Friday, May 30, 2008

I can't exercise

Catching up with blogs yesterday turned out to be most educational.

There's Franz talking about their family trip to Mexico and the chance it also offered to contemplate on life, objectives, motives, etc. "The day to day routine sometimes has a way of keeping us from the deeper things of life." Humm.
Tracy says she was "closest she's ever come to skipping her workout, but she forced herself in the gym. [...] No option, especially when laziness, procrastination, or "I just don't feel good" is the only excuse. [...] Show up and do the reps." Hummhumm.
At this point I remembered how Rif always emphasizes the distinction between training and exercising. The main difference, as summed up in one of his earlier posts is : "In order to train and not just exercise you must have a goal. Doesn't matter what it is, you just have to have one (or more) and pursue it with as much zest as possible." Ah-ha.

There I go. Having to do a lot of paper work and such is, if I'm honest to myself, nothing else but an excuse for procrastination. In the last couple of months of preparation for the Cert I often had busy days/weeks, too, but I had no difficulties getting my sessions in. Training and work both had deadlines. It was all simply about time management.
Now I lack motivation. Why? Because I don't have an appropriate goal.
The idea of GTG is of course not bad but it is a _method_, applying it without such a goal in mind, however great a method, is still just exercise, not training.
In theory, the idea of maintenance wouldn't be bad either. Goals can be of different nature. Highly individual, as they are derived from desires.
I know people who go to group workouts with the sole session-by-session short term goal to perform better than the others and impress the instructor/coach. Is that bad? No way! Goals are there to make you strive for them. The only criterion of judgement is if it works. If it works for them, they should stick to it and enjoy the improvement that comes along anyway. You don't necessarily have to have improvement set as a goal to improve. But, in order to work, your goals do have to be SMART for you.

S - Specific & Significant
M - Measurable, motivational, methodical & meaningful
A - Action-oriented & achievable
R - Realistic & relevant
T - Time-bound & tangible

This is why the people mentioned prosper and I'm so slack: unlike theirs for them, maintenance as a goal is not SMART for me.
I need a SMART one as soon as possible. Even if it's just a small, simple and not at all 'elevated' one, doesn't matter, but it should be SMART.
Like... Something with swings. Doc is so right. Pavel's 'Joker' answer. Rif's "center of the Universe". The very basis I always revert to.
Oh, I'm sure I'll come up with some fun challenge :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Breaking news!

The first ever CK-FMS workshop.

It's definitely going to be THE event of the decade.
With so many of those wonderful people I have wished so long to get a chance to meet some time participating.

Now how could I resist...? :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Maintenance by GTG

That's what was going on training-wise in the last couple of days. Howie's idea to throw in a rung of presses or whatever in between my heaps of paper work GTG-wise turned out to be THE solution in more than one aspect.
I had to realize under time pressure and with my head full of deadlines I felt sort of guilty if I planned a "normal" workout of 40 to 60 minutes (which is of course ridiculous if you think about it logically, but, as most humans, I more often function psycho-logically). Anyhoo, that suggests the assumption I probably wouldn't have had much of those workouts even if I had decided to do them anyway - if you can't concentrate on the lifts because your mind keeps wandering back to the work waiting to be continued, you just miss the main point. Doing just one set at a time that takes not more than a minute or two felt okay however, even every 10-30 minutes throughout the whole day, which obviously adds up to at least the same 40-60 minutes I felt guilty about, or rather more. I spare myself the heavily self-ironic remarks coming to my mind at this point, feel free to use your imagination :)
But there's more.
I hate paper/computer work for a special reason. I have always had a horrible sitting/typing posture. The sight would have made you cry, really. I never learned to type properly, so when I started doing a lot of translation work some 15+ years ago I soon became very efficient using just a few fingers but it meant hunching over the keyboard like a squirrel and shifting eye focus constantly from original text on paper to keyboard to monitor. Doing this 10-12 hours a day equals, mildly put, to an assassination attempt on your back, shoulders and neck.
In the last few years I kept trying to get rid of this bad habit and I got much better at keeping proper alignment but as I get into the "flow" I still tend to lose it. A good thing is that this old posture starts feeling uncomfortable after a couple of minutes, it stirs me to fix it. To also stand up and do a set of any kettlebell exercise (I mainly did swings, presses, chins, all kinds of squats, pistols, and TGU-to-windmills) turned out to be most beneficial: it not only greases the exercise groove but keeps my "body memory" of proper posture fresh. I seem to revert to the old habit conspicuously less frequently, and I also assume I spend significantly less time in that bad posture before noticing, at least this is what my back tells me at the end of the day :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hard-Living Comrade

Yeah, that's how I felt like doing my first ever weighted chins! What's more, doubles and triples right away!

Hanging an 8kg kettlebell on my toes, like Pavel suggests in ETK (I have no belt anyway, believe me I would have never thought I would ever need one actually), it was almost like I had style :)
I got a good ab workout at the same time, too: as I only have a bar inserted into the door frame, it's too low, so I had to elevate my legs to have enough space.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Goblet squats

I knew about goblet squats but somehow I never did them before the Cert. Also, I was stupid enough last night to file off a bit too much skin around my finger joints, so I wasn't very keen on anything that envolved cleans or snatches or the like.

I basically used the template of Doc's workout: 3*8 reps/set, on the last rep of each set you stay down and count out 8sec, breathing behind the shield and spreading your knees with your elbows, then you pressurize (grunt) and come up.
Instead of across sets, however, I used a weight ladder format of 16, 20 and 24kg. A few sec rest between rungs, a minute or two between ladders. 5 ladders altogether.

What I find interesting: the heavier the weight, the more I'm tempted to sniff in air at the top and then use a part of it to hiss (pressurize) while pulling myself into the hole, hold without inhale for the sec or two of pause at the bottom and come up with the rest. Feels much more stable than just holding the breath all the way down, let alone inhale. Just the other way round than it supposedly should.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Another level

Rif's latest comment made me remember: I've heard from you so many times that the RKC would bring me to "another level". I did believe you this, based on trust, but I couldn't really imagine what that new level would be like or how actually a weekend course would bring about such a change.

Then today I had my first session since the course that can be considered a workout.

Now I DO feel a big difference. I AM on another level. And it DID happen overnight (er... okay, over a couple of nights, to be exact, but I'm trying to sound pithy :)).

Sure, "another level" can mean a lot of things, depending on what aspect you pick. Like your own training methods, technique, maximal strength, power production, endurance, your teaching, spotting, correcting skills, your ability to design workouts/cycles for others, and so on, you name it. Some of these improve quickly, some of them require more time, it depends on the person, too.

But there's one area where it happens INSTANTLY.
It's like an evolutional jump.
"You can't not know (or unknow) what you know."
You may choose to ignore or not to care, but deep in your bowels you'll still know it.

This 'upgraded' consciousness made me watch myself like a hawk today. I couldn't not be aware of whatever was going on in my body and in my mind. I couldn't not notice if, how and why a rep went awry. Not always did I know at once what to do about it, but I had the manual and all my notes scattered around my workout area and I KNEW when to stop to check. Not always could I get it right at once but I KNEW it was something to work on and had an idea as of how. And I'm confident I will KNOW when to go ask and what because I will KNOW I need to know something I don't know.
Knowledge makes you realize your lack of knowledge, which makes you ask questions, which brings you answers, which widens your knowledge and the circle closes. Or rather, it brings you to yet another level, and yet another, like a spiral. (There's another one coming to my mind regarding responsibility, but that's for another post.)

The RKC hasn't made me perfect. But it empowered me to (kick)START seeing, understanding, handling and working on my imperfection. By injecting this awareness into me on one hand, and by filling up my toolbox on the other.

Feels like a good setup.

I originally posted this as a response to Franklin's comment, but I find it might round up the above a bit more:

I'm convinced you can't "overprepare". The Cert offers a really huge amount of knowledge, insights, models etc. in a lot of areas and on a lot of different levels at the same time. Human capacity to absorb is limited, and it goes step by step, so I think, somebody with preparation just enough for them to pass can only learn a fraction, the very basic information. The more prepared you go, the more you can concentrate on the subtleties beyond.
In this aspect, the fact you're training alone and designing your workouts by yourself actually puts you in advantage, too, because it forces you to pre-train observation and active, 'seeking' learning instead of just passively relying on others to teach you.

Same but different

First "real" session as an RKC :)

BJ#1, 2 rounds, not timed

20 swings, two-hand, @16kg
5 double C&P @2*12kg
20 swings, 10/10, @12kg
5 double C&FSQ @2*16kg
20 swings, 5/5/5/5 @20kg
6 TGU (1/1/...) @16kg
20 swings, two-hand, @32kg
10/10 snatches @16kg
20 swings, two-hand, @8kg

20 swings, 5/5/5/5 @24kg
5/5 C&P @12kg
20 double swings @2*12kg
5/5 C&FSQ @20kg
20 swings, 10/10 @8kg
4 TGU (1/1/...) @20kg
20 swings, DARC, @16kg
10 double snatches @2*12kg
20 swings, two-hand, @24kg

Working on form, as said. Swings, mainly. I have kept the rep scheme of 20 (and 5 for the other exercises). 20 seemed an ideal set length: long enough to catch and 'engrave' the pattern but not too long so that it would tempt you to switch to energy saving mode.
My twist and turn to it today was mixing up the weights. No across sets, no ladders, light after heavy, single after double, randomly, sort of, but not aimlessly. I concentrated on getting the same sitting back and loading, the same crisp finish with the same bell height and the same breathing pattern in every set and rep with every weight, 8kg or 32kg. "Adjusting the volume".

Friday, May 16, 2008

As promised

The goings and the plans

As you can imagine, my head was full of the Cert weeks before. Which also meant I neglected and kept putting up everything that was not immediately necessary to be handled.
The consequence is that I get all that crushing down on me now. I have an alarmingly big heap of degree papers on my desk waiting for correction and evaluation. The first exam date is Monday. I have 6 different papers to hand in by Sunday and Monday, some of them I haven't even started. It's gonna be interesting. An impressive amount of translations, editing work, studying and preparing lectures, too. Plus household and three kids, go figure... :) It will take at least three weeks just to catch up with myself.
Not that I'm complaining, this was my decision and I don't regret it, I just have to pay the price and tough it out... not for the first time, and definitely not for the last :)
I don't know if I'll be able to keep up posting and checking-commenting your blogs and the forum as regularly as I'd like to, but I'll try and catch up as often as I can, I promise.

Now to the plans.
I've had a couple of days of rest with some swinging my new 32kg GTG-wise, just for the fun of it, not counting reps or sets.
For these next 3 weeks, until my last deadline June 8th, that is:
Big surprise!
Brett Jones' Prep Program + at least one heavy weight and one high volume snatch workout per week.
I know you are bored to death with it, but I'm not :)
Two main rasons:
1. It is a professionally designed follow-along program which spares me the time of figuring one out myself right now.
2. It covers all the basic exercises, so revisiting it delivers a great opportunity to polish my form by integrating the subtleties, tips and details we have learnt at the course into my technique step by step before stepping up.
I'd focus on form perfection regardless of the weight used and without much emphasis on total volume. I might not keep the three days together or time the sessions any longer.
After that I consider switching to a strength cycle, as the preparation was mainly aimed at endurance, but we'll see later.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I admit I can't help idolizing you, but I hope, as long as I can restrain myself from calling you "Guru", it's not pathological... ;)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grad Workout

Ready... steady... go! Swing... See-saw press! :)

Monday, May 12, 2008


I give up.
I've spent all waking hours of the last 24 thinking about how to sum up and thank for the RKC weekend so that it'd at least halfways match. I can't. I'm no master of words, have never been actually, but now I feel more helpless than ever - the experience beggars all description.
I'm so ashamed of the incoherent mess I've turned in on the evaluation form, too... I was sitting over it yesterday and my mind just kept wandering... I should pick 5 aspects?? There were a hundred! All useful, all important! And then suddenly time was almost up and I don't remember what I wrote and what I left unanswered, I just guess I've succeeded to come off like a complete idiot.
I'm emotionally overwhelmed and have an information overload. As we agreed with Mr. Du Cane at the end, the RKC course is over, but me becoming an RKC has just begun, and it will take weeks and months and even years to think over and over and digest and sort out and internalize and put into practice all the course provided.
And I don't just mean the info stuff or the manual. Yes, we covered a huge amount of material, very thoroughly, in great detail, without ever losing sight of the main principles and always emphasizing how it all is connected and interrelated. That alone was amazing.
The greatest thing for me however was seeing my Team Leader Dr. Cheng, the other Team Leader Kenneth Jay and of course Pavel at work. The way they related to people, situations, problems. Seeing that whatever they did and whichever way, it all served a definite purpose. And that great amount of human energy and effort and patience and care they invested into supporting us, each and every one of us (participant No. 127 and 134 and 142 in the row, on the third such course in three weeks!!) 'to become better men'. I was so grateful and touched I thought I could cry. And then I did.
I'm sure I'll reflect on a lot of things later, but for today this must suffice.
I miss the words so I keep it simple: thank you all for all the concern, advice and support, online or IRL.

Mark and Tracy Rif, hallowed be thy name :)

My hands are swollen, especially around the finger joints, BUT I have NO skin damage at all! Guess if I'm tempted to swing my new 32kg today...? ;)

Thursday, May 8, 2008


OTG for the weekend, back on Monday, hopefully with a new signature... ;)

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Three hours just fly by

If you are lucky enough to have the chance to spend them with Dr. Cheng!
A wonderful time this afternoon. He greated me as if we had known each other for ages, and quickly helped me through my initial embarrassment. I haven't spoken any English in the last couple of years, but it turned out to be not as tragically rusty as I had feared it would be :) We had some coffee and then a walk along the Danube, covering a diversity of topics, from his experiences at the Certs in Minnesota and Denmark to Pavel, Rif and Kenneth Jay to the evolution of the RKC system to the interview with Gray Cook to Nikki and the inspirative energy of the like-minded to Hungarian curiosities to children to some "guilty" secrets; there were deep insights and just plain fun, too :) And, in a park nearby, he even taught me some basic concepts of Wing Chun combat. His skills of focusing on the main principles and bringing things down to simple points really amazed me. I must say, he is also one of the most polite persons I've ever met: he kept encouraging me even though I probably made the impression of a grizzly trying to learn tightrope walking :)
So much wisdom and human warmth - I'm looking forward to working with him over the weekend!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Respect the weight

No matter how light 8kg is, it is still a weight. I did a lot of reps but concentrated on each and every one the same way I would @ 16 or 24kg to get a "perfect rep".

100 two hand swings
200 snatches (20/20/...)
100 clean-press-clean-front squat (10/10/...)
100 two hand swings
200 one hand swings (50/50/50/50)
200 snatches (20/20/...)
100 clean-press-clean-front squat (10/10/...)
200 swings (40 2H/40 L/40 2H/40 R/40 2H)
400 one hand swings (40/40/...)

Total: 1000 swings, 400 snatches, 400 cleans, 200 presses and 200 squats

Monday, May 5, 2008

Last chance for heavy weights

I'm leaving for Budapest later today. I'm staying at my best friend's place - all I'll have access to is going to be her 8kg kettlebell.
So I did one last heavy swing workout:

two handed swing ladders, 15:15
10 swings @20kg
10 swings @24kg
10 dbl. swings @2*16kg
10 swings @24kg
8 times through + one finishing set @20kg, 16,5min

two hand transfers, 30:30, alternating
20 swings @20kg
20swings @24kg
10 times each, 20min

A big breath... and packing :)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fun workout

As agreed, the fellow RKC candidate from the neighborhood showed up in the afternoon. There was no mercy, I put the GymBoss to work again :)

RKC snatch test (me 30/30 @12kg)

swing ladders
18 swings @16kg
18 swings @20kg
18 swings @24kg
1,5min on, 1min off
3 rounds uphill, 2 rounds downhill

#3 double drills (me @2*12kg, him @2*16kg):
1 round of BJ#1, 30sec on, 30sec off
20 dbl. swings
6-7 dbl C&P
20 dbl. swings
6-7 dbl C&FSQ
20 dbl. swings
5/5 TGU (one KB)
20 dbl. swings
8-10 dbl. snatches
20 dbl. swings
1 round of BJ#3, 30sec on, 30sec off
6-7 dbl C&FSQ
20 dbl. swings
6-7 dbl C&FSQ
6-7 dbl C&P
6-7 dbl C&FSQ
4/4 windmills (we moved into the garage as it started raining - no TGU on concrete)
6-7 dbl C&FSQ
8-10 dbl. snatches
6-7 dbl C&FSQ

I think a new love-hate-relationship is in blossoms: he's ordered a GymBoss :)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Still alive

This week was sort of hectic, messy and stressful, but things are getting back to normal now.
On Sunday I was in Budapest to meet Peter Lakatos and other RKC candidates for a last consultation before the Cert. We had a short training session, too, it was more like a demonstration of how kettlebell exercises can be adapted to specific demands of different sports like judo, boxing, target shooting, etc.
No training on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday I did my snatch test numbers (30/30 @12kg, 15/15 @16kg).

Yesterday I did BJ#1 @16kg, 3 rounds, 45sec on, 45sec off
30 swing
5/5 C&P (oh yes, strict presses in all 3 rounds :) )
30 swing
5/5 C&FSQ
30 swing
5/5 TGU
30 swing
5/5 snatch
30 swing
Felt good and actually easy.

Today I had a fellow RKC candidate here (he turned out (now!!) to live a few blocks away from here, lol).
I had planned to do the Brett Jones Prep Program, but as he hasn't got two kettlebells of the same size at home, I showed him the basic double drills instead, and then he was lucky to make the acquaintance of my GymBoss: first the Grad Workout (6 lengths in my garden, 120m), then VO2Max, 15:15, 30 sets (me @12kg, 10reps/set). Oh, and, of course, we started (as a warmup, just to sound stuck up :D) with ritually counting each other's RKC snatch test reps (me 15/15@16kg) :)
I showed him the foam roller, too, now he is planning to purchase one, no wonder.
It was definitely fun and he is coming to train on Sunday again.