Monday, December 14, 2009

Battling Confusion with Concision - World Kettlebell News

This is my first article at the new World Kettlebell Club News site. There will be more articles in the near future from myself and other editors that delve into more technical details of the lifts.

Battling Confusion with Concision - World Kettlebell News


Monday, July 20, 2009

From the AKC Blog

I don't have much time these days to write everywhere. So, I'm crossposting for my very few friends/readers that may not see the AKC Blog.

My post on Intent.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Congrats To David Elkins

I've known David for a while. I'm not sure where we officially met. But, we reconnected at the Arnold Classic in Columbus back in March. David asked me if I would coach him. I have been coaching a couple of people online, so I took David up on his offer.

I might mention David is 63 years old. At the Arnold, he used the 16s and put up impressive numbers in the biathlon (191 Snatches and 106 Jerks). However, after reviewing his videos it was clear that he needed some technical work. Initially, we stuck with the 16s because we thought that is what he would use for his competitions the remainder of the year. However, when we saw the new rankings and qualification requirements for Chicago, we decided that we should go ahead and set heavier goals instead of faster goals with the lighter weights.

David is very strong. I always felt like the 16s looked light. I also think he was training at paces that would have led to burn out long term. We decided that we wanted him to move towards competing with the 24s in Chicago. So, the first step toward that was to get him to the Level 2 with the 20s.

David hit level2 numbers in training (with video) a few times. I told him to hold off on video submission because I wanted him to do this level in front of an audience at the recent Atlanta meet, and it turned out that he got to do it in front of Valery.

David not only achieved the Level 2 numbers (he is also considerably lighter than he was in Columbus), but he won best lifter for the meet. He did 90 Jerks and 70L/90R Snatches. Not too long after the completion of the meet, I received an email from Eric Liford telling me that David did extremely well at the competiton. Eric went on to say how good David looked technically. I was quite proud.

Now, David is well positioned to hit level 1 numbers in Chicago and make a great showing with the 24kg bells.

I've coached David. I've written workouts for him on a weekly basis since late March. Since there are challenges with online coaching, we've had our ups and downs. But, David has put consistent time in under the bells and worked very hard. He's taken my technical advices to heart and really worked to improve. He's a great example of what a little coaching and a lot of hard work can do. Congrats David!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Good Reps Vs. Bad Reps

After some discussion with my good friend Steven Khuong from the Ice Chamber, we decided that I would shoot some informal educational videos for lifters on good reps and bad reps. This is not a judges video: It is merely provided to help those who are unsure about the reps. Even if you received counts for reps at the Arnold Classic, there is no guarantee you would receive counts for the same reps in future meets.

My advice to you if you train alone is to get a video camera and watch your sets. I do this nearly every practice because I'm certainly not above a bad rep and I like to make sure I'm not developing bad habits as I go. This is really one of the few things we can do when we train alone.

The first Video is the Jerk. It is also the most extensive out of the series. It is a little long since I was a little verbose. I hope folks find it helpful. Steven was kind enough to spend time editing adding the text to the video to make it a bit more user friendly. I apologize for the video quality.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Patience And Lynn Hill

I've always been fascinated with Rock Climbing mainly from just watching videos and looking at scenic pictures in outdoor or climbing magazines. For some time, I've been fascinated with Lynn Hill. She is arguably one of the best climbers that has ever lived (Male or Female). After seeing a TV show where she lead a small team of women up a 2000ft wall in Madagascar, I became even more fascinated. I was extremely pleased when her biography Climbing Free was published 5 or 6 years ago. Lynn is only 5'1 and she's got hands that are smaller than mine (Her actual hand size is on the back of the book)

While perusing youtube, I came across her discussion on Patience. While the content of the discussion in the video is extremely specific to climbing, the points regarding patience could be applicable to any athletic my case Kettlebell Sport.

Initially, patience is one of those things many of us lack as lifters. We're too focused with winning or getting a rank initially to take the time to really learn the movement in the lifts. If we do learn it is often by accident and then our results are somewhat inconsistent.

Sometimes we are too focused on studying the nuances of others looking for some silver bullet to make our lives easier when what we really need is patience: Patience to perform the thousands of reps that are needed to really build the foundation for the lifts. There is nothing wrong with studying the elites or others and I've done plenty of studying, but you have to keep things in perspective. The basics are typically the basics. Nuances you notice in the techniques of others are result of someone playing to the strength of their bodytype and are not likely going to add 50 reps to your snatch when you jump to adopt them. Yes, I know I've blogged on basics and other stuff that is similar to this, but patience is needed by many of us to really learn to focus on the basics.

Now, I'm not going to compare the techniques of KB Lifting to something as death defying as Rock Climbing, but I will suggest that patience as Lynn describes it in some parts of the video is entirely applicable to our development as lifters. There is a good progression system in the rankings, but it seems that many of us want to rush through them..I know I was guilty of that.

We don't always have the patience to work for a duration and slow our pace so that we may analyze our own movements. Where is our weight distributed? At lockout, is the bell where it should be? When I drop the bell out of the stop the snatch, do I drop it and let it pull me down or do a move with it? Patience helps create that mindfulness and it is really needed since few of us have a coach standing in front of us yelling at us when we are screwing up.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Stick the Lockout

This is an article I wrote for the AKC blog.

Stick the Lockout

This article was motivated by some poor lockouts and no-count reps that I witnessed at the Arnold Classic KB Comp. It is meant to be educational so that lifters who are interested in competing in Chicago work towards improving their reps and lockouts.


Friday, April 10, 2009

WKC Fitness Trainer Course at the Ice Chamber

If you live in California near San Francisco, or will be visiting, and are interested in learning how to lift KBs from 2 Great KB Instructors, this certification is for you.

Details Here:

Ice Chamber World Kettlebell Club Fitness Trainer Course


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Couldn't have said it better

And probably couldn't have said it this well.

I really enjoyed this post by Boris Bachman.

Second Noble Truth

I was actually discussing something similar with a friend the other night.

He eloquently states what I have known for a little while, and I really enjoyed this post and his perspective. His blog has been a great source of information for some time, please check it out!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To my fellow KB Lifters.....

On the AKC Forum, Chris Rice paid me one of the best compliments I’ve ever received in regards to my set at the Arnold KB Competition…He said “I got to watch Cate Imes – beautiful economy of motion – she never makes a move that doesn’t advance the KB to where she wants it. I wonder how many reps one has to do to get to that point?”

I love that compliment because in my mind it acknowledges the hard work I’ve put into getting decent at the lifts over the last few years (I assume in this case he means the snatch). It also confirms the mark I would like to leave on this sport in terms of technique and what I would like others to see in me as a lifter.

I am always in awe of great athletes regardless of the sport. I’m in awe of raw talent. I’m in awe of the hard work, consistency and the dedication that it takes to reach a certain level. I’m also continually impressed by those who can put aside their egos to learn like many of the lifters at the Arnold Kettlebell Competition are prepared to do. Several years ago, that is exactly what I did. I decided to really dedicate myself by giving up other types of training. I’ve written about that experience in other blogs, so I won’t bore you with a rehash of that experience. But, for anyone who hasn’t read, that is one of the things I personally had to do to reach my current level of proficiency. A better athlete with more raw talent may not need to go to such extremes, but I did.

What fuels your sets in training and competition? Is it a drive to win to rank? There is nothing wrong with these things and we all start there. For me to reach a higher level, my goals had to shift somewhat. I had to stop focusing only on numbers. When I focused on them and only them, my progress stalled. I struggled and let my technique slide. What I learned in training or not training specifically for the Arnold classic is that not focusing on numbers for awhile or even just a meet can have very good benefits. I know my coach Valery Fedorenko has said something similar to me and others many times. But, we don't always hear it right away.

I told folks I wouldn’t set PRs at this meet. I didn’t. But, I didn’t do a single 10 min Jerk set in training with a 16kg since Vegas in May 2008. I also did very few snatch sets with a fast pace. Yet, I came into the meet and put up respectable numbers and technically displayed probably my best sets in terms of evenly pacing myself and making every rep look good. Even with less than stellar competition ready conditioning, I was able to put up decent numbers. Why? Because my focus has been on technical improvements and refinements. Those refinements have boosted my confidence in terms what I can do on a given day under less than ideal conditions. There is a big picture; and I’m starting to see it. My ultimate goal is to move the 20kg like I do the 16kg. To do that, I must be near perfect with my technique or as perfect as I can be.

Does this mean that I don’t need to ramp up my conditioning and intensity? Absolutely not. But, in my opinion those things can be at odds with each other if you are trying to use the lifts for conditioning when you lack the skills. If you go too hard or to fast before you have the technique, you run the risk of not ever really learning the technique.

I will use my Finnish friend Kukka Laakso as an example. I started corresponding and doing some online coaching with Kukka sometime in the spring of 2008 in preparation for Hamburg. She was struggling with 16kg snatches, but it was apparent to me that she was plenty strong and plenty fit. In Hamburg, she did 63 reps but was showing a mindful pace. I'm sure she had done more reps than this in practice, but I had advised her to slow down. Later in the summer, she did 89 reps after being sick for a few weeks. On Saturday, she did 157 reps. Did her fitness levels and strength levels double or triple since June? I doubt it. She made huge technical leaps and in fact there were very few suggestions that I could offer her.

I will use the Steven and Maya's Ice Chamber team as an example. At every meet, each lifter is displaying better technique than the previous meet. They may not all be setting PRs everytime, but they are better lifters and they see the big picture.

Liberty Gray and her team are fine examples of folks that are new to this sport but understand that they are going to have to step back and focus on technique if they wish to get better. There is a huge amount of talent on the team and like their Ice Chamber counterparts they will do great things in the future.

In addition to several really good technical displays, I saw the lifters at the Arnold Classic demonstrate some awesome displays of conditioning and guts. Now, the focus needs to shift somewhat to technical improvements. That may mean that you slow down your tempo and that you do more assistance work like the one arm jerk. It doesn’t mean you are going to get deconditioned, because even slowing down is still work and there are other things you can do for your conditioning like running or rowing if you feel you need more.

I realize that these ideas are not revolutionary and strength and conditioning coaches have been writing about these things for a very long time in terms of training cycles. But, I felt the need to put it in context of Kettlebell Lifting and the sport in terms of what I witnessed at this weekends awesome Arnold Classic Kettlebell Competition. I also feel like this is timely. Many folks came away from the competition wondering how to improve for the next meet. My advice to several of them is to slow down and focus on technique. I think conditioning is much easier to build and takes less time than skills and once you solidly develop skills….you own them. Everyone that asked my advice is more than fit. So, now it’s just a matter of stepping back, evaluating technique and taking the necessary steps to improve it. Initially, your numbers in practice may go down, but over the long term, they will climb significantly and your ability to handle heavier bells and longer durations will grow.

Thanks to everyone who made the Arnold KB Competition. The list is long and we all know that this meet would not have been possible without folks like Lorraine, Matt M, Andrew, the AKC (Valery, Eric, Jon, Krystina), the IKFF (Ken and Steve), Ironworks FE, and all of those who volunteered their time to judge. Thanks to all of the competitors. This is probably the biggest KB meet to date in the USA (110 competitors). I think it is a very exciting time for the sport and I hope that my posts and advice helps those of you who are struggling see the big picture so that the sport continues to grow.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snatch Tips from Yours Truly

Maya Garcia from the Ice Chamber Gym asked if I would do a short interview addressing snatch tips. Snatches are a source of frustration especially for those of us who've got smaller hands, wrists, ect.

Here is the Article. KB Snatch Interview at the Ice Chamber Blog

Keep in mind, this assumes that you've been coached and are proficient in gross movements of the snatch technique. Once you get the technique in order, then you need to really build consistency in the training to further refine the technique.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I wrote this blog article for the AKC Blog:

Survival...A Beginner's Guide

It is mainly to serve as a guide for those starting Kettlebell Lifting. Many of us train on our own save the few times a year we may meet with a coach. So, understanding why we recommend certain things and how it pertains to ongoing progress is very critical to keep new lifters from getting overwhelmed and frustrated.

There will be more posts in the future that will hopefully offer more guidance to other lifters based on my experience and things I've been able to pick up from my Coach Valery Fedorenko.