Back to Enter the Kettlebell; Six Week Self-Assessment

If you read the last post here I had started slipping with my training. To combat that I trained five days a week with a basic program. I did swings, push-ups, and squats, usually finishing in 15-20 minutes. Now I’m ready to address my strength issues.

I’m returning to the Rite of Passage from Enter the Kettlebell. It’s a diet of cleans, presses, swings, and snatches three days a week. I tweaked the ladders a little since I burn out quick. So I plan on building the foundation slowly.

Six weeks will end with six ladders of 1-2-3 reps. I used to train heavy on Fridays. Now I’ll do it on Mondays when I’m fresh from the weekend. Twelve weeks will end with six ladders of 2-3-4 or 54 reps total. The plan is to finish with six ladders of 2-3-5.

Using kaizen to progressively improve my press. The swings will be with my lighter bell for more of a conditioning hit. Especially with my new position at work that involves a lot less manual labor. I don’t want to get soft.

What did taking it easy with the training do?

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.0                13.75              -0.25

Shoulders                      43.75                  43.50              -0.25

Chest                              37.5                   38                      +0.5

Waist                             32.5                     33.25         +0.75

Biceps                           12.5              12.37               +0.125

Forearms                      10.82            10.62                 -0.20

Thighs                         21.0                 21.75                    +0.75

Calves                          13.62                   13.25               -0.37

Weight                  155.2lbs          155.6        +0.4lbs

Body Fat %                16.1%                18.1%         +2.0%

Lean Body Mass    130.2lbs            127.5        -2.7lbs

I had some hypertrophy in my legs, arms and chest. Also some gains in the waist area, particularly the area on my back that I hate. More fat and less muscle so that’s the end of sweets for me. Time to see what happens the next six weeks. Shoulders will grow for sure, presses are good for that.


Regaining Discipline, One Small Step At A Time; Six-Week Assessment

This one slipped up and caught me by surprise. For close to two weeks I hadn’t picked up akettlebell. I had skipped a workout, then another, and another, until I realized I was lacking my old self-discipline in training.

I remembered a progressive way to start a habit that I had read about. Want to take up jogging?

  • Make an easily accomplishable goal like getting dressed to jog.
  • Later jog down the street.
  • Then the block.
  • Now you are lapping the block and a jogger.

So I went back to the basics in my case. 100 two-handed kettlebell swings a day on every weekday. 10 Push ups for my upper body. 10 Goblet Squats for my lower body. Fifteen minutes and I am done. I’m even throwing in handstands for time as an option.

It looks like I have to be rigorously disciplined in my training or I go off the track. I made progress in the circuit training, starting at two rounds and going up to four. I guess their was just too much time between training days. Let’s see how this effected body composition.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.20                14.0              -.20

Shoulders                      43.2                  43.75              +.55

Chest                              37.5                   37.5                      0

Waist                             32.5                     32.5         0

Biceps                           12.5              12.62               +0.12

Forearms                      11.1            10.82                 +0.28

Thighs                         21.1                 21.0                    -0.10

Calves                          13.5                   13.62               +.12

Weight                  152lbs          155.2        +3.2lbs

Body Fat %                15.6%                16.1%         +0.5%

Lean Body Mass    128.3lbs            130.2        +1.9lbs

Nothing earth shattering. Some hypertrophy and lean muscle mass surprisingly. Let’s see how discipline works.

Hitting the Redline: Six Week Fitness Self-Assessment

PressAfter the last competition’s poor showing I decided I needed to train smarter and more comprehensively. Problem is I don’t seem to be responding to high volume or heavy weight (90+% of max) as well as I used to. At least as often as I was training. My focus on overhead pressing left everything else weaker, and that was just getting in the way.

I read a StrongFirst article on training the seven basic movements, [SEVEN] BASIC HUMAN MOVEMENTS. Dan John’s five fundamentals I knew of, however the rotational and counter-rotational patterns I didn’t. I researched what would fit the template of Push, Pull, Hinge, Squats, Loaded Carry, and the two rotationals. I found I could just add a Figure 8 to Hold and Farmer Walks to the program I was on. I also changed the Rear Lunges to Tactical Lunges from the ETK Special Report #2.

So I now have six exercises to program: Get-Up, Bent-Over Row, One-Hand Swings (counter-rotational and hinge pattern), Tactical Lunges, Figure 8 to Hold, and Farmers Walks. Last week I tried to superset them: push/pull, hinge/squat, rotation/carry. I got tired a little quicker than I thought, so I tried it as a circuit. That way I’ll hit everything at least once. When I can’t do a Get-Up with good form I’ll be done with that day’s training. My goal is 5 rounds, then I’ll shave time off my rest periods until I’m at :30 seconds. Then I’ll weight and increase my rest back to where it was and start over.

I had been dropping to only training a full session twice a week and partially one other day. So I will listen to my body, cut my training to twice a week, Monday and Friday with plenty of recovery in between. Plus I’ll continue building up to a handstand push up and if I’m particularly froggy, sprint.

Let’s see what body composition I’m starting with:

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.25                14.20              -.05

Shoulders                      43.5                  43.2              -.30

Chest                              37.5                   37.5                      +0.5

Waist                             32.75                     32.5         -0.25

Biceps                           12.5              12.5               0

Forearms                      11.            11.1                        +0.1

Thighs                         21.25                 21.1                    -0.15

Calves                          13.5                   13.5                      0

Weight                  153.6lbs          152        -1.6lbs

Body Fat %                16.1%                15.6%         -0.5%

Lean Body Mass    128.9lbs            128.3         -0.6lbs

I’m Shrinking! Six Week Assessment

We’re two weeks away from the competition day on June 1 and I’ll predict that I have added a rep to my military press record. The snatches I’m not so sure of.  The six-week assessment creeped up so I had to evaluate what the diet’s been doing. I know I’m getting stronger with the ease my 53lb kettlebell press during training as compared to before. I did have to adjust with the program though.

The four-day a week training I dropped to three days, and added practicing the progressions to a handstand push up from Convict Conditioning. I think if I can do that, my military press will get stronger. I kept my Clean&Press rep scheme the same, though I added rest according to the 1:4-6 work/rest ratio after reading a StrongFirst article, which helped me complete the sessions. I changed the swings from the one-arm variant with the 53lb kettlebell for 10 sets of 10 to 2 sets of 25 with the 71.4lb kettlebell. I’m curious how the Snatch test will go now.

The diet has been slowly chopping fat off without sacrificing too much muscle. I lost 2.2lbs of fat with 1.6lbs of muscle lost, not too worried. After this next cycle is over I’ll start a hypertrophy program, with a slight dietary adjustment, mostly extending my eating window from 9 hours to 12. It’s been a easy diet to stick with.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.5                14.25              -.25

Shoulders                      45                  43.5               -1.5

Chest                              37.5                   37                      -0.5

Waist                             33.5                     32.75         -0.25

Biceps                           12.8              12.5                        -0.30

Forearms                      11.1            11.0                        -0.1

Thighs                         22                 21.25                    -0.75

Calves                          13.5                   13.5                      0

Weight                  156.4lbs          153.6        -2.9lbs

Body Fat %                17.1%                16.1%         -1.0%

Lean Body Mass    129.7lbs            128.9         -0.8lbs

I may have shrunk a bit as the fat went away, that’s my guess at least. After the program I’ll do a program of Max Shank’s I saw on the DragonDoor page until the cycle is done. I’ll continue eating in the 9 hour window, going off what Dan John said about going from a caloric deficit to surplus triggers growth since the body isn’t used to the amount of food.

Time To Get My Focus Back and Press On

Another six weeks has come and gone so it is time for another self-assessment. I slacked a little due to a pulled neck muscle and a case of vertigo. When the world starts spinning, I do not want to be holding up 97lbs of kettlebells overhead. No Bueno.

Last time I had done this I said I would go into another complex for hypertrophy, except this bit of pain in my lower back tells me to lay off the double kettlebells for a while. In its place, I will go into the hybrid programs in The Martial Arts Kettlebell Connection.

The different sessions work different attributes and aspects of the system you train. Day One is footwork, Day 2 is technique, and Day 3 is Weapons (Stick) for my grip. It is in a circuit of swings, cleans, presses, and squats with active recovery between rounds. The technique work will be my chosen technique to polish during that week both between exercises and in the recovery. I have a technique, I will test its structure, the optimum range of power, and I will just work that move so I can learn all the nuances so I have it ready when necessary.



Still, even slacking, I tested my one-rep max for the military press during the benchmark test. My left side I can press 39% of my bodyweight or 62lbs, it has stayed the same. My right side is stronger at 38% or 60lbs so that plateau was broken finally. So let us look at my measurements:

Fitness Progress Report:

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.5                   14.4               -0.1

Shoulders             3.30                   44.50            +1.2

Chest                             37.80                  38.50         +0.7

Waist                             32.5                   33.4               +0.9

Biceps                    12.55                 12.75             +0.2

Forearms                   10.95                10.97             +0.02

Thighs                         22.05                 22.25            +0.20

Calves                          13.7                    14                   +0.3

Weight                  154.4 lbs          159.2            +4.8

Body Fat %                14.6%                16.7%          +2.1%

Lean Body Mass    131.8lbs            132.7           +0.9lbs

Gains in size, muscle and fat. I expect the kettlebell circuits that are primarily conditioning to drop the fat percentage under 15% where I like it.

Kettlebell Complexes, I Think I Love You

Tried my hand at the Grad Workout. No schedule, just a goal of twice a week workouts based on energy. They were amazingly short, generally falling between four to eight minutes. Double kettlebells, my 44 and 53lb ones, two cleans, one military press and three front squats. Rest for however long it took to do the training usually 45 seconds and I would go as many rounds as I can with good form. Six was my top.

Fitness Progress Report:

Body Composition

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.5                   14.5               0

Shoulders                  43.0                   43.30            +0.3

Chest                             37.50                  37.80         +0.3

Waist                             32.5                   32.5               0

Biceps                           12.5                 12.55             +0.05

Forearms                   10.82                10.95             +0.13

Thighs                         22.12                 22.05            -0.07

Calves                          13.75                 13.7             -0.05

Weight                         154.4 lbs          154.4            0

Body Fat %                14.6%                14.6%           0%

Lean Body Mass    131.8lbs              131.8           0lbs

Upper body grew without me pushing it but even with the front squats legs got a hair smaller. Body fat, weight, and lean body mass all stayed the same. Haven’t been counting calories, just making sure I’ve had enough protein to keep the mass I have in place. Being a hardgainer, when I get it I don’t want to lose it. I’ll keep this up for another six weeks and then I’ll start another complex from StrongFirst, Pavel’s Total Tension Complex.

Chaos and Kettlebells; Surprising Results and a New Direction

Well this has been a rollercoaster six weeks with a lot of down time and stress (why I’ve been absent from here). Started with ETK with a single bell, then to cut my time and do more work I used double kettlebells with the Rite of Passage as a template. Now I’m looking at complexes for efficiency now by starting with the Grad Workout by Dan John. So how does all this effect my biology? Surprisingly.

Fitness Progress Report:


I tested to see where I stood from the last Fitness Benchmark Test here. Parentheses mark the average and slashes divide the last time’s results.

Sit-Ups/One Minute: 15/-1 (36)

Push-Ups/One Minute: 35/+7 (27)

Pull-Ups: 5/+1 (1)

Bench Press: 116lbs 74% of bodyweight/+7lbs (110 untrained)

Squats: 181+ 116%+ of bw/+52lbs (100lbs untrained) Went over 10 reps so the One-Rep Max calculator could not give a true reading after 10 reps.

Military Press: 100lbs 64% of bw/-3lbs (95lbs novice/120 intermediate)

Gains everywhere but overhead pressing and sitting up.

Body Composition

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.0                   14.5               +0.5

Shoulders                  43.75                   43.00            -0.75

Chest                             37.25                  37.50            +0.25

Waist                             32.5                   32.5                    0

Biceps                           12.62                 12.5                -0.12

Forearms                   10.80                  10.82             +0.02

Thighs                         21.80                   22.12             +0.32

Calves                          13.82                  13.75             -0.12

Weight                         153 lbs              154.4               +1.4lbs

Body Fat %                15.7%                14.6%           -1.1.%

Lean Body Mass    129lbs              131.8               +2.8lbs

A steady decline in the shoulders over the last twelve weeks, and a fall in biceps and calves. The surprising part was the drop in fat and hike in lean body mass. For a period of stress and bad food I did well, so I’m chalking that up to the foundation I’ve built over time. Going to study complexes (multiple kettlebell moves with little rest and lots of recovery). So, we’ll see how this experiment works with more efficient training and more time for living.

Returning To My Kettlebell Now

CNS Chart

CNS Chart

Just off five weeks of bodyweight training courtesy of Convict Conditioning and I learned something-I cannot do this as a full time fitness modality. Calisthenics, progressive or otherwise just does not light my fire. The New Blood program consisted of training two days only a week and I had to force myself to do it.

Day 1 consisted of push-ups and leg raises (easier progressions for warm up at 20 and 15 reps) and two work sets of 10. Day 2 was pull-ups and squats (easier progressions for warm-up and then two work sets). *Yawn*

I’m ready to grab my Kettlebell again, but only one. No double Kettlebell work for a while. Too much, too soon as evidenced by my CNS chart; took it down by half. I was going to start a martial arts based program but I am not feeling it so I will be saying hello to an old friend, The Rite of Passage. However, I will be training a bit different this time, super setting Pull-Ups and on variety days working up to a Pistol Squat. Only for 12 weeks, then I will switch to Power To The People for 12 weeks.

On page 157, Pavel mentions alternating pure strength for a time, and alternating dynamic work. Hence, powerlifting and kettlebells with my sprints of course, should cover pretty much everything and prevent boredom! Especially when the gains start coming in.

Fitness Progress Report:


Since I’m going back to ETK, I had to make sure I was using the right size kettlebell; have I gotten weaker and need to build back up to the 53lb kettlebell or not? To move up, you need 5-7 reps with the next size ‘bell (53lb) and I’ve been at 5 for a long time. So I did a One Rep Max Test on Friday:

Left Arm: 6 Reps (+1) Personal Record

Right Arm: 4 Reps (-1)

Good enough.

Body Composition

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.25                   14.0               -0.25

Shoulders                  44.25                   43.75            -0.50

Chest                             38.75                  37.25             -1.5

Waist                             31.85                   32.5               +.65

Biceps                           12.62                   12.62                0

Forearms                   10.87                    10.80          -0.07

Thighs                         21.95                   21.8                -0.15

Calves                          13.82                      13.82             0

Weight                         151.6 lbs              153               +1.4lbs

Body Fat %                13.8%                   15.7%           +1.9%

Lean Body Mass    130.7lbs              129            -1.7lbs

Mass may fall a bit, but I can gain it back.

I said that writing the last assessment and it turned out I was right. More fat, less muscle, intolerable. The gain is my CNS was recharged and my Military Kettlebell Press went up. Now it’s time to make some numbers fall and rise in my favor.