10 - 15 minutes on the treadmill, then did some skipping rope, then abdominal stuff, then some weights, then back on the treadmill. The breaks between these sets were minimal, and the intensity was all on the face of the poor lady. The torture lasted for more than an hour. It was the best way for that fitness professional to ensure that the client does not come back. And why should she?

Losing weight and simply getting fit are long term goals. The key word for the activities leading to these goals is SUSTAINABLE. Very few of us can work at high intensity every time we train. And there is simply no reason to do it for the amateur. Yes, I understand that some effort is required: you cannot expect to exercise without some degree of pain. But it does not have to be excessive and all out every time.

A while ago my exercise practice changed from paroxisms of going to gym for couple of months separated by longer periods - to regularly working out, even though often without definite purpose or goal. The reason for change was Tsatsouline's PTP, with it's theme "exercise often and not to failure". "Not to failure" was - still is - my favorite part.

Both volume and intensity have their value and place in training. For beginners volume training is considerably more forgiving, if not overdone, of course. And that's what the mainstream personal trainers forget - or simply don't know. Simple example: The Lore of Running, the bestselling book on running, contains a program of preparation for a marathon. It lasts about nine months, if I remember correctly. Guess what the program starts with? Walking! Then gradually walking is mixed with some intermittent running. Then it's running slowly. Then it's fartleks. And so on. The idea of the program is to run longer rather than faster.

If one wants to lose weight, the exercise should become a habit. It doesn't have to be intensive to the extreme for two reasons. First, it is unsafe and is likely to lead to injury. Two, it is unsustainable and therefore stops at some change. Pushing fat guys until they fall is stupid, just like that.

One of the objections I can foresee from a coach who believes in this style of training is that they have lots of trainees who successfully lost weight, maybe even many of those who kept the loss for couple of years. This however is what is called selection bias. Behind every successful "loser" there are many more of those who did not make it, those who have been kicked out or simply left. We can call them "lacking motivation". Or we can say that there are no bad students, only bad teachers.

For now though the public will be fed bullshit about will power and determination and wrong ways to train. That's in my modest opinion, of course.

8 Macrh 2009 - next step in the progress

I terribly lack time (or terribly bad at managing it). Because of that I decided to give LC a go. At least it is one lift, and good at fucking one up too. Couple of weeks ago I did 50 reps LC with 2 x 18 kg. To complete Rank 1 in GS I need to do 46 reps with 2 x 24 kgs. So if I gradually increase the weight I should eventually get to this goal.

Today I am starting the progression with 2 x 20 kg bells. I am going to use slightly modified version of EDT, namely Rudnev's template published in the last post. So today:

2 x 20 kg LCC&J
10 sets 1 minute each
1 min rest between sets
6 reps/set
total - 60 reps

I was planning to do assistance work, but after this - which is only 2400 kg workout volume and is a joke for most gireviks - I am stuffed. Sscherb from IGx is right, LC is the best buck for your buck exercise wise. I will probably go for a run on the treadmill tomorrow, maybe some snatches with 20 kg. Today however I am done.

Progression by Rudnev

It is fairly pointless to list all possible ways to progress in training. The idea behind any progressiong is simple: gradually increase the load. The load itself can be defined as the weight lifted, the duration of the set, the reps, the reps per minute and whatever else you can come up with. One of the first posts of this blog referred to the Russian EDT, very simple progression. Recently I came across an article by SL Rudnev on the Rostov GS site, Variability of Preparatory Programs for Classical Competition, at this link: http://www.fgsrostov.aaanet.ru/Rudnev_2.doc . I want to reproduce it here as an example of another Way.

The idea of the plan is to increase the duration of the sets without changing rest intervals. It consists of eight steps.

Step 1.
10 x 1’00”, rest 1’00”
Tempo – 14.min

Step 2.
8 x 1’15”, rest 1’00”
Tempo – 13.5 min

Step 3.
6 x 1’40”, rest 1’00”
Tempo – 13 min

Step 4.
5 x 2’00”, rest 1’00”
Tempo – 12 min

Step 5.
4 x 2’30”, rest 1’00”
Tempo – 11.5 min

Step 6.
3 x 3’20”, rest 1’00”
Tempo – 11 min

Step 7.
2 x 5’00”, rest 1’00”
Tempo – 10.5 min

Step 8.
1 x 10 = competition

Nice and simple. In my opinion the jump from two 5 minute sets to one ten of minutes may be a bit steep, so one can use intermediate steps, such as doing a set of six, seven and eight minutes first. Nice and simple. You achieve one step – progress to another. Feel free to tweak the volume up and down from session to session.

4 March 2009

Yesterday after work I felt falling ill: my throat was sore and I did not feel too good overall. This morning started as expected: worse. I the afternoon however I was surprised by feeling better. Sore throat was not sore anymore and I felt good. So good, in fact, that I decided to try a little workout.

I noticed that I get sick less often and for shorter periods of time since I started taking cold showers in the morning. Simple: at the end of showering I turn the cold water off and count to one hundred, the speed determined by the time of the year...

Today's session.

16 kg snatch:
1.5 min sets, 30 sec rest
2 sets of 27 reps each arm
1 set of 23 reps each arm
last set each arm 1 min/13 reps, the grip is dead

180 reps total in 14.5m minutes. Again, like going for a short run.

2 March 2009

This is an early morning workout, before going to work. I've never done it and want to see if it's something worthwhile for me to do.

18 kg snatch:
1 min sets/30 sec rest
17 reps/set/4 sets/136 reps/11.5 minutes

These things are more difficult in the morning.