I’ve finally started back training and have done nearly two weeks of this part of my CMS training. Breathing properly again is awesome 🙂
Due to circumstances beyond my control I needed to find somewhere to train in the mornings, so I’ve only gone and joined a posh gym! It’s very weird going there rather than the usual place, and I miss the familiarity (and chat), but needs must. This place is a family owned place rather than a mega chain, has an acceptable rate for when I need to use it (no evenings), with no yearly contracts or joining fees. It also happens to have the best-equipped weight room I’ve found in a local gym. It also has loads of cardio equipment, a TRX area, kettlebells (including competition ones!), spinning bikes, pool, sauna, steam room, and a functional training space. I just need to find time to play with all the other bits now 😉
I already had it in mind to mix in some strength work with my kettlebell training. Partly because I enjoy it and miss it when I need to focus solely on the bells. Partly because I believe it makes me a better all round athlete. And partly because my next target competition is a few months away I have the time to do it as well. I think there is a degree of carry-over between barbell work and Kettlebells, but of course nothing beats the sport specific training the closer a competitor gets. Because, honestly, nothing matches the torture of trying to go ten minutes with a 20kg bell 😉
Since the place I’m training in for the next couple of months has the luxury of five (yep, really!) racks, I decided to adapt 5×5 basics into a three-day full body program. Two other sessions in a week will be bodyweight (warm up) and then kettlebells. The odd bike ride or run might occur. As and when based on mood, weather, and time.
I’ve chosen to hit rep ranges of 3×5 for the primary working sets, with warm up sets before that. I’ve also been realistic (conservative) with my 1RM to work out starting weights as I’ve not done barbell work for a few months. Additionally, the weights rise each workout by a fractional plate (exact amount is lift dependent) so starting off too confidently will cause failure and plateau. In addition, I’ve added several accessory items such as bicep curls, hip thrusts, pull-ups, to work at or towards 2×8 sets. I based the plan on the ideas in the Ice Cream Fitness program, which itself is a variation on StrongLifts 5×5.
I should make clear here I would be using 5×5 and 3×8 rep/set ranges if I were just doing a 3-day full body program. The reduction is to allow me the strength and energy to do the kettlebell workouts each week. Chucking a 20kg weight around is not to be underestimated!
I’ve had a lot of success using 5/3/1 deadlift progressions in the past. It got me to 2 x bodyweight 1RM last autumn 🙂 Since this strength work is not to push one rep maxes (unless it happens) but to have a solid strength workout with progression, I felt it was more appropriate to use the Strong Lifts ideas. The Ice Cream Fitness plan is classed as a novice plan (though I think it progresses fast for a complete beginner if followed exactly) while the 5/3/1 is often considered intermediate. I don’t feel this is a problem. Use what works 😉 Seriously, I know that I don’t stick to barbell training long enough to need to avoid novice programs. I don’t do it consistently for 18 months. I let kettlebells get in the way! But I also feel I have enough conditioning and experience to do intermediate things as and when it is appropriate.
The plan is working. So far! Almost two weeks in, and I’ve found the optimal before work time for a mostly empty gym. I’m completing my planned sets and reps, and this week have added a couple of extra cable ones in for thoracic flexibility. Not particularly heavily loaded, but good to do to help my kettlebell lifting.
Last week at training, I had the best reps over time (albeit 10 minutes of lifting with breaks) than I have ever achieved 🙂 Which is even better news! The variety is doing me good, as is the extra strength focus. It might be the technique that gets the kettlebell overhead in the Jerk phase of Long Cycle. But the shoulder and arm have to be strong enough to stabilise the bell for fixation. I found that was lacking a few months back so seeing improvement now is good.
The next steps with the kettlebells involve more volume with the 16kg bell and reducing rest periods with the 20kg bell. Oh and a bit of playing around with the 24kg bell. Sometimes. On a good day… 😉
I’ll keep you posted!