I write this entry with a heavy heart on Halloween night. Is it because my kids are now too cool to have me take them trick or treating? Hell no, it’s 38 degrees with snow on the ground. It’s because Kris Humphries was served with divorce papers by Kim Kardashian after 72 days. I mean I thought they would be together at least 72 months and on their way to 72 years! Those kids were perfect for one another. I refuse to believe that this was a publicity stunt for money. Does anyone else think you could stick a beer tap up her butt and pour yourself a glass of beer? Anyway, moving on as these two are, I finished four weeks of the Rite Of Passage single kettlebell program. I used a 70 lb. bell.
Basically the goal of the Rite of Passage is twofold. First is to clean and one arm military press a kettlebell that is closest to 1/2 your body weight. For me, it would either be the 40 or 44 kg bell. The second part of it is to snatch a 24 kg kettlebell 200 times in 10 minutes. Last time I tried, I did 151. The author suggests sticking with the program until you can achieve both. Last year I did this program for 20 weeks with a 28 kg kettlebell and a 32 kg / 70 lb kettlebell. I stopped because 1. I was completely burnt out and 2. was getting a little nicked up. The program consists of pressing and pulling 3 days. 1 heavy day, 1 medium day and 1 easy day. After you finish your presses, you do your pulls. Either swings on heavy and medium day and snatches on easy day. You roll dice. Whatever you roll, that’s how long you have to do your pulls. So if I roll a 9 on Easy Day. I have to snatch for 9 minutes, 50-60 % of my work capacity. For me, it would be 9 rounds of 7 reps each hand. Medium day would be 70% of swings. Heavy day, 80%.
Presses were done in a ladder fashion. The goal is to do 5 ladders each time. On easy day you work up to 3 reps, medium day 4 reps and heavy day 5 reps. While doing your presses it is suggested to superset them with pullups. On days when I worked out at home, I did double rows instead. So a ladder goes like this. 1 clean and press left, 1 right, 1 pullup. Rest 2 left, 2 right, 2 pullups. Rest 3 left, 3 right 3 pullups. Etc. Repeat until you’ve done this 5 times. Basically you are waving the reps. On easy day, it’s 30 reps each arm. Medium day 50, Heavy day 75! I remember complete feelings of dread doing heavy day last year. Pullups just add a little more to the party.
You also have 2 variety days. On these days you practice other movements. For me, I did Turkish Getups, Squats, Swings and Back-up Presses with my 88. To a comfortable stop. Not balls out. You also get two days off. I took mine back to back on the weekend after heavy day. I did Easy Day Monday, Variety Day Tuesday, Medium Day Wednesday, Variety Day Thursday and Heavy Day Friday. I had done mostly doubles work in the past year and was looking forward to doing some unilateral stuff with one bell. I also wanted to see how challenging it was for me.
There is a lot to love about this program. First it’s simple and extremely effective. It’s for any kettlebell lifter, beginner, intermediate or advanced. The beginner girevik benefits in learning how to build strength with one kettlebell. You are doing only 4 different movements. Clean and Press, Swing, Snatch and Pullups. Second, it’s great for your conditioning. When you are doing clean and press and supersetting pullups, your heart will be beating pretty hard. Especially if you keep the rest periods short. Then finishing with swings or snatches, you will be pretty tired. Third unilateral training is fantastic for addressing any imbalances you may have. It forces your weaker side to catch up. Fourth, you’re waving your training, so although you are doing the same movements, the rep scheme is different. I also really enjoy rolling the dice to see how much pull work I have to do. In the four weeks, there was feelings of relief when I rolled a 3 twice. There was also a feeling of dread getting an 11 on one heavy day. Workouts last 40-60 minutes.
Like all programs, it does have its’ weaknesses. Although it will put you well on the road to achieve your goal, I think you need to snatch a lot more than one time a week to pass 200 reps in 10 minutes. Second, it doesn’t address your lower body as much as it should. Goblet Squats with one kettlebell should be in the program somewhere. I did mine on variety day, but it’s never mentioned in the program. Because you are cleaning the bell 50-75 times, doing snatches and pullups, your hands are going to get beaten up a bit. I developed some callouses on my fingers, the first week, one broke into a mini blister. A lot of Pedi-Egg treatment and Cornhuskers Lotion. Finally, in order to make the jump you need to buy intermediate bells or tape weight plates to the bottom. I have a 28 kg bell I like a lot, but I don’t use it that much. From a pressing standpoint I own it. I can snatch a 32/70 for reps. I don’t have that much use for it right now.
I would deem my four weeks on the program a success. After a year of doubles work, using 55′s and 70′s, using one 70 was a welcome change. I own the bell. Easy Day I could clean it once and press it three times. The last easy day I did, I tested my rep max and did six strict military presses with just one clean on each side. My last medium day, I was home and didn’t have a pullup bar so I did double rows. I decided without the challenge of pullups, I’d make the presses a little harder. So I did medium day with double 70′s. I was able to get 44 out of 50 reps. I couldn’t quite clean and press double 70′s for four on the last rung of each ladder. Heavy days did not have their old feelings of dread. Would I stiffen up toward the end of the 4th ladder like before? Yes a little, but I was able to overcome the fatigue. On heavy day, I was able to cut the rest periods down so that each ladder took about 8-9 minutes vs 10-11 minutes last year. The rest period between the 5th rung at the end of one ladder and the beginning of the new ladder was cut way down to under 1 minute. My pullups really improved as well. I had done a lot of pullups during the Russian Bear Program as well as Farmers Walks. The improved grip translated well with pullup repititions. For swings, I focused mostly on 1 hand with the 70. After using the 88, it felt like a toy. One issue I have is my elbows and forearms have been a little sore. Not the back of he wrist where you rack it, but toward the elbow. It’s not debilitating, but I don’t want to turn it into a lingering problem. I had wanted to do a snatch test as well as clean and press volume test, but I have decided to hold off a little bit.
My next 4 week program is back to an old favorite. Escalated Density Training or EDT. I’m going to use the 70′s and will keep you posted. I’m going to drop my workouts to 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday and see if more rest will give me maximum benefits. Of course, that was decided before I decided to drown my sorrows over the demise of the Humphries/Kardashian marriage by binging on some Halloween candy. By the way the Snickers almond bars are phenomenal! Happy Halloween!