S.M.A.R.T., Structured, Progressive Training = Results

In some circles the idea of progressive training is rather poo poo’d. While there is a case to be made for those whom choose to do as they wish rather than plan, I am a big believer in planning and preparation.

First lets start with a simple idea known as S.M.A.R.T., a method used for goal setting.

smart-goals

I have rarely if ever met an athlete of any caliber whom did not wish to improve their performance. Whether this be a 1 rep max, a time related goal, etc. most if all athletes train with the idea of getting better. What I know the best athletes in the world is they all have a plan in place to do exactly this. There is little left to chance or error. Minuscule details and 100th’s of seconds can be the difference between gold and no medal at all. I believe this point is clearly evident in many sports especially observed in the Olympic events such as track and field, swimming, ice skating, skiing, gymnastics, etc. And what must also be noted is not always does the ‘best athlete’ or even the ‘best prepared’ athlete win.

The reason this topic came to my attention was a bit of self reflection. While I am not competing on a particular stage, I am always competing in the gym and training against myself. I have specific goals with easily measurable aspects and achievable outcomes available. All of these goals and potential outcomes require attention to detail and very specific programming. While there is room to play and have fun, this is just more part of the process and something enable as such. And just to be clear, achieving goals is fun.

So looking at my numbers over the last number of months and even couple years I have specific examples of measurable and achievable goals I have reached and continue to surpass to new goals which are as a result of prior outcomes.

Example 1 is the Kettlebell 1 arm Swing. For the past 3 years, nearly every Saturday I have done some sort of variation in terms of reps, sets and weight with this movement. The programming is done by our Coach Mark Reifkind and as he will tell you we PR nearly every week in some way or fashion. In laymen terms we are consistently improving our performance and it is backed in real effort and numerical statistics. And note we have successfully completed each test day over the length of this timeframe.

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Example 2 is the Deadlift. Since July of 2016 I started back on a deadlift program. It has been 6 years since my last program cycle which resulted in a PR of 560lbs. My current program is based of a specific rep number and total each week based of a percentage of my PR which I most recently achieved. At the end of my 5 week cycle I will attempt a new PR which at this point I have successfully achieved at the end of cycle. Note the last lines 455, 481.5 and planned PR attempt have yet to be completed at this time. What is important is that regardless I will do the work at 455 and 481.5 and take a 545 minimum attempt because this is the planned work and end of this cycle, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

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(Notations ex: 70% for 1 rep every 30 sec x 15 reps. The black numbers aka 7/19 is the date of the lift). What these numbers show is the importance of planning and setting realistic goals. Also, the first cycle was arbitrary meaning I choose to work off what I felt was reasonable considering my past and present. Cycle 2 I simply added 20lbs to each week sans week 4 where I wanted to feel a bit more weight as an specific adaptation. Cycle 3 (515lb) and 4 (535lb) are based of the cycle 2 and 3 PR’s respectively. This will be the case for cycle 5 and beyond.

Example 3 is Gymnastics. Currently I am following the gymnastics bodies foundations program. Since June of this year I have spent an average of 5 days a week training progressions and movements based off the programmed laid out before me. I have had to be humble and patient to allow my body to adapt to the physical demands and stressors of not only the current movements but what lies ahead. I have a specifics goals, with a measurable program which has set out achievable results. This program is far from easy, quite demanding on time and getting more so as I continue to improve. And, yes week by week I just get better setting more PR’s and most important improving my competence in the movements.

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The point of this article and the examples to show how Smart planning and programming in a progressive manner produces true results. Week by week, training session by training session I know I am getting better. This is not just by feel but by specific application of in terms of numerical performance, statistics and overall physical performance. Setting PR’s of week in and week out feels great and it is truly a testament to my training and the planning. And yes it is simple progressive resistance training based of real numbers. I realize this approach to movement and training is not the most appealing due to the structure, it does produce results.

A personal philosophy of mine is to simple to work to get a little bit better everyday in all aspects of my life. Having structure and goals helps to make this possible as does having a tremendous support system and coaching. As a coach myself I value the expertise of other coaches and thus use their wisdom and experience to help guide me along my path. The commonality amongst my 2 coaches is they both come from a gymnastics background and know and understand the value of structure, planning and preparation. The results speak for themselves.

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I love Kettlebells

I love Kettlebells

There reasons are numerous so let me start by saying that I am biased. Since 2002 when I was first introduced to the Kettlebell to current day they have been apart of my health and wellness program personally and professionally.

I have accomplished personally numerous goals  around strength and conditioning as a result of the kettlebell and with the kettlebell. But even beyond this is my professional success around teaching the Kettlebell to thousands of people in 1 on 1 and class settings. The success of my students brings me far more joy as I get to share something I am passionate about, believe and know my shit thanks to learn and training with the best of the best.

Even though I do not teach at certifications which I must admit is a bummer because they are amazing experiences. And, even though I have no direct affiliation with any organization I  am as passionate as ever to continue to share in the various platforms in which i am fortunate to do so. Especially thankful to Apple Computers and the community we have created for the opportunity to work with a stellar group of people and athletes.

So why else do I love Ketltlebells

  1. Work capacity. Hard to find a tool where one can move an object over a wide range of motion, with good mechanics, under duress and recover so quickly. It is amazing how my students push the envelope in terms of weight moved under time constraints. 45 Minutes of the on the minute work using the basics in various complexes and combinations with simple patterns produces enormous results.
  2. Recovery. It amazes me how these same students come multiple days in a row, multiple times a week. Again same basic movements in a varying patterns and yet they recover and perform as asked.
  3. Fitness personified. I know my crossfit friends can appreciate working under intensity and performing consistently day in and day out. These Kettlebellers are super fit.
  4. Limited injuries. work capacity, recovery, programming, efficient mechanics, intelligently designed tool that allows a person to use physics to assist with all the above.

Again I can on, but 14 years later my love and appreciation for Kettlebells only grows. So many to thank for helping me along this path to realization. And, I love seeing all the newly minted teachers sharing their education and passion and expanding awareness around the brilliance of the kettlebell. Even if it is just a part of a larger movement pool, it is a tool that will only help increase your likelihood of achieving your fitness and health goals.

Kettlebells: Movements, Rules, & Structure

Kettlebells, The Movements, The Rules, The Structure

The movements and rules relate specifically to the kettle bell classes I teach at Apple Computers. Each morning, Monday-Friday I teach one Kettlebell class for Apple employees, their families and contractors alike. This class is 45 minutes in length and is open to anyone. There is no levels, there is no intro, beginners classes, etc. This makes things a bit tricky as I can have a highly skilled kettlebell athlete and a newbie. Therefore I devised a system that could easily allow and adapt for whatever comes my way. Classes vary between an average of 15 students up to 24 students.

The 5 core movements
Squat
Press
Clean
Swing
Snatch

The Other Kettlebell Movements
Renegade Row
Windmill
Turkish Get Up
Floor Press
Side press
Lunge
Swing Squat
Deck squat
Halo
1 leg Deadlift
Arm Bar
Bottoms Up Clean
Bottoms Up Press
Bottoms Up Squat
Overhead Squat
Farmers Carry
Rack Holds
Overhead Holds

Other movements:
We have no pull-up bars, no barbells, etc. So we have basic gymnastic movements and of course Kettlebells at are disposal. We use a good variety of core based gymnastic movements combining static holds with dynamic movements including:

hollow body hold
hollow body rock
superman
hollow to superman
boat pose
L-sit
Front Lever or ‘leg lifts’
Planks and variations
Pikes (sliders)
Jack Knifes (sliders)
Crawls
Crow

Why no Turkish Get Up as a core movement, because my classes despise them and I do not think them essential but do believe they are an excellent movement. I ask the class to do 5 reps on each side in the warm up.

General Rules of Thumb for the Grinds aka Squat & Press
Complete 5 reps of 5 sets/side

once you can do this move up one bell size and aim for

3 reps of 8 sets/side

General Rule of Thumb for Swings
2 Hand Swing
Start with 2 hand swing.
Complete 20 reps for 5 sets. General is 100 swings minimum/workout. Class average is 100

Next

1 Arm Swing
Complete 10 reps x 5 sets/arm of the 1 arm swing

If you can successfully do this, then we introduce the snatch.

Snatch
Base goal is 5 reps x 5 sets/arm.

Next Steps:
From here we simple work bell size, reps/set, sets, time components for all the movements.

Other Rules, Etc.
Bell Size:
We have limited number of bell sizes for the class. The class can hold up to 21 people so we sometimes have to share or adapt to a different weight, lighter or heavier.

Double Bells:
We love double bell work. Ideally reserved for more advanced athletes, those comfortable with the 5 basics and add in the Renegade Row. The doubles serve as a great variation on the 5 Core moves and open many more options in terms of complexes and loading schemes relative to the body.

Complexes:
These are brilliant and the bells lend to making these an important part of the programming. We do a lot of couplet based complexes such as Clean Press, Thrusters, Squat Cleans and even triplet based such as clean squat press. But the possibilities extend far beyond this and here are some more convoluted examples. Note these can be done with one or 2 bells.

Man Makers (row, row, hop forward, clean thruster, hop back and repeat).
Swing, Clean Thrusters
Swing, Clean, Snatch
Snatch Thrusters
Crawl, Man Makers
Crawl, Row, Swings

There are many more to add to this. the key from my perspective is to find a flow and rhythm while being creative.

Shoes, Gloves, Wristbands:
No Shoes unless Chuck Taylors, Nanos, or other hard sole flat shoes. My classes all go barefoot.
Why Gloves are frowned upon, if it keeps people coming to class then so be it. These are working professionals not professional athletes. I will say no gloves help give a better grip.
Wristbands, same with gloves. If you know the technique you should not need wristbands.

Intervals:
All classes use time to help manage work to rest ratios and relative intensity. Students are encouraged to work within their capabilities, being sure to observe the first rule of being safe and effective.

Examples
On the minute
Tabata: 20 sec work, 10 sec rest x 8 rounds
30sec/30sec work to rest
15sec/15sec work to rest

Class Structure:
Students do their own warm up as most arrive early.

Recommended Kettlebell based warmups include:
Turkish Get Up/5 reps a side
Windmill/5 reps a side
Halo/8 reps per direction

First Part: The Grinds/Strength, Cleans, Presses, Squats and Rows

Examples
Clean & Press/OTM/1 Bell/3-5 reps a side/5-10 sets
Squats/OTM/1 Bell/3-5 reps a side/5-10 sets
-less reps equals more weight and vice versa

Second Part: Ballistics/Strength & Conditioning
Advanced Athletes:
Snatch/OTM/1 bell/5-8 reps a side/10-15 sets

Beginners: 2 Options
2 Hand Swing/OTM/1 bell/20 reps/10-15 sets
1 Arm Swing/OTM/1 bell/5-10 reps a side/10-15 sets

Third Part: Core or Burner aka WOD

Example: Tabata of 2 movements (alternate)
Pushups
Hollow Body Rocks

This is my general layout and approach and all within 45 minutes. I have been sharing our workouts on various social media forms so I hope you enjoy. Any questions please reach out.

kettlebell workout

kettlebell workout

Kettlebell ComplexesAdvanced Class Sample