Pentathlon update

I had my second attempt at kettlebell pentathlon this evening, and it went pretty well! I had a look at the numbers beforehand to figure out what kind of reps I needed to hit to level up and it didn’t seem to be too much of an ask, so I went for it.
My numbers for the clean, longcycle press, jerk, half snatch and push press were…

You’ll need to excuse the shoddy handwriting; my forearms were too pumped to hold the pen well!
I’m really pleased with that score, especially since it represents a move into the ‘high’ category. It’s clear that I need to lift more for the first two exercises since I reached max reps with time to spare – 16kg is going to feel like a big jump though (there wasn’t a pro-16kg available today or I probably would have tried it). The reps will certainly go down, but if I can achieve three quarters of my 12kg reps with the 16kg my score will be the same. I think that’s do-able for cleans and longcycle, though it’ll certainly make the rest of the lifts harder!
I’m likely to be sore for a couple of days, so I’ll make sure workouts for the rest of the week have a different focus, and maybe try pentathlon again at the weekend. It’s been a while since I enjoyed a workout this much – I think the mix of physical and mental perseverance is just what I needed 🙂


Pentathlon rankings

Note: If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, do that first!

Just another snippet on kettlebell pentathlon!  My good friend Dave found a note that Valery Fedorenko posted to Facebook, indicating what scores are considered average, good, and so on.  As Fedorenko himself points out these are very subjective, as they’ll be influenced by age, injury, and any number of other things.  But I kind of like having a score to aim for (need nearly 100 more points to level up!), and knowing what Fedorenko considers to be a good score.

Here are the ranks as outlined on facebook:

Women’s Standards

  • Less < 360 : Low
  • 361 – 540 : Average
  • 541 – 720 : Good
  • 721 – 900 : High
  • 901 – 1080 : Extreme
  • More > 1081 : Superhuman

Men’s Standards

  • Less < 720 : Low
  • 721 – 900 : Average
  • 901 – 1080 : Good
  • 1081 – 1260 : High
  • 1261 – 1440 : Extreme
  • More > 1441 : Superhuman
I’d like to reach “high”, and consider “extreme to be a very long term goal.  Superhuman is probably never going to happen!

Kettlebell pentathlon

In case you hadn’t noticed, I quite enjoy kettlebell lifting.  I’m also interested in kettlebell sport, so I have a lot of respect for a man called Valery Fedorenko – he’s a so-called Master of Sport, and has been winning competitions since he was a teenager.  Now in his 40s he is the founder of the World Kettlebell Club and an authority on kettlebell sport, which is the discipline of lifting really heavy things for a really long time (10 minute sets with the bell changing hands only once).

So imagine my delight when Fedorenko posted a video explaining something called kettlebell pentathlon.  He describes it as a game, and challenges the viewer to see what they can achieve.  Hell yeah!

The rules are as follows: perform each exercise for 6 minutes, changing hands as many times as you like.  Rest for 5 minutes in between exercises.  Choose whichever bell you like for each exercise, or pick one and use it all the way through – it’s up to you.  These are 1-arm exercises – there are no doubles.  The maximum rep range is indicated below in brackets – if you can exceed this number, you need to lift heavier.  The exercises are:

  • Clean (x120)
  • Longcycle press (x60) – this is a military press; no knee involvement.
  • Jerk (x120)
  • Half snatch (x108)
  • Push press (x120) – heels must not leave the floor during this exercise.
Make sure to either count your reps (or have someone with you to count them), because this isn’t just about doing the movements, it’s about keeping score too.  At the end the running total of all the exercises is added up to give you your total, and then multiplied by a number that depends on the kettlebell you used:
  • 8kg – multiply by 1.0
  • 12kg – x1.5
  • 16kg – x2.0
  • 20kg – x2.5
  • 24kg – x3.0
  • 28kg – x3.5
  • 32kg – x4.0
And so on.  Fedorenko kindly says that you may use up to a 72kg kettlebell, although the very thought makes me feel…woozy.
I attempted all of this for the first time this evening, and to be honest I’m just kind of glad to have made it to the end without having to stop or ripping my hand open!  My reps were as follows:
  • Clean – 110 (very happy with this)
  • Longcycle press – 60 (and this)
  • Jerk – 84 (reasonably happy with this, but could do better)
  • Half snatch – 82 (fatigue really kicking in now)
  • Push press – 88 (just happy to get these done without falling over or swearing)
So that’s a total of 424 reps, with a 12kg bell throughout for a multiplier of 1.5 = 636 points.  I’m rather happy with that for a first time, but will definitely be aiming to improve it.
And soon, too 🙂
Note: Click here for more about kettlebell pentathlon!

While I’m on a roll…

Why not post today’s workout?  After a quick dynamic warmup… 3 rounds of:

  • Round-the-worlds, 24kg kettlebell, 10 each way
  • Halos, 12kg kettlebell, 10 each way
Followed by 3 rounds of:
  • Single-leg deadlift, 24kg KB, 5 each leg
  • Bottoms-up goblet squat, 24kg, 5 reps
  • 2-hand swing, 24kg KB, 10 reps
Swiftly followed by a military press pyramid set, starting with 1 rep each arm, up to 5, then back down to 1; 16kg KB.  The finisher was 2 sets of 40 1-hand swings, 20L/20R with 24kg.
I’m pleasantly tired after that, but my post-workout meal was a cup of Blue Lady tea and a home made chocolate brownie.  Anabolic, no? 😉

This blog isn’t dead, honest

Oops, it appears to be some time since I posted.  I’m not dead, and neither is the blog, I promise!

I’ve been working crazy shifts at work, where my colleagues and I have all been drafted to help at the front end – in other words answering the phone and assessing people’s symptoms.  This is not my job and I find it incredibly stressful and exhausting…but hopefully with the holiday period over there will be less of that.

And through all of this, training has been understandably sporadic!  I do my best though, and when I do get to the gym I make the best use I can of my time.  For instance, today’s workout:

  • 5mins of 12kg kettlebell snatches, split into 2/2/1 minute sets.  I wanted to do a solid 5 minutes, but the metal was so cold it hurt, and I had to rest my poor hands (and warm them up).
  • 5 sets of 5 deadlifts, 60/65/65/65/60kg.  I lost count so it may actually have been 6 sets, but that’s not a bad thing 😉
  • 3 sets of 5 Russian twists.  These should have been at the end of the workout, but I knew if I left the free weights area I’d not get back in.  Also should have been 5 sets but I need to be happy with my technique before I push that hard.
  • 5 sets of 5 assisted pull-ups, 35kg on the stack.  Need to move to 30kg next time.  Don’t want to, but all in the name of strength!

I’ve also improved my deadlift 1 rep max over the last couple of months; 18 months or so ago I struggled to acheive 70kg.  Lately I haven’t deadlifted much but have worked on total body strength, mainly with kettlebells.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to test my max, and was able to do:

  • 70kg – 5 reps
  • 75kg – 3 reps
  • 80kg – 3 reps
  • 82.5kg – 2 reps.
  • 85kg – 1 rep

I stopped there, and it felt pretty good.  I’ve been challenged to go for 1.5 times bodyweight, which means adding another 20kg to that bar….a lofty goal, but I’ll damn well get there 🙂

No flukes here!

I just wanted to drop by and say that last week’s 24kg kettlebell snatches were not flukes, no siree.  I spent all of our last kettlebell class helping out rather than training, but with one compromise; every time I walked past the 20kg bell I did 1 or 2 snatches either side.  Grease that groove 🙂

They felt good; strong and powerful.  The bell was finding its resting place at the top with no fuss, my arm was locked and back, and my whole core felt engaged and tight.  I totally ♥ that feeling!

And just to put a cherry on top, right at the end I managed one more snatch each side with 24kg.  Once again these were a bit more tentative and took a few moments to lock out at the top, but at no point did I feel like I was going to lose the bell.  Now I just need to work on the 5 & 10 minute snatch tests, with 100 and 200 reps respectively.  It looks like a big mountain from here, but I’m going to enjoy climbing it 🙂

Busting a snatch barrier

Today has been AWESOME so far!  I started the day with stage 2, workout A from the New Rules of Lifting for Women.  It was incredibly hard work but I increased a couple of my weights and got everything done (with the exception of the planks, but they need a post of their own).

After a quick shower and re-fueling (fresh tomato and basil soup – the kind with huge lumps of tomato, gorgeous) it was time for kettlebell class.  I posted the other day about how well these classes are going, and it has everything to do with my OH.  He loves kettlebell training, he loves to teach, and he’s very very good at both – all these things go together to make an awesome experience for the members.  We also have another PT joining us on a Saturday morning now too (say hello to Paul “Fitspider” Chan!), which is fantastic.  Spider is a fantastic PT, and qualified to coach kettlebells on the same course as my OH.  The members are really benefiting from having him around, and it means that everyone gets more time with a qualified trainer, which is ideal.

So the class went really well, and everyone seemed to make real, concrete progress.  What a fantastic feeling!  The first few sessions where people go from being scared of the bell to perfecting their swing are so satisfying – it’s really making me look forward to getting my level 2 and kettlebell qualifications so I can officially join the team!  Seeing the confidence build and the physical and mental changes take place, it’s incredibly rewarding.

OH has just bought a new 28kg competition bell – London Kettlebells are having a clearance, meaning a 28kg bell costs about £60 delivered.  How can you say no?!  OH and Spider can happily snatch that beast for reps, which got me thinking; I know all too well that this is a confidence game.  I can tell when a member is entirely capable of swinging a bigger bell, but is just too scared to try.  I also know that I’m still going through the same process myself – it’s not so long ago that I was scared to even try to snatch 16kg.  Now I can snatch that bad boy for 5 sets of 5, and I’ve been high-pulling the 20kg for a few weeks now.

So why not?  I got myself a 20kg and some space, took a couple of single arm swings, and blasted it over head on the right.  Phew.  That was scary….but fun!  It went up on the left just as nicely, at which point OH noticed what I was doing and said “is that the 24kg?”.  Um, no!  “Why not?!” says he.

Um…..  The only reason I could come up with was “because I’m scared of the 24kg”, but that’s not a reason, is it?  I know I’m getting stronger (thank you, New Rules!), I know that I can safely get out of the way of a bell that’s going to fall, so where’s my excuse?  Life’s too short to not take the occasional risk, so I picked up the nearest 24kg bell.

And damn me, if it didn’t go up!  It was a little shaky, took a second or two to reach full lockout, but it went up and it stayed up…and then again on the other side.  Ladies and gentlemen I have a new personal goal; snatch ladders with the 20kg until I can blast out 5 sets of 5.  I’ll leave the 24kg as a one rep max for now, but just knowing I can throw that lump of iron overhead is not only a thrill, but a huge confidence boost.

Eveyone should snatch kettlebells – it’s the biggest rush I’ve ever had 🙂

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