Saturday, December 29, 2012

29 December 2012 - High

Primal Stress Protocol 5 (modified).

Leg Thread Press 11/10, 9/9
Rocca Decline 14, 16
Chin Up (single ring) 14, 15
Quad Clap (first round lost count), 35
Dolphin Vertical 13, 17

RPE: 9

Friday, December 28, 2012

28 December 2012 - Moderate

AMRAP 20 mins.

Pistol 13/13
Backward Ellipse 8
Commandos 5

Score: 3 rounds at 21 min 06 sec.

RPE: 6.5

Comments: Rounds are too long. To shorten the rounds.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

25 Dec 2012 - Moderate

Long Timed Sets.

Pistol 22/22 @ 8 min
Backward Ellipse 29 @ 4 min
Commandos 12/12 @ 4 min

RPE: 6

Comments: Working 10 minute sets is much volume when the rpms gets high. Shorten the sets to keep the RPE within moderate.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Day at the PIT

20 Dec 2012 - Moderate

Pistol & Backward Ellipse

Pistol 25/25 @ 10 min
Backward Ellipse 40 @ 8min

RPE: 6

A Progression for Trial By Fire

Edited 2 May 2013


Trial By Fire (TBF) is a test for Circular Strength Training Instructors.

It consists of the following:
100 Double Swipe
100/100 1H Mill
50/50 2H Hammer Swing

Minimum 15lb for men and 10lb for women.

The exercises can be done in any order but each exercise must be completed before going to the next exercise.

The Swipe is a combination movement of the Front Pendulum and Arm Cast.

The Mill is a combination movement of the Side Pendulum and Shield Cast.

The Hammer Swing is simply a Side Circle. You can view it as a combination of Side Pendulum and Torch Press.

Background to my designing these progressions: the Problems

Performing the movements of the TBF with a light enough weights and for a few reps of practice is very doable for most clients. However i face these two problems when getting clients to do many reps in work sets.

The first is consistency. Technique deteriorate easily.

The second is progression. Going up to a heavier weight is hard, even for the best clients. Men could usually do 10lb, but moving up to 15lb is hard.

I myself face this problem. A few years ago, though i could go up the weights from 15lb to 20lb and can perform the movements properly, my elbows would get very sore from doing high reps of 1H Mills with 20lb. I did not practice each component separately, but just did the test movements for practice. To go up to 25lb without specific practice of the components is unthinkable.

Now that i have gone through many programs in CST, it's time for me to break it down into components and be strong in each one to move up the weights.


The goal of these progressions is simple: to move up the weights for the TBF movements.

Dissecting the Double Swipe

1. Double Cast is the bottleneck of the movement. You can only Double Swipe as heavy as you can Double Cast.

2. Lower body strength is usually sufficient for Double Swipe at any beginner's weight (men's 10lb, women's 5lb).

Dissecting the 1H Mill

1. Shield Cast is the bottleneck of the movement. You can only Mill as heavy as you can Shield Cast.

2. Lower body strength is usually sufficient for Double Swipe at any beginner's weight (men's 10lb, women's 5lb).

Dissecting the 2H Hammer Swing

1. Technique is easier than the Double Swipe and 1H Mill.

2. Bottleneck is core fatigue.

3. Lower body strength is usually sufficient for Double Swipe at any beginner's weight (men's 10lb, women's 5lb).

Existing Program(s)

In a CST Instructor Cert conducted by ex-Faculty Coach Ryan Hurst, we were given a sample progression to practice the components on separate days. According to him, these were found in the CST Prep Course (now unavailable).

1H Front Swing / Front Pendulum -> Double Front Swing / Front Pendulum
1H Arm cast -> Double Arm Cast

1H Side Swing -> 1H Side Pendulum
1H Shoulder Cast -> 1H Shield Cast

Hammer Swing
2H Side Semi
2H Torch Press

These progressions are great in teaching a person quickly the TBF movements with a weight you already can handle.

But i find that these progressions are rather inefficient as you only train for one movement each workout. Whereas i am looking for a progression that trains all movements in every workout to maximize the utility of every workout. I have many clients who travel often and i have to make sure that each workout is well balanced with all the components of each movement. This progressions is designed for them.

You could do all movements in one workout but that would be much work on the Casts. And there would be much redundancy as you would practice two variations of Casts and two variations of Side Swings at the same time. These variations could be arranged in two different levels (see below).

I do not know of any other published progressions for the TBF. If anybody knows of any, please let me know by posting a comment.

My Progressions
Take note that this is not the only way, it is just one way which i have found to be working for me and my clients.

The Program

Moderate Day.

20 minutes as many rounds as possible (AMRAP).

Work from 5/5 reps per set to 10/10 reps per set. Every workout increase ONE REP per set. Once you can do 10/10, move up to the next level.

Exceptions would be the Torch Press, Half Hammer Swing and Hammer Swing. Halve the reps of the other movements for these exercises, ie instead of 5/5 - 10/10 do 3/3 - 5/5.

Level 1 workout 1: 5/5
Level 1 workout 2: 6/6
Level 1 workout 3: 7/7
Level 1 workout 4: 8/8
Level 1 workout 5: 9/9
Level 1 workout 6: 10/10

Level 2 workout 1: 5/5
Level 2 workout 2: 6/6
Level 2 workout 3: 7/7
Level 2 workout 4: 8/8
Level 2 workout 5: 9/9
Level 2 workout 6: 10/10

And so on.


Go as heavy as you can

Which means for the average trainee:

Men should start with 20-25lb for 2H and 10-15lb for 1H. However i would recommend starting at 25lb and 15lb respectively.

Women should start with 15lb for 2H and 10lb for 1H. Do not start with 10lb for 2H or 5lb for 1H as it has proven too light for most women.

If you can go heavier, please go ahead as that is the intention of this program.

You can start at either Phase 1 or Phase 2 but i would recommend to start with Phase 1 to build a higher level of overall strength from the start. Regardless of any level you do, a heavier weight would be more beneficial for overall strength.

Every level would give you balanced strength development as components of all three exercises of the TBF are trained simultaneously. Even when you are just starting at level 1, you can get very strong and balanced. If you so prefer to, you could just do only Phase 1and you can get very strong just doing it. Imagine 2H Front Swing, 2H Arm Cast, 2H Side Swing with 45lb.

As you progress from Phase 1 to Phase 2, you have to go lighter one or two weights anyway, so start as heavy as you can at Phase 1.

Take a break after every level

Going as heavy as you can while practicing new movements is taxing on the nervous system and your grip. I get comments every time that it is tough and every 1 rep increment is hard. So after every level (ie 6 workouts), take a month or so break and start the next cycle thereafter.

The Reasons why i Designed the Progressions this Way

General strength

1. Beginners usually can do 2H movements fairly easily. 1H not so, especially when the heavy end is up.

---> 2H before 1H.

2. The focus is progressing the movements, ie practice skills, not high intensity. Therefore it is good to keep fatigue in check, especially upper body strength is the limiting factor.

---> Low number of repetitions per set.

A focus on the Arm Cast and Shield Cast

1. Casts are the weakest exercise, regardless of the variation. The Shield Cast is the bottleneck, whether 2H or 1H. Swings and Pendulums are usually fairly easily taught and done.

---> Focus on progressing the Casts rather than the Swings/Pendulums.

2. 2H Shield Cast can be very strong but 1H Arm Cast can be very weak.

---> It makes better utility of a client's training time to progress 2H Casts than 1H Casts initially. The heavier weight would better activate your lower body and build overall strength and mass analogous to working with Barbells vs Dumbbells (2H = Barbell, 1H = Dumbbell).

3. If 1H Arm Cast is very weak, 1H Shield Cast is expected to be even weaker.

---> 1H Arm Cast before 1H Shield Cast.

---> Progression should be in the general direction of 2H Arm Cast (easiest) to 1H Shield Cast (hardest).

Low number of exercises

To keep the volume high for each exercise and therefore maximizing time spent on the most productive exercises.

Less focus on the Hammer Swing

As mentioned before, it is simply a Side Circle, therefore we won't spend too much time on the lower levels on progressing it. As you practice Side Swing and Side Pendulum for the Mill, you are already practicing it for the Hammer Swing.

The only other movement to practice is the 2H Torch Press, which is not as hard at the same weight as the Swipe or Mill.

Arm Casts are harder than Torch Press so Arm Casts would take priority to develop than Torch Press.


1. To maximize the utility of only ONE Clubbell, because the price of 1 heavier Clubbell is cheaper than the price of two lighter Clubbells, and you may not have two Clubbells of the same weight in your facility.

2. You could start with Double Swings/Pendulums, but having two Clubbells at the start though it is harder for the lower body for Double Swings/Pendulums, does not make good utility as that would be the only exercise you would use it for, whereas the focus of the program is the Casts, which you would not be doing Doubles any time soon. The additional Clubbell would be lying on the floor most of the time instead of swung.

---> Therefore all levels are using only one Clubbell until the highest level, ie Phase 2 Level 4. Even then, Double movement is only one third of the number of exercises, therefore i found it good to focus on the utility of a single Clubbell. Just like how one would focus on the utility of a single kettlebell before moving to double kettlebell exercises.

Additional note on utility, specifically portability

As a person who lives in an apartment and who doesn't own personal vehicle, portability is a very important issue.

Training at home is possible but not ideal, so training outdoors is assumed at least some of the time. Especially overhead swinging exercises.

Training outdoors means you'd have to hand carry your equipment at least some of the time. Even if you have a vehicle, you have to unload your stuff and bring it to your training area.

Carrying two Clubbells is NOT FUN, regardless of their weight. You'd have to use two hands to hold on to the Clubbells.

Carrying one heavier Clubbell is more feasible, assuming you have additional gear to lug around, eg a bag of personal belongings or other equipment. One hand can be used to hold on to the Clubbell, the other hand can be used to carry your other things.

If you can do all your exercises with just one Clubbell, that is good utility to me.

If your program specifies Double and Single Clubbell exercises, that is not good utility to me, as some of the time one Clubbell is not being used.

Hope you enjoy these progressions.

More updates coming soon...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another Day at the PIT

15 Dec 2012 - High

Primal Stress Protocol 3 (modified).

Quad Pop Up
1H Springing Tripod
Bent Swing Plank
Spinal Rock Drop

Round 1 and 2: 3 reps, round 3 onwards 4 reps.

Decided to play around with timed sets of Gama Cast.
Gama Cast 35lb 18/18 @ 6 min (one revolution (half reps) every 5 seconds)

RPE: 9

14 Dec 2012 - Moderate

Pistol & Backward Ellipse

Pistol 28/28 @ 14 min
Backward Ellipse 40 @ 10 min

RPE: 6

Another Day at the PIT

Saturday, December 8, 2012

8 Dec 2012 - High

Primal Stress Protocol 2 (modified).

Spinning Lunge
Swing Plank (Spinal Rock did not give me enough intensity)
Forward Tank

RPE: 8.5

Followed by random stuff in the playground.

7 Dec 2012 - Moderate

Pistol & Backward Ellipse

Pistol 20/20 @ 10 min
Backward Ellipse 28 @ 7 min
                             12 @ 3 min

RPE: 6

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

04 Dec 2012 - Moderate

Pistol & Backward Ellipse

Pistol 16/16 @ 8 min
           4/4 @ 2 min
Backward Ellipse 24 @ 6 min
                             16 @ 4 min

RPE: 6

Friday, November 30, 2012

30 Nov 2012 - Moderate

Pistol & Backward Ellipse

Pistol 12/12 @ 6 min
          8/8 @ 4 min
Backward Ellipse 20 @ 5 min
                             20 @ 5 min

RPE: 5.5

Thursday, November 29, 2012

27 Nov 2012 - Moderate

Pistol & Backward Ellipse

Pistol 8/8 @ 4 minutes
         6/6 @ 3 minutes
         6/6 @ 3 minutes
Backward Ellipse 16 @ 4 minutes
                           12 @ 4 minutes
                           12 @ 4 minutes

RPE: 5

Comment: Need a meditative protocol amidst the busyness of marriage life.

Goal is to go for at least Pistols 50/50 @ 10 min and Backward Ellipse 100 @ 10 min at a Moderate Intensity. I did these numbers before some years ago but at High Intensity. I plan to do this only for the Moderate and keep TACFIT/Primal Stress on High Intensity.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

22 Nov 2012 - Moderate

Trial By Fire Components.

AMRAP 20 mins
2H Front Pendulum 35lb 10/10
2H Shield Cast 35lb 10/10
2H Side Pendulum 35lb 10/10

RPE: 6

Monday, November 19, 2012

Another Day at the PIT

Since I started training at The Pit, I feel that my level of fitness has increased tenfold. I am less fatigued during the day and find that I have the energy to work out every other day. Strange as it may seem, I actually look forward to my sessions at The Pit, both individual and group, I guess it's down to the fact that each session is tailored to ensure maximum effectiveness within a short space of time. It helps that groups sessions are fairly small, so trainers can focus their attention on ensuring that each activity is performed with the correct technique to maximise the impact. The staff and clients alike are all very supportive which also helps to maintain a regular work out scheduled. Thanks to everyone at The Pit for helping to make fitness so much fun, and to Herman for pushing me that extra mile. 

- Sity Patel, personal training client

Another Day at the PIT

Sunday, November 18, 2012

17 Nov 2012 - High

TACFIT Lima (modified).

Tadpole 100
CB 2H Front Lever Jerk 25lb 100
CB Swipe 2x20lb 100

RPE: 9

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

10 Nov 2012 - Moderate

Trial By Fire Components.

AMRAP 20 mins
2H Front Pendulum 35lb 7/7
2H Shield Cast 35lb 7/7
2H Side Pendulum 35lb 7/7

RPE: 6

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Another Day at the PIT

7 Nov 2012 - High

TACFIT Kilo (modified).

CB 2H front Swing 35lb
CB 2H Side Semi 35lb, 25lb
CB 2H Clean Squat Press 35lb
Lunge Jump Switch
CB 2H Gama Cast 35lb

6 Nov 2012 - Moderate

Trial By Fire Components.

AMRAP 20 mins
2H Front Pendulum 35lb 6/6
2H Shield Cast 35lb 6/6
2H Side Pendulum 35lb 6/6

RPE: 6

Monday, November 5, 2012

Another Day at the PIT

3 Nov 2012 - Moderate

Trial By Fire Components.

AMRAP 20 mins
2H Front Pendulum 35lb 5/5
2H Shield Cast 35lb 5/5
2H Side Pendulum 35lb 5/5

RPE: 6

Comment: no loss of strength even with 3 weeks of no training and lack of sleep and recovery.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

16 Oct 2012 - Moderate

Trial by Fire Components.

AMRAP 20 mins
1H Front Swing 20lb 10/10
1H Front Cast 20lb 10/10
1H Side Swing 20lb 10/10

RPE: 6

Comment: Almost wanted to switch to another workout today. 10 reps is boring. But i am glad i went through it because thereafter i tried the next sophistication and it felt good. :)

TACFIT at the Park

Friday, October 12, 2012

12 Oct 2012 - Moderate

Trial by Fire Components.

AMRAP 20 mins
1H Front Swing 20lb 9/9
1H Front Cast 20lb 9/9
1H Side Swing 20lb 9/9

RPE: 6

Another Day at the PIT

Interviewed by Reporter Deborah Rowe

Original article.


Recent interview with Think the journalist might have misunderstood me on some parts. That or i didn't explain it to her in enough detail. LOL. Thanks Deborah.

Who's The Fittest?
If you want a full body workout that will leave you drenched in sweat and unconscious once you’ve successfully completed it, you have got to head down to The PIT!
I decided to take on the challenge and try out a one-on-one training session at The PIT, a local gym in the alley of Tanjong Pagar district. The name of the gym itself was intimidating enough, filling my head with worrying images of me being tortured in a chamber with gruelling exercise sequences! I couldn’t help but tremble as I opened the door to The Pit.
If first impressions are anything to go by, I knew I was going to get treated to an intense workout in a bit. An image of Socrates with a complex quote that served up as motivation and a harsh reminder greeted me upon my entrance into The PIT, together with racks of dumb bells and kettle bells and several others pushing themselves hard under the guidance of the few personal trainers in The PIT.
I was under the wings of Herman Chauw, a certified physiotherapist. CST coach, TACFIT instructor and personal trainer. He took me through a simple warm up to stretch those stiff and underworked muscles of me, before the torture began!
Herman prepared a TACFIT Tabata workout for my session at The PIT. For those of you who aren’t sure what Tabata training is about, it is actually based on a 1996 study by Izumi Tabata that uses 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise, coupled with 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for four minutes, meaning one goes through eight consecutive cycles of one exercise. I was given six different exercises to complete, all of which focus largely on the core – a key aspect of TACFIT.
At the end of the workout, I must say I was left drenched and lifeless on the floor. I felt my arms and legs aching and screaming for help, and could barely even stand to grab my drink. I was left with just about enough energy to conduct a short interview session with Herman to find out more about The PIT, TACFIT and fitness for beginners! Hi, could you tell me more about The PIT and what it is about?
Herman: The pit is actually a facility but we are different from other facilities in that we aren’t based on machines. Although we do train muscles, we focus on the movements – functional movements for aesthetic use. As you can see, we don’t use any machines, just free weights. Could you explain what TACFIT is all about?
Herman: TACFIT is a strength and conditioning program for tactical operators such as military, police and fire-fighters. These are not based on sports. Tactical operators need to function in a wide variety of environments and have to perform under fatigue. You can compare it this way. This is from another coach – Pavel, who popularised kettle bells in the U.S. His analogy is this: The tactical operator is like a hammer, which must perform in the most adverse situations with sub-optimal conditions. The athlete is like a race car, with top-grade fuel, top-grade tires, top-grade everything.
377940_201669263234544_804812406_n Do you have to be of a certain level of fitness before you can train at The PIT?
Herman: We train anyone of any fitness level. The key thing is progression. We start at what you’re capable of doing. It must be challenging but doable. What advice would you give someone who wants to start getting fit?
Herman: First thing would be to look at your diet. See whether you’re eating a lot of junk food, a lot of sugar and then cut down on these first. Then for a start, just do some physical activity first. It can be anything – walking, running, cycling. Eventually you want to have a regular program.
384611_371526026248866_375780126_n In line with the upcoming ONE FC, what do you think are the key skills a fighter should possess?
Herman: From a strength and conditioning point of view, everything starts from the core. If you cannot connect the power from your core to your limbs, you can’t hit properly and you risk injury.
If you’re serious about getting fit, or if you’re up for a serious physical challenge, head on down to The PIT right now!
Where The PIT
50 Tras Street, S(078989) 
More Information The PIT
The PIT Facebook
By Deborah Rowe

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review of Elite Warm Up and Preparation DVD

Short review on Jordan Jovtchev's Elite Warm Up and Preparation DVD. This is the only joint mobility material i have reviewed outside CST since getting into CST.
Good stuff. Many common and similar exercises from Intu-Flow (IF) and Prasara-Bodyflow (PB). However IF and PB is deeper and more systematic. Some unique exercises but if you know IF and PB, you can derive those exercises from your current knowledge and vocabulary.
Comparing the closed chain exercises, i would say Primal Stress would have greater benefit for most people as they are more isolated movements.
One unique section is the shoulder isolations using resistance band, which would be very good for prepping the rotator cuffs.

Somethings which strike me include the ease with which Jordan goes into the front and side splits, pikes, and handstands / handstand presses, including straight-arm-straight-body press.

Monday, October 8, 2012

08 Oct 2012 - High


Trinity Squat BOF
Quad Clap
Chin Up (single ring)
Most rounds: 15-10-5, some rounds 12-8-4

Or some rounds:
Trinity Squat Jump 9
Quad Clap 6
Chin Up (single ring) 3

RPE: 9.5

Comment: the dreaded EMOTM raises up its ugly head.

Another Day at the PIT