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An Exercise in Adaptation / Regression of a Classic Pavel Plan for Kettlebell and Bodyweight

There was some mention on the Dragon Door forums of "Pavel's Force Recon Workout" and of course I had to check it out.  After digging around and following a few links, then comparing them to make sure everything matched up - I found quite an evilly difficult little gem of a program.  VERY advanced - and the weights suggested were obviously not meant for me - as much as I hate to admit something like that, but it is what it is.  As in the past when working with my strength coach, RKC Level 2 Tim Shuman, we'd take the suggested weights of a "big man" workout and basically cut it in half.   Of course I also sent it to him under the usual guise of "am I nuts" and I was thinking cut the weights in half... right?   Admittedly, what originally attracted me to the plan was the mix of exercises - many are favorites - and many are very much NOT favorites - but they are put together in such a way that it's about 50/50 and the integrating of snatching into the last parts of the workout has been really helpful to continue my endurance (something else I am not a fan of... remember, I'm of the "me pick up big rock once, me climb on stuff" people*) with 16kg snatching.   BTW it's now not a problem.  YAY!

Done on MWF only - and the A and B workouts are alternated (A Monday, B Wednesday, A Friday, B the next Monday etc.  3 weeks on, 1 week back off)

The original, attributed to Pavel Tsatsouline:

A:

  • Weighted Pull Ups 5x5
  • Alternate Pull Ups with Double Cleans and Presses - 5x5 (sugg 2 x 24kg)
  • Rock Bottom Front squats with 1sec pause 5x5 (sugg 2 x 32kg)
  • Kettlebell snatches 5 sets, hard but not to failure (suggested 32kg)
  • Alternate sets of snatches with strict hanging leg raises - 5 sets

B:

  • One Arm Clean and Jerks 10 Minutes - pay attention to managing fatigue (suggested 32kg)
  • Heavy Abs 5x5
  • Pull Ups 100 Total
  • Alternate the pull ups with front squats, sets of 10 (sugg 2 x 24kg)
  • Kettlebell snatches or swings: sets of 10/20 then 100 yard recovery jog.  As many sets as safely possible.

Obviously I'm not going to be using the suggested weights there - I'm 5'3" and approx 125lbs and while strong, its just not gonna happen.   Here's what I've been doing, which I've renamed the "Lady Recon" no use of hot pink necessary in that title, and warning, it's been scaled to my level which is moderately advanced - I am using it to increase general strength:

A:

  • Weighted Pull Ups 5x5 (I'm attaching an 8kg kettlebell to a dip belt, next week it goes up to 10kg if I get one soon enough)
  • Alternated with double 12kg kettlebell clean and presses 5x5 (upping this to 2x16kg next time)
  • Rock Bottom front squats w 1 second pause double 12kg kettlebells 5x5 (upping this to 2 x 16kg)
  • Alternate sets of 16kg kettlebell snatches (I was doing 15r/l, 15r/l, 10r/l....) with 5x5 strict hanging leg raises (I'm doing ankle to bar)

B:

  • One Arm clean and jerks for 10 minutes with 16kg kettlebell (going to 20kg next time)
  • Heavy Abs 5x5 - have been cycling through things like hanging upsidedown sit ups, evil wheel, dragon flag progressions (I only do dragon flags 1-2 reps at a time, so stepping back to achieve 5 reps), strict hanging leg raises.  Slow leg raising into headstands.
  • Pull Ups 100 total, dropping it down to 50 because of time constraints on occasion :( alternating with 10 kettlebell double front squats (2 x 16kg, or 14kg and 16kg and swapped halfway through the set to keep things balanced)
  • Snatches or swings with 16kg kettlebell and 100yd recovery jog around the inside of the courtyard, much to the annoyance of my neighbors :)

 

If you're not there with some of the strength drills, or just have a couple kettlebells at your disposal, or you don't know how to do a full hanging leg raise or clean and jerk, DON'T DESPAIR!   Here's a scaled version I did for the small group!  They haven't learned clean and jerk yet, some can't do more than 1 or 2 pull ups yet, are working on the early progressions of the hanging leg raise.  They also need to work more on swings than snatching right now.  So, here's an example of how this workout can be further adapted to another skill level.  I love the way it's structured, so why not!

A:

  • 5x5 Inverted rows (get under a waist height bar, or as suggested in Convict Conditioning, a big heavy table will do - just be safe)
  • Alternated with 5x5 double cleans and presses - choose an appropriate weight - and focus on technique - (class members used double 8kg and double 12kg)
  • As low as safely possible double front squats with appropriate weights, again technique focus 5x5.
  • 10 1 arm swings per side - challenging but safe weight and maintain form, alternated with hanging knee raises, or whichever Convict Conditioning progression you are on for the hanging leg raise 5x5

B:

  • 10 minutes kettlebell swings 30 sec on 30 sec off, reasonable weight, form focus!
  • Heavy abs - depending on ability, leg raises from the ground, power breathing crunches 5x5
  • Inverted Rows, under max sets, but trying for sets of 10 alternated with double front squats with a safe weight.
  • 1 arm swings 10/side relatively light weight alternated with 100 yd recovery jog 3-5 rounds if there's time

 

The cool thing is - the last version can really be done by a group with multiple fitness levels - just make sure everyone knows what they should be doing and are maintaining good form.  I just can't stress that enough!

Let me know if you come up with any of your own variations, and how you're doing this New Year! :)

 

*So, if in a social situation (and this happens at least once a week) you say to me that you want to "get fit like me" and then explain your plan to go to spin class 6 times a week and eat nothing but water and rice cakes, you should then understand why I'm looking at you as if you've suddenly sprouted additional arms and legs.   Seriously... I workout 3-4 times a week, 45 mins to 1 hr on average.  Truth is - some days the "workout" is so integrated into the day's tasks (GTG pull ups, qigong, mobility, heavy carries, skills practices) that I don't even consider it "working out"   And I can't remember the last time I ingested any of those styrofoam-like rice cake things.   Might not even agree to do that on a dare at this point, same with endless mindless cardio.   Seriously... eat good solid whole foods, do meaningful workouts - it doesn't have to take over your life.

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