Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Am I Going To Eat Today?

"What am I going to eat?" How many times have you asked yourself that question? If you're like me, then you ask yourself that question before every meal. But why do you ask yourself that question?

If you're like me, then it's because you have so many good choices of fresh foods at home waiting for you in your fridge or freezer, that it hard to choose. Or, like me, you're so fast and efficient at preparing fresh, nutritious foods that you know within, sometimes as little as, 10 minutes for a salad (dressing and all), or 20-30 minutes in a pressure cooker you can have everything your body needs to stay and feel healthy....vegetables, protein, grains, etc. It's because you already know you have the skill and knowledge to cook and prepare anything you could want, and need, with the best quality ingredients you can afford....and that comes from practice.


Is it that you truly don't know because you have nothing at home waiting for you, either prepared, or within a short time, easy to prepare? Is it because, like most of the people in this country you haven't decided which fast food resturant it's going to be for lunch today? Is it because you don't know if you have the right ingredients to try a new recipe? Is it because making sure you have good, nutritious, fresh, foods isn't anywhere near the top of your priority list, if not, why not?

What am I going to eat today? I know what I'm going to eat, do you?

Breaking Through

Sometimes breakthroughs come from breakdowns.

The definition of insanity.....doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Everything works, but nothing works forever.

Increased carbs
Smaller portions
More exact calorie count
More frequent meals

High volume, lighter bell KB's
Yoga everyday, sometimes twice a day

Friday, October 24, 2008


I'm coming up on my 4 year anniversary of the day I started my weight loss of over 100lbs, that means for 3 years now I've been able to maintain that loss...have I been perfect? No, but I don't need to be perfect, I just need to be the new person I am.

I was asked the other day (as I am often asked), "Are you afraid of gaining the weight back?", this question drives me freakin' crazy! It drives me crazy because it's so typical that people expect former fat people to get fat again! When a fat person loses a large amount of weight, the common response is always, "I wonder how long it will be before they put the weight back on?", not, "I wonder IF they'll put some weight back on"...I'm guilty of this sort of thinking myself!

I know the odds are not in favor of keeping weight off, especially extreme amounts of weight. So why am I not afraid of gaining the weight back?

I am not afraid of being fat again. I will never be 250lb+ again, never. Why not? Because I am not that person anymore, I'm just not. But that doesn't mean I don't remember that 250lb+ person....I will never forget where I came from. Just because I don't "live" there anymore doesn't mean I forgot what it was like. I understand it, I don't judge it. And I don't care what kind of trainer, dietician, nutritionist you are, if you've never had to lose a large amount of weight, then you can't possibly relate to someone who does, in a way that understands that it's about more than food....it's about eating, and the it's about the disconnection with our bodies.

Sure, a motivated person can find the kind of willpower and discipline it takes to reduce calories and exercise to lose weight, but motivation only lasts so long....and then what? You have to change who you are, you have to change how you think about food and eating, and you have to change how you live, permanently. Someone who's never had to do this can only offer the "calories in, calories out" theory.

Many people that have never had to lose weight aren't even healthy themselves, they're just thin, or of a "normal" weight. They can eat any kinds of foods they want, many times processed foods, they don't feel as if they need to pay attention to the quality of the foods they consume, or they just don't think about it. I've had to become conscious of the foods I choose, and the way I eat....lucky me!

Awareness and consciousness is always a good thing. Once you know the difference, you can never "un-know". I will never un-know what it was like to be extremely overweight, and for that I am grateful!

The old Tracy meets the new Tracy

Part of my new way of eating.....my new way of thinking....

For a long time I've known that my portions were going to have to change. Feeling "full", really full, even stuffed full, is part of the mental crap that got me into trouble in the first place. I felt I was lucky to figure out a way of eating loads and loads of food without many calories, and still lose weight....and it worked for many years. But it didn't change my habit of overeating.

Now having to readjust, and reconfigure the types of calories in my food choices, to give me the fuel, and energy I need to stay strong in my training, and not starve myself, while still losing this extra 5-10 lbs I say I want to lose. I've been holding steady at 132lbs all week, down from an average of 137-138lbs. this past 6-7 months. More details on food and Thought.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Event...double yoga

As I mentioned in the last post, I've been taking Bikram yoga for almost 3 years. Mark and I calculated that to around 500 classes! This past June Mark went to his first class with me, truly a miracle. A miracle that he has rehabilited his body enough from years of too heavy training and tramatic joint injuries to even consider going the distance of a 90 minute Bikram yoga class in 104 degrees of heat. Trying it because he recognized that he had enough strength, and now needed flexibility and range of motion. Little did I know he would match my obsessiveness for this style of training.

Because of his work and training schedule he can not attend morning classes with me, that combined with the class schedule of our studio, it leaves late afternoon and weekends. I really dislike late afternoon classes, but in order to practice together, which is so awesome BTW, we've worked out Tues & Thurs @ 4:30pm, and Sunday mornings @8:00am.

Seeing how much he gets out of this yoga training I was wishing he could go more often than 3 classes a week, so I suggested attending 2 back to back classes on Sunday, that would make 4 classes a week for him. That's 3 hours of yoga, 3 hours of hot yoga in one morning! Are we hardcore or what? Let me tell you, 4:30pm classes are hard enough when you get up by 4:00am every morning, but back to back classes, that's serious stuff....for most people, lol.

Last week was the first week we did it, and it was amazing. I went throught the first class with the mindset of it marking the end of the halfway point, no anxiety of "When is this going to end.....". it just was. A little bit of coffee during the 1/2 hour break, change of clothes and we started the second. The second class was stronger, for both of us. It was all over it at 11:30am, we had started at 7:30 that morning, 4 hours of training!

I won't bore you with the details of how I felt, body or mind, the point of this post is how lucky I feel that Mark and I have come together, once again, first with kettlebells, now with Bikram yoga, sharing a passion for training at a level most people never experience by themselves, much less with their partner.

Sunday double yoga has become an event. An event that ends one week, and begins another with our commitment to a life of health, wellness, and strength of body and mind. A commitment to a life of togetherness.

Life is good.

These pictures were taken in order of our Sunday double yoga event. The top photo was right before the first class...see how fresh we looked, lol! The 2nd photo right after the first class, the 3rd photo after a change of clothes and going into the second class, the last photo, drenched again after 180 minutes of hot yoga!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Bikram Yoga Practice

I rarely if ever write about any details of my Bikram yoga practice, that's going to change! I've been practicing Bikram yoga for almost 3 years now, I started in Nov., of 2005. I wanted to add another type of training to balance out my KB's and walking, the choices for me were Tae Kwon Do, or yoga.

I had practiced Tae Kwon Do for 2 years in my early 30's ( I weghed 160-140lbs during that time), and loved it. I was able to achieve my brown belt and knew I wanted to train for black belt, like everything I do, I was training 6 days a week and volunteering to help assist the kids classes on the weekends, but somehow I lost motivation, started gaining weight, and never went back. (1995-'97). I loved practicing forms, but the thought of sparring at my age was not attractive, lol!

So, almost 10 years later, when I had lost most of my weight and realized that my fitness was at a level, (and my body was at a size) to try a new physical challenge I remembered hearing somewhere about this "hot yoga". Hmmnn....I love the heat, and I love to sweat, if I was going to do yoga, I was going to do hot yoga! So that's how it started.

I went to my first class in long pants and t-shirt, stood in the back of class and just went for it! I had to put all care about what anyone might think of me aside, afterall I was just coming off of a 100lb weight loss, standing in a room with all of these skinny yoga chicks in their spandex and little bra tops...yikes!

One of the good things about being married to an expert trainer, and owning a gym for 8 years is I knew enough about exercise and the body to not let anyone or anything intimidate me. I know that everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone is a beginner at one time, so if you make a mistake, (it's expected), just pay attention, keep trying until you get it right. How can you expect to get good at anything unless you do it! All you have to do is to keep showing up, you will get better.....you get what you give. I have the most respect for all of the beginners I see in class, because afterall, they're there, doing it, that's what counts.

Bikram Yoga, San Jose, had a beginning program that let you pay $10, for 10 consecutive days (it's changed slighty since then), so I went on a Thursday for my first class, and not wanting to "kill myself", or potentially overdo and screw up my KB training, I went everyother day for my first 10 days. I was hooked. I knew after my first class I wanted to, and could, get really good at this new practice, so I bought a monthly unlimited membership for 1 year.

In following month I practiced at least 3-4 days a week, even on Xmas day, (when we owned World Gym, Campbell, if Marks training day fell on Xmas, we were open, and it always fell on Xmas!). Then in January the studio promoted a 60 day challenge, 60 yoga classes in 60 days! No problem! I love a challenge and I was highly motivated to improve my practice ASAP. I completed the challenge somtimes taking back to back classes to make up for a day I couldn't get to the studio, making sure I got my 60 classes in the 60 day period.

Over the first year I probably averaged 4 classes a week, before switching studios (I wrote about the decision to switch on my blog), but the new studio just didn't have near the number of classes available, or the same class times and my practice fell to, sometimes, only 2 days a week. I came to my senses, put my personal feelings aside and returned to my original studio after I got the OK from my doctor after my surgery. After the required 6 week recovery, my KB training came back quickly, but my yoga practice was much harder to restart.

Once again, I'm hitting it hard, now trying to get to a class everyday and practicing with Mark Tuesdays, Thursdays and doing a "double" together on Sundays! My practice is reaching a new level after realizing I had been "cruising" through for months. I have new focus, new energy and my classes are crazy good! Much more to come.......

Pictures above are "standing bow pulling pose". Top picture was taken last week, and I can see that my right hip still need to come down, my right toe is not pointing straight up toward the ceilng, instead pointing left....I've already sarted to correct that, and that will bring my right hip down. Bottom piture was taken Nov. 06, same pose.

Friday, October 17, 2008

KB Swing Progressions and Roundabout Combination

Here we go.....1600 reps


40 2 hand swing, 1 min,
5 roundabouts (40 reps), 1 min,
40 transfers, 1 min,
5 roundabouts (40 reps), 1 min.
40 reps, 1 swing/trans., 1 min,
5 roundabouts (40 reps), 1 min,
40 reps, 5/5 1 hand swings x 4, 1 min,
5 roundabouts (40 reps), 1 min,

8 min work, 2 min rest x 5 sets = 50 min

Demo set

10 2 hand swings
1 roundabout (8reps)
10 trans.
1 roundabout
10 reps, 1 swing/transfer (5)
1 roundabout
5/5 1 hnad swings
1 roundabout)

This took less than 2 min., but if you wanted to use this demo set as a work set, start with 1 roundabout, do everything else the same...it will equal 2 min. FYI!

Wednesday 10 min long 12kg swing/snatch sets

Wednesday my workout was four, 10 minute long swing/snatch combination sets with a 2 minute rest period! I loved the combinations I put together so much I thought I might treat you all to a "real time" training video, but I have to recover first! I'll tape it and post it next week when I do it again.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday 12kg speed

7:00am KB

I warmed up with my 6:30am client, a portion of her workout was 10 rep "I go, you go" for 20 sets so that equaled 200 reps, so I skipped the warmup to my own workout!

Work sets

40/48/40 2 hand swings, 3 min work, 1 min rest = 4 min. (128 swings)

40/48/40 transfers, 3 min work,
1 min rest
40/48/40 rep, swing/transfers, 3 min work,
1 min rest
5/5 x4, 6/6 x4, 5/5 x4, one hand swings, 3 min work (see video demo)
1 min work

3 combinations = 12 min total rotation x 4 rotations = 48 min. (1536 swings)

8 double bottoms up cleans w/2 12kg's, 30 sec work, 30 sec rest x 10 sets = 10 min. (80 dbl BU CL )

Total workout 62 min. 1664 swings

I've known that KB speed work creates an intensity different from heavy KB intensity, but intensity all the same! Well, wanting to get my body smaller, I know this is not ideal! So when I noticed that I was hungrier than usual later in the day....again being reminded that intense training induces a need for more calories, I may have learned my lesson! Long, slow, endurance is the name of the game......dang it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stress, Heavy Training and Weight Loss....A Husbands Point of View( revised)

I asked my brilliant husband, Mark, Master RKC Instructor, to write a guest blog, in his words, his thoughts about what I've been going through in regards to my bodyweight, diet and training these past months. I feel for husbands that live with wives constantly on diets, and I hope to give him some relief from it soon. He has always been my biggest support and fan, as well as the love of my life.

Losing over 100lbs was easy, and straight forward, compared to this recent weight gain of 5-10lbs. If you have anyone if your life that has been going through something similar, or if you yourself are having this experience, this may give you more information, and possibly some relief.


Tracy asked me to write a guest blog relating to her recent post about weight loss, stress and low calorie diets on her other blog, Food and Thought. Just a note: I am not a Doctor and don’t play one on TV OR the internet. I am just an athlete and trainer and have been around the dieting block more than few times, especially with my stint as a competitive bodybuilder and bodybuilding coach. I have made an intensive personal study of nutrition, physiology and have experimented with many forms of dieting myself including the extremes of vegetarianism, fruitarianism, macrobiotics, extended fasting and competition bodybuilding diets for almost as long as I have been training.

It began at 14 years old when I decided that my terrible acne problem might be solved nutritionally and I never lost the interest and connection between nutrition,health and the training lifestyle. I gained and lost 50 pounds twice in one year going from 175 as a bodybuilder to 125 as an ultramarathoner and bulked myself up to 200 pounds in an attempt to get bigger for bodybuilding as well. So I have some experience with diets.

Training mostly women during my 29 years of personal training has also given me insight into the mindset and habits of women and the dieting and bodyfat issues they face. I have also been here as Tracy lost her 125 pounds, maintained her weight at 130 and 18% bodyfat for over a year and half, got very close to anorexic at 123 pounds and have watched her present struggles trying to shed the last 8 pounds or so to get back to her ‘ideal’ weight.

For many years I have scoffed when people say they are eating less and less calories and ‘cannot lose the weight’, believing they were not being honest with either their calorie counts or their activity levels . It is a know fact that when one goes too low with their caloric intake the body will slow the metabolism down in an effect to conserve fat and energy. This makes sense: if you were stranded on a desert island, with very little food to eat and lots of physical activity necessary to survive would you want your body’s response to be to increase the metabolism and speed up the burning of precious body fat? No, you would want your body to conserve its reserves of fat and slow the metabolism down, awaiting your rescue. Now, at a certain point( starving!) you would lose weight regardless of how much the body wants to conserve but that is starving and not dieting and there is a difference. So most people truly are not eating as little as they say, nor are they training as hard as they think.

This is NOT the case with Tracy as I have observed her food intake and training loads over this time period and she is eating LESS than ever, training more and harder than ever and yet the weight moves down very slowly and is much quicker to return after a (much needed) high calories break in the diet. By the way, this method of low calories during the week and a break in the diet once a week a time tested method used by bodybuilders for many years as a way to tolerate extreme dieting and jump start the metabolism ( and save the mind!) each week. This worked perfectly for Tracy for many years. It hasn’t seemed to work that well lately and there are a few reasons that I think this has been happening.

Two major points: the first is her age (45) and with that the possible onset of perimenopause. Almost every woman I train and talk to about this issue (45-55 years old) ALL say they have experienced weight gain, especially around the hips and waist that they never had issues with before after this age. Regardless of how hard they diet and train. Things that previously worked before no longer work. This can be especially frustrating, especially if it is just a few short months ago that previous methods worked well.

Yet it is almost like saying everything was fine right before one hit puberty and then all kinds of crazy stuff happened after that! One cannot go back to a pre-pubescent state no matter how much they want to. Once the hormonal shift occurs you are a different person metabolically and things have to be treated as such. New methods have to be employed and techniques that had success before have to be discarded. New hypotheses and new experiments have to be performed to find out what works RIGHT NOW, with this new body and this new hormonal environment.Tracy is doing so with changes in her training weights and intensities as well as her meal plans.

The second, and, I believe, the most significant part of this is how the surgery might have affected her body and hormonal levels, perhaps even triggering early perimenopause. At the very least increasing total body stress and cortisol levels which are hugely implicated in body fat increases in men and women. No way around it, it was major surgery and a major stress on her body. Stress can do ANYTHING to your body. Given that enough can kill you it’s no joke. It’s a vicious circle as well as a double edge sword: increased stress increases weight which increases stress which ……you get the picture. The stress also increases adrenaline output which can deplete the adrenals as well as increase cortisol levels. High levels of cruciferous vegetables can also block iodine absorption which can lower one’s thyroid output( one should increase sea vegetables (seaweeds) to balance this. If you have an inactive or slow thyroid one will gain weight as well.

Cortisol also increases sugar output ( for the fight or flight) which can lead to unstable blood sugar levels and increased hunger as well. It’s a tough mix when one is trying to lose bodyfat.
And not just the bodyfat but the reserves of fat as well, which the body will give up very sparingly. It’s just not in the body’s interest to go into the last reserves of fat, which it knows it will need for emergencies. It’s like depleting your savings account, when the car breaks down how do you pay for it? Reserves are important in all areas of one’s life.

Again, just because one could do it at a certain time period previously does NOT mean it will work again, indefinitely. As my powerlifting coach Louie Simmons loves to say:” everything works but nothing works forever.”One must be flexible in their approach to training and diet. You don’t have to be, but things probably won’t work out as you want them to and then what?

And to that point, I also believe that the combination of very heavy training,especially for the type of volume that Tracy has been doing has made it much harder to keep the calorie count down. High intensity training, regardless of the weight on the bell ,really taps into the blood sugar stores as well as the stored glycogen levels and creates a HUGE demand to replace those sugars. Tracy's calorie count was within range for fat loss, but the heavy and high intensity training created much more severe hunger pangs. When the bell is actually very heavy (say 1000 24 kg swings/ high volume 16 kg snatches?) these sugar demands are even higher. And so is the appetite.

Even doing high speed work with lighter weights can tap into the blood sugar levels strongly, not to mention activating the white muscle fibers, the ones that actually GROW bigger. This is great if one's goal is to increase muscle size, and should be considered a validation of the kettlebells ability to grow muscle BUT if one's goal is to get SMALLER and LIGHTER, than smaller weights and lower intensities should be employed more often. At least until the goal weight is achieved. Think jogging instead of sprinting. If one reads back to Tracy's earlier blog post you can see the preponderance of the 12 kg bell and longer slower sets. This is what we are headed back to with the exception of even longer sets for more of an endurance effect and fat/muscle loss effect. Yes, muscle. Muscle and fat are intimately entwined and one invariably loses muscle when one loses fat and vice versa. This is precisely why bodybuilders train and diet as they do; for a specific peak.Trying to maintain that peak year round is, needless to say,very tough. One must be willing to do what is necessary for a result regardless of what one wants to do (Tracy is DYING to train with the 16 kg again!).She will again soon but with much lower volumes.

One more thing about stress. Everyone has a level of stress that they can handle at any one time.You can fill it up with one thing( training, job, relationship,hobbies worry, DIETING,etc) or a combination of all of the above. But you can't exceed the limitations. When you add the stress of trying to take in less calories than the body needs to do it's job things get really dicey. Especially when one does large volumes of intense training. It's like putting in half a tank of gas and expecting to get double the mileage. Just ain't gonna happen. Not without a fight.
And trying to go hard on fumes is tough on many levels.Even on spouses :))

Another important point is the pressure on people to be perfect and to be at their ideal(whatever- size, weight, strength, speed, etc) all the time. No bodybuilder or strength athlete would try to stay at their peak for any length of time because they know it’s impossible. They train and diet for months to get the peak, then back off as they rest up for another run at the gold ring. I know people will say “ but I did it so easily …… “ fill in the blank. Last year, last month, last week. Which may be true. But if it ain’t working now you have to change course.
Remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I totally understand how frustrating it is but that’s the way it seems to be. I don’t make the rules, I just know ‘em, lol. I have to live by them too. Everyone does.

To sum this up, I think the main thing that’s important is to take the pressure off to be perfect so one can relax into where they are now, all the while still aiming for the long term goal. Once you realize that the stress of constant extreme dieting is more deleterious towards accomplishing the goal that should become the main concern: NOT stressing. How that is accomplished has to be individual but realize that if one is constantly berating oneself for not living up to ones goals and is holding one’s breath waiting to be perfect the chance of that happening get smaller all the time. I know, it sucks.

This comes back, imo, to living the lifestyle, training consistently, eating as clean as you can, giving yourself breaks and trying to accept where you are RIGHT NOW all the while not giving up the long term goal. Inching yourself towards the goal while not increasing the stress of doing so any more than is necessary, and taking the steps to decrease stress as much as possible.
The goal of training is NOT to induce anorexia, it is to build strength, condition, endurance, flexibility, power and ability. Health. At any weight. One must eat enough to fuel the workouts and your life. You can’t put half the gas in your car and expect double the mileage. Just ain’t gonna happen.It’s like anything else, one must find a balance. And learn to live with our imperfections.The challenge of this passage between ages 45 and 50 will be very demanding for probably most women , and one must find their own path through the jungle. I believe it can be done, that the goal of a light body, leanness, strength and endurance can all be had. And we won’t stop til we figure it out. BUT you have to enjoy the trip or what is it all about?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday, 100 rep sets x 10 + doubles

Wednesday I did 7 minute sets, using my KB swing progression ladder in groups of 40 reps, today I cut the length of the set to 100 reps, 2 1/2 minutes long, staying with the same progressive ladder, only in groups os 10 reps. 50 reps uphill, 50 reps downhill.

Work sets

10 2 hand swings,
10 transfers,
5, 1 swing / transfer (10 reps),
5/5 1 hand swings,
10 1 hand swings L,
10 1 hand swings R,
5/5 1 hand swings
5, 1 swing / transfer (10 reps)
10 transfers,
10 2 hand swings

2 1/2 min. work, 1 min rest x 10 sets = 35 minutes

I found that by changing the swing pattern so quickly, every 10 reps, this combination went quick, considering it was 100 reps....before you know it once you're headed downhill the set is already half over, and the it's done, lol! (you will end up on the opposite hand after the first swing/transfer portion of this combination, but it will even out on the downhill.)


1 double clean/press, 1 double bottoms up clean w/ 12kg's x 5, 30 sec work,
30 sec rest,
1 double clean/press, 1 double snatch, neg press x 8 w 8kg's, 1 min work,
1 min rest

I rotated these two sets x 8. Each rotation took 3 min. to complete = 24 min.

Total workout 59 min.

Try doing double bottoms up cleans, after swinging 1000 reps, lol!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Since changing my training strategy using only the 12kg and lighter, I have two choices.....speed and/or endurance. Today was endurance!

I went to yoga in the morning, and then Mark and I started our workout around 1:00pm. I prefer to train first thing in the morning, but I got busy blogging and put it off, with the best of intentions to just go for it later that afternoon. I always regret putting it off, because I never feel like training in the afternoon! Really the only thing that motivated me to get out there and get it done was that I was freakin' hungry, and I knew I could eat after my workout, lol.

The good thing about long sets is that you don't have to do very many of them. I thought I might do four 10 minute sets w/2 min rest period....I was quickly put in my place once I started swinging....7 minutes was all I could do, mentally. So, after doing the math, I settled for 7 minutes of work, 2 min rest x 5 sets = 45 minutes of swings...oh, and 1400 reps!

Work Set w/12kg (no warm up)

40 2 hand swings, 1 min
40 transfers, 1 min
40 reps, 1 swing, 1 transfer, 1 min
40 reps, 5/5 x 4 1 hand swings, 1 min
40 reps, 10/10 x 2 1 hand swings, 1 min
40 reps, 20/20, 1 hand swings 1 min.
40 2 hand swings, 1 min

7 min work w/2 min rest x 5

If you want to see the video of the last minute, of the last 7 minute set (2 hand swings) then it's on You Tube.....I thought I'd spare you the boredom!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Tracy Rif Roundabout, it's origin and concept

I started my kettlebell training by combining the different swing variations in sets of patterns for a couple of reasons:

I wanted to swing for longer sets, and I only knew a few KB moves. If a little was good, then more must be better! And I wanted to get as much work done in as little time possible, and the only way I knew how to do that was to swing more, rest less! I also saw endurance/ cardio training as my strength, not the high tension exercises. And my goal was to burn calories, not to get strong, but skinny, lol!

To swing longer I needed to make it fun. There it is the "F" word! I know, I know, training is not supposed to be fun! But by combining the different swing movements and creating patterns, I had to focus more on the pattern of movements, than the actual work being done. And being one that likes repitition and perfecting patterns I found it to be challenging to repeat a pattern over and over until I got it right!

Without going into my complete training philosophy....you'll have to wait for the book to be published.....enter the Roundabout.

I was in the gym wanting to work up to swinging a heavier bell one handed, the weight increments of bells available (at the time) jumped considerably, making it hard, being a woman, to go from a 16kg, to a 20kg. So, what to do?

Well, it made sense to work progressively, first starting with 2 hands, transferring the heavier bell to one hand, back to using 2 hands, and then repeating it on the other side, ending with two hands again. Once the strength was built, swinging more one handed reps at a time on each side....2,3,4,5 reps etc.....with the 2 hand swings breaking up the work inbetween, until I could swing consistently, only one handed, the heavier bell.

I named it the Roundabout because I think Mark's gymnastic background had some influence! The "round off" is a gymnastics move, and in gymnastics alot of moves are named. That combined with the fact that the bell starts at one point, in the middle, travels to one side, and then back to the middle before traveling ot the other side, making a complete circle....a complete "round"! Personally, I thought the name Roundabout, was kind of silly, lol, but how could I keep track of such a long combination of swings, train it, and teach it without naming it?

If you think getting this combination right was easy, it wasn't. I wanted to use all of the swing movements in addition to fitting it into a pattern that would evenly take 1 minutes time. I didn't have anyone showing or telling me the correct pattern, it's hard enough when you do have someone taking you through the combination. I had to do it many, many, many times, incorrectly before memorizing the pattern in the correct order, consistently. (When the Roundabout combination gets easy for you, try the Fast Roundabout, lol!) And that was the other really cool thing about it, and why I use it often with clients, is because you get a ton of work done, but are distracted by training the swings in the correct order. The Roundabout combination alone is a great training tool, regardless of whether or not you are working up to using a heavier bell (see my latest workout video)....although it is my main technique for building most beginners up to swinging, one handed, the 12kg, from the 8kg (mostly women, obviously).

The breakdown:

2 hand swing (rep 1)
transfer to R, (rep 2)
one hand swing R, (rep 3)
transfer back to 2 hand swing, (rep 4)
2 hand swing, (rep 5)
transfer to L, (rep 6)
1 hand swing L, (rep 7)
transfer to 2 hand swing, repeat (rep 8)

Each complete Roundabout has 8 reps, 5 complete Roundabouts = 1 min.

I've added tons of variations of the Roundabout using multiple one hand swing reps, snatches, cleans, clean/press, and a combination of all of these moves. I've done 1/2 Roundabouts, that's when you go back and forth to one hand swings only on one side before moving on to the other side, breaking up sets, all R one hand swings, rest, then all L, one hand swings. Fast Roundabouts, that's when you drop the 2 hand and 1 hand swings, using only 2 hand and 1 hand transfers, alternating clockwise and counter clockwise "rounds"(see last video) Roundabout ladders, etc. I could write a whole book on Roundabout combinations, and more benefits to using it....if only I had the energy, lol!

Yesterday, as I was downloading the videos of my workout, I came across another You Tube video titled Russian Kettlebell Roundabout with a Snatch, and I was shocked to see someone else demonstrating "my combination" and calling it by the name I gave it! I didn't invent the kettlebell, I didn't invent the kettlebell swing or every single kettlebell swing combination ever done. But I have been publishing this style of combination swing training for a couple of years, and first published the Roundabout combination demonstrating and explaining the pattern on video, so I decided, to now, document how I developed it for my own training purposes. I've never been one to whine or be petty, and if someone else wants to claim it, then so be it. But until that happens, imitation is the best form of flattery and the fact that the "Roundabout" is a recognized swing combination, then I can only be grateful for my addition to kettlebell training.

explanation of Roundabout published 09/07

Fast Roundabouts published 02/07

2 hand transfer to R,
transfer L,
transfer 2 hands,
transfer L,
transfer R,
transfer 2 hands,

Speed Roundabouts, and Snatch Roundabouts

Sticking with using only the 12kg, I'm finding that a 3 minute set w/1 minute rest seems to be working well. 3 minutes is long enough to train the 12kg hard, without going into an endurance pace that barely gets my heartrate where it needs to be!

I chose roundabouts for my workout today because I had done mostly high rep one hand swings last week, and 2 hand swings are too light w/12kg, and boring, for 3 minute sets. So, the combination of one hand and 2 hand swings of the roundabout was a good compromise....add speed to the combination, and here you have it!

I'll be writing a blog post about how and why I developed the Tracy Rif Roundabout combination, and the breakdown of the Roundabouts swing combination, and it's concept.

7:00am KB Roundabouts
9:15 Bikram yoga

Warm up w/12kg

40 2 hand swing 1 min work/rest x 3 sets = 6 min.

Work sets w/12kg, 3 min work/1 min. rest

40 rep per min pace Roundabout, 1 min
48 rep per min pace Roundabout, 1 min
40 rep per min pace Roundabout, 1 min
1 min rest
5 complete snatch Roundabouts per 1 min x 3 min
(10 snatches, 5 each side per min. 30 snatch total per set)
1 min rest

These 2 sets took 8 minutes to complete, rotated 4 x = 32 minutes. I then changed the snatch roundabouts to 1 min sets w/1 min rest, but kept the speed sets the same 3 min work/1 min rest for 3 more rotations = 18 min.

Total workout 56 min.

I know this can be complicated to follow, but I wanted the workout to be at least 50 min long, and after the first 4 rotations I just couldn't keep the pace of a three min snatch roundabout set, so that's why I decided to break it down to only on min, but three times......broken up with the same 3 min long roundabout speed set.....if any cares about my thought process, lol!

PS It's really hard to think and talk clearly during an actual workout, because I am training hard! But I meant to say there are 5 complete Roundabouts in 1 min. not 8...therefore my speed minute had 6 complete roundabouts, 48 rep per min pace @ 8 reps per Roundabout.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Baby Got Back...Literally! More speed work

I would never normally post this picture of my backside, but it makes an important point, so there it is.....

The point is that I had been training, fast and furious, with Max Vo2 speed snatches, not just with the 12kg, but with the 16kg too, in addition to lots of heavy 2 hand swings, mostly 15 sec-1 min intervals, and the muscle density in my body is too much! Now, some might say, how could you have too much muscle? It's not the muscle that bothers me, it's the hunger my training creates, and eating my way up to an extra 5-8lbs of muscle AND fat! I cannot starve myself and do the kind of training I do...well maybe I can, but I don't want to. Sure I don't want to lose any more muscle than I need to...what does that mean? It means if I have to lose 2-4lbs of muscle to lose 4-6lbs of fat then so be it. Guess what? Looking at my back, I've got a little extra of both I can afford to lose, lol! Being smaller and feeling good in my size 6 jeans is way more important to me than swinging or snatching those heavy bells....bottom line.

I train because it makes me feel good, because it makes me feel as if I look good. Call me vain, whatever! But after not feeling good about my health and the look of my body for most of my life, I'll chose vanity.

6:00am KB's
7:00 interval walk w/Liz

Warm up

40 2 hand swings w/12kg x 3 set, 1 min work/rest = 6 min.

Work Sets w/12kg 3 min work set, 1 min rest

44 trans, 1 min,
12 clean, press, trans, 1 min,
44 trans, 1 min,
1 min rest

10 double clean/press w/2 12kg's, 45 sec work,
45 sec rest

I rotated these 2 sets x 6 = 33 min.

6 double bottoms up clean w 2 12kg's, holding for 5 sec. each at the top, 30 sec work, 30 sec rest x 6 sets= 3 min.

Total workout 42 min.

I've changed my 12kg swing speed to a 44 rep per minute pace...wow, it really makes a difference. Completely new workouts, just changing the speed.

Life is good, speed swings are good!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

There's No Shame in the 12kg...speed practice

Months of high rep snatch workouts (Max vo2) and heavy, high volume swings, gave me a back like a football player, and although Mark likes it, I don't, and it's part of the extra 8lbs that keeps rearing it's ugly head, the rest on my hips and thghs! So I'm changing the game plan.

I know it's going to be hard to not pick up anything heavier than the 12kg for at least a month....if it gives me the results I want, then longer....because I know I'm strong, I like to challenge myself, and its natural to think of progressions as increases in weight. Although it's been fun, I need to do what's going to give me the results I'm looking for....to be smaller, so the 12kg it is. So I have to make using it as tough as I can, and that mean can mean fast, and long sets. Here's what I did today,

Warm up
40 reps per min. swings w/1 min rest x 2 = 4 min.

Work sets

40 rep per min transfers,
44 rep per min transfers,
48 rep per min transfers, 3 min work,
1 min rest
48 rep per min transfers,
44 rep per min transfers,
4o rep per min transfers, 3 min work
1 min rest

I rotated this uphill speed set with the same exercises in reverse (downhill speed set). Each rotation took 8 minutes to complete x 5 rotations = 40 min.

Video shows the same uphill speed ladder of the first half of this rotation, but 30 sec increment, insted of 1 min. increments, and I ended the set with an additional 30 sec @ 40 rep per min. pace to demonstrate more clearly the difference in speed and height of the bell

20 rep, 30 sec,
22 rep, 30 sec,
24 rep, 30 sec,
20 rep, 30 sec,
x 1 = 2 min.

Total workout 46 min.