Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Kettlebell Strong! Foundation: Weeks 2 and 3

In Week 2, I started setting up for Double Front Squat with my feet a little closer together. I had no particular reason, other than curiosity about whether my squat depth would change compared to having the feet wider apart. I had the feet more wide apart because I wanted to make sure I could swing the kettlebells between my legs for double cleans without hitting my knees. So far, the squat depth seems to be about the same, as long as I continue to include the prying goblet squat in my warmup and follow certain cues detailed in the Kettlebell Strong! videos and manual.

By the end of Week 3 I decided to set my feet wider apart again for the front squat, because if all goes well, I will eventually be training with double 24kg kettlebells, and my pair occupies more space than my pair of 16kg KBs.

I continue to struggle with the Half Pancake stretch, which is sometimes recommended as a cooldown after kettlebell training. Here's a recentHalf-Pancake Stretch post by GMB.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Kettlebell Strong! Foundation: Week 1

During this first week of training, I explored some options for a warmup routine. One option is this simple GMB warmup. Another is not warming up at all, which didn't work out that well on the Wednesday session, because I was not able to squat to a decent depth in the double kettlebell front squat.

Thankfully, I just regained the ability to do the Kettlebell Halo without any pain in the shoulder. So for the Friday session, I did 5 reps of the KB Halo per side, then the Prying Goblet Squat with the feet at the same width that I do the double KB front squat.

Mark Wildman is a proponent of KB squatting movement with feet parallel to each other and toes pointing ahead. I find this foot positioning to be most comfortable for my knees. I don't have to put so much effort into preventing the knees from collapsing inwards. My low back feels fine as well.
On my off days, I've been doing sessions of GMB Mobility. My highest priority mobility need is to be able to lock out both arms overhead at the top of the double kettlebell press. However there is actually another factor holding me back from this ideal position, and that is the health of my shoulder. It continues to heal from last year's injury and feel better with each passing week but it's still not feeling good enough for that full lockout position. Improving mobility for this position is not just about working on shoulder mobility but also mobility of related areas, so GMB Mobility's rotation from one area of emphasis - eg. hips - to another - eg. spine - from session to session should be useful to me.

I saw a simple GMB Leg Finisher routine that looks like it might be useful but I'm not sure when I'll try it. Kettlebell Strong! Foundation works my legs enough with the double front squat and the double clean. I don't think I need to risk compromising strength gains from Foundation by adding the leg finisher to my workouts. My next planned training block is Easy Muscle Schedule A, which would raise my training volume significantly. I may try the leg finisher the next time I do a bodyweight-focused hypertrophy block.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Unlocked the Heavy Club Shield Cast and Kettlebell Halo - progress in Shoulder Recovery

My particular shoulder injury did not allow me to do the Kettlebell Halo without pain. Mark Wildman pointed out that the KB Halo is similar to a Heavy Club Shield Cast. So I tried a Shield Cast, and sure enough I had the same problem.

So I tried the Single Arm Pullover with my 15lb club and my shoulder felt fine. So I've been doing this move for a few week snow. I have to say I really love Wildman's explanation of why he wants you to count your reps aloud in a confident voice. One of his reasons is saying stuff aloud helps you learn faster. Another reason, which really moved me, is some deconditioned/overweight individuals have a meek voice because of how they have been treated in life (bullying), so counting the reps aloud helps those individuals with their confidence.

Today I was finally able to do a Shield Cast without pain. I then tried the KB Halo and that too felt painless. Now I can do KB Halos as part of my warmup for KB training, and thus facilitate my shoulder recovery even more. Very satifying signs of progress in my shoulder recovery.

Isochain 6x6: Week 8 - End of Training Block and Planning for Next Block

This was the final week of the planned 8-week 6x6 training block on the Isochain. My main hope for this week was continued healing of my right shoulder, as well as restoration of pain-free range of motion.

I did not achieve force numbers as high as my tested 1-rep max scores, but my performance trended up towards those levels.

My strength gains for this training block, based on comparison of the first 1-rep max test, and the 4th and final 1-rep max test results:

Zercher Squat - thighs just above parallel - 106% gain
Shoulder Press - middle position - 17.4% gain
Seated Row - elbows in front of torso - 5.75% gain

The Zercher Squat gains were inflated by allowing my elbows to rest on my thighs, thus shifting more load from my arms to my legs. I wasn't sure at first if I should allow myself to do this, but then I concluded that I'm practicing this exercise to strengthen my lower body, so it's ok if my force number goes up because the upper body is doing even less work.

The Shoulder Press gains are probably from just sticking to the same body positioning and cues for the entire training block. In past 6x6 and Promethean training blocks, I experimented with bending my knees to various degreess vs. kneecaps pulled up/locked out legs, feet closer vs further apart, etc.

For my next training block, I was leaning towards doing Easy Muscle on Schedule A, which is the Clean and Press only schedule. I was thinking that I had gained enough strength from 6x6 to do Schedule A with double 16kg kettlebells. Easy Muscle would stimulate muscle growth (hypertrophy), which would help maintain blood pressure at healthy levels, as well as give the CNS (Central Nervous System) more muscle to work with the next time I do a 6x6 training block... which would in theory allow me to progress in strength towards being able to press double 24kg kettlebells... which would lead to being able to do Easy Muscle with those double 24kg KBs... leading to more muscle.. etc.

Geoff Neupert had a promo going for his Kettlebell STRONG! double-kettlebell training manual. Purchase of Kettlebell STRONG! would with bonus training programs, if purchased during a promo period. One of the bonus training programs is a Foundation Program.

The Foundational Program is 6 weeks long. It's a program built on the practice of three double-kettlebell exercises - the Double Clean, the Double Press, and the Double Front Squat. After watching the Kettlebell STRONG! instructional videos, I realized that I should practice the Double Clean and Double Press separately, before practicing the Double Clean and Press. I was also sold on practicing the Double Front Squat.

Thus it make sense to work choose The Foundation Program for my next training block. After completing this 6-week program, I should be better prepared to take on Easy Muscle, Schedule A, which starts off which quite a bit higher training volume compared to Foundation Program.