I chose to do this program, as discussed in the first post, for a few reasons. My shoulder is not up to putting weight overhead. I wanted to increase my work capacity. I wanted to see what effect squatting often would have on my BS 1RM as well as my overall performance. I wanted to see what body composition changes would take place and what over all performance increases would be achieved by swinging a KB 10,000 times.
I’m breaking the AAR into 3 parts as I found it extremely difficult to encapsulate, in a brief AAR, everything I learned from completing this program. The size and scope of my learning far exceeded what I expected. Part I will be the official results and what I feel were the benefits of this program. Part II will cover what I feel are its negative aspects. Part III will comprise of my training plan going forward.
One quick caveat up front: 100% of my conclusions and findings are based on anecdotal evidence, only, and not on empirical data. There was nothing scientific regarding the manner in which I executed the program or tracked my results. Then again the majority of training programs out there have been designed and tested anecdotally, only, anyway. Unless one is measuring the onset of blood lactate accumulation, using pH strips, checking glucose meters, or using an electromyograph, it ain’t science.
• I put on lean muscle and lost fat.
• My work capacity sky-rocketed.
• My lumbar spine is now made of steel and is completely bomb proof.
• My ability to “grind” and push out one more heavy rep increased substantially.
• 24kg bells are nice for warm ups. 32kg bells are light. 40-52kg bells are a good swinging weight
• I am mentally stronger.
• My grip strength and endurance improved.
• My KB swing technique improved.
• My upper back/yoke has gotten stronger.
• My squatting technique improved.
• I feel like a raging maniac that cant wait to devour heavy weights. All I want to do is pick heavy things up and put them down – again and again and again.
Body Composition Changes: In 32 days my body weight up 3# to 213# while loosing 1” on my waist. I gained .5” on my thighs, .25” on my forearms, .5” on my neck, .5” in my chest. Let me provide some context to those results before judgments are made. I continued to eat my (5) 5-block meals per day. I found myself hungry all the time; my metabolism was through the roof. I increased my protein intake by at least 1 block per meal. Unfortunately I also turned into a human vacuum and in addition to my 5 meals per day I would inhale anything that was within arm’s reach and even remotely edible. Candy bars, half jars of peanut butter, half a gallon of milk. Shoot, I even snatched some baby food away from the twins. If there was even a remote possibility that I could digest it, it went into the hole in my face. And I still lost an inch from my waist.
Work Capacity skyrocketed: Period.
Prior to starting the program I swung the 52kg bell 100 times in 8:41. 4 days after I completed the program I swung the 52kg bell 102 times in 5:14. That is an improvement of 3:27. You can watch it here. https://vimeo.com/103089869
There is no such thing as a long workout anymore. I just did (20) 33-55 minute extremely intense workouts, in 30 days. My recovery has improved dramatically, it almost seems I can control my breathing at will. When I say extremely intense, allow me to frame that for you:
Workout 1 (the first BS day) I moved 34,500# in 46:15, or 12.5#/sec. Workout 2 (the first FS day) I moved 33,250# in 44:23, or 12.4#/sec.
Workout 19 (my final BS day) I moved the same weight in 37:34, or 15.4#/sec. That’s a 25% increase. Workout 20 (my final FS day) I moved the same as in Workout 2 in 33:26, or 16.5#/sec. That is about a 33% increase.
Workouts 15 and 16 speak to the volume and intensity of this program. In workout 15 I moved 44,750 pounds in 43:17, or 17.09#/sec. In workout 16 I moved 43,190 pounds in 42:40, or 16.9#/sec.
When I say my lumbar spine is bullet proof, I mean it: I don’t know of a better way to describe it. Back in October of 2013, I was at the end of a tough training cycle in preparation for the Fall Brawl. An integral part of my training was doing heavy yoke walks. I worked up to doing a single 25m yoke walk at 720# wearing a heavy lifting belt, and sleeves on my knees. I was able to complete it with 1 set down at the half way point to reset my back. A few days after I completed this program I knocked out, without a belt and on an uneven, pothole filled, gravel driveway (those of you familiar with our parking lot know of what I speak) 3 x 25m walks at 550# and 2 x 25m walks at 600#. A day later and back indoor, I knocked out a 25m walk, without setting it down and with no belt and no sleeves, at 650#. You can watch it here. https://vimeo.com/104513297I I had not trained on the yoke in months. There was no way I would have been able to do that without a belt 45 days ago.
My dead lifts feel fantastic: I know my claims are not specific, nor do I have hard evidence, and in fact my dead lift went down by 15#, but I feel like I’m poised to have a great DL training cycle. My dynamic pulls feel super explosive, and my max effort pulls feel light. I also feel like my lower back, once again, is just totally bomb proof in the DL when I’m pulling. I’m stoked to hit a big PR down the road.
Mentally I am stronger: I wont rehash all 20 workouts. If one chooses to go back and read through the previous blog entries you can see the emotional roller coaster that each workout quickly became. I have always been a survivor and have been able to endure tough workouts. My confidence in my ability to conquer difficult sessions has become even greater, if only because everything else now seems smaller. 5×5 at 80% – Ha! 10 singles at 90% – Roger! 10 x 100m sprints – Yawn. I was swinging heavy bells 500 times and squatting for 30 repetitions. Bring it on, I say
My endurance remained strong: Despite not doing any endurance specific work, 8 days after I concluded my program I knocked rowed a 5k in 19:20.
My kettle bell swing has improved: 24 kg bells have become laughably light. That’s a good thing. This is carrying over to my other kettle bell movements, particularly my kettle bell snatch and my quest to be able snatch multiple reps with double 32’s.
My Shoulder: My shoulder is no healthier than it was prior to starting the program. That being said, I did zero pressing during this program, and have not been able to do any overhead work since the Pan American’s in June. Despite those challenges I’m still able to Strict Press the 32kg bell. I credit the limited overhead strength that remains to the increased strength and stability I gained in my thoracic and lumbar regions. Doing those 500 swings each workout was like a giant Time Under Tension drill for my traps, rhomboids, associated upper back musculature, and of course my lumbar spine developed in a major way. Combined it translated into a more effective drive in the strict press.
Back Squat technique improved: While I was not able to retest my BS 1RM at the conclusion of this program, my technique has improved. If you recall I tweaked my hip on Workout 17. It is not 100% at the time of this writing. I feel strong as hell up to a point, around 90%, or 375#. Any more weight than that and I feel I have to get a little too dynamic to make the lift and I still don’t trust my IT band. A few months shy of breathing for 43 years, I have finally learned to give myself time to heal. That being said, I feel as though my ability to use everything the good Lord gave me, both the anterior and posterior chain, has improved greatly. The proof will be in the pudding a few months down the road.
I crave devouring heavy weights and intense metcons: A major effect of this program has been how reinvigorated I am about training. Don’t get me wrong. I love to hit it hard and PT. My enthusiasm does ebb and flow, however. Concluding this program left me in a great spot. I feel super strong and fit and poised for some big gains. That alone is reason enough for me to be satisfied with it.
Part II of the AAR will cover the cons of this program.