Rebuilding the Foundation With The Rite of Passage; Six Week Assessment

That six weeks blew by fast. I started it on week one with the Heavy day: 1-2-3 reps of clean and press with the 53lb kettlebell. Light day was a single rep and the moderate day was 1-2 reps. From there I added a ladder every week.

On the light day I practiced my kettlebell snatches. With the 44lb kettlebell I can perform it pretty good. With the 53 it’s not so pretty. This cycle I’ll just do high pulls with the 53, work on the explosiveness needed to launch it over head.

The next cycle simply adds a rep. Rather than 1-2-3 it will be 2-3-4 reps, starting with a single ladder and working up to six. Volume wise that will take me back to week three of this last cycle, just denser with more work in less time.

What did the slow build up do?

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               13.75                14.12              +0.37

Shoulders                      43.50                  43.50              0

Chest                              38                   37.75              -0.25

Waist                             33.25               33.5              +0.25

Biceps                           12.37              12.5               +0.13

Forearms                      10.62                11               +0.38

Thighs                         21.75                 21.25            -0.50

Calves                          13.25                13.68             +0.43

Weight                  155.6lbs          157.4        +1.8lbs

Body Fat %                18.1%                17.8%         -0.3%

Lean Body Mass    127.5lbs            129.3        +1.8lbs

Some gains, denser muscle and a slight decrease in fat. I should probably eat some more salads…and I really don’t like salads instead of grains or pastas when we eat out.


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.

S&S/ROP Hybrid Kettlebell Program; Six Week Assessment

Pavel doing one-hand swings from S&S

After this last competition, I began an Easy Strength version of the Rite of Passage. I train kettlebell swings, presses, and loaded carries. Fit into the rest periods are the correctives needed for my gaps, such as patterning, grinding, and doing the swing pattern, relearning tightness with a push-up plank. I even found room to practice the Siu Lim Tao form from Wing Chun Kung Fu, alternating it with the drills from the book Taking It to the Street. So far, I finish all this around 30 minutes. A nice change from the near hour-long training sessions I had been doing.

It was two days of Simple and Sinister by the book, then two days where the Clean & Press following the Rite of Passage’s ladder scheme replaced the Get-Ups. A great variation that succeeded in pushing strength up, except it is a focused bus bench program since the intensity is not sustainable. At my age I am Quadrant III (see Easy Strength or Intervention) so I need to ease back the intensity, staying on the park bench for a while with the new program.

Speaking of Intervention, I went through it answering the 10 questions, and then applying the five principles to construct a program. Following the advice of the book and Scott Iardella this is the first program I have ever written for myself so this will be an interesting six weeks until the next assessment. I recommend the book highly, now to see what the S&S/ROP hybrid did as far as body composition.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.12                 14.12               0

Shoulders             43.75                   43.25            -.50

Chest                      37.25            37.50                 +.25

Waist                             32.25                  32         -.25

Biceps                    12.43                 12.37             -0.06

Forearms                   10.87             11.00          +0.13

Thighs                         21.81                 21.25      -.56

Calves                          13.81                   13.75         -.06

Weight                  151.6lbs          153.4          +1.8lbs

Body Fat %                15.3%                14.8%         -.50%

Lean Body Mass    128.4lbs            130.7           +2.3lbs

Well I expected to be fatter with the excess calories I had been eating but my body put them to use apparently. Less fat, more lean body mass mostly in the chest and forearms. Strength is up, body fat is in acceptable levels and lean body mass is up. Not complaining at all.

Climbing the ROP Ladders Again; Six Week Self-Assessment


Eight weeks into press ladders, six since the last assessment, its time to see where I am now.

  • Sixty one-handed swings after I realized I should to push it a little to get into the five-minute window needed to progress.
  • Get-Ups, same reps, more weight now with four sets done with the 44lb kettlebell and only the one with the 28lb kettlebell.

Clean & Presses? I have reached the point where I stalled out at close to two years ago. Four ladders of 1-2-3 and one ladder of 1-2-3-4 for 34 reps. I am using what I have learned in the past and some self-experimentation to avoid the plateau again. One way is a post on Original Strength titled Original Strength for Brute Strength on using OS Resets to help the press. Through trial and error, I found Baby Crawls were the ticket. The second is another post I read on StrongFirst, where I am going to do Heavy Dead Stop Swings every day for 5 singles with my 70lb kettlebell to power up my clean. The kettlebell clean gets you tight for the press so you are stronger. It will teach me to be tight, or else.

Moreover, the most important thing, plenty of rest between the presses. The focus is strength so it is okay to take as long as needed on a training day.

I have also been ravenous lately so obeying my body’s signals I have been eating more calories any way I can cleanly. Adding ½ tablespoon of butter to my coffee nets 50 calories, more protein, even creeping over 150 grams of carbs occasionally due to activity level. Did it make me fat?

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.2                 14.12               -0.08

Shoulders             43.25                   43.75            +.50

Chest                      37            37.25                 +.25

Waist                             32.25                  32.25            0

Biceps                    12.37                 12.43             +0.06

Forearms                   10.71               10.87          +0.16

Thighs                         21.8                 21.81       +0.01

Calves                          13.75                   13.81         +.06

Weight                  152lbs          151.6           -0.4

Body Fat %                15.2%                15.3%         +.10%

Lean Body Mass    128.9lbs            128.4           -.5lbs

A little growth and some density added is my guess, looks like weight just shifted around. Either way, I’m not arguing with the results.

Simple and Sinister, How I’ve Missed You

Get UpOver the past 6 weeks, I literally had been counting the days until I could begin Simple and Sinister again, with a certain variation, after I completed the boringly effective 40-Day Workout. I can say without looking at any measurements that as far as aesthetics go I am happy where I am. I look, feel, and move better, thanks in part to the Original Strength resets.

Now the strategy for the near future its back to a variation of S&S that I already started two weeks ago; on Mondays and Thursdays I train pure S&S, for general preparation, and Tuesdays and Fridays I substitute Clean & Presses for Get-Ups in a ladder rep scheme for press specialization per Dan John’s Strongfirst articles. Wednesday is an off day to recover from the presses, and I am not stopping until I finally hit 75 reps with the 53lb ‘bell as I did with the 44lb. I think after hitting a 40% bodyweight press I have reached the end of easy gains and now I have to be smarter about it. It will take longer, but I do well sticking to a basic plan that stays the same but changes just enough to ease boredom.

Along with that, now that it is staying light later I started walking during my evening break again, with hill sprints up the levee surrounding the plant. I need to start walking on weekends too when I have the time for a longer walk at a brisk pace to build up my aerobic capacity and be low impact enough to not affect my recovery. Work capacity has been taken care of pretty well by the hill sprints and since we started sparring in Jeet Kune Do. Those three minute rounds work up a hell of a sweat, I recover quickly, though I keep in mind the length of a MMA match and the fact they only have a minute between rounds unlike me.

Diet wise, I just stay away from junk, keeping a casual eye on my carbs and just maintain.

So, what has this done for my body composition?

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.7                 14.2               -0.5

Shoulders             43.62                   43.25            -.37

Chest                      37            37                  -.0

Waist                             31.5                  32.25            +.75

Biceps                    12.55                 12.37             -0.18

Forearms                   10.82               10.71          -0.11

Thighs                         21.82                 21.8        -0.02

Calves                          13.62                    13.75         +.13

Weight                  151.6 lbs          152           +0.4

Body Fat %                12.5%                15.2%         +2.7%

Lean Body Mass    132.7lbs            128.9           -3.8 lbs

Those measurements were surprising, I didn’t imagine that. We’ll see what the heavier presses will do since I shrank, but still stronger again. I won’t argue with that.


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.

Time For A New Program: Six Week Self-Assessment

Well it finally happened. Almost a year and I hit a wall. For two weeks I didn’t have the energy for the Heavy or Medium Days. And worse, I just didn’t want to do the Rite of Passage. I had to force it.

So I contacted my friend Brad, my RKC trainer. So I went to his gym Life Warrior Fitness and he diagnosed my movements for a new program. This one is a lot less kettlebells. Only one day can I press, just to keep the movement fresh.

Its an interesting system, foam rolling, Primal Move mobility, Power Chamber and Circular Strength Training/TacFit. So what is it?

Power Chamber: You can check that out here. It’s supposed to help brace my core. Isometrically I believe.

Circular Strength Training: 

  1. Lunge (video)
  2. Sit Through Reach (video) Leg extending
  3. Tripod (video)
  4. Base Switch (video) :45 second mark
  5. Leg Lift Spinal Rock
  6. Reverse V-Up: same movement as on your back but from the Plank position.

I do this :30sec a move, back to back in a 3 minute circuit for 3 rounds. A minute of rest between rounds. I’ll deduct :1o seconds from the rest as I progress. I’ll start in earnest today with this program.

So what did the 53lb do, and what does the CST program have to work with?

Fitness Progress Report:

Body Composition

Body Part                     Before                         After               -/+

Neck                             14.3                              14.25                -.05

Shoulders                44.25                            45.40             +1.15

Chest                           37.5                             38.75               +1.25

Waist                           32                                  32.75               +.75

Biceps                         12.25                            12.50               +.25

Forearms                 10.87                         10.85                  -.02

Thighs                       20.87                        21.40                  +.53

Calves                           13.5                         13.8                  +.30

Weight                          150.4lbs                153.2              +2.8lbs

Body Fat %                  13.5%                     15.7%             +2.2%

Lean Body Mass        129.40lbs          129.20            -0.2lbs

Some size gain, lean body mass decrease. Not happy with the close to 16% body fat. Time to microscope what I eat. Drop calories and watch the carbs.

I’ll do this for awhile and then it’s right back to the kettlebells.

What Has the 53lb Kettlebell Wrought, and Which Friends Pressed It?

Four weeks into it with the 53lb kettlebell. Normally at this point I’d already be working on (1-2-3)4 and (1-2-3-4)1 except considering the weight I’m dealing with, and I have the time to work it, I’ve slowed down.

Pavel wrote in ETK that you progress every week and while I’m capable of it, I do it every two weeks. Getting more practice and training in.

Mondays is the Light Day. Really light. Single reps per set. Military Pressed the kettlebell for more work. Snatches and High Pulls.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my Variety Days. Thursdays I did the program Brad put together for me. It began with a superset. 5 Heavy Cleans with the 53lb kettlebell followed by a TGU alternating between the 30lb and 44lb kettlebell. Then Snatches with the 44 and Swings with the 53. Not the volume I do on a normal day though. I’ll continue on and progress during the next cycle.

Wednesday is the Medium Day. About 70% of the volume of the Heavy Day. Two rungs per ladder. Still swinging in a circuit.

Saturdays I go big, its the Heavy Day. Currently 3 rungs per ladder.

How much of a difference has the 53 made so far?

Fitness Progress Report:

Body Composition

Let’s look at the difference from before the Cycle with the 44lb.

Body Part                     Before                         After               -/+

Neck                             14.2                              14.3                +.1

Shoulders                44                                  44.25             +.25

Chest                           38.2                             37.5                 -.7

Waist                           31.5                              32                  +.5

Biceps                         12.1                             12.25             +.15

Forearms                 10.50                         10.87             +.37

Thighs                       20.50                        20.87              +.37

Calves                           13.2                         13.5                  +.30

Weight                          145.4lbs                 150.4              +2.0lbs

Body Fat %                  13.0%                     13.5%               +.5%

Lean Body Mass        126.40lbs           129.40            +3.olbs

Some size gain, lean body mass increase. Can’t complain. Good jump in lean body mass. I’m thinking I’ll really start gaining size in the coming weeks as the reps go up.

Oh and for fun, remember when I said my friends would try to beat my 5 rep record with the 53lb kettlebell? Two did.

Wade did, I got him into training with kettlebells so I thought he’d get at least 3 reps. Here’s how he did at this link

So did Wooly, and his results can be found here. Don’t mock the weight, it’s not as easy as you’d think. Wooly didn’t, and months ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of pressing that much.

Related Articles:

Am I Ready To Press the 53lb Kettlebell?

Six Week Assessment, Slow and Steady Progress

What Has The 44lb/20kg Kettlebell Forged; 6 Week Assessment

Six Weeks Into the Rite of Passage; Where Am I Now?