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.


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

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.

Double Kettlebell Hell; Too Much Too Soon?

Training last Sunday

I tried my hand at Mike Mahler’s double kettlebell circuit for MMA this past cycle. It was a fun and good test admittedly; however, a couple of weeks into it my plans changed. I was going to alternate double kettlebell circuits and single kettlebell/technique circuit in six-week cycles. Until Thursday, when I noticed a general ‘got my ass whipped’ fatigue along with a lack of coordination and a tremor in my hands. Despite being careful not to over train I still managed to fry my Central Nervous System anyway. Here is why it is important here; I found an app that uses Coach Dan John’s CNS Tap Test to verify this. Regardless the next week will be recovery and after those five weeks of bodyweight until the next assessment, I will go to either the planned single kettlebell program or the Rite Of Passage again.

One addition I had added was sprint sessions every seven days and it is quickly becoming a favorite. 20 minutes and I am done. Current top-recorded speed is around 15 mph at 75% effort. Reason I was not going all out is I am not a runner; I have to work up so I do not hurt myself and then lose training time recovering. Like now with my CNS. To high of an intensity for too long a time.

Fitness Progress Report:


I tested to see if I was above average and set a baseline to compete against personally; in addition to a kettlebell military press I tested sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups for bodyweight and the bench press, squats and military press. I had to substitute the barbell with double kettlebells which are 97lbs combined. All of which I have not regularly trained and will test every 3 months to check progress. Parentheses mark the average.

Sit-Ups/One Minute: 16 (36)

Push-Ups/One Minute: 28 (27)

Pull-Ups: 4 (1)

Bench Press: 109lbs/59% of bw (110 untrained)

Squats: 129+/79%+ of bw (100lbs untrained) Went over 10 reps so the One-Rep Max calculator could not give a true reading after 10 reps.

Military Press: 103lbs/69% of bw (95lbs novice/120 intermediate)

Not bad, not bad.

Body Composition

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.25                   14.25                0

Shoulders                  43.62                   44.25              +.63

Chest                             38.00                  38.75               +.75

Waist                             32.25                   31.85              -.40

Biceps                           12.50                   12.62              +.12

Forearms                   10.87                    10.87             0

Thighs                         21.95                   21.93              -.02

Calves                          13.8                      13.82                +.02

Weight                         151.8 lbs              151.6            -.2 lbs

Body Fat %                14.6%                   13.8%             -0.8%

Lean Body Mass    129.6 lbs        130.70           +1.1lbs

I love the results from Mike Mahler’s Kettlebell Solution For MMA Strength And Conditioning, I started at 4 instead of 2 reps. Mass went up and the fat went down even eating a caloric surplus (not a lot) and bumped up carbs on training days and dropped them on the others. Sadly internally it fried me, so this is going into the ‘Save for later’ file. Every day I was at either top tier moderate-high intensity or high intensity so after a deload week I will do 5 weeks of Convict Conditioning’s New Blood program. Two training days and my sprints with lots of rest in between. Day One will have Step 5 Push-Ups and Step 7 Leg Raises, then rest for three days then Day 2 is Step 4 Pull-Ups and Step 6 Squats. Then rest a day and then sprint. This gives me time to do the dreaded yard work and practicing my martial arts at home.

Mass may fall a bit, but I can gain it back. Altogether on a physical side I’m in my best shape, but at a cost. Function comes before form, and I can get here again when I want too in the future.

Final Self-Assessment of the PM for MMA

Well I finished the 18 week program and took two steps forward and one step back. Since the last assessment I started really watching the carbs to cut the fat; and it worked very well since I’m back in my comfort zone. However it appears I sacrificed some size and my strength remains the same. I taped a Press Test and posted to Facebook here. I thought I had 6 reps, and thought I’d hit 7 however 5 was all I managed. My 60lb maximum remained which is 39% of my bodyweight so at least I’m not weaker and have a good strength to body weight ratio. Let’s look at body comp:

Fitness Progress Report:

Body Composition

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.00                   14.25             +.25

Shoulders                  44.50                   43.62              -.88

Chest                             38.00                  38.00               0

Waist                             32.50                   32.25              -.25

Biceps                           12.75                   12.50              -.25

Forearms                   11.10                    10.87             -.23

Thighs                         21.82                   21.95              +.13

Calves                          14                           13.8                -.20

Weight                         156 lbs              151.8                 -4.2 lbs

Body Fat %                15.7%                14.6%               -1.1%

Lean Body Mass    131.6 lbs        129.60           -1.0lbs

Final tally from when I started the program I have gains in weight, lean body mass, body fat, biceps, forearms, thighs and calves. Neck and chest dropped. Hmm, looking at it that way I feel better about the results. Big picture view works. I started practicing the more complex moves of the new program on Wednesday’s and that has helped my conditioning. Now after my deload week, no exercise at all I’ll get started on Mike Mahler’s Kettlebell Solution For MMA Strength And Conditioning though not at the level he recommends. I’ll start at two for the lifts instead of 5 since it’s my first time with double kettlebells, and I’ll be sprinting once a week as well for hormonal optimization. The strength will come from

Double Kettlebell Clean and Push Press

Double Kettlebell Squat Shrug

Guard Attack

Alternating Renegade Row

Full Body Attack or Full Body Defense

Double Swing

And Conditioning from One-Handed Swings and Squat Thrusts. Two lift days, one conditioning and one sprint day. Let’s see what that forges.

Second Self-Assessment of the Year; Round Two of PM for MMA Complete

Two-thirds of the way through the Program Minimum for MMA; seeing some gains and efficiency as I progress. Before I was having problems maintaining three minutes of steady swings, which was really bothering me. Then three weeks ago…I broke it…the swing barrier. This past Friday I swung the 44lb kettlebell for 5 minutes straight. Very happy with that. Haven’t done that…ever. This, along with the jumping rope and running, kicks my heart into the top end of the moderate-high intensity to high intensity zone. The former builds above average cardiovascular endurance and the latter builds speed and power. I can’t argue with those results.

As for strength I’ll be adding to the TGU’s and Crush Curls, after three weeks of using only the 44lb I’ll take a superset out with it and add the 53lb for three weeks and then make it two supersets. Then I cool down with a walk with the 53lb locked out overhead. I’ve been getting stronger so how are the measurements bearing out.

Fitness Progress Report:

Body Composition

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.20                   14.0                  -.20

Shoulders                  44.80                   44.5                 -.30

Chest                             38.00                  38.00               0

Waist                             32.50                   32.50                0

Biceps                           12.40                   12.75              +.35

Forearms                   11                          11.10               +.10

Thighs                         22.10                   21.82              -.28

Calves                          13.8                      14                     +.20

Weight                         153.8 lbs            156                   +2.2 lbs

Body Fat %                15.2%                  15.7%               +0.5%

Lean Body Mass    130.50 lbs        13 1.60           +1.1lbs

Everything but my biceps, forearms and calves have stayed the same. The crush curls helped the pulling strength and size of the biceps, and gripping the kettlebell in swings tightened up my forearms. Calves, all I can say is the jump rope did it. Body fat crept up a half a percent but I don’t see it gathering anywhere in particular. Lean body mass went up as well, and odd balance of a pound of fat for a pound of muscle. I can deal with that, and can’t wait to see the end results and before/after pictures. I’ll probably start easing into the next program’s conditioning phase of 15 one-arm swings and 15 squat thrusts for ten rounds (I’ll work up to it).

Program Minimum For MMA; Six Weeks In and A Long Way From Fighting Form

Jeff Martone

Taking a small break from the body of politics to see how my training has affected my body. Six weeks into the variation of the Program Minimum for MMA program designed by Steve Baccari, and I am displeased with my progress as far as stamina goes. It did increase from what I have started with. The first week was 35 swings one day and 50 later in the week for no more than a minute and a half. By the end of the six weeks, my best day was 115 swings in 3 minutes, and I have stayed at 3 minutes. I will have to note that I started swinging the 53lb kettlebell in the beginning and switched to the 44lb after reading a post at Science of the Swing about ‘bell size and goals.

“To wrap it up, increasing the load can only contribute to the power out point to a certain extent. Once above about 30% of body weight the increase in power output is very nominal – so if power output is the goal heavy isn’t better. Speed is king. Now, if power is your ULTIMATE GOAL – the swing might not be the best choice in exercise. WHAT?!?!?! The swing isn’t the best tool – sorry, but no. There is another KB drill that with the same load that results in significantly more power. If you are at Level II right now, you are about to be introduced to the drill – if not, go with what you’ve got, the swing.”

From his test results, the best option for me is 30%of my bodyweight or the 44lb kettlebell for my swings. 3 minutes of swings left me 9 minutes to jump rope and jog. With a Cool-Down of walking for 3 minutes with my 53lb kettlebell locked out overhead. For now, I manage to hold it for thirty seconds. To improve my conditioning I will add a day of Man Makers on Wednesday (12 minutes of swings, jump rope and jogging) in addition to my Monday and Friday sessions.

Now for the Strength portion. I love the progress. I used my RKC Brad’s routine for Turkish Get Ups of five reps instead of 5 minutes alternating in the beginning with my 30lb kettlebell for three reps and my 44lb for two. Now I am up to three reps with the 44 and two with the 30. Next week I begin with four reps with the 44. Three weeks later, I plan to be up to five reps with the 44. The Crush Curls are between 4 to 5 reps with whatever kettlebell I performed I used during the TGU. So let us see what this has accomplished.

Fitness Progress Report:

Body Composition

Body Part Before After -/+

Neck 14.35 14.20 -.15

Shoulders 43.25 44.80 +1.55

Chest 38.75 38.00 -.75

Waist 32.25 32.50 +.25

Biceps 12.25 12.40 +.15

Forearms 10.85 11 +.15

Thighs 21.25 22.1o +.85

Calves 13.5 13.8 +.30

Weight 150.2 lbs 153.8 +3.6 lbs

Body Fat % 14.4% 15.2% +0.8%

Lean Body Mass 128.50 lbs 130.50 +2.0lbs

Minor loss in my neck and chest and the three biggest gainers in mass was my shoulders, courtesy of the TGU’s and Overhead Kettlebell Walk; my thighs and calves thanks to the swings and jumprope. Arms went up due to the crush curls. I predict in six weeks I’ll even out and be more symmetrical. My body fat went up by almost a percentage point along with 2 pounds of muscle. Back up to my post 53lb ROP plus a little more lean body mass. I did predict the fat would drop, and I was wrong. Still in my comfort zone. We’ll see!