I told you so

Few years ago when the OTW wars were raging I copped a lot of shit for not sharing the belief in long set supremacy. Most gireviks at the time belonged to AKC, and the only way to get better at this sport was to do GS-specific lifts for time. Anything else was blasphemy: circuits, jogging, short sets, interval training - you name it.

At the time I was quite fired up about the subject. had was my Russian. came from Russia, is most popular in Russia, Russia had (still has) most participants in sport, including highly ranked ones. It made sense then that GS materials in Russian were to be considered seriously, if not trusted outright.

Most Western gireviks disagreed, mostly because the majority of them belonged to the AKC camp headed by Valery Fedorenko. I am not taking anything away from Fedorenko, and he was an exceptional athlete in his time. However, being an athlete and being a coach are two different things, and in that area Valery wasn't the strongest.

Virtually anything I said on IGx that contradicted AKC was met with spite and resistance. Once I published a program from Rybinsk forum; Gregor Sobokan hinted that Russians lie about their programs (that pissed me off big time). Catherine Cimes got irritated by my posts quite a few times too; she said that training AKC way worked, while other ways maybe not so.

In the last couple of years, as more and more GS coaches and athletes started traveling overseas, the sentiment regarding GS training shifted. Big thing that helped to turn things around was IKSFA, organized by Alexander Khasin, with Sergey Rudnev as head coach. The title of the latter are not empty words, he is indeed a professional coach with proper formal education and huge coaching experience of many masters of sport. I have commented on Rudnev's skills many times, and, however unimportant my opinion is, I am still very impressed with his professionalism.

Anyway, in these last couple of years many amateur athletes started training under the guidance of serious coaches. At the same time the influence of AKC seems to have faded away. Where are AKC stars now? And what about timed sets?

The truth - as always - is somewhere in the middle. Long sets have their place in training, along with short sets, circuits and other training modalities. Training has to be planned, the load varied: up and down, up and down, in order to elicit adequate adaptation and reduce the chance of injury. I have been saying that for years, since 2008 to be precise. IGx, my only window into the world of non-Russian GS, seems to have accepted most things GS I have been arguing for. It would be nice to get acknowledged, of course, but fuck them, I don't care.

The real puzzle for me is the inability of people to keep their mind open. This seems a particular feature of Western mentality. You can give a Russian guy an outline of a program, such as Russian EDT: "do ten 1 minute sets with 1 minute rest, then 2 minute sets with two minute rest, and so on, until you progress to one 10 minute set". Russians will not have much trouble implementing it. Westerners, on the other hand, will need precise parameters and will still ask stupid questions, such as: "If I failed at fourth step of the program, do I have to start it from the beginning, or should I repeat the step? Should I drop the weight? Do I need to reduce the cadence?" and so on. As if one's scared to waste precious body resources to try all of these options and see what works and what doesn't. Then again, it's their problem. For me, the result is only part of the equation; training, researching, trying various things is as important and definitely more interesting.

Why am I ranting about all this? No particular reason, just too much time available for computer.
My biggest sporting challenge for now is to find the time to train. On Monday I trained after 11 hour working day, and that was difficult. Yesterday I finished work close to midnight and I am not planning to train after sleeping for 5 hours. But, overall my training is going well. I am progressing in both KB snatches and circuits Sergey abuses me with. Guess what, the next session has a 12 minute set in it, and I - the skeptic of long sets - am looking forward to it.

GS vs everything else

I am not going to start on One True Way versus Hard Style or whatever. Just an observation after abstaining from timed sets for over a year.

During my las session the day before yesterday I did 32 reps per hand with 16 kg bell in 8 minutes (after doing 8 minute set of alternating snatches and swings). Surprisingly, I managed to complete it, even though at this moment I am completely untrained for this activity. Not a great weight and not a remarkably high cadence either. However, after the set I was dripping with sweat and my muscles were trembling. These sets also required some mental effort. Not too grueling, but noticeable.

Which brought me back to the whole debate regarding timed sets, girevoy sport and hard style. HS guys insist that they purposefully keep the technique suboptimal in order to increase the training effect. So any effort to save energy should be dismissed.

I am not aware of any study - and there probably aren't any - that compares energy expenditure of HS snatch versus that of GS. I still suspect though that overall effort during timed sets is going to cost more in terms of oxygen consumption than the cumulative cost of several HS sets. There is something about continuous work that makes it special. Twenty squat routine, for example, is very well known to bodybuilders, and it gives compares fairly well with GS sets in terms of effort. Squatting 70 kg for 4 sets of 5 reps is relatively easy, but doing 20 reps non-stop gets you seriously winded. GS sets are similar, and I think from metabolic point of view they are very demanding.

Which brings us to another point that I have maintained for a long time: you don't have to do 10 minute sets every time you train for GS. Exactly because these sets are so physiologically demanding they should not be done too frequently. Just like maximal lifts in powerlifting or full effort long distance runs.

Baby, I am back!

Couple of weeks ago I get the email from Sergey Rudnev: "Hey, Eugene, I am coming to Sydney to run the local comp and couple of seminars. It would be great to catch up!" Last Thursday - he is here. On Saturday I went to watch him competing in 24 kg Long Cycle in the morning, and in the afternoon I attended his masterclass. I could stay only for the firts couple of hours which covered the jerk.

One thing you realize at times like these is the significance of a professional coach. For what it i worth, Sergey is the best GS coach I have ever come across. On Sunday morning I helped him - in the capacity of the interpreter from Russian - with his seminar on the training process. His knowledge of the subject and understanding of the individual approach is truly professional. Which is not surprising; he has a university degree in the fucking subject, not six month long part time course in personal training, run by the guys who graduated from the same course three months ago! Once again I was gloating deep inside about being right in regards to AKC training methodology: ten minute sets every session are not the way to train for the sport.

Never mind the others. The message: if you wat to learn Girevoy Sport - learn it from guys like Rudnev. And as I know nothing else like him - learn from Rudnev himself. That is, if he has training spots available.

It was also nice to see that Australian GS is getting bigger. There were 22 participants this time, compared with 15 last time about six months ago. Sure it is not as big as AFL, but the baby is growing.

Where was I... Ah, yeah. Couple of hours of that masterclass was enough to get bitten by the GS bug again. I don't know what it is about GS: the crazy talk about the intricacies of the tecnique, the sincerity of the sport or something else, but there is something in this activity that draws me in. The prospect of saying that I did fifty-something snatches in this many minutes? The knowledge that I can almost die and get through the long set, let alone voluntarily!

Anyway, I am seriously considering giving GS another shot. I am thinking snatch. It is a one arm lift which makes it easier on the back. On the other hand it is most technical of the three, which makes it challenging and interesting. Snatch it is. In any case, if I get any better I can always build other lifts on top of that.

Whatch this spot, baby, I am back!