Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Evil Russian

His name is Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Spetsnaz physical training instructor in the Soviet Union and a Master of Sports. To his many comrades and followers in North America, he is known affectionately as "the evil Russian". Why? Because his physical training programs and routines are no-nonsense, straightforward, and tough. If you read his books or watch his videos and pay attention to the propaganda, you can't help but become more flexible, stronger, and less willing to put up with the crap we often get from the weekend-certified fitness trainers in North America.

I currently have four of his books in electronic format (Adobe Acrobat files), including Power to the People, Beyond Crunches, Super Joints, and Relax Into Stretch. I can't say I've read every one cover-to-cover, but for the past few weeks I've been doing deadlifts, one-arm presses with barbells, snatches and swings with dumbbells. Each workout at Popeye's Gym takes me about 40-50 minutes and leaves me sweating and with no need for an additional cardio workout. Already, I feel stronger and in better shape even though I've been a regular gym rat for three years.

Pavel says that to get stronger without bulking up, all you need are two exercises - the deadlift and the one-arm press. You simply concentrate on excellent form, heavy weights, low repetitions (less than 6) and few sets (two of each). If you want a cardio workout to top it off, the Russian Kettlebells doing ballistic exercises of snatching and swinging are best, but most gyms don't have that kind of exotic equipment, so you can settle for dumbbells instead.

I'm convinced "the evil Russian" can teach us many things about physical exercise and all-round fitness. So, I'm giving him at least six weeks, probably more like twelve to eighteen weeks, doing nothing but these exercises just to see what difference in makes in my body. Who knows, maybe I'll start calling friends and family members "comrades" soon.