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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Persevere

As a multi-faceted athlete I have taken a winding road toward Girevoy Sport. Like many others, I came to kettlebells after several years in the martial arts. The first and most profound teaching I was given as a martial artist is that commitment to the practice will give something that can never be taken away.

The late Koichi Tohei-Sensei (died 2011), founder of Shin Shin Toitsu (Mind and Body Unification) Aikido, or Ki-Aikido*, was tapped into this same wisdom. He knew that he could not personally teach everyone who walked into his dojo so he wrote principles to guide the teachers of his line.

Principles of Learning Ki:
  • Have a mind like a mirror
  • Persevere
  • Practice in daily life
  • Change the subconscious mind
  • Teach what you have learned

For this blog I have picked out the word "persevere" because it addresses athletes on a universal level. Though it is the only single-word principle in the above list, it has implications on every level of our reality. If you Google the word you will see that it is a verb that describes direction with the pretense of resistance.

Those of us who have chosen Girevoy Sport have chosen the pretense of resistance. May this post serve to support your direction in the pursuit of unquestionably difficult goals.
  • Psychology of winning is a fine art. Tell yourself what you are doing well. Always practice the way you want to perform. Get outside perspective and form corrections from trusted experts often as possible.
  • Emotionally set yourself up for challenges that you are likely to achieve. There are large growth phases in between amateur and professional weight loads. Set a goal that pushes your limit, and will not kill you in the preparation. Mental and emotional exhaustion will derail performance.
  • Physically recognize the nature of our bodies. Our livers have two-week cycles in which they restore and detoxify all of our blood. Therefore, micro-cycles and multi-stage training are realistic models to maximize growth and test performance potential. After a test or major competition, honor your nervous system with complete rest.
  • Community connection. Once you have decided on your goal and event, consult a coach who trains athletes in your sport. Train at a gym where your goals are honored, with other GS athletes if possible. Share equipment with more advanced lifters and get to know your gym mates.

For those who are beginning GS, join social communities like facebook, or look up international organizations to find coaches and fellow-athletes. You must have specialized equipment, so check out sources of "pro-grade" kettlebells while you're online. YouTube videos show endless examples of World Class lifting as well as amateur test sets. Take it all in, and above all, persevere.

For information about GS lifting in Boulder, CO, contact Christian at kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com



*For information about Ki-Aikido: http://www.shinshintoitsuaikido.org/english/renew/aikidokai_001.html
"List of Ki Society" tab gives world-wide Ki-Aikido dojos.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 IKFF Championships results... Say what?!?

That was a BIG event in US Girevoy Sport lifting. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 competitors and 35 flights of Biathlon, Long Cycle, Snatch Only, Jerk Only and 5-minute Chair Press took place at the Sheraton Novi Hotel on Saturday, November 17th. It was an incredibly long day for the organizers who, admirably, kept their spirits up even among numerous registration problems.

Ken Blackburn and his team fielded registration and scheduling concerns for people from all over the world. Puerto Rico, Russia, Australia, Norway, Canada, and of course all parts of the US. Slava and I were the contingency from Boulder, representing team IKSFA. Also present was the OKC/Juno Fitness team, and the IKFF team.

Sergey Rudnev's Jerk set. Note the variety of weight loads.
One major feature of this Championship was the mixture of skill levels in each flight. World Class lifters stood between both seasoned and first time competitors alike. The level of difficulty was high in general. In the past two years I haven't seen so many men putting up 32kg sets and women going for 24kg sets.

The rules review was at 9 am, where Ken, always aware of the general mood, announced that "anyone using the term Kettle Ball will be escorted off the premises." Flight 1 started at around 9:15 am. Everyone with two events planned were scheduled with 4 or 5 flights to rest in between, roughly one hour. Slava had two flights early in the day, I was in two afternoon sets, the last 8 lifters finished the day at 5:30 pm. 
To say that the staging arena was tense is an understatement. You could scoop the adrenaline out of the air and serve it in a custard cup. Many first time competitors were not new to the sport but were new to competition jitters, which amps the stress level. Accomplished lifters envisioning Master of Sport or higher ranks could be seen hiding in their headphones, or were completely absent until just before their flights. World-class lifters were in the house demonstrating complete relaxation and total calm, which seemed to make the contrast between them and the unseasoned lifters even more obvious.

Juliet Lederle shows fortitude with a 24kg Jerk set.
I was able to connect with some of my IKSFA team mates and found that everyone had been programmed for tremendous goals, many by Master Coach Sergey Rudnev. A few personal bests were achieved, yet on the whole it seemed that the strain of training for this event caught up with us all. Take a look at the four events Slava and I completed. (The competition results are posted on IKFF.net.)


Slava preps for Snatch in a flight with 5-minute Chair Press.
Slava's primary event was Men's 20kg (Double) Long Cycle with 49 reps in in 10:00. He was in a class of his own (there was no official 20kg LC in the Men's division at this event), missing his personal best, set at the OKC meet, by more than 10 reps. He went ahead with his second event, Snatch Only with no special preparation, and took third place in his weight class in Men's Professional division 24kg Snatch with 63 reps in 5:06, 7 reps shy of Rank III. He was bested by above mentioned Norwegian, Allan Fallro, who took Rank I with 166 reps at 9:13, 2 reps from his goal of Candidate Master of Sport (CMS), and Sincere Hogan, who hit 116 in 8:32, 4 reps short of Rank I.

I meditated on Yellow Alert until my primary event, Women's Professional division 20kg Long Cycle (flight 19), and took first place with 98 reps in 9:52, and CMS rank for the second year in a row, 2 reps short of MS. This year it was a legitimate win against fitness trainer Terri Parker, who hit 57 reps in 7:50. ("Where did you come from?!?" she asked as we stood in line for our medals.) My second set was Women's Amateur 16kg Snatch, where I completed 150 reps in 10:00, the same result as at NW Comp in Seattle, giving me second place. Looking at the results data to write this blog I do not see anyone else in my weight category. According to international ranking I would have achieved CMS, however it is listed as Rank I on the results page. My nearest competitor is listed as the only 16kg lifter in the next weight class up with 156 reps in 9:53, ranking CMS. I'm thinking this glitch in the results is a casualty of the event and am actually quite proud to have a second place medal!

The big surprise for me was winning the Women's 20kg Co-efficient award, aka, Pound-for-pound ratio. This is calculated by dividing the lifters body weight by the total volume lifted. Co-efficient awards and Absolute lifter (total volume lifted) awards are given for Women's 20kg and 24kg divisions, and Men's 24kg and 32kg divisions.
Best Women's 20kg Absolute lifter was Andrea Borders, with LC, 120 reps in 10:00, MS.
For Women's 24kg division, Donica Storino took both Absolute and Co-efficient lifter with LC, 110 reps in 10:00, achieving Master of Sport International Class (MSIC).
Men's 24kg Absolute and Co-efficient award went to Jeff Martone for his LC set, turning in 100 reps in 8:50, and CMS.
Men's 32kg Absolute lifter went to Bill Esch for his MS Long Cycle, 67 reps in 9:05.
Mitch Blackburn earned Men's 32kg Co-efficient award with LC, 62 reps in 10:00 and MS.

Marty Farrell setting an American record in Biathlon!
So what's the plan for ultimate success in Long Cycle? For me, Stage 5. Rest and allow my frazzled nerves to recover. There is a strong rumor that in the future this competition will be held on two separate days, and will follow more strict international guidelines. One significant change would be to hire judges rather than recruit volunteers to judge. Ken also announced his plan to install air filter "to remove stress."

In all seriousness, more competitions are being announced every week. In fact there is at least one every weekend in February. My plan is to follow my coaches advice, repair my form and only train the Long Cycle for the IKSFA NW Kettlebell Invitational in Sumner, WA, April 27th.

For more information about GS training in Boulder, CO, and the surrounding areas, contact me at kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com
Best wishes for safe lifting!
Christian

Friday, November 9, 2012

BOLT KB Comp, Dec. 9, 2012, Denver, CO

Thanks to Nico Rithner and his vision to bring more people into Girevoy Sport, we have one more opportunity this year to challenge our kettlebell fitness!

This is a "nothing to loose, everything to enjoy" experience for strength-endurance athletes. More experienced lifters will challenge themselves with only one hand switch, or to not set the weights down during the set, but BOLT rules make it easy to stay on the platform for 10 minutes:
  • you can do up to four events, double Half Snatch, double Jerk, single Snatch and single Long Cycle
  • you can put the weights down and rest during your set, just don't leave the platform
  • if the event is with one kettlebell you can switch hands as many times as you want
  • scoring is based on volume, compete against men or women in your weight class
  • you may use a different size of kettlebell for each event you participate in
Go to this website to register!
http://www.iklstore.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=meet1

Please note, attempting a 10-minute set of any Kettlebell Sport lift without some preparation is not advised. Scroll down the above webpage for demonstrations of each lift. If you would like to participate, please look into the lifts and practice beforehand.

For those in or near Boulder, contact me if you would like to learn or practice the lifts ahead of time. I offer training sessions at Body Balance Gym, Boulder, CO.
kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com

Best wishes to all,
Christian

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Value of Stretching

***A note up-front, stretching is not just for athletes. It's for anyone with a body. However, since this is a fitness blog I will focus my comments on sporty-folks.***

An athlete who has gone to a chiropractor or massage therapist as a result of unexpected pain will at some point hear the analysis "your (name of muscle or muscle group) is/are tight." While I am happy to take your money, hammer away at "knots" and then re-schedule 10 more sessions to "get it out," I would rather help people help themselves. Knowledge is power, and my wish is for everyone to have power over their own well-being. Therefore I offer these pearls to you.

Important things to know about muscles: 
  • the action of a muscle is to contract, which causes a joint to move, thus a muscle in perpetual contraction will eventually move a joint out of its normal position = sharp pain
  • blood vessels and nerves pass through muscle bellies, between muscle groups, and between muscles and bones, thus a muscle in perpetual contraction will eventually interfere with blood flow and nerve endings = numbness, lack of strength and pain
  • a muscle will maintain the state of contraction that is the most useful or commonly needed by its owner = gradual development of muscular aches, "knots," lack of flexibility and range of motion
  • a muscle lengthens under two conditions: first, when catalyzed by a different muscle's contraction = "strengthening a weakness"; second, when mechanical elongation is coordinated with sustained, relaxed breathing (ie. a "stretch") = pain-prevention, resilience of joints and self-care
This makes two things important for athletes:
  1. preparation before practice to ensure unrestricted motion during specific skill training
  2. actively and passively releasing muscular contraction during and after a practice session
In my opinion this is the Value of Stretching: Prevention, Self-care, Common Sense.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Like putting on a hat and gloves before going outside in freezing weather, prevention is a small act with small cost that saves us from potentially enormous problems.

In terms of stretching, it is the extra 15 or 20 minutes of sprawling on the mat and breathing after a workout that ensures relaxation later in the day and restful sleep at night. To their credit, most athletes own their self-neglect while paying me big money to help them breathe and stretch for 60 minutes or more. They usually come to me after the second night of no sleep due to muscular tension, or when the pain has kept them from working out at least once. (Note the time:cost investment in both cases)
One thing that is certain for all athletes, not stretching thoroughly has a cumulative effect which eventually impinges normal structural and vascular action, and inhibits every day activities. An athletic career without debilitating injuries is a rare one indeed, but is not impossible.

Self-care = self-empowerment. It requires learning. It requires time. It pays off exponentially.
The link here is almost 17 minutes of video showing Denis Vasiliev doing his post training routine. Notice how many breathing cycles he commits to each position.
video by firefire999
In a recent Girevoy Sport seminar, Denis made special mention of the importance of warming-up sequentially before using the competition weight, and recommended immediate muscular recovery upon setting down the weights. Anything that needs to be released should be done as soon as possible while blood flow is abundant.
(See also my blog of Sunday, February 5th, 2012 "No-Brainer Return-To's")
 
At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I assert that self-care is not popular because it requires self-responsibility. It is a personal study and is rarely prescribed by specialists. The good news is that resources are abundant. Restorative and Yin-style Yoga classes are excellent avenues for athletes to gain knowledge with guidance. Self-empowerment begins when you practice outside the yoga studio, look deeper into your habits and amass information to meet your personal needs. Public libraries and YouTube are readily available. Also, word-of-mouth recommendations are worth investigating.

Common sense, or, "I knew that."
Once you have a stretching routine, a vital part of self-care is solo-practice. This will help you understand a flow and drop deeper into stretches that are more useful to you. Here are some pointers.

Time and space must be given for stretching, ie. not in a room full of furniture or equipment. The most opportune time to stretch is after exercise.
Another choice moment is before engaging in evening activities such as a meal or watching television.
Be unrestricted in your movement when stretching. Remove jewelry, belts, shoes and anything that will confine you.
Over-training will sabotage an athlete's performance goals. Days off of training can be dedicated to deep stretching, breathing and mobility exercises.
Control the environment as much as possible during a stretching session. Calm music or silence are conducive to relaxation. Set a timer to allow your mind to rest.
Finish stretching with a few minutes of "corpse pose," or being supported by the Earth in unstructured stillness. This is the last thing in Denis' routine, the last thing in a yoga class, and often considered the most important component of a mind-body practice.

Please leave your comments and personal stories here.
Best wishes for your journey into stretching!
Christian Goldberg
kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com
www.mindbodyenergetics.us

Sunday, October 21, 2012

To chalk or no, the Girevoy Sport question.

It's somewhat of a trick question. The primary purpose for chalk (magnesium carbonate) in Girevoy Sport is to minimize friction between the handle and the lifters skin. There is one story of a 32kg Snatch lifter who did not use chalk. I hope this is an urban legend.  Rumor has it that the athlete lifted the entire 10-minute set with no switch to the second side. The lifter had apparently epoxied his hand onto the handle. eeeuuu! This may be the reason most current GS organizations clearly state that the only thing to be used on the kettlebell handle is magnesium carbonate, and also why the kettlebell must be placed on the platform in full view of the judges before the lifting starts.  ... just a thought.

It is uncommon to see anyone competing at a professional level with Snatch or Long Cycle who does not have some chalk on hands and/or handles. Less chalk is needed for the Jerk though it is still used with heavy weight loads (ie. +20 or 24kg for women and +24 or 32kg for men).

Lifters who avoid chalk are probably those whose hands stay dry through the work set. To this group, chalk causes friction and will create a skin tear. I would love to see this group advance to higher level lifting - the only reason for not using chalk for a 10-minute heavy weight load set is complete confidence in impeccable technique, so please show us how it's done!
Another reason people don't use chalk is because it's an "all-or-nothing" proposition. Too little chalk will become a layer of sand paper which eventually rasps the skin into a tear once the hands become sweaty. Those who need chalk, aka. the sweaty-hand group, need to go through a fairly involved process of cleaning up the kettlebell handle with emory paper, a wet cloth and spray bottle before getting to the powdered chalk. This can be messy in the learning phase.

Those who benefit by chalk also quickly learn that the right amount is key. It varies from person to person. In a 2012 Snatch seminar, champion lifter Alexandra Vesileva mentioned two chalking options, either a "fur coat" (for lifters whose hands sweat more), or a "thin layer" (for lifters whose hands stay dry). Both types of lifters cover their hands with chalk, especially the area between the thumb and index finger. Alexandra did not mention any other options and waited patiently for me to put a light weather jacket on my handle before beginning a work set later that day. (She told me it was not a fur coat because it was not yet one-quarter inch thick.)

Here is a video I made for some fellow GS lifters who asked how I get the handle so white:
Chalking for Snatch may be more thorough than OneArm Long Cycle.

Anyone who has attempted a 10-minute Snatch or Long Cycle with 20kg or more already gets the reasoning, but for those who would like more details, there are three moments in the cyclic GS exercises that warrant the use of chalk:
  1. The point of Maximum Inertia - this is when the weight, having been dropped from the overhead or rack position, reaches the point at which the lifter must change it's direction into a pendulum swing. The handle has moved from the thumb to finger side of the lifter's hand during the fall, but has not yet weighted the hand. There are a few techniques to minimize "grip shock" and if the handle is in a perfect position there will be no friction at this point.
  2. The Dead Point of the back swing - this is when the weight has reached the zero velocity point in the back of the pendulum. The kettlebell will stop moving upward and begin to fall. If the lifter is patient, he/she will wait for this course change and re-direct the downward movement into a forward swing in complete harmony with gravity. With the patience of a turtle climbing a mountain, there will be no friction during this point.
  3. The Dead Point before the Acceleration Pull - this is the other side of number 2, when the weight has reached zero velocity at the front of the pendulum swing. If the lifter waits for the kettlebell to stop moving upward along the pendulum arc, just before it changes direction on its own, he/she can "pull" the kettlebell into a vertical trajectory. With correct timing and technique there will be no friction in this movement.
Chances of learning and practicing correct technique at all three of these points in the Snatch or Long Cycle are slim. A motor-skills genius who can practice it correctly from the get-go will dominate his or her weight class. If this is you, please make videos of all your training sessions and post them for the rest of us to learn from!
After three years of practicing GS exercises I continue to refine these three parts of my lifts. Yes, it is the beginning of my competitive years, and thanks to chalk I am able to experiment. Mistakes mixed in with correct lifts do not devastate my sets.

For more information, questions or to find out where in Boulder you can practice these skills, please contact me at kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com. 
Visit my website: mindbodyenergetics.us

Monday, October 1, 2012

A word on the schools of kettlebell lifting

Much like the many types of Martial Art, no particular school of kettlebell lifting is "better." All uses for kettlebells have specific benefits when performed correctly. Because I am asked so often, I figure it's time to spell it out the different styles of kettlebell lifting to the best of my understanding.

Something to note upfront: Kettlebells are designed to be one-handed tools. Strong folks have complained that the handles are too small or the weights aren't heavy enough. Keep in mind the two-handed swing is a basic exercise that leads to one-handed momentum exercises, such as Clean and Snatch. Swinging with two kettlebells is a simple solution to the above mentioned problems. (It is not advised to Snatch with two kettlebells.)

Kettlebell assisted aerobics vs. "Hard Style" strength training
(more weight = more need for technique)

"Kettlebell assisted aerobics" includes lower amount of weight, ie. 2, 5 or 7 pounds, which are incorporated with mostly un-weighted routines. Aerobic workouts focus on high repetition, movements outside the normal routine and maintaining a target heart rate for a duration of time. A light weight kettlebell intensifies the core aspect of this workout. The kettlebell exercises are basic enough to be taught on-the-fly, and small sizes provide safety from injuries if form is not completely correct. Fast paced music is common to keep the focus on perpetual movement and elevated heart rate. Using kettlebells with aerobics is a great way to loose weight and get started with resistance training.

"Hard Style" (a term applied to a specific style of kettlebell lifting) strength training makes use of kettlebells as free-weights rather than dumbells, cable machines and a weighted bar. A major difference in this style is the off-set weight of a kettlebell. (A variety of sizes come into play, such as those pictured to the upper left and lower right. These kettlebells are solid cast iron, thus the diameter of the bell increases in proportion with the weight.) This requires the lifter to use deep core contraction, specific breathing and technical knowledge to accomplish a lift safely. Another characteristic of "Hard Style" is improved mobility and flexibility. "Hard Style" kettlebell lifting is a great way to take your physical fitness to a higher level and learn valuable skills for daily life.

Kettlebells to assist in a workout vs. Kettlebells as the workout
(more kettlebell exercises = more need for technique)
"Kettlebells to assist in a workout" is when a few exercises in the workout include kettlebells, ie. a circuit style workout with kettlebell exercises mixed in with exercises using other pieces of equipment such as a barbell, pull-up bar, tire and sledge hammer, etc. This style is typically a group workout with minimal emphasis on teaching technique, which slows the pace. Great for those who need a diversified workout, this style is characteristically intense and supports functional movement. Can be an excellent way to condition the cardiovascular system and gain strength.

"Kettlebells as the workout" is when the entire set of equipment for a workout is a variety of kettlebell sizes and open floor space for bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and burpies. Skills must be developed to complete an entire workout with kettlebells only. It is a good idea to get a series of private training sessions or attend a certification workshop (such as "Hard Style" or Girevoy Sport training) so the lifts become correctly ingrained. Great for those who like to workout on their own. Also excellent for at-home training and for athletes who want to improve their performance in a sport.

"Hard Style" vs. Girevoy Sport (more time with one lift = even more focus on technique)
"Hard Style" has a trademark of high intensity with fewer repetitions. Which is not to say that cardiovascular endurance is left out. In fact, many long-time weightlifters pick up kettlebells for the added cardiovascular conditioning of the momentum exercises, ie. Swing and Snatch. Great for breaking out of a training rut and gaining relative strength due to the high focus on core conditioning. Excellent for short workouts with a minimal amount of equipment.

Girevoy Sport (GS) takes the momentum exercises to a whole new level. The diameter of these hollow steel weights are standardized so a lifter can move from 8 to 12 to 20 kilogram weights without adjusting their form to fit the different dimension. (A 32 kg kettlebell is more solid than an 8 kg kettlebell.) This type of kettlebell (shown in the picture above) is useful for all types of kettlebell training. A characteristic of Girevoy Sport is the initial challenge of learning the "classic lifts" which make it a sport: Snatch, Jerk and Clean & Jerk ("Long Cycle" in GS talk). The duration of a competition set, 10 minutes, is the next challenge of GS. At a competition, the amount of correct repetitions completed in 10 minutes are counted as a lifters set. In the beginning, just keeping a kettlebell in motion or in one of the "rest positions" for 3 to 5 minutes is a major accomplishment. GS training is great for developing work capacity, strength endurance and flexibility in shoulder and hip joints. Also excellent for athletes who want to learn a new, highly competitive individual sport.

I hope this is helpful for those who've been wondering about the various uses for kettlebells. Please feel free to contact me with comments or questions: kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com  See my website for information about classes or private training: www.mindbodyenergetics.us

Best wishes for a great season!

Monday, September 24, 2012

NW Kettlebell Competition a great benchmark event

For those who have caught the Kettlebell Sport fever, regional meets such as the NW Competition in Seattle are extremely gratifying.

First of all, it's a chance to go all out with a 10 minute set. This requires preparation, not just a few 15-rep sets in the middle of your circuit training. I mean focused training sessions to grove the lift, learn how to connect timing with breathing cycles and train the anti-panic mechanism.

The second major benefit of training to lift at a regional meet is that you may be in the weight class by yourself, earn a gold medal for showing up and log a great personal record! Currently Kettlebell Sport is an elite, niche sport in the US. Due to the intensity of training, not many athletes will go the distance, so until we have a few more years of growth in the ranks, most people will earn a first, second or third place medal at local and regional meets. National Championship meets are another story...

The third, but not final benefit of making it to regional KB Sport meets is the look you see on the guys in these pictures. The people, the sportsmanship, everyone respects the process of working toward personal goals. We all know what it takes to finish, or even attempt to finish a 10 minute kettlebell set. And the ranking system is not easy. That's right, there are ranks in categories such as Health, General Physical Preparedness, Sporting Perfection and High Mastery of Sport. As in all elite level sports, it's not every month that an athlete can achieve one of these ranks. We prepare for months, sometimes years to achieve goals and improve our previous records. Each year the local and regional events bring both new and seasoned athletes, community, friendly competition and benchmark achievements that might just be World Records. The joy of accomplishment is something you just have to experience for yourself.

For more information about upcoming meet, lifting events, and classes to improve KB Sport skills contact me at kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com.
Please visit my website http://mindbodyenergetics.us/kettlebells.html for the current class schedule.
Best wises for a fantastic, healthy season!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

GS Training for Christian G.

Some of you may be wondering why I'm showing up exhausted everywhere this past week.
Three reasons:
1) there are competitions coming up and I have goals,
2) was offered a great deal on programming (aka, someone writes my workouts for me!),
3) I want to make good on numbers 1 and 2.

Video of what my coach wanted to see at the beginning of the week:
 The second event for the upcoming meet in Seattle, 20kg Jerk Only.

Video of what my coach wanted to see at the end of the week:
Looks strikingly similar to the one above? Well it's actually longer, by 30 seconds....

Actually, the 4th reason for my exhaustion this week is that my coach isn't pulling any punches. He wants me to succeed, this is only a piece of the training session. Two or three jerk sets, two or three snatch sets, a circuit and running.
This type of intensity is characteristic of the Stage 3 training phase, intense focus on the event and specific conditioning, ie. endurance and cardio for Kettlebell Sport.
I'm going to be in great shape if nothing else :  )

Since the competition is only 2 weeks away, the training will relax some for the next little bit. That being Stage 4, where the athlete's nervous system still stays active with intense sport specific training but extra conditioning is reduced. For me this means short, heavy sets and no circuit training.

After Sept 22nd I'm praying for the much-anticipated "week off" (Stage 5) before preparation for Nationals (Nov. 17th) ensues. Not that I don't love hucking weight over my head, I really do. It's just that this being my second year in competition, I finally get the whole micro-cycle thing and how vitally important it is in practice!
I'm going to be in great shape if nothing else  :  )

Please contact me to receive my semi-regular Kettlebell Fitness Newsletters: kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com
blessings and peace to all,
Christian

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Beginners Kettlebell Classes!


Mondays 11 am - noon  &  Wednesdays  11 am - noon
Starting Monday, August 20th until September 26th, 2012
at BodyBalance Gym, 2747 Iris Ave., Boulder, CO

 Because we are not all KettleBeasts but we all have one of these:

 

 And having a spine, we will all benefit from:

  • proper lifting and core conditioning
  • recovery techniques and multi-joint mobility exercises
  • knowing how to conduct your own workouts (extreme confidence-builder)
  • increased range of motion, balance and stamina
 
Drop-ins welcome!
Pre-pay for classes on my Register page
or in cash/check at the gym:
http://mindbodyenergetics.us/register.html

Please contact me with questions:  kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com

Arrive at the gym a few minutes early on your first day to go over gym procedures and meet your classmates. Please wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders, we will get down on the floor for some exercises. Footwear is optional. Beginners are advised to learn the basics barefoot to increase proprioceptive input. Flat shoes are fine.

Best wishes to all for a healthy, happy change of season!
Christian Goldberg


Sunday, August 12, 2012

OKC Open Invitational an Excellent Experience!

photo by Nazo Okc
photo by Nazo Okc
Last Saturday, August 11th, my fellow Giryviks and I hit the platforms at Juno Fitness in Berkeley, CA for some great Kettlebell Sport lifting. High quality lifting, learning opportunities and PRs were the themes of the day. Many of us achieved all three of these objectives.

Great sportsmanship and all-around team spirit permeated the gym.

Slava and I represented the Boulder, CO, Kettlebell Fitness Class from BodyBalance gym. My goal was to test the programming I learned from IKSFA Coach Sergey Rudnev (AKA Yoda) with 20kg Women's Long Cycle, Slava went for a first time 10-minutes of 20kg Men's Long Cycle.

For the record my set yielded 99 reps. I improved my previous attempt (last November) with this event by 16 reps, proof positive that the IKSFA training method plus all I learned from the OKC team will take me farther at Nationals this November. Slava completed 63 reps with the double 20kg Long Cycle, his personal best at a competition. We both did things we've never done before, set PRs and got great experience with the high level judging we are to expect as we progress in the sport.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What is your level of commitment?

It's a post I've been wanting to write for some time. Ironically, I've been refraining from blog posts due to a written assignment for Advance Shiatsu training.

How do we measure our level of commitment to anything, not just a sport, anything?  Haven't we all reached a point when a hobby became a passion, which one day became a practice? For those who have and those who are considering taking the plunge, this post is for you.

One spiritual guide suggested, if you want to know what you're committed to just look at your purchases. Unless you are committed to reading every book in the public library, past times require funding. We all know the more advanced our skills become the more expensive the equipment becomes. Once we outgrow the cheap, entry level gear and spend big on high quality apparatus we want someone to teach us how to use it efficiently. After all, you wouldn't hitch a plow to a racehorse, why use a high-performance road bike kicking around town?

Putting time in is another investment. It's a turning point between enthusiast and amateur. When mid-week time is given to developing "weekend hobby" skills, it has turned in to a passion. We put time into our teachers and friends who share the passion. Then one day a brown belt test is suggested, or a writing contest, the team enters a tournament. A goal emerges complete with deadline, which perpetuates the formidable climb from amateur to professional. We invest effort into studying the iconic elite and what helped them achieve high level.When solo practice spontaneously springs into the schedule, we are engaged in a practice.

At some point not too near the beginning of committed practice there is shift in the enjoyment of our practice. In sports there is a physical breakthrough requiring plain discipline and grit. In art there is a catharsis of self-awareness, in science there is the dawning massiveness of what is known vs. what is not know, in spiritual evolution the crisis of recognizing our own neurosis and failures. In all these arenas the certainty of long-term effort becomes a real experience, and somehow it seems that we've come too far to turn back from the original goal.

If you've ever made it this far with what used to be a past time, you understand that the next step is like a cool drink on a hot day. There is time for this. That's the step, the awareness that the original goal is just one part of the learning. In passing through the above-mentioned uncomfortable turning point, if we make it, there is a clear recognition that the practice will continue into the future even beyond the first goal. At this point two things happen: one, all our friend have accepted that we prioritize our time building skills before being social with them; and two, we look for ways to get the practice to pay for itself because it has become part of our life. And we love it that way. Once these two things have occurred in close proximity, we are on the way to part-time professional.

The reasons I am blogging about this are as follows: First, I wish to illuminate the path in what way I can. This is a well-worn track, I am only one of multitudes who have found that my passion will lead to my profession if I follow it. Second, for all who have glimpsed the massiveness of passion, I wish to give encouragement.When our hearts are excited and engaged, we are more alive than ever! Let yourself fall in love with something other than a human being. Third and last (for now), I invite everyone to study deeply into your interests. One spiritual tradition lists three qualities seen in people who give themselves to a life-long practice: patience, kindness and the ability to acknowledge their own deficiencies. This is a profound blessings of our existence which will lead to greater depth in life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Girevoy (Kettlebell) Sport explained

It's not for anyone afraid of discomfort. You will most likely get a blister.
Plus, it's really impressive once you know what it entails!

The Classic Kettlebell Lifts:
Jerk, Snatch and Long Cycle.
Biathlon: Jerk and Snatch are grouped together in this one event.
Snatch Only is traditionally the only Women's lift, but has become a stand-alone event for both genders.

Men's and Women's Divisions:
Men perform Jerk and Long Cycle with two kettlebells.
Snatch is performed with one kettlebell.
Women use one kettlebell for all events.
For each division, lifters are organized into weight class, kettlebell load and event.

Time, foremat and correct lifts:
A competitor has 10 minutes to complete as many correct lifts as possible.
A meet is arranged into "flights" where several lifters perform their sets simultaneously.
A lifter only performs one lift for the duration of his/her 10-minute set.
For the Biathlon, athletes do the Jerk set first then have 30 to 60 minutes to prepare for the Snatch set.
Each lifting platform has a counter and a judge. The judge must approve each lift during the set, and will give "no count" penalties for incorrect lifts. The judge gives warnings for improper technique.
In a 10-minute event with a single kettlebell one hand switch is allowed during the set. Once the hand switch is made, it cannot be switched back.
If the weight is set-down or dropped before the time is up that person's set is over.

Specific events:
Depending upon the hosting entity, within the Men's and Women's divisions there may be youth, open, amateur, professional, and masters divisions.
Events beyond the classic lifts (Biathlon, Long Cycle and Snatch Only) vary according to the host.
In some meets there are Jerk Only, Snatch Only and One Arm Long Cycle events for all participants.
In many competitions athletes may participate in up to three events. The organizer positions the athlete in flights that allow 30 - 60 minutes to prepare for the next event.
Strong Sport is represented in 5-minute Jerk, 5-minute Snatch (allowing multiple hand switches) and Seated Press. Strong Sport Lifters are organized by weight class and kettlebell load to determine the winner of each event.

Specific variables determine competitive field:
I enter the Women's 54 kg weight class, 16 kg Biathlon, thus I am only competing against other women in the same weight class and event. Therefore if another woman is in the 54 kg weight class with 16 kg Long Cycle we are not competing against each other unless I also participate in the 16 kg Long Cycle.
It stands to reason that a competitor can only be in one weight class per event.

Photo by Nazo Okc, of Orange Kettlebell Club, CA.
**The above photograph shows a wide range of weight classes and kettlebell loads in one Snatch flight! Everyone here is participating in Biathlon.**

Did I mention, practice for several months before attempting a Kettlebell Sport competition. At the very least, learn the correct technical aspects of your lifts. "No count" reps and sets ended due to repeated warnings can be discouraging!
kettlebellfitness@yahoo.com

Friday, March 30, 2012

Psychology of the Goal

Greetings Everyone!
Today is a beautiful Spring/Summer day, just the right moment to post Spring Training Notes, AKA. Psychology of the Goal.
Have you decided to get into "Spring Training?"

If no, Good for You! Not everyone can openly commit to leaving well enough alone.

If yes, what EXACTLY is your goal? (Fill in the blank, "My goal is ____________.")
Now, why? Three reasons, please.

If the above quiz leaves you stammering, consider a few tips:
1) At least three reasons makes anything worth doing
2) Anticipating positive results are extremely good reasons
3) Improving your quality of life covers mental, emotional and physical levels

Notice how you feel once completing the above questions.

Congratulations! You are one step closer to completing your Spring Training Goal!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

You are the synthesis of your skill sets

For a brief moment, I'd like to make note of the incredible uniqueness of each person.
Not everyone is good at every thing, but everyone is good at some thing. For each person who steps outside micro-cultural standards, I commend you! For each person who brings together interests from diverse sources, I admire you. Please understand the value of your unique being!
For each person who continually labors to overcome a "growth phase," I applaud you. For everyone who rises early and retires late to develop non-job related projects, non-income earning studies, I respect you. Please know that the inspiration you receive from your "extra curricular" activities is making the world a better place!
Only you can live your passion. May you be blessed in diving deeper!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

No-Brainer ReturnTo's*

"No-Brainer:" a word-play to indicate an obvious conclusion, ie. "it takes no brains to figure that out."
"Return To's:" a phrase typically used in the singular, ie. "this is where I want you to return to."

The Two No-Brainer Return To's I'd like to share at this moment are:
1) Chin-tucks
2) Cobra stretch

Chin-tucks: 
What - Standing up, with the exhalation, tuck the jaw horizontally toward the brain stem. Release the tuck with inhalation. This can be done with the aid of a hand on the chin or free style. At the end of a workout, this move is frequently done while laying face-up on the floor, ideally with the knees bent and low back flat.
Why - When properly executed, the chin-tuck elongates the neck and releases pressure from the top vertebrae, which in turn frees the brain stem from muscular contraction. Not only will this support relaxation of the nerve endings in the brain stem, it will start a stretch response all the way down the spine, returning oxygen via blood to the muscles that have been contracted during the work set

Cobra stretch:
What - In the prone position, with inhalation, contract the gluts and low back muscles and simultaneously begin reaching the chin sky-ward until the entire front of the body is extended upward. Leave the arms in a shoulders-back position with the hands near the lower ribs. Extend the arms at the end of the inhalation, if at all. On the exhalation, reverse direction, returning the body to the start position, chin last. Throughout this movement, let the entire lower body remain in contact with the floor.
Why - When properly executed, the cobra stretch elongates and oxygenates all the muscles on the front side of the body, and coordinates a cycle of symmetrical contraction with total relaxation of the back muscles. This allows nerves of the lower body to relax and recover from (prepare for more) physical work.

During a workout, I recommend 5 to 8 repetitions of these exercises in between longer work sets. At the end of a workout, I recommend 10 or more repetitions of these exercises to slow the breathing, decompress the spine and begin relaxation.

*This lesson courtesy of Ken Blackburn. CKT Level 1 certification, Lakewood, CO, 2011.