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CALIFORNIA OPEN KETTLEBELL SPORT CAMP – Day 5 Holding Back the Tears

March 2, 2014

IMG_20140228_091605My last private training session of the week was with the magnificent Sergey Rachinskiy. I have nick named him the “Chuck Norris of Kettle.” This guy is incredible. There is nothing he can’t do. He has an insane number of world records in kettle and barbell. He is referred to as “The Ultimate Girevik” and spending time with him in person he did not disappoint. He has a great sense of humour and like Merkulin is very attentive to his athletes. I had a lot of fun during our session. What was super impressive is that despite knowing very little English we were actually able to work together most of the session without using a translator – he is a great communicator. Like Merkulin he made me feel amazing as he was very complimentary of my technique. He even referred to records my coach had set and knew exact numbers. He told me that Jason was the master of relaxation, and that this was a great lesson I should learn from him. I was definitely more relaxed and feeling the weight of the bell more easily but something Rachinskiy noticed was that my 2nd dip was slow. So although my jerk is explosive I then am sometimes slow and soft on my landing. I need to work to quicken my movement and my breath at that point. Since Sergey didn’t want to change any part of my technique we pretty much immediately got into the workout. What I found most interesting about the long cycle sets he had me do was the weights he had chosen.

8kg, 12kg, 16kg, 20kg, 24kg OALC – All at 10 reps each arm except the 24kg was 5 reps each arm with 1 minute rest between each weight.

Similar to Merkulin I did a ladder starting at the lightest weight moving up to the heaviest weight and then back down. On the last set with the 8kg kettlebell my challenge was to lift it and have it look EXACTLY the same as the 24kg. These sets actually felt pretty awesome but I realized that I could save even more energy on my cleans if I kept my feet flat on the floor and didn’t lift my toes as I rock into the backswing. I didn’t realize how much I could add to my backswing which makes it much easier for gravity to do it’s job and spare my arm. The work on the 2nd dip/speed of the undersquat still needs work.

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Photo Credit – Jenn Tan

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Photo Credit – Jenn Tan

After our kettle sets we did some fun GPP. This is my favourite part! He had me do 100 jumping squats with an empty 45# bar. I was able to make the reps and he pointed out 2 very important things – 1. If I was able to do 100 jumping squats at the weight of my competition bell, then technically I have the power within my legs to do 100 repetitions of long cycle and 2. If I think of how fatigued my legs are and reduce it by 30-40% he told me that’s how involved/engaged my legs should feel in long cycle. The fact that my legs don’t feel like that tells me that I am relying too much on my upper body strength when I could be using my larger leg muscles more, which means my grip would last longer, which would make it easier to keep my desired pace from the energy I would save. This will definitely be a goal for the future. Sergey also told me since I was able to do 100 reps with the empty bar, next time I could use 40kg and do 2X50reps and try building to a single set of 100 reps. He told me that I don’t have to go beyond 60kg. I will definitely be having Jason incorporate some of these into my programming because  I have found that they actually help with the speed and explosiveness I need getting into my undersquat.

Here is some awesome video I have of my time with Sergey. I love how his coaching is very attentive and hands on.

 

Next up on the GPP scene – jump squats with a 12kg kettlebell. He had me do these differently from Kseniya where I held the kettlebell behind my neck instead of just having my arms hang in front of me. We did 2 X20 reps – but he told me if I was doing these at home as part of my programming I should make it 2 sets of 50 reps.

Finally we ended with walking lunges with a single kettlebell overhead using a 12kg kettlebell. 30-40 steps on one arm and then repeating on the other. I had seen in other sessions Sergey had done during the week he had guys finish with a max set of dips on a pair of parallel bars. I really wanted to try this so I asked if we could do it. He didn’t join me and go head to head like I was hoping (I’m so competitive) but instead he counted for me and asked me to do 10 reps. I probably could have done more…. but what was awesome was he told me I struggled less than many men he has seen try 🙂 When I saw Denis the next day he told me that Rachinskiy had still been talking about how easily I had done my dips. I felt pretty awesome. Rachinskiy told me I have all of the individual requirements to be a successful lifter – excellent technique, strength, flexibility….I just need more practice to learn proper relaxation of both my mind and body. It is crazy how you can reach a certain level and really fail to improve unless you are able to make subtle changes. My analogy has been like a bicycle tire with a few tiny pin holes. You might be able to continue riding for a fair distance but you are taking a risk that you will run out of air before you complete your journey. Same thing with kettle. But if you are able to self correct and patch the energy leaks you will increase the length of time you can survive the set as well as the number of reps you are able to complete. Sergey told me he hopes I will return to the Cali Open next year and I told him I would be back and get over 100 reps with the 20kg. His response? “Or 100 reps with the 24kg kettlebell.” BOOM! Even though it is the end of the week and I should be well over my shitty performance on the platform, it was still nibbling away at me. Rachinskiy’s positivity and encouragement really made me happy and motivated to get back to work and plan for my next competition.

After my session with Sergey, Mishin was giving a talk on the process of judging in the sport. I will have to admit that I arrived late to this session because I was walking on clouds after my Rachinskiy session. Still, Mishin is so articulate and really breaks things down. It was great to hear how judging works in Russia and his past experiences, as well as proper sport etiquette. In the end I had to hold back the tears as we wrapped up our final session. During this session for the first time we sat in one big circle so everyone could see everyone. It was a time to share what we had learned and ask the coaches any questions of the coaches we wanted to ask. The focus was around running team practices and prepping athletes. Afterwards both John and Jason gave the most heart felt speeches where they really described the heart and philosophy of the Orange Kettlebell Club. This made me very teary as I thought about everything that had been sacrified and the adversity they had to face to put on this event. What they said had also really reminded me of things Mishin had touched on early in the week and made me feel sappy and sentimental that even though we are from different countries/cultures we are all able to come together to share our love and passion for this sport. I really appreciate the opportunity that was given to us this week and their perseverance to put on the kettle event of the year that will undoubtedly change the sport. I know I am not the same lifter today as I was a week ago because of this experience.

1921238_783827211646274_1083999296_oTHANK YOU ORANGE KETTLEBELL CLUB for staying true to who you are and positively promoting and sharing this sport that I move so much. I’m really looking forward to more events in 2014 and beyond!!! CHU-HI!!!

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