Snatch stats

I swear, I am not posting it to bait anyone or start a new fight. I was just curious about my snatch training progress. You probably noticed that my main focus is on long cycle, mainly because of lack of time, lazyness and lousy will power: do one lift and you are off, as opposed to two.

My work is structured in such a way that every week I spend two to three days away from home, in a smallish hospital in regional Australia. The hospital rents a place for visiting anaesthetist, and couple of years ago I bought a 20 kg kettlebell of DD design, but with the stripped handle. I do continuous snatches by the method described here earlier a la Vasily Ginko.

Recently I hit couple of personal records, the latest being 120 reps with one switch. Nothing too remarkable, but taking into account that I don't pay much attention to snatches anyway I was curious to see how much effort was put in this.

From the 22nd of July to 26th of September I did 11 snatching sessions. Three of them were "prikidki", or max attempts. It is about 5 sessions a month, slightly more than
1 session a week.

Of course, other activities such as long cycle and running must have some transfer on snatches: cleans in LC improve posterior chain while running improves VO2 Max and lactate threshold.

However, the effect of this experiment of one is quite clear: with almost no sets with one switch my one switch numbers improved significantly. I am not going to generalize my - very modest - results. But for now at least the little program works.

And yeah, sorry for the bold, it's fun to do it...

30 September 2009

I am beginning to worry, workout was interrupted - again - by the dreadful headache on the 7th minute. I started subtly before that, and I was hoping I can work thgough it. But it got too intense.

The headache is occipital spreading to the forehead, and feels like it is coming from the neck. I I going to try some neck and shoulder mobility drills and see if it helps.

So I am still stuck at:

2 x 18 kg LC
6+ minutes, 39 reps

28 September 2009

2 x 18 kg LC:
6 min, 6 reps/min, 36 reps

Stopped because of a headache. It may not be the best idea to work out after a long run yesterday and being on call last night.

Attention deficits and lateral argumentation

This is the comment on my post of 26th of September by Brian:

Eugene, I believe that you are over thinking! GS (snatch) is a 10 minute competition that allows you one switch! You repeatly say that you love the multiple switch sets and you talk and talk about how much better they are than the OTW but you are forgetting that that is not GS. Its like saying that you love marathons but you never run the full 26 miles and that you prefer to walk every 2 or 3 miles! The bottom line is that snatching for 10 minutes with one switch is damn hard and switching mulitple times is easier. Im excited that you are challenging yourself and you working out for long sets and you enjoy it, but try not to put down one switch training because when it comes down to it, training with just one switch is leaps and bounds harder than switching every minute or 20 reps.

My workout on that day was single switch max snatch set. And yet Brian urges me not to "put down one switch training because..." Such is the strength of the belief in OTW that its practitioners cannot pay enough attention to what is written in black and white. The analogy with marathon is also off: do marathoners cover full distance every training session?

As I am becoming addicted to running I am re-reading Daniels' Running Formula. How do you think 5000 m runners train? By running 5000 m every session trying to get faster every time? It may be unbelievable but no! Several methods are used: easy long runs, repetitive runs, hill runs, lactate threshold runs, race pace runs, intervals and even strength training. Why GS should be different beats me. Every training modality has its place and should be used accordingly. Brian, go tell 5000m runners doing intervals that it is not middle distance running, see what they say.

This kind of reasoning is not unique. Couple of days ago there was a discussion of long multi-switch snatch sets for fitness. Catherine Imes made some input. When I replied to it her consequent response was totally out of wack. Instead of continuing the discussion of merit of multi-switch she said that she has responsibility to her clients, totally ignoring principal points of my post. And a nice touch at the end of Cimes' previous post: "hey, who am I to argue..." Catherine, you are not arguing, you are making sure to have the last word, no matter what.

What the hell, I should get used to it by now. The philosophy of GS in the US comes from one source, Valery Fedorenko. I don't want to take anything away from his achievements as an athlete or a coach, but having single source of information unfortunately led to single-sided approach to this sport, and the religios blindness of OTWers sometimes becomes fucking irritating. There is just no way to have a discussion.

But hey, who am I for you to listen to? I am an amateur approaching fifty year old mark and don't have great achievements in GS. Any achievements for that matter.

Therefore this is entirely up to you. I am not sure myself why I continue posting here and on IGx. I guess there are people who have an open mind, and they will get the points I am trying to get across. This blog is for those who are interested in the information that exists out there.

FYI, Brian and Catherine, continuous snatching as laid out on my blog has been recommended by Vasily Ginko, current GS world champion for that matter. Similarly, Russian EDT has been recommended for beginners by a coach and MS Alexey Mandrigelya on Rybinsk GS forum. Ryabchenko - well, Rayabchenko is Ryabchenko, a household name among Russian gireviks. Every author of articles I translated - Rudnev, Lopatin, Gomonov for starters -is either a famous athlete or a coach - in Russia mind you, the country where GS is taught professionally. If they are not reputable to you - well, who am I to insist.

In brief, GS should include several modalities of training that affect various qualities necessary for this sport. By adhering just to one you rob yourself of progress and fun in the long run. But hey, who am I to argue...

27 September 2009

10 km treadmill run

I am getting addicted...

26 September 2009

20 kg snatch:
max attempt:
60L/60R - new PR.

I am loosely following non-OTW, multiple switch routine which, according to some, should not result in the improvement of GS numbers. Yet the progress is apparent.

It is not a secret that I believe that volume training should be the backbone of GS training. Gradually build the volume and then increase the intensity - with or without the concomitant decrease in volume. An attempt to define mathematical aspects of GS training has been done on this blog a while ago. Just a little reminder: intensity in GS is reps per minute or total number of reps in a set. So longer set (more reps) is more intense than a shorter one (fewer reps).

High intensity training is also important, but just like max attempts in powerlifting or olympic lifting it should not be used often. There are two problems with intensity: it is more likely to result in injury and it is mentally hard. Yeah, yeah, "no pain..." and shit like this. I am not interested in olympic achievements. On the contrary, my main goal actually is to stay injury free. And looking forward to workouts is another one. In any case, from what I read in most endurance sports athletes do not train by doing max or near max efforts every session.

I said couple of times that in my opinion volume forces improvement in technique. Catherine Imes says not necessarily. Of course "not necessarily"! Is there any method that will enforce the technique "necessarily"? Any magic guaranteed way? Not even presence of the best coach in the world can guarantee that.

Let me explain what I mean by volume leadin to better technique. First, technique generally gets better from doing lots of repetitions, and volume training results in a lot of repetitions. Just before I get objections: not mechanical or mindless repetitions. On the contrary, the trainee should analyse every one of t5hem and pay attention to the efficiency and economy.

Second aspect of volume training - curiously - has been addressed by Catherine herself. A while ago she posted something about long sets teching you "to survive". It is true: long sets lead to fatigue, and you have to adjust your every little move to squeeze another few reps out of the set.

A while ago there was a post on the Russian forum The adminitstrator of the forum posted his recommendation for developing the technique of jerk:

The bell 16 kg is jerked with one arm at maximal tempo and for maximally possible duration. The goal of the workout is to reach maximal exhaustion, when there is no strength to continue jerks. This is where actual work on the technique starts: you literally begin to jump up, pushing the bell with the whole body and momentarily dive into minimal dip. This is important when starting to learn jerk: you squeeze another 10-15 reps this way and then switch hands. This way you find your optimal technique, unlike trying to copy someone else's which might not fit you just like someone else's clothes...

This is obviously true for any other lifts. I can just see the advocates of long sets point the finger at me: "Aha! Long sets!" But they would be wrong. You need fatigue to improve the technique, and multiple switches allow plenty of that. During snatching with multiple switches you experience fatigue several times - unlike in one long set. You can even regulate the degree of this fatigue by chosing the number of reps to switch. Switching every 10 reps will cause less pronounced fatigue than every 20 or 30.

During continuous snatching with multiple switches you also learn to pace yourself, just like during max sets: you know that you have to get to these 200 reps. Likewise, you have to pay attention to the economy of your lifting. So you get most the benefits of max set and at the same time get more conditioning, simply because you are able to lift for more reps. And if you are paying attention to the technique more reps will translate to technical improvement.

To summarize this blubber - multiple switches are good for GS.

24 September 2009

Russian EDT continued...

2 x 18 kg LC:
7 min @6 reps/min
42 reps total

22 September 2009

20 kg snatch:
dismal attempt at max set:
42L/50R in 7 min

Too weak after yesterday's run.

21 September 2009

10 km treadmill run
1 hour 10 minutes, average speed about 8.3 km/hour

I am proud: I never ran this far in my life! The longest was 8 km when I was a kid, I mentioned it in one of the previous posts. I am really tired.

Interesting that with the increase in volume you start paying attention to the technique: place the leg under your center of gravity, strive for high stride rate, close to 180/min, get your heel up, stay upright, move your arms forward, not across the chest and so on.

Someone posted on IGx about taking coaching for running. I was skeptical and joked about it. I must admit now that I was wrong: most runners get injured, mostly because of the bad technique. Learning to run correctly pays off. And it feels good.

Continuous snatching

I have been doing continuous snatches with multiple switches for a while and find them very useful. OTW crowd generally dismisses multiple switches as useless, but this way of training can be used to increase GS snatch numbers.

There are two major physiological components that need to be developed for snatching: cardiovascular and local muscular. Cardiovascular refers to the ability of the heart to support muscular work for prolonged periods of time. That's where VO2 Max comes into play. Muscular component reflects the efficiency of muscles to utilize whatever is needed to sustain work and is better determined by Lactate Threshold. There are plenty of good sources of info on these parameters, and I am not going to discuss them. In short though, VO2 MAx can be improved relatively quickly by high intensity training, while LT benefits more from slow sustained loads and takes much longer to get to the athletes maximum. Apparently many young cross-country skiers have the same VO2 Max as older record holders, however their times are far behind.

In order to improve cardiovascular endurance for snatching you can run. Alternatively you can snatch for long periods of time, and it will be probably more useful as it is more sport-specific. One way is to snatch intermittently. The problem with this way is that after a while you become good at it and need to either increase the cadence or the weight of the bells. Snatching at high speed is a problem because first, it ruins the hands and two, it may lead to the deterioration of the technique. Besides, if the goal is GS it feels better if the set is contimuous.

This may bring us to OTW. The problem with OTW snatches though is that your hands is going to give up relatively fast, thus limiting the total number of snatche and the duration of the workout. Snatching with multiple switches eliminates this problem. By switching every 10 reps - for example - will allow you to specifically address cardiovascular component of performance.

So what about local muscular endurance? Multiple swithching improves that too. How? By switching hands the load on the hands is imtermittent, akin to interval training for these muscle groups. Even though one arm rests while right one snatches, the rest is not enough to allow for full recovery of muscles, and this is especially beneficial for lactate threshold improvement. So with continuous snatching you get the best of both worlds: continuous cardio and intermittent loading of the arms.

This is the basis for snatch progression used in Russia. I came across it a few times on the discussion boards.

Start snatching with switches every 10 reps and aim to achieve 200 to 300 of reps in one set. Alternatively it is ok to choose the number of reps required for the ranking of choice and add 25-30% to it.

When this number of total reps is reached, increase the number of reps between switching. So the progression will look like this:

Switch every 15 reps
Every 20
Every 25, 30 and so on.

Every time the number of reps between switches is increased the goal is to reach the total number of reps in the set. It nakes sense to try max all out GS style - timed or untimed - snatches every time this goal is met. The total time of the set does not matter at this stage.

As soon as one can do the desired number of snatches with one switch, the next goal is the increase in cadence. This is done from the beginning: the pace is set higher than in the previous macrocycle and the sequence is repeated from the very beginning: switch every 10, 15, 20 and so on.

Like any other training programs on this blog this is just the template. The idea is to increase the density of snatching per arm. The weight of the bells may be varied from week to week or from workout to workout. Or not.

17 September 2009

Today I work away from home. It's 10pm and I just came from work.

20 kg snatch:
switch every 20 reps
160 total

Took about 11 minutes to complete.

16 September 2009

5 km run:
slightly over 30 minutes

Getting better!

15 September 2009

2 x 18 kg LC:
5 min sets x 2, rest 5 min
6 reps/min


I was thinking why I couldn't complete planned workout on Saturday. Besides having some alcohol the day before I think the issue may be not eating enough.

Those who know me from IGx know my attitude to losing weight. Not that I am against it or particularly want the world to go opbese, but there are more important health issues. In any case, negatives brought about by being fat can be relatively easily corrected without actually losing that fat. My view on obesity is also that of the professional: it's a disease, not character trait or the sign of being stupid or lazy. Am I lenient to obese because I am overweight myself? My weight is around 70 kg, BMI of 22, body fat as measured by Tanita - around 17%. Excessive? To some maybe, but I am not interested in getting rippedcall me lazy if you wish.

I digress. On Saturday I had very light breakfast and was eating sporadically throughout the day. Usually I eat lots of meat and other protein, that day I was more into sandwiches and muffins. When I started the workout I felt fairly weak straight away and had doubts about finishing it from the very beginning. Looking back now I can clearly see that my food intake wasn't great on that day, and that may be the most important reason for not having enough strength.

Dan John emphasized pre-workout nutrition time and time again, as per his definition: eat something on the day of the workout. It also seems to me that these goals - losing fat and getting stronger - don't mix well. When Vasili Ginko was in Sydney he mentioned that couple of years ago he wanted to try compete in lower weight category (he is a big guy and competes in over 90kg). He said that after dropping about five kilos he was feeling too weak and abandoned the whole project.

The issue of weight control is an interesting one. It is completely solved for the general public (and many of my colleagues): fat people eat too much, they are too lazy, dumb, don't have will power and so on. For those involved in clinical research it is a serious puzzle. What controls appetite? What are physiological mechanisms of regulating body weight? How does metabolic adaptation work? These are the beginning questions, and by trying to get answers you open the Pandora's box of more questions and paradoxes. From time to time someone will go on a diet, lose weight and proclaim himself a guru of obesity solution. I wholeheartedly congratulate them on the achievement, just like I would congratulate anyone claiming to get cured of his cancer by taking vitamin C or barley grass. Just keep in mind that the study of one does not mean much. That's beside the point that there is a good chance of a relapse.

Anyway, this post is not about obesity but about eating when training. Eating enough that is. You want to lose weight with GS? It will work in untrained people very well. Those who have reasonable or high level of fitness must make a choice between getting rid of fat or getting their numbers up. Two together will not work. That's my opinion.

13 September 2009

Second attempt at 3 x 4 and fucking yeah!

2 x 18 kg LC:
3 sets of 4 min, 4 min rest
6 reps/min

72 reps total

Longevity of GS

I don't even know if the title of this post makes sense. Anyway, this topic came up on Rybinsk forum a few months ago, LC competition among masters and veterans in Kerch, Russia (it might be the Ukraine, I am confused about the geography of the Former USSR). It was marked as World Championship, but was mostly represented by the former republics of the Empire.

The comp happened in February, and I understand 24 kg bells were used. As I am more involved in the Long Cycle I was wondering what sort of results older guys show in competitions like these. Here is the table, and the results are interesting.

The columns are: name, year of birth, bodyweight, country represented and the number of reps (it seems that for some reason the results are published in Lithuanian language).

Quite a few guys fired numbers that would put much younger gireviks to shame. Check out the last guy in the table, Nikolaj Sazonov, he did 90 reps at the age of 70 or almost 70! Slightly younger Adolfas Vejelis did 100 reps, and yet younger (but a little heavier) Povilas Drazdas squeezed 111! Bloody hell, that's all I can say...

Apparently there are a few sports where older athletes show impressive results, ultra-marathon and some martial arts being couple of examples that come to mind. In both of these experience plays important role. It could also be a case in GS, where technique and the ability to pace yourself make one a good girevik.

12 September 2009

2 x 18 kg LC:

The plan was 3 sets of 4 min, 4 min rest
Managed only 4 min sets x 2, and
2 min of the last set
@6 reps/min

Total - 60 reps

Must be yesterday's whiskey...

8 September 2009

3+ km treadmill run, about 20 min

I was all fired up and wanted to go for longer and faster run. After 3 km however I got some pain in the inner part of right foot. It got worse and I had to stop. I also got a headache which became noticeable after the run. One of those days I guess.

On the positive, my running technique is getting better, as well as my endurance. I ran at 9.5 km/hour and could sustain it for considerably longer time.

7 September 2009

20 kg snatch:
switch every 15 reps
180 reps total

I did not accurately time myself. Judging by glances at the wristwatch on the coffee table it took about 12 minutes.

Main limiting factor is the grip, especially on the left side.

5 September 2009

2 x 18 kg LC:
3 sets x 3 min @ 6 reps/min

2 x 18 kg Jerks:
2.5 min/30 reps

2 x 18 kg:
10 sec rack/10 sec overhead hold
2 minutes
"Cruel and unusual"

2 September 2009

The start of the next cycle of REDT, LC with 18 kg.

2 x 18 kg LC:
6 sets of 2 min @6reps/min

Cutting corners a little. Didn't train LC for a while, so decided to start with 2 minute sets.
Last set was hard on the grip.