Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Request...

I don't often ask for or request things of those that I work with or those that have used my DVDs or services but I am going make an open request to those that have used my services (Personal Training or Workshops) and DVDs (Kettlebell Basics, Secrets of the Shoulder, Secrets of Core training, Secrets of the Knee and Hip, and Corrective Strategies)...

If you have used my services (personal training or workshop) please follow the link below and review me as an RKC Instructor...
(go to the bottom of the page to review me)

If you have used my DVDs please follow the links below and review the product:
Kettlebell Basics:

Secrets of the Shoulder:

Secrets of the Knee and Hip:

Secrets of Core Training - The Backside:

Corrective Strategies:

I have not made this request in the past but feel it is appropriate to ask for the testimonials and feedback on my services and DVDs. For example: I am frequently approached at the RKC I am told that my Kettlebell Basics DVD has been an invaluable tool for preparation but I have only 12 reviews of the product - there should be quite a few more up there.
Thank you in advance.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"You Walk Wrong..."
Great article

Adam Sternbergh has a very good article here on the effect of shoes on our feet and our bodies - as he says in the article "Shoes hurt your feet. They change how you walk."

Pavel and the RKC has been advocating getting people out of their shoes for quite some time now and of course there are resources like "chi running" and other barefoot walking, hiking and running sites that you can find.


Light training today:
Prep work - Z, Thoracic rotation
Windmill 24kg x 5 r+L
Goblet Squat 24kg x 5
{Clean + Front Squat + Press + Swing} x 5 x 10 sets with double 16kg
16 kg Snatches x {20+20+15+15+10+10+5+5}

A light day of training but still some good work - each set of 5 of the complex above is 20 reps and the snatches are very light but continuous so still some good conditioning there.
My back is a little tweaked on the right side - possibly from the shoes I wore to hike on Thursday (see article above).
The workshop went well and I know I will be returning to the Shenandoah National Forest very soon. We had a beautiful drive and a great hike (5 hours).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BMF training today...

BMF: coined by David Whitley - stands for Brutal Minimal Fitness and that is what it is - it is brutal - it is minimal (two exercises) - and it targets your "fitness".

Prep work - Z
24kg Windmill x 3 r+L
24kg Goblet Squat x 5
24kg 2 arm swing x 10
{24kg Alternating Swings x 20 + Burpees x 10} x 10 sets in 20 minutes and 15 seconds

A little Z and stretch and DONE.
Great training - simple and effective!

Thought for the day based on a response to the question I posed on patterning:
"We do not lose anything - We give it away!"

People worry about or believe that the body "wears out" - NO - NO - NO
Your body GIVES away what you do not ask of it. If you don't want to lose something - don't stop doing it.

Yes - being a "high mileage" individual, injuries, surgeries etc....impact our status - however - if you work with a joint mobility program (Like Z - see the link on the right) you can thrive despite your "mileage".

I will be off the grid for a day or so and then the workshop in Roanoke - should be fun!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quick training today...

Prep work - Z
24kg Bottoms-up Press x 5, 5
24kg SLDL x 5, 5
24kg Snatches 10+10 x 5 sets in 5:45
24kg Windmill x 5 r+l

Quick training today but the 5 sets of 10+10 were tough enough for today.
Knee is feeling pretty good - still not 100% but good.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Travel and Upcoming Seminars...

One Week out from Roanoke, Va Seminar...
Tension/Relaxation and Flexibility Worshop. Apr 26. with Brett Jones, Master RKC.
Contact Dr. Mike Burgoon,

Then it will be off to Amsterdam again for a 2 day FMS workshop and a one day Kettlebell Basics workshop - May 16-18 - contact for details

June will find me in Minneapolis twice for a level one RKC workshop at the beginning of June and the Level 2 RKC at the end of the month.

I am feeling good but have been taking it easy for a couple of days but will be back to training tomorrow.

Any thoughts from anyone on my question from my last blog: "What are you patterning?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Observation for the day and Training for today...

Observation for the day...
Chronic stress and chronic positioning matter! I have blogged on this before but it has been brought to my attention once again - if you sit in a certain position for hours at a time it has an impact on you. If you sleep in a certain position, stand in a certain position et....for extended periods of time it has an impact on your body.

If you sit with your right leg crossed over the left and your right arm held extended (mouse hand but arm held extended out in front of you with elbow locked or close to locked) - then chances are you will be at risk for irritation of the left shoulder and left knee among other areas. (Z health opposing joint stuff) So if you have a "chronic" pain or stress please check your "chronic" stress and positioning and see if it doesn't relate to how you are holding a certain position or repetitive action.

Question for the day:
What are you Patterning?

Training for today:
Prep work - Cook hip lift, ASLR, Z
28kg Windmill x 5 r+l
28kg Bottoms-up press x 3, 3 r+L
28kg SLDL x 5, 5 r+L
(28KG Alternating Swing x 20 + Burpee x 10) x 9 sets in 20 minutes
Rollouts x 5, 5, 5
Front and Side opener from Z - I-phase

Each set of Alt Swing + Burpee took just shy of 2 minutes so the 20 minutes includes rest and I will just work on packing more into the 20 minutes.
Feeling good - knee is doing well but I'm not ready to sprint quite yet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Article with some great information...

Christian Thibaudeau has a very good new article on
Christian Thibaudeau has this to say about training the Central Nervous System in his article...

"When I give seminars, one thing that I often say is that the more emphasis you place on the development of the central nervous system (CNS), the more frequently you should train a muscle group. And the more you want to put the emphasis on the development of the muscles, the less often you train each muscle.
The reason for that is simple: Developing the CNS is akin to motor learning, not structural reconstruction. In weight training, developing the CNS could be simplified into "learning to use the muscles you have optimally."
If you want to become a better golfer, you must practice your swing often. If you're allowed to hit 700 golf balls per week, it's much more effective to hit 100 balls everyday than 700 once a week. This is the first rule of motor learning: The frequency of practice is the key to assimilating a skill.
And understand this, activating your muscles, ensuring optimal recruitment patterns, and maximizing inter and intramuscular coordination is a skill, not a physical capacity. To improve it optimally, you thus must treat it like the process of skill acquisition. And that demands a high frequency of practice. of the tenets of motor learning is to perform as many specific and technically correct repetitions of the target movement, without causing a significant fatigue accumulation.
Former Soviet Olympic lifting coaches determined that lifts below 80% of one's maximum have a different recruitment pattern than maximal lifts. This means that to maximize motor learning in the context of strength improvements, lifts
must be at or above 80% of one's best effort in the practiced lift."

Muscles are dumb - They only do what the neurological system tells them to do!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Snatch training...

Prep work - Cook hip lift, ASLR, Z

24 kg Armbar x 3 r+L

24 kg Snatches -
6+6 x 10 sets
5+5 x 10 sets
in 18:52 minutes

That's all she wrote - quick and effective.

If I'm not careful I might get "in shape"!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday training...

Prep work - cook hip lift, ASLR, Z
32kg Windmill x 5 r+L
32kg Single leg Deadlift x 5, 5, 5 r+L
32kg MP x 5, 5, 5, 3 r+L
32kg One arm swings x
20L+20R, 18L+18R, 16L+16R, 14L+14R, 12L+12R, 10L+10R

And that was all. The swings were tougher than I thought - total of 180 reps (90 each arm).
interesting thing about the swings right now is the intense glute and ham pump/muscular work that I am getting out of them - different than I used to get before my two year foray into squatting. Could be a matter of just more muscle etc...or the Z work has my glutes and hams firing better....Whatever it is I am feeling good and making good progress.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Heavy day Training...

Prep Work - Cook hip lift, ASLR, Z

24kg Windmill x 5 r+L

Two KB in One hand MP (weights will be listed #/# - the bottom # is the bottom KB)
16/16 kg x 2 r+L
20/20 kg x 1 r, 16/20 kg x 1 L
20/24 kg x 1 r, 20/20 kg x 1 L
20/24 kg x 1 r, 20/20 kg x 1 L
16/16 kg x 5r+4L, 5r+4L, 5r+4L
L 28kg Bottoms up press x 2

Single leg Deadlift (2 - 20 kg KB in the contralateral hand)
x 5, 5, 5

Double KB Swings (one 20 kg in each hand)
x 10 reps x 10 sets in 9:20

Plank x 1 minute (30 sec. right foot up - 30 sec. left foot up)

Front and Side opener from Z Health I phase

Tomorrow will be a day off so I decided it was a good time for a heavy day.
2 KB in one hand pressing is a great way to overload the MP - Kenneth Jay wrote a great article on this some time ago on the website (or Hardstyle catalog). 44kg felt like top end for today and my left needs some extra attention as usual.
Bumping up to a 40kg load for most of the drills was a nice level for today.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Why is a starting point. A question that children intuitively ask to gain information and that we adults use to gain information (or just to frustrate someone). But it is a valuable thing to keep in mind and ask yourself.

The question has been raised as to why I am taking a three month break from the barbell and powerlifting and I would like to delve into that Why.

My goal for the past 2 years has been to achieve a raw elite total in powerlifting and I have pursued that goal with a singular focus. This has brought me to a weight of 196 (up from around 180), a squat of 518 , a bench of 310, and a deadlift of 573 (all competition raw lifts). My absolute strength is the highest it has been in the barbell lifts and I truly love the feeling of being under the bar and my knowledge of tension and strength has grown as a result.

So why take a three month break? Won't I lose too much? What about my goal?

My goal will still be there when I return to it - simple as that.

Won't I lose too much - Russian powerlifters routinely take the summer off from the "power" lifts and I am not concerned about my lifts decreasing. They will go back up - simple as that.

One of the mistakes that I have made in pursuing my goal has been a fevered rush to achieve it without putting the time in. This has been good and has been negative as well. The rush to achieve has left me of a singular focus and a narrow "range" of strength etc... When I return to my goal it will be with a different focus - a long range incremental focus. "The wider the base - the higher the peak."

I am a CSCS, FMS, MRKC, Z-R phase person. So I could be teaching a 5 hour Kettlebell seminar tomorrow, a flexibility workshop the next day, a Tension/relaxation workshop the next - or - it could be a two day FMS workshop. Everyday I have to demonstrate a wide variety of mobility drills, corrective exercises, flexibility drills, kettlebell drills, weight lifting drills, bodyweight drills and on and on... all of this during 12 hour days that I have to have the energy and resiliency to get up and do it again. And add in the travel and having the time and energy to devote to my life (yes I have a life outside the internet and work) - I need a well rounded base of skill and conditioning.
Powerlifting does not provide this. Kettlebell training + Z does - simple as that.

Already - despite the knee "injury"- I feel healthier and have more energy from the Kettlebell training.

My livelihood depends on being able to do all the above - debilitating "injury" is not an option and since I have experienced standing on the edge of debilitating and have come back from it - my health and work capacity is primary - not a powerlifting goal.

So there is my Why.
What is yours?

Training today:
Prep-work - cook hip lifts, ASLR
28kg Armbar x 3 r+L
28kg Windmill x 3 r+L
28kg MP x 5, 5 r+L
28kg SLDL x 5, 5 r+L
28kg Snatches 3+3 x 5 sets and 4+4 x 5 sets in 9:22
16kg Snatch 20+20+15+15+10+10+5+5
16kg Windmill x 5 r+L
Rollouts x 5, 5

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Training today and disclosure...

Prep-work - Cook Hip lift, Active Straight Leg Raise, Z
all drills with - 24 kg KB
Windmill x 5, 5 r+L
MP x 5, 5, 5 r+L
Single leg Deadlift x 5, 5, 5 r+L
One Arm swings - 5 minutes - 10+10 at the top of each minute
Windmill x 5 r+L
Planks - 45 sec. x 2 (really working on long spine - neutral and solid)

Full Disclosure:
One of the interesting things about blogging is the ability to disclose or not disclose any number of personal "things" - I usually err on the side of disclosure in regards to my training etc...
And in that spirit - here is the story of my latest "injury"

During a pistol (single leg squat) holding a 24kg KB (second set second rep) I had a nice big crack in my left knee as I was approaching bottom - no pain other than the sensation of the crack and even finished a third rep without pain or issues. The knee felt "different" but not painful and I was able to finish my workout. By later that night and into the weekend I started to have some pretty good medial joint line pain and a small amount of swelling - some limping etc...Kneeling brings about a pretty significant posteriomedial muscle spasm that prevents me from straightening my knee for a while but does go away.

History - surgery 1996 arthroscopy - plica and cartilage tear,
some time in late 2004 or very early 2005 I was demonstrating a pistol when I had a big joint shift and crack at the bottom - again some swelling etc...and no deep squatting for a while.

And for those of you interested I am going to try to provide as complete a history as I can in chronological order...
R - ankle sprain - 6th grade
R knee MCL Grade 2 - 7th grade (this was a contact injury - two other wrestlers fell on the outside of my knee driving it in)
Lower back injury 10th grade - speared in the back - diagnosed as a sprain/strain...told to rest
Left wrist Fx (slight) late 10th grade - no cast just a splint (two weeks between injury and Dr. visit - not a smart kid)
Re-injure lower back 11th grade - rehab for a couple of months this time
Wisdom teeth extraction - lower impacted - top pulled - not sure the dates but sometime early 12th grade
Car accident (driver) 12th grade - passenger side impact - looking right at the time of the accident (classic oh **** moment) - head hit driver side window and knocked around during secondary impact - seat belt sprain of left SC joint
Septoplasty nose surgery for crushed and deviated septum - multiple nose fx etc...late 12th grade.
Left Inguinal hernia repair late '90
Remainder of college - no real injuries outside of lower back pain and a shoulder inflammation (left shoulder I think) - water soluable corticosteroid injection
Grad school 93-95 - nothing to speak of - some shin splints etc.. from running - right shin smashed on truck loading dock edge
Left knee Arthroscopy - 962001 - Lasik both eyesApril 2001 - Appendectomy - laproscopic (mid abdomen, umbilical, and lower left incision sites) mid abdomen didn't close back all the way and now have a small diastasis recti
September 2003 L5-S1 laminectomy - injured in early 03 during a bad squat attempt - lots of nerve pain etc... but surgery resolved this well.
Sept 2004 - Right knee cartilage tear during a tire flip - lots of swelling and months before I could deep squat again - accupuncture for treatment
Late 2004-Early 2005 - Left knee joint shift as noted above
2007 -right heel pain (some left as well)
To current - Left knee crack last friday - cartilage suspected
Various falls etc... some right hip irritation at times etc...and maybe some things I have forgotten but that is about it.
send hate mail to my gmail account...(yes I just stole 3 minutes of your life that you will not get back!)

Now that is a fairly complete Injury History for those of you who have read my rants on advice and how careful you need to be in giving it - here is an example of what a history looks like.

Also keep in mind that with that history etc... I have squatted 518, benched 310 and Deadlifted 573 in competition. Completed the Beast Challenge, bend nails, tear decks of cards, rip phone books etc.... and most of that after most of those injuries etc... - Would you have guessed that that is what my history would look like?

So back to my knee - After working on Z drills over the weekend and resting the knee I was able to complete today's workout with maybe a sensation of a 1 on the 1-10 pain scale.
Z works - period!
Interesting stuff...

Here is a link to a Time Magazine article about experience and performance:,8599,1717927,00.html

It seems that the 10 year "rule" for becoming an expert in a field and years of experience are not reliable indicators of proficiency. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom of "earning" mastery over years of work. What does assist in mastery and proficiency? Accurate feedback on performance - in other words - we all need a feedback and information system to keep progressing.
Honest, Critical evaluation of performance is a good thing - not something to be avoided because of ego and fear of "hurting feelings." It needs to constructive and appropriate.
Do you get feedback? and Do you listen to it?

Lou Schuler has a great blog today on the need for "power" training. (See the link on the left)
Quoting Mark Verstagen:
Power is the ability to exert great force in a short period of time and results in being able to move quickly and explosively, says Mark Verstegen, founder of Athletes' Performance in Tempe, Ariz. His facility specializes in training competitive athletes, teaching them, among other things, to accelerate and change direction quickly. That ability is developed by lifting weights rapidly and helps athletes move more explosively during games and other competitions.
In short, it's weight training at high speeds.
"Think of strength as dial-up Internet; it serves a great purpose but is slower to boot up when you need it most," he says. "Power is your high-speed broadband connection, ready to be used instantly on demand."

Kettlebells anyone???? KBs are real world "power" training.
Are you swinging for power?

Friday, April 04, 2008

KB Training Today:

All with 24 KG KB...

Low Windmill x 5 r+L
Windmill x 3, 3 r+L
Pistol + Single leg Deadlift x 4 , 3 r+L
Bottoms Up Press x 3, 3, 3
Alternating Swing x 20 + Burpee x 10 X 5 sets

I'll hit some Z and get ready for the weekend!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

KB Training today:

All with 24kg KB:
Windmill x 5, 5 r+L
Windmill x 5 r+L
rollouts 2 x 5

Snatches were completed in 11:16 - so the intial goal is to get this under 10 minutes and then add reps from the bottom up.
Windmills were with the free arm behind the back.

Feeling good.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Training decision and the Three month plan...

I have decided to take a three month hiatus from the barbell and the Big 3 and work exclusively on kettlebells and bodyweight drills. This will be a GPP basebuilding phase. My body needs this.

Training today: All with 24 kg kb
Get-ups x 5 r+L
Windmill x 5 r+L
Front squat + Single leg deadlift x 2 sets of 5 r+L
Military press + single leg row x 2 sets of 5 r+L
One arm swings 10+10 x 5 sets
Kettlebell article on

Here is a KB article that I wrote recently - "Adjusting your volume" on your swings and snatches...


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Upcoming Workshop...

I am headed back over to Amsterdam to work with the Human Motion group to provide another 2 Day FMS workshop on May 16-17 and a one day Kettlebell workshop on May 18.

Please visit the site for more information

Obviously this is for those of you in Europe! ;)

Stay tuned for an updated USA schedule...
Crunches are not Core training...

I'll keep harping on this until I expire - Crunches are not core training!

This today from Eric Cressey's blog: Discussing the Bender Ball Ab Infomercial...
Eric provided this reference in regards to why crunches are a bad idea - not too mention "beyond the range" crunches...
Drake et al. The influence of static axial torque in combined loading on intervertebral joint failure mechanics using a porcine model. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2005 Dec;20(10):1038-45.
In particular, you might want to pay attention to the following:
“Repetitive flexion-extension motions with low magnitude compressive forces have been shown to be an effective mechanism for causing disc herniations.”

Yes - crunches are an abdominal exercise but they have nothing to do with core stability or core training. And they may even be harmful - especially if you have a history of back injury and disc issues.

Here is a little article I put together for a gym that I work at:
Just Say NO to Crunches…

Brett Jones CSCS

Ask most people what they do for their “core” or abs and crunches will be the typical response. Well, with crunches being the exercise of choice why is back pain at all time high levels?
Because crunches are not a “core” exercise and they train the exact motions that can cause back pain. Confused yet?
I can hear the inner conversations – “But I thought…????”
Much emphasized and touted for their “core” and abdominal benefits crunches are not the – or should not be – the exercise of choice.
Why? According to research from Dr. Stuart McGill ( and his book Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance – crunches produce very high levels of intra-disc pressure and do not train the abdominals to produce spinal stability. Your abdominals are meant to be stabilizers not movers and the rectus abdominus (the 6 pack muscle) is not really a flexor anyway. It is actually there to provide increased “hoop tension” – read resistance to twisting motions.
What’s a guy or gal to do? Learn to produce stability and prevent rotation and use the abs as stabilizers instead of movers.
Planks to the rescue! Get down on your elbows and toes and make a straight line out of your body. Pull your elbows to your toes and create a “superstiff” contraction of your abs, glutes and entire body. Breathe with and through the tension and stay tight. Work hard – do not just hang out – and build up to a 1 minute plus hold.
You can also get into plank position and keeping the body in perfect position lift one foot just a couple inches (keep the glutes tight and do not change body position at all) and hold. Rest and repeat on the other side.
Side planks are also possible.
Ditch the crunches and start planking to improve your “core” stability and see an exercise specialist for questions and/or help with implementing your new “abdominal” routine.
And this is only the beginning - Core activation techniques can be used to target "core" involvement depending on the foot placement/movement pattern (symmetrical, asymmetrical or single legged) and you can get into Full Contact Twists, Chops, Lifts and Overhead lifts....
Just say no...

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