31 October 2009

2 x 19 kg static holds:
30 sec rack/30 sec overhead
managed only 5 minutes

Definitely valuable. Definitely overlooked.

2 x 19 kg jerks:
2 min sets x 3 , 8 reps/min
48 reps total

Interesting, my biggest problem for now is pain in the hands, where the handles of the bells are sitting. The heel of the hand. The pressure of the metal at times becomes unbearable.

Now, the question: how do you count the volume of static holds?

27 October 2009

2 x 19 kg LC:
10 x 1 min sets, rest 1 min
6 reps/min
60 reps total

Sort of threading the waters of the headache and being careful not to bang the bells against the body both during cleans and lowering to the chest. So far so good. I am going to build more volume next session with 1 minute sets before I proceed with the next step.

Now, is the total volume of this session 2280 or 4560 kg? Feels like the latter!

Omnes viae Romam ducunt

I like Latin. So brief and dry, always to the point. The expression in the title means "all roads lead to Rome", meaning that there are many ways to get to where you want.

A few days ago I bought the fourth edition of the Lore of Running, a comprehensive reference book by Tim Noakes, Prof. of sports sciences at the University of Cape Town. It covers everything, from physiology to methods of training to specific training programs for chosen distances to dealing with injuries. The chapter on training methods of champions is the most interesting - and most relevant for those who practice the sport, and not necessarily only runners. Running is primarily endurance sport, and many of its features may be extrapolated to other activities, in our case to the beloved girevoy sport.

One chapter that caught my attention is about Emil zatopek, one of the greates runners ever existed. When he started training there was no running tradition in Czechoslovakia, and he had to find what works all by himself.

Classical training for long distance running consists of building a base with long slow runs, then speed work is added: intervals, hills etc. Against all the rules Zatopek made interval training his basic training activity. That's what he said about his training (taken from http://www.ioa.leeds.ac.uk/1960s/66163.htm:

I started running during the war, and there were no books at that time to speak about interval training, or what the Fartlek system was ... But I thought that in order to improve my running, I should be able to run faster, and it is not possible to learn how to run fast if I ran long distances at a slow pace as other long distance runners did. To run fast it is possible to sprint 100-200 metres, that is all, but it is not possible to sprint 5000 metres. What is possible is to divide the distance, to run 500 metres fast, then to run easy, then again fast, then again easy, and again fast. Running 10 times 200 metres, means to run 2 kilometres in sprint.

It was like a small revolution in our sporting club as I said, "Good-bye my friends, I will try another system". I ran 100 metres, as fast as possible in a straight line, on the track, and again another athlete told me, "You are crazy, what are you doing, you want to change your distance and become a sprinter?" If something is new you are never clever enough, you never know if it will prove good or not, and I thought, well we shall see. Next year I was the best in our club and the young boys came to me saying, "You are right, we will try to run with you," and I said, "Yes come, we will run together," but I was little more progressive and I was better and as I tried to run 10 times 200 metres fast my friends told me, "We are not able to follow you". Later, I tried to run 400 metres fast and 200 metres slowly, only to relax to get new energy.

Zatopek's training program consisted of lots of 400 m intervals run at various speeds. According to some, he did as many as 100 of those in a session. That's volume of 40 km. IN the Lore of Running though Noakes mentions that usually Zatopek ran about 18 - 20 km in a day, later increasing his training to two times a day.

Searching the Net I come across a very good article on interval training at http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0600.htm I highly recommend reading the whole article to those interested in this method of training.

Zatopek's philosophy was simple. He said that he needed to run fast, and for that running short distances was best. He said he needed endurance, and for that he ran short distances many times. The logic is unbeatable, though I suspect never mind how Zatopek trained he would still be a champion.

I don't want to simplify things and simply put up an argument of "this against that", fast short sets against long timed ones. I suspect Zatopek had a good aerobic base achieved by running in the snow in the army boots before he started his intervals. My argument is against anything set in stone.

I personally believe in volume training. This method is used in every endurance based sport. For instance, when you start training for middle distance running they recommend starting from walking. In fact, for many early marathon champions walking constituted the main mode of training, with relatively little running added here and there.

Let’s say you want to start training for 5000 m distance running and achieve Rank 1, which requires you to cover this distance under 15 minutes (not a real rank requirement). Which training method makes more sense to you?

Method 1. Your main goal is to be able to run for 15 minutes. Once you can do this try run faster and faster, until you can fit 5 km into this time frame.

Method 2. Your goal is to be able to run 5 km. You start by alternating running and walking, gradually training yourself to run 5 km non-stop. Then you add some speed work and try run this distance within the required time frame.

Which one is more logical? For me, the second one. In fact, it has been used by running coaches for generations. Classing running adage says: first run for the distance, then for speed.

Interesting, that among OTW crowd definitions sometimes are mixed up. I heard the following several times: do jerks at low cadence for time until you can last the distance, 10 minutes. Then work on increasing cadence. I wonder, since when distance is measured in minutes, the units usually reserved for time.

I am not exercising in eloquence. Distance in GS is the number of repetitions. You want to achieve WKC Rank 1 under 70 kg – make sure you can do 50 jerks (the requirement) with 2 x 20 kg bells, at all, never mind the time. Starting with 10 sets of 5 reps is fine. It even makes sense to aim for higher number of reps, say 75 or 100. Just doing 100 jerks in a session will make you much stronger. Working on density at later stages will get you to your goal. This is similar to Zatopek’s 50 intervals of 400 m, though you don’t have to sprint. Does it work? Anecdotally at least, there were several reports from Dragondoor guys who tried GS-like sets for the first time and demonstrated the ability to last full 10 minutes.

A provocative thought. The number of GS participants in the US is not skyrocketing. You may say it is because GS is very hard. Well, marathon is also extremely demanding, however the number of crazy runners is enormous. It also seems to me that the number of MS in GS in America is not growing as fast as the number of Black Belts after the introduction of Judo and Karate in this country. Could it be that many trainees are put off – or injured – by long timed sets, dominating methodology of the dominating GS body in the USA, AKC?

Whatever. As I always said, there are many ways to achieve the goal. What to use depends on your determination and other factors, including age.

Omnes viae Romam ducunt.

Oh yeah, a little addition. Don't misunderstand me: timed sets are not worthless, I never said that. Everything in training has context, and GS is not an exception: every method has its place. Volume training is valuable for building a strong strength and endurance base and improving technique. When preparing for competition timed sets are invaluable. as Ecclesiastes said, there is time for everything. But this is the topic for another post.

24 October 2009

A little try at speed work.

20 kg snatch:
1 min sets, 1 min rest
20 reps/min
8 sets, 160 reps total

Gets you out of breath quite nicely.

22 October 2009

2 x 19 kg jerks:
10 x 1 min on the minute sets
8 reps/min, 120 reps

Several minutes break, then another
5 x 1 min on the minute sets
8 reps/min, 40 reps

Total volume: 4560 kg + 1520 = 6080 kg

Did short sets on purpose, in order to avoid the headache. Paid special attention not to bang the bells too heavily and not to shake the head too much. The plan was to stop when headache appears, but it never came. Hope this is the beginning of my recovery.

20 October 2009

Treadmill run:
12 km, 85 minutes

Feels good. Hard but good. You start understanding the impoortance of running technique by 6-7th kilometer. I am trying to follow chi running methodology, so far with variable success.

18 October 2009

Easier workout today

2 x 19 kg jerk:
8reps/min, 36 reps
4.5 minutes

2 x 19 kg jerk:
8 reps/min, 25 reps
3 minutes

17 October 2009

2 x 19 kg LC:
7 reps/min/2 min
14 reps

Wanted to try and put more volume in the same time, but the headache started appearing from afar. So converted to the standard 2 x 5 sets at 6 reps/min.

2 x 19 kg LC
5 sets of 2 min at 6 reps/min
rest 2 min
60 reps total

Total workout volume 74 reps = 2812 kg, not that much. It is amazing how much difference 2 kg increase in weight makes: it feels so much heavier.

I am trying to make an aapointment with the chiropractor recommended by Terra from IGx. Hope he can do something about my headache.

About an hour after the session I have the headache. I must do something about it. Chiropractor is one option, and I am planning to see one next week. Next step will be to see a sports physician. In regards to training, maybe I should take a break from LC and switch to biathlon for a month or two. The intensity of jerks is less than that of long cycle: it is less complex movement and less elaborate - there are no cleans. In fact, you can say that for the same number of reps the intensity and volume of LC is double that of jerks, as you are lifting the same weight twice. Therefore, unless you do double the number of reps with jerks, the intensity of the latter will be lower. Maybe I should do it...

14 October 2009

2 x 18 kg LC:
44 reps/slightly over 7 minutes at 6 reps/min

The goal is still 10 minutes/60 reps with 2 x 20 kg, which was carefully attempted today. At the 7 minute mark the headache started creeping in, and I stopped before it came to full force. I think it is coming from me overly straining my neck. I also tend to bang the bells against my chest during cleans, and that also seems to cause excessive impact on my head. Something to work on.

A bit of volume to finish with

2 x 18 kg jerks:
3 min/20 reps
2 min/20 reps
2.5 min/20 reps
2 min/20 reps

Total volume 4464 kg.

I am thinking of possible solutions for the headache problem. One, to stop LC for a month and see what happens. Two, ignore getting to 10 minutes with the current weight and to start the next step of REDT with 19 kg bells. After all, the original progression stops at 8 minutes, not 10 anyway. That's what I am going to do next session, 10 sets of 1 minute LC with 19 kg. At some stage I will come back and try going full 10 minutes with 18s.

Rudnev on snatch

Went to gym for the treadmill run today, but overdid the speed and got shin splints after 2.5 km. It was too painful to continue, and I went home. That’s why I decided to do some snatches at home. I set Wild Bill’s timer at 1 minute intervals and did

20 kg snatch
1 minute sets/1 minute rest
300 snatches in total.

I did 15 reps a minute, so that intervals looked more like 50 seconds work, 70 seconds rest.

This type of workout is great. It keeps your heart rate high – but not too high - for a long time, my workout took 40 minutes. It also allows you to work on the technique: you don’t get too tired to just trying to squeeze another rep, and there are more than enough reps to try various adjustments.

And that’s what brings me to the main theme of today’s post, technical aspects of snatch. As you remember, couple of months ago I mentioned that in Russia now they gave dedicated periodical, Girevoy Sport magazine. Couple of days ago I received it in the post, Vasily Ginko sent it to me at my request when he was in Sydney. It is a nice magazine with the glossy cover and good quality paper. Most articles are more of an entertaining value. However in the last article Sergey Rudnev discusses the technique and his approach to teaching GS snatch.

I am not going to translate the whole piece, most details are well known and have been discussed before, here and elsewhere. There are several points though that caught my attention.
First point is the biomechanics of lower phases of snatch, when the bell is below the waist. According to Rudnev the arm holding the bell must come in contact with the body and stay in contact until the bell is swung upwards. After the bell passes the lowest point of the trajectory the hand is turned so that the thumb is pointed downwards. The bell stops due to the natural loss of momentum. At this moment the legs and the back are straight (!) and the upper arm, forearm, the back surface of the hand and the center of gravity of the bell form one line. Swaying of the bell is unacceptable. When initiating the movement of the bell forward from the dead point the legs bend and extend, so that they are straight by the moment the forearm gets separated from the body. That – the contact of the forearm with the body – is new to me. In order to practice this phase Rudnev makes his trainees do lower swings. They are similar to normal swings except the forearm does not lose contact with the trunk.

Another moment I never thought about and which makes a difference is the position of the bell on the upswing. Rudnev does not talk about it, however in the photographs of his trainee, Nikita Balagov, record holder of Russia, 191 reps of snatch (under 70 kg) this is clearly visible. By the time the bell passes the legs on the way up the thumb is pointed forward. In other words, while the KB is moving from the dead point to this level the arm completes 180 degrees rotation: from thumb backwards to thumb forward. During my snatch workout today I tried this and results are quite dramatic: much less strength is spent, it is especially noticeable in the arm and the shoulder (I think).

Rudnev is very specific about the legs being straight in the lowest snatch point and he recommends doing low swings with the special emphasis on this detail. Another common mistake among novices is early reversal of the bell at the bottom. This however has been discusses many times on IGx.

Last point – this time mine – volume training has its valuable place in GS training. I had 300 reps today to try various combinations of tricks that I discussed above. As the result I could train with relatively heavy bell of 20 kg and at the same time be fresh enough to being able to think about the technique.

Oh yeah, really last one. My hands are fucked, or, more precisely, right hand is. This points to another interesting phenomenon. My right hand is stronger and probably because of this I tend to either grab the bell harder or overlook the correct grip, or something else, which resulted in two torn calluses. Left palm feel abused too, but the skin is intact. Another detail of the technique to watch.

11 October 2009

Treadmill run:
about 3 km, 3 minutes intervals
however after the 2nd attempt got a bad shin splint and stopped

Later at home:

20 kg snatch:
1 min snatch/1 minute rest
15 reps/min
300 reps total

Besides my hands being fucked up there are several useful points to be taken from this workout. Check the next post for more musings.

10 October 2009

20 kg snatch:
switch every 20 reps
190 reps total (last switches at 15 reps)

I haven't touched kettlebells for a week, and that's probably the reason it felt so hard today. My forearms are killing me and I am seriously out of breath.

By the way, just an interesting question: why is it that after you stop intensive exercise for the first minute of rest it feels worse than during actual exercise? No catch, I have no idea.

Missed wisdom of Lorraine Patten

Sitting doing nothing and browsing the Net I came across the article by Lorraine Patten on Dragondoor, Navigating Girevoy Sport Training. I was always under the impression that Lorraine follows AKC methodology of long timed sets. This article showed that I was wrong, and from what I've seen around, Lorraine's methodology is the most scientifically sound. So, what's so different about it? You can read the article at http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/416/ Here I am only going to go through points that drew my attention.

First of all, this methodology alternates between three phases of training: strength, volume and GS-specific work. During strength phase Lorraine does squats, deadlifts and otherbasic lifts for two months, with no snatching during the first month. During volume phase that also lasts two months volume is built. Interestingly, Lorraine is the first Westerner who mentions working one ar at a time. The only other place where I have seen this method mentioned is one of the Russian GS forums.

Finally - GS-specific work, and this phase lasts four to six weeks max. During this phase Lorraine does max sets. Again, she often works one arm at a time: left to the max, long rest, then right to the max.

Final important point is that GS requires continuous analysis: what is your weakness and how you can address it.

As I said, this article is the first example of a structured GS program I have seen anywhere except from Russian sources. In fact, it is the first example of what can be called Block Training in GS, which I have not seen anywhere, full stop. And this methodology works: it was mentioned in the article that Lorraine did 126 reps of snatches at GS competition in San Diego in 2007. Lorraine is a dentist and fits the profile of the audience this blog is aimed for, those over 40, and this makes the article particularly valuable. One thing is to read about methods used by some 20 year old champion, quite another to discover the method that worked for someone who started GS later in life and achieved good results. Thanks for sharing your experience Lorraine!

6 October 2009

12 km run
85 minutes
average speed about 8.5 km/hour

Interesting, GS and running, both being endurance activities, have similarities in terms of perception of difficulty. When I started running today it felt like all I am going to manage is a kilometer or two. But as I ran it got easier, and I fell into a rhythm and was able to make a new personal best in terms of distance. Similar feelings often accompany long GS sets, both with LC and snatches: it is agony at the beginning which eases off as the set progresses (becoming agony closer to the end). I am sure there is some interesting physiology behind all this.

2 October 2009

I am getting a little obsessed with 10 LC set with 18 kg. So decided to try it - AGAIN! - today. Warmed up thoroughly, did lots of mobility drills for the shoulders and the neck. Alas, at the end of the 2nd minute it started waking up. Bitch! It was mild, sure, but I know what happens if you don't back off: last time it took me about an hour and lots of strong pills to get it under some sort of control. I guess I will have to wait it out.

It is obviously ridiculous to count 12 reps of LC as training session, so I jusd had to do something else. For some reason or another snatches are ok and I did some with 24 kg, and not too badly at that.

24 kg snatch
switch every 10 reps
100 reps total

Shit, I timed myself, but was so winded at the end of the set that forgot to look at the clock. Idiot! Interesting, snatching 20 kg is mainly limited by grip endurance, but increasing to 24 kg got me out of breath before hands had a chance to fatigue. Measly 4 kg...

I have a feeling that the headache is somehow caused by cleans. I am sort of banging the bells against my chest during cleans, and it seems to trigger some muscle spasms which eventually cause pain in my head. I have to look up some stuff on cleans technique.

A little finisher:

24 kg OR push press: