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  • Jim Wendler 6:06 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Building the Monolith – 5/3/1 for Size 

    Building The Monolith – 5/3/1 For Size Week One Monday Squat – 70×5, 80×5, 90×5, 90×5, 90×5, 90×5, 90×5 Press – 70×5, 80×5, 90×5, 70xAMRAP Chins – 100 total reps Face Pulls/Band Pullaparts – 100 total reps Dips – 100-200 total reps Wednesday Deadlift – 70×5, 80×5, 90×5, 90×5, 90×5 Bench Press – 70×5, 80×5, [...]
     
  • Jim Wendler 5:41 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    13 Statements from an Airplane 

    “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” – H.L. Menken   That quote has nothing to do with anything this article is about but I love it. Here are some thoughts I wrote down recently, in no particular order. Use [...]
     
  • Nikki Shlosser 1:25 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    10 Reasons Your Progress is Stalling 

    By Dr. B Ramana, SFG

     

     

    Disclaimer: One of the advantages of being both a senior doctor and a strength coach is being able to see a wide spread of people — regular folks of all shapes and sizes. It is to these people (not the professional athletes) that I restrict my counsel.

     

    If you are one of those sincere people who read all manner of training articles and get motivated from one thing to the other (program, system, product, tool, guru, etc.) and, yet, surprisingly fail to progress much in any of them, then this article is for you.

    So what is it that’s getting in the way? Consider the 10 possibilities below.
     

    1. Nutritional deficiencies

    In urban, especially vegetarian communities, as we see in India, there is a huge population base of people feeling tired, weak and giddy. These people are chronically easily-fatigued. They want to train hard, but 5 sets of swings and they feel their end is imminent. While most trainers would blame laziness as the cause of failure to progress, it could be an organic deficiency in Vitamin D or B12 levels. If you are a woman and find training to be too taxing, you could be anemic. This is important to exclude if you are having heavy periods, or if you are a vegetarian or on a diet.

    Solution: Check your blood Vitamin D and B12 levels and ask your doc for help. Look under your lower eyelid, at your nailbeds and your tongue. If you look paler than others, go to your doc. Take iron supplements. Eat meat and veggies. Listen to Grandma.
     

    2. Breathing problems

    You get gassed-out easier than a fat pug chasing its tail, but don’t know why. You may simply be unable to inhale due to a nasal obstruction. Test this: occlude one nostril and breath out over a finger. Repeat on the other side, using the same finger to breathe out on. If you feel the warm breath more heavily on one side, you may have a nasal obstruction, and this may be a reason your breathing is suffering. There may be other breathing related problems that need evaluation.

    Solution: Get checked by your doctor and fix it. Nasal decongestants and irrigation may help.
     

    3. Low T levels

    If you are a male, and in middle age or beyond, your low energy levels or mediocre strength gains may be due to low testosterone levels. Low libido and performance, poor sleep and depression are common. This could follow a protracted period of dieting.

    While we are on the topic of hormones, please, please, please — stop talking about this adrenal fatigue nonsense. I insist. This is alternative medicine quackery stuff.

    Solution: Check your blood levels for testosterone (there are also online companies which do these) and get treated.
     

    4. Paleo

    While a lot of people feel energised and fulfilled on the Paleo diet, quite a bit of it could be confirmation bias or placebo effect at work. Without needing to bash Paleo (it works for a lot of people, so it is great), it may not be the right fit for you. Endurance training and heavy lifting both rely on muscle glycogen levels being topped up, and Paleo does not help in this regard.

    Solution: Take a dip in carb Hell and see if you feel better.
     

    5. Weak core

    Many a strength lacuna or restrictive stiffness may actually be a lack of reflexive core stabilisation. A classic example is tight hamstrings due to a weak core. A single set of side planks or deadbugs could improve the ASLR (straight leg test for hamstring length), revealing the problem. If you train with a good powerlifter and wish to improve your squats, one of the things he would tell you to do is push your belly outwards with tension. Harder. Much harder. I see several women whose pelvic floor muscles are damaged and they are incontinent during exercise. The abdominal cylinder compression in lifting cannot help move the weight if the power is leaking from the floor of the cylinder!

    Solution: While in an ideal world, you should be able to fix your problem with the help of an SFG, FMS or NKT specialist, you could simply work with more focus on reflexive core work. Original Strength has much to recommend it, as do many of the things Pavel has been teaching us over the years. Read Hardstyle Abs, for example, to learn ab activation with breath. Gold!

    A secret SFG technique taught by Pavel: At the top of a swing, pull your tailbone towards your navel. While this imagery seems absurd, this contracts the pelvic floor in sync with the abs and creates better compression. This is a real world application of linkage versus leakage.
     

    6. Tissue restriction

    Many people complain of low back stress or tweaks after a solid training day. Typically, this follows exercises like swings, squats, presses and pull-ups, though anything done in high volume could unravel issues hidden by compensations.

    While it would take a real expert in therapy to diagnose the cause of each tweak and alleviate it, there are broad patterns one can learn from.

    Pull-ups can result in pain in multiple body parts, from wrists to the lower back. While those are beyond our scope now, a couple of things need to be said. The training world needs to be aware of the underdiagnosed problem of overextension and being lat dominant. This leads to poor trapezius activation, leading to the lat pulling the shoulder into internal rotation and the lumbar spine into hyperextension. Secondly, the anterior core activation needs to be stressed in order to do the movement better. This would also counter the over-extended pattern.

    Similarly, tight hips or restricted T-spine extension may lead to a squatty swing pattern and translate to a horrendous snatch test ordeal. However much you train your swing or snatch, unless you free up the restriction and allow the hinge to unfold fully, the snatch will not improve.

    Solution: Get assessed by an expert, or Mwod yourself into goodness!
     

    7. Too many goals

    This is possibly the most important and under-reported cause of failure in progress. Most people don’t have a coach, and keep doing too many things too often.

    Solution: Stick to one proven program, and start making a change for the better.
     

    8. Poor progressions

    Many women (and even men) can’t progress on their pull-ups or pushups. Straightaway testing and trying a move that is beyond one’s abilities is not going to work. Swallow some pride, go back a few steps, and work on the progressions so that the practice is challenging without being difficult, and always with solid execution. Discipline should blend with desire.

    Solution: Regress to progress.
     

    9. Poor coaching

    It may not be your fault. I have seen countless examples of coaches who can’t understand the reasons their clients don’t progress, including the need for using regressions. Another major issue is their lack of programming knowledge. After a level of gains that is inevitable from practising movements, one stalls and tends to get frustrated.

    Solution: Programming. Find a better coach. Ask StrongFirst.
     

    10. Lifestyle dichotomy

    So you are training to get stronger? But in the rest of your life, you are destroying your strength potential? Are you sleeping? Are you sitting all day cooped in flexion over reports and meetings? Are you eating badly? Are you drinking and smoking? Your problems are there. Your training will change when you address these issues.

    Solution: Identify one lifestyle issue that is a problem, and hit it hard. You know the way. You just need to be tough with yourself in complying with it.
     
     

     
    Dr. B. Ramana, variously known as Ram or Rambodoc, is a senior laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon. He is India’s first SFG instructor (soon to be SFL as well) and teaches at India’s only Hardstyle strength gym ‘Soul Of Strength’ in Kolkata. He works with a wide range of students including bent, 80-year-old people and young studettes who can Get Up with bells ordinary men cannot even lift. He strongly believes in the power of strength training as a rehab tool.

     
  • Nikki Shlosser 1:25 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    10 Reasons Your Progress is Stalling 

    By Dr. B Ramana, SFG

     

     

    Disclaimer: One of the advantages of being both a senior doctor and a strength coach is being able to see a wide spread of people — regular folks of all shapes and sizes. It is to these people (not the professional athletes) that I restrict my counsel.

     

    If you are one of those sincere people who read all manner of training articles and get motivated from one thing to the other (program, system, product, tool, guru, etc.) and, yet, surprisingly fail to progress much in any of them, then this article is for you.

    So what is it that’s getting in the way? Consider the 10 possibilities below.
     

    1. Nutritional deficiencies

    In urban, especially vegetarian communities, as we see in India, there is a huge population base of people feeling tired, weak and giddy. These people are chronically easily-fatigued. They want to train hard, but 5 sets of swings and they feel their end is imminent. While most trainers would blame laziness as the cause of failure to progress, it could be an organic deficiency in Vitamin D or B12 levels. If you are a woman and find training to be too taxing, you could be anemic. This is important to exclude if you are having heavy periods, or if you are a vegetarian or on a diet.

    Solution: Check your blood Vitamin D and B12 levels and ask your doc for help. Look under your lower eyelid, at your nailbeds and your tongue. If you look paler than others, go to your doc. Take iron supplements. Eat meat and veggies. Listen to Grandma.
     

    2. Breathing problems

    You get gassed-out easier than a fat pug chasing its tail, but don’t know why. You may simply be unable to inhale due to a nasal obstruction. Test this: occlude one nostril and breath out over a finger. Repeat on the other side, using the same finger to breathe out on. If you feel the warm breath more heavily on one side, you may have a nasal obstruction, and this may be a reason your breathing is suffering. There may be other breathing related problems that need evaluation.

    Solution: Get checked by your doctor and fix it. Nasal decongestants and irrigation may help.
     

    3. Low T levels

    If you are a male, and in middle age or beyond, your low energy levels or mediocre strength gains may be due to low testosterone levels. Low libido and performance, poor sleep and depression are common. This could follow a protracted period of dieting.

    While we are on the topic of hormones, please, please, please — stop talking about this adrenal fatigue nonsense. I insist. This is alternative medicine quackery stuff.

    Solution: Check your blood levels for testosterone (there are also online companies which do these) and get treated.
     

    4. Paleo

    While a lot of people feel energised and fulfilled on the Paleo diet, quite a bit of it could be confirmation bias or placebo effect at work. Without needing to bash Paleo (it works for a lot of people, so it is great), it may not be the right fit for you. Endurance training and heavy lifting both rely on muscle glycogen levels being topped up, and Paleo does not help in this regard.

    Solution: Take a dip in carb Hell and see if you feel better.
     

    5. Weak core

    Many a strength lacuna or restrictive stiffness may actually be a lack of reflexive core stabilisation. A classic example is tight hamstrings due to a weak core. A single set of side planks or deadbugs could improve the ASLR (straight leg test for hamstring length), revealing the problem. If you train with a good powerlifter and wish to improve your squats, one of the things he would tell you to do is push your belly outwards with tension. Harder. Much harder. I see several women whose pelvic floor muscles are damaged and they are incontinent during exercise. The abdominal cylinder compression in lifting cannot help move the weight if the power is leaking from the floor of the cylinder!

    Solution: While in an ideal world, you should be able to fix your problem with the help of an SFG, FMS or NKT specialist, you could simply work with more focus on reflexive core work. Original Strength has much to recommend it, as do many of the things Pavel has been teaching us over the years. Read Hardstyle Abs, for example, to learn ab activation with breath. Gold!

    A secret SFG technique taught by Pavel: At the top of a swing, pull your tailbone towards your navel. While this imagery seems absurd, this contracts the pelvic floor in sync with the abs and creates better compression. This is a real world application of linkage versus leakage.
     

    6. Tissue restriction

    Many people complain of low back stress or tweaks after a solid training day. Typically, this follows exercises like swings, squats, presses and pull-ups, though anything done in high volume could unravel issues hidden by compensations.

    While it would take a real expert in therapy to diagnose the cause of each tweak and alleviate it, there are broad patterns one can learn from.

    Pull-ups can result in pain in multiple body parts, from wrists to the lower back. While those are beyond our scope now, a couple of things need to be said. The training world needs to be aware of the underdiagnosed problem of overextension and being lat dominant. This leads to poor trapezius activation, leading to the lat pulling the shoulder into internal rotation and the lumbar spine into hyperextension. Secondly, the anterior core activation needs to be stressed in order to do the movement better. This would also counter the over-extended pattern.

    Similarly, tight hips or restricted T-spine extension may lead to a squatty swing pattern and translate to a horrendous snatch test ordeal. However much you train your swing or snatch, unless you free up the restriction and allow the hinge to unfold fully, the snatch will not improve.

    Solution: Get assessed by an expert, or Mwod yourself into goodness!
     

    7. Too many goals

    This is possibly the most important and under-reported cause of failure in progress. Most people don’t have a coach, and keep doing too many things too often.

    Solution: Stick to one proven program, and start making a change for the better.
     

    8. Poor progressions

    Many women (and even men) can’t progress on their pull-ups or pushups. Straightaway testing and trying a move that is beyond one’s abilities is not going to work. Swallow some pride, go back a few steps, and work on the progressions so that the practice is challenging without being difficult, and always with solid execution. Discipline should blend with desire.

    Solution: Regress to progress.
     

    9. Poor coaching

    It may not be your fault. I have seen countless examples of coaches who can’t understand the reasons their clients don’t progress, including the need for using regressions. Another major issue is their lack of programming knowledge. After a level of gains that is inevitable from practising movements, one stalls and tends to get frustrated.

    Solution: Programming. Find a better coach. Ask StrongFirst.
     

    10. Lifestyle dichotomy

    So you are training to get stronger? But in the rest of your life, you are destroying your strength potential? Are you sleeping? Are you sitting all day cooped in flexion over reports and meetings? Are you eating badly? Are you drinking and smoking? Your problems are there. Your training will change when you address these issues.

    Solution: Identify one lifestyle issue that is a problem, and hit it hard. You know the way. You just need to be tough with yourself in complying with it.
     
     

     
    Dr. B. Ramana, variously known as Ram or Rambodoc, is a senior laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon. He is India’s first SFG instructor (soon to be SFL as well) and teaches at India’s only Hardstyle strength gym ‘Soul Of Strength’ in Kolkata. He works with a wide range of students including bent, 80-year-old people and young studettes who can Get Up with bells ordinary men cannot even lift. He strongly believes in the power of strength training as a rehab tool.

     
  • Nikki Shlosser 2:34 pm on June 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    [Seven] Basic Human Movements 

    By Delaine Ross, Senior SFG

     

     

    We are so often asked, “How do I put together a program at home?” or “How do you put your classes together?” The simple answer is we make sure to include both grinds and ballistics within the 7 basic human movement patterns.
     

    The Seven Movements

    GRINDS in kettlebell practice are the slow exercises – the ones you want to perform for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps, such as presses, deadlifts, squats and get-ups. BALLISTICS are the quick lifts — such as swings and snatches — that are to be performed for however many reps before form degrades from fatigue, or before power output diminishes. Typically, this falls between 10-20 reps.

    The 7 basic human movements are combined from Master SFGs Dan John and David Whitley. Dan’s 5 movements are:

    1. Push
    2. Pull
    3. Hinge
    4. Squat
    5. Loaded Carry

    After assisting a workshop with MSFG David Whitley, I added:

    1. Rotation
    2. Counter-rotation (fighting against rotation)

     

    Examples of Each

    When training for general physical preparedness (without any specific athletic goal in mind), you will want to start with some get-ups (which cover many categories) and then fill in the blanks. Plenty of exercises fall into two categories. And you can use one bell or two.

    By no means is this a comprehensive list, but here are some examples of each movement.

    Push: You can do any of the numerous press variations (military press, floor press, etc…)  You can even combine push and counter-rotation by doing a one-sided floor press. If you don’t want to use a bell, you can do pushups (of which there are numerous variations).

    Pull: Any of the row variations (rows, renegade rows, single-leg rows, batwings, etc..) or pull-ups fall into the pull category.

    Hinge: Deadlifts, swings, cleans, and snatches all are hinges.

    Squat: Goblet squats and front squats are the most common. The more practiced strength students can perform pistols (weighted or unweighted).

    Loaded Carry: According to Dan John, this one’s a game changer. Farmers carries, racked carries, waiter’s walk (overhead carries).

    Rotation: Russian twist, ribbons, overhead rotation (bell locked out overhead and rotate from your spine, not hips)

    Counter-rotation: One-sided suitcase deadlifts, one sided floor presses, renegade rows, one-arm swings, alternating swings.

     

    Sample Workout

    So here is an example for a basic kettlebell class or solo training at home:

    Joint Mobility:

    4 TGU’s each side
    2 laps farmers carries, 2 laps racked carries

    30 seconds work with 30 seconds rest for 3 rounds (:30/:30 x 3):

    Alternating Swings (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
    Military Press Left (grind, push)
    Military Press Right
    Row Left (grind, pull)
    Row Right
    Snatch Left (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
    Snatch Right
    Russian Twist (rotation)
    Goblet Squat (squat)

    That is the secret. Every class could be programmed this way: pretty much the same, but different. Same plan, different tactic. The specifics can change day to day without becoming “random acts of variety.” The seven basic human movements provides a template that we can follow to get maximal strength, mobility, stability, and fat loss results. Enjoy!
     
     

     
  • Nikki Shlosser 2:34 pm on June 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    [Seven] Basic Human Movements 

    By Delaine Ross, Senior SFG

     

     

    We are so often asked, “How do I put together a program at home?” or “How do you put your classes together?” The simple answer is we make sure to include both grinds and ballistics within the 7 basic human movement patterns.
     

    The Seven Movements

    GRINDS in kettlebell practice are the slow exercises – the ones you want to perform for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps, such as presses, deadlifts, squats and get-ups. BALLISTICS are the quick lifts — such as swings and snatches — that are to be performed for however many reps before form degrades from fatigue, or before power output diminishes. Typically, this falls between 10-20 reps.

    The 7 basic human movements are combined from Master SFGs Dan John and David Whitley. Dan’s 5 movements are:

    1. Push
    2. Pull
    3. Hinge
    4. Squat
    5. Loaded Carry

    After assisting a workshop with MSFG David Whitley, I added:

    1. Rotation
    2. Counter-rotation (fighting against rotation)

     

    Examples of Each

    When training for general physical preparedness (without any specific athletic goal in mind), you will want to start with some get-ups (which cover many categories) and then fill in the blanks. Plenty of exercises fall into two categories. And you can use one bell or two.

    By no means is this a comprehensive list, but here are some examples of each movement.

    Push: You can do any of the numerous press variations (military press, floor press, etc…)  You can even combine push and counter-rotation by doing a one-sided floor press. If you don’t want to use a bell, you can do pushups (of which there are numerous variations).

    Pull: Any of the row variations (rows, renegade rows, single-leg rows, batwings, etc..) or pull-ups fall into the pull category.

    Hinge: Deadlifts, swings, cleans, and snatches all are hinges.

    Squat: Goblet squats and front squats are the most common. The more practiced strength students can perform pistols (weighted or unweighted).

    Loaded Carry: According to Dan John, this one’s a game changer. Farmers carries, racked carries, waiter’s walk (overhead carries).

    Rotation: Russian twist, ribbons, overhead rotation (bell locked out overhead and rotate from your spine, not hips)

    Counter-rotation: One-sided suitcase deadlifts, one sided floor presses, renegade rows, one-arm swings, alternating swings.

     

    Sample Workout

    So here is an example for a basic kettlebell class or solo training at home:

    Joint Mobility:

    4 TGU’s each side
    2 laps farmers carries, 2 laps racked carries

    30 seconds work with 30 seconds rest for 3 rounds (:30/:30 x 3):

    Alternating Swings (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
    Military Press Left (grind, push)
    Military Press Right
    Row Left (grind, pull)
    Row Right
    Snatch Left (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
    Snatch Right
    Russian Twist (rotation)
    Goblet Squat (squat)

    That is the secret. Every class could be programmed this way: pretty much the same, but different. Same plan, different tactic. The specifics can change day to day without becoming “random acts of variety.” The seven basic human movements provides a template that we can follow to get maximal strength, mobility, stability, and fat loss results. Enjoy!
     
     

     
  • Jim Wendler 2:53 pm on June 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Charlotte Brown – Texas Sized Balls 

    Charlotte Brown   Every so often you hear about someone who makes you feel like a giant pussy. Charlotte Brown is one of those people.  About a year ago, my wife and I heard a report on ESPN radio about Charlotte Brown and just started laughing. Not because we thought it was funny but because [...]
     
  • Craig Marker 2:55 pm on June 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    An Olympic Weightlifting Approach to Coaching the Kettlebell Clean 

    By Jason Pak, SFGII, SFB, SFL

     

     

    A barbell clean and a kettlebell clean are two completely different movements, but both could fit this description:

    CLEAN [barbell or kettlebell]: A power exercise with a quick transition between tension and relaxation that requires proper positioning of the path of the implement in order to successfully complete the lift with maximal efficiency.

    Of the six fundamental Level I skills, the kettlebell clean seems to be the toughest exercise to “get” and perform proficiently. Part of the problem is applying too much tension and force production. Though these are important, they should not be the focus when first learning the clean. The trajectory and positioning of the kettlebell need to take precedent, otherwise too great an emphasis on power will throw off the timing and mechanics of the movement.

    The kettlebell clean has been described as:

    “a swing that ends up in the rack position.”

    While I agree with this — especially regarding the kinematics of the movement (deep hip hinge into a strong and stable front rack position), the actual projection of force is a bit different.

    In the swing, the goal is to place force into the ground and project that force (through the body, through the arms and into the kettlebell) horizontally.

    In the clean, that transfer of energy needs to be quickly re-directed vertically, with the elbow attached to the rib cage acting as the fulcrum.

    When there is too much emphasis on horizontal force production, positioning of the fulcrum is sacrificed (ie. “casting” the bell), and the only way to recover is to violently jerk the weight back into the rack. This leads to excessive impact at the top of the clean, massive energy leaks, as well as suboptimal set-up for any ensuing pressing and squatting.

    Below is the teaching progression we use at Achieve Fitness after we introduce the grip and proper rack position of the kettlebell.
     

    1. Tall Muscle Clean

    Similar to the barbell tall muscle clean, we like to teach the tall muscle kettlebell clean to groove the path of the kettlebell and familiarize the student with the “roll” around the wrist. By taking the legs out of the equation, we can really focus on the path of the kettlebell and prevent the hands from vice gripping the handle. This allows a smooth roll into the rack position. Keep in mind the bell should be light (I’m using a 12kg in the video).
     

     

    2. Low Swing

    Perform a normal hardstyle kettlebell swing, but only with enough force to get the bell(s) to float to a level no higher than your belly button.
     

     

    3. Low Swing “High Pull”

    Just like with the Olympic lifts, you don’t want your arms to overpower the drive from the legs, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not active. Once the kettlebell reaches a “weightless” state at the top of the low swing, you want the upper arms to kick in a bit and assist in redirecting the trajectory upwards. Bent at the elbows to an angle of about 90 degrees.
     

     

    4. “Spear”

    As the bell is directed upward, you then want to settle it back into a front rack position using the “roll” taught during the tall muscle clean and with a “spearing” motion with the fingers. The spear helps to further eliminate over-gripping the bell and allows for a smooth transition into the rack position.
     

    5. Clean

    And finally the full clean.
     

     

    It might take some practice, but piecing these parts together for your student should give a deeper understanding of the movement and help him/her to quickly develop the skill. If your student still has trouble with the lift, revisit the hip hinge, deadlift, and swing, or there might be an underlying fundamental movement issue at hand.

    We’ve had a lot of success with this progression for our students who have had a tough time understanding the movement, and we hope it helps yours too!
     
     


     
    About the Author: Jason owns and operates Achieve Fitness in Somerville, MA. As an SFG Level 2, SFL, and SFB Instructor, Jason utilizes the StrongFirst principles to train his students and athletes. You can find out more about Jason and Achieve Fitness at www.achievefitnessboston.com.
     
     

     
  • Craig Marker 3:51 pm on June 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Swing versus Snatch 

    By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman

    Brandon Hetzler, SFG Team Leader swinging and snatching.

    Are the swing and snatch interchangeable? Or do you have to do both?

    David Whitley, Master SFG quipped that “a snatch is a swing that ends up overhead” and a study by Brandon Hetzler, SFG Team Leader and colleagues confirmed it. The researchers found a similar mechanical output in both exercises and suggested “using kettlebell snatch and 2-handed swing exercise interchangeably for the ballistic component of athlete strength and conditioning programs”. In other words, if you are after power, either drill delivers.

    If you are a runner and have to pick one or the other, the swing might be a better choice. The above study observed that it has a greater “horizontal mechanical output” that the snatch. Here is why it matters.

    Russians measured the quad and hamstring strength of middle distance runners of different levels. They learned that while the hamstring strength keeps growing until the runner reaches the elite level, the quad strength grows until the CMS level (high intermediate)—and then drops way down. Among the reasons identified by the researcher: less experienced runners jump up and down overusing their quads and the elite do not waste their energy vertically and “paw” the ground instead to propel themselves straight forward. (Myakinchenko, 1983)

    (What you have here is less of a “swing vs. snatch” discussion and more of a “hinge vs. squat”. Certainly, it is best to do both, but usually there is a justifiable bias for one or the other.  For sprinters focusing on the hinge also makes sense. Consider that that best 100m and 200m sprinters have predominantly fast hamstrings—as you would expect—but their quads tend to be intermediate. (Selouyanov, 2010). Although this reflects natural selection rather than training, it suggests that, to a sprinter, the hinge is more important than the squat.)

    Relative strength of the knee flexors (left) and knee extensors in middle distance runners, from intermediate to world class. (Myakinchenko, 1983)

    Relative strength of the knee flexors (left) and knee extensors in middle distance runners,
    from intermediate to world class. (Myakinchenko, 1983)

    The swing dominates the snatch in lower body strength development and hypertrophy, simply because one can swing a lot more weight. Ladies who get on a regular diet of two-handed swings with 32-48kg never fail to develop spectacular curves. And once a gent can confidently swing a pair of 32s—as opposed to being swung by them—posterior chain strength is no longer his #1 priority.

    Both pulls are powerful developers of the upper back and the traps.

    The one-arm swing rules in the midsection and glute training department. The abs contract powerfully when you perform a “kime” on the top of each rep. The obliques lock down to prevent you from being twisted and pulled forward by the heavy kettlebell. The glutes cramp to put you in a “standing plank”. In the snatch your abs “open up” as the arm goes overhead which prevents the kime. The obliques do not have to work as hard, as the bell stays close to your body and eventually stacks on top of it.

    The snatch scores a win when it comes to burning fat. Geoff Neupert, SFG II prefers it to the swing because the snatch works the arms and shoulder girdle harder. More muscle groups involved should translate to greater fat burning. In addition, Hetzler’s research shows that the kettlebell travels twice as far in a snatch rep than in a swing rep. He explains, “All things being equal—the same person swinging and snatching the same size bell with the hard style approach—the snatch will accomplish more work… From a fat loss standpoint, snatches have a noticeable advantage.”

    The snatch also has an edge in grip development. A long semi-vertical drop from an overhead lockout—or even a throw with a lighter kettlebell—loads the grip in a very “plyometric” manner. Such ballistic eccentric loading builds strength exceptionally well. And given the high number of total reps a snatching girevik will do each week, it builds Popeye forearms too.


    The big strike against the snatch is a serious thoracic and shoulder mobility it demands—above what a typical Western gym rat and even an athlete possess.

    In summary, it is a tie:

    Both exercises are equally effective in building power.
    Both are equally effective in upper back development.
    The swing is superior for posterior chain and midsection development and strength.
    Per rep, the snatch burns more fat than the swing.
    The snatch has an advantage over the swing in grip development.
    The snatch demands great thoracic and shoulder mobility.

    Provided mobility is not an issue and you are skilled in both, which one should you choose?

    A good analogy is the barbell squat and deadlift. Both exercises work more or less the same muscle groups, yet each has its own edge. One can choose to do both to get the most benefits—at the expense of more complex programming. Or go minimalist, select one lift and polish it to perfection.

    Swing, snatch, or both, you cannot go wrong.

     
  • Jim Wendler 3:36 pm on June 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Programming Assistance Work   This originally was going to be used for the 5/3/1 Rest Pause stuff but I was able to use it for just about every other program that I’ve written. Just to be very clear, assistance work is NOT supplemental work.  Assistance work consists of movements such as DB bench, rows, triceps [...]
     
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