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EDT for GS Success

June 19, 2007 11:14 AM

Most competitive gireveks accept that there are three phases to preparing for girevoy sport: the strength phase, the endurance phase and the pre-competition phase.

For the strength phase (not maximal one-rep strength, but the RKC five rep standard), I'd suggest a program focusing on shoulder, core & leg strength. For pre-competition, focus on jerks & snatches of varying intensity along with some assistance exercises to bring up your weak links. This article will present several options for the endurance phase.

For the endurance phase, I'd suggest an Escalating Density Training format with these particular exercise pairings.

Research has repeatedly shown that to build maximal strength, you should lift heavy weights for low reps & rest several minutes between sets. For muscular endurance, you should lift moderately heavy for higher reps and compress your rest periods. If you are "ready" for your next set, comrade, you have rested too long.

EDT is based on working opposing muscle groups (or upper & lower body) for 15 minute blocks, called PR zones. Rest periods are up to the individual. The goal is to continually increase the number of repetitions in that block of time (hence the Personal Record Zone). This will be covered more in depth in a bit.

There are several pairings that I've found to give great endurance workouts.
They are:

PR Zone 1 - See-Saw Press/ Jump Squats

PR Zone 1- Double Military Press/Renegade Rows
PR Zone 2 - Front Squat/ Finger Rollups

PR Zone 1 - Dive Bomber Pushups/ Pullups
PR Zone 2 - COC Grippers/Explosive Split Squats

PR Zone 1- Heavy Clean & Jerk (L/R)

A quick description of each zone:

SeeSaw Press/ Squat Jumps-

I really like the see-saw press for this drill because it focuses more on the shoulder & triceps muscles rather than the Central Nervous System like heavy double presses. See-saw presses also allow the lifter to practice resting (while one kb is locked out, quickly relax the other shoulder).
For those unfamiliar with the seesaw press, clean two kettlebells to your shoulders. Lock one kb overhead. This is the start position. As you press the second kettlebell, lower the first- as one kb goes up, the other comes down (now you know why it is called the see-saw press).

Squat jump: Lock your hands behind your neck, drop down into a full squat with your weight slightly on your heels. Fire out of the hole for maximum height.
You may wish to place a towel between your hands and neck to prevent getting "neck grease" all over your kb handles (now that my basement is finished, I don't take chances with flying kettlebells).
Since you are working upper and lower body with this PR Zone, no second PR zone is required. Feel free, however, to follow this workout with some snatch/clean & press breathing ladders (see Rob Lawrence's article on breathing ladders).

Double Military Press/Renegade Rows-

If you are dabbling in GS, you should already know these exercises. Most lifters find that the double kb press is much more difficult than the see saw press. We may not "smoke" the shoulders during this PR Zone, but they will get even more work during the following PR Zone. If you cannot perform 5 reps per set for the entire 15 minutes, you should relegate this exercise combo to the strength phase.

Front Squat/Finger Rollups-

Again, you should be very familiar with the front squat by now. Just make sure that you are holding the kbs in the GS "rack" position (your shoulders will be thoroughly worked at the end of this PR zone)
To complete the finger rollups, let a barbell hang (I like the 1" bars for this) at arms length so it is resting against your thighs. Let the bar roll down to the very end of your fingertips. Without flexing the wrist, roll the bar back into the palm of your hand & squeeze. This exercise mimics the pull of the kb handle during snatches.

Dive Bomber Pushups/Pullups-

See my previous "Favorite Girevoy Sport Exercises" article for a full description of the dive-bomber pushup. I'm quite certain you already know how to perform a pull-up. If you cannot perform pull-ups, perform heavy double kb cleans.

COC Grippers/ Explosive Split Squats-

Use a gripper you can close less than ten times. If you don't have a gripper, you can repeat the barbell finger rollups.
Explosive split squats: Assume a lunge position. Now launch yourself skyward, alternating legs before landing. You may hold a couple small kettlebells for added resistance if you'd like.

Heavy Clean & Jerk-

This drill does it all! Men should use the 72 or 88# kettlebell, ladies the 36, 44 or 53#. You know what is heavy for you. (Guys-American GS competitor Catherine Imes will probably use the 72# so buck up!) For 15 minutes, you will alternate doing clean & jerks from left to right (or vice versa). You may set the kettlebell down between sets (Left AND Right = one set). If you are feeling perky at the end of 15 minutes or performing more than ten repetitions per side, you need to review the definition of heavy. If you don't have "heavy" kettlebells or really want to be sick, just do as many double kettlbell clean & jerks as you can in that 15 minutes. If this doesn't about kill you, you rested too much.

In the "official" EDT doctrine, equal repetitions are performed in each set, ie: 5 barbell military press followed by 5 barbell back squats. Since we are using fixed weight kettlebells and bodyweight, we'll be a bit looser with the rep scheme.

Let's take a look at one workout. For this particular workout we are going to alternate see-saw presses and squat jumps for a full 15 minutes. My last workout looked like this:
See Saw Press: 7 7 7 7 7 7 6 5 5 5 4 =67 reps with 72#kg
Squat Jumps: 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 =121 reps with bodyweight

To set up your own routine, start your presses with about 70% of your one-arm max rep count. Going to failure on a set will genuinely set you up for failure. When you have to really grind out a rep, it's time to drop the goal for the next set. Start your squat jumps about 50%. If you get your original target number for the full 15 minutes, you'll need to bump it up a rep or two for the next workout. If you only got your target for one set, I'd suggest lowering your target one notch. If maximum strength were your goal, you would not increase the weight until you "cleaned" the time period, but since your goal is building muscular endurance, bump up the reps when you only fall short the last couple sets. The EDT credo: more work in less time.

Note: most trainees will reach their squat jump goal before they reach their see-saw goal. Squat jumps can also take a lot of time, reducing the time available for presses. Your choice is to perform a pre-fatigue set of heavy 20 rep front squats before beginning the PR zone, change the leg work to the slightly more fatiguing split jumps, or add some type of weighted vest or back pack that does not interfere with your presses.

These workouts are tough. I'd suggest doing then every third or fourth day. Fill in the off days with some core work, 10 minute continuous kb drills and snatch ladders. Don't forget to throw in those same barbell finger rollups in a GTG fashion.

Whether you are planning to compete in a GS event, join the Special Forces, or just drop a ton of weight in a hurry, try the aforementioned EDT pairings. While I cannot guarantee you success on the platform, I can guarantee that your head will spin during some of these workouts if you have any pride at all.

Jared Savik, RKC won the 2004 US Girevoy Sport Championships in Sterling, VA. He is also the first American male to achieve CMS status with 32 kg kettlebells. His website is