Another week at the grind. Motivation in exercise – at least for me – often comes from having goals in mind and from changing things up to keep them interesting. Even with the four primary kettlebell movements that I utilize most (the Clean and Press, the Turkish Get-up, the Swing and the Snatch), I’m able to consistently vary the sets and reps and times to keep my body guessing.
Before I mention each days’ training plan from last week, a quick update. I have been trying to do some pull-up work throughout the day along with some practice on pistol squats. (This is why I rarely include these in an actual training session; I’m trying to do them as I go.) Well, this week was weak on the pistols, and only so-so on the pull-ups. I was not that faithful. I just wasn’t thinking about it to do it. When I walk by the pull-up bar that presents a reminder, so I try to hit it. Not so with the pistol squats.
Anyway, I’ll try to be more faithful to the pistols practice next week and hopefully I’ll have good news to report. On to my breakdown by the days for last week:
I. Four rounds:
- 53# KB Clean and Press – 4 reps left
- 53# KB Clean and Press – 4 reps right
- Pull-ups – 4 reps
II. 20 minute countdown:
- 53# KB Snatch – 5 reps left
- 53# KB Snatch – 5 reps right
The strength stuff felt solid, and I felt fresh after having loaded up on “food energy” over the weekend. As for the snatches, a very interesting thing happened. Each round comprised about 20 seconds’ work and 40 seconds’ rest. 40 seconds is a long time to rest, but going like this for 20 minutes was a mental challenge. At the end of the 20 minutes, my pulse was 180. That’s crazy, because that’s about as high as it ever gets even when I’m going pretty hard with higher reps and shorter time. That means that – all things being equal – I’m getting my heart rate up there for a much longer time by this protocol then when I’m going for reps in a short workout.
Deadlift: 2×6 @ 225# (That’s two rounds of six reps using 225 pounds) Bench Press: 5×3 @ 175#
It felt really great to get back to the deadlift. I spent a while teaching my partner some of the basics of the lift, so I wasn’t able to do the planned five sets with 285#, but it’s just as well. I was feeling a bit worked the next day since I had not done them in a good while.
It’s important on these lifts in particular to NOT train to failure. We guys tend to think if we’re starting to lose form, we should try for at least three more reps and just have the spotter ready to bail us out. I’m not a fan of that approach. That may be a good approach if you’re only looking to build muscle size, but if real strength or muscle density are important to you, then not training to failure is critical.
Turkish Get Ups – 8 minutes (53# bell) KB Swings – 15 minutes, 15 reps (70# bell)
Not surprisingly, the get-ups felt great, and so did the swings…until about minute 12. For the last three rounds, I was seriously concerned that I may lose my grip on the bell during the actual swing (as opposed to the top or bottom of the rep). But I did manage to actually complete the full 225 reps in 15 minutes. It felt really good when I was done and had thoroughly stretched my tight forearms and hamstrings.
KB Snatches – 5 minutes, 11 reps per side
I figured with my recent progress on the snatches that I had a good formula here, but sometimes you hit a wall in your progress. I still managed to get 110 reps in 5 minutes (a PR), but I struggled to do it, for sure. To be honest, I wanted to do six minutes, but it wasn’t happening. I think it’s time to start a new cycle, dial it back next week and make a slow, steady climb toward my Holy Grail of 200 KB snatches in 10 minutes!