Friday, April 20, 2018

Kinstretch tomorrow instead of S&C class

Quick reminder: Bridget and Traci will be here tomorrow at 10:30 for a Kinstretch class. $25 for members, $30 for the public. Bring your friends.

Sarah and I have been working on the summer t-shirt design. Look for the pre-order form soon.

Today's Workout

with a barbell:

front squat 5-3-3-3x3
5 push-ups between sets

then, with a kettlebell:

snatch 5x(2+2) heavy
double front squat 3x5 light
press 3x(5+5) light 
dead stop double clean 5x5 medium

Thursday, April 19, 2018

So what's up with this new kettlebell program?

Dave just updated his content at Notice the strong and stable half kneel that Isabella has during the TGU. Do that!
This week we started a new 6-week kettlebell strength cycle. I tried this one out in January before we all did the TSC prep program. The combination of volume and strength work just resonated with me really well - so I figured you all should try it out.

When you read about kettlebell strength work on the internet, you get two camps of people: the kettlebell converts (like me) who insist that these strange cannon balls with handles can make you crazy strong (wiry strength, comrade). And those folks that say that you can't get strong without lifting heavy weights, and since you can load a barbell more than you can a kettlebell, that the kettlebells will never produce strong people - they're wrong.

Here's my personal results with the first time I ran through this program. I've been stalled (or really, just slowing) on my barbell lifts. Putting on about 5 lbs a year on my PRs on the squat and deadlift. It's understandable, I'm no longer a novice, the easy gains are gone, and I'm getting older, so staying the same is now considered a win.

On any day, after warming up, I can squat 315, and if all goes well I can get up near 350 depending on how I feel.  Likewise, on any given day I can deadlift about 425 and if all goes well (like it did at the TSC) I can get 460+.  The 315 and 425, however, are not easy. I can double or triple them on a good day, but it's a struggle and I grind them out.

After taking 6 weeks totally away from the barbell and just doing this kettlebell work (the same program you're doing now), I decided to do a squat and deadlift day, just to get back to the bar before I got into the TSC prep program. Since it was day 1 back to the barbell, I didn't want to hit any PRs, but I did want to go pretty heavy. All of a sudden, I easily did 315 for 5. I never lifted 315 for 5, and this time it wasn't even a grind. I stood up fast and the bar was bouncing off my shoulders at the top.

That was cool. I was still feeling pretty strong, so I put 425 on the bar and easily deadlifted it for 5, then I put another 30 on and did a single at 455 (99%) with no trouble.

Now, those aren't great numbers in the world of lifting - I know that, I'm not bragging - I'm just trying to give you some context as to where I was and what happened after 6 weeks of focused kettlebell work.

Mark also tested the program out with me and got similar results. And as we all know N=2 is enough for a study :)

I think the explosive movements, the precision, and most importantly, the tension you have create all work together in the kettlebell lifts to make you much stronger than you think you could get without a barbell.

The corollary to this is that you may be strong with the barbell lifts and think that you should be lifting heavy kettlebells and find out that your kettlebells are lighter than your ego wants them to be. Be patient and use the appropriate kettlebell for each lift. You will get stronger! And don't listen to those people who tell you that the only way to get strong it to lift heavy barbells every day.

Today's Workout

with a barbell:

deadlift 5-3-3-3x3
5 heavy swings between sets

then, with a kettlebell:

press 5x(2+2) heavy
double clean 3x5 light
half snatch 3x(5+5) light
double front squat 5x5 medium

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Reminder: Kinstretch this Saturday and next Saturday

The ladies from Vital Roots Movement will be back for the last two Saturdays in April to teach a special edition Kinstretch class.

This will be instead of our normal S&C class for these two days.

Register here. $30 for the public, $25 for members.

We'll use April to gauge interest. If this is popular Traci and Bridget will be happy to come back more often!

Today's Workout

with a barbell:

press 5-3-3-3x3
2 TGUs between sets


swings 10x10/1:00
pull-ups 10x3/1:00


50 Russian twists

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

TSC Wrap-up

Bad screen capture of an underexposed video of Randy getting 15 (yes 15!) pull-ups at the TSC. That beats me, I only got 13.
We had a great showing at the TSC on Saturday.

First - thanks to Jeremy for putting on a great competition! He moved 16 folks through all three events with no delays. We started on time, and were done in time to enjoy some Wayne's BBQ. (thanks Todd for picking that up!)

We had 8 competitors from inside the gym, and 8 from around the area. I love when we can bring like-minded athletes to the gym to see what we do.

Going off the top of my head: Sarah, Liz each got a PR on the deadlift. Both breaking the 200lb barrier! Todd got 21 pull-ups! Everyone improved their snatch test count since the last TSC. So the work is paying off.

I'm most impressed that we were all on par with the visitors who participated. I figured, that since there would be some self-section bias that the people who would get up early to drive to Boulder to a new gym to do this very specific competition would be the best in the area. And they probably are, but you are too because we all performed well. I'm really proud of you guys for making us look good!

Rob was a really good sport. He just moved to Boulder from California, and was expecting to do a drop in class to try us out and didn't expect to have to participate in the TSC. I just thought "hey new guy in the gym, he must be here for the TSC" and told him to go get weighed in and warm up. Sorry about that, Rob! We're normally not that crazy.

Start planning now - next TSC will be in 6 months. Everyone who did it had fun, and you will do. It's not scary! It's a really mellow competition.

Today's Workout

with a barbell:

squat 5-3-3-3x3
5 pull-ups between sets

then, with a kettlebell:

dead stop double clean 5x2 heavy
press 3x(5+5) light
double front squat 3x5 light
snatch 5x(5+5) medium

Monday, April 16, 2018

All of the new cycles start today

picture stolen from linked article
The TSC was a huge success! Lot's of fun. More on that later this week. Right now, we need to start our new cycle. Here's how it will work:

Jeremy's Hardstyle Class

If you're doing the Hardstyle class, Jeremy decided to use the same system that I used when we did the Strength & Power class - you fill out a form and it does the math and emails you the program with your percentages calculated.

Here's the form - fill this out before you come to class so that you have the program.

Maybe later this week we'll get an article from Jeremy on his philosophy behind this cycle.

Regular S&C Class

I decided for our regular class we're going to focus on kettlebell strength this time. Later this week, I'll give you the justification behind this program - after I do the TSC wrap-up, but for now I want you to believe me that it's good.

We don't need a fancy form for this one, since you'll be going by feel this time. Here's how it works:

We start with the barbell strength movement of the day. We do this every day, and have for the last two years. Nothing new here, you know the drill.

After the barbell work, we're going to switch to focus on four main kettlebell lifts:
  • (double) clean
  • (double) front squat
  • snatch
  • press
Every day, one of the movements will be the "heavy" movement, one will be "medium", and two will be "light".  You can do this 5 days a week, but it will also work well for our 2-, 3-, and 4-day folks. Don't worry about what you miss, it will all average out in the end.

What defines "heavy", "medium", and "light"? I lightly modified this program from this article at strong first. They define medium as your 7RM for any lift, heavy is one interval (4kg) up, and light is one interval (4kg) down. I think that's a good recommendation for someone highly skilled in these kettlebell lifts. For me, 5RM worked better than 7RM (since I'm not skilled enough to lift heavy for 7 reps). Everyone here should be in that 5-7RM range - and you'll never be exact since we only have 4kg steps between bells.

Each day will start with the heavy lift at 5x2 (that's 5 sets of 2 reps). Do your double, put the bells down, shake it off and go again.

The next two lifts are the light lifts. These are at 3x5 (the article suggests 2x5, but I think you guys need more practice at these lifts, so we'll get some more reps in).  These should be easy! You are practicing exquisite form on these lifts, not getting tired. I will be picky during these - don't be offended!

The last lift is the meat of the program, it's 5x5 at your medium weight. Rest long enough that you're never out of breath - or at least you want to be back to normal before you start your next set.

If, for any movement, the 5x2 and the 5x5 are easy, feel free to move light, medium, and heavy all up one interval.  It took me about 3 weeks to dial it in for me the first time I did it.

Bonus work: If you have the time to draw out the workout a little longer, one fun thing is to pick an easy body weight movement every time you put a bell down. My favorite was 2 pull ups. If you stop to do 2 pull-ups between every set (and when you switch arms on the single-arm movements), you can get 50 pull-ups in for the whole day. Lots of easy volume!

Every third day is AGT. The original program suggested just doing Simple & Sinister. That's what I did when testing out the program, and it worked really well for me. I just thought that it may be a bit too boring for you to do S&S every third day, so we'll modify the AGT work. It's all in the same spirit: move explosively, rest, and recover before you start your next set. Absolutely no Crossfit-glycolyitic-sweat-angel-acid-bath here! These should not be killer workouts!

Since this is a long post, and I still need to do a TSC wrap-up, you'll need to wait a few days for the "why" behind this program, so until then, just trust me.

Today's Workout

with a barbell:

clean 5-3-2-4x2
5 heavy swings between sets

then, with kettlebells:

double front squat 5x2 heavy
half snatch 3x(5+5) light
double clean 3x5 light
press 5x(5+5) medium

Friday, April 13, 2018

How to find us for the TSC

Click here for an interactive map.
If you're from the area and looking to get to Barbell Strategy for the Tactical Strength Challenge, here's how you find us:

We are hidden in the back of the BaseMar shopping center at the intersection of Baseline and Broadway. Our address is 2576 Baseline Rd.

Park in the main parking lot and then walk between the east building where Whole Foods used to be and the south building where The Egg and I restaurant used to be. It's hard to give instructions when all of our land marks have left :) And google maps never accepts my updates to point to the back of the building.

We plan on getting started at 10:00.

The we'll have two flights for the deadlift - a women's bar and a men's bar. 3 attempts, weight only goes up, just like a regular weightlifting meet. Have your opening weights ready.

Pull-ups should go quickly, it doesn't take long to get your max count.

And then we'll figure out how to get everyone thorough the 5 minute test.

We hope to be done in 2 hours.

Friends and family are welcome.

If you've never been here before, be sure to create and account and sign a waiver here:

Today's Workout

bench press 5-3-3-3x3


deadlift 5x35%, 5x50%


light AGT day:
1 arm Swing, bell size +0, 3x(10R+10L)/1:00
TGU, bell size +0 3x(1R+1L)/2:00

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Post TSC Potluck

Todd loves BBQ from Wayne's and it's only a 10 minute drive from Boulder, so he's going to head out during the TSC to pick up BBQ once we see how many folks are there. If you want something green like a salad or other veggies, please bring some to share. We'll all chip in for the BBQ, so make sure to bring a couple of bucks. Lunch will be served after the last snatch test.

Today's Workout - start lowering the intensity this week

front squat 5-3-3-3x3 - light, full range of motion!


deadlift 5x35%, 5x50%, 65%x5


medium snatch day:
snatch, bell size +0, 5x(6R+6L)/1:00