30 January 2010

20 kg snatch:
max set
60 left/50 right in 6:45

Left side was limited by the grip, the right one by cardio endurance. I got quite deconditioned while nursing my back. I also seem to be mentally limited by round numbers, funny.

20 kg overhead holds:
1min left/1 min right/ 30 sec left/ 30 sec right

Apparetnly AKC methods don't include static holds. It always amazes me how "other" methods get dismissed by them. If the replies were not so spiteful the argument would be rather entertaining. It's like someone saying: "I tried to drive from New York to Singapore, got stuck in the water. So I am telling you, cars are not good for getting to places. I am speaking from experience." Talk about context...

Fuck it, whatever the experience of AKC, I am not going to dismiss recommendations of Russian GS coaches. I do not feel very relaxed either in snatch or jerk in overhead position, neither do I have good shoulder and back flexibility. So I am going to try develop these qualities and find the best position overhead in both lifts with static work and then worry about getting there from movement. I can also the actual lifts while working on the overall technique.

Now, that I am pretty well conditioned by volume I am getting the hang of max sets. They are definitely kinder to the hands. The reason is simple, of course, with multiple switches I did close to 200 reps, now it is slightly above 100. Even though one poster on Rybinsk forum recommended doing such sets only once a week. I guess with heavier weights snatches are still taxing on the calluses. I should start doing one armed swings too.

Shit, January is already gone, it is actually not funny. I wish I had more time for fun and training...

23 January 2010 - careful comeback

First session after back injury, oviously trying to be very careful. Hence the children's weight.

12 kg snatch:
10 minute set, one arm switch
88 left/100 right

12 kg feels very easy - of course. Surprisingly, even though I could continue with the left hand the grip was fairly fatigued and I wouldn't be able to last longer than another minute. Right was ok though. Heart rate was about 160 right at the end but plummeted within a minute to 120-130 range, so cardio wise this weight is no big deal either. It's good to train again though. When you are injured it seems at times that this is it, the pain is forever. I am glad to be wron in that feeling.

Yevstratov's school of running

I came across a gem, the book by Alexander Polunin entitled “Vyacheslav Yevstratov’s School of Running. As it follow from the name, the book is the summary of training methods and philosophies of an outstanding Soviet athletics coach, Vyacheslav Yevstratov, whose experience spans for fifty years, and who coached some outstanding runners during his time. His ideas are indeed unconventional and seem to contradict the mainstream methods.

GS is predominantly an endurance sport, and I think it is safe to say that training methodologies of other cyclical activities, such as running, may be extrapolated to lifting kettlebells, to a degree of course. In this post I want to present a brief summary of Evstratov’s method. I believe it will be self-explanatory whyit could be interesting to gireviks.

According to Yevstratov, before the Second World War there was no actual training methodology in running and every runner trained intuitively, trying various approaches. First “revolutionary” athlkete was Emil Zatopek, who proved the efficiency of intermittent running methods in practice while abandoning long slow runs and walks. The proof of the efficiency was Zatopek’s Olympic achievements and his sport longevity: he was an active athlete for 16 years.
Looking retrospectively Yevstratov believes that Zatopek’s method had two major drawbacks. First, the lack of specificity for long distance training, as his running intervals were 200-400 m long, while rest intervals were filled by very slow jogging, 200 m in 60 seconds. Second, lack of variations, as intermittent running was the only method Zatopek used.

At the end of 50-s and the beginning of 60-s long distance running began to be dominated by Soviet athletes. Yevstratov believes that the coach who should be given most of the credit for this fact was Nikiforov, who:
  • Increased the intensity by considerably increasing the speed of running during intervals

  • Increased the length of intervals and reduced rest intervals

  • Introduced variability, both by rotating training methods and changing the conditions of running: outdoors, indoors etc.

  • Introduced altitude training

  • Modified fartlek by eliminating walking from it and by using faster runs during rest

  • Increased the role of control runs which previously were used only during competition period. Nikiforov started doing competition distance runs every month and during some periods even every week.

  • Introduced means for developing running speed, such as repetitive 100-150 m sprints

  • Introduced methods modeling competitive conditions: “prikidki”, control runs, peaking competitions

The principles above are the backbone of Yevstratov’s training methodology. According to him modern runners combine the best methods from various schools.
  • British: crosscountry comps during winter

  • New Zealand : marathon training and road running

  • Australian: running on the sand

  • Swedish: fartlek

  • Soviet: intensity and focus during interval and repetitive training in middle and long distances

  • Portuguese: long distance running at racing speed during the year

  • Spanish: using competition method throughout the year

According to Yevstratov there are several determinants of success in running:

  • Well developed of special endurance

  • Strong mental endurance

  • Well developed speed-strength qualities

  • Effective technique

  • Ability to adjust the tactics

All these qualities are interlaced. Without mental toughness it is impossible to withstand long and intensive training sessions. Tactical skill is impossible without technical perfection. Low endurance limits the speed. And so on.

There is no mention of general endurance among the determinants of running success, the quality that was considered the most important for middle distance runners. Why? Because this quality should be developed to a certain acceptable, sufficient level. When training running elite endurance needs to be maintained at that level, and training efforts developed at specific endurance and other qualities.

Books written by Russian coaches, especially those involved in training high level elite are somewhat different from Western works, mainly by the absence of the cookbook format. Evstratov’s approach to every athlete is highly individual.

It is impossible, of course, to summarize the whole book. For those interested and being prepared to deal with the Google Translator I recommend to download it from http://wholesport.ru/

If methods of athletics are applicable to GS the all of the above is relevant for our sport. What can be extrapolated from the summary above?

Variability of training. This has been mentioned on this blog a few times. Girevik needs specific endurance, speed, power, technique, and it makes sense to use appropriate methods to develop these qualities. Long sets, short sets, various KB weights, varying tempo, all of it is useful.

Something new for me to consider would be more frequent use of control sets, akin to more emphasis on control runs in athletics. This is has always been advocated by AKC and apparently has been working well for many. My only objection is the exclusive use of this method at exclusion of everything else.

In any case, as Alexander Balaganov wrote on IGx, training methods in GS are at their early stages of development, and they are often intuitive and empirical rather than scientific. The more methods and their combinations are tried, the more experience will be accumulated, and more conclusions will be possible to draw.

Good training until then.

A week later

I am grateful to everyone who commented on the last post and wishet me to get better. It's a week since injury, and I am getting better, albeit slowly. Luckily my wife is - among other trades - a professional medical messeus and is working full time on my back.

I only hope that this is a ono time setback that can be avoided in the future by improving the technique, and not a chronic problem that can potentially stop me from doing this sport.

Thanks again everyone!

Back trouble. Again!

On Thursday I started another workout with 24 kg jerks. The assigm=nment was to do pyramid sets. When I cleaned the bells for the third set I felt sharp pain in the lower back. Yesterday I could hardly walk, today it's getting better.

I now think it is something to do with the technique of my cleans. I had similar problem before and that was the reason I started Russian EDT sequence with long cycle with 16 kg bells. I also should spend more time warming up.

When I recover this time I am planning to do a lot of cleans, progressing from light to heavier bells. For the next week though I am - as English say - out of commission.

12 January 2010 - Unauthorised workout

Wanted to test the max 20 kg snatch:

Limiting factor - unquestionably - the grip. Otherwise it didn't even feel that heavy after working out with 24s.

9 January 2009

2 x 24 kg jerks:
5 sets: 20, 18, 10, 10, 11 reps.
Rest 2 minutes.

The assignment from Denis was 5 x 20 reps. Out of my reach presently.

After that I could manage only two sets of assistance drills.
2 x 24 kg bumps: 30 reps
2 x 24kg chest bumps: 20 reps

8 January 2009

4 km jog
About 30 minutes. Couple of hills.

Yet another way...

One of the members of Rybinsk GS forum shared his training sessions causing some arguing over it as the result. The thing is, he trains with 40 kg bells doing short sets. When asked why he responded that – in his opinion – if he could get 100 reps with this weight, he could do the same number of reps non-stop with 32 kg bells. And the most interesting part is that his belief is supported by his previous experience: he trained with 32 kg bells and then performed according to his expectations with 24s.

I am not going to start argument about best ways to train. After all, 40 kg every session may be a bit too demanding on the body. But the principle is interesting and it reminded me of training methodology of Zatopek who, as is well known, preferred intervals. His famous workout is 50 - 100 sets of 400 meter sprints! For the purpose of the discussion on the forum I needed to find something about Zatopek’s training in Russian and accidentally came across an interesting article. The original is here: http://www.irc-club.ru/faq/training_andrew.html and abridged translation by yours truly follows.

My training

How it began.

It all started from the person who posts under the nickname Luna on the Novosibirsk [runners’] Forum, a.k.a. Alexander Shimko.

It started even earlier. When after rapid progress from unranked and injured runner (October 2004) to healthy runner with 2nd rank (March 2005) the progress slowed down. Or stopped. Or reversed. Something was missing. Searching for solutions ended with the communication with Luna.

What is it about

From the point of view of traditional training system for runners his thoughts seem… crazy. Before, when I come home from studies I would run and.. wouldn’t want anything else. Now though after running I have accumulated (now spent) energy which I want to direct into doing something useful. Let me tell you about my training. First, let’s get through some important definitions.

Minimal Sufficient Rest. (MSR) You did an acceleration, stopped and are now waiting when you are capable of running again. First when thinking about running you feel: “oh, leave me alone!”, then: “Don’t want to, but can if I really have to”, then: “I don’t care”, then:”I can, actually” and finally: “let’s go!” That’s when you should run again.

Subjectively Enough (SE) and Subjectively Not Enough (SN) – when talking about regulation of load. — как речь заходит о регуляции нагрузок, так сразу можно выделить несколько порогов. Just like during rest you can feel stages. Say you started accelerated running: “Going well”. A bit later: “Not bad, I am gonna get going!” Then: “Maybe enough? – No, a bit more!” And then: “Should be enough! – Well, a little more.” And finally: ”Enough, stop. Should have stopped already!” You should stop at the first doubt. When you feel like shouting at the top of your lungs: “I can run forever!!!” and not when you can just exhale: “Oh boy, what have I done…”

Therefore SN means such condition when load is lower than you would like it to be, when the emotional state during training keeps on hitting new highs. And it always feels that the load is not enough. Well, more running should be done in SN state, not SE and rest MSR.

Which way is correct?

Let’s say I want to improve my 10 km from 60 to 30 minutes. I have two ways to do it:

1. Run 10 km in 50 minutes, then in 40 minutes, then 35 and finally 30 minutes

2. Run 500 meters in 1.5 minutes, then 1 km in 3 minutes, then 3 km in 9 minutes, 5 km in 15 minutes and finally 10 km in 30 minutes. The speed of running is always 1 km in 3 minutes.

These principles are shown on the figure above. Y axis is the distance in km, X axis is the speed of running, minutes per kilometer. The traditional way is represented by the blue line on the top of the chart: gradually increasing the speed while running the same distance of 10 km. The red line on the right represents the other way: running at the desired speed while increasing the distance. The curved diagonal seems to be the mixture of the two methods; the heading accompanying it says: "We wanted to do better, but it came out as always..."

The less you deviate from the competition speed the better. The more – within SE boundaries – you run at the competition speed the better. Faster or slower running is not good.

The author touches on the necessity of variety in training. The rest of the article is the author’s ideas on training, motivation and life. Interesting, though not particularly relevant for our purposes.

What now? Few posts ago I compared two approaches to running and extrapolated them to GS training. These approaches were very close to the ways described above. Then it seemed that building the volume followed by decreasing time spent for getting through it is the way to go. It was compared to running for the determined (desired) time and then trying to build more distance into it; that seemed less rational. Now there is yet another way: run at the desired speed and then work on increasing the duration.

In GS these methods would be represented by the following ways.

First – volume. The key is constant reps. Build the reps per workout, then decrease rest interval between sets until you can do it non-stop. This is the way I believe is best for beginners.

Second – timed sets, AKC way. Constant time of 10 minutes. Work on staying with the bells for 10 minutes at low cadence first. Then gradually build the rate of lifting until you reach the desired number of repetitions.

Third, new way. Should we call it Set Speed Method, as the speed of lifting is constant? Start lifting at the desired cadence until you start getting tired. Stop. Repeat several times until there is still fuel in the tank. With every session try build the duration of the set until you can last for the full 10 minutes at the desired cadence.

Which one is the best? First, most obvious answer would be that the choice is individual: some trainees will respond better to long timed sets, some to speed work and some to volume. But I think the correct one is that each method has its place in different stages of training. Build the volume at the beginning, then get some idea of GS set with long slow sets. Finally, to get your reps, follow the set speed work.

Frankly, the more I read the less I know, traditional curse of learning. Something similar happened during my medical training: I knew everything when I was in year three; by the time I graduated I knew twice as much. Then, after the next couple of years - and a few disasters - I realized that I know very little. And now, with more than two decades of experience behind and being able to turn a few life saving tricks I believe that we know very little about the workings of the body.

Go figure.

6 January 2010

2 x 24 kg jerks:
5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 9, 7, 5, 3, 5, 7, 9
Rest 2 minutes between sets.

Was supposed to do three more sets: 11, 13, and 15 reps. Next time.

I think I have figured out where the headache is coming from: it's shoulder flexibility issue. Something to work on.

2nd January 2010

It's weird to write 2010 for the first time. Time flies so fast it's scary. I remember the whole panic about the impending y2k, and now it is already 10 years ago!

The first workout of 2010 eh! I had another go at the sequence assigned by Denis. I managed a little better this time, however it's far away from completing the whole template. I guess perseverance is the key here.

2 x 24 kg jerks:
5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15
Rest 2 minutes between sets

Again, the triceps gave up eventually and the headache started lurking on the background, so I stopped. Next time should be better.

Denis once said that the key to GS is being able to lift when tired. Couldn't be more true. Multiple sets with limited rest in between are a perfect way to train this quality. How many times can you get seriously tired if you do one timed set? With this template, on the other hand, you have several "chances" to test yourself under duress. The highlights of this workout are two 15 rep sets, other longish sets - 11 and 13 - as well, to some extent. You have to really watch your rack, breathing and lockout to be able to get through the sequence. And overall it is not too small a volume either, considering I never came close to such level before. 60 reps, 2880 kg. I am not too displeased.

I am now working with 24 kg on regular basis, and I think it is time to start setting some goals. Here it is, and you can call me on it at the end of the year.

I will try to achieve the following with 24 kg bells.

Snatch: 150 reps
Jerk: 70 reps
Long Cycle: 50 reps

How do you say it in English, ready, set, go?
Время пошло!