koinonia

No rant today - up late watching the spelling bee. 

I have something exciting planned for next week!



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

snatch 5-5-3x5
5 heavy swings 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

Michael Deskevich
The what-the-hell effect
photo credit: dailystoic's Instagram feed
I had just finished reading a long AGT article yesterday about being patient while your biochemistry adapts to the low and slow training. And then this came up on my Instagram feed (don't ask why I follow the dailystoic - it might have something to do with my Antifragile obsession).

Everything we do in the gym takes time - we don't do any 6-week transformations or quick weight loss techniques. It takes time to build muscle. It takes time to build a base of conditioning. It even takes more time for your tendons and ligaments to get strong enough to handle the frequent kettlebell work we do. Don't be in too much of a hurry to use a bigger bell. You need time to practice good quality reps. Keep putting in the work, and some day you'll just be surprised how fit you are.

The kettlebell community often calls this the "what the hell" effect. You just keep putting in the (boring) work, and then one day, you say "what the hell?" when something that used to be hard no longer is. I just heard about one of those "what the hell" moments from a member earlier this week - maybe I'll get her to write a blog post about it.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

bench press 5-3-2-3x2
6 renegade rows 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

Michael Deskevich
Wednesday

No rant today.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

front squat 5-3-2-3x2
5 push-ups between sets

then

1-arm swings 10x10/0:30
TGU 10x1/1:00
Michael Deskevich
Welcome Blake to our Team!

You may have noticed Blake randomly showing up to classes the last couple of weeks. He's going to be joining us as a trainer at Barbell Strategy. As usual, our anti-marketing high-barrier-to-entry worked well for us. Blake comes to us from Chicago and when he arrived in Boulder, he was having a hard time searching for gyms to work at. He decided to search for local gyms that participated in the TSC this year (that's a smart filter!) and found us.

I tried my best to scare him away by telling him how we're not terribly friendly (well, the coaches, not you - you guys are all very friendly), and we do boring workouts, and have virtually no marketing to support him (though, Sarah's on a mission to fix that). He thought those were all selling points, he loves our approach, and believes in what we do. So he's going to be joining us!

Blake's background is in MovNat which is really cool. CrossFit always talks about the elitism of the muscle up and I always point out that gymnasts call the muscle up "getting on the rings". To them it's an un-scored movement just to get started. MovNat is the same way about movement. I always talk about the elitism of a properly executed heavy TGU. You know what the folks in MovNat call a TGU? "Standing up." They're all about (re-)learning how to move properly and they cover a much wider spectrum of movement than just in-the-gym stuff. So we'll be finding a way to bring Blake's expertise to Barbell Strategy. Here's his introduction in his own words.



Hi All! My name is Blake Nelson and I am a new trainer at Barbell Strategy.  Maybe you’ve seen me over the last couple of weeks at classes, I’m the tallish blond guy with glasses not working very hard! I just moved from Chicago and I’m still acclimating to the altitude so my training the month has been very sub-maximal.

My background is in MovNat which is a system that re-teaches you how do all that stuff you did as a kid.  Crawling and climbing, balancing on boulders and hanging from branches.  It is a lot of fun and makes your body feel good.  At first glance it might seem very different from the kind of work you usually do at Barbell Strategy but the underlying principles are very compatible. In fact MovNat’s curriculum director Danny Clark has a long history with StrongFirst and the RKC. He is even a Beast Tamer which is pretty amazing! I also love powerlifting and kettlebells and believe that most people’s physical issues could be helped by just getting stronger.

I’ll be bringing some of that fun MovNat flavor to the gym, both in classes and one-on-one so please say “hi” when you see me and ask me any questions you may have.  More information can be found at my website: www.wildgoosefitness.com



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

deadlift 5-3-2-3x2
5 heavy swings 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

Michael Deskevich
Closed Monday

I always forget about the long weekends. I just realized that it's Memorial Day Monday. Go run the Boulder Bolder and we won't be having any classes. See you Tuesday.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

squat 5-3-2-3x2
5 pull-ups between sets

then

snatch 10x(3+3)/1:00

then

50 Russian twists

Monday's Workout (which you can do somewhere not here if you want)

with a barbell:

press 5-3-2-3x2
2 TGUs between sets

then, with a kettlebell:

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


Michael Deskevich
Picture day: second attempt

Dave couldn't make it last week, so today is our second attempt for photos during the workout. Sarah has been working hard with the new website (I think we've reached a font détente) and we need some good pictures for it. Everyone come out tonight, make the gym crowded and wear your Barbell Strategy shirts.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

clean 5-3-2-5x1
5 heavy swings 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

Michael Deskevich
Functional Training is not Training to be Functional
One of these images came up in a google image search for "functional training" guess which one.
This weekend I was out and someone saw my shirt (by the way, the new shirts are in - now's your chance to buy one!) and asked if "that was CrossFit." My reply was that we are anti-CrossFit and she asked if we were "functional training." I just said yes because I realized that a lecture on functional training wasn't going to go anywhere.

I hate the term functional training because it's way overused in the industry and doesn't mean anything. Basically, everyone has re-branded themselves as "functional training" because that's what people search for. But they all do the same stupid stuff - it's all just high-rep aerobics. I even saw an instagram video of a local competitor with folks jumping in circles with rubber bands around their ankles. Yeah, it may make you sweaty and tired, but it's not going to make you fit.

You know what being functional really is? Being strong. If you're strong you can actually do things that are functional.

If you want to move a credenza down a narrow staircase to the basement, who do you call? Someone who lifts heavy with kettlebells, or someone who can do burpees and lunges with rubber bands around their knees. For some reason, I'm the one on speed dial when folks are moving...

The industry is all about selling new fancy ways to make you feel tired and like you got a workout. But if you want to be functional in real life, just get strong - and getting strong isn't exciting. Just lift heavy.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

bench press 5-3-2-3x2
6 renegade rows 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

Michael Deskevich
Photo day rescheduled to this Thursday

Last week you guys came through and showed up for picture day, but Dave got delayed and couldn't come, so we rescheduled for this Thursday.

Plan on being there! Wear your shirts and look pretty!



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

front squat 5-3-2-3x2
5 push-ups between sets

then

10x(3 KB deadlifts + 3 KB snatch)/1:00

then

50 Russian twists

Michael Deskevich
Congratulations Marlena - 800m State Champ!
photo stolen from Dave's Instagram Feed
Marlena won the 800m this weekend at the Colorado State Track and Field Championships. She really puts in the work, I always see her on the road on the weekends running while Ric follows her on his bike. And she comes into the gym twice a week to work on her strength. She's always excited to try something new, and really focused on the AGT this last season - she has a real mean kettlebell swing now!

Check out the video and see when she decided to turn it on for the last 200m and crush the field. If I remember correctly, it was a 2:09, 1-second PR. We're really proud of you!





Today's Workout

with a barbell:

deadlift 5-3-2-3x2
5 heavy swings 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
Michael Deskevich
You guys actually listened to me!
photo credit: www.lane1photos.com
I'm used to ranting into the void so I didn't expect anyone to listen to the it's-ok-to-workout-barefoot rant. But during the last two days most everyone took their shoes off and lifted so much better!



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

press 5-3-2-3x2
2 TGUs between sets

then, with a kettlebell:

double front squat 5x2 heavy
half snatch 3x(5+5) light
double clean 3x5 light
press 5x(5+5) medium
Michael Deskevich
It's picture day!

Today is picture day! Don't worry they'll be good - we have Dave coming in to take some action shots. He's a great photographer and will make you look good, so don't worry.  You'll get some good pictures to post to show your friend what kinds of cool stuff you do at the gym. Wear your Barbell Strategy shirt!



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

squat 5-3-2-3x2
5 pull-ups between sets

then

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

then

50 Russian twists

Michael Deskevich
Yes, it's ok to be bare foot in the gym

You may have noticed that this winter after I started the kettlebell-focused program that I was spending all my time in the gym barefoot. It's not because I'm a dirty hippie (though, in Boulder, that's a good default guess). It's because having that solid contact with the ground helps you with the stability and tension you need to have good movement with the kettlebells.

If you're not going to wear your Xero shoes, then barefoot is much better than a running shoe (too squishy) or a weightlifting shoe (the raised heel works against you here).  The most common mistake I see in any powerful kettlebell movement is the wiggly knee. Most of the time that's easy to fix by having you grab the ground with your toes. That turns on your arch and gives you a strong base to work from. It's much easier for your foot to work and actually be active if you don't constrain it inside a shoe.

Having your feet in shoes is just like having your arm in a cast. Your body stops working as hard and relies on the structure around it to do the work for it. And just like coming back from a broken arm, you won't immediately have the strength to do what you need to (or even the neurological connections for your brain to tell your foot what to do!) So ease into it. Maybe just do swings bare foot and then add in more exercises.

I hate wearing shoes, I wish it was socially acceptable for me to be bare foot at work. Even though I have an casual office job, it's not dirty-hippie casual. But any time I get the chance, I let my feet work. Having the solid connection with the ground also tells your brain to let the rest of your body do more.

You don't need to be bare foot in the gym, and I know it feels icky to some folks. I'll never force you to take your shoes off - but if you do wear shoes in the gym, please make sure they're clean (in the winter, bring a change!) because there will be bare foot folks around you and they don't want to step in piles of dirt and snow.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

clean 5-3-2-5x1
5 heavy swings 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

Michael Deskevich
Be sure to look pretty on Thursday
photo stolen from www.lane1photos.com
Every couple of months Dave makes his rounds to the evening class. If you haven't met him yet, Dave is our resident sports photographer - check out his work here: www.lane1photos.com.

He'll be at the evening class on Thursday to get some new photos for our website. Be sure to be there so we can get pictures of everyone.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

squat 5-3-2-3x2
5 pull-ups 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

Michael Deskevich
Jeremy's last week

Be sure to get in Monday through Wednesday mornings this week to get your last workouts in with Jeremy. The trouble with having great coaches is that they leave to go do the whole open-a-gym thing themselves. Jeremy is heading back to California to start his own brand of strength training. I know it's going to be great, and we're really going to miss him.

Tuesday after Weightlifting Club everyone is meeting at Verde to wish him well. Let Randy know if you're going so he can get a count for reservations.

Amy is going to continue running the Hardstyle class MWF through the summer, and then we'll figure out what we're doing for the fall and winter.  Keep an eye on the schedule (here) - we'll be moving classes around as we figure out what works best.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

snatch 5-3-2-5x1
5 heavy swings between sets

then

1-arm swings 10x10/0:30
TGU 10x1/1:00

Michael Deskevich
Friday

No rant today. I'm working on a bigger longer term project for the blog, so the daily posts will suffer for a while - unless I see something idiotic that I need to rant about.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

bench press 5-3-2-3x2
6 renegade rows 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

Michael Deskevich
Thought of the day

I came across this quote today when reading more about AGT:

The most important training goal is to remain healthy enough to continue training.

I always have that in mind when I'm doing programming. I think I hit it perfectly yesterday, everyone got a great workout but still felt great afterwards. 



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

front squat 5-3-2-3x2
5 push-ups between sets

then, with a kettlebell:

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

Michael Deskevich
Easy day today

After two long rants in a row, I'm taking a break tonight. Just like today's workout is supposed to be easy compared to the last two days. Variability is good.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

deadlift 5-3-2-3x2
5 heavy swings between sets

then

7x(5 dead stop swings + 3 pull-ups)/1:30

then

50 Russian twists

Michael Deskevich
Fitness center rant, part deux

When did people get so bad at moving?

I was never what you could call a coordinated kid. I was never picked for any sports in gym class, and I knew better than to try out for any team other than cross country where I could just run (slowly) in a straight line (and that's also why I'll never take a dance class with Sarah). But what I saw at the fitness center this weekend (see part I of my rant here), shocked me.

We supposedly live in one of the fittest areas in the country. People are supposed to be pretty active here. And I was at a recreation center on a Saturday morning, so folks are already self selected for people who would rather exercise than sleep in. AND NO ONE COULD MOVE!

Lift one leg up and touch it with the other hand? no.
Run in place? only if I hold on to the wall.
Jumping Jacks? ha!

This is why you need to lift with kettlebells and barbells, people!

I'll (mis-)quote Rippetoe here (I can hear Randy groaning): the fact that you don't fall down when you lift a barbell is proof that it's training your balance.

If you spend all of your time sitting at your desk and then going to the gym to "use the machines," you'll never learn how to move your body. You need to challenge yourself and stay balanced under load. How else are you going to recover when you trip over the curb? Life is dynamic, and if you don't learn how to live in a dynamic world, you're really missing out.

I don't even think people realize how bad it's gotten. We're all happy to sit on our couch scrolling through Instagram with our iPhones. We drive everywhere, take the elevator up stairs. At the grocery store, we don't even carry our food, we use the cart (and even lean on it - Kevin's biggest complaint!).

Looking at my childhood, you'd never guess that I would be the one complaining that everyone around me is uncoordinated. I guess that strength training is good for something.

As much as I complain that my kids are killing me, at least they keep me off balance. I can sit on the floor, have an ADHD 6-year-old jump on my shoulders (I have enough muscle around my neck, so he hasn't broken it, yet...), and then stand up without using my hands (because I'm using them to protect my face from the flailing). Then we walk down the stairs in the dark while he flails around some more...and we do this every night!

Don't fall in the trap of making your life so easy that you grow weak. You'll need your coordination and balance to protect yourself sometime - the black swan is out there.



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

press 5-3-2-3x2
2 TGUs 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

Michael Deskevich
Actually getting results is worth it

I was at a community rec center for a kids' thing this weekend. While I was waiting I watched a fitness class that was in session and was horrified at what I saw.

I need to start this by saying that I don't want to point at any individual and say they were doing the wrong thing. There was a basketball court full of well-meaning folks who got up early on a Saturday morning with hopes of getting fitter. I can't complain about that. The people who teach the classes have to be making nearly nothing or volunteering because this is a community center with near-zero drop-in prices.

The workout was both dangerous and ineffective.

This was a "tabata" class. I've ranted before about how everyone gets tabata wrong. Tabata does not belong in a fitness class session.  At best it's 4-minutes of road work and then you go home, and even then, it's only good in a narrow range of metrics. But what was worse was that the tabata cycle was (as best as I could tell from watching) dumbbell Romanian deadlifts.  The instructor even said "you should be feeling this in your lower back."  RDLs are best heavy and slow with a barbell, not under time pressure for speed, and you better not feel them in your back - they're hamstring work!

So here you have a bunch of well-meaning folks getting up early. They pay their $5 drop-in, they walk away with a sore back thinking they got a good workout, and then they come back next week for more. Everyone pats themselves on the back, the community center is happy because people are "just out there moving."  The participants actually thought they got a good workout. Everyone just wasted their time and money.

It's not just this particular place that's the problem. It's the industry in general. No one wants to call this out as ineffective at best (and dangerous at worst). We don't want to hurt anyone's feeling or discourage anyone from working out. As long as you're trying, it's all okay. (Same with "eating in moderation...")

I can get people fitter and stronger (and healthier!) in a very short time. Some folks (who have made great progress) are here only 2 days a week! It's all about the minimum effective dose (of the right stuff!). You need to be smart and safe and do things that actually get results. Unfortunately, because of the face time and space required, that's expensive. I can't run a class full of 50 people because 1) it wouldn't be safe, and 2) that much equipment would break the bank.

The hard part is convincing folks that it's cheaper to pay more for results than to pay $5 for a feel-good exercise class. Swinging a kettlebell for 10 minutes isn't sexy, but a 1-hour tabata core sweat fitness class is!

And don't complain about today's squats - that's what actually makes you stronger...



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

squat 5-3-2-3x2
5 pull-ups 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
Michael Deskevich
Waving the load
I've been reading a lot about programming, and one of the philosophies I like is often described as waving the load. That is rather than having a steady increasing load like a linear progression or a saw-tooth pattern like often shows up in the 5/3/1 style programming, you have a periodic increasing and decreasing of the weight. When working through the program it almost feels random, but when you look at the load over time, you see there is a bit of an underlying pattern.

In the picture above, I've plotted the relative loading for each of the four movements in our kettlebell program that's going on right now. Each color is one of the movements (clean, press, front squat, snatch) and the size of the bar is the load for each day. That's a very wavy load - good.

But what about the barbell segment the precedes the kettlebell work? I also have a pattern for that, it's almost squat/press/pull, but I have a little offset in there: the cycle is a 14-day cycle, which is one day less than 3-weeks. I do that so that the same movement never falls on the same day. I do that so that a WMF or a TTh member doesn't get stuck with the same movements every time they come in.

When I put the barbell movements together with the kettlebell program, I started out by trying to make sure that when it was front squat day for the barbell, I didn't load up the front squat for the kettlebell - and so on. But then it just got unwieldy and neither program looked right.

So I went back to the philosophy of waving the load, and thought I'd add my own spin on it: beat frequencies. The barbell work has a period of 14 days, the kettlebell work has a period of 6 days (4 kettlebell days plus two AGT days. Some days will line up to be really bad (constructive interference) - heavy barbell front squats with heavy kettlebell front squats, for example - and some days will line up to be really easy (destructive interference). I like to call this second-order waviness of the load, and I bet that it's going to turn out really well, because as we all know from my other rants, the world is non-linear. So we're going to take advantage of that with adding another vector of variability into the program.

I like that the simple solution actually turns out to be the better solution. Rather than agonizing over the details, I just let the math work itself out. #lazyprogramming



Today's Workout

with a barbell:

clean 5-3-2-5x1
5 heavy swings between sets

then

1-arm swings 10x10/0:30
TGU 10x1/1:00



footnote: I've gotten a lot of requests for what the actual barbell pattern is. Here you go, bookmark this page if you want to start predicting what's coming up next.

The movements in order are: squat, press, deadlift, front squat, bench press, clean, squat, press, deadlift, front squat, bench press, snatch, squat, clean.

If I count squats and front squats as a squatting movement (blue); press and bench press as pressing (red); and deadlift, clean, and snatch as pulling (orange), then you get a pattern that looks like this:
The reps scheme is on a 6-month repeat starting in December: 8, 5, 3, 5, 3, 2 (if you do the math, you'll see that next month we're back to 8's  I might go more wavy with the loading next year, but the mini saw tooth we're using here seems to work well and it's easy to keep track of the program.
Michael Deskevich