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  1. #1
    Taking Cattle is offline Senior Member
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    Default my KB experiment inspired by Tracy and Dan John

    I was recovering from a pretty major shoulder injury early in the year was only doing swings. I first picked up a KB years ago and was taught the squat-oriented swing that RKCs were teaching years ago (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h1QcHTkwdI).

    At around the time of my injury I was fortunate to get my hands on a DVD Dan John put out which focused on the TGU and the swing: I was blown away by how Dan was teaching the swing. I memorized this sequence: plank -> flex lats hard -> throw weight at crotch. I immediately and humbly put down the heavy bells and grabbed my 53lbs bell doing sets of 10 two-handed swings for a solid month.

    Then I started following along with Tracy's beginner swing workouts on her web page (it's invaluable) and, for the first time ever, high rep swings did what they were supposed to: I was burning fat like a madman. I wasn't losing fat, because I now was only doing swings a few times a week but was still eating as though I was training martial arts hard and working out hard. I was eating like a madman and I never gained a pound. And I mean a very piggish madman: pizza, ice cream, thai food, carribean food, etc, etc.

    I graduated to Tracy's medium and then advanced workout concentrating as hard as possible as keeping Dan John's crisp plank -> lat -> crotch movement. Sometimes I faded in mid-set, but would always correct and keep going while trying to maximize muscle tension (especially in the lats -- that lat flex is easy to discard when things get difficult).

    My forearms grew, veins stood out, my lats grew and I left large ponds of sweat on the floor of my bedroom as my conditioning began to deliver all the KB marketing promises.

    I've decided that what I was experiencing was the "magic of fast tens" Pavel wrote about all those years ago.

    So now I'm trying to see how else I can create that magic.

    I started doing clean and jerks with double 53lbs KBs, but not as per ETK technique. I'm not taming the angle at all to get the clean: what I'm doing is, at the moment of the "snap to plank", I'm also contracting my upper back as hard as possible. This automatically tames the arc because my elbows are being pulled up and back and by the time I'm vertical the bells are right there for me to catch in the rack. (Sometimes when my traps are fatiguing I stop pulling at the plank and pull when the bells are passing beneath me. I would like to minimize this, but for now it's acceptable because I'm still growing stronger.)

    Also, to maximize the stress on my lateral delts and minimize stress on my front delts (which are waaaaay out of proportion, dangerously so), I use nothing but leg strength to get the bells up -- a pure jerk. I don't press at all, but concentrate on flexing the lateral delts maximally at the top. I don't drop the bell down as is typical in a jerk, but try to do strictly controlled negative presses while pulling with the lat. This pretty much fries the shoulders and ensures that it's all leg power putting it up as the numbers mount.

    I started with 20 sets of five in the double KB C&J, but not as a workout, interspersed between flexibility exercises: I would do 100 reps over the course of an hour (or two). When I started this workout I would falter as I forced out the last several sets of five -- sometimes I didn't make it and the bell wouldn't even lock out.

    As my strength grew this workout felt less and less effective until one day last month I really didn't feel like I had accomplished anything that morning and picked up the bells again that night. I turned on an episode of South Park (22 minutes) and tried to see how many reps I could do: 70 reps in 22 minutes. That was about how many quality reps I could do in sets of 5 spread out over hours when I first started these high-tension, high-set, low rep C&J routines.

    I switched to an EDT format (one 20 minute zone) and kept building the reps in the C&J, but recently decided I needed to make things harder again. So I switched to double 53lbs high pulls (again, not taming the arc -- simply maximally contracting the upper back) because the upper back would have to work harder to get the bell higher.

    (I should say, the reason I'm pursuing this movement is that this feels like that mythical "money exercise" people say will give me 80% of my growth. I feel it throughout my lats, my traps, my rear delts -- areas which have always responded poorly to everything I've tried.)

    In the past few weeks I've been doing an EDT workout: double 53lbs KB high pulls for 20 minutes followed by double 53lbs KB C&J for 15 minutes. Yeah, they're largely the same exercises, but I want the same results I saw from doing 600 swings per 20 minute workout while flexing my problem areas really hard.

    I then worked up to 133 high pulls in 20 mins and 70 C&J in 15 mins. In my last workout I made a conscious effort to clean up my form from 80% perfect to 100% perfect. I don't know how successful I was, but I did my best to make sure my upper back was doing as much work as possible every single rep. With this new, super-strict form I dropped to 123 high pulls in 20 mins and 60 C&J in 15 mins.

    The results so far:

    -conditioning continuing to increase (I'm back at martial arts and the results are tangible)

    -mildly bigger arms (biceps get hit hard, but its strange how even the triceps feel worked the next day)

    -a rapidly expanding upper back, mid back, "wingspan" and rear and lateral delts... areas which have always been my problem areas and which have ALWAYS lagged behind my chest and front delts (even though I don't bench press) and sometimes creating dangerous imbalances which I think are responsible for the injury which caused me to return to swings in the first place

    -an excitement to train which I haven't felt in nearly a decade as the areas which have always frustrated me are starting to disappear


    I know this was long, but I just wanted to share my excitement and create a thread I can update you all on as I progress. Tracy made a huge commitment to the swing, changed her life, and contributed greatly to the training modalities of the swing. I'm going to try my best to emulate her commitment to high reps and see what happens to my body with this plank + trap shrug + crotch movement.
    Last edited by Taking Cattle; 07-17-2012 at 03:37 PM.

  2. #2
    MilkManX is offline Member
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    Default

    That is awesome. I am going to remember those tips too. Good stuff.

  3. #3
    Eric Addis is offline Junior Member
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    -an excitement to train which I haven't felt in nearly a decade
    I enjoyed reading your post, even though it was long, because it was well thought out and I could follow what you were describing. But the above quote really stood out, because so many people forget this 'little' important factor to training.
    HKC

  4. #4
    md corral is offline Senior Member
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    Very cool stuff Taking Cattle! I'm a detail person, and love the specific movement/ muscle details you carefully explain.

    What type of shoulder surgery did you have?

    I just got Tracy Rif's book on The Swing. I love it. And especially the parts about "opening up" the front of the body with the swing movement. Which is opposite to what most of us office workers do hunched over the computer. It sounds to me like you are also intensely working the important back and other muscles that contribute to your opening up the front of your body.

    ps- I love Dan John's work too and was fortunate to be able to hang out with him a little when he lived in CA.

  5. #5
    CWheeler is offline Senior Member
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    Do you have the links for the programs you followed?

  6. #6
    Taking Cattle is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWheeler View Post
    Do you have the links for the programs you followed?
    http://tracyrif.blogspot.ca/

    This is Tracy's blog and she frequently posts swing and snatch workout videos from her classes. Grab a bell, play the video and follow along. This is one of the best KB resources out there, in my opinion.

  7. #7
    bencrush is offline Senior Member
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    Taking Cattle, that was a great detailed post! Glad you shared your experience.

  8. #8
    PookDo is offline Senior Member
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    where can I find Tracy's beginner swing workout? do you have a link?

  9. #9
    Peaceful John is offline Member
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    Dan John teaching the "planked" swing . . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVEReOq5Jgs
    Last edited by Peaceful John; 08-05-2012 at 07:43 AM.

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