Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

This goes out to all those who read this blog...Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!! If you are traveling, I hope you are blessed with a safe trip.

I'm taking a bit of a break from the internet, so I should be back posting after the new year.

With that said, to all my RKC brethren and sistren, have a blessed holiday and new year! 2009 will promise to be full of awesome opportunities and experiences, goals to set and achieve, and PR's bested and broken. I very much look forward to it and can't wait until the next time we all meet up again!

I'll leave you all with a very good story of a high school football team that has no reason to hope, no reason to believe. They were blessed with something we all possess, but rarely give....human kindness. Enjoy!

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?section=magazine&id=3789373

~ Jason

Monday, December 22, 2008

Killed The Force Recon Workout Last Week!

Great week of training! Strong, Light and Powerful! That's how I felt all week. I sat around 182 all week and cheated one day on Warrior Diet with a lunch on Wednesday due to a board meeting at work. This was my worst day of training. I felt nauseous after eating and felt lethargic and withdraw all during training. My body is definitely adapting to the daily fasting.

Monday - 12/15/08

Strength Circuit w/ Class:
5x3 of the following:

Front Squat - Double 40kg
Weighted Pull Up - 20kg
Dead Lift - 385lbs
Weighted Elevated Push Up - 115lbs on back

Tuesday - 12/16/08

Force Recon - Day 3

Superset:
Weighted Pull Up - 5x5 - 16kg on Foot
Clean & Press - 5x5 - Double 28kg

Front Squat - 5x5 - Double 32kg
(Rock Bottom w/ 1 second pause)

Superset:
Snatch - 5x5 - 32kg
Strict Hanging Leg Raise - 5x5

Wednesday - 12/17/08

Active Recovery:
Kettlebell Progressive Complex
Done w/ 16kg

3xL/R w/ 25 Push Ups Between Rounds
Swing, Clean, Squat, Snatch, Press, 1/2 Kneeling Press, Arm Bar Press x3, TGU

Thursday - 12/18/08

Force Recon - Day 4

Clean and Jerk - 10 Minutes
1 - Arm - 32kg for 1st 5 min., 28kg for last 5 min. (only put bell down to switch sizes.)

Fighter Sit Ups - 5x5

Superset:
100 Tactical Pull Ups (Used a Monster Mini Jump Stretch band after I hit 60)
Front Squats - Double 24kg - 10x each time I let go of the bar (took 8 sets of pull ups to complete)

Superset:
Snatch - 24kg - 5x10/10
100m Jog - 5x

The Force Recon workout Pavel wrote is the bomb! This ends week two of the brutality, but I was able to dramatically increase the weight I used from last week and decrease the amount of time the workouts took to complete.

Not sure what's going on physiologically, but I've maintained my weight all week and increased my strength and stamina without eating ANYTHING during the day (with the exception of Wed. and I felt like crap for it). No matter what, I'm digging the results!

Kevin got a new stock pile of 60 Penny Nails for some bending fun. One day I plan on trying to bend (X) number of nails for time. I've never tried it before like that, but Adam Glass is definitely inspiring enough to try it. I just need to pick a fresh day when wrists and hands aren't so sore.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Last Week In Review:

Training was a little different as compared to last week. I started a Force Recon workout that was written by Pavel. This will be a staple Tuesday/Thursday workout for the fighters. The Force Recon workout looked like this.

Tuesday:
Superset:
Weighted Pull Ups - 12kg - 5x5
Clean and Press - Double 24kg - 5x5

Rock Bottom Front Squat w/ 1 second Pause - Double 24kg - 5x5

Superset:
Snatch - 32kg - 5/5x5
Strict Hanging Leg Raise - 5x5

Thursday:
Single Arm Clean and Jerk - 24kg - 10 minutes (never put the bell down)
Heavy Abs - Fighter Sit Ups - 5x5

Superset:
Pull Ups - 100 Total
Front Squats - Double 24kg - 10 Reps Every Time You Let Go Of The Bar
(This sucked! I managed the whole thing in 8 Sets - 100 Pull Ups, 80 Front Squats)

Superset:
Snatch - 24kg - 10/10x5 (100 total)
100 Yard Jog - x5

I was very fortunate to get an opportunity to meet up with a group of high school athletes and their coaches from Monterey High School here in Lubbock. There was about 60 kids, Freshman thru Juniors. They all plan on playing varsity football as Linemen or Linebackers next year. We worked on the Swing and Turkish Get Up. They did great and I think they'll really get a ton out of implementing the techniques I showed them in their program.


Afterward, I showed them a little steel bending with some 60 Penny Nails I brought. This was a lot of fun and they all wanted to take a crack at it and keep the nails I bent. Then they wanted to see me jump because I was talking to them about the benefits the Double KB Swing can have as an awesome hip developer for explosiveness. So, Coach brought out their Vertical Jump Kit and tested my hops for the first time since high school. My standing reach was 89" (7 feet, 5 inches). After a few attempts, my best jump was 123" (10 feet, 3 inches) for a standing vertical jump of 34". Not bad for a 31-year old that's 50 pounds heavier than his high school version.

Another notable PR happened Monday while doing Bottom's Up Presses. I hit the 36kg for 2 reps on the right and 1 on the left. I'm getting closer to that 40kg! Then I repped out the 32kg for 5 consecutive reps! I wish I had my video camera!...Next time!

I also hit a bending PR with a 5" piece of 1/4" Cold Rolled Steel. The equivalent of a Blue Nail, but an inch shorter. After about 6 hits, double overhand style, I got it to 90 degrees and finished it off to 1.5". This was by far my toughest bend!

Warrior Diet has been going pretty well. Adherence is about 95% during the week and about 80% on the weekends. I've trimmed down to about 182 pounds, give or take 3 pounds, from a steady 195. I definitely look more defined, mainly in the mid-section, so the abdominal fat loss has been a nice side effect. I think I'm going to keep it up until the end of the year. (I don't want to get so light I'll fly away, you know)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Look Who's Kettlebellin'

I've talked to several endurance athletes since I've become a Kettlebell Instructor through RKC and they have relatively the same thing to say about kettlebells. Too much strength training. How do you get cardio out of that? I don't want to bulk up...etc. Well, here's a pic of arguably the best endurance athlete of all time with this magical ball of iron....so you tell me, is it for endurance athletes?

Training Week - 12/01/08 - 12/04/08

12/1/08 - Monday

Bottom's Up Press - 24kg

3x1,2,3,4,5

Superset w/ Barbell Bent Rows 225 - 3x1,2135 - 3x3,4,5

3x3 of the following:

Front Squat - Double 40kg

Pull Up - 20kg

Dead Lift - 275

Push Up - Elevated w/ 2-45lb Plates and 30lb Chain on neck

12/2/08 - Tuesday

Vo2 Max - 16kg - 40 sets of 8 - :15/:15

12/3/08 - Wednesday

Active Recovery

Progressive Complex - 12kg

3 Rounds both Left and Right

Swing

Swing, Snatch

Swing, Snatch, Press

Swing, Snatch, Press, Windmill

Swing, Snatch, Press, Windmill, Overhead Squat

Swing, Snatch, Press, Windmill, Overhead Squat, Half Kneeling Press

Swing, Snatch, Press, Windmill, Overhead Squat, Half Kneeling Press, Arm Bar Press x 3, TGU

25 Push Ups between each round

12/4/08 - Thursday


Barbell Front Squat

135 x 10

225 x 5

275 x 2

315 x 1

Tried box jumps again. Hit 61 inches 3 times, which is 3 of my tires stacked on each other. Mixed in Barbell Back Squats ~ 3x5 225

Worked the circuits with the late class.

No short bending this week. I still need to go to the store. I did buy some cards at the dollar store and started on card tearing 'cause I've ripped everything I had in the house with exception of 2 decks. Tearing cards is extremely tough for me. I don't know if I'm doing it wrong, but when I watch vids of other guys do it, I can't seem to mimic it with the same grips. Plus it's pretty painful. I did get a full Lubbock Yellow pages phonebook yesterday the "right" way. It's about 1.5 inches thick. I was showing the guys how to do both techniques (parlor trick and strongman) and when showing the strength version the pages just popped apart...it looked as if I'd chopped the top of the book with a machete. Pretty cool! So I finished it off, which took me a little bit. I'll keep grinding at the card tearing. I'm at 30 or so cards now and the tears are ugly....very curvy and the cards are a mess when I'm done. What's crazy is my grip is stronger than it's ever been right now and this seems to be impossible to me right now. The tortoise wins the race with this I guess.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

3 Days Of GTG

GTG = Grease The Groove

I know there's a technical definition for this in a training application, but for me it's just do what you want and do it light enough to not over-exert.

Monday, I worked some Bottom's Up Presses after I worked with a class. I really want to hit the 40kg (Bulldog), but it still eludes me.

Team Goblet Squat Ladders (Courtesy of Jeff O'Connor)
24kg - 3x1,2,3,4,5

Bottom's Up Press
28kg - 3x2/2
32kg - 1x1/1
36kg - 1x1 Right, Failed Left
40kg - Good Clean and held it for a bit, 1/2 Pressed and it toppled on me. Soon!!!

Pull Ups
5x3

Tuesday, I worked with my late class. Complexes were on the menu with an interesting approach to the TGU.

TGU - 24kg
Pausing at each individual section of the get up.
1:20 on the way up
1:20 on the way down

1 Left and 1 Right = Over 5 minutes for 2 TGU's! This was brutal, but my shoulders felt unreal and fresh afterwards.

Complex - 5x1,2,3
All done 1-arm and switch
Swing, Clean, Squat, Press, Snatch

Then...40 Swings, 30 Rows (15/15), 20 Squats, 10 Burpees

Wednesday, we worked for our Thanksgiving Turkey. Early class 10 Swings on the minute for 40 minutes (400 swings). 2 late classes, 15 swings on the minute for 40 minutes (600 swings). Rest period was mixture of Fast and Loose and whatever we wanted to work on...Pull Ups, Abs, etc. Great workout and it went surprisingly fast.

Bending and tearing worth mentioning: I've ripped around 10 phone books since Monday. One at work went in 6 seconds!! The thing just exploded on my first rip and felt like it just fell apart. I've gone through all of my bag of nails (except for the Reds) and the stock that I'd cut to blue nail length. I've been working 3-6 blue nails/day. Double Overhand, Double Underhand and Reverse with both hands in front. DU and Reverse are finished DO after the initial bend. Blue nails are becoming good practice, so I'm gonna have to go to the hardware store and stock up on some tougher fare. I printed out "How To Bend The Red Nail" today, and I'm looking forward to reading it. I've kinked one, but it's like pushing on a brick wall.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Last Week's Training and My Impressions of The Warrior Diet

Last Sunday I made the decision to REALLY clean up my eating habits. Not just some of the time. Not just the weekdays. Not just breakfast and lunch. ALL THE TIME! So, I gravitated towards The Warrior Diet (WD) and began last Monday morning.

For those that don't know, WD is a way of life, not just a diet. It's a way to harness your innate survival skills and take control of your life. Within one week I've been able to break many of my old bad habits and get started on a nutritional plan that really works great for anyone willing to put forth the effort.

WD Positives

I LOVE being able to "feast" at night after I'm done training. Before WD, I was never really that hungry when I went home and consistently missed the ever-important post-workout meal.

I am no longer a slave to food. I now make food work for me and benefit me the way I want it to.

I am sharper during the day. Have more energy. Sleep better at night.

I want to eat "Good," "Healthy," "Nutritious" food at night during my feast. I no-longer crave the junk food at fast food joints on my way home. I want fuel and I want the best there is to offer. Not something that's only going to stay with me for a few hours.

WD Negatives

It's a little mental at first. Hunger will definitely play with your mind. Good thing the WD allows for mid-day snacks. Thank you almonds!

I flopped twice last week. Both times at work when we had company-prepared meals. I just didn't have the guts to not get a plate.


To sum up, WD seems to be an awesome way to eat and live...FOR ME! It may not be for you, but so far this is working great and I haven't felt this good about a nutrition plan in quite a while. I've been in compliance everyday (8 days now) with exception to the 2 meals at work last week (which really weren't that bad), but I still cheated. The holidays may put an even tougher dose of peer pressure on me, but I'll try to gut it out.


Training

I hit some PR's last week, mostly with bending - Refer to my previous post. I tried my snatch test on Thursday instead of hitting Vo2 Max due to time and I hit 100 reps w/ 24kg in 3:46. I don't think I've ever timed 100 reps before, but it felt good and there is some room for improvement.

I also hit an old school workout with one of my clients...All Barbell. Bench Press, Bent Rows, Dips, Straight Bar Curls, Pull Ups and Abs...of course. I was sore as a dog after this. The old hypertrophy days awakened the DOMS demons, but it was cool to do something old fashioned.

This week may be more of a lay off week to coincide with Thanksgiving. Probably GTG stuff and some more bending.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! I know I'm going to be looking forward to Thanksgiving supper! ;-)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Blue Nail...Crushed!

I tried bending Iron Mind's blue nail for the first time today. I'd been consistently crushing yellow nails and got a pair of leather wraps...Thanks Kevin! Much more comfortable compaired to the IM wraps.

Here's a vid of the workout today and pic of the damage...





Thursday, November 13, 2008

Full, Un-Sick Week!

Had a great week training. Hit my goals and made some significant gains. Amidst teaching classes, I feel great about the little successes as time is usually my deal-breaker when getting the workouts in that I've planned.

Monday - 11-10-08

Bottoms Up Press Ladders
2x1,2,3,4,5 w/ 24kg
Superset Each Rung w/
3 - 135lb Barbell Hang Cleans

Bending:
Green - Reverse Grip (1st try to get the groove - THANKS Adam Glass!!!)
2 - Yellow - Reverse Grip - Very Easy
1 - Yellow - Double Overhand
2 - 60D Nails - Reverse Grip

I'll try to get some vids out there of this for critiquing.

Tuesday - 11-11-08

TGU - 5 mins

Beast Goblet Squat
Bottoms Up - 5x5
Superset w/
Pull Ups - 5x5

Vo2 Max - 40 sets of 8 w/ 16kg

Wednesday - 11-12-08 - With Class

Circuit - :30/:30 - 3x
Double KB Squat Thrust
Planks
Swings
Double KB Overhead Lockout
Burpees
Sling Shots

Ab/Low Back Circuit

Thursday - 11-13-08

TGU - 5 mins

Barbell Front Squat - Worked up to:
245x3
295x1
315x1

Superset w/ Barbell Power (Muscle) Cleans
135
185
205
225

Work w/ Class:

Snatch w/ 24kg - 20/20, 15/15, 10/10, 5/5 ~ 4 mins.
Push Ups - 10x10
Swing - 40x
Squat - 30x
Swing - 20x
Squat - 10x
Pull Ups - 4x5

More Bending:
2 Yellows, Reverse Grip
1 Yellow, Double Overhand

The nail bending is really coming along. My wrists, thumbs and hands in general are sore as all get out for several hours after a session, but the pain soon goes away. I've been doing all of my bending with the canvas Iron Mind wraps that comes with a bag of nails. From what I've read, this is the most uncomfortable way to bend, but it's suited me fine this far. I'm getting some leather wraps to try that out soon. I'm ready to move up to consistently smashing blue nails, but I'm not quite there yet. I think with consistency, it'll come. Patience is the key with this stuff!

The beauty of the bending/tension work is that my overall strength continues to improve. With the V02 Max training, my stamina and staying power is still there as well. It seems to be a great mix.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Two Good Days = A Good Week For Me!

I had a good two days back to back in training. My sinus/head cold subsided and I was able to actually muster the energy to do something in class instead of just coach.

Wednesday - 11-5-08

Variety Day
Circuits w/ Class :30 Work/:30 Rest = 3X
- Snatch
- Planks
- Box Jumps
- Jump Rope
- See Saw Press
- Dead Lifts

Thursday - 11-6-08

Lift Sumpin' Heavy!

Front Squat
Worked up to singles of:
245
265
275

Power Clean
135 1x5
185 2x3
205 1x3

With Class:
- Team Swings and TGU
- Team Front Squat Ladders - 2X1,2,3,4,5
- Smoker - 3X
Heavy 1-Arm Swings - 5/5 - 40kg
Snatch - 5/5 - 32kg
Heavy 1-Arm Swings - 10/10 - 40kg
Snatch - 5/5 - 32kg

BRUTAL!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hiatus…

So I've been a little less than active with my cyber-presence lately. There are many reasons for this…some legit, some not, but they would all sound like excuses to the outside world, so I'll just gut it up and move forward.

First off…WRECK EM TECH!

My alma mater, Texas Tech University, where football reigns king, is on the national charts with a huge win over #1 Texas last Saturday. If you missed it, you missed the game of the year. I couldn't be prouder…BUT, the win means nothing if they get taken down this Saturday against a very talented, determined Oklahoma State team. So stay focused, stay in your zone and beat the hell out of the Cowboys!!! For those interested in football, you don't want to miss this game. It will be a high flying shootout as both offenses have been putting up serious numbers. 7pm Central on ABC.

Secondly…The Election.

In a nutshell, I'm worried. Our society needs to think more like these guys:
"The fact remains that the overwhelming majority of people who have become wealthy have become so thanks to work they found profoundly absorbing...The long term study of people reveals that their 'luck' arose from accidental dedication they had to an area they enjoyed."
- Srully Blotnick

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
- Thomas Jefferson

The idea of entitlement will cripple this country.

Finally...On to training:
I've been toying with a new training program to see how I like the combination. Here's what it looks like:

Monday:
Heavy Clean and Press - Ladder Style
Superset w/ Pull Ups, Barbell Rows or Barbell Hang Cleans

Tuesday:
Beast Goblet Squat 5X5
Vo2 Max Day - Started with 40 sets of 8 w/ 16kg - Will work up each week

Wednesday:
Goof Off/Variety Day

Thursday:
Heavy Pull or Press Day - Dead Lift, Squat, or Power Clean and Front Squat
Double Swings
Friday - Sunday:
Off
Intermittent bending and grip work throughout the week. I've been hitting yellow nails like they're made of rubber. But the blue nail…not so much.

This schedule works with my training, full-time job, social and marriage life(lives). I think I can get strong and conditioned at the same time with this, so I'm going to test it for awhile. Around the beginning of the year, I'll make my way into a Power lifting mode. I'd like to do another full meet next year…maybe coincide with the TSC and then train the techniques for RKC II.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

RKC - Assistant Instructor

This post is a bit belated, but this last week has been anything but normal. I'll try to do my best to recount the weekend and experience 'cause I'm still coming down from the "high" of it all. If you've ever been to an RKC event, you know what I mean.



Rather than give a minute-by-minute accounting, I'll just piece together things that are on my mind about the experience as I write about them.



You can not put a price tag or come close to estimating the value of being close to the best trainers in the world. If you've ever felt like you don't fit in because of the way you train, eat or live your life, the RKC just reaffirms the fact that there are others out there who "get it." Just being around other instructors and teaching aspiring instructors that feel the same way is priceless.



Dave Whitley's (Senior RKC) grip strength is really taking off. If you get a chance, have him tear something up in front of you and then you try it. It'll humble you in a hurry. He's one strong dude!



I was on Team Ron Morris (RKC - Team Leader) with another assistant instructor, Jason Wood, RKC. Our team came in and started a little rough around the edges, but the transformation that was made, the progress that we witnessed was unbelievable. Congrats and huge thanks goes out to all of Team Morris and I wish you all the best!

This post would not be complete if I didn't say a huge thank you to Pavel, our Chief Instructor, Master RKC, Brett Jones, the Senior RKC's: Dave Whitley and Jeff O'Connor, RKC Team Leader, Ron Morris and all the Assistant Instructors. I'd also like to thank and congratulate the Dragon Door staff for making the cert so seamless and memorable!



I'm becoming more aware that some of the best times of an RKC event are Sunday night after grad workouts where everyone can celebrate their accomplishments. This cert was no different with good food, drinks, conversation and entertainment, courtesy of many "Hold My Beer/Purse And Watch This" moments.



This cert was special because I was invited by Fawn Friday, RKC to check out her gym and talk shop before my plane headed out. Fawn is amazingly strong and can do stuff most of my male students can't do. It was truly an honor and a pleasure to hang out with Fawn and I would encourage those of you in the St Paul/Minneapolis area to do the same.

All in all, assisting at an RKC event can't be explained, just experienced. I would do it again in a heartbeat and hope to have the opportunity to do so in the near future.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Off To St Paul

In the morning I'm off to St Paul, MN to serve as an Assistant Instructor at the coveted, RKC...THE Gold Standard in kettlebell instructor certifications. I'm totally stoked about the upcoming weekend and can't wait to soak up all it has to offer. I'm looking forward to seeing some old and new acquaintances and building new friendships. This is such an exciting experience and I hope there are many more to come in the future.

RKC, here we go!

Hard Style!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Birthday 300

Okay, so I had a birthday today and I'm off and running into my thirties....31 to be exact. I decided to give myself a little challenge and some of my students decided to follow suit. Here's my sinister Hard Style version of the 300 workout to honor my 31st year of life.

Swings - 24kg - 31 reps
Dead Lifts - 48kg - 31 reps
Push Ups - 31 reps
Box Jump - 32 inch Tire - 31 reps
Snatch Left - 16kg - 31 reps
Clean & Press Right - 20kg - 31 reps
Front Squat - 24kg - 31 reps
Snatch Right - 16kg - 31 reps
Clean & Press Left - 20kg - 31 reps
Burpees - 31 reps

Total reps = 310 in ~ 20 minutes

So it wasn't exactly 300, but that's what made it so exciting! J/K I almost threw up, but I made it through and was glad I did it. Kind of a commemorative workout to celebrate. As Spriggs said, "I hate to see what I come up with when I'm 50." ;-)

My little brother (6'3" 195), Trevor, got me the new Metallica CD and a Ghost Recon game for my PSP. I listened to the first 5 songs on the way home and I'm totally digging the new album. Sounds like they're getting back to their old roots of head bangin', fist-pumpin' beats with oodles of face-melting rifs and solos. Love it! This will be standard fare in the gym beginning immediately! Thanks (little big) Bro!

Friday, I'm off to Frisco, TX with my buddy Kevin and his family to meet up with the Blifferts and Dave Whitley to attend the Iron Tamer's famous Kettlebell Workshop. I'm really stoked about Saturday and can't wait to see how the day goes.

Next week will be a monumental one as I'm off to St Paul, MN to participate in the Level 1 RKC cert as an Assistant Instructor. This is such a huge honor and I'm very fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity. Again, this is going to be such a great experience to see how things are done at an RKC from behind the scenes and from an instructor's eyes. I'm expecting to pull more away (if it's possible) from this than I did as a fledgling RKC in training. Starting to get butterflies!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Core Values In Bullet Points

The following is a short list that I was compelled to put on paper and will hopefully help me to be more accountable in adhering to my core values. Even though these are things that I believe in, I am sometimes led astray and don't always walk the walk. They are listed in no particular order with exception to the first bullet. This was a very good exercise as I not only attempted to define who I am, but who I want to be, which might be more important because life is a process. I feel the list may eventually evolve, but it's a good starting place for now.

  • God First, Family Second, Career Third.
  • Predicate your self image with action.
  • Carve yourself by what you do.
  • Don’t be concerned with the outside influence of materialism.
  • Looks are temporary, actions may last forever.
  • Help others when you CAN.
  • Eliminate negative thoughts and trash the words, “Can’t and Won’t.”
  • Don’t enslave yourself with excuses.
  • Don’t be an excuse.
  • See yourself without limitations.
  • Make confidence a forethought in everything you do.
  • Harbor confidence with quiet humbleness.
  • Be unpredictably strong.
  • Be content to learn for the rest of your days
  • Never settle.
  • Assume nothing.
  • Enjoy life.
  • Appreciate everything.
  • Take opportunities when you get them. They may never come back.
  • Embrace youth.
  • Respect the elderly.
  • If you believe in something, always stand your ground.
  • Be nice.
  • Agree to disagree.
  • Never quit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Firing On All Cylinders

Have you ever had one of those days where everything clicked? Everything just felt right? All the planets and moons were in alignment? Your engine was firing on all cylinders? I had one of those days today. I had an excellent, restful night of sleep last night. I woke up refreshed and had a small, but healthy breakfast meal. I was very productive at work (day job) all day and snacked on healthy little meals all day until training. I taught a newbie (great job Emily!) before my late class and was feeling even better. I decided to lower the hammer on the 6:30 class tonight. They're mainly my advanced guys and we experimented with a different warm up and I introduced them to an RKC Grad Workout. I participated with them during the warm up after teaching the progressions and I couldn't believe how prepared I felt for the workout. The main course of the workout was tough and challenging, but not too stressful. A little stretch routine at the end completed an extremely fulfilling session. I ate well right after training and chilled out in front of the tube for an hour or so. Off to bed to see if I can't duplicate this tomorrow!!!

Here's my workout today including warm ups:
Z Health - Neural Warm Up Level 1
Planks - Various Positions - :30 Each - 4x

Demo for newbie - About an hour of core exercises...all very light.

Warm Up w/ Advanced Class - Various Partner Active Straight Leg Raise Exercises

Continued Warm Up Circuit - 3x
Single Leg Dead Lift - 40kg - 3/3
Turkish Get Up - 24kg - 1/1

Strength Circuit - 5x
Front Squat - 28kg - 3
Row - 28kg - 3/3

Finisher - RKC Grad Workout - 20 Sets
Walking See Saw Press - Double 24kg - :20
2-Hand Swings - 24kg - :20


BTW: The guys did awesome in this one! It was extremely demanding and I'm sure they're looking forward to the next one!




Sunday, September 14, 2008

TSC Results - 9-13-08

The TSC was a success this weekend. There were 4 competitors including myself. 2 of the guys drove all the way from Edmond, OK (5 hours) to compete. Here's how everyone did:

Andy Tschetler - 22
Body Weight - 187
Open Division
Best Dead Lift - 425
Pull Up - 23
Snatch Test - 136

David Spriggs - 22
Body Weight - 278
Open Division
Best Dead Lift - 445 (PR)
Pull Up - 1
Snatch Test - 94 (PR)

David Kliewer - 23
Body Weight - 189
Open Division
Best Dead Lift - 545 (PR)
Pull Up - 21
Snatch Test - 122

Jason Marshall - 30
Body Weight - 189
Open Division
Best Dead Lift - 550 (PR in Conventional Stance)
Pull Up - 20 (PR)
Snatch Test - 123 (PR)

Here's a video compilation of the event. I'll eventually have a video of each competitor's lifts posted individually. Youtube can be a bit slow on the upload.




My thoughts on the challenge:
I chose to pull all my dead lift attempts in the conventional stance. My natural stance is sumo and I definitely feel I have more leverage in sumo with my body type (My Sumo PR is 565). So conventional is out of my comfort zone, but I'm getting better at it. The attempt at 550 was the slowest pull I've ever done (10 seconds I think). I pulled a callus during that attempt which set my hands up for a day of brutality.

The pull ups were much better this time around. Last TSC I did the pull ups on my fat bar pull up bar on my power rack. My buddy, Kevin Hays, constructed a pull up apparatus that'll hold 5 people. We can now hang rings, heavy bags and ropes. Plus the pull up bar is of a normal diameter. I again pulled another callus on my pull ups. Next up was the snatch.

I knew this was going to be a killer. I hadn't practiced snatches at all for the TSC. Even after slathering my hand and the KB handle with chalk, the skin on my hands peeled back like the rind on an orange. At the end of the day the callus pull and blister tally was up to six. I was sort of happy with my results (PR in this test), but I was disappointed in my conditioning. I'll be working on this very soon...can you say Vo2 Max?

All in all, it was a good day. I really enjoyed hanging out with the guys that participated. They all did very well and everyone hit PR's which makes the event worth it. Mr. Kliewer is a helluva puller and I'm sure we'll be hearing more from him in the future. Mr. Tschetler has amazing muscular endurance and blew me away with his snatch and pull up numbers. Mr. Spriggs made huge strides from the last TSC (PR in all 3). He's only going to get better and stronger! I'll definitely be up for the next one in the spring and hope to see everyone back and some new faces.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day Before TSC

I did some corrective and warm up work today as well as played around with the Jump Stretch Bands a little. Had a good day with the classes. The routine was as hard as it's ever been and couldn't have been more simple.

Warm Up
Z Health NWL1
2 mins of Various Planks
2 mins of Suit Case Farmer Carry

Circuit the following for 10X
Swings - 15x
TGU - 1/1
Burpees - 5x
Planks - 10 sec

I had the fighters used an old trick from an article Pavel wrote for Rock Climbers to strengthen grip....Soapy Swings. We soaped up the hands and KB handles and rotated 2-Hand, 1-Hand and H2H for the circuit. I also had them to the Burpees and Planks with a Jump Stretch Band wrapped around their neck and under their feet. A couple other guys did the Accelerated Eccentric Swings for the whole circuit.

This was a great workout for any level of class and was scalable and tailored to the diverse client base I train. You've got the Program Minimum with a couple Body Weight exercises and "Presto", you've got an efficient yet difficult workout for an entire group of people.

Tomorrow morning I'm hosting my second International Tactical Strength Challenge. I'm looking forward to it and I'm especially interested in the results and who will come out to compete. Good luck to all who are participating!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vo2 Max and Staying Fresh

After last Thursday's base line test for the Vo2 Max snatch protocol, I tried it out as a workout accompanied by my corrective strategies. I hit 40 sets :15/:15 @ 8 reps per set w/ the 16kg. This was a nice cardio booster, but the high humidity that day and my hands fought with the kettlebell handle and I landed 3 nice-size blood blisters under my calluses (2 Right, 1 Left). Very little pain involved, but a nuisance none the less. Without much practice in the snatch the last month or so, I have neglected my hand care and suffered the consequences.


Friday, Sept. 5, 2008


Corrective Work

ASLR
Wall Sit w/ OH Press
Brettzel
Arm Bar
Corrective Get Up
Planks
Farmers Suit Case Carry


Vo2 Max Snatch - :15/:15 - 16kg
40 sets - 20 minutes
8 reps/set
Switched hands each set.


Monday, Sept. 8, 2008


Corrective Work
Same as Friday


Following Circuit 4 Times - Done w/ 24kg
SLDL - 5/5
25 Swings
2 Point Renegade Row - 5/5
25 Swings
Push Up on KB Handles - 5
25 Swings


Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008


Corrective Work
Z Health NWL1 - Twice during the day


Various Pull Ups and Snatches Between Classes


Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008


Corrective Work
Z Health NWL1 - Twice during the day


Also various Pull Ups, Snatches and Few Bottoms Up Presses between classes


The classes did:


- TGU - 5 mins.
Then Circuit the following
- :30 work, :30 rest - 3X
- Box Jump or Step Ups
- Planks
- Jump Rope
- Med Ball Slams
- KB Dead Lift
- Halos or Accelerated Eccentric Swings


I'll take Thursday and Friday off before the TSC and see how it goes. I really haven't trained that specifically for the TSC this time around, so I'm interested to see how I'll do. I haven't decided whether I'll compete in the Open or Elite division. I think I'll play it by ear and decide the morning of. I honestly haven't tried to snatch a bell heavier than 24kg in months. Even then I've only snatched the 16kg for my Vo2 Max stuff.


I implemented and coached the Accelerated Eccentric Swing yesterday and everyone loved it. (Okay, maybe some have love/hate relationship with it) Thanks to Pavel for bringing it back to my attention! You can use a bell 1/4 to 1/2 the size you normally use and it'll smoke you even worse than the heavy bell. I'd for some reason forgotten about this little gem and haven't taught this version in a while. Now it'll become a staple for my more experienced KB'ers.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Great Link And Feelin' Good!

First off I'd like to share a link to a song that was forwarded to me via email today: Before You Go This was written and dedicated as a small token of appreciation for the aging veteran population that have fought and died in this country's greatest wars. Please go to the link and forward it to those you know. Think of what our lives would be like if these heroes had not selflessly given of themselves to preserve our way of life. Everyone of us is or has been touched and influenced by the military in some way, whether it be a grandparent or parent, wife or husband, sister or brother, aunt or uncle, cousin or friend. Thanks to all of you for what you have done and what you continue to do!!!

===================================================

I've been feeling really good the last few days. Sleeping well. Eating well. Training well. By falling asleep on my back, I've drastically reduced the amount of pain I was experiencing in my shoulders. I've also taken the last few weeks to back off any heavy over head work other than isometrics or BUP (which have all been light). The new sleeping habits combined with a mindful work ethic has really paid good dividends.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Corrective Work

Elevated Conventional Dead Lift - Standing on 45# Plates
225 - 5x5

Grip Work
COC - Trainer, #1, #2
Ripped a 2" Phone Book
Bent a Yellow Nail - Double Overhand

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Corrective Work

The Following Circuit For 20 Minutes (Total Reps for the whole workout in parentheses):
Pull Up - 12kg on foot - x3 (24)
Push Up - x5 (40)
Dead Lift - 245lbs. - x3 (24)
KB Front Squat - Double 20kg - x5 (40)
Renegade Row - Double 20kg - x3/3 (24/24)
Tire Sledge Hammer Slams - 20lb Sledge - x5/5 (40/40)

Hit 8 Rounds Right At The 20 Minute Mark.

Vo2 Max Base Line Test - 16kg
Minute 1 - 8
Minute 2 - 12
Minute 3 - 15
Minute 4 - 20
Minute 5 - 30 (30/4 = 7.5)
Round up to 8 reps for future Vo2 Max Sets.

This felt really nice on the shoulders. The perfect load with the perfect range of motion for the perfect amount of time!

Then...goofed around with some hurdle jumps and broad jumps. I hit 9 feet exactly (108 inches or 274 cm) on the broad jump. I don't know if that's good, but it's fun to do!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ripped A Workout And Some Crazy Stuff

I totally ripped off of Brett Jones today. I read his blog and his workout on Sept 1 set off that tuning fork inside and I decided to pass on the glory of simplicity training. A couple tweaks here and there, but a very nice workout. Thanks Brett!

Last two training days...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Worked Out with the BJJ guys both days.

Corrective Work:
Wall Sit w/ OH Press
Rolling
ASLR
Corrective Get Up
Planks
Suitcase Carry

SLDL 3x10/10

Superset:
H2H Swings 10x20 - 24kg
Sledge Hammer Tire Slams 10x5/5 - 10lb Sledge

Superset:
Guard Press in 3 Bridge Positions 3x10/10 - Double 24kg
Armadillo Sit Ups 3x5

Monday, September 2, 2008

Corrective Work

Brett Jones' RKC Prep Workout

All Done 2X
2 arm Swing x 20 - 48kg
Get-up x 5/5 - 24kg
One arm Swing x 10/10 - 32kg
MP x 6/6 (Changed this to Cleans 6/6) - 32kg
Alternating Swing x 20 - 32kg
Clean and Front Squat x 6/6 - Double 32kg
2 arm Swing x 20 - 48kg
Snatch x 10/10 (Changed this to Cleans 10/10) - 32kg
Alternating Swing x 20 - 32kg

The weights are what I used, not necessarily all classes, and it smoked my butt!

Then....some crazy stuff ensued after classes while I was teaching a little plyo circuit to my little brother (basketball player). I got on the hurdles he was jumping which are just some PVC pipes about 18 inches tall and started doing some L-sits into hand stands (probably 5). Then I went to my power rack and tried the Human Flag - maybe 2 seconds. I've got a client that can do this at will (former gymnast). And then I tried out the new rings for my first Muscle Ups. I got 3 and tried the Iron Cross - totally crapped out on this. I have a new and complete appreciation and admiration for gymnasts. Holy crap!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Challenges and New Roads Ahead!

Seems like things are in overdrive! Training is full speed ahead personally and client-wise. TSC is coming up in a couple weeks then Whitley's workshop a few weeks later in Frisco. One week later, the October RKC in the role of an Assistant Instructor this time, 1 year anniversary of my RKC. (I'm totally humbled and privelged to be on that roster!) Then it's road gear and full throttle for the RKC II next June in St Paul. The requirements are stiffer and the curriculum appears to be better than ever. Once again, a three day knowledge tempest to spend weeks, if not months, digesting post-attendance.

At the same time the circus-like juggling act of work, training, teaching and life will continue to challenge and perplex me which forces maturation and growth like no other. I look forward to the coming months and hope to absorb and apply everything ahead!

Simple training...

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2008

Corrective work:
Farmers Carries
Lots and Lots of Planks
Lots and Lots of Technique Demo

Thursday, Aug 28, 2008

Goof-off day
Worked a pair of 12kg KB's for about 40 minutes. I have no idea how many reps of everything I did, but I switched doubles and singles at will. I just did what ever came to mind. Alone in my thoughts.

Two Arm Swings
H2H Swings
Double Swings
Single Hand Juggling
Double KB Juggling
Bottoms Up Press
Bottoms Up See Saw Press
Bottoms Up Stacked KB Press
Iron Cross
Snatches
Double Snatches
Double Alternating Snatches
COC Grippers: Trainer, #1 and #2

This was a nice mindless workout. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New PR!

PR'd my Conventional Dead Lift Today! Details below...

Last week was a good training week as I'm still working in my FMS corrective strategies. I've been teaching classes virtually everyday, so I'm getting a lot of residual work while I'm demonstrating technique that I sometimes oversee as actual training. I'm trying to be more mindful of this "work" so I can stay fresh for my "real" training sessions.

I've had a little shoulder flare up recently which I'm convinced is due to my funky sleeping positions. I usually sleep on my belly without a pillow, face turned to the side and my arms are overhead in a "goal-post" position. If I'm not in that position, I'm on my side with my shoulder turned in towards my chest with my arm straight in front of me and my head resting on my down shoulder. I'm not sure how to change this, but maybe a mattress change would help? Not sure.

Off to training…

Corrective Strategies Everyday:
ASLR
Corrective Get Up w/ OH Walks
Wall Sit w/ OH Press
T-Spine Rotation
Windshield Wiper
Brettzel

Thursday - Aug. 21

Dead Lift - Conventional Stance
245 - 8x3 - Double Overhand Thumbless Grip

Single Arm Dead Cleans - 4 Rounds - Went right up the ladder for each set.
24kg - 3/3
36kg - 3/3
48kg - 3/3

Superset w/ BW Pull Ups
5 Each Round

Friday - Aug. 22

KB Dead Lift
48kg 5x5

Suit Case Farmer Carry
36kg 5/5 - 30sec each

Tuesday - Aug. 26

Weighed - 189 lbs.
Dead Lift - Conventional Stance
Worked up to a heavy single
245 1x3
335 1x2
425 1x2
475 1x1
515 1x1
535 1x1 - PR in Conventional Stance!!!! The pull was slow and really made it hard to keep the upper back tight and shoulders sunk, but I locked it out none the less.

Suit Case Farmer Carry
36kg - 3/3 - 30sec each

Double KB Work - Done as a complex

Dead Clean
Front Squat (Reset each clean before front squat)
Renegade Row
Push Up
Dead Lift

2 - 24kg 1x3
2 - 28kg 1x3
2 - 32kg 3x3

Warm Down:
Bottom's Up Tall Kneeling Press
12kg - 2 x 5/5

Half Kneeling Press
12kg - 2 x 5/5

Monday, August 18, 2008

Assistance and Prehab

Worked a little Dead Lift assistance and Prehab today. Corrective Strategies seem to be working their magic while I'm shifting gears to training for the TSC for a few weeks.

Warm Up:
TGU w/ OH Walks and T-Spine/C-Spine Clearing
Half Kneeling Press

Superset:
Double KB Front Squat
2 - 16kg 5
2 - 24kg 5
2 - 32kg 3x5

Romanian Dead Lift - Off Box
135 5x8

Double KB Swings
3 Rounds starting with the heavy bells and consecutively working my way down to the lighter bells on the top of the minute w/ a minute rest
2 - 32kg x 5
2 - 40kg x 5
2 - 48kg x 5

This got my heart rate up pretty good. The larger bells are hard for a guy like me with short legs, but the dynamics of the hip extension is unreal.

Warm Down w/ Late Class

All w/ 16kg
More TGUs w/ OH Walks and Spinal Rotation - 2 x L/R
(Held each segment for a one second pause)
Kneeling OH Press - 5x5 L/R
Single Leg Dead Lift - 3x15 L/R

Sunday, August 17, 2008

CK-FMS Week 1 Results…And A Little Dead Lift Workout

The CK-FMS has really opened my eyes. (Not that I wasn't concerned about certain things that my clients were showing me before in their performance.) I just didn't know exactly what to do about it. With the new tools of the CK-FMS, I have a clear road map to follow with each individual.

To explain further, I have a client who scored a 16 on the initial screen (which is pretty good…2 points above average). When he came back the day after we screened we worked on the assessment versions of the TGU and the Single Leg DL. After a few reps each with and without resistance I noticed a big ankle mobility issue which didn't really bare its fangs on the FMS. We went straight into a series of corrective strategies and tried the Single Leg DL again. The client went from dead lifting off of an 8" box to a full range SL DL with no asymmetries...immediately! I would also assume the bridge portion of the TGU is going to improve as well.

So there's a real world example of how quickly the system can work.

Now a little dead lifting. I haven't had a "real" workout since Monday, Aug. 4, about two weeks ago. All the residual I'm getting from teaching has been nice though as well as the deloading break.

This workout was to see where I was on the dead lift. This showed me my baseline since I haven't pulled since the April Tactical Strength Challenge. After watching the video, I notice some rounding in the upper back, but that usually happens when I go above 90% of 1RMax. I felt unusually good afterward, even now, two days later.

After DL I supersetted weighted pull ups w/ single leg dead lifts and concentrated on tension and form. This got me more worked up than the dead lift workout. Here's the workout broken down.

Warm Up
ASLR
Wall Sit w/ OH Press
Corrective TGU w/ OH Walk and C-Spine/T-Spine Clearing

Dead Lift
Worked up to 425 Sumo & Conventional
475
515
545 - Failed
425 or 82.5% - 3X3 - Last Rep w/ 10 second iso-hold

I worked conventional just because I felt more comfortable there. I've been slowly transitioning to conventional and I'm surprised how awkward sumo feels now.

Superset
Weighted Pull Up w/ 10kg
10, 5, 5

Single Leg Dead Lift
24kg - 3x10 L/R

Grip
COC Trainer
3x10 L/R


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CK-FMS…So Many WTH's And AHA's To Mention!

This was undoubtedly the most well-spent time and money I've ever doled out on my training career. The CK-FMS or Certified Kettlebell - Functional Movement Specialist workshop was above and beyond what I was expecting (which was pretty high before I went). The combined knowledge, breadth and presentation quality of Brett Jones, MRKC and Gray Cook, RKC was outstanding!

There is really too much to put into words about the weekend, but I will sum up a few of the main takeaways that really hit home for me.

In America, we have traditionally neglected basic movement patterns, thus reinforcing poor movement (i.e. exercise) on top of a dysfunctional body. Why are we training ourselves and others through pain and immobility? Because that's just what we do! We don't know any better! Well, the CK-FMS has provided the tools to reprogram basic movement function, eliminate the bugs in our motor program and correct the nasty asymmetries we tend to compensate for that WILL lead to future injur(ies).

If we step back in time between our birth to 18 months of life, we see all the basic motor movement patterns displayed in perfect and beautiful harmony. From raising the head for the first time, to rolling over, to crawling, squatting, dead lifting and walking….it's all there! And all this with a giant noggin atop a miniature body with almost no musculature. Kind of miraculous when you think about it.

The Functional Movement Screen is such a good compliment to the RKC system as it's a no-frills, objective, quantifiable test that lights up a person's mobility and stability strengths and weaknesses. The approach of using kettlebells to correct asymmetries and poor movement patterns is an amazing concept which was immediately applicable in myself and my clients as soon as I got home.

I'm still in process of digesting the weekend, but one of the coolest things about this event and the RKC certification I went to in Oct. 07 is the community of people who are drawn to this way of life and school of thought. The camaraderie and relationships built during the process are worth the price of admission alone. I met so many people in the kettlebell community who I consider mentors and inspirations…RKC's, RKC II's, Senior RKC's, Master RKC's and the man himself, Pavel. I've only read about many of these people, visited their websites and blogs, seen their videos and purchased their products and now we're all in the same boat….coming together to learn and collaborate how to be better at what we do. It was truly an awesome experience and I will remember this weekend for the rest of my life!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Interesting Smoker And A Reminder

After the workout today I tried out a short smoker that I read about in an old article by Rob Lawrence. I was really surprised at the difficulty in keeping to the breathing patterns during the ladders.

The protocol calls for:

Snatch 1/1 - Then 1 Deep Breath (Inhale/Exhale)...The longer the breath, the better.
Snatch 2/2 - 2 Deep Breaths
And so on up to 5/5.

We did 3 ladders of this matching breaths to snatch reps. I actually looked forward to picking up the kettlebell the longer this went on. Definitely worth trying out!

Here's a couple of videos (one I've posted on here before), but they're a good reminder of our many blessings and the power of the human spirit.

***Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the stop button on the music player so you can hear the audio on the videos.

No Excuses!


This one was on an old post by Yoana Snideman, RKC-TL. Truly Inspirational!


We all have so much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Got Results?

Last Friday, the Crossfit guys who train at the warehouse were fooling around with the tires to see who could jump on top of them...not a standing vertical, but with a few steps. I couldn't resist as I hadn't tried a box jump in a long time (can't remember the last time really). As I was hitting every height, I was amazed at the explosiveness that I was experiencing. It really seemed effortless. So I brought the camera up on Monday and tried it again (hoping I could at least duplicate Friday's attempts). The video speaks for itself, but I'm not sure those who see it will really appreciate the fact that I'm not a jumper, basketball player or train for this sort of thing. My SPP and GPP work goes directly to Kettlebells. In fact, I've been training in mini-cycles with several max-effort days per week in an attempt to increase my absolute strength for about the last six months. Dynamics and explosiveness were the last things I thought about or concentrated on. All I know is that there has been a nice "side effect" from the heavy kettlebell training and the swing and snatch sessions. This is a "side effect" I can take directly into a sport application. I wish I would've tested this at the beginning of the year to see what the difference would be...I know it would be pretty significant, but this is all I have to go on. Bottom line....Kettlebells = Results. I'm lighter, more muscular, have less body fat, more flexible, have greater range of motion (especially shoulders), have more stamina, "feel" stronger and more explosive. This is my testament to the RKC and the Hard Style form of kettlebell training.



Friday, July 18, 2008

A Rant...

It appears that society has turned a blind eye (albeit the constant barrage of publicity that's thrown out there by the media) to the crisis we're experiencing in America. Obesity is the fastest growing disease and the second leading preventable cause of death in our country, second only to tobacco use. I'm not sure if it's a societal epidemic we're dealing with, but it seems people don't want to realize that you have to live with your body for the rest of your life. With advancements in medicine, plastic surgery and the "smoke and mirrors" effects of makeup, hairdos and fashion, we don't have to take good care of ourselves because you can look as good your wallet will let you. Sounds like I'm talking to a kindergartner, but seriously! Look around! Every facet of our lives displays the effects of poor lifestyle choices….most of those choices of which are put up on a pedestal as great escapes from worry and stress; eating out, smoking, drinking, drugs and the list goes on. Obesity affects our coworkers, families, friends, teammates, congregations; really just about every group we're related to or around. So why have we turned a blind eye to it? Is it because we're afraid to hurt some one's feelings? Is it because we like to ignore our problems? Are we afraid of looking good and feeling good? Does the temporary gratification from the previously mentioned vices give us so much pleasure as to sacrifice chronological and quality years from our lives? Granted, I'm not the poster child. So who am I to judge? Do I slip up? Yes. Am I human? Yes. But I refuse to allow myself to fall off a cliff into a sea of bad habits. I realize my one shot at life is within the confines of the body that God gave me. Why not take care of it as best as I can? We pay crazy amounts on insurance for every possession we own including our lives. Why not try to drop some of the bad lifestyle choices, pick up a few good ones and invest in the greatest asset we were blessed with at our consummation…life.










Percentage of the US population classified as obese according to the CDC, as of April 17, 2007.
31.0-34.0%
28.0-30.9%
25.0-27.9%
22.0-24.9%
19.0-21.9%


Monday, July 14, 2008

Random Lifts Video

I found some clips in my video vault that I decided to put together. Just some random lifts on a few "off" days. Even though I rarely (almost never) implement this stuff in my training, it's fun to do every now and again when goofing around and blowing off steam. This is where barbells, dumbbells, machines, cardio equipment, etc., just gets demolished by the kettlebell.....because of it's diverse versatility!




Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Back to Training

After a week and a half hiatus, I'm back into the swing of things. I started back yesterday like I hadn't missed a beat. I was worried the break would cause more of a delayed start, but I actually felt stronger than before the vacation. We went to the Baltimore/D.C. area and Northern Virginia to visit family and attend my cousin David's wedding. The trip was great, but very hot and humid.


The last month or so, I've concentrated on more basic movements. I'll continue on with the theme for the next few weeks with an emphasis on building more strength.

Yesterday's work:
6/30/08

C&P
24kg - 5/5
32kg - 2x3/3
40kg - 2x2/2
48kg - 3x1 Right (These felt unusually easy and were very clean. Form was as strict as a 24kg)
48kg - 3x1 Left (I failed on the first 2...iso work....managed to get the 3rd fairly strict with a little bit of a push press) The left will just have to catch up, I guess.
40kg - 2x2/2

Pistol Squat - Partials w/ 20" box
16kg - 5/5
24kg - 3/3
32kg - 2/2
40kg - 2/2
48kg - 2/2

Pistol Squat - Full Reps
16kg - 3/3
24kg - 1/1
32kg - 1/1
40kg - Right - 1, Left - Fail (my left is still lagging, but has a 1,000% improvement since the 1st of the year)
40kg - Right - 1
25lb Plate - 3x3/3

Assorted 1-Arm Swings and Snatches for time.

7/1/08
Warm Up w/ Double C&P and Front Squat to get the blood flowing.

Weighted Pull Ups
12kg - 2x5
28kg - 2x1
32kg - 3x1
12kg - 2x5

Superset w/ Lawnmower Rows w/ Double 32kg.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Healthy Lubbock Day

Last Saturday on 6/14/08, I attended Healthy Lubbock Day as a vendor. The event supports and promotes health and fitness-related businesses and organizations within the area...so I set out to share my love for Kettlebells with the Lubbock masses. The day went great and we had a lot of interest in what we're doing at Lone Star Kettlebell. The responses we had from those who were first-timers with the kettlebell was pretty amazing. I enjoyed meeting all of those who took the time to come out to the event and stop by our booth. I hope to see you soon!
The Booth - Complete w/ 23ft Balloon!

Kevin, Eric & Trev

The Stage Demo & Presentation

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Client Doting

I would like to take a few moments and reflect on the reasons why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm talking about the training, the long hours, the constant challenge of task completion and most importantly, trying to better the lives of the people who have entrusted me to do so through kettlebell training. I have found that it's not always about the tangible results. I've learned that we are all facing battles on a daily basis with our work lives, family lives and social lives. It's how we handle ourselves in these times that make us who we are. Do we back down when things get tough? Do we pass the buck to someone or something else? Or, do we choose to fight through even though there's a little pain involved? I believe the lessons learned through physical training can permeate to the rest of our lives, if we give it enough of a chance to sink in.

In the brief time that I've spent as a trainer, I've seen some drastic and impressive transformations…whether it be physically, mentally or spiritually. The point is, through kettlebell and strength training, the clients I've been so fortunate to train have shown me a lot about perseverance and true strength. "I can't" has evolved into "I'll try" and eventually to "I can" with true belief in their hearts when they say it. Limits and barriers have been broken and surpassed. The realm of possibilities has grown to a point where they can't see the edge.

This is the reward I've been so fortunate to be blessed with. So I would like to send out an open "Thank You" to the students of strength that have shown me these things and given me the opportunity to do something I truly love. Thanks!

~ JM

P.S. On a side note, I would like to mention some very impressive displays over the past week or so. We now have 5 who have swung the 24kg KB 300+ in 10 minutes, 3 of which are approaching the 400 mark. Some of the ladies are man-handling the 16kg while doing their Clean and Press ladders as well as one-arm Snatches. 3 ladies have swung the 48kg (Beast) 10+ times. 3 guys are clean and pressing the 40kg for ladders with 2 guys using the 32kg. 1 guy has hit 25 strict body-weight tactical pull ups. (I believe Pavel said that qualified you as a man amongst men.) 3 guys have also bent the Iron Mind yellow nail and are working towards the infamous red nail with 1 guy closing the Captains of Crush No.2 with No.3 on the way.

Needless to say I'm very impressed with the level of improvement in everyone who has made the time to attend classes and put such a relentless effort into learning and doing things right. In my opinion everyone still has tons of potential to take it even further…so I challenge each of you to push yourselves and each other to reach and surpass your goals with the mindful dedication you've displayed thus far.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Double 48kg Front Squat

Lots of weak areas, but Kevin and I got this one under our belts.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Short Week

This week was a short one. I took Monday off for Memorial Day to get some yard work and other things done around the house. Lots of cook outs and good times on a 3-day weekend!

Week 2 of the Mini Cycle
Tuesday 5-27
Floor Press
Worked up to 270 - 6x2

Close Grip Flat Bench w/ Chains
5x5

Cable Triceps Extension
3x8

4 Rounds of the following w/ Double 24kg KBs:
Swings - 5
Cleans - 5
Snatches - 5

Thursday 5-29
Pin Pulls from 3rd Pin (Below knee ~ 2-3 inches)
Worked up to 515 - 5x2
1st 4 sets were conventional stance and 5th set was sumo.

Box Squat w/ KB's attached to chains
5x5

Played around w/ Banded-Chain box squats w/ KB's attached to chains. This was a lot of fun and the effect is pretty cool!

Weighted Pull Ups w/ Chains
3x5

Single Leg/Single Hand Dead Lift w/ 48kg KB
3x5 L/R - opposite hand holding KB from Dead Lift leg
These were awesome! Lots of focus/tension!

That was it! Short week and kept it basic. Probably need some conditioning work and planned on some VO2 Snatches, but they'll have to wait.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Starting A New Training Cycle

Well, the deload week went well a couple weeks ago. I needed the rest, even though I goofed around during some classes doing "parlor tricks"....Mindless Fun!!

This week began a 4-week training cycle. The template is similar to the last cycle with a Westside-ETK-RKC hybrid approach...if there is such a thing (there is now!).

Monday - 5/19/08
Things were kept light today. Nothing much to speak of really.

Tuesday - 5/19/08
Floor Press
Worked up to a max and hit 325 (5 lbs shy of a PR, I think)
4x3 @ 265

Stretch-Reflex Barbell Bench Press
3x10 @ 205

Circuit the following for 3x10-15
Ab Pulldowns
Incline Rear Dumbbell Raises
Dumbbell Tricep Roller Extensions
Seated KB Military Press

Thursday - 5/21/08
Pin Pulls - 3rd Pin or about 3 inches below knee.
Pulled conventional this time (just felt stronger there)
SLOWLY worked up and pulled 605! PR with that weight in that stance!

Safety Squat Bar Good Mornings (probably won't do GM's again w/ the SSB - tough on the cervical spine)

Circuit the following - 3x8-15
Medicine Ball Supermans
Barbell Bent Rows
Banded Hamstring Curls

Friday - 5/22/08
Messed around today. Got a bag of nails from Iron Mind and worked up to the Yellow nail (took me about 10 minutes to close it, but I finally got it there!) Kevin, Vice Grip, Hays closed the Blue Nail on his first day and his first try. Look out Red Nail!!! Kevin's gonna get ya soon!

Push Pressed the 48kg for a few reps on each side and held the negative as long as I could.

Pistol Work - worked the 20kg a few reps on the right side. Managed 90% of a full rep on my left! That's the deepest I've been in a pistol with my bum-noodle-leg!

Swing Smoker w/ Class at the end.
The following = 1 Round all non-stop. Short or no rest between rounds. Complete as fast as possible.
Light KB = 24kg - Swings 5L/5R/10 2-Hand
Heavier KB = 32kg - Swings 5L/5R/10 2-Hand
I did 5 Rounds, but we had a couple over-achievers (Chris and Keith) who pulled off 10 rounds! Great job everyone!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Palm Clean and Waiter Press

This is Keith. Strong...Old...Dude! Really, he's not that old, but I'd definitely love to be in half as good of shape as he is when I'm that age. Great job Keith!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Blog Update

My Training:
Semi-Sporadic-Controlled-Chaos
Honestly, I've been following a fairly detailed plan with an emphasis on improving the "3 Big Lifts": Bench Press, Squat, Dead Lift….All Un-Equipped. This plan proved to work very well as it's based off of Westside principals (which I've used in the past). I will de-load next week and begin a new 4-week cycle the following week. I think my two max-effort exercises will be Floor Press and Pin Pulls from Below the Knee on the next cycle. Overall, I feel good, my nutrition is coming together and the mix of KB work with max effort power lifting training seems to be a nice pair! Now that the weather is nice, I will incorporate some outdoor training more, i.e.: Tire Flipping, Hill Running, Sled Dragging, etc., on my KB days. Here's a recap of the last two weeks' training.

Week of 4/28 – 5/2:
Monday 4/28
Worked with class and did a light workout with the 24kg. C&P 3x1,2,3,4,5; Superset w/ BW Pull Ups. Finished off with Double 28kg Swings = 100.

Tuesday 4/29
3rd week of 4 in this training cycle with 3-board press. I hit 90% = 315, 4x2. I didn’t have the greatest of days….a little weak and slow.
4x8-10 of the following
Close Grip Pull Down
Front Raise w/ 45# Plate
DB Rear Raise on Incline

Thursday 5/1
3rd week of 4 with Barbell Box Squat – Box has been set at parallel or a little below (Definitely “White-Light-Depth”). My stance with these are wide (inside edge of the rack) with a little turn-out angle on the toes.
90% = 420, 4x2….Felt better today. The weight felt light and I moved it pretty quick.
3x10 of the following
Barbell Good Morning
RDL on Box

Friday 5/2
Felt a little frisky today and played around with The Beast. These are the days I look forward to…just foolin’ around and hittin' some PR’s!
The Beast = 48kg or 106 lb
10 Snatches – Right
Clean and Press – Right, 3 failed attempts Left
TGU – Right

Week of 5/5 - 5/9:
Monday 5/5
Light Clean and Press again…I’m loving this for if for just prehab, restoration and recovery!
24kg 3x2,2,3,4,5; Superset w/ BW Pull Up
2 Rounds of the Following w/ Double 24kg
5 Swings, 5 Cleans, 5 Squats - :30 Rest
Then Lead Boots – 2 Rounds
Squat Jump - :30
Speed Squat - :30
Pause Squat - :30
Squat and Hold - :30
Rest – 1:00

Tuesday 5/6
Max Day!!!
4/4 in this cycle, so let’s see what improvements were made:
3 Board Press: 225x1, 275x1, 315x1, 335x1, 350x1 (felt very fast!), 365x1 (struggle), 365x1 (Better!)
20 pound improvement in 4 weeks or 5.8%....I’m happy with that!
Close Grip Bench w/ Chains – 225 4x5
4x10 of the following
BW Dips
DB Rear Raise on Incline

Wednesday 5/7
Shouldn’t have done anything today, but I worked in a couple rounds with one of the classes.
KB Complex w/ Double 20kg 1x4,5; 2x1,2,3
Complex = Swing, Clean, Thruster, Renegade Row, Push Up

Thursday 5/8
Max Day….Again!!!
Let’s see how the training cycle affected my box squat:
Barbell Box Squat – Box set at Parallel – Wide Stance
Warm Up, then: 225x1, 315x1, 365x1, 405x1 (add belt), 455x1, 475x1, 500x0, 500x1
35 pound improvement or 7.5% increase….I can handle that plus I hit 500 for the first time in over a year. I lost my balance on the first attempt. Second was as strong as I’ve ever moved that weight before. The tension work I've learned from training with the kettlebell is definitely paying off.
4x10 of the following
Straight Arm Cable Pull Downs
RDL off Box
Jump Rope – 100x

Then I decided to do some singles of some Muscle Cleans; 205x1,1,1,1,1

Getting back to lifting heavy barbell lifts has been a nice change. The training is coming together. I don't feel overdone and the KB work is always a welcome filler.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Video - Messin' With The Beast

Messin' With The Beast

I tried snatching this thing earlier this week on Monday and managed 6 reps before my grip slipped. I knew I had more in me so I waited 'til Friday to try again. Except for the first and last couple, the reps flowed nicely. I didn't try my left so I don't even know what the status is there. The TGU was tough and the C&P seemed easier than in the past when I've tried. I tried my left right after and got it 3/4's of the way...No Lift. Fun day overall. I like moving heavy stuff around!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

4/21/08 - 4/25/08

This was a good week. Everyone in class broke some PR's and pushed which was really great to see.

Class Workouts
Monday
Farmer Carry
Clean and Press Ladders - 3x1,2,3
Superset w/ Pull Ups
Fast Tens: 5 Rounds w/ Double KB
5 Swings
5 Cleans
5 Squats

Tuesday
Same as Monday

Wednesday
Bottoms Up Press
Windmills
Circuit the following 5x
2 TGU - L
2 Overhead Squat - L
2 Windmill - L
10 2 Hand Swings
2 TGU - R
2 Overhead Squat - R
2 Windmill - R
10 2 Hand Swings

Friday
Class Choice - 20 mins - :30 Work/:30 Rest
Class Choice - 10 mins Swings or 5 Snatch

My Workouts
Monday
Worked w/ Class
Used 40kg on C & P Ladders and 2 28kg on Fast Tens

Tuesday
3 Board Press - worked up to 345, then 295 for 3x3
Close Grip
Face Pulls
Rear Raise off Incline

Thursday
Box Squat - worked up to 395 3x3
Good Mornings

Friday
Tabata Snatches

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Week of 4/14/08

I think I'm going to change my blogging frequency purely for time reasons. Here's last week broken down.

Classes
Monday:
Double Overhead KB Walks
Clean & Press Ladders 2x1-5
w/ Pull Ups
Fast Tens Swings or Lead Boots

Tuesday:
Same as Monday

Wednesday:
Circuits for Time

Thursday/Friday:
Farmer Carry/Rack Carry
Pick Your Poison
Swing Ladders w/ a Twist

My Workouts
Monday:
Worked w/ one of the classes
C&P Ladders w/ 32kg
Fast Tens Swings w/ 2 28kg
Lead Boots

Tuesday:
Bench Day
Worked Up to 305
Close Grip
JM Press
Lat Pull
Low Row

Thursday:
Box Squat Day
Worked Up to 465
Good Mornings
Front Squats

Friday:
Tabata KB Snatch
Messed around w/ some Barbell Cleans, Snatches and Light Dead Lift Variations

Saturday:
Windmills
Bottoms up Press
Dips
Jump Rope
Pull Ups
Swings
Push Ups

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Weight Training Dogma...Hardcore or Hard Work?

I was reading an article last week titled, The Muffin Top Manifesto, by Susan Finley, an RKC out of South Carolina. The article was about the constant battle Americans are constantly fighting with fat loss. (By the way, Obesity is the 2nd leading preventable cause of death in America, just behind smoking) She made a comment that got me thinking that "Hard Work" could be an interchangeable term with the unfavorable term "Hardcore," (in the context of training) and I started thinking how this related to me and my training. Here ya go...

The Weight Training Dogma…Hardcore or Hard Work?

When I finished my undergrad I began lifting at a local commercial gym. Even though I was never very strong or powerful, I’ve had a label placed on me as the guy who did the hardcore workouts or was too hardcore to talk to. The more time and effort I put into the gym, my lifts became stronger and heavier. My workouts became more structured and pragmatic. I started putting a lot of mental energy into my quest for strength. Is this what hardcore is? I believe all I did was unconsciously implement a lifelong value system that I happened to learn while growing up on a cotton farm…Hard Work. Farming is extremely hard work. The time, money and energy invested in a crop is at times difficult to fathom, and all for a result and reward that can be wiped away by the next dark cloud in the sky. Training, much like farming, can yield results that will be stolen from you in an instant. But instead of being visited by a hail storm, you’re visited by an injury that keeps you from your goals for weeks or even months.

I really enjoyed what I was doing while training, achieving results that I could see and feel, and pushing towards the genetic potential that God blessed me with. But why have I seen such a constant barrage of negativity towards the way I train by average people? Do they truly understand how much I’ve invested in this activity society dubs “working out?” I don’t feel that I’m hardcore at all. I work hard. I use kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, giant tires, sleds, sledge hammers, pipes, over sized rubber bands, my own body weight and anything else I can get my hands on to achieve my goals. Sometimes the goal is specific, sometimes not, but the underlying goal of pushing my physical and mental abilities will always stay constant.

Many of us take for granted the simple physical abilities that we are blessed with. Even if you think weight training is “hardcore,” step back and think how you are using your abilities and how hard you work to push yourself to reach your potential. It’s honestly just a matter of a cognizant decision to make yourself the best you can be with what God gave you. Take the first step, and just get up and do something….anything. Studies have shown it takes six weeks to form a habit. Let us make working hard on our bodies a “habit” that we keep for the rest of our lives!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Videos

Here's a couple of new vids I put together from yesterday. I was just playing around and hadn't tried the pistol in awhile so I decided to attempt the "Taming" protocol for the Bulldog or 40kg KB. I was also intrigued by something I read about doing Double KB Turkish Get Ups, so I gave those a shot as well. I stopped at the 24kgs.

Taming The Bulldog

Double KB Turkish Get Up

Amped Friday and Saturday

Friday
We had an intense set of classes Friday. Lots of stuff going on...

TGU - Light, Medium, Heavy - L/R - 2x

Windmill - 5/5

Pick Your Poison - :30/:30 - 16 min.

Smoker
5 Swings - L/R
5 Cleans - L/R
5 Snatches - L/R
Rest
10 Swings - L/R
10 Cleans - L/R
10 Snatches - L/R
Rest
5 Swings - L/R
5 Cleans - L/R
5 Snatches - L/R

Abs
Planks, KB Side Bends, Hanging Knee Raise

Grip
Plate Pinch, Wrist Rollers, Towell-Wrapped Barbell Holds

Saturday
Two of my best friends, B and Rowden came out to learn the ways of the kettlebell. I was glad they could stop and both have a lot of potential!


Friday, April 11, 2008

Found A Post-It Note

I found I post-it note tucked away in my planner that I meant to post a while back. I stumbled across a free link to powerliftingwatch.com which tracks all power lifters regardless of federation so I checked it out. Lo and behold they had just posted the 2007 rankings and I made the list three times. Here's how I ranked last year against other lifters in the 198lb Raw category.

2007 - 198 Raw - All Federations

Squat - 48th
Dead Lift - 29th
Total - 39th

I just thought that was cool I even made a list of any kind. Glad I found the post-it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wednesday Night

We worked a new move tonight (purely to show the move off) which proved to be very difficult, even for me.

Sots Press
Inro and Practice
(Justin rocked this and is unusually flexible in his spine and hips. Way to go!)

Circuits :30/:30 - 3x
Jump Rope
Renegade Row
KB Thrusters
Side to Side Hot Potato
Single Leg Dead Lift
Med Ball Slams

Ab Circuit - 3x10
KB Side Bends - L/R
Planks
Lying Leg Lifts

Monday, April 7, 2008

Great Start To The Week

I received my "fat bar" chin up bar for my rack last Friday and I'm excited to finally add some pull ups to the program.

Overhead KB Walks - :30/:30 L/R - 2x

Clean and Press Ladders
Superset with Pull Ups (Band Assisted w/ Green Band)
2x1,2,3,4,5

"Lead Boots"
Taken from Philip Davis, RKC and Dave Whitley, Senior RKC
2 Rounds
Jump Squats - :30
Speed Squats - :30
Pause Squats - :30
Hold Squats - :30
Rest - 1 Minute

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Video from TSC

Here's the video from Saturday's TSC...

video

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tactical Strength Challenge - 4/5/08

Saturday I hosted my first TSC at the gym. David Spriggs, Kevin Hays, Keith Stratton and myself all participated. We also had a few spectators come out and they left excited enough to work towards the next TSC I'll host.

Here's how everyone fared:

Jason Marshall - Open Division
Body Weight - 188
Best Dead Lift - 515
Pull Up - 18
KB Snatch - 116

Keith Stratton - Open Division
Body Weight - 166
Best Dead Lift - 315
Pull Up - 16
KB Snatch - 82

Kevin Hays - Open Division
Body Weight - 259
Best Dead Lift - 440
Pull Up - 0
KB Snatch - 85

David Spriggs - Open Division
Body Weight - 282
Best Dead Lift - 365
Pull Up - 0
KB Snatch - 80

Everyone did a great job and I think we posted some great "first timer" results. The results should be posted soon on the Tactical Strength Challenge website to see how we compared against the rest of the field. Great job and thanks to everyone who came out!


Friday Training

We had a great training session Friday night. Everyone pushed themselves to the limit and I was proud of everyone's accomplishments.

TGU - 5 min. - Alt. L/R

Pick Your Poison - :30 Work/:30 Rest - 16 min.

Swing Ladders: - 10 min.

Kara and Amber hit 200 with the 16kg, Keith obliterated his old record with 256/24kg, David jumped up a weight and hit 200 with 28kg, Chris hit 242/24kg (nice PR) and Eric nailed 225/24kg. Lots of record breaking as we don't aim for swing records every week. Great job!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Good Article

I forgot to post this in the last post, but this is a good article for you all to check out. It's by Brett Jones who is a very accomplished kettlebell instructor and personal trainer.

Here's the link:
"Can You Adjust Your 'Volume'?"

Good Day!

I had a good today. I got some good sleep last night, felt rejuvinated and had some good things happen today. I got a banner that I had made for the gym and Kevin and I put it up and decided to play around with the tires and kettlebells to make the sign look even more cool.



Hudd came out to learn the last bit of the introductory stuff and he's doing great. For the other class we did the following:

Kettlebell Snatch

5 Sets, 5 R, 5 L

Circuits - 3 Rounds - :30 Work, :30 Rest

Tire Jumps
Double KB Cleans
Med Ball Slams
Swings
Push Ups
Side to Side Hot Potato

Ab/Forearm Circuit
Floor Wipers
Weighted Side Bends
Wrist Rollers
Pinch Grip


Monday, March 31, 2008

One Week Repeat...

Repeated the workout from last Monday, but changed up the rep scheme to see which was harder.

Started off with some:

One Handed Farmer Carry
:50 Work / :10 Rest - Timed with the GYMBOSS
L, R, L, R

KB Complex - Done with double KB's - 3 Ladders, 3 Rungs each
Swing
Clean
Squat
Press
Renegade Row
Push Up
Instead of doing a round of each before the next rung of the ladder, the exercises were repeated per the rung. For example, on the 2nd rung, 2 swings were done, then 2 cleans, 2 squats and so on. This was IMO, more difficult than last week. I used the same weights and it felt like more work for some reason, eventhough the volume stayed the same.

Fast Tens Swings - Double KB's or Heavy Single
5, 10, 15, 5, 10, 15, 5, 10, 15, 10 = 100 total swings

Some people did an ab circuit at the end, but I was toast. I used double 28kg KB's for the complexes and swings, busted my shorts open and gave myself an Indian rug burn on the inside of my forearms from the swings. Abs will have to wait.

Overall, a great night and everyone huffed and puffed, but did well to hang with a very tough workout!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friday...

Slow day at the gym. Many of the clients were out of town, so I had a chance to work one-on-one with a few clients which was welcomed and needed. I enjoyed the classes and turned back the clock on my training and hit some ETK work.

Clean and Press Ladders - Superset with Seated Lat Pulls
C&P w/ 32kg - 2 Ladders, 1,2,3,4,5
Lat Pulls w/ 4 Plates - 2 Ladders, 1,2,3,4,5

Shrugs w/ 48kg - 3x15

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Simplicity

Since we did KB complexes Monday and Tuesday I decided to keep things simple tonight. Eventhough we kept the workout to 3 moves, it was definitely a great smoker.

TGU - 5 mins. (Alt L/R)

20 mins. of the following using the GYMBOSS
:15 - Two Hand KB Swing
:15 - Active Rest
:15 - Pushup (Varied hand positions)
:15 - Active Rest

Ab Circuit (for last two classes)
Russian Twists
V-Sit Situps
Side-to-side Hot Potato
Med Ball Slams

I worked in with the last class and used the 20kg on the TGU's and managed an average of 8-9 swings with the 32kg per work set and 10 pushups per work set for around 170 swings and 200 pushups. It was a great smoker and I loved its simplicity!