Even More Pressing Matters

There's a few things I hate:

  1. When people spell "defiantly" but mean "definitely."
  2. People that rush off an airplane, eager to beat everyone seated in front of them.
  3. A general lack of gainz.

Luckily, I haven't come across #3 in the past four months. As I wrote here, I've spent that time on a simple - but not easy - program, to improve my pressing, pull-ups and get-ups. The results were fantastic and the gainz were plentiful. 

If you'd like to view the particulars of the program, you can see it here and here. But I wanted to address three other lessons I've learned from this program: 

1. It increased my aerobic capacity and Heart Rate Variability.

This seems counterintuitive. Usually, pressing and pulling heavy kettlebells tends to require a lot of rest.  So how did I increase my conditioning?

As I've written before, the aerobic system is the most important energy production pathway in the body.  While most people think they need to hammer themselves with intense conditioning, what's most often needed is long, steady work keeping your heart rate in the 120-140 beats per minute range for 30-60 minutes.  There are plenty of benefits to high intensity work, but only when it's used sparingly.

My training sessions would begin with 10 get-ups (with the 48kg bell, naturally) which took about 15 minutes to complete. My heart rate would stay even throughout at 120-140 bpm. 

As I moved on to presses and pull-ups, this portion took between 30-70 minutes to complete. While my heart rate would spike (150-160 bpm) on some of the longer ladders, it would dip to 110-120 before I felt ready to begin again.  While this doesn't qualify as the long, slow cardio that everyone needs, it made my overall program much more aerobic in nature.

 My M.O. these days..

My M.O. these days..

Subjectively, it took about 6 weeks into the program to really feel my conditioning improve.  It was mirrored in my Heart Rate variability - a measure aerobic fitness - as that improved as well.

2. I cleaned up my kettlebell cleans.

One of the hardest kettlebell skills to learn - and teach - is the kettlebell clean.  It takes an enormous amount of practice, technique, and the correct blend of tension and relaxation to master them.  Before I embarked on this program, they were one of my biggest weak points.

And the old adage is true: your press is only as good as your clean.  I could cheat my cleans with double 24k kettlebells, but when it came to double 40k's (88 pounds each)?  No way.

This program forced me to get better at cleans, and I made a concentrated effort to improve them every time I touched a bell.  After some bruised forearms (and one ego) later, I can happily say they're greatly improved.

3. The gainz continued.

In my first post, I mentioned how my body weight increased by 5 pounds, while my body fat had only increased by <1%.  While I didn't see much difference in those categories in my following two months on the program, I did see continual progress in my overhead strength. Here are two videos to illustrate my point:

And yes, that's my serious face at the end of my pressing video.  If you're looking to get stronger at pull-ups, get-ups, or presses - or just make dem gainz - this program is for you.

As to what's next? I've transitioned out of this program to a single kettlebell pressing program.  With the Tactical Strength Challenge on the horizon in April, I'll be dreaming of big things!