Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Before You "Rep it Out" Read This Article by Pavel

This article explains the fine art of the grind. Enjoy!

Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast

By Pavel
© 2010 Power by Pavel, Inc.

This article was inspired by Marty’s insightful Rep Speed: Velocity Versus Grind piece and its title by Jordan Vezina, RKC Team Leader.

“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. If lifters picked up this paradoxical cue from shooters, there would be lot more strength to go around.

Understanding a perfect ‘grind’ calls for a short lesson in Newtonian physics. F=ma, force equals mass multiplied by acceleration. This formula has at least two implications for a lifter. First, to quote influential Russian coach Sergey Smolov, ”…more strength is needed to lift a heavy [weight] fast than to lift it slow and, accordingly, the slower is the… lift, the greater weight can be lifted.”1 Say, F equals 4 units (forget Newtons for simplicity’s sake). You can arrive at F of 4 by different combinations of m and a: 2×2, 1×4, 4×1, etc. If the first number represents mass, it becomes apparent that you will lift the heaviest weight with lower acceleration: 4×1, not 1×4. (Theoretically, one would lift the most weight at a near zero acceleration—e.g. 4=400×0.01— but then we run into an endurance problem as one’s max force output drops off in seconds.)

The second lesson from the F=ma formula is that acceleration must remain positive until the completion of the lift. If you have been moving as fast as you could from the start of the lift, you will be forced to slow down at the sticking point because you are at you most disadvantageous leverage to exert maximum force. This deceleration will finish off your already low force output, compliments of Newton. The moral of the story: do not accelerate when it does not count, so you can when it does. According to Dr. Thomas McLaughlin, an expert max lift is characterized by relatively even, low acceleration.
You should teach yourself to lift in such a way that even the heaviest weight is slightly speeding up towards the lockout. Boris Sheyko, Marty Gallagher’s Russian counterpart, emphasizes that “The barbell must leave the platform unhurriedly but afterwards it should move with constant acceleration…” I would like to underline that he said “constant acceleration”, not “constant speed”.

Senior RKC Dan John has a few things to say on this subject. “My Coach, the late Ralph Maughan, taught us the key to throwing anything was “Constant Acceleration”. Anybody can start fast, but speeding up after starting fast gives little [explosion]. Starting by grinding your “off foot” and letting things build allows you to snap the implement at the right time. “It is difficult to teach this as the beginner wants to generate all the speed at the start and coast to the finish. And, by the way, the beginner is REWARDED at first with this method as the neophyte’s light weights can be jacked overhead. That is why many people love the first months of training, but success comes when frustration arises. After missing over and over with just enough to demand better technique, the athlete tends to give in, grind it up, snap it at the right moment and continues on the path. “That is why so many people like to “dabble” with the first fleeting success of lifting. Then, then try 5K runs or bike races or whatever. Greatness comes when you decide to be patient enough to take the time to lift/throw right.”

Dan has a brilliantly simple self-correcting method of teaching one to smoothly squeeze the barbell off the platform and “constantly” accelerate it: use a thick bar. If you jerk, your fingers will peel open. But if you think like an expert marksman, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”, you will make the lift. Consider using the double overhand grip and taking a pass on the chalk in your deadlift warmups to learn and reinforce this lesson.

Let us sum up.

A grind is a non-ballistic lift done with a low positive acceleration throughoutthe range of motion.

A grind is a professional mindset for lifting the most weight. A mindset that takes years to practice and perfect.

A grind is not jerky or panicked. It is not sluggish or artificially slow either.

A grind has composure. Like a space shuttle, it lifts off at its leisure and slowly picks up with the unhurried inevitability of an unstoppable force.
A grind displays the confidence of real strength.

38 percent of the participants at this RKC PRed on their Strict Press

In spite of fatigue, at the end of the second day of the RKC kettlebell instructor course at least one third of the students (38% at the course at which this photo was taken) set strict military press PRs. We teach them how to ‘grind’.
Photo courtesy

  1. If you want to learn what the Russian science has to say about ‘grinding” versus exploding, refer to my book Power To The People Professional

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Helpful Tip for the TGU

As mentioned in an earlier post, MRKC Jeff O'Connor recently came to Condition and taught an Advanced Basics workshops covering the swing and Get-up in-depth. The piece of information I came away with that was the most beneficial is the following: I never knew you could pivot on the heel of the planted foot. Duh! It only makes sense because you want your toes and your knee pointing in the same direction. I was trying to come out into the bridge on the way down with my foot planted when I needed to pivot on my heel. It makes a HUGE difference. You may already be doing that, but if not it really helps.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Experience so far...

Last week, I posted my simple training plan. I modified it a little and also did the Warrior Diet starting Wenesday. Here is what happened:

Monday: Furnace workout with a 16kg both rounds
Tuesday: OFF
Wednesday: Deep Six (I decided to sub MRKC's Deep Six workout for one of the furnace days I was planning.
Thursday: Convict Conditioning focusing on Pullups
Friday: Furnace workout with 20kg first round and 12kg second.

I weighed myself Saturday and had lost 3 pounds since Tuesday... And felt awesome.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My experiment

I decided that I am tired of trying to juggle a whole bunch of exercises in my training. I want to get GOOD at something. And that something is pull-ups. I also want to maintain my strength for other exercises. My program that I am going to follow for the next 6 weeks is
3 days Furnace: starting out 1 day/week 16kg, 1 day 12kg 1 day 20 kg. Hopefully by the end it will be 30kg, 16kg, 24kg. Two days will be pullup protocols from Convict Conditioning.

Yesterday, I did the Furnace with a 16kg so today will be pullup day. I'll let you know what happens...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Furnace!

Thanks to MRKC David Whitley, I have found my absolute favorite training session. I love the furnace. If you haven't experienced the furnace I HIGHLY suggest that you try it. It's all about dissecting the get-up and adding swings to have a complete version of the Program Minimum.

If you want to learn more about the Furnace, go to the Nashville Bootcamp blog explaining it!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jeff O'Connor and David Whitley were THE BOMB this past weekend!

This past weekend, Condition hosted an Advanced Basics Workshop with Master RKC Jeff O'Connor (and special guest MRKC David Whitley.) It was entire day of only... you guessed it... Swings and Get-ups. They reiterated how important those two exercises are and that the better you can perform the basics, the better you will be at everything else. It was also one of those days that taught me a lot about myself.

I remember when I went through the RKC the first time back in 2006. I thought I knew EVERYTHING about kettlebells - I was an RKC! Then I assisted the following year and thought... hmm... maybe I don't know as much as I thought. 4 years, 4 RKC's, 2 RKC 2's, an HKC and countless workshops put on by Pavel, Senior and Master RKC's later and I realize I know NOTHING. I wake up every day and get to "play kettlebells" - working with the tool I love the most, and the more I know about the body the more I realize there is to learn. Thankfully, I have a network of others around the world in similar situations and we make each other better. The more you know, the more you realize you don't know.