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January 3, 2003 04:23 PM

On October 12th of this year, I was fortunate enough to win the Special Ops level of the inaugural Tactical Strength Challenge. AS this was my first foray into competition in several years, it was quite an experience. The competition itself was simply a great time. The preparation was a chance to finally focus my efforts and the chance to find out if my body could cash the proverbial check. My preparation for the TSC included some very successful strategies and some mistakes.

First let me lay out the basic ideas behind my preparation: specific, consistent and varied. I try not to complicate life any more than it is already, so the following might not knock your socks off, but it is often better to be simple.

Specific ? In my preparation, this meant not trying to find some magic formula or secret routine. The events were well known ahead of time. Following the principles of neurological learning, you had better practice what you want to do well. Therefore, the events became my training. Weighted pull-ups, pistols, and snatches were the core of the routine. Deadlift and bench rounded out the day along with ab work.

Consistent ? Using the same set of about five exercises, training took place 5 to 6 days per week. Using two sets as a basis, I would occasionally do as many as three, but rarely and mainly on pull-ups.

Varied ? What did change every day was the intensity of the exercises. Either reps or weight were varied each workout. The interesting aspect of the weighted pull-ups and pistols is that to even do the exercise you need a pretty good level of strength, but to compete you need to blend in a good level of endurance. Therefore, the rep range went from three to as many as 12+k depending on the weight.

One of the mistakes made during my training was continuing to work on peaking my DL. In an effort to stay fresh for my DL, I avoided doing the KB snatch. It really was not until two weeks before the TSC that I began to train the snatch. Now I will have to say that during this time, I gained roughly 40 pounds on the DL and did manage to win the competition. So how much of a mistake ? I cannot say.

The pull-ups were something I had been training for some time. However, I would rarely go above 45# for five or so repetitions. Weekly rotation of intensity went something like 70#, 35#, BW, 45# and 90#. This was not a set variation. I would throw in a heavier day if I felt strong. Alternatively, a lighter day or bodyweight day if I felt like an easier day.

The pistols were an exercise I was familiar with but did not train regularly. Weekly rotation of intensity was extremely varied. One to two sets of pistols with BW, 16kg or 24kg. I very rarely used the 32kg. Simply consistent practice of the movement lead to great increases.

As I stated earlier, the KB snatch was not trained until the two weeks before the event. In a panic, daily KB snatch was instituted; density training and breathing ladders were the main variations. The 24kg was used the most for the breathing ladders and the 32kg was used for the density training.

As you see, the routine used was very basic. Nothing fancy and no secret formulas were used and as I look back through my notebook, I realize how much daily variation was included.

After two days off and a very long drive to get to Philly, (I got to visit some of the more "scenic" sections of the surrounding area), it was time to compete. I have to be honest when I say that I went purely to see what I was capable of. Winning was not really in my mind. I figured I could be competitive in the pull-ups and pistols, but figured the snatch would be my weak spot.

The meet was awesome. "Meet strength" was a benefit to my performance. The spectators were a key to the event. They provided encouragement to everyone. Fellow competitors, John Allstadt and Steve K. were great and the entire day just felt "right".

At this time, would like to give credit where credit is due. The past year of using the PTP and the RKC methods, along with the advice on the forum has led to my most productive training ever. So, for the credit ? Pavel for showing the way; Mike Mahler for the pistols; Rob Lawrence for the breathing ladders and John Allstadt for the pull-ups and the entire Party for advice and inspiration.

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Brett Jones, RKC is the winner of the 1st Tactical Strength Challenge, the 'Special Ops' class. Brett is a New Bethlehem, PA based strength coach and Russian kettlebell instructor. For information on private and group training and seminars contact him at