Guest post by Jon Chacon
I’ve always been a fan of “hitting” the weights, and getting “jacked” in the house of steel, but whenever I thought I was starting to make some real progress the maximum “jackage” went away and I ended up “hitting” another plateau. Oh well, time to find a new routine in Men’s Health.
Before long, my search for a new and exciting routine (I hate that word; complacency kills!) brought me into the wonderful world of kettlebells, sandbags, steel bending, hand strength, and a number of other odd-object, strength and conditioning mechanisms. I started off like a lot of people with the same interests and caught on to the “manuals” for kettlebells and such that guaranteed results with step-by-step how-to progressions.
The kettlebells were expensive alone, but hey, I’ll try anything with a money back guarantee. The manuals weren’t exactly cheap either, but I needed a place to start off right instead of hurting myself by watching the wrong person on YouTube, at least that’s what the people on YouTube told me.
As with most people who followed these manuals to a tee, I made some decent progress and I was feeling what I thought was pretty damn strong and lookin’ pretty lean. That is until I found some videos of this tall, crew-cut, rebel strongman who made stuff like bending wrenches, tearing decks of cards (into quarters I might add!), and double bottoms-up pressing 44kg bells I felt offended. Yes, offended.
Who does he think he is?
The guy’s name was Adam T. Glass. Just the fact that he puts the T in his name offended me. Who does he think he is? I’m strong too. It’s gotta be a trick. Maybe he’s been doing this for like 10 years. That’s it. Nope, turns out he’s been working on this stuff about as long as I have, if not less. Either way, he was doing way more than me, progressing faster, making it look easy, and doing it without pain.
I shrugged it off for the time being and went back to my conventional methods: waking up each morning dreading my “workout”, feeling pain all over, and basically taking two steps back for every step forward.
The days went by and more and more I kept hearing about and seeing this guy, Adam T. Glass, talking up the “movement”, the “Gym Movement” to be more precise. What struck me immediately was that this man was a trainer, but he was interested in helping people help themselves so that they wouldn’t need a trainer.
The only trainer they would need was themselves because no one knows your body better than you. Regardless of how much this guy may have pissed me off I agreed with the methods of his madness and why he was trying to press this Gym Movement protocol. So as you might imagine I bought the first DVD he put out, “Grip & Rip 2.0”, with some other freak of strength nature named Brad Nelson.
The day the DVD arrived I popped it in the computer and watched it from start to finish. The idea was so simple: test your base range-of-motion (ROM), test multiple movements (with or without weight), check your ROM after each movement, whichever movement resulted in the greatest increase in ROM for that point in time would be the movement (or series of movements) you would execute.
You could even test different weights, and length of time between sets using this protocol. Amazing. As for reps, simply do as many as your body will allow until you get excessive tension, a change in your breathing pattern, or you start to feel pain; though the idea is to stop at the onset of excessive tension and not allowing your body to reach pain.
Weird…I always thought pain was good. No pain, no gain, right? Wrong. After my first session with Gym Movement I was hooked. I’m even to the point where I can train my body 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day, and still make progress.
I was already familiar with the acronym, PR, and what it meant, but didn’t see them too often before. Now, they come pretty much daily since a personal record doesn’t always have to be more weight lifted, or more reps. A PR can come from more total volume in a movement, more total sets, more reps in each set, or more movement in less time (i.e. higher frequency).
So far I have utilized Gym Movement with bodyweight strength training, kettlebell conditioning routines, and powerlifting lifts (primarily squats and deadlifts).
One of those manuals that I discussed above is the well-renowned “Convict Conditioning.” How badass is this: get prison strength by progressing through ten outlined progressive bench marks in six of the most difficult bodyweight strength movements of all time. For the moment, I’ve been chasing the one-armed pullup, and the one-arm handstand pushup.
The other movements are cool too, but these two have been testing well for the longest time. Once I hit that evil plateau with the progressive system that Convict Conditioning had laid out I decided to apply the Gym Movement to my training. Just as I suspected, nothing but progress; slow progress, but nonetheless, progress.
About those kettlebells
As for the kettlebells, I use them primarily for conditioning. I tend to test all the full body movements (which is pretty much all kettlebell movements, but I focus on a few) like the snatch, split snatch, double snatch, double clean and jerk, double swings, double jerks, and double thrusters (kind of a long push press). I typically combine one or two of these with some bodyweight movements, establish a set and rep scheme, and then execute for time.
My times just keep decreasing, so my sets and rep schemes have to keep increasing, or I have to use more weight, which is never a bad thing. Just recently I have started applying the Gym Movement to squats and deadlifts, the ultimate lifts, aside from the bench press, in the powerlifting world. Progress has also been made in this area.
Eventually, I’ll start hitting Olympic lifts, but that will come with time. I’ve even been able to focus on my neck training (thanks to Mike “The Machine” Bruce and Logan Christopher for their inspiration to never be a pencil neck) as well as my hand strength utilizing bridging and other techniques for the neck, and using grippers, plate pinching, and plate curling (thanks Adam) for my grip.
Once I was able to reach past my stubborn ways and appreciate the people who are making more progress than I am, real progress, I was able to make my own progress and continue to look forward to every training session that I have because I still surprise myself with what movement I may train for the day and I know a PR will come out of it somehow. Now’s the time to ask yourself if you want to have a cup of what he’s having.
About the author:
Jon Chacon is a big fan (obviously) of strength training, kettlebells, and eating paleo. Please go say hi at primalsteel.tumblr.com