Old Forum GS and HS- An observation on Al Ciampa's swings

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Physical Culture

Level 6 Valued Member
Al just put up a beastly video of the sinister swing goals in another thread.  Great job, Al!  That's great inspiration to get back to heavy swinging.  I thought Sean Schniederjan had a great observation when he wrote:

"This is a nitpick that has little to  no bearing in reality because this is pure beastly, but is it not IMPOSSIBLE to maintain maximal power output for the whole duration of the swings?

I want to see one guy who isn’t doing GS lite by the end of the set with the 48kg."

Many people try to make much of the differences between GS and hardstyle, but like Teilhard de Chardin (and later Flannery O Connor) noted, everything that rises must converge.   As GS and HS lifters approach maximal efforts, they tend to look more and more alike.

In the beginning of a max set of snatches, for example, the differences are obvious: the HS lifter is producing maximum snap and force with each rep, while the GS lifter is making each rep as easy as possible.  At the end of the same set, however, the HS lifter will often, because of fatigue, make each rep just hard enough to get the bell into place.  The GS lifter is also fatigued, so he has to exert more force on those last reps than in the first reps, just to keep going.

It seems like HS and GS are different ends of the same spectrum, and the differences are most apparent when the reps are low and the sets are relatively easy.  The harder it gets, the more we gravitate toward the middle, and the more similar our efforts become.

Great observation, Sean!  Thanks!
 

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Steve,

I also liked that discussion ...  I've never participated in the HS v. GS thing, but I was aware that some did.  I just trained.

I admit that in my history as a teacher, I would "correct" GS style swings toward HS when I met a new student who was youtube-ing their learning.  What do I mean?  Much more than the max tension principle: a slightly wider stance, and deeper hinge.  My goal for them is to build a foundation of carry-over to life.  HS as a beginner, I think, does this well.  Once well-practiced, then you can shoot for more individuals needs and goals.

In observations in my own training, without realizing it (until you just synthesized these ideas), I train HS, and compete GS.  Meaning, when I go into a snatch event, like the TSC, most of my snatches are more GS style.  I'll plug a deep hinge with an explosive snatch every so often to remind myself where the power comes from.  When I do this, the bell flies up so hard that it "drops" into lockout rather then "place" into the lockout.  I then think, damn, wasted energy.  Then, as you note, toward the end of the 5min, many more, if not all of the reps have to be HS as that fatigue sets in.

In this context, however, swings are different ... I went into the sinister session attempting all HS swings.  For the entire 5 min, my HS form was there, but the explosiveness waned.  I certainly "felt" like I was max-tension, hip-snapping, but the physiological processes could not keep up against that load by the end.

I like to think of swings as open-ended lifts, and snatches as closed-ended lifts.  Snatches require you to drive a 32kg bell however many feet up into a lockout.  That you can produce much more force than is required to complete this task, you can temper your hinge and snap - GS style.  Although you can do the same thing with swings, there is no real completion of the lift ... you can use max force on each and every repetition.  Which is why I feel that swings are a great training tool for both general capacity, and for specific carry over to snatching.

Not to make an already long post longer ... Steve, I unscientifically attribute some of the capacity required to perform that swing session to the recent LSD work I've been doing - nothing else changed.  That's really the first "test" since I began.  I know that you have time constraints on your schedule though.  Knowing your goals, it's something to consider.
 

Gordon Mills

Level 1 Valued Member
Is 'Hardstyle Laziness' a move towards the same sort of economy GS athletes use? Or have I misunderstood the concept (more than likely...!). If not, how do they differ?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
In the end, it's about mastery of muscle tension and technique.  The master of either style knows when to exert force and when to relax.

An analogy - although I'm not sure it's a perfect fit, I think it's close enough - would be to hard and soft styles of martial arts.  Watching a master of either is watching both tension and relaxation at appropriate times, but the hard styles start their teaching by focusing on maximum tension and strength (at least my Tae Kwon Do did) while the soft styles start at the other end of the spectrum.

The comment about GS Lite - well, yes and no.  The same could be said of many people's snatch test - it might start out hard style but it ends up becoming more economical because of necessity.  That necessity, however, is born from a lack of strength and/or endurance, and one should aspire to a true hard style for the duration of the snatch test, and for the duration of one's swing workout.    Don't forget the guidance in S&S is to stop any set that stops feeling maximally explosive.  And let's also not forget that what we see won't necessarily match what force is being generated - some people will be explosive in their lifting without looking like they're working hard while others might be the opposite.

So, to Steve Mathew's point, I think it's important that, while we may see all sorts of middle grounds in reality, that we each embrace the approach we're studying.  Mixing and matching approaches is territory for advanced athletes only, IMHO, so most people should be either trying to do it like GS athletes or trying to do it as advocated in Simple & Sinister.   That's not to say one can't try to do both styles of swing (although this is my preference) but rather than one shouldn't be content with ending up somewhere in the middle.

To quote Pavel (I can't remember from what book), understanding is just a delaying tactic.  When I swing a kettlebell, I try to be as explosive as possible, to use a weight that allows me to move explosively (read: not too heavy), and to stop before I feel myself slowing down.

JMO, YMMV.

-S-
 

Physical Culture

Level 6 Valued Member
Thanks for the discussion, everyone.   Excellent points all around.  Al, I constantly remind myself about the need for longer, easier cardio sessions.  I'm past my base-building phase (my next meet is in three weeks) and my cardio these days is mostly 30 minute runs and run-walk sessions.  Off-season, however, I'm going to have to make room for 90+ minute sessions.  I feel good about making rank 1 next month, but my conditioning is not close to CMS.

Your point about training HS and competing GS is a great point.  I've use HS swings for conditioning for GS with good success.  There's an article on this site titled "Hardstyle for the Sport Guy", about how S&S can be used to assist GS athletes with GPP.

Steve F wrote: "In the end, it’s about mastery of muscle tension and technique.  The master of either style knows when to exert force and when to relax."  Very well said.  My point is that to continue work under conditions of fatigue, athletes from both schools mitigate fatigue by turning up or down the tension, and that they look much more alike than when they start the set.

To oversimplify: HS athletes tend to start by working hard and then back off with fatigue.  GS athletes tend to start easy and then have to turn up the force to complete reps.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
To oversimplify: HS athletes tend to start by working hard and then back off with fatigue. GS athletes tend to start easy and then have to turn up the force to complete reps.
I'd put it differently, or perhaps I'm saying something similar but not the same as you, fellow Steve, because my interest isn't so much in single-session performance attributes as it is in teaching progressions.   HS athletes learn tension first and then learn to dial it back, while GS athletes learn relaxation first and learn to dial it up.  The HS athlete might train a movement he can do only a few times with a goal of being able to do it more, while the GS athlete might take a movement he can do for a long time using a light weight with a goal of being able to go for a long time using a heavier weight.

-S-
 

Physical Culture

Level 6 Valued Member
Your point is very well taken, Steve, and is certainly correct in terms of progression.  My point is more to the behavior of the athletes in a single set or session under fatigue.  It seems to me that they start on different ends of a spectrum and move closer together as fatigue sets in.  I've long maintained that these styles are complementary to each other, and this makes sense to me.

Of course, it may be that I'm reading too much into this.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I don't disagree with anything you're saying, Steve, but I think the point, at least for me, is that we don't _want_ this to happen, "we" being those of us who coach from either perspective.  We want the HS athlete to be strong enough to be explosive until the end of his/her set/workout, and we want the GS athlete to be strong enough that the final reps aren't difficult in training - OK for the final reps to be difficult in competition in GS, and OK that the final reps of a strength athlete's competition are slow grinds.

FWIW, I just did a new-to-me workout format which, contrary to what I said above, may be seen as something of a hybrid.  I did 10 swings with one hand, cleaned the bell on the 10th rep, and strict pressed it twice then held it and stretched w/ the bell overhead.   Approximately equal parts work :)30 to swing and press combined, about :10 for the stretch/hold) and rest, and I did a total of 4 sets this way.  I like that it teaches me to find grinding strength even when my breathing is labored.

-S-
 

Sean Schniederjan

Level 3 Valued Member
Thanks Steve.

I rewatched it and thought he had better power generation toward the end than I initially thought.  But yes, finishing with a rep that generates the same power as the first with that bell size and rep scheme would be a huge accomplishment.  I wish the scientists could get involved and measure it with some worthy candidates.

I'm lazy so will take longer rest periods, LOL.

"Teilhard de Chardin (and later Flannery O Connor) " - where did you go to school, Steve? Don't hear those references very often.  Just finished "The Lame Shall Enter First."
 

Michael Corrales

Level 3 Valued Member
Quoting Steve's quote of Sean :]

-------------------------------------

Sean Schniederjan had a great observation when he wrote:

“This is a nitpick that has little to  no bearing in reality because this is pure beastly, but is it not IMPOSSIBLE to maintain maximal power output for the whole duration of the swings?

-------------------------------------

I think Pavel answers this in the context of S&S.  He talks about an intensity test where you swing with different levels of intensity and gauge the actual power generated by the swing.  You try different intensity levels 100% [most you can muster], 50%, 20%, 80%, 70%, etc.  And see where your sweet spot is in terms of the most powerful, crisp swing.

He says something like that at 70-80% is where skilled strikers generate the best power.

So, I think the spirit of S&S is to figure out what level you have the most power and swing at that level with a goal of being the whole 100 reps, 5min.

He clearly says when your swings fade in power, STOP.

When I tested myself, ~80% intensity swings were my max power output.  My goal is to swing 80% intensity, best power output for 5min or less for 100 reps.  I think that's doable with sufficient practice, conditioning.

 
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Just continuing a discussion across different threads - are there a few concepts to guide training so to maximise power consistency?  Or is this just SS?

I mean - it seems intuitive to train for endurance - and the body naturally gets more efficient and conditioned.  But for consistent-power-endurance (so to speak) I imagine you have to have a totally different adaptation physiologically (mitochondria possibly) for the muscles to be able to recover and fire.  How to structure an approach to train that is intriguing.
 

Michael Corrales

Level 3 Valued Member
Matt-

> "But for consistent-power-endurance (so to speak) I imagine you have to have a totally different adaptation physiologically (mitochondria possibly) for the muscles to be able to recover and fire.  How to structure an approach to train that is intriguing."

If I understand your post, I think this is EXACTLY the way Pavel programed S&S swings portion.  Intense, powerful swings for development of type IIA muscle fibers.  Similar to a fighter.

We'll see if "form follows function" for me :]  Diet has been my weak point but am seeing body composition changes now that I'm working the 32kg most of the time.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Thanks Michael – you seem to understand my question (fighter perfect analogy) so thanks. SS – that was my sneaking suspicion. I must admit however it didn’t seem to be sold as such an approach (well – that was my impression when it first came out – probably my ignorance, should get the book or ?another).

I wonder or will have to investigate whether this SS approach can be generalised – so for other movement/lifts.
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
Matt - this idea has crossed over in some other threads, a S&S approach to training. It then becomes an issue of training the energy systems as S&S is set up to do, alactic with aerobic recovery. So power first, then strength endurance, a la swings and get ups, staying fresh (an individual's perception?) Could you apply that to anything? For what aim? Think that would determine the programme exercise choice.

 
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Thanks Alistair - I remember  alactic energy systems being mentioned in different threads but had no idea what it referred to, thought it was fancy lingo for something basic and in the end it didn't mean much to me.  I appreciate you pointing that out.
 

Physical Culture

Level 6 Valued Member
Sean Schniederjan wrote: “Teilhard de Chardin (and later Flannery O Connor) ” – where did you go to school, Steve? Don’t hear those references very often.  Just finished “The Lame Shall Enter First.”

Benefits of classical education (that's a Die Hard joke, for those old enough to catch it).  O'Connor was a brilliant author.  "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is worth your time as well.
 

Physical Culture

Level 6 Valued Member
Matt wrote:

"But for consistent-power-endurance (so to speak) I imagine you have to have a totally different adaptation physiologically (mitochondria possibly) for the muscles to be able to recover and fire.  How to structure an approach to train that is intriguing."

Consistent power-endurance with a kettlebell is called GS, and you are right- GS training places a greater focus on energy systems training than on pure strength.  Recover (under load) and fire is the name of the game.
 
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