Saturday, October 22, 2011

New article coming out!

I have officially been published (ahead of print) in the Strength and Conditioning Journal! Here's the article I co-authored with Jeff Harrison and my brother, Brad Schoenfeld.
 Woo hoo!  :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want (But You Can Get What You Need)

Sometimes, I need to remind myself of exactly the things I tell my clients all the time.   Today was one of those days.

Not very long ago, I hit a personal deadlift record at just over double my bodyweight (205lbs), and, of course, I wanted to repeat it and try to surpass it.  So I decided to try to try to repeat my PR today, and guess what-- I couldn't budge it.  Nor could I budge 195lbs, which I can usually pull.  I settled for 5 sets of one repetition at 185lbs, and I was very disappointed. 

But the fact of the matter is this:  Sometimes, I'm just not going to be able to lift at full capacity.  Some days are just going to be "weaker" days.  I have to remember that I did an insane amount of swings last week, and I may be in recovery mode for a little while.  I may not have gotten enough sleep, I may be fighting something off, or my body might just not be ready to do a maximal lift right now for some unknown reason.  So for now, I'll just do lighter lifts, do plenty of "greasing the groove" work (working on form with around 70% or so of my max), and try a max lift again in a week or two. 

Frustrating?  Yeah, kinda.  I love my heavy lifts.  But these are lessons we all have to learn.  Rest is just as important as work, lighter lifts can be very valuable, and the body will perform maximally when it is ready to do so.   We simply can't perform at 100% all the time. 

So I'm just going to have to listen to my own advice, suck it up, and back off for a while.  My body will thank me in the long run, and my lifts will get better as a result. 

Oh, and I need to remember that there was a time not very long ago that I couldn't budge 185lbs, either.  Progress is progress, no matter how you slice it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Birthday Swing Challenge

As you may know, I love, love, love kettlebell swings.  They are a phenomenal way to simultaneously build strength and endurance, and I just think they're fun.  I took my swinging love to an extreme this week.

On October 4th, I turned 38 (eep!) years old.  And my birthday challenge to myself this year was to do 100 swings for every year of my life.  (That's 3,800 swings for those of you not keeping track).  I ended up doing 4,000 swings (couldn't help adding the last 200), and since that happened, I've had a lot of people asking me questions.  So this blog post will hopefully answer them.

Q)  Are you insane?
A)  Yes.

Q)  What weight did you use?
A)  I did all my swings one-handed.  I used a 16kg bell for the first 1,000 swings, and then had to drop down to a 12kg for the sake of my hands.

Q)  Did you take breaks?
A)  I took around 5 minutes between each set of 1,000 swings.

Q)  How long did it take you?
A)  The whole thing took me about 2 hours, including breaks.

Q)  How often did you switch hands?
A)  For the first 300 or so I switched every 20 swings, and then I switched every 10 swings for the rest (going to 20 when I could).

Q)  What did you learn from this experience?
A)  I knew from experience doing high-volume swings that my hands would take a huge beating.  In my own practice, my hands tend to start tearing between 900 and 1200 swings.  So I have been looking for hand protection that wouldn't get in the way of my swings.  Most gloves bunch up too much in the palms for me, so I ended up deciding to try nylon gloves, like the kind women wear with evening gowns, and cut the fingers off hoping that would nip any slipperiness in the bud.  I made two mistakes:

         1)  I didn't try swinging with the gloves first, and
         2)  I started swinging with a bell I almost never swing with (a competition-style bell as opposed to a regular bell).  The handle is different, so for that kind of volume, it can make a difference to the grip challenge.

As it turned out, the gloves I chose, while perfect in that they did not bunch,  did, indeed, turn out to be very slippery.  So what happened was, the handle slipped from the top of my palm to the middle of my fingers, and it created huge blisters (which is why I had to drop to a lower weight).  I ended up putting the fingers I had cut off back on my two middle fingers to help avoid friction on them.  Fortunately, this prevented any tearing of the skin, but I am left with some pretty nasty blisters.  The good news is, my palms escaped with no issues.  :)

Blister, L. hand.  There's 2 more on my R. hand.

Q)  How did you feel afterwards?
A)  Great!  Sweaty!  And, oddly, taller!  I took my dog for a long walk right after finishing, and I felt like I was walking a lot taller.  I think keeping my spine that straight for that long definitely had many benefits.

Q)  Are you sore today (the next day)?
A)  Not really.  I feel a little sore in my upper and lower back, but nothing too crazy.

Q)  Are you going to do this again?
A)  Let's just say that my 100th birthday is going to be one heck of a day.  :)