Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A visit to the Rifstonian Institute and the San Jose RKC...

After an early flight on Thursday I had the opportunity for a session under the experienced and expert eye of Sr. RKC Rif at the Rifstonian Institute - and what a session it was - Rif, Pavel and I spent a couple of hours coaching each other through squats, bench and deadlifts (I was the only one squatting and benching and Rif coached but didn't lift). This is what I miss so much in my own training - experienced and critical coaching to keep progressing - there is only so much you can do on your own.

First up - Squats
I have been having some "issues" with my squats not feeling quite dialed in and I found out why... I have been reversing the "treat your light weights heavy so your heavy weights feel light" by mentalling feeling that I had reached a certain "level" with my squats so that certain weights should feel "easy". This lead to several things - not enough tension at the lift off, breathing pattern being off, not loading the hips enough etc...
So I spent some time getting my upper body tension set before I unrack the weight (lats, lats, lats) and having my breath coordinate with this and not losing IAP - while setting my hip angle and loading my hips while maintaining upper body tension through the lift.
What a difference!
405 x 2, 455 x 1,1,1, 405 x 1, 315 x 3 paused

Second - pulled a couple of DLs
worked up to an easy single at 495 just to have Pavel and Rif evaluate my form and it looked good so I moved on to Bench.

Third (and the lift I most needed help with) - Bench
Where do I start? I have a saying for the teaching of the swing -"there is a difference between swinging a kettlebell and knowing how to swing a kb" - well - there is a HUGE difference between benching and knowing how to bench!
I thought I was getting tight at the start etc... but I had a lot to learn.
First up - getting my arch and getting the lats set
Second - loading by pulling the bar down into the lats
Third - using the lats as a base to press from in addition to pressing from the feet
(did I mention lats?)
Results - 275 for a few singles which felt like an empty bar - very different. Then hit some close grip with 225 working on the same feeling in the lats but finally hitting some triceps.
Then hit 315 x 1,1,1 - which felt very good once I hit my set up and breathing correctly
Now I can't wait to bench!

San Jose RKC
The first RKC in the USA outside of Minneapolis - roughly 89 attendees and a great facility!
A big thanks to Chris Holder and his staff at San Jose State University - what a great situation - many of them are RKCs and great strength coaches to boot.
The Dragondoor gang was there and of course made the weekend flow easily - thank you.
Pavel, Andrea DuCane, Myself, Rif, Doc Hartle, Sara Cheatham, and Michael Castrogiovanni were ready to put a hurt on the San Jose "victims" and we did ;)
I had a tremendous team of RKC hopefulls that really made huge leaps in improvement - I was a very proud instructor at the end of the cert.

On Saturday night Tyler Bramlett and Logan Christopher brought out a bag of phonebooks and steel and we had an improptu grip session.
I finally learned the Dennis Rogers style of phonebook tearing thanks to Tyler - and I really like this style of tearing.
Got to do a little bending and some sledge levering etc... It was a great way to finish up the night.
Thanks Tyler and Logan.

We continue to learn and progress the RKC School of Strength!

Not sure if I will hit a training session today but we shall see...


Mike T Nelson said...

Sounds like some great progress and an excellent trip! Nice!

Have you played around with the Z Neuro Warm Up in bench, squat and DL specific positions? Results/thoughts?

You probably did this out there, but it may be worth doing a simple lat muscle test while you are in your bench position to make sure your lats are not neurologically turning off. I've found this to happen in a few people and in some it is even position specific (tests good standing, but weak in their bench position). In one case a Z drill on the opposite hip fixed it and in the others it was compression at around C6 that was the issue.

Keep us updated on your amazing progress!!
Rock on
Mike N

Heidi Rothenberg said...

Brett, thank you for an amazing experience at the San Jose RKC. I finished the weekend feeling very fortunate for having been on your team. I am thankful for your scrutiny and precise cues. I had an amazing experience and trust I will be hearing your voice in my ear for a long time to come. Thank you for your your kindness (yes you were very kind) and patience. With so much more to learn, I feel secure with a solid foundation under me thanks to you, Eric, Missy and of course Zar.

Mark Reifkind said...


so good to get a chance to hang out with you in the gym and work with you as well.I just wish I could still bench and squat so I could have played too,lol!
as one would expect you picked up on all the tips immediately. so nice when that happens and you can see the changes instantaneously.
I predict big things from your bench now.
Its basically impossible to pick those things out by yourself.It took me many many moons to learn them and I had great training partners and coaches daily.
Also, getting to work with you at the cert is always great. Your professionalism and wealth of knowledge is so impressive; I always learn something listening to you teach. Lucky candidates that had you as Team Leader.We will work on thelifts again soon.
take care

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Mike,
I spend a good bit of time on my wrists and hands and do some of this work in my squat position since the bar pressure tends to lock down my wrists - I'll have to play around with it.
On the lats - once my positioning was good having the lats fire wasn't a problem - but getting set and pre-tensed was a form issue and a hand off issue.

Great having you as part of Team Jones - you are correct you are off to a very solid start and I understand they offer therapy now for that voice in your head ;)

Thank you for the assistance and kind words - I learned a great deal both in the gym and at the RKC from you.

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