Thank you for joining me here.  It’s a hot summer comin’.

Know it.

That is why i shaved my head. . .

Aerodynamics mean everything.  Appearance, nothing.

That was a lie.  I am concerned with my appearance.  Which is why i began lifting weights initially.  My story has been posted here and on other blogs and forums, so please allow me to truncate my history:

I began hitting the weights in the basement at age 13.

Went to the high school weight room for the first time at age 15.

Joined my first gym at 17.

Enlisted in the Marines at 18.

Discovered Pavel’s kettlebell system at 22.

Met Adam Glass at age 30.

Up until i met Pavel i associated strength with size and muscularity.  I figured that if dude was big and lean, dude was strong as well.  Pavel noted that this was not always the case, and in a nation of  “catty beauty queens” [his exact term for modern bodybuilders], few were “as strong as they looked”.

I admired the model in Pavel’s book beyond bodybuilding, Clark Bartram.  Marine Corps, fitness author and model, and now sci-fi film actor.  He has a great physique and was hanging with Pavel, so he must be strong, too.

I admired Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman, as they were two bodybuilders who Pavel said were strong.  As strong as they looked.

Noticing a theme here?

Well, i ‘abandoned’ all cosmetic training in 2005.

My bad!

This means that i ditched bench pressing, lateral raises, cable rows, calf raises, etc.  Anything that did not move me closer to pressing the next heaviest kettlebell or doing more snatches in ten minutes was jettisoned.

My bad!

6 years later i type this the day after a memorable memorial day, a day after a great post by my friend and coach Adam Glass, and a few months after really, truly, returning to the root of my life as a fitness professional.  Yes, this is my life.

Here is what i learned from Pavel that i will not forget: strength is a skill, acquired through practice.  Even if someone who touches a weight for the very first time is already relatively strong, they are going to have to practice in order to get stronger.  Who guides their practice and what they should do is not for me to say until i meet them and they communicate to me what they desire.

Another thing i will not forget that i learned from Pavel: strength is important.  If you asked me as recently as 18 months ago why strength was important i would have told you that “when the world ends you better be able to deadlift your body weight or else you will be cowering in the corner like a little bitch during the zombie apocalypse wishing that you trained Hardstyle”.

Yes, that is what i would have said.

Now, here is the Adam Glass corollary: Performance goals validate our physiques.

So true.  The understanding i have of this now is that performance goals are one measure of physique validation.  Another could be ‘this guy i train gets a lot of women into bed because he is now confident after gaining 15lbs. of lean mass and dropping 13lbs. of body fat”.  Another measure could be ‘she dropped 29lbs. and her hip does not bother her anymore!’

So, if  ‘strength’ is defined [by me] as the ability to move against resistance, i am going to tell you that when you say someone is strong, i will ask you to enumerate how they are strong, and maybe even how strong they are.

?

If you tell me that a guy is small but strong, i will ask you “How is he strong?”

You: “He can deadlift like a sonofa beach ball”.

Me: “Well, how strong is he?”

And that is what i mean.  Can he deadlift 405 at 155lbs. body weight? Or, if you are talking about a big dude like me, can he perform a one handed chin up on both arms?

How are you strong, and how strong are you?

Can you run 3 miles in 18:00?

Can you take your damaged hand and restore form to it?

Can you stop partying your life away without Narcotics Anonymous?

Can you ask someone for help in your most dire of situations before you lose your mind?

Or can you just bang away some iron and have sex with as many people as you desire?

All of the aforementioned quantities of strength are impressive to me.  So let’s move ahead with the understanding that i am talking about relative strength and the achievement of relative goals.

Or, is someone getting as strong as they can?

Ahhh yes, we have left the Dagobah system and entered Tatooine, where things are bright and clear.

May 2010

Brett Jones and David Whitley trash frankie Faires, Gym Movement, and applied kinesiology practices directly to my face and say that Adam Glass has lost his mind.  They note that ‘not all movement is corrective exercise’ and i input “but they believe it is, if it tests well“.

A collective chuckle ripples across the lunchroom at Dayton’s Bluff rec-center in St. Paul. . .

So i split that meeting, having already known i was going to leave the community, with a clearer idea of why i was leaving that community.  And i was so stoked to have been in that meeting, the one where it was decided that Josh Hanagarne would be banned for life from the Dragon Door forum, because Brett Jones said something that i will never forget.

The exchange went from person to person to me, to David Whitely:

‘. . . and he [Adam] says that he even knows when something will test well’ *

To Brett Jones: “And we have returned to the Weider Instinctive Training Principle, it has come full circle!”

Another chuckle ripples. . . .

I veil a smile. . .

*[DW was possibly implying that the psychological component of Gym Movement testing invalidates the physical result.  I can’t prove that is what he meant, but if you ask him, he will tell you]

INSTINCTIVE TRAINING Experiment to develop an instinct as to what works best for you. Use your training results along with past experiences to constantly fine-tune your program. Go by feel in the gym: If your biceps just don’t feel like they’ve recovered from the last workout, do another body part that day instead.

How does that sound to you?  Callous?  Unscholarly?  Vein?

I’m sure that even though i was an inflexible prick for years with regard to my training beliefs, i would have never disagreed with this one.

Some ‘top’ people will tell you that your body will lie to you.  That may be true.  Some people will tell you that you will lie to your body.  These two people may not agree with each other, even a bit.

These days, i am willing to budge on just about anything i believe, due to the fact that:

Everything works [for a period of time], and if you want to continue to get better [stronger?], you could ask yourself ‘what am i building here, and what am i sacrificing?’

Or, as frankie Faires taught me that one of his teachers taught him, the question may be “for what purpose, and at what cost?”

So when Adam writes about increasing performance in any given [desired or chosen] arena while concurrently improving physique composition [more muscle, less body fat] he gives some excellent examples.

Himself, and me 😉

Now, while i do not plan to train for the Zombie Apocalypse anymore, i am confident that i will be strong enough to get by when it comes.

And while i do not plan to train to press a 106lb. kettlebell any time soon, i do have performance goals.  One of which was posted about here last week, and another is to improve my grip strength, as measured by pinch, crush, lever, and the double overhand axle deadlift.  Events that i choose to train for because

A] My coach holds a world record

B] The shit is fun!

C] To have the same aesthetic goals as a catty beauty queen or a greased up beauhunk does not bother me at all, but i would also like to back up my physique by being as strong as i look, getting as strong as i can within a given lift during a given time, and validating my physique.

-Me, to the little hottie with green eyes and brown hair “Hi, my name’s Will, in addition to taking Zumba with my pal Megan K i also lift 383 pounds off the ground with one hand, would you like to salsa with me? Arriba!”

D] Grip training does wonderful, well tested things for pain relief on the tissue in my neck, shoulder, and arm.

E] I work at Trader Joe’s, and i must prevent my wrists and hands from injury by testing movements with Gym Movement and the specificity model in order to keep going forward.

Ah, so there it is.  We are here on Tatooine, in the fluid present, where things are bright and clear [and hot].  I have no hair on my head and my trusted Wookie AL is asleep at my feet and we have cranked the air conditioner up today for the first time.  I have already scored two intensity PRs with my AM training session and one of my favorite bands is streaming a live performance of their new record [released today] online at 9PM EST.

These goals are mine, and though i have developed them and arrived at them with the aid of countless other people, they remain relative to me and exist to become my future, test my instinct, and to inform my intuition.

Smilin’, stylin’, and buck whilin’,

Will Williams

authenticstrength@facebook.com

 

 

 

The kettlebell snatch was certainly the sexiest drill in the bunch when i first learned of the mighty tool from Russia. Other drills were elusive, and more complex, yet the promise of “an android’s work capacity and the pain tolerance of an immortal” drew me to Pavel Tsatsouline’s kettlebell product like a moth to flame.

The kettlebell snatch still sexifies me. I have been known to perform sets of 1 arm snatches in between sets of ‘suicide steps’, or, in gym-class speak: shuttle runs up and down flights of 30 or more stairs.

I have not taught the snatch in a long time, however, as i left the RKC last summer and all the new clients i picked up have either been proficient* in the snatch already, or there is no desire to learn it on their part.

Markers for snatch excellence are subjective. In Russian kettlebell sport, 100 snatches with one hand switch [50/50] with a 70lb bell [or heavier] can improve your competition ranking. In the RKC pool, 200 snatches in 10:00 with a 24kg kettlebell [men’s league] is studly, and to become and instructor, you have 5:00 to perform whatever number of snatches they tell you that year. I have competed with the snatch on several levels. Kenneth Jay, of Denmark, a respected sports scientist and coach was kind enough to offer me a chapter in his 2008 release from Dragon Door publications “Viking Warrior Conditioning”, and if you care to, you can read all about my history with the snatch in that book.

You may read all about my future with the kettlebell snatch right here. . .

200 reps in 8:00

What-53lb. kettlebell for 200 reps in 8:00, or 25 reps per minute consistently, with as many hand switches as i require.
Why-Because a performance goal validates my physique transformation.
When-As soon as i am ready, and as soon as i own a ‘competition kettlebell’ that weighs 24kg/53lbs.
Where-In your face, sucka.
How-great question!

How i will get this number is at once simple and involved.  Yes, goals can be simple and time intensive simultaneously.  Training for the reps in time, or VOLUME/DENSITY goal, will run off of the specificity model:

Specific, Component specific, Contraspecific, and Non-specific.

Specific: 200 snatches in 8:00 with a 53lb bell.

Component specific: Elements include 200 snatches with a 44lb bell, and 200 snatches with a 53lb bell, with no regard to time, as well as 8:00 with a 44lb bell and 8:00 with a 53lb bell, regardless of total reps.

Contraspecific: Movements that involve joint angle changes that are the opposite of those involved in the snatch, as well as [whatever you want to call it] stretching/flexibility/range of motion/change of direction training.

Non-specific: My continuing physique transformation goals, including increasing shoulder to waist circumference ratio to 1.5.

-I strongly desire 52.5 inch shoulders and a 35″ navel measurement

So, the competition is specific, and the training is everything else within the model.  The first things i will test are the com-spec elements.  200 snatches with a 44lb bell, and 200 snatches with a 53lb bell, with no regard to time, as well as 8:00 with a 44lb bell and 8:00 with a 53lb bell, regardless of total reps.  These are all minus effort. What this means is that i will use the Gym Movement protocol to test and modify the 1 arm snatch.  And when i train the aforementioned four components, i will terminate the set when the Elements Of Effort appear.

Start the clock, pick the bell and snatch, stop when i detect that i may begin to make an efficiency error.

Prime mistakes made: Moving sequentially when you should be moving simultaneously/moving simultaneously when you should be moving sequentially , inefficient breathing patterns, unfocused force production/excessive tension, unneeded starting/ending movements [taken from Adam T Glass’ website].

I plan to train for this 2-3 times a week, or whenever it tests well.  I can’t really set a time-frame for the date i’ll go for it, but i’ll tell you more things about this goal and it’s training.

I got this idea in my head while snatching/running stairs and listening to Metallica’s “The Judas Kiss” a few days ago.  That song makes me feel like i can either do 200 snatches in 8:00 or run through a wall.  Yet, because i can, that does not mean i should. . . .

BUT I WILL!

The training for the score will involve the 8:00 limit with both kettlebells, as well as the 200 rep total irrespective of the 8:00.  I will time the 200 reps, yet i am not going to force the reps.  There will be no power breathing, shoulder packing, hip flexor activation, or any other element of effort fed into the movement.  Get the bell overhead, bring the bell down.  The training will be effort free, yet, when i compete, i will use the minimum effective amount of effort to get through.  The mEA implies that i will only go as hard as i can without failing or potentially damaging my tissue/derailing my training/losing my mind in pain.

In short, i will train calm and relaxed but on comp day, i will turn on that Metallica song, take off the safety belt, and your girl will be lookin’ at me.  It’s that simple.

So what is ‘involved’ about this process? Well, for one, i am going to hire a third party to count the reps.  Me, snatching, my homeboy Mike Barbato of Precision Kettlebells will film it, and a third party, someone i have no familiarity with, will score my reps.

This is to ensure the validity [not even a real word] of the score and give people something to talk about.  I already asked people on Facebook what would constitute a snatch, and i have been given three different answers.

1. RKCs tell me i have to straighten my elbow all the way and have my arm vertical, which may be total bullshit, since the test you take to BECOME A CERTIFIED RKC INSTRUCTOR happens before you learn the snatch at the course [at least it did for the six years i was involved], and is some of the ugliest work i never want to see again.  Lots of hairy looking reps passed a the certs i attended.

2. Russian sport competitors must pause at the top of the rep and wait for the judge to count the rep before they continue.

3. Logan Christopher of Kettlebell Snatch Domination snatches to his own satisfaction with no locked elbow or vertical requirement, and that’s how i’m gonna roll.

If i can get my arm here for each rep, it will count:

Please chime in with a comment, i must know by your standards, would this rep count? If you are The Movement i respect your thoughts, and i’m sure you understand that form is relative to the user.  If you are not the movement, tell me what you think.  My elbow is not locked and my arm is not at zero degrees vertical.  But it looks like a snatch to me.

This blog as well as my Facebook page will detail the training progressions and the updates regarding “What constitutes a rep”.  Stay tuned, so much more to come 🙂

*Proficient relative to their body-they can perform the move without pain, with a healthy change of direction/range of motion, and do not bruise their forearms while training.