Progressive Rehearsal & Sets of One

The pursuit of strength, technical mastery or changing your body is a life long process. As our performance and body improves we will discover that perfection remains an elusive and moving target.  The more we learn and improve, the more we demand from ourselves.  Instead of being frustrated that perfection is out of reach, those who stay in the game learn to enjoy the journey and enjoy the process by being in the moment.
Here’s a little tip on changing your mental focus that I’ve used for years but wasn’t really aware of it until I read Dan John’s book “Intervention” which I’ve been referring to as “Sets of One”.
Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, comparing where you are with where you want to be or even comparing today’s performance to an old personal best, focus only on the rep you are about to do.  For example: during a training session that calls for 100 reps such as the five minute snatch test, change your mental perspective and treat this as one hundred opportunities to practice 1 perfect rep. You’ll be more mentally engaged and instead of simply trying to survive a workout, you’ll be trying to improve your technique on each successive rep. Every ten or twenty reps change the focus to improving another aspect of your technique: for ten reps focus on packing the shoulder, during the next ten I’ll focus on a more powerful hip extension, then focus on your breathing, then focus on the timing of catching the bell… and so on.  I know that whenever I use this mindset the muscle memory from the previous ten reps improves the next ten and I continue improving as the minutes go by. When the time is up I usually find myself wanting to do more. I always kid with my classes that as the 10th minute of snatches or swings approaches, the first 9-minutes was just the rehearsal. I’m only partially joking.
During the recent StrongFirst Barbell Certification in Tuscon Pavel used the term “Progressive Rehearsal” to replace the term “Warm-Up” I thought it was excellent as it described perfectly what I’ve always felt a “warm-up” or even and entire training session was supposed to be.  I believe it is this sort of subtle change in mind-set that distinguishes the best of us from the rest of us.  As I see it, every rep until the next one has just been rehearsal.
Up till now, it's all been rehearsal.

Zach getting his mind right for one perfect rep. 




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Training to Failure IS Training to Fail

Want to get strong AND NOT get injured?
Work at a high level within your limits… and expand your limitations from the inside out.

Working within your limits means working at a higher quality which leads to mastery. While novices chase flash and quantity… experts in any craft know that drilling the basics and mastering the tools you have is what it takes to create a masterpiece. When it comes to quality, less is more; always has been, always will be.

What a Jerk!

What a Jerk!

Pictured: Dr. Korth drilling the double 24kg Clean & Jerk.
Although 48kg is well inside his limits, this is more than enough to get stronger.


When a workout or trainer prescribes a specific number of reps for a bodyweight exercise or lift… be sure you can do more than the required reps or you must either adjust the reps you perform per set or modify the technique or load used.

For example: if a workout prescribes 15 reps of pushups for as many sets as possible, I highly recommend being able to do 30 pushups before attempting several sets of 15 and get in more reps by doing more sets of lower thus safer reps.
Else… adjust the number of reps downward per set by simply dividing the number of reps you could do fresh by 2.
Else… replace the prescribed exercise with an easier variation such as replacing pushups with what I call plank-ups. (Forearm Plank on your elbows, to a push-up position plank, then down again, repeat)

Training to Failure is a recipe for
A) Physical injury because your form fails, structural failure is rapidly approaching.
B) Training yourself mentally and neurologically to fail.

Steady wins the race: by staying safe, you can continue training consistently.
Pursue master over numbers.  One expertly performed rep will always better results than several poor reps.

Last, but not least:
You are what do repeatedly… so, training to failure IS training to fail.At Omaha Elite Kettlebell we believe in training to success.


When it comes to the world of health & fitness many people throw around terms like “exercising” and “training” as if they were synonymous with one another. As a fitness professional I would like to point out that I consider them very different from one another. Getting the results you desire from your fitness program depends on understanding the difference.

Do champions exercise their way to achieving great things, or do they train for it?

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”-Muhammad Ali

What’s the Difference?
Training is a disciplined, intelligent and focused effort toward achieving a goal while I consider exercise to be simply busy-work. Training is results driven and not always enjoyable, but champions and those who are used to achieving their goals are willing to do what’s necessary, not what’s enjoyable. Exercise is often entertainment driven meaning often people simply choose a form of exercise to participate with the main goal of enjoying themselves and often don’t have a regimented plan to follow.
To me, exercise is like poor spending habits that give you some enjoyment and satisfaction at the moment but may not be appropriate in the context of your goals. Training on the other hand is like following a budget, it begins with assessment and planning, eliminating the unnecessary, then selecting appropriate techniques which give you the biggest return on your investment and naturally help you achieve your goals. Training follows proven programming, progressively demanding improvement over time and has a series of deadlines and benchmarks which must be met.

Exercising or Training for Fat-Loss?
In the context of fat-loss lawn-work, walking and racquetball are all valid forms of exercise and even part of a healthy lifestyle , but they are NOT efficient forms of fat-loss training because they do not require you to physically transform your appearance or lose body fat to improve your skills or performances in any of those activities.  On the other hand, learning to perform a skill that requires a high level of strength relative to bodyweight like strict pull-ups and a half-bodyweight one-arm press for men or a 1/3rd bodyweight press for women is a valid form of fat-loss training because by the time an initially obese person has achieved the strength-to-bodyweight ratio necessary to perform both tasks everyone will have noticed a huge physical transformation has taken place.


Kelly Rushlow Strength Training for Fat Loss
Pictured Above: Kelly Rushlow

Kelly understands the value of strength training and eating properly to achieve her goals.
Since training with Omaha Elite Kettlebell Kelly has worked up to pressing the 53lb kettlebell and can perform 5 strict pull-ups and is continuing to work on strength goals that support fat-loss by currently working toward a 2x bodyweight deadlift.