New Years Eve SpiderMan Workout!

31st December 2014

New Years Eve isn’t a time for spending too much time in the gym, much like any session I suppose. You go in, get the job done then get out and recover and get on with your life.

Anyway, todays agenda was to spend time with the basics and some preparation for future training.

The basics, spiderman crawls for all the great reasons you should all crawl. Coordination, core activation, vestibular enhancement and pulse raising. The secondary basic was the upper back theme for the past 6 weeks, active hangs, championed by Ido Portal.

I spent a very short time completing 5 rounds, non stop between 30 seconds of both crawls then active hangs. 5 minutes… bang – done!

The second section I dedicated to spending low load efforts at double kettlebell presses mixed with the unfrequented arm curls, no, not for the new year celebrations (although I did get a nice pump) but as some prep for the ensuing pull up training I’ll be investing in soon once I finish the foundation period of hangs.

Just because I like ladders I structured the sets as follows:

  1. 5 arm curls and 10 presses
  2. 6 arm curls and 9 presses
  3. 7 arm curls and 8 presses
  4. 8 arm curls and 7 presses – this is when the arm curls started to get challenging!
  5. 9 arm curls and 6 presses
  6. 10 arm curls (just about) and 5 presses

A total of 45 reps of each in about 8 minutes I think.

And, here’s the short video montage of my efforts!

My Slowest Quickest Snatch Test

Time is a curious thing, set in stone in terms of actual rate of passing but, at times seemingly controllable at a mental level anyway.

The RKC / SFG snatch test is 5 minutes in length, in which time you must snatch a 24kg (for men) 100 times with great technique. Failing to lock out the arm, failing to reach a vertical arm position or demonstrating unsafe practice will result in a no count, of which you will only receive three!

Prior to the RKC certification weekend, snatch training had been a planned process, one snatch at a time and mostly for less than 10 at a time per arm before taking a planned rest.

Every snatch training session followed a planned, laid out progression to ready me for my assessment and the weekend training itself.

overhead kettlebell

Initially I trained a humble 5 L/R per minute for 5 minutes, then progressed up from there for a maximum of only 8 minutes of snatching at 10 L/R per minute.

In the 10 weeks prior to the RKC weekend, every snatch training session I snatched the kettlebell. Read that again, I ‘snatched’ the Kettlebell! That’s all I did in training on snatch day, snatch the kettlebell. I thought only of snatching the kettlebell. “Cool”, you say, “that is the objective, stop repeating it”.

In most learning circumstances we start with a cognitive approach, with focus and attention to the detail, to mistakes and fixing them, before the learned skill becomes automatic and habitual. This is much like jumping into your car and just driving to your destination without thought for how to drive, you still drive. Naturally I assume you are a competent driver! But, whilst in the learning stage of an exercise or activity, cognition is of utmost importance. If you end up practicing sub-perfect reps you are only getting better than practicing sub-perfect reps.

By the time the RKC weekend was upon me I had accumulated many, many hours of snatching. Apart from the prior 10 weeks plan I had of course spent time snatching during other routines for a couple of years. I had earned the right to just snatch automatically, without much thought as it was pretty simple… not always easy, but a simple move I felt competent at.

But, here’s the thing (that I’ve been winding myself towards in this post), a somewhat weird thing that happened on test day that deludes me today, a year later and an experience that I’ve not since experienced. The tests for those who don’t know, start off with all of the candidates lined up in teams with our assessors, and each of us takes our turn at the test Turkish Get Up, Swing, Clean, Squat, Press and finally the 5 minute Snatch test.

My Snatch test started off rather cool. In fact I snatched out a comfortable 20 L/R to get rolling then I found myself in an odd place. As I started to get comfortable with the discomfort of snatching I began to spend time on every snatch planning each movement component of the snatch. From the top as I inhaled sharply I simultaneously goosenecked my wrist, pulled the bell down, hinging my hips, reaching far behind me before recoiling, extending my knees and hips with a simultaneous sharp exhale, seeing the bell float up in front of me before punching out the lock out and all with a seemingly slow progression, like time was going slowly enough for me comprehend and focus on each and every movement.

This might all read rather silly… unless you’ve ever experienced such focus that time does indeed seem to pass more slowly. The big picture of this particular event is of course to always think about what you are doing in an exercise, to focus intently and not to become complacent or automatic. Oh, and I passed my 100 snatch test in under 4:20!

Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.

Alexander Graham Bell

Peace Y’all



Why I moved to StrongFirst from the RKC

A lot of my clients and friends know from my incessant chatter, that I discovered kettlebells 4 years ago for shoulder rehab only to find they had much, much more to offer. After moving to Australia in 2011 I committed myself to RKC certification after appreciating the books and teachings of Pavel and all the other trainers that made up the RKC community. In this bunch of strength and conditioning┬álegends and practitioners I really found myself, much like I had with the powerlifting crew in Northern Ireland, but more so… I really felt comfortable sharing and discussing the things that we work for, train for and share with our clients and friends.
Generally speaking, I feel very out of place and often misunderstood in the general fitness world and not just because of my northern irish accent! Whilst most continue to do what they’ve always done, most continue to fail themselves…. Been there, done that and threw away the t-shirt many years ago.

I dearly aspire to continue to teach what I teach, to a larger community to help share that there are other very smart ways to train compared to the standard in the industry. To do this successfully I feel I need to work with other like-minded trainers, in a strong community where we can do this together.

Last year many in the RKC were devastated, a little confused and torn by the split in the RKC leadership which saw Pavel and many of the for mentioned trainers sever from the RKC to form StrongFirst.

Similar to a divorce, many were initially torn between mum and dad splitting up and who to support and live with.
Ultimately, the RKC and StrongFirst is Hardstyle. The training remains the same perhaps with a slight shift on the emphasis on certain training qualities.

I have finally chosen to move onto the StrongFirst school of strength for a variety of reasons that I will go onto in a moment, but these in part do include to continue to follow those I have always followed and looked to for inspiration and education over the years and to work locally with like minded people. The new school is the old school just with a new name. The game remains the same.

I have always chosen to make moves and to join professional groups based on my feelings, what I want to experience and the paths they may lead to.
In 2011 we upped and left Northern Ireland to start a new life in Australia.
We didn’t do it to make money, we didn’t do it for the sun, we didn’t do it for cheaper wine, we didn’t do to leave family and friends.

***We moved our lives 16000km away to improve our quality of life and that of our daughter and because we had a gut feeling it was the right thing to do and in a corny way, that it was meant to be.***

I am not going to enter into discussion with anyone over my decision to move to StrongFirst, just accept it.

I still respect the RKC and people who remain happily with the RKC and I respectfully honour it’s masters, leaders and trainers with the credit they deserve for the great training they provide.

My move; it’s just a personal decision based largely on my deeper thoughts, a feeling in my gut and a close attachment to my former and present principles.

End of story.

strong first certified instructor