Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CrossFit Level 1 Certification Course

Mon 22nd December

This past weekend my wife Sarah and I were in Charlotte participating in our first CrossFit certification course. 

Firstly lets backtrack. I discovered CrossFit about 6 months ago while looking for some alternative training following my first kettlebell meet in Michigan last August. I wanted to take a little time off training the k-bells following the rigorous training build up to the meet so that I wouldn't get burnt out. I had heard of CrossFit, but never really looked into it previously. I was immediately surprised upon studying their website at how freely they offered information. This was definitely a new concept and something I had never seen before. I was intrigued so I studied the site......a lot. The more I read the journals and watched the training videos the more impressed I became with coach Glassman, his CrossFit coaches and their program. I wanted in. 

Then came my first CrossFit workout. Now I consider myself to be a top tier athlete, I have played basketball at a national level (high school), rugby at a international level (college) and I am now climbing the ladder in the sport of kettlebell lifting. So when I read that CrossFitters are the fittest people on the planet, being the competitor I am I thought well we'll just have to see about that? Anyone who has done a CrossFit workout as prescribed at full tilt (high intensity-threshold) will know that the sessions are always extremely intense and will smoke you if done correctly. However, at first glance on paper some CF workouts don't always appear that difficult. As most discover assuming their going to be easy is a big mistake! 

My first CF workout was "Cindy" which is:

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:

-5x pull-ups
-10x push-ups
-15x air-squats

I went in knowing that CF athletes had hit upwards in the number of 20 rounds on this workout so my goal was to hit 20 or more. Lets just say things didn't go as planned. I didn't even make it 20 minutes, I was roasted after 15! I don't even remember how many rounds I got but it certainly wasn't 20. This was a huge wake up call for me, maybe I wasn't as fit as I thought. After a little soul searching I came to the realization that I am an extremely fit individual, I'm just wasn't presently fit by CrossFit standards which means I am lacking in certain area's under their definition of fitness which includes: cardio/respiratory, endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. Put simply the CF goal is to "improve their athletes work capacity across broad time and modal domains." So it was clear to me what had to happen. I had to attack the CF WODS (workouts of the day) head on until I was fit for CF and thats what I did. 

After a month or so following the main site WOD's, much muscle soreness, in depth study of the CF Journals and video lectures as well as buying into the CF diet prescription (the zone diet) I was a different animal. I went from surviving the workouts to thriving in them and posting good times and numbers (i've now hit 22 rounds, going the full 20 minute on the "Cindy" workout), dropped 10 pounds-which wasn't planned or needed, but I wasn't worried because I was lighter, but stronger and fitter than ever before. An unexpected bonus was when I returned to my kettlebell lifting regimen my rack position was vastly improved at this lighter body-weight and instantly began posting bigger numbers! I have been in this business for many years and consistently worked out since the age of sixteen trying all different methods of training, but never before had a experienced such a rapid and astounding increase in my level of fitness. I was sold!

Next I began introducing the CF training methods to my clients in a gradual manner, firstly the movements and then as they became more proficient I started increase the intensity level. Again I saw clear and measurable improvements in my clients performance even though I wasn't sure they liked the fact that their workouts were gradually getting tougher and that they were constantly be timed! Sorry Guys, but it's for your own good! Check out some of the wreckage from recent workout's below, it's not pretty!!

Jumping forward a little I saw on the CF website that there was to be a certification course hosted at the CrossFit Charlotte facility. I wasn't going to miss this opportunity, I immediately signed up both myself and my wife Sarah. 

So December 19th came and Sarah and I headed to Charlotte CrossFit for our first CrossFit experience.

It was cool walking into an actual CrossFit facility for the first time, it was just as I had imagined it would be-wide open, no frills, nothing but free weights, kettlebells, pull-up bars, rings, med balls, rowers, GHD's and so on. Everything you ever need for kick ass Constantly Varied, High Intensity, Functional Movement workouts! 

We didn't realize how big the cert was going to be going in, but as it turns out there were about 70 participants. As we settled into our seats it was cool to see that a lot of the coaches I have become familiar with watching on the CF journal website were in attendance to instruct us. It was a little intimidating at first, Sarah and I seemed to be the only ones there not coming from a CrossFit affiliate, but I wasn't worried I was just keen to see what the CF coaches had to offer and also to hit my first workout to see how I would measure up against these hardcore CrossFitters!

The Coaches were great and the lectures informative and practical coaching sessions offered some useful application strategies. I like the CF method of instruction, its pretty regimented, almost like being in the military. They circled us up in groups and drilled each movement over and over until they were satisfied. This was a little more in your face than my current method of coaching, but I liked it and it is definitely effective! To top off the great instruction and well prepared movement progressions each coach I worked with was full of personality and passionate about what they were teaching, which I believe is a hugely beneficial trait to possess if you wish to be a good and successful trainer.

Out of respect for the CrossFit program I don't feel I should give away details about the actual course content, but to anyone who is interested in improving as a coach or trainer this is definitely a worthwhile investment. I have been a trainer for over 8 years done numerous certifications and I still walked away a lot wiser!

The weekend was quite an intense and exhausting experience. The coupling of numerous lectures split up by practical instruction and movement drills was taxing in itself. This was topped off with what the coaches liked to call our "little treats" (a CrossFit Workout) at the end of every morning and afternoon session was a recipe for unparalleled muscle soreness as the weekend materialized. 

I'll just tell you about my least and most favorite workouts. The worst for me was the shortest one that we did. The 'Tabata Squat' workout. I've done tabata's in the past, but they had an added little twist for us. This was to be what they call 'double bottom tabata's!' For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tabata method its simply 20 secs of all out effort followed by 10 secs of rest repeated continuously for 8 intervals (4 mins). Sounds easy huh, try it you'll be surprised! 

So what's a double bottom tabata I hear you ask? Well...I shall tell you. The only difference is that you're "10 secs rest" is spent at the bottom in a isometric squat (hips below knees, hands and chest as high as they can go, with a perfectly maintained lumbar curve), sounds like good times eh? Well let me tell you it sucks big time! My legs didn't recover the whole weekend after that. This workout is only effective however if you go all out every time, it is a lot easier if you pace yourself, so if you try it-go balls to the wall! For an example of pace, on my first interval I hit 23 squats and my lowest number was 15. 

My favorite workout was the famous "Fran"! The coaches joked with us all day about doing this workout, but no one believed it would actually happen. Then at end of day one when everyone was smoked both physically and mentally from their efforts, the quads still quivering from tabata's, the coaches decided we had earned our final "treat" of the day and that would be:

21-15-9 reps for time of:
-Thrusters @ 95#

One of the things I love about CrossFit is that its working out, but it's unique. Each workout is a competition in itself - against the others hitting the WOD, against the clock and most importantly against yourself. How far can you push your limits? How long can you maintain your technique at your threshold of intensity in order to achieve your optimal performance?How strong mentally are you? It's unbelievable the way you feel before hitting a WOD, its just like when I was playing rugby at the high point in my career, the feelings you get before walking out in front of a packed crowd. That feeling of nervous anticipation, like your going to throw up or pass out. It feels as if time stands still for a moment, its terrible and yet wonderful at the same time, but it's precisely that feeling that lets you know you ready! 

This experience was awesome for me, never before had I hit a workout in this kind of atmosphere before, with so many die hards all around me ready to give it their all - blood, sweat and tears to the finish, it was unreal! The actual workout is kind of hazy to me I just remember 3-2-1-go and I went! I blew through the first 21 thrusters and pull-ups with ease then it was time to go to work! I think I hit one break in the set of 15 thrusters and broke the pull-ups into 3x 5. The final round was rough, just got through the 9 thrusters and it was 9 pull-ups to finish, this was where I fell apart. I think I hit maybe 5, then had to do the rest in singles. I actually hit about 12 pull-ups in this round but Mike (CF coach) gave me 3 no counts for not getting my chin completely over the bar, which was right on his part and I thank him for it (keeping me honest). It sucked for me nonetheless and cost me on time., but that shows room for improvement. I finished in 5:24 which I was really happy with. I had only done Fran once before and my time was I believe 8 minutes, so a huge improvement and I believe I had the 4th or 5th fastest male time overall.

If you wish, you can check out my workout on You Tube, my channel is: theedgefc.

Below is me roasted as can be following my new PR on Fran. Notice the lack of shirt. If you have seen any CF videos you'll have notice it is very rare that guys doing CF workouts wear shirts. I don't know exactly why this is, maybe they don't want to mess up their T's, they want to be lighter for their pull-ups or they are trying not to sweat, I don't know... but it seems to be a trend forming. So before the workout I saw loads of the fella's started de-shirting and I turned to Sarah and said "I have to go shirtless!" She was like "No!" I said "I'm in a CF gym with 70 other people about to hit Fran as hard as I possibly can! I may never have be in a situation like this again, I'm gonna experience it to it's max! The shirts coming off!" 

In summary, This was an awesome experience! I would encourage anyone who is serious about their training and that of their clientelle to seriously consider attending a CrossFit certification, it's very worthwhile. I've been a trainer for a long time, hold many certifications and have attended many seminars, but without a doubt for me personally CrossFit program, seminars and coaching methods are second to none, especially with regard to their methodology, application and program design.....I could go on.  

I would like to give special thanks to all the CF coaches that provided top quality lectures and great practical coaching especially Chuck for spending time to discuss program design with me, Andy for coaching me to my first muscle-up within 15 minutes and also to the head coaches Pat and Nicole for putting on such a well organized program, seventy people is a lot to deal with, it was impressive how smoothly things ran-awesome job guys.

"The Magic is in the Movements!"

Finally, I would like to say congrats to all the newly certified CF coaches for enduring this challenging weekend and giving it your all in each and every workout! I would especially like to say how proud I am of my beautiful wife Sarah for doing such an awesome job at the certification. Sarah you are becoming quite an athlete and your going to make an excellent trainer! I love you sweetheart and I am so thankful I got to share this experience with you.

 Look out world Sarah G. is "Certified" and your workout is her warm-up!

Monday, December 15, 2008

AKC Southeast Kettlebell Sport Championships

Mission Accomplished!

This past Saturday (December 13th) was the American Kettlebell Club Southeast Kettlebell Sport Championships. Held at Scott Shetlers Atlanta Barbell & Kettlebell Club.  

Firstly, I would like to extend my thanks to Scott Shetler for offering such a great venue for the meet, your facility proved to be the perfect setting for what became an outstanding kettlebell meet. It was great meeting you Scott, you're a top bloke!

This competition was just littered with inspirational performances from some outstanding kettlebell athletes. I could write an essay on this weekends events, however, my time is limited of late so I'm gonna plough out as much detail as I can in a short space of time. I apologize if some of this is gibberish!!

My Performance

For those of you who read my blog leading up to the meet, you'll remember my goal was to achieve my World Kettlebell Rank VII in both the traditional (jerk/snatch) and the long cycle in the men's 75kg weight class. As it turned out I went one better and achieved Rank VI in both, so I was a pretty happy camper! 

The Jerk @ 2x 24kg's

My previous best jerk set was 48 reps in 8 minutes. In Atlanta I hit 67 reps and went the full 10 minutes. I was actually working toward 60 reps @ 6 rpm's, but the pace actually felt slow and I was so comfortable in the rack that I was able to up the tempo the last two minutes. I have to admit I did get a fairly big nudge from big Ken Blackburn though. All I could here the last to minutes was "come on Ross, up the tempo you've got plenty in the tank!" And in the last minute he hit me with "Again Ross, pop it!" Every time I came down into my rack position. I probably owe a couple of my final reps to you Ken, for that I thank you, you're a top man!

The Snatch @ 24kg's

Following the jerk I knew that I would be able to achieve my Rank VII fairly comfortably, only requiring 83 reps. So I decided to shoot for Rank VI instead which meant I needed to hit 96 snatches. I knew it would be tight but I figured just go after it and get what I could get! Thankfully I scraped my way to 98 reps and it wasn't pretty at the end. I was hoping for at least 60 reps on my right as I knew my left snatch would probably only be good for 30-40, but I was done on the right by 54 and had to switch. From here on out it was a case of batten down the hatches and hold on! Thanks to great support from the crowd and some excellent coaching from Cate Imes I eked my way to 44 reps on the left before I had  to call it a day. Thanks for the advice Cate, it is much appreciated. 

It was rough, but thankfully I was successful and I escaped with no hand tears, which set me up nicely for my strongest event, the long cycle. 

The Long Cycle @ 2x 24kg's

Saved the best for last, my favorite! My confidence was high by this point and I felt strong going into this event. My plan was to go 4 rpm for the full 10 minutes which would give me 40 reps and Rank VII. However, I knew that I only needed 45 to make Rank VI. I stuck to the game plan until about 8 minutes and then started increasing my work rate a little, but I miss judged a little and found myself at 40 reps with only about 30 seconds remaining so it was overdrive time! I was the final lifter on the platform so all eyes were on me and they knew what I was after. The support was phenomenal, they cheered me on right to the final buzzer and I wasn't about to let them down. I somehow managed to squeeze in those final 5 just in time and it was just an awesome feeling! So my final count was 45 reps giving me my Rank VI. 

What a day, it couldn't really have gone better for me, good times. To cap it off my numbers in both the traditional and long cycle were good enough to give me 1st place in both events.

Inspirational Performances

First mention has to go to the Ice Chamber team of Steven, Maya, Jess, Sara, Heidi and Surya who as usual put on a clinic with respect to lifting technique and definitely displayed the coolest lifting shoes of the day, those Nike's are badass! Congrats to Maya, Jess, Sara, and Heidi on achieving the WKC Rank of Candidate for Master of Sport, an outstanding achievement! And to Steven and Surya on you're great performances and new PR's.

Left: Steve and I chillin between lifts. Below Me and the Ice Chamber Girls 


Marty Farrell put on a gutsy display in the long cycle, just missing his Candidate for Master of Sport ranking by one repetition, but its only a matter of time now, I'm sure he'll hit Master of Sport at the Arnold in March. Marty is just an enigma when it comes to kettlebell lifting, I was just in awe watching him hit 43 reps with the 32's at a body weight of less than 70kg . He's a massive inspiration to me being a lighter lifter, gives me hope that I can perhaps one day hit some decent numbers with the those hefty 32's!

Me and my main man Marty....
giving it the double over hug!!

Andrew Durniat is just a monster! He made a valiant attempt at becoming the fist American to snatch the 32kg bell for 100 reps per arm, but unfortunately it just wasn't his day. 139 snatches with the 32 on an off day is a quite an accomplishment in itself! I know Andrew was disappointed, but it's only a matter of time. I for one felt honored and privileged to be there watching his attempt at making history, and even though it was not 200 reps it was still an unbelievable set!

Andrew on his way to 139 as the legend Valery Fedorenko watches on...

My student and fellow Team Edge member Dianna Pendleton definitely deserves a mention and plenty of praise. It was hard enough for Dianna to get up on the platform at all, she's a fairly shy individual so that was an accomplishment in itself. I can remember the last thing she said to me prior to her first lift "Do they have a vomit bucket, I think I'm gonna puke!" I told her she's was gonna be fine as I backed away a few paces. And she was more than fine as it turns out. Dianna finished 1st in the women's masters division in both the traditional and the long cycle for her weight class with the 12kg k-bell. She achieved WKC Rank V for traditional with I believe 86 jerks and 100 snatches, Dianna previous best on the snatch was something like 40 reps so that was unbelievable.

I am so proud of you Dianna, you have always been a pleasure to coach with a willingness to learn new things. It has been wonderful watching you grow as an athlete and a person over the past year or so. This is only the beginning for you, I have high expectations for your future and I'm proud to have you as a member of my team.

Man so many wonderful performances, I could go on and on. Congratulations to everyone on their awesome performances - all the wells family, especially little colin who was just unreal for such a little guy, and thanks colin for keeping my son Brayden company during the day. The CrossFit girls Sara and Tracy, you guys are maniacs! Great lifting from P-Hump, C-Duff, Mike Sherman, the list goes on and on. Terri Parker awesome display in the long cycle, it was great seeing you again. I could go on, if I forgot anyone I apologize. All I can say is safe to everyone did themselves proud.

Special Thanks to...
-Scott Shetler and family for putting on such a wonderful event
-Everyone who made the meet possible, that helped organize and run the event including: Lorraine, Cate, Ken, Matt, Nico, Valery and Eric. You guys are awesome, thanks for all that you are doing to help grow this amazing sport.

If I forgot anyone, my apologies. 

Thanks to everyone for making this such a memorable weekend and a special thanks to my wife Sarah who even though she was too sick to compete still came out to support me with a smile on her face, I love you sweetheart. And to my son Brayden for being my inspiration and for being such a good boy all day at the meet (well for the most part anyway). I love you mojo.

My shy little boy pulling a fish face while his highly trained body guard Chris (Dianna's son) watches on to make sure all is as it should be!

Hope everyone had a safe trip home, hope to see you all at the Arnold in March!  


Friday, December 12, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 16 & 17) Show-time Tomorrow!

Thursday 11th December

Training Log [day 11]

Complete rest today. Felt crappy all day, don't know if it's lack of sleep, the antibiotics, anxiety about the chance of getting sick or some anxiety about the competition? Probably a a little of each. Just trying to stay positive right now and fighting to stay healthy, one more day to go.

Friday 12th December

Training Log [day 12]

Complete rest again today. I feel way better than I did yesterday at the moment. Just got to get through this morning at work then its time to gather my things and head to Atlanta. Got a much better night's sleep last night, thankfully Sarah slept through the night and I only had to get up twice with my son Brayden. 

Physically feel pretty good, I weighed in at 163# first thing this morning so I'm right about where I should be with regard to my weight. Shoulders are a little tender, but I'm not too worried about that, it was the same in Michigan and I didn't feel them on the day.  

The day before is always tough for me. I am always torn between complete rest and hitting a few reps with the k-bells just to keep a feel for the weight. Last time I hit 10 reps of each movement the day before. I'm going the other route this time, complete rest until my warm-up tomorrow. 

So that's it guys, the work is done time now to see what I can do. Atlanta here we come!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 15) Bad Day!!

Wednesday 10th December

Training Log [day 15] 

Today was my last day lifting the k-bells until Saturday. I just wanted to hit a light workout to keep my feel for each movement before allowing my body to rest.

The Workout:

Jerk @ 2x 24kg's
-3 mins @ 6rpm (18)

Snatch @ 24kg's
-3:30 mins @ approx. 9 rpm (25/25)

Long Cycle @ 2x 24kg's
-3 mins @ 4 rpm (12)

Jump Squats @ 2x 24kg's
-3x 70 reps

*The workout felt good, I can tell it's time to rest though. My body felt a little tired today, but there were other contributing factors to that. 

Here's the Bad Part of my day

Let's back track a little. On Sunday night my 3 year old son fell ill which meant no sleep either Sunday or Monday night. We found out on Monday that he has a virus and an ear infection so we got him some antibiotics an he was far better on Tuesday. 

Tuesday night my wife Sarah became very sick and so it was another sleepless night for us. We found out this morning that she has some type of infection similar to strep-throat and she is really struggling! I feel so terrible for her after all the hard work she has put in it looks very unlikely that she will be able to compete on Saturday, and even if she recovers quickly this bought of sickness will undoubtedly affect her performance. She's devastated and I am just heartbroken for her. 

As if this isn't bad enough, the doctor's told us that the likely-hood that I will pick this up from her is very high! So i've also had to take a dose of antibiotics in an attempt to ward it off. Anyone that knows me knows that I hate to take anything, so this really sucks for me. Unfortunately my choices were to not take any medicine, hope for the best and risk getting sick and miss the event or to take the medicine (still with a chance of getting sick) and hope it doesn't affect my performance on Saturday. Not great options there! So I've got 2 days to try and stay healthy. Should I win this battle next challenge is to get my mind right, forget about this week and just go for it on Saturday. 

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 12, 13 & 14)

Sunday 7th December

Training Log [day 12]

Took a rest day today, my Mum flew in from Wales to visit us this week and this was her last day so we skipped the workout and spent some quality family time instead. 

Monday 8th December

Training Log [day 13]

Decided to make this my last day hitting timed sets so that I can hopefully come in fresh and ready to smash it in Atlanta on Saturday!

The Workout: Jerk @ 2x 24kg's
-8 mins @ 6 rpm (48) 

*This is a PR for me with regard to both time and reps. I've gone 8 minutes before but @ 5 rpm's (40 reps) and my previous best rep count was 44. I felt strong and could have gone the full 10 minutes, but thought I'd be better served saving it for Saturday. After all it's irrelevant if I hit my mark here and then fail to do so in Atlanta. 

Snatch @ 24kg's
-5 mins @ approx. 14 rpm (40/30)

*This was the best I have felt snatching so far, which leaves me a little happier going in to Saturday. I could have gone 50 on the right and possibly 40 on the left, but was cautious because a hand tear would be devastating right now. 

Jump Squats @ 2x 24kg's
-3x 70 reps

I'm fairly confident about all my lifts right now. If I hit my mark and get 60 Jerks on Saturday that will leave me with 90 snatches to get my VII Rank, which I think I can get. Hitting that number without tearing my hands is the key though as a hand tear will severely impeded my hopes of a ranking in my strongest event the long cycle. 

So that's it, the hard work is done. It will all come down to what happens on Saturday now. How well I perform will depend on how good I feel, how I deal with the nerves and how well I can execute. 

I'm ready. 

Tuesday 9th December

Training Log [day 14]

The Workout: Light Cardio

Just some cardio today. The final challenge of my training is going to be making weight (165#/75kg's). I've been walking around at between 168-170# so I'm just trying to trim down a little to lessen the worry on the day. 

-10 minutes Elliptical
-10 minutes Stationary Bike
-10 minutes Summit Trainer
-10 minutes Running on Treadmill
-500x Jump Rope (single unders)

*Weight following the workout was 164# so that's good, at least I know if I weigh a little heavy  on the day I should be able to shed a few quick pounds if need be.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 10 & 11)

Thursday 4th December

Training Log [day 10]

No k-bells today, decided to just hit some conditioning. Wanted to avoid any pressing movements to rest my shoulders, so I just performed two short workouts.

Workout #1
5 rounds of:
-10x alternating lunges with 1 50# dumbbell
-15x overhead dumbbell swings @ 50#

*My time was 3:35

Workout #2
5 rounds of:
-10x med-ball power cleans @ 20#
-25x jump rope double unders

*My time was 7:41

Friday 5th December

I was joined for my workout today by one of my clients/students Dianna, who I feel deserves a mention for all the hard work she has done in preparation for her first k-bell meet. Dianna has only been using the international size (12kg) k-bell for a couple of weeks and has already hit a couple of 10 minute sets, including today where she got another PR in the jerk going 10 minutes @ 6 rpm's (60 reps)! Congrats Dianna, you're going to do great things in Atlanta! I'm proud of you!

While I on the subject of congratulating people I would also like to mention my mention my beautiful wife Sarah who will also be competing for the first time in Atlanta. Sarah has also just begun lifting with the 12kg and this week hit here first 10 minute set in the jerk @ 5 rpm's (50 reps). Congratulations sweetheart, you never fail to amaze me! It's so awesome being able to share this with you, I love you.  

Training Log [day 11]

Huge Breakthrough Today!! I completed my first ever 10 minute set with the 24's today, and even more satisfying than that, it was Long Cycle! 

The Workout: Long Cycle @ 2x 24kg's
- 10 mins @ 4 rpm (40 reps!)

*Note my previous best long cycle was 6:17 and 28 reps back in Michigan in August. I am a pretty happy camper right now! Along with my joy however comes the conundrum. Should I now focus on the LC in Atlanta and perhaps go for a VI (45) or V (51) Rank? Or do I still compete in the jerk/snatch traditional event prior to the LC and go for my VII Rank in both in light of my less than impressive recent snatch lifts? With which comes the risk of hand tears before I get to my strongest lift, the LC. What to do.....

Snatch @ 24kg's
-5:30 mins @ approximately 12rpm (35/28)

*Felt a little better today, which was surprising following a LC set. I just wanted to see what I could get in terms of reps. The right hand was comfortable and I could have gotten at least 40, but I was aiming for 35 per arm so I switched there. The left felt a lot better than it has, but I still had to set it at 28 because I could feel myself gripping the bell too much and didn't want to tear my hand. So the verdict on this one is better, but not great. 

I think I shall hit a couple more snatch sets in the next 4 or 5 days and base my final decision on competing in the traditional lifts on how those sets go.

Jump Squats @ 2x 24kg's
-3x 60 reps

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 8 & 9)

Tuesday 2nd December

Training Log [day 8]

Had an unscheduled rest day today. I was a little pissed that I missed my workout, but my training time was eaten up by people signing up at my gym for memberships and personal training, so I can't complain too much. Plus rest is important and I've been feeling a little tired this week so I just accepted it and moved on. 

Wednesday 3rd December

Training Log [day 9]

I was surprised today after taking yesterday off that I have some soreness in my shoulders, fairly acute and pretty much identical to what I was feeling prior to Michigan so I need to be careful. The strange thing is I don't feel it at all when I lift which may be a good or bad thing I guess, but I'll take it. If I can get through December 13th without feeling it i'll happily deal with the pain afterwards. 

-Hit my usual warm-up (see previous logs) plus some light jerks with the 16's.

The Workout: Jerk @ 2x 24kg's
-8 mins @ 5 rpm (40)
-2 mins @ 6 rpm (12)

*First set felt really good and is a PR for me with regard to time (previous best was 6:17). I was really happy, the rack felt solid, jerks were smooth and I could have definitely gone another 2 minutes but I thought I'd call it there due to my shoulder soreness. Plus I wanted to try a set at a slightly higher rpm so I set them at 8. 

**The 2 minute set at 6rpm's felt good too, it was a short set but it's making me wonder if I could go the full 10 at that rate. I may play around with it a little more, but part of me also just wants to do a 10 minute set @ 5 rpm's first. Just so that it's in the bank and to know come December 13th I can go the distance because i've done it before. Times running out for that though, I figure if I plan on going 10 it needs to be this week Saturday at the latest. 

Snatch @ 24kg's 
-6 mins @ 10 rpm (30/25 with 1 hand switch)
-4 mins @ 12 rpm (24/24 with 4 hand switches)

*Snatch is a totally different story than the jerk. My first set today was the first time i've failed to meet my training goal! The right Hand feels ok, the left still just won't click for me. I was a little worried about tearing my hand which resulted in missing my rep goal. At this point a hand tear could be fatal for my ranking chances. I decided to hit a 4 minute set switching every minute just for conditioning purposes and because I figure its a way to do the reps without risking my hands. At this point I figure this may be the way to go with the snatch. Build my time with hand switches every minute until I get 10 and then decrease the hand switches. I'm also wondering if I should sacrifice my 10 minutes on this lift and just attempt to bust out the reps I need for rank following the jerk. This isn't ideal I know, but I just cant see myself hitting 10 minutes on this lift by next week. Well I guess only time will tell.

Jump Squats @ 2x 24kg's
-3x 60 reps

*Another day in the bag, another day closer. It had it's good and bad points, but I'm content with were I'm at right now. There's still time and much work to be done!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 8)

Monday 1st December

Man cannot believe how fast this year has gone by, it's crazy! 

Decided to hit a double workout today, so I started with the long cycle and finished with some conditioning.

Training Log [day 8]

-5 mins of joint mobility
-3 mins on the summit trainer
-2 arm OH swings @ 16kg's (20)
-2 arm swings @ 24kg's (20)
-2 arm swings @ 32kg's (20)
-Long Cycle @ 2x 16kg's (10)

The Workout: Long Cycle @ 2x 24kg's
-6 mins @ 4rpm (24), my longest LC set to date was in Michigan (6:17, 28 reps) so we're getting close to a PR.
-4 mins @ 4rpm (16)

*6 minute set felt decent, I could have gone on. Didn't really feel like I was working until the last minute or so. 


[0.25 mile] Summit Trainer @ level 8
[30x] Sit-Ups
[15x] Deadlift @ 185#

*3 rounds for time. 

-My time was 14:35

**This was a fairly light workout by my standards. I was able to complete all three sets of DL's unbroken so it was too light, but I don't want to risk injury so close the Atlanta meet so it will do. Just using these workouts to maintain my metabolic conditioning and help me drop a couple of pounds to make weight

Road to Atlanta (Day 7)

Sunday 30th November

Today became an unintended rest day. My intension was to hit some type of conditioning workout today, but my body felt tired and my shoulders were a little tender so I decided to allow my body some down time.

Training Log [day 7] 

Week #1 [summary]

Jerk @ 2x 24kg's
-6 minutes @ 5 rpm (30)
*reps needed for VII Rank - approximately 50 (combined with snatch) so I'm 20 away.

Snatch @ 24kg's
-5 minutes @ 10rpm (30/30)
*reps needed for VII Rank - approximately 100 (combined with jerk), 40 to go.

Long Cycle @ 2x 24kg's
-5 minutes @ 4rpm (20)
*reps needed for VII Rank - 35, so 15 more to add. 

**Week 1 in the back, still much work to be done, but I'm fairly pleased with how thing's are shaping up thus far.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 6)

Saturday 29th November

Training Log [day 6]

-5 mins of joint mobility
-3 mins on the summit trainer
-1 arm swings @ 16kg (20/20)
-1 arm swings @ 24kg (20/20)
-1 arm swings @ 32kg (10/10)

The Workout: Snatch @ 24kg's
-5 mins @ 10rpm (25/25 with 1 hand switch)
-3 mins @ 10rpm (15/15 with 1 hand switch)
-3 mins @ 10rpm (15/15 with 1 hand switch)

*The right arm feels really smooth almost effortless at the moment which is encouraging. However, haven't locked in the technique on the left arm yet. I feel like I'm not creating the momentum with the left swing as with the right. I'm definitely slower driving the had through the bell handle at the top, which is resulting in less than perfect hand position and a weak lock out at the top. Such seemingly minor imperfections, but accumulated together they lead to serious muscle fatigue and ultimately the termination of the set.

The snatch above all is the most challenging and humbling of lifts. I mean here I am feeling like I could probably hit my goal of 50-60 reps on my right arm with little problem and flawless technique, while my left feels as though i've only just begun snatching the past few days! On the bright side, maybe I'll just push for the full 10 minutes on my right eh!! Just kidding, the left will come good. If this sport was easy everyone would do it! I've just got to spend the time getting my left arm as fluid and smooth as my right. 

After all.... "that's the name of the game, every rep the same!" Hey that rhymes! I may have to trade mark it!

Road to Atlanta (Day 5)

Friday 28th November

Felt pretty good today after spending yesterday in recovery mode. My wife informed me that today was apparently what they call "black friday", which to those of us who are not honorary members of the national women's bargain shopping league (NWBSL), is apparently the biggest shopping day of the year! Great news for mum's and wives on the hunt for sale price holiday gifts, bad news for us husbands and dads who will by the end of the day undoubtedly here that famous sentence our female counterparts love to through at us, "I saved you so much money today, everything was on sale!" Only a woman can rationalize a sentence like this, saving money by spending a bunch of it! 

Women... can't understand em, can't reason with em, can't control em, can't curb their spending, can't shoot em, and they pee standing up, but regardless of all this us blokes just can't seem to live without these beautiful creatures and so on we go on together through this wonderful adventure called life!

And so my son Brayden an eye were left to fend for ourselves while my beautiful wife and her lovely mother put their skills to the test in an all out onslaught on my and my father-in-laws checking accounts at the local mall! 

Following completion of a set number of chores affectionately known here in the south as a "hunny-do-list" which included a trip to the local Walmart. Bray and I spent the better part of an hour wading through the hoards of "crazies" before we finally made it to our temple of salvation and seclusion from shoppamania, The Edge Fitness Center. We remained closed today for the holiday and so Bray was free to run wild and perform his own person exercise routine consisting of swinging on the rings, punching the heavy bag, bouncing on the bosu, and performing shuttle sprint the length of the gym with and ab wheel! He loves it, definitely a chip off the old block!

Training Log [day 5]

Just a short work out, wanted to focus solely on the jerk for today. 

-5 mins of joint mobility
-3 mins on summit trainer
-2 arm oh swings @ 16kg (20)
-2 arm swings @ 24kg (20)
-2 arm swings @ 32kg (20)

Workout: The Jerk @ 2x 24kg's
-6 mins @ 5rpm (30)
-4 mins @ 5rpm (20)

*The 6 minute set felt really good. My rack feels solid, I believe in addition to my weight loss lower lumbar flexibility has improved because I'm now able to hold the k-bells lower, with my elbows securely on my hips with legs completely locked out and it feels pretty effortless. I feel I could have gone on for at least another minute or two  today, but I'm sticking to the program. 

**I feel good about the jerk right now, which is usually difficult for me as the Michigan meet highlighted. But it's first week of training and I'm only a couple of minutes and 14 reps away from my all time best jerk set. Keeping in mind that my primary focus is still to go the whole 10 minutes for the first time. 

Jump Squats @ 2x 24kg's
-3x 50 reps

*A brief, but productive workout today, just gotta keep it rolling! 

Signed up myself, my wife Sarah and one of my students, Dianna for the meet today. No turning back now, it's on!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 4)

Thursday 27th November

Training Log [day 4]

Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

I contemplated hitting a short workout this morning, but thought better of it. I mean what better day is there than thanksgiving to just relax, chill out, eat good food (or bad depending on your perspective), perhaps indulge in a glass of wine and enjoy my beautiful wife Sarah and play with my fiery little son Brayden. 

So that's what I did, no training for me today. Had a wonderful thanksgiving with my family which by the seems even better to me being British and not having this holiday up until the past five years. It still feels like a bonus holiday that has been added to my calendar that affords me the luxury of time off work! It's quality, feel good about it. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 3)

Wednesday 26th November

Training Log [day 3]

Feeling pretty sore all over from the past two days today so I think I may take tomorrow off completely. After all it is thanksgiving! 

-10 minutes of joint mobility
-3 minutes on the summit trainer 
-2 arm OH swing @ 16kg (20)
-2 arm swing @ 24kg (20)
-2 arm swing @ 32kg (20)

Long Cycle @ 2x 24kg's
-5 mins @ 4rpm (20)
-3 mins @ 4rpm (12)
-2 mins @ 4rpm (8)

*LC felt good, my new rack position feels solid. It took me a little while getting backing in to a rhythm with my clean, but that was to be expected since this was the first time I have hit the 24's on the LC since I competed in Michigan last August. 5 minutes first day in, I'm happy!

Snatch @ 24kg
-4 mins @ 12rpm (24/24)

*Just the one set for today to keep the feel for the snatch. It wasn't fun! My hands were a little tender by this point from the LC sets, but it's another 4 minutes in the bank so i'll take it!

Jump Squats @ 2x 24kg's
-3 sets of 50 reps

*Another step closer to Atlanta. I surprised at how well this week has gone so far. I wasn't expecting to hit 5 minutes on anything quite yet so it's all good. Still a long way to go though, I know it'll only get harder from here on out. 

A happy thanksgiving to all!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Day 2)

Tuesday 25th November

Training Log [day 2]

I was feeling a quite a lot of soreness today following yesterday's re-introduction to the 24's so I decided not to work K-bell Sport lifts today. I have limited time until Atlanta I know, but I don't want to make the same mistakes I made prior to the Michigan competition again. Let me elaborate, Michigan was my first competition so the training structure I used leading up to it proved to be a massive learning experience for me. I trained basically nothing but k-bells day in-day out for 8 weeks prior to the meet which worked well for me in some respects as I won the long cycle and placed second in the traditional (jerk/snatch) in my weight class. However, I remember being pretty beat up going into the event. My shoulders were sore constantly the last 3 weeks of training and I remember having to ice them the night before the event. Plus I wasn't to happy with my performance in my opening lift, the jerk. Nerves played a part I'm sure, but my shoulders were fatigued and I had posted bigger numbers than I hit comfortably in training 2 or 3 weeks prior to the comp. 

I'm rambling, but the point I'm trying to make is that I feel my biggest weakness is the fact that I'm highly motivated and I love to train! Strange for that to be a weakness I know, but for me the hardest thing is to lay off and let my body rest, I would train 7 days a week if I could, I'm mad for it! But rest is a important as the hours of training and I'm trying to take a different approach this time around. 

So as I mentioned in a previous post, i've been hitting a lot of CrossFit type workouts and began developing some of my own which have produced some excellent results with regard to my overall work capacity, strength, and power endurance, plus i'm lighter than i've ever been which all transfer well to k-bell lifting. 

Anyway, today I hit a conditioning workout, no kettlebell sport lifts, i'll save those for tomorrow.

The Workout

21x knees to elbows
21x k-bell OH swing @ 53#
21x push-ups
45x towell pull-ups (shifting hands hi-low)
21x box jumps (24" box)
21x back extensions
42x walking lunges

*3 rounds for time.

**My time was 23:45. Felt pretty good, it was work, but I wasn't too wasted afterwards. Ready to hit some long cycle tomorrow now!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Road to Atlanta (Training Log, Day 1)

Monday 24th November

Training Log [Day 1]

Initial Goals for Atlanta: 
-To achieve VII Rank in the 75kg weight class [150 reps for jerk/snatch and 35 reps for long cycle]
-Jerk [2x 24kg, 5 rpm (50) for 10mins]
-Snatch [1x 24kg, 12rpm (120) for 10 mins]
-Long Cycle [2x 24kg, 4 rpm (40) for 10 mins]

2 Arm Swings:
-20x OH Swing @ 16kg
-20x Swing @ 24kg
-20x Swing @ 32kg (first time using my 32kg bell)

-2x 24kg, 5 mins @ 5rpm (25)
-2x 24kg, 3 mins @ 5rpm (15)
-2x 24kg, 2 mins @ 5rpm (10)

*Just wanted to ease back into this one today and figured 10 minutes under the bells wouldn't be a bad place to start. I rested about 3 minutes between sets. 

**My rack position was immediately different from when I competed in Michigan. I was able to find a comfortable position with the bells overlapping as usual, but today I was able to keep the bells closer than previously and was able to overlap one hand over the other which made the rack feel a lot tighter and more secure. I had attempted this before with little joy. However, since I last competed I have dropped a few pounds, I'm down from 183# to about 168#, so I think this may be a contributing factor with regard to my rack.

1x 24kg, 4 mins @ 12rpm (24/24, with 1 hand switch)
1x 24kg, 3 mins @ 12rpm (18/18, with 1 hand switch)
1x 24kg, 3 mins @ 12rpm (18/18, with 1 hand switch)

*I rested about 3 mins between sets.

**First set felt the best, second wasn't good technique felt sloppy, third set was a little better. I need to put in some quality time on this one. Definitely the toughest lift for me.

Jump Squats
-2x 24kg, 3 sets of 50reps

1 Arm Swings
-1x 32kg, 20/20reps

I'm fairly happy with today's workout, if nothing else it's a starting point to work from.

The Road to Atlanta (day 1)

Monday 24th November 2008

It's been a while since my last post. Life's been hectic and my time has been limited, but caught a minute here so I thought I would throw something down. 

It's Monday morning 6:30am. I have decided I'm going to attempt to journal my road and preparation to the AKC Kettlebell Meet in Atlanta, December 13th. 

Firstly, here's a little background info on recent events in my life and training. Following my CKT certification in NYC last August I suffered a severe hamstring injury which put me out of commission for quite a while. In the quest to work out at lighter loads and allow my leg to recover I stumbled upon CrossFit training and thought I'd give it a try. I was extremely shocked to discover that my fitness level was not as high as I had always believed. The CrossFit WODS kicked my butt initially and I felt humbled seeing the kind of performances other crossfitters were producing! This proved to be the fuel I needed to ignite my motivational fire inside to get back on the road to recovery and ultimately peak condition. So I decided to hit these type of workouts for a while and lay off the K-bells until I was 100% and my fitness level had increased. 

This worked well for me. My hamstring recovered and I feel that my level of fitness right now exceeds where it has ever been, so life was good! I had planned to next not to compete in K-bell competition until the New Year, but then I got an e-mail from my good friend and mentor Ken Blackburn regarding the AKC meet in Atlanta. Which happens to be on my doorstep as I live just outside Charlotte, NC so I immediately wanted to go. I got this info 4 weeks out from the meet, so I immediately went into a panic as I knew that was little prep time and I hadn't picked up the 24's since my last competition in Michigan in July! 

Initially I thought I'm not going to be able to compete, it's not enough time. I'm not the type of person to just enter competitions, If I go, I go to win or at least perform to the best of my ability. The last thing I want to do is show up at Atlanta and post lower numbers than I hit in Michigan! What to do? I pondered a while... Then it became clear, I'm a Kettlebell lifter and I love a challenge! The decision was made. Time to go to work! 

This was a week ago. I managed to hit a short 4 minute jerk set and a 2 minutes snatch set last week before I was hit by food poisoning! Yeah food poisoning, I mean are you F$@*!#ng kidding me! This cost me another week of training! So here I am 3 weeks out, feels like I'm starting from scratch, but I made my decision to compete and there's no backing out now! So today's the day, Day #1. Stay tuned, this should be interesting....... 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Christy's Birthday Wish

Friday 26th September

This post is dedicated to one of my most dedicated, hard working and committed clients..........wait a minute, that can be right, this post is for Christy! Just kidding Christy, you know your an ANIMAL!! 

So today is Christy's Birthday. Happy Birthday CB! Being the giving sort of guy that I am, I felt the need to spoil my Christy on her special day. 

Before I disclose how, I feel I need to fill you in on some background info regarding the relationship Christy and I have. You could say we have a "love-hate" relationship, or as Christy put's it "I Love To Hate You!!" And I'm cool with that because I get to kick her ass three days a week and I take pleasure in doing it! With a smile on my face I might add!! 

Anyway, last year for my birthday Christy got me a present, you might say it was a gift for the both of us. She got me full body armor (used for sparring by kickboxers) which I did want, but it came at a price. The deal was I had to wear it that day so Christy could beat the crap out of me and beat me she did, grinning from ear to ear! I mean she really had a good time. 

Christy: "take that you little turd!"-BANG!!

That said, as I pondered on what to do for my dear sweet CB on her birthday, I thought what does Christy love to do above all else and the answer was clear-she loves to inflict physical pain on me! So I strapped on my armor once again and told her she could smash me between every set of her workout! It's a scary thought, but I don't think i've ever seen her so happy. The session consisted of intervals of cardio and resistance training accompanied with bouts of Christy unleashing the fury on me, she jabbed, crossed, hooked, gut punched, knee'd and even kicked me every chance she got. I think she was happy. I even gave her a 60 second free for all to finish the workout off. I tried to post the video below, but was unsuccessful. Posted another pic for now, but I shall keep trying. 

Christy: "eat that!!"- SMASH!!
Ross: "OOOUUUCCHH!! "Watch the family jewels!"

Christy, I know your thinking that I'm making you out to look like a meany, but I'm not. For those of you who don't know CB, she's a wonderfully kind and caring person and she gives me beating's out of love, I know this even though she would never admit it. 

Love you lots Christy, have a wonderful birthday!  

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Even Better Than The 1st!

Thursday 25th September

So today The Edge saw the second kettlebell group workout and it was even better than the 1st! Each of our kettlebell workshop graduates turned out once again, even after the tough introduction to timed sets experienced 2 days earlier. 

Our little group (pictured above), from left to right: Janice, Anne, Me, Sarah, Brian, Lyn and Dianna. 

The mood was relaxed and light as we began the warm-up, even more so following Brian's patented new warm up drill known simply as "Jazz Finger's." A brief explanation is needed here I feel. 

Our clientele here at The Edge think Brian and I are pretty crazy due to our constant antics and they often joke that they think we sometimes make things up as we go. So, a couple of weeks ago Brian decided to put this to the test. During a small workshop he had the clients make fists with their hands and hold them in front of there faces with their eyes closed. Then remaining in this position he instructed them to begin swaying their hips side to side, eyes still closed. This went on for about 30 seconds. From this tucked position next came the completion of the full movement, a sudden explosion of the arms and hands overhead unleashing the JAZZ FINGERS, accompanied by a more vigorous hip side to side motion. Then it was back to the fist tuck and eyes closed. I watched in amazement (and stitches!) as the clients followed along  for several minutes before performing my duty as a good wing man and bursting onto the gym floor and snapping the all important evidence shot (see below). I shall spare the names of the individuals involved, but you know who you are! Don't be embarrassed, we love you for it! 

Work Those Jazz Finger's and Hips People!!

Anyway, severely sidetracked there! Back to the workout. We performed a warm-up with 20x 2 arm swings coupled with 20x air squats for 3 rounds, a quad burner by the way! 

We followed with a timed 20 minute triplet set which consisted of 4 snatches, 4 cleans & 4 jerks per minutes, switching hands every minute (we ended the last 2 minutes with sets of 5 to up the tempo). The KB was set down upon completion of the allocated reps and we rested until the turn of the next minute. Rest varied, some stood quietly, some re-chalked, some chatted a few words, Brian and I chose to work in some poppin 'n' lockin synchronized dance moves (but that's just us), in one of which I almost took Brian's eye out, but it was a new first time in front of a crowd and....well I just got a little excited! Back to the workout, the set called for a pretty decent work rate and clean technique, everyone coped well and we shall definitely hit 15 reps per minute next time out to up the anti. 

We finished things of with 3 timed sets of goblet squats for 1, 2 & 4 minutes with a 1 minute recovery between each. This was work for everyone as we introduced all to squatting all the way down. Set #1 was a breeze, Set #2 should have been until Brian & I decided to start punching out quick squats in bundles of 20. This made for a rather interesting last set. Half way into the 4 minutes my #16kg bell was weighing heavy, but I was confident and steadily clicking off reps as were most of the clientele, Brian however, wasn't doing so well. He was getting some serious arm fatigue and holding the KB looked painful. Suddenly he began to blurt out random things, I think to take his mind off the pain more than anything. So he say's almost resting the KB on his stomach "this must be what it feel's like to be pregnant!" To which Janice replies "I can help you through the birth, let's practice our breathing." Brian's proceeds to take large inhaled and exhaled breaths sweating profusely, man if I didn't no better I would have sworn he was about to give birth to a 70# KB!! As the seconds clicked away everyone struggling now not only to hold their bells, but trying to do so laughing uncontrollably! The final minute drew to a close to sounds of Brian's yelps accompanied by each of us chirping in with comments like "don't push Brian!", "push.....push!", and "You did this to me....I hate you!" It was hilarious, you gotta love the banter!!  

Thanks to everyone who attended and worked their butts off and help make it such an enjoyable session, you guy's rock!

Special shout out to Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn, thank you for your inspiration and for guiding us in our journey to advance our business and broaden our horizons.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Edge Fitness Center's 1st Ever Kettlebell Group Workout!

Tuesday 23rd September

At 10am this morning I am proud to say that we at The Edge Fitness Center held our first ever group kettlebell workout! It consisted of myself and Brian instructing, but also working the timed sets with the clients, my wife Sarah, Dianna, Lyn, Janice, and Anne. All of whom have completed our kettlebell workshops and are now very proficient kettlebell lifters in their own right. 

The workout went smoothly, we began with a light warm-up followed by a small superset of swings and jumping jacks (we like to call them "The JJ's"), 3 rounds. Next we hit a little mix up of movements (cleans, jerks, swings) for a pretty hefty 17 minute set working for 2mins, "resting" for 1 min (in the rack). Then we rolled straight into a 10 minute set of the snatch, which I'm proud to say each participant completed, a great achievement considering for most this was their taste of a set over 4 or 5 minutes ever! The atmosphere was light, but focused. We had many laughs but when it was time to work everyone was all business, it was awesome. We rapped things up with some TGU's and everyone left feeling worked but energized including myself. 

I would just like to let all who attended (and all our other kettlebell lifting clientele) know how proud I am of you, you've all come a long way in a short time. Thank you for your commitment to The Edge and for your openness to new things. 

Our next KB group workout is this coming Thursday and shall continue Tuesday's and Thursday's at 11am from here on out. Let us know if you wish to enroll in workshops and get involved, all are welcome.

I look forward to watching our clientele grow and evolve, it's exciting, man I live for this sh**! Pardon my french.... 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From NC to NYC Certified!

Fun, Games & Timed Sets in the Big Smoke!

This past weekend was spent in New York where I attended the IKFF Certified Kettlebell Trainer Course with Steve Cotter & Ken Blackburn.

Firstly, I would like to extend my gratitude to Steve and Ken for creating such a wonderful learning experience, those guys are just a class act! I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to take part in this wonderful event. 

Initially just meeting Steve was a surreal moment for me, he has been a source of inspiration ever since I popped in his encyclopedia 1 DVD and hit play.  And that was just the beginning.... next came the opportunity to learn his teaching's first hand and perform timed sets with the kettlebell legend, it was just awesome!

After everyone settled in and introductions were made it was down to business. Steve and Ken provided a fast moving, effective hands on learning experience. During the weekend they continually switched roles on different aspects of the course with one taking the lead and the other roaming through the crowd of participants offering personal attention, invaluable guidance and advice, it was genius! 

Following a thorough section on dynamic warm up and some joint mobility (which were workouts in their own right) it was time to chalk up get amongst it. On each lift we were instructed in great detail on all technical elements of each movement and no question or query was left unanswered. Once all the talking was done and we had all satisfied Steve and Ken with our techniques during a number of practice periods, it was time to go to work! The Fun part, at least for us crazies, who enjoy the mental torture and unparalleled physical burn and fatigue that can only be brought on by a timed kettlebell set!.... Man you just can't beat it, it's AWESOME!!

The thrill of the timed sets was heightened even more so at this event because it wasn't just you alone trying to push and make that 5 or 8 or 10 minutes. It was all of us, in it together! No one for a second contemplating putting their bell down until all the time in the set had elapsed. And this was quite an accomplishment for all of us considering the intensity of some of the sets performed, I mean an 18 minute set of cleans is no walk in the park, the 8 minute set of heavy military's-no picnic I can tell you especially being followed by a 12 minute jerk set (have to give Steve big props on this one as I egged him on to use the 32, which of course he did and he owned it!), and finally the 3 consecutive sets of OH squats finishing with a total of 12 minutes was pretty hellashious for us all, except Steve of course who decide to throw some duck walking into the sets just for fun, the man's just a haas mongrel!! 

It was a grueling, grinding, crushing two days of hard work, but everyone was feeding off one another's energy and having fun, which created the most relaxed, yet pumped atmosphere. I for one stepped out of DD Fitness on Sunday feeling exhilarated, energized and Im loving life right now!

I have to give a shout out to all who attended the certification, I feel privileged to have been amongst such a passionate and gifted group of people, thanks to each and everyone of you for being so welcoming, hitting every set hard, and making this such a wonderfully memorable chapter of my life.

IKFF Certification, NYC class of 2008
Check out Me, Brian & Ken giving it large with the B-Boy Style!

Special Thanks to...

Steve, for your commitment to excellence and for being so down to earth and approachable to us mere mortals even though you're a superstar!

Ken, for taking Brian and I under your wing and feeding us with your vast knowledge of kettlebell sport and training so that we may continue to strive to be the best we can be. Also, for being just an all round cool guy!

John, for your great attitude and demeanor and for taking the time to talk at length with me and answer so many questions I had regarding this business and how you made your way to the point you are now. I appreciate it big guy and I wont forget it.

Terri, Dean & Jennifer, our gracious hosts. You have a beautiful facility and it served perfectly as a venue for this most wonderful event. 

Brian, my training partner, biggest rival and friend. Thanks, for your support and drive, for challenging me, keeping me honest and making this experience fun times!

My good friend Dean, for giving Brian & I a place to stay and showing us how to survive and move around in the big apple. Wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for you bro, your a true friend. Also, for dragging us around NYC for sightseeing when we were completely exhausted!

Finally, to my wife Sarah and my son Brayden, who couldn't make the trip, but played a huge part in getting me there, you guys are the light of my life.

Monday, August 4, 2008

IKFF/NAKF National Kettlebell Meet, Michigan (part 2)

Personal Performance, Reflection & Analysis

I intended to post this blog a while ago, but didn't get the opportunity to finish it until now. So here it is, the last word on the IKFF/NAKF Kettlebell Meet, for now a least.....

I thought it may be useful to write a blog on how I (competing in my first ever kettlebell meet) felt from a performance standpoint the day of the event. 

Personally I feel this may help me reflect on my mindset and performance and serve as a good source of feedback to take forward and hopefully help me improve my standard of performance in upcoming meets. Also, this may prove useful for those looking to enter a competition in future and prove a useful form of reference, highlighting things to expect, things to avoid and perhaps certain elements that may help the day run more smoothly. This is obviously based on my view and opinion so take from it what you will. 

It's the morning of July 26th. The phone rings, it's my wake up call. It takes me just a little while to realize where I am. It takes a few seconds but then my mind clears and it hits me, I'm in Flint Michigan and its the day i've been waiting for, the day i've been training my guts out for the past 8 weeks. Here's how the day unfolded.

The Weigh In
Being new to the sport and not really knowing what to expect on competition day, I was keen to try and scope out the competition, to pin-point the biggest rivals, this was a mistake and a waste of time! The unique thing about kettlebell lifters is we come in all shapes and sizes, which makes it nearly impossible to distinguish between who may be a stronger or weaker competitor. So the lesson here is focus on yourself, your own preparations and performance, ultimately that's all that matters. 

Following the weigh in's and the explanation of rules and regulations for the meet, which included a demonstration of all lifts by Valery Fedorenko himself, the flights were announced. For this meet there were 8 lifting platforms, which meant up to 8 competitors would lift at once, which makes up a one flight. There were I believe about 16 flights in all, maybe more. Each flight obviously consisted of 10 minutes and there was a 5 minute break between flights, which kept the meet rolling at a perfect pace and meant that competitors lifting in the next flight had approximately 5 minutes to get to their platform, get their bell, chalk up and prepare their mind for the work ahead. Order of competitors within flights and flights themselves were determined by weight of kettlebell rather than weight of participants. So as I mentioned earlier, it was irrelevant whether you knew who your competition was with regard to weight class because chance was they weren't in the same flight as you anyway. The flights were arranged in ascending order (weight), so those lifting with the 12kg bells were first, then the 16's, the 24's and finally the 32's. Order of lifts was Traditional first (jerk then snatch), Long Cycle, then Chair Press and the meet was rapped up with the challenge lifts.

My First Lift (Jerk)
So here I was, my first competition, first lift, first time lifting in front of a crowd, which included numerous world class lifters and the legend Valery Fedorenko himself! To say I was nervous would be the understatement of the century, I was scared sh*tless! My mental preparation for this lift was terrible, I got caught up in the moment instead of settling myself down and focusing on what I needed to do during my set. This led to a poor performance for me with respect to both my technique and my numbers. 

Funny part of the story was the "chalk issue" I experienced prior to my lift. I had been using a fairly hard chalk during training that I would break up and have to grind in my hands to make it fine. Little did I know the chalk provided here was very light and fine, completely opposite to what i've been used to. So, I kneel down ready to chalk up, trying to look professional and dive my hands into this bowl of fine powder which created an enormous mushroom cloud that enveloped me! The result, not only was I nervous, but now you could also add embarrassed to the mix as I stepped to my platform looking like Casper The Friendly Ghost!
Check it out. I hit 44 reps (6:17), I burnt out my shoulder early due to a lack of leg drive, which is unusual for me, but thats what happens when you go in with the wrong mindset, I lacked focus and can't really remember the set at all. I placed 2nd in the jerk, and left myself a lot of work to do in the snatch to win the traditional. On a positive note following my initial disappointment of the jerk, I feel it actually helped calm me for the rest of my lifts.

Between Lifts
The time frame between lifts at this meet was just about perfect, I think I had between 45 minutes to an hour to cool down,recover, rehydrate, eat, warm up and be ready for my next lift. My only advice here would be make sure to know when your next lift is, have food and drinks readily available and allow time for a warm up prior to each lift.

My Second Lift (Snatch)
The snatch was so much better for me than the jerk, simply knowing what to expect helped a lot and knowing I had nothing to loose at this point allowed me to find a rhythm that felt good and just go with it. 

I took some positives and some negatives away with me regarding this lift. Negatives first, I have suffered hand tears in the past during this lift, so I knew If I pushed that was probably going to be a factor. I made my hand switch at 49 reps because of this, I felt my grip failing and knowing I still had the long cycle (my strongest lift) to go, I changed hands-too early! My right is my dominant arm and I ended up with more reps on my left (51), the last 4 of which being the most excruciatingly painful I have experienced with the added bonus of a hand tear. Based on my previous statement you may ask, why I pushed so far with my left, with the LC up next. Well, my biggest rival and training partner (Brian Del Greco) had smoked me on the jerk and I knew he hit 100 snatches, so I wasn't about to put the bell down until I hit at least three figures. I squeezed out the 100th rep and let the bell swing for a few moments, my heart racing, my hand bleeding and thought to myself "one more...just one more." It wasn't to be, the KB slowly slipped out of my hand, its amazing I got to 100, but couldn't get even one more. It's the most humbling and exhilarating feeling there is, knowing you pushed yourself to your absolute limit. AWESOME! Positives-technique felt smooth, I hit a new PR by 40reps, went 7 minutes and tied first place for snatches in my weight class. 

My Third Lift (Long Cycle)
Following the snatch my left hand was torn pretty badly, luckily my wife Sarah was on hand to patch me up and send me on to the LC. I knew I was strong going into this lift, the hand was a concern, but I felt confident. I felt relaxed during the set even though I was tired from the previous lifts and my hands felt raw. My plan was to try and hit 30reps and a new PR, but it wasn't to be. I felt good up to about 24, but then I was really aware of my hands, the right was beginning to tear now too. I held on and pushed out for more reps, but had to call it a day at 28reps (6:17). I was disappointed not to get the 30, but knew I left it all out there on the platform. Thankfully 28 was good enough for 1st place in my weight class, so all in all I was happy with my day's performance as a whole. 

In Conclusion
First kettlebell meet in the bag. It was a physically and emotionally draining and yet a completely exhilarating experience, I loved it. I can't wait to compete again. The sport of kettlebell lifting is growing and has a bright future. If anyone reading this blog has aspirations to try their hand at competing I would say go for it. Don't be intimidated, meets like this one in Michigan are a perfect place to get your feet wet, there are competitors of all levels, the atmosphere is great and its a lot of fun, get involved!