Monday, December 31, 2007


Pull-up ladders:
2x (1,2,3,4,5)



7 on each side in 10 minutes


1-1-1-1-1 (Each rep L and R)
all with 24kg KB


KB swings: 2 minutes mixing between double KB swings and one arm swings

In the evening I practiced snatches with the 24kg. I did 5L/5R every 4 minutes for a total of about 30-40 on each arm (I lost track at some point)

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Pull-up ladders:
5x (1,2,3,4)

*was supposed to be 340, but somehow I left off one of the 10# plates without even noticing until I saw it sitting on the weight tree. 340 is all my plates, so when I saw one not on the bar I knew I screwed up.

First day doing these with hands elevated on cinder blocks. It adds 8" to the ROM, so they are now significantly harder, which I hope bodes well for my next pressing test.

The fun part:
One minute rounds alternating between sledge hammer strikes and 63# farmer carries. I "invented" a devious way to make the farmer carries ridiculously hard. I looped a hand towel through the handle of a kettlebell, then threaded the ends of the towel through a 10# plate. The towel is the grip, and it is much harder than the typical dumbbell handle I've been using. I did a total of four rounds, and four minutes of these carries alternated with four minutes of sledgehammer strikes was more than enough to smoke my grip.

Friday, December 28, 2007




Power cleans:
on the minute, 199 for all

Crush grip device:
2x45# plates, this was very hard

Incline bench:

Don't know why I decided to do these. I had some extra gym time and couldn't think of anything good to do. Next time if I wind up with extra time I will do TGUs.

As a second workout, I did the following-

Pull-up ladders:
4x (1,2,3,4,5)
goal is to generate enough force so that my mid chest touches the bar with each rep. I can always do the 2nd rung of each ladder, but after that it gets uncertain.

21, 15 and 9 rep rounds of:
24kg KB swings L
24kg KB swings R


Thursday, December 27, 2007


So I let Annie post those pictures, and I think she was a little harder on herself than I would have been.



3(1-2-3-4-5) plus a set of 5 for a total of 50

Front squat:

50 swings (24kg)
10 squats
30 swings
30 squats
10 swings
50 squats


And this is off topic, but here is a picture of my nephew Aurelio opening the Red Ryder BB gun I got him for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Annie's "Before" Pictures

Here is pre-baby Annie. Notice the defined collar bones and cheek bones, healthy looking skin, 27-inch waist, and--count 'em--ONE chin!

Here are the post-baby, pre-workout pictures. Yuck! Check out that midsection flab! Expanded waistline! Ever-growing double chin!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Well, I can safely say that this was a pretty great Christmas. Among lots of other loot that was not related to training (I know, what a waste of perfectly good presents, right?) I received my pair of 24kg kettlebells, a dragging harness, a weight tree (now I can clean up the living room!), a gymboss workout timer, a copy of Beyond Bodybuilding by Pavel, and that might be it. It was a lot of gear.
The gymboss is pretty cool. You can set it up to time you on repeating intervals, or you can set two intervals and have them alternate (such as tabatas, or rounds and rest periods if you wanted to do some fight conditioning). Another great thing is that in addition to making noise, you can clip it to your clothes and set it to vibrate. Today I used it for some density KB clean and presses. Nice piece of gear, and not very expensive for what you get.

PTP deads:

Double KB clean and press:
5-5-5-5-5 on the 1:30
used the new 24kg bells

Sledge hammer levers: front and back, bunch of different set and reps

Monday, December 24, 2007



1-1-1-1-1 (L + R = 1 rep)
all with 24kg KB

1-1-1-1-1 (L + R = 1 rep)
all with 24kg KB

Will do fighter pull-ups and kb swings later today.
Edit: Did the fighter pull-ups, but never got to the swings

Pull-ups: 10-8-6-6-4

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Today was my anniversary, so no real serious training. I pulled 265 for 5 singles, did a few sets of pull-ups and messed around on my snatches. Monday I get back to it for real.
The most exciting thing was that my wife had her first PTP session. She did deadlifts at 65# and presses at 13#. We'll look to see her get a lot stronger over the next 12 weeks, and then if she is ready we'll start her on the ETK Program Minimum. She really wants to get back in shape after having a C-section, so she's pretty much an ideal trainee. Very motivated and eager to be coached.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Here you go Colin...

I've been meaning to post these, but just never got around to it.
Broad jump: going to have to scrap this as a test. Good idea, but in practice it was extremely hard to measure. The trick is, if you go all out you will never "stick" the landing, so unless you have someone to measure for you, it makes it hard to get an accurate result.

Deadlift: 403- as we already know, this was a significant PR. Hooray!

Press: 165- slightly disappointing, as this is 10# off my best. I hadn't been doing a ton of pressing, I guess, and I've heard that the shoulders really respond well to volume. I will be starting to do my HSPUs with feet elevated here shortly, so perhaps the added difficulty there will have some carryover to my pressing. If not, too bad, I'm really not willing to do any more pressing, as the main thrust of my training is to improve on the events that are tested in the TSC.

Pull-ups: 13- well, I am ashamed to admit it, but I really didn't go all out on this particular effort. I don't know if I was just sort of drained from the other tests or what, but I just didn't have it in me. Also, pull-ups seem to do best with more volume in the days leading up to the test, so I will do more in my next off week. A big part of these deload weeks is experimentation to see what works best in terms of setting myself up for a strong effort on the test day.

Snatches: I know I said run, but there was still a ton of snow on the track. I thought it would all melt, because the temperature has been well above freezing, but it must just be really shady on the track or something. Anyway, 103 snatches with the 16kg in 5 minutes. Felt kind of pointless, since all future testing will be with 24kg.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Program modifications for next three weeks

As Pavel says, training should be "same but different," so I will make some minor changes to my programming during the next 3 weeks in hopes of keeping the gains coming. The movements and exercise pairings will remain the same, but the set and rep scheme will look a bit different.

- Deads: 3x3
- Fighter pull-ups
- TGU: mixing it up between kettlebell and barbell, various set and rep schemes
- Weighted pistol: singles
- KB snatch and swing

- PTP deads: 2 sets of 5
- Edit: Eliminating clean and jerk in favor of hitting the GPP harder and making the day a little easier. This will hopefully allow me to better focus my training.
- GPP: (Grip work, CrossFit, dragging and carrying, etc.)

- Deads: 5-3-2
- Front squat with chains: 5x5 work up to heaviest
- Press: 7 triples
- Pull-ups: 100 kipping pull-ups
- KB snatch and swing

- PTP deads: 2 sets of 5
- Power clean: singles at 214 on the minute for 10 minutes
- OHS: 5x5 work up to heaviest set
- KB snatch and swing

- Deads: 5 singles starting on Monday with 80% working up to 90% and working up to 3 singles at 90% after the end of 3 weeks
-Sprinting or Pistols
- 50 dead hang pull-ups

Programming must be working...

I pulled 403# in the deadlift just now. That's just a few pounds away from 2.5xbwt. Not too bad for having only gone as high as 295 on my PTP deads. I think 3 things really helped me pull a PR today:

1. I treat every deadlift like it's a max attempt. I use every tension technique I know, dig in with my heels and start pulling like hell. This helps me to be ready for the weight, and even 363 came up extremely smooth and easy today.
2. Squats with chains, weighted pistols and heavy power cleans. To me, these are the exercises that best complement the deadlift. The squats with chains emphasize speed and acceleration while strengthening the muscles of the posterior chain in a non deadlifting specific way. The power cleans work the deadlifting muscles and teach them to contract quickly. I have heard it said, maybe by Louie Simmons, that you can't lift a heavy weight slowly. If this is the case, then power cleans should be a vital part of training the deadlift. Finally, the weighted pistols are unparallelled for teaching tension without tremendously heavy loading. Paraphrasing Dan John, a weight that can be lifted with one limb cannot be considered heavy. However, I challenge anyone to work weighted pistols without some degree of mastery of the principles of tension. Thus, they are a great bang for the buck exercise since they allow me to practice lifting heavy with a light load.
3. Frequent and consistent practice. I deadlift every day that I work out. If I am going to get good at one lift it will likely be the deadlift. I experiment with different set and rep schemes, but the one thing that never changes is that I am working the dead every day.

I am not what I would call gifted in the area of strength, and tons of people out there are doing 403# for multiple reps, but given the relatively short time I have dedicated to my current program (consistent since the beginning of November), I am very happy with these results. I will keep at it and fully expect to post a new PR every 4 weeks for several more cycles of this routine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


3 rds-
5 wall squats
3 windmills L/R
7 pull-ups

TGU: 5 minutes with the 35# KB. Didn't even count reps.


Tomorrow I have my day off and then I test on Friday. I especially hope I deadlift at least 385, but I haven't pulled a really heavy single in so long I have no idea what I'll be capable of.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Warm-up was wall squats, general messing around, drinking tea.

Man makers: 12 minutes alternating swings with jumping rope.

So far the easy week is very easy.

Monday, December 17, 2007


First day of the easy week. For lack of a better plan, I'm doing the Enter the Kettlebell option 1, with 5 minutes of get-ups and 12 minutes of man makers on alternating days. I'm also working in some speed deadlifts on the get-up days, and some pull-ups and push-ups as I feel like it. So far I'm thinking heavier on the pull-ups on the get-up day and more push-ups on the swings day. This week will only be three workouts before the test day, but I will probably do an extra man maker day on Saturday just to shake things out a bit. I will also plan on taking some walks as the opportunity arises, though those may have to wait for nicer weather.

TGU: just the bar for 5 minutes, alternating L/R for singles.
6 singles per arm

So far today I've done 4 sets of 7, I will do several more this evening in the GTG format


Saturday, December 15, 2007

What would you do if you had access to barbells only twice a week?

That is the question that has been constantly on my mind for the past several days. It's almost a year away, but travel season looms ahead, and I don't want to repeat the headaches of this past one. I had to drive up to an hour to get to a gym sometimes, and often I had to pay as much as $11 for the privelege of lifting heavy things off the floor and putting them overhead. With that in mind, I have been thinking of ways to train in the hotel room, and I have also been going over the different ways to maximize my two days a week with access to barbells. Obviously I need to pick the exercises that give me the best training effect without replicating movement patterns that I can do without a barbell. For this reason, overhead pressing is out, because HSPUs are an extremely effective way to improve overhead strength. Right now I am thinking of a workout I used to do once a week or so that had me working power cleans and deadlifts on the same day. I would do 5x5 power cleans, increasing the weight each set, then add still more weight and do the same with deadlifts. I would like to start these days off with overhead squats. It would be high volume training, but as the rest of the week would be devoted to bodyweight, kettlebell and dumbbell single limb stuff, etc, I think it is within reason. If I remember right, the routine outlined in Starting Strength (I'm too lazy to run upstairs and look at my copy to be sure, I must be turning into a powerlifter) has trainees working power cleans and deads after heavy back squats, so it's certainly doable. If this is my Friday workout, then perhaps the Saturday workout would consist of weighted pull-ups and squats with chains or box squats.

The rest of the days would be devoted to skill practice, KB work, and bodyweight drills. I will bring my 53# KBs on the road, as well as my rings, and any day I can hang the rings I will do so for some muscle-ups.

So, the program might look like this:

-Planche practice
-Pistols- work up to a single with 106#
-KB snatches and swings

-Short bending
-Planch practice
-One arm push-ups
-KB clean and press

-Planche practice
-Pistols or sprinting

-Fighter pull-ups
-Power clean

-Squat with chains or box squat
-Weighted pull-ups

Obviously this is not an ideal program, and I might have some ideas to improve it over the next several months, but it is a start, and I think it will help me make the most of the circumstances. I will keep posting about this as my ideas evolve.


Last day of the three weeks today. Now we move to the easy week and a test day. I think I'll test on Friday this week, as Saturday happens to be my one year wedding anniversary. The test will be:
Standing broad jump
Max overhead press
Max deadlift
Max deadhang pull-ups
1200m run

Today's workout was an ok one. I still owe myself a few more pull-ups here. For the GPP portion I had intended to walk a few blocks, buy a Christmas tree and drag it home instead of the usual farmer carries, sledgehammer strikes or whatever else I would have done. Unfortunately the place where I've bought a tree for the past ten years or something no longer is having them, so all I got was the nice walk. No worries though, because we're expecting up to 16" of snow by tomorrow, so I will get some good snow shoveling in.

PTP deads:

These felt awesome. I had really good intensity, and the weight came up really smooth.

I did a set every minute for 21 minutes. For the first 6 minutes I was doing sets of 5, but soon realized that was a little too ambitious and scaled back to 3. Ended up with 75 total reps, all nose to deck and solid.

5-4-3-2-1 L/R
This was actually my first time to do 5 consecutive pistols per leg. I can't really call it a PR, because I've never attempted anything more than a double, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Did about 50 pull-ups. Wanted to do more, but obviously not bad enough to actually do them...

Friday, December 14, 2007

A new friend!

Had a nice 45 minute chat with the assistant wrestling coach at Wabash today. He's into a lot of the same stuff as me, and we spent a long time talking about training, various websites, my goal of competing in the TSC in April, his goal of getting his CrossFit level 1 certification this spring, etc. He's a cool guy to talk to, so I will stop back by when I get the chance. I would like to get permission to use the wrestling room for some workouts since they have rings, a tractor tire, climbing ropes and other amazing goodies.
He and I talked about the possiblity of training together sometime. Maybe he could come by the house some Saturday and we could push each other a bit. Could be pretty fun.


Wow. If you want to get made fun of at work just wear a Veggie Tales tie.
As to the day's training, it was pretty good, though it's been better, especially the power cleans.

Fighter pull-ups:

PTP deads:

Power cleans:
The sets at 199 felt harder than last week. I got them up, but they could have been crisper. Next three weeks I may have to change to 10 singles at 215 or so. I'm thinking singles on the minute.

OHS: (each set begins with a full squat snatch)

Session 2:
Warmup of various drills, halos, wall squats, etc.
20 snatches (10L/10R) density style, countdown of 1:30
total 5 cycles (100 snatches)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


PTP deads:

Back squat w/chains

Presses: (One power clean to start each set)

Weighted pull-ups:

Sure enough, it's week 3 of 3 and weights that felt tough in the first session are easy now. The presses were no problem today, and the pull-ups were almost all TSC strict, save the final rep.

KB snatches:
2 sets of 20L/R

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Today was at best an average day in the weight room. Never really felt like I got going, couldn't summon up much enthusiasm for my deadlifts, and didn't even get much out of the carrying I did at the end. When deads and carrying don't go well that's bad news, because those are usually some of my favorite things along with power cleans and overhead squats.

PTP deads:


Pull-ups: with 25#

Waiter walk + farmer carry combo:
Waiter walk L/R, farmer carry for perimeter of weight room
55# dbs for waiter walk, 80# for farmer carry

Monday, December 10, 2007


Good day today. I pulled maybe a little too heavy on my deads, but nobody got hurt, so I will just back off the weight tomorrow and take it from there, no harm done.

Fighter pull-up program:

PTP deads:

65-65-65-65-65 (obviously this is 5 reps on each side)

Weighted pistols:
35-35-35-35-35 (5 reps on each leg, holding the 1 pood KB. I will be a real man when I can do a rep holding my pair of 53s.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I am running out of plates for my weight set here at home. I have 295 pounds of plates, which means the heaviest I can go is 340. My max deadlift should be above that, so if I plan to test on the 22nd, I will need to pick up another pair of 45s. That would bring the total to 430, which would be a miracle at this point, but which is actually below my next major goal of 500 in the dead. I would really like to pull 500 at a TSC in the next year or two, depending when I can make it to one. Anyway, about my workout.

PTP deads:


I did a weird version of the big 55 program.
10 pistols (5L/5R)
10 Pull-ups
9 Pull-ups
10 pistols
5 Pull-ups
1 Pull-up
10 Pistols

I really like doing these workouts that allow me to put in a lot of quality reps at an exercise but still keep the reps well within my ability. Seems to me to be a good way to build up to doing more and more.

KB swings: 6 minutes
5-4-3-2-1 swings (all reps done on both sides)
10 squat flip cleans
5-4-3-2-1 swings
10 figure 8 to hold
5-4-3-2-1 swings
10 squat flip cleans
5-2 (left hand only on the set of two)

102 swings plus the other stuff

Good day. I like having Saturday as my bodyweight day, since by the end of the week I've done so much barbell work. I like being back to the 5-5 deads, and I like skipping the front squats on Saturdays. I am looking forward to some dry weather (the sidewalks were pretty icy today) so I can implement the running.

Tweaking the Program/ New Kettlebells

My new kettlebells arrived today! I don't officially get to start working with them until Christmas Eve, but I did try them out just to be sure they aren't defective. I tested snatches to a comfortable stop and came up with 12L/12R. That is a long way from the RKC standard of 26 per arm, assuming I stay under 165. If I move up to the 176# class I will need 28 per arm. Not a huge difference, actually, so if I move up it's no big deal. I also tried a couple of two arm snatches, and a couple of two arm C&Ps. These are going to be a lot of fun.

In other news, I have begun messing with the Become a Beast program. Ultimately the goals of the program are to be strong as hell and be conditioned enough for the TSC, either this Spring or perhaps in the Fall. I would prefer not to wait until next spring, but Milwaukee is a bit of a hike. The main changes to the program are the addition of an organized pull-up program, changing up the conditioning a bit, backing off the 5-4-3-2-1 set and rep scheme for deads and moving back to 5-5, and dropping the PTP presses. I am also dropping the front squats from the mix on Saturdays in favor of sprinting or pistols if the weather is bad. The new program will look like this:

Monday: Medium
-Fighter pull-up program
-PTP deads
-KB snatches and swings (Medium)(following the program outlined in this article)

Tuesday: Light
-Pull-ups (3 sets of 10, a few sets weighted at 25#, or something)
-PTP deads
-Farmer carries, waiter walks, sled dragging, whatever

Wednesday: Heavy
-PTP deads
-Squats with chains, alternating between back squat and front squat in 3 week cycles
-Weighted pull-ups
-KB snatches and swings (Hard)

Friday: Heavy
-Fighter pull-up program
-PTP deads
-Snatch or power snatch + OHS
-Power cleans
-KB snatches and swings (Easy)

Saturday: Medium
-PTP deads
-Pistols or sprinting, depending on weather
-Some kind of push, drag or carry

Friday, December 7, 2007


Fighter Pull-up Program: 12-8-6-4-4
Still figuring this one out. Tomorrow I will do some pull-ups and next week I will start the program with 10-8-6-4-2 and work up from there. Starting at 12 just isn't happening for some reason.



Snatch drills w/ 89#, worked on split snatches a little bit.

OHS: (Each set preceded by a power snatch)

Power clean:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Session 1: 0615
PTP deads:

Back squat w/ chains:

Weighted pull-ups/Press: (one power clean precedes each set of two presses)

Lately I feel I am treading a fine line between going hard in my training and being stupid. I am glad for the day off tomorrow, and after this three week cycle is over I will reevaluate my training plan. I am thinking I should combine my snatch and OHS workout, leaving C&J on its own day, and I will definitely scrap the 5-4-3-2-1 set and rep scheme with the deads and go back to 5-5.

Session 2: 2015
Short warm-up of calisthenics and kettlebell drills

7 minutes of swings:
10L/10R/10B (Left, Right, Both)

Total: 52L+52R+106B= 180

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Session 1: 0600
89# for 5 singles, 3 complexes of snatch, hang snatch and OHS


PTP deads:

Session 2: 1215
Pull-ups: still figuring out how best to integrate fighter pull-up program- didn't complete it today, so I think I will take a rest and do it to start my workout on Friday.

C&J: 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1

Farmer carry/ overhead carry combo:
Start in one corner with a pair of 50# dbs, overhead carry to next corner, put them down and walk back to starting point for 80# dbs, farmer carry to point where the 50's were left, now carry the 50's to the next corner, go back for the 80's, etc until a complete square around the whole weight room has been completed with both sets of dbs.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Session 1: 0445
Fighter pull-up program: 12-10-8-6-4

PTP presses: 5-4-3-2-1

Deads: 5-4-3-2-1

Kb Snatches: dice roll came up snake eyes! 2 minutes snatches switch on one minute

Session 2: 1215
Windmills: 45# bar 3 per side

85# L- fail R- got up but not back down
75# L- got up but not down R- complete, but ugly
65# 1-1-1-1-1 L/R

1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 L/R w/ bodyweight only

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Today's workout called for front squats and headstand push-ups. I absolutely couldn't face the idea of going heavy on the front squats, so I did Dan John's Big 55 workout. I used 135# front squat, HSPUs and pull-ups in the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 set and rep scheme. This is a good format for the bodyweight stuff, but it was actually fairly easy. If I do it again I should at least do bodyweight on the front squats. I may use this format with my pistols on Monday though, because the HSPUs felt just right, and HSPUs and pistols could both handle a lot more volume. We'll see, I may still decide to do the pistols weighted. When I get my new kettlebells I will definitely be knocking out some weighted pistols...

PTP deads:

Big 55 as above

As a second workout I set the timer and did as many circuits as I could in 8 minutes of-
10 swings L/10 swings R
15 squat flip cleans
20 figure 8 to hold

Got 2 full rounds plus swings and 10 squat flip cleans into 3rd round

(Obviously) the kb stuff is still with the 16kg, but when I get my pair of 24kg bells I guess I will have to be better about being specific.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I ordered a pair of 24kg kettlebells last night as a Christmas present to myself. The 24kg was the standard issue size in Soviet military gyms, or "courage corners." I can now train like a man among men, doing weighted pistols, two handed snatches, swings and c&j for my conditioning, and just generally have a lot of fun. Can't wait!