By: Som Sikdar RKCThere are basically two types of timed sets. The first is performing a set for a given amount of time; for example, performing bench press repetitions for 30 seconds. Here the primary focus is building muscle endurance. Everyone has a "slowing down" point regardless of weight and you may want to break through that barrier. By the way, if you want to get a "muscle pump" this is a good way to go.
For an instant chest explosion try this: - Bench press with a 60% RM or higher. 3 sets. 30 seconds of bench press. 30 seconds rest.
Personally, I think this type of timed set is better suited for ballistics over grinds. 30 seconds on/30 seconds off is a tried and true formula for kettlebell swing conditioning. Well executed swings will easily get you within 60-70% of your max heart rate. From there, you can modify the work to rest ratio or overall workout duration to suit your specific conditioning goals.
The second type of timed set is having a prescribed number of sets and reps and performing each set "on the clock". This can be done with ballistic movements or grinds. In either case, it works quite well.
One great example is the kettlebell military press. Your goal is twelve sets in twelve minutes. Perform 3 repetitions on the right and the left every minute on the minute. You will be amazed that in a short period of time you have moved a large volume of weight. Let's say that your kettlebell of choice was the 24Kg. At 36 reps per arm, you just pressed 1728 Kgs overhead in 12 minutes. Now, does that number mean anything in isolation? No, not at all. However, you have just imposed some discipline and honesty into your training. From there you need to evaluate your current performance levels as well as your goals/needs and implement a sensible plan.
Similarly, the kettlebell snatch is another great exercise under the rubric of timed sets. Perform 5 snatches per arm every minute on the minute. Voila! You've just completed 100 snatches. Again, this doesn't mean much alone. But it gives you a data point. Remember, you need at least two points to draw a line.
So, what's the implication? Well, there are a couple.
1. For most of us, time is a valuable commodity. Performing your sets on the clock will enable and force you to get your work done on time. Putting in the time is not enough. Seek to get the most out of it.
2. Timed sets establish a consistent way to take data points and somehow relate that to the abstract notions of getting fitter, better, stronger, etc...
3. Timed sets intrinsicly create a goal oriented training mindset during a given session, but more importantly fit very well into a goal oriented framework over a longer term. The obvious example is the RKC snatch test. Not only must you complete 100 kettlebell snatches, but they must be completed under the time constraint of 5 minutes. Now we have a second data point and can begin to draw that line. Remember 100 snatches in 10 minutes? From this point you have to double your efficiency. How do you get there? That's where good programming comes in and timed sets help you establish that roadmap. Moreover, similar goals can be set throughout your training cycles in order to keep you motivated and moving forward. Last year, I used timed sets to reach a goal of moving 50 times my bodyweight with double kettlebell clean and press in ten minutes. At that time it was 3750 Kgs or approximately 78 reps with 24s. From there, the math was easy. I needed to work up to 8 reps a minute for 10 minutes.
There are a couple caveats. Don't ever force a rep, do a bad rep, or do a set to failure. If you don't hit your numbers on a given day, that's OK. Getting unnecessarily injured is not. Additionally, training with timed sets IS NOT the best way to achieve absolute strength gains. If you want to increase the 1 rep max of a certain lift you need longer rest periods between sets.
Unless you have some specific 1RM goals timed set training will work well for you. You will achieve strength gains as well as significant body composition improvement. Arguably, the conditioning effect, requisite discomfort tolerance, discipline, and pseudo-urgency will have better carryover to other athletic endeavors and everyday life than a high 1RM lift will alone.
Another method to consider is the interleaved timed set. You can pack a lot of work into a short period of time and still have long enough rest periods to focus on strength development.
Here are some examples from our training this week:
Double Kettlebell Front Squat alternated with Double kettlebell Clean and Press.
24 Kg Kettlebells
5 reps of Squats on the Odd minute and 5 reps of DCP on the even minute.
10 Sets of each --> total time 20 minutes.
Barbell deadlift alternated with Double kettlebell clean and press.
225lbs on the barbell, 24 Kg Kettlebells
3 reps of DL on the Odd minute and 3 reps of DCP on the even minute
16 sets of each --> total time 32 minutes.Head over to the Colloquium to post your questions!
Although not always punctual, I am indeed a man of my word.
Som and I finally got around to our benchmark testing last Thursday, utilizing a force meter to register the power of a couple basic strikes. This will allow us to see how the progress we are making with our strength training carries over to our sports performance. I can confidently state, however, that even without any benchmark testing to prove it, my strikes feel stronger now after our last cycle, than they ever have before.
I'm not surpirsed. Because we took absolutely no prisoners with our last training cycle, and if you weren't following along, then you missed out! But no worries...here are some highlights.
We tested four strikes:
Roundhouse kick, front kick, spin back kick, and straight punch.
In order to get the most consistent reading, we placed the kicking pad against a concrete wall...
Well...It really wasn't the worst idea, but the following problems did arise:
1. We were unable to follow through on our roundhouse kicks, because doing so would smash our knees and face against the wall. The funny thing is, is that our roundhouse kicks still had the highest force meter rating, but surely it was not as accurate it could have been.
2. We hit pretty hard at Dragon Gym, but I've yet to see anybody there move an entire concrete wall. Since there was no give whatsoever, we were overly hesitant with our spin back kicks. Intuition and experience would tell me that the spin back could should have registered the highest, but it was actually the lowest!
Here were the readings:
Roundhouse kick - Som - 77*
Roundhouse kick - Pat -74
Front kick - Som - 53
Front kick - Pat - 49
Spin Back Kick - Som - 39
Spin Back Kick - Pat - 37
Straight Punch - Som - 50
Straight Punch - Pat - 47
*The number represents 2x the g-force rating - meaning that a rating of 50 is equal to an impact of 25G.
Here is some footage of us measuring the power of our strikes.
We will retest our kicks bi-weekly.
If you are an athlete then you must measure the progress of your strength training program by increases/decreases in your sports performance. Now if your sport is weight lifting, then it makes sense for you to use certain lifts for your benchmark testing. But if your sport is not weight lifting, then you must find another way to measure your progress. Why does it matter how much you power clean if you are a swimmer? It doesn't! Not unless there is a correlation between how much you power clean and your performance in the water! It is the correlation that you want to measure, and it is your performance in the water that truly matters...not the actual weight being lifted! If your training is not enhancing your athleticism, then you are doing something wrong, or what you have been doing is no longer effective and it's time to mix it up. Mine and Som's sport is essentially hitting stuff. So if our strength program is not allowing us to hit stuff harder, then what we are doing is not worth our time.
That is how I got into kettlebell training in the first place! Because nothing in the world of strength training that I've ever found comes closer to taking and throwing a punch than training with bells.
- Pat Flynn RKC
If you wish to forge the finest steel; then seek out the hottest furnace
Yesterday marked the beginning of our new training cycle. Benchmark testing will be conducted on wednesday as promised, for which we will be using a force meter to measure the power of a variety of our kicks and punches. We will retest once our cycle is over to see if there was (which I expect there to be) and how much of a carryover we receive from our strength and power training into our martial arts performance. Follow along and get strong!
Adrenaline Junkies Anonymous
Megadoses of vitamin C and L-Glutamine. It gets me through.
Well, that and mildly offensive amounts of caffeine.
Black coffee with cinnamon is a favorite of mine. I mention this because the benefits of caffeine extend far beyond just increased energy levels. It's a funny thing how caffeine works. When you consume caffeine, your body actually thinks that it is something that it is not. There is a substance made in your brain known as adenosine. Adenosine binds to adenosine receptors (who would have guessed!). When this happens, it causes blood vessels to dilate and can also induce a state of drowsiness. Now to your body, caffeine looks like adenosine. So what happens is caffeine actually hogs up the adenosine receptors in your brain, which leads to a couple of things. The first being that now the actual adenosine has less receptors to bind to. The second being that caffiene has the opposite effect of adenosine, as it constricts blood vessels. Your body reacts to this in the same way that it would with any other irregular or unfamiliar circumstance, through the fight or flight reaction. What caffeine really makes you do is panic. It causes the release of adrenaline, and that is why after consuming a good amount caffeine that you experience an elevated heart rate, dilated pupils, tense muscles, and feel ready for just about anything. Your body is primed and ready to take action.
Caffeine has received a bad rep in the past, but with more and more studies showing the benefits of caffeine, people are finally starting to come around to the fact that this drug is far from harmful...and starting to see that it is actually quite beneficial to health and well being.
Let's get one thing straight however, caffeine by itself is in fact quite good for you (when consumed in a controlled manner of course). But when you put a bunch of cream,sugar, and other shit in your coffee...well that's the reason you are fat and have heart problems. So don't try and point your finger at caffeine, when you don't have enough discipline to kick your sugar addiction.
What science says and what the public believes are so often at odds its amazing. Studies have shown, over and over again, that caffeine helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimer, oxidize fatty acids/help mobilize body fat, improve mental acuity and alertness, etc. The studies are out there...so go see for yourself! So yes, you can have your caffeine and eat it too.
Poise Under Pressure
This marks the second week of my kettlebell classes at West Chester University. The numbers have been massive which is great, and crowd control is my specialty. They can't talk if they can't breathe, and that is exactly why I prescribed them with the following kettlebell complexes yesterday. Enjoy and give them a shot!
Energy levels have been through the roof the past couple of days, and I think I know why.
I've recently been experimenting with a couple of unorthodox methods of recovery and hormonal optimization (natural of course)!
But I will wait to share more details on that soon, once I have reached a more concrete conclusion.
As for training, I am still on somewhat of a back off week. Easy Strength routines for the most part, but still getting a good amount of conditioning from working in with my bell classes and from my martial arts practice.
A little variety in my training today. A vicious snow storm ate my car last night, so I walked over to the campus studio to perform some timed sets of long cycle.
As far as strength endurance and power movements go, you really can't beat the long cycle clean and jerk. It is truly an exhausting movement, but will quickly teach any athlete how to manage fatigue, maintain poise under pressure, and continue to move with power while under large amounts of stress.
Here is a video log. Enjoy!
TANSTAAFL ( tan-staff-uhl)
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
Remember that acronym, as it is applicable to all aspects of life.
Training hard takes a toll on your body. And, if you want to get mutantly strong and superiorly conditioned, then you have to work for it, but you also have to accommodate for the cumulative stress and fatigue that comes along with that.
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
Work hard. Rest hard. And eat hearty.
Som and I are tapering off this week, and drastically rolling back our volume, density, and intensity, in order to allow our bodies to recover a bit before our next cycle.
We are again returning to the easy strength program, for the sake of keeping our movements properly greased.
The easy strength routine works deceptively well. I have to admit, I was a little perplexed and quite curious when I got done with my first easy strength workout. I had to do a double take when I gazed at the clock, trying to figure how my workout only took fifteen minutes. I then went to wipe the sweat from my forehead, only to realize there was none.
How on earth could a fifteen minute workout, where I don't even break a sweat, make me stronger?
Well it did...and here's why:
Strength is largely about neurological efficiency in regards to certain movements, not necessarily morphological adaptations. What that means, is that strength is more about practice, and less about putting on muscle mass. Yes, you can get strong without getting big. And you should!
What easy strength allows you to do, is to practice a couple multi-joint, compound movements everyday, without running the risk of overtraining, since the volume is tactically spread out evenly over the week, and the density per day is so low. The intensity fluctuates from day to day as well, often inversely of the density.
Now I would not recommend this as an end all be all program. But for most in season athletes, this is perfect. It is also effective to use for a back off period, as it allows you to effectively recover while still promoting strength gains.
For our easy strength routine, we selected the following movements to practice throughout the week.
Leg Raises/Ab Roller
You may also wish to add in a ballistic movement as well, such as jerks or snatches, but we opted out of that, as we will still be getting most of our conditioning from our martial arts training.
Here is a video log of our easy strength workout from Monday. Enjoy!
Nearing the end of our current cycle. Thanks to all of those that have been following along and taking advantage of these workouts! I am looking forward to the next cycle, which will begin after a week of tapering off. Over the next couple of weeks we will up both the volume and density, and will be conducting some benchmark testing in regards to how our training is truly translating over to our sports specific performance. Since our sport is essentially hitting stuff, what better a way to take a bench mark then to use a force meter. We plan on using a force meter to find out just how hard we are hitting (basic kicks and punches) before our next cycle, and will again perform the same tests after to see how we have progressed. Should be interesting, so stay tuned!
In case your not a fan, that's the title of an obscure Radiohead song, that just happened to be the first song that shuffled on today. Ironic, but appropriate, as these past couple months have been more productive indeed.
With so much going on at one time, it is often hard to find a balanced life. As we are all well aware, there are only 24 hours in a day ( 8 - 10) of which I spend sleeping...usually. So that leaves me with about 12 hours everyday to allocate between work, school, play, relationships, etc.
In order to be the most productive that you possibly can, you must develop a balanced lifestyle. Time management and time allocation are critical to success, happiness, and over all well being. Remember: how you invest your time, is how you invest your life. So invest wisely.
In accounting, we learn to develop flexible budgets in order to help allocate and predict costs. Flexible, rather than static, takes into account that things can change, often unexpectedly.
This concept of a flexible budget, can be applied to all aspects of your life, especially time management. Everyday, I have a flexible budget, which loosely outlines where I plan spend my time. This flexible time budget of mine is far from static, as life is constantly throwing me curve balls. So what good is a budget if you don't stick to it? Well, lot's actually.
The first benefit is predictability. While not certain, I can fairly accurately predict what I will be doing and when throughout the day because of this flex budget. While there may be slight deviations, the predictions are more often than not reliable.
The second benefit is comparison. At the end of the day, I can look back and analyze just how closely I stayed on track, or how far I veered off. I can then attempt analyze what went wrong, and decide what I could have done better and/or what could not have been avoided. Everyday is a learning experience, and having a flexible budget of time management, helps you to organize and analyze the your daily unpredictabilities and inefficiencies. The goal is to constantly create a more accurate budget. Your budget will never be perfect, as this is impossible, life is far too uncertain for that. But over time, you will realize that you can get quite proficient at allocating your time and accommodating for unexpected lifestyle fluctuations.
The third benefit is the true benefit of proper time allocation and having a flexible budget. The benefit is freedom.
I realize it sounds a bit paradoxical. How does living a "budgeted" life grant you freedom?
Take the following into consideration...
How much freedom do you feel you have when you feel constantly stressed and anxious?
How much freedom do you feel you have when you are constantly trying to meet a deadline and constantly crunched for time?
Stress and anxiety are a contradiction of freedom. You can not live truly free and truly happy under stress and anxiety.
The flexible budget is not there to dictate your life, only to help organize it and eliminate as much unnecessary stress as possible, so that you can focus more on the things that matter most to you. Freedom from stress. Freedom from anxiety. A good, flexible budget can promote both if done properly. Allocate your time wisely. Wasted time, is wasted life.
Now, a few more updates.
I just finished the bent press section of my next ebook, which I will post a snibbet of soon for all of you to sample.
Training with my good friend Som Sikdar RKC has been going incredibly well. We upped the volume a bit this week, but kept the density low. Strength increases are becoming quite noticeable, and I am very pleased with the progress we have been making.
Here a video of two of our training days
Friday was a relatively heavy day consisting almost exclusively of unilateral movements. A unilateral movement is when one limb works independently of another to move a weight. For example, a barbell bench press is a bilateral movement, because both of your limbs are moving the same weight. However, a double military press with two kettlebells is actually unilateral, because each limb is moving a weight independently of the other, regardelss of the fact that they are both working simultaneously.
Many people neglect the benefits of unilateral training, or perhaps they neglect to realize the inherent risks of only training bilateral movements. With bilateral movements, your dominant side will naturally bear more of the load. Overtime, this can lead to imbalances and weaknesses. Unilateral movements help correct these imbalances and weaknesses. A good program should include both plenty of bilateral and unilateral movements.
Enjoy, and give this one a shot!
Single Clean and Press Chain - Line up 5 consecutively heavier bells (60-90% intensity). Perform 3 - 5 presses at each bell(L+R), and run through the chain 3 - 5 times
One Arm Bench Press - This is a fantastic horizontal push variation, especially as a stability exercise for your core. You can perform this either with a kettlebell or dumbbell. 5 sets of 5 @ 60-80% intensity
Single Leg Deadlift - Unilateral movements help correct imbalances and weaknesses, which is why it is important to be sure to perform a good amount of unilateral movements along with your bilateral exercises. This is one of my particular favorite unilateral, lower body, hip dominant movements. See Master Somnath Sikdar perform it in the video below! 5 x 5 again @ 60% intensity
Tactical Pull Up, Ring Chin, and Bodyweight Row Circuit - 3-5 reps of each exercises, with no rest in between.
Finish up with 5 sets of some sort of hanging leg raise variations. Perform as many quality reps as you can, but always leave a rep or two in the tank!
Medium volume, medium intensity day. Opted for barbell bent presses over kettlebell bent presses just for a little specialized variety. Enjoy!