Thursday, July 28, 2011


Progress in a strength program comes in fits and spurts. Kettlebells have been an interesting journey over the year I have trained with them. The past 6 months there have been ups and downs. Some weeks I can feel my strength in every part of me, other weeks picking up the 12kg bell seems heavy when it usually feels like a peanut to me.

But today...huge progress. Huge. I retested my 100 kettlebell snatches (you have 5 mins to attain 100) for the RKC snatch test. 16kg is the prescribed weight for a woman my size (>123 pounds). I can only use chalk for the test. I actually didn't know this prior to the test and thought I could use chalk or tape if I wanted to so I was well taped...ooops...but since the test is now at the end...if my hands are dead be it. The snatch test has been moved to used to be on Friday. This means that after 3 days of being beat down I get to do the snatch test. Sounds like fun...not.

But the last time I tested and passed the snatch test was about 5 weeks ago. You have 5 minutes to get 100 kettlebell snatches. 5 weeks ago = 4:54. This morning:


I totally crushed my goal times. 4:15 was a STRETCH goal...a post RKC goal...not a 5 week later goal. I was HOPING that maybe I could go sub 4:30 this round. But holy cow...

The thing is in the past few weeks I have FOCUSED on technique. Not a lot of high reps, just perfect reps. A few weeks ago we saw that I was 'casting' the bell a little bit too far out on the down swing. This in turn was causing pinching and callous issues on my hands. By adjusting my elbow a little bit I can now do the 'cast and catch' technique a little better and it seems I am saving my energy too. This time around just felt easier...yes I'm 5 weeks fitter, but it just seemed easier too. My HR didn't feel like it got into the high 170s/low 180s (that is total redline for me) which I know it did last time. If I were to guess, I'm guessing it was in the mid 160s/low 170s. The thing about when your HR gets high and you are swinging a heavy weight around the brain messes with you. That was the other thing I was more controlled about. My little brain was in the ZONE. I just kept calm and focused, my pace barely waivered and I didn't get nervous. When you get tired near the end the tendency is to get nervous and start using bad form.

The other thing. No resting. No wanting to rest. No putting the bell down. A few times I could start to feel the fatigue set in so I knocked the pace down a bit, but 4:15 is a pretty solid pace and time.

What's amazing is to see how far in 6 months I have come with just consistent work. Consistency is really key. I was laughing with my trainer this morning because he said: lifting weights is easy...just pick them up and put them down a bunch of times. And do it over and over. ;-)

One full week and a bit of heavy focused training and then partial taper for a week (lighter weight and a little lower volume) and full taper for the week after (mini workouts, but nothing crazy). Can't believe it is almost here. I'm excited.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

6 weeks and counting

That's it...6 weeks til my RKC...which really means 4 weeks of training and 2 weeks of taper. Or one week of psudeo taper and the other week of real taper. HOW does one taper for something like an RKC?? Guess I'll follow the same principle as a race...lower volume...keep the intensity.

Just got back from a small stuck back in my hometown due to plane delays but finally got in today. Found a few kettlebells when I was home at various gyms, but found ONE proper kettlebell gym and the owner was MORE than generous with letting me train there. That was nice because all the other kettlebells I found in town sucked. I tore parts of one finger up due to the roughness of one of the bells. Not a happy girl.

But hit a PR that is BIG to me. Going into the RKC one thing I have to pass are 2 x 16kg bell presses for 5 reps. Apparently women can drop down a weight for the press if they need to, but I WANTED to do the right weights. I could get to about 3 reps and then maybe half of a 4th...but that was it. I managed it not one time but two times!! Very exciting. I changed my feet position a bit which helped. I need a little bit more of a narrow stance it seems.

Plan from here out is 3 days on, one day off, 2 days on (predominately swing and snatch practice) one day off. One of my off days will = yoga the other will be OFF. The 3 days on are to mimic what it will be like at the RKC. Three days in a row of swing, clean, press, TGU, snatch, front squat. I will rotate with weights, some days heavier some days lighter...and try to practice outside. Motto being: Nothing new on race day. (The RKC is outside)

Between now and RKC, I do plan to do 2 more tests of 100 snatches under 5 mins. One of those is in a week. Both will be 'legal' with just chalk or tape. That would help boost the confidence going into the weekend.

Getting that nervousness that is like getting ready for an A race...focused, but a few butterflies flying around.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And the new number is...

Practice test #2...100 kettelbell snatches in 4:52 minutes with the 16kg bell. RKC...i'm one step closer. 8 weeks to go.

I tested with some small knit gloves and I cannot do my actual test with them. Only chalk or tape. So from now until the RKC that's all it will be about...chalk and tape when I'm doing my kettlebell snatches. It's just hard to tape your hands when you train by yourself, but I am teaching myself and have purchased both johnson and johnson Zonas athletic tape as well as johnson and johnson Coach athletic tape. Difference? Zonas is supposed to be tougher adhesive and I couldn't figure out if it had Zinc Oxide (which a random blog about the RKC mentioned you wanted tape with Zinc Oxide in it...why?? I have no idea...but I"m trusting tribal knowlege on these things right now) in it or not...which is why i bought the Coach tape. So the ultimate question is what's the difference? I don't know yet. Haven't noticed much difference. But CVS brand athletic tape SUCKS. The adhesive will get all over your bell and stay there and the coefficient of friction on the tape is higher so while the J&J brands aren't perfect the bell does slide a little easier (not much) over the tape.

Still tricky with tape though. Tape bunches and still get hot spots on my hands...but it is forcing me to try to use the cast and catch technique which really just moves the callouses on your hands to your fingers. Those are actually a little easier to work with and don't hurt so bad when you rip them. Yes that is a WHEN not if statement. You will rip your hands from time to time. Just try not to do it too much. I file those callouses down regularly to try to save my hands from ripping.

And a rant about chalk. I would LOVE it if someone could intellectually explain why chalk is good for doing kettlebell snatches...repetitively. It makes no sense to me. I think i use the chalk to make the adhesive parts of my tape less sticky...not so much for my hands. But chalk are to HELP your grip...not make it lower friction. Climbers use it to hold on tighter to the rock...powerlifters use it to...GRIP THE BAR. So WHY would I want to use it for something that is repetitive like a snatch test?? I can understand a really heavy bell that you are only doing one or two snatches with, but...something that makes your hands sweat (hence you then make paste) and also increases your grip...which means MORE hotspots on your hands...not less. The callouses on my hands are because I can't get the bell off my palms fast enough. I don't want to increase that. I have tried putting it on the tip of my fingers and on the tape (to decrease the tacky factor of the adhesive...while chalk is a friction promoter...not as bad as tape adhesive). Confusing to me. I'm still playing with it...but intellectually it doesn't make any sense to me.

And on a non-kettlebell but related note. Branched Chain Amino Acids are AWESOME. I think it is actually magic fairy dust in a bottle. My recovery seems to be...possibly better??? is the the BCAAs? I have no idea, but I think they do make a difference. I'm using them on my rides as I'm not consuming much in the way of a sports drinks as my rides are usually only around the 2 hour mark and not that hard. But I use them during the ride and after...or after a hard kettlebell workout. They rock. Xtend is the brand I use. I don't recommend the's a bit sour. I've heard the grape or apple are ok. But buy it online...almost half the price!

Friday, May 27, 2011

And the number is...

Today was the first time I tried the RKC snatch test, 100 kettlebell snatches in 5 mins, at the prescribed weight for me...16kg/35lbs.

And the answer is...

97 close...but no dice.

That being said: 3 weeks and I'm having a rematch!

Still 12 weeks until my RKC. I believe between now and the RKC I will be able to pass some practice snatch tests 3-4 more times. And hopefully get my conditioning to sub 4:30.

My conditioning is *almost* there...three solid weeks of training and I'll should get it within 5 minutes. I had great pacing, but just rested too long around the 60-70 mark. Learning how to keep swinging the bell when you are that state of hypoxia is interesting. It would be like trying to run a 5K and mid race repeatedly picking up heaving weights and swinging them around with a 5K heart rate. Convincing yourself you have the strength when you are tired like that is tough.

Things that went well: pacing was good. I had a good pace even when I picked up the timing after breaks.

I fought hard at the end. At 4:15 I still had 20 reps to go and I FOUGHT to get them done in those 45seconds. My typical pace when I'm not tired is is 20 reps/50-55 being fatigued at that point I still tried to get back on pace and tried to even think about going FASTER than my normal pace which was hard at the end.

Live to fight another day.

Bring it! Fight face ON!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A newly minted Kettlebell instructor and now I have my own class!

I just got my HKC (Hardstyle Kettlebell certification) on Saturday. My instructor said it would be helpful to take before my RKC (Russian kettlebell challenge) in 12weeks.
I walked into that certification and laughed because I was the only non-health and fitness industry person in the room. I'm taking the RKC because it is a good challenge and I like training for things...not because I want to teach kettlebells...well that is what I thought until I took the HKC.

So when I walked into the HKC I just figured it would be good prep for the RKC. Learn about the layout and how it is run. Since the HKC strength requirements are minimal compared to the RKC, (15sec flexed arm hang for the women and I think 5 pullups for the guys) I figured I could just go and see what it was all about.

I left the HKC knowing HOW prepared I was for the RKC in terms of form. My swing is on track and well as my turkish getup and my goblet squat. Now...tomorrow I will know how close or far away I am from passing the 5 min snatch test with the 16kg bell and then the overall thing that freaks me out more than the snatch test are the 3 solid days of training 8+ hours a day, in the San Diego summer heat (it can get hot in Aug), with 2-3 workouts within each day. Errr...I'm not ready for that yet. 12 weeks to go.

But here was the funny thing...i passed my certification and was talking to a friend about maybe teaching a class or something. And I got to work and it practically fell in my lap. I now have my own kettlebell class at work 1 day week...possibly 2. Trouble is that I'm a little limited on bells at work both in weight (only 20pounds) and number (only 4). But we have had some discussion with people if they really like it they can buy a bell. So...i taught a few willing participants how to swing a bell properly on Wed. Very cool!

Kind of funny...esp since the teaching fell into my lap sort of accidentally.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2 PRs

RKC training is going...ok for the most part. Few little odd things here and there like: did you know that your ribs can 'pop' out of alignment sorta like your spine can get out of alignment. But usually they will pop back in...eventually. I managed to pop one or two of those suckers out last week. OWCH. Fortunately it was RIGHT before my massage therapy appointment where she is the queen of popping them back in. Painful...but I'm doing better now.

My strength is coming along...but it is something that takes time and patience. You can't cram strength like you can cram for a test. You just have to be consistent and diligent...push when you need to push and rest when your body is asking for it. And the reality is that with kettlebells they can really rip you a new one if you push too hard too fast.

But...i'm still not where I need to be for my RKC. True I have 15 weeks...but still...I'm nervous. I know silly because 15 weeks out from a big race you don't expect that you can DO that you? I mean if it is your first rodeo at that distance why on earth would you think 15 weeks out that you can actually be able to DO that...15 weeks out.

But there is more to my RKC than just passing the kettlebell snatch test (100 snatches with 16kg bell in 5 mins)...there is that whole 3 days 8+ hours of training that I also have to survive I'm also trying to increase training load to sustain that. Consistency...and trying not to injure oneself is the goal. Err the injuries...fortunately sort of minor, but really frustrating. The rib thing came at the tail end of two EXTREMELY awesome weeks of training.

But then yesterday I PR'd...two times. I finally got a turkishget up with the 16kg bell on both sides as well as I did a chin up. Pretty sweet on both fronts! The TGU is really awesome because I have some struggles with it due to my overly active hipflexors who like to get in the action (thank you cycling) rather than my core. So I tend to struggle a bit with them...16kg just seemed so HEAVY...but I knew I might have to 'test' with it when I do my I wondered how I would get there. And I DID. yea!!

And now it is time to get some good recovery sleep so I can train in the morning. :-)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happening again...

I happened again: Training Induced Narcolepsy.

A refresher on the term: Training Induced Narcolepsy : Random and sometimes uncontrollable bouts of sleep after a hard workout. (term...made up by me).

Two unplanned naps today happened. One of them was the: oh...i'm not that tired, i'll just lie down for a second but just in case...I'll set my alarm. 45 minutes later after being out COLD i woke up to my alarm. The second case, in the middle of a funny movie. I was laughing hard too and suddenly...asleep.

Today's bike ride was great. Roughly 45 miles. Nice burn lines on the quads to prove I went out...slow as molassas but feeling stronger. It's tough because I'd like to FOCUS on getting stronger on the bike, but my main goal this season really is kettlebells and the RKC in I can't really do over do the endurance workouts or my kettlebell workouts do start to suffer. I can do some, but you really can't focus on two things at once like that. can, but then both of them are just marginal.

But my legs are coming back and that is a nice thing.