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5 Weeks to the Beast

November 6, 2011 05:00 PM

"You are about to lift a 106 pound kettlebell; approach it with confidence and
tame the Beast."

  - Pavel

JakeAltomare article1

JakeAltomare article2

JakeAltomare article3

When I first signed up for the Russian Kettlebell Challenge, I knew it was going to be a difficult task. After watching countless Youtube videos on the RKC, one particular video caught my eye. It was called "Beast Tamer Challenge". With a title like that I was curious to see how it related to Russian kettlebells. I started watching the video with expectations of a safari backdrop with wild animals. Instead, I saw an amazing feat of strength with a 48 kilogram kettlebell! Not only did the RKC instructor press the bell overhead he performed a pistol squat, and tactical pull up with it.

Having a sport strength background I had to give this challenge a try. So the first thing I did was a buy a 48 kilogram kettlebell. Obviously I wasn’t going to try pressing it off the bat but like any big lift a lot of the time it’s mental. Having the 48 kilogram kettlebell was a reminder of what I had to accomplish. I had five weeks to prepare for the challenge. I would perform "beast workouts" three times a week. These workouts mimicked the beast challenge. The only difference was for the strict press and pistol I would work both sides.

Week one consisted of bodyweight exercises with moderate weight to really concentrate on form. When you are working with that amount of heavy weight, your form and technique have to be dialed in. Given my strength background and familiarity with all three lifts, I wanted to make sure my technique was good before I started progressing to heavier weight. When I say moderate weight I mean 40% of my one rep max for all three lifts. My rep scheme for week one was 5x8 reps. I would always perform the workout in the way in which I completed the challenge. My weakest lift was the pull up so I performed that lift first when I was fresh. The next lift was the overhead press, and finally the pistol squat.

As I said before week one’s focus was on form and quality repetitions. Laying a good foundation down before you build a house is crucial, so why should it be any different when you are going for a PR? The second week was a progression of the first week. I increased the weight to 70% of my one rep max and turned my focus towards more on tension and speed. I dropped down the reps to four and performed five sets.

On the third week I would perform 10x2 repetitions. The weight increased to 80% of my one rep max. The fourth week was a progression of the third week. Going on to week four I increased the weight to 90% of my one rep max and lowered the reps to doubles. Also the number of sets I performed, I decreased to five sets.

The fifth week was a beast challenge week. During this week I used the beast as if I was doing the competition. I would max out on each lift; one rep per exercise, rest for five minutes, then complete another cycle of the beast tamer challenge. I would run through the workout three times. I recovered for five minutes each time before repeating exercise again. I used supplement exercises to help make the beast challenge a little easier. These supplement exercises consisted of deadlifts and get ups. With the deadlifts, I focused on tension throughout the lift, and speed to finish the reps off.

This muscle memory was going to be recreated for the beast challenge. Speed and tension is a deadly combination when lifting heavy weight. I performed deadlifts twice a week leading up to the beast challenge. Overloading the central nervous system would help me recruit new muscle fibers specifically designed for strength. I added get ups in order to strengthen my shoulder stabilizing muscles. I also read Pavel’s book, Power to the People. I can honestly say just reading this book increased my strength. Pavel’s in-depth explanations of tension helped me understand and harness the power from within. Tensing up before lifts not only gives you more power but it keeps your other muscles protected from injury. This concept is explained in greater detail in Power to the People.

Last, but not least, the most important part of the lift is the set up. At the RKC certification Pavel made an awesome point on getting mentally ready for the lift: You are about to lift a 106 pound kettlebell; approach it with confidence and tame the "Beast".  

Week 1

5x8 reps 40% of 1RM

"Beast Workout"

1. Weighted Pull Up

2. Strict Press

3. Pistol

*5 minutes of Get ups 16 kilo performed after every "Beast Workout" 

*Speed Deadlifts (performed twice a week) 10x3 60% of 1RM

*Rest 60-90 seconds

Week 2

5x8 reps 70% of 1 RM

"Beast Workout"

1. Weighted Pull Up

2. Strict Press

3. Pistol

*10 minutes of Get Ups 16 kilo performed after every "Beast Workout"

*Deadlifts 5x5 80% of 1RM (performed twice a week)

*Rest 90 seconds 

Week 3

10x2 reps 80% of 1RM 

"Beast Workout"

1. Weighted Pull Up

2. Strict Press

3. Pistol

*15 minutes of Get Ups 16 kilo performed after every "Beast Workout"

*Deadlifts 6x3 85% of 1RM (performed twice a week)

*Rest 90 to 120 seconds

Week 4

5x2 reps 90% of 1RM

"Beast Workout"

1. Weighted Pull Up

2. Strict Press

3. Pistol 

*Deadlifts 6x3 85% of 1RM (performed twice a week)

*15 minutes of Get ups 16 kilo performed after every "Beast Workout"

* Rest 90 to 120 seconds

Week 5

Beast Workout (with 106 pound kettlebell) 3X1

1. Weighted Pull up

2. Strict Press

3. Pistol

*10 minutes of get ups 16 kilo 

*Deadlifts 6x3 85% of 1RM (performed twice a week)


 

Jake Altomare RKC, United States Army Infantry, Combat Veteran, American Sports & Fitness Association Kettlebell Instructor, Private Personal Training, Honolulu HI, jakealtomare@gmail.com

 

 

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