GUEST BLOG POST
The following is a “review” I “received” about this past weekend’s “Summit of Strength.” I thought I’d post it here for your entertainment. – Geoff
“Summit of Strength” Review – Better Than Just Alright…
by Jeff Newphertz
Ok, so I just got back from the “Summit of Strength” in toasty warm Oklahoma. I spent a weekend out there learning from four of the Master RKC kettlebell guys – Brett Jones, David Whitley, Geoff Neupert, and Jeff O’Connor.
Admittedly, I wasn’t going to go but one of my friends, Jett Brones, was going and told me there was going to be “free” meat and beer (yes, beer – more on that in a minute…) and we were going to lift some heavy kettlebells to get stronger. (Plus, I’m on a couple of those newsletter lists where they’re always trying to get me to buy stuff. But I stay on them because they actually give me some pretty good information…) Being the natural skeptic I am, I thought I was strong enough. After all, I have completed the 10 million swing challenge, I can press 32kg for reps (3 on my right, 1 on my left and I only weigh 200lbs – pretty good, right? I know…).
Bonus Day – Better Than I Expected
So here’s the rundown – I went out there for the “bonus day” (hey for $699 I’m going to get all I can for that price). One of those “university nerds” was there with a force plate and I got to swing on it. (Interestingly enough, I didn’t see the geek in the labcoat, just a really tall guy with broader shoulders than mine and a killer goatee… I guess he was filling in for the geek…) Then they took us through some of those PMS corrective exercise things – which, honestly, I think are crap – just more ways to try and sell me some lame dvds on stretching or whatever.
So, I humored them and went through it anyway. (I’m pretty smart – I do A LOT of reading on the internet.) Anyway, I found out that I supposedly had some pretty locked up ankles – or “ankle mobility restrictions” as Brett Jones put it. I also had a “trunk stability” issue, which supposedly means that I’m lacking “core stability.” Whatever – I can plank for 2 minutes so I thought I was fine. But then Brett made me do the “RKC plank” and, ok, I have to admit – it was WAYYY harder than the planks I was doing. I actually really felt my abs and gluts work for what seemed like the first time. And I didn’t feel my lower back like I usually do during my planks.
But here was the weird part – I got back on the force plate to do my swings again and I swear they felt easier. Goatee guy wouldn’t tell me if they were or not. But I gotta tell you, they felt different. And, I almost forgot, my low back didn’t hurt after my swings either. Weird…
So, like I promised, the beer. So we have the “Meat and Greet” (cute play on words I know) after the bonus day. And I thought it was going to be some cheap BBQ and some Natural Light – you remember that nasty cheap stuff we drank in college cause it was all we could afford? I was actually surprised – and it’s hard to surprise me. They stuffed us with some high quality beef ribs, pulled pork, and fixins. Very,very tasty. I ate my fill. And apparently they still had some left over. And the beer – oh my! I like my beer, but I had never had any of this stuff before. It’s called “Xingu” and is a Brazillian dark beer. It tasted like chocolate and beer mixed together. Yeah, I know – sounds girly, but it’s not – I can assure you. It was DE-LISH!
So, these guys were actually starting to impress me. Plus, I got to talk to them each at dinner and they all seemed like stand up, down-to-earth kind of guys.
Day 1: Brett Jones and David Whitley
So the day started out with working on the “Pull” or the deadlift and swing. I was ready to swing, because, hey, I’ve already completed the 10 million swing challenge, so I know my swings. But Brett said “not so fast – let’s take a look at some things.”
So we started out talking about that “core stability” stuff again. I thought all that stuff was crap, cause, like I mentioned, I thought I had strong abs. But since Brett got me to feel my abs on the RKC plank yesterday, I thought I might learn something else. It turned out that you should actually be able to stabilize your pelvis while you swing, which is why that plank worked for me and my back no longer hurts when I’m done swinging.
And I also learned that your swing should be based off your deadlift. Brett had us re-patterning our deadlifts, which, ok, I’ll admit, I hadn’t done too many of those lately. (I did a lot of straight leg deadlifts in college but that was it.)
Then I started swinging again and I’ve gotta admit, my swing felt much different – better than it ever had. Between the BBQ, the beer, and now my low back feeling good (or not feeling at all) and my swing feeling better than it ever has, these guys were starting to impress me.
Then we ate lunch. Let me just say this – these guys know their food. They got some fancy caterer to come in and actually provide us a healthy lunch – not some of the garbage like I’ve had at other seminars.
Then David Whitley came up and talked about the squat.
Now I don’t squat a lot cause it usually hurts my knees, so I was pretty skeptical about this too. But then Dave told us a story about having his knee operated on and having to relearn how to squat. He then said he’d been working with a world-famous powerlifting coach – Marty Somebody – I can’t remember his last name… So we started squatting. He introduced us to the goblets squat, which I had tried before and it still hurt my knees. But his cues were much different and my knees actually didn’t hurt at all. Turns out I wasn’t pulling my legs apart and setting my knees over my feet or spreading the floor apart. (I liked that cue.) In fact, I felt my legs work like I hadn’t done in a long time – reminded me of the pump I got when I used to do the leg press.
That ankle mobility thing showed up here and Dave had us do some specialized work for that. And I think my squats got deeper. I felt pretty good about it anyway by the end of the day. Plus, Dave is really entertaining – he made a lot of good points by relating them to stories, which always helps me out. After 3 hours of squatting, my legs were pretty tired but they felt better than they had in years.
Then he told a funny story about Geoff Neupert, the Incredible Hulk, and ankle mobility. At which point, Geoff got up and taught us the pistol, which I’ve never tried cause I thought it just looked dangerous. I mean, your knee really goes over the toes in that thing and I heard that’s bad for the knee. Anyway, Geoff told us about his quest for bodyweight pistols and how he had busted up his hips really bad and had a bad knee and shouldn’t be doing them at all. I gotta admit, the fact that he’s doing them and can do so many of them, makes me think I might want to start doing them. He gave us a progression that he said worked for him and then he took us through it.
Overall, day 1 was better than I expected too. Brett and Dave were entertaining, down to earth, and taught me some stuff that I didn’t know. (Ok, a lot of stuff.) By the end of the day Saturday, my swing felt much better, and I could actually squat again without knee pain. Between the beer, the swing, and now the squat, this weekend was shaping up to be better than I expected. I was starting to think my buddy Jett Brones was right.
Afterwards, we all went out to dinner as a group at the Outback. I got to sit with Jeff O’Connor. Let me just say this – he’s one funny guy!
Day 2: Geoff Neupert and Jeff O’Connor
So we start day 2 out with the press. My press was already great – I could press 32kg on my right hand and 1 on my left. Ok, honestly, I was wondering why there was a 2 rep difference. So Geoff has us start out working on what he called the “pillar.” Basically we were just learning how to tense our bodies. I could see where he was going but I wasn’t sure how it was going to help me press. Then he had us press. My press went up. Way up. I felt much stronger and my left shoulder didn’t hurt anymore. (Jett’s press went up too.) Then he had us combine the pillar work and the pressing techniques and my press went up again! Then he finished up by introducing us to some specialized mobility work he had been doing with himself and his clients. At this point, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that by this point, my press had never felt better, especially after the neck and thoracic mobility work he showed us.
Then we had lunch again and the four guys held a Q and A session for about 30 minutes. The biggest take home point for me was to stop training in pain. Yep, you might do it too, but in the end, it’ll kill us both. It’ll sabotage all our hard work and keep us from making the progress we want. So my takeaway is to find exercises I can do that don’t hurt when I do them or after I do them. (Good thing I can now swing without that residual back pain!)
Finally, Jeff O’Connor came up and this was the cool part – he tied all the work together that the other 3 guys had done over the last day and a half. He directly addressed the ankle mobility restrictions that we all had (or most of us) with some cool mobility drills. He then helped us with our swings even more – and I wish I could’ve stepped on that force plate again at this point, cause honestly, my swings had never felt this powerful before. (At this point I think I did those 10 million swings wrong…)
He then got us doing the push press and the jerk. Both of these were really cool. I had done the push press before but not the jerk. I could really feel the difference the ankle mobility work gave me. I push pressed a pair of 36kg bells for reps, which I had never done before. And then I actually jerked them.
And finally, we finished up with something called the long press, which I had never done before. It’s a squat and a press combined. This is where it just all clicked for me. The swing work Brett had done, the squat work Dave had done, the press work Geoff had done, and the ankle mobility and push press work we had just done with Jeff. I long pressed a pair of 32kg kettlebells without my knees hurting and without my left shoulder bothering me. I felt like a million bucks and honestly, never felt stronger!
Ok, admittedly, I had a good time and it was worth going. These guys helped me out more than I thought they would or could. They fixed my swing, squat, and press, and showed me some cool new exercises – like the jerk and the long press.
And they introduced me to my new favorite beer – “Xingu”.
I actually think I’m going to go back and re-read my notes and practice what I learned. And I’ll most likely go to next year’s event. Thanks to my buddy Jett Brones for inviting me to go.