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 ūüôā


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 ūüôā
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? ūüėČ



Anyone still here?

Thought not. ¬†But then I only ever amassed about 3 followers anyway, so there was never much to lose! ¬†Now the question is, where to begin? ¬†It’s been practically a year since I had both time and inspiration at more or less the same time to post a blog entry, and while it feels a lot has happened, not much has changed.

Still got the same job (I write documents about medicines for the NHS, and occasionally try to give some phone advice). ¬†Tony and I are still merrily procrastinating about actually organising a wedding (now at the point where dragging a couple of strangers off the street for witnesses followed by a Chinese takeaway sounds pretty damn good). ¬†Still running regular kettlebell classes, though I suppose technically I’m now a kettlebell sport instructor too.

What’s changed? ¬†Well we’ve moved, twice. ¬†After a set of nightmare neighbours followed swiftly by a set of nightmare landlords, we’re now happily ensconced in working class suburbia – there are kids who play in the middle of the road and curtain-twitchers and everything! ¬†And…that’s about it. ¬†It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster year emotionally, but those are lots of stories for other times.

So if there’s anybody still out there….hi! ¬†Thanks for sticking with me! ¬†I can’t say for sure what direction the blog will go in from here, but I’ve been challenged by the lovely¬†@gunshotglitter_ to keep to a posting schedule of at least once a week, so let’s see what happens shall we? ¬†You can find her blog at Baking Beautiful, and our colleague Vince is joining in too. ¬†If nothing else, it’ll be a good laugh.

Tally ho!

Bulgarian Bags


Yep, turns out my blog was just sleeping, not dead. ¬†I’ve thought of a lot of things I wanted to post over the months, but yesterday I saw something cool enough to actually kick me into gear and do it.

Ever seen a Bulgarian bag? ¬†They’re an awesome training tool, but not cheap. ¬†A small one will set you back ¬£150, and it only gets more expensive from there. ¬†Obviously a lot of what you’re paying for is¬†craftsmanship¬†and the quality of the materials. ¬†But what if you just want to have a go and see if you get on with this method of training?

A friend of mine has made a few of his own, following instructions that can be easily found online, and while the quality is certainly not what you’d get if you laid down some hard cash, the end results are still pretty awesome.

The recipe is also incredibly simple, and the finished item is pretty durable – which it needs to be if it’s to be swung and slammed.

The basic ingredients:

  • An inner tube for a car. ¬†The bigger the tube, the bigger the Bulgarian bag.
  • Some big, sturdy cable ties.
  • Rubber mulch/pellets, builders sand, or something similar to fill the bag. ¬†Make your choice based on how heavy you want the finished product to be, or make a mixture to fine-tune the finished weight.
  • Gaffer tape.

And that’s it. ¬†Assembly couldn’t be simpler either; cut out a small section from the inner tube, to get rid of the valve. Use a cable tie to tie off one end, leaving 6-8 inches of free rubber. ¬†Fill with your choice of filling, then cable tie the other end too. ¬†Add an extra cable tie to each end for maximum security, then get the roll of gaffer tape and wind it round the loose ends. ¬†This covers the cable ties (potentially ouchy), and gives you a nice neat end to hold on to while the bag’s in use.

And that’s really it. ¬†They’re not pretty, but they’re solid and they do the job. ¬†There are 4 at our little studio now, of varying sizes and weights, and I have a feeling the family will be expanding rapidily!

40 Lifts for Lent

I’ve been banging on for a while now about a nice little challenge that I’m trying called 40 Lifts for Lent.¬† It’s inspired by a guy we know, who decided at about this time last year that he wanted to add an extra something to his training.¬† In his wisdom, he decided that , in addition to his usual routine of training, teaching kettlebell courses and running a business, he’d perform 40 lifts every day with his 40kg kettlebells.¬† See him chat about it in this video.

I’m not that brave.

But I’m giving it a damn good go with my trusty 16kgs.

It’s just as simple as it sounds; every day for the 40 days of lent I’ll be performing 40 lifts with 1 or 2 16 kg kettlebells.¬† On the days where I’m sore and tired that can be as simple as 40 double handed swings.¬† On the days when I want to go all out it’s a really fun target to reach.¬† For example, a couple of days ago…

  • 10 x 32kg DH swings (all the 16kgs were busy!!)
  • 10 x 32kg alternating swings (core KILLER)
  • 5 x double jerks with 2x16kg
  • 5 x double front squats with 2x16kg
  • 5 x stiff leg dead lifts with 2x16kg
  • 5 x double swings with 2x16kg

That was tough, and it felt awesome!

Of course this doesn’t mean that I ONLY do 40 reps every day, the 40 reps are there as a challenge, a way to push myself past what I would normally try.¬† I still join in at kettlebell class, I’m still taking the 100 pushup challenge, and I’m still trying to fit in barbell workouts where I can.

Speaking of which, it’s time to get to the gym.¬† Today’s plan; 40 double swings with two 16kg bells, followed by some heavy deadlifts. PB is still at 95kg, but I’ve got the century in my sights…

PS, I’ve been tweeting my workouts most days; for quick updates, just look for the #40lifts hashtag.

UPDATE: In my haste earlier I forgot to add that Tommy, the originator of the 40 lifts, wrote an ebook about his experience the first time round.¬† It’s an interesting read, both for those who already train with kettlebells and those yet to try it.

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