Archive for December 2, 2010

And then we Sauna…

Posted in Articles on December 2, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Here is a blast from the past repost for you guys. It’s funny when I first wrote this Old Country was pretty much a private thing between some friends. And now from the regular 80 some hits we’d get a post some days we’ll see 5 times that many views. This article came about because of  our love of  Squats and Saunas. – Z 

A small group of athletes in my gym have been following a six week Caliber Cycle that I designed for them that has its strength work based on Russian Volume training. The cycle has the athletes squatting and front squatting with a bulk of their sets falling close to 90-95% of their 1rm. As you could guess, mixing this program with additional metabolic conditioning and a number of Olympic-based skill lifts left their bodies in need of serious recovery.

Some downed fish oil, most guzzled milk, and we all tried to get as much sleep as we could. But early in my research on the RVT training, I stumbled across an interesting piece on recovery. It read (very Russian sounding to me) “on rest days take it easy, go for walks, stretch, box, wrestle, go to sauna….”

The list was comical to me. Walk -ok check. Stretch – sounds easy enough. Box? Wrestle? I found the Russians telling me to take it easy by boxing or wrestling – sounds very Old Country.

When I repeated this to Johnny (laughing as I did), he interrupted with  – “dude we should totally do that!”I rolled my eyes. Of course, John is a former DI wrestler and also a trained Mixed Martial Arts fighter and I could have guessed that he would think that sounded relaxing. But then he produced the idea that turned out more addicting to some of us than crack or Dancing with the Stars (hey! my Ma makes me watch it when I stop over for dinner.) “Let’s go to the Banya.”  “The what?” I asked. “The Russian bathhouse.” He answered.

Now having seen Eastern Promises and Red Heat, I was not to stoked to go get in a naked brawl with Viggo Mortensen. And having been to Vegas I’ve heard what “bathhouses” were. But John was all about it, and I always cave to the guy eventually. So after our Saturday squat session, a group of us backed up and headed to Seattle’s Banya 5.

The place was way classier than I imagined, and there was no Viggo or Arnold in sight. We got into our trunks, showered off, and hit the sauna. Instantly, I felt that John and I and the two girls we were with, were getting weird looks. For one, John told me to bring a beanie to wear in the sauna, and my beanie was (to put it lightly) RIDICULOUS. And, two of our female lifting partners who we were with, had bar marks across their collar bones from when we were front squatting earlier. Nothing like walking around with girls who look beat-up.

So we started in the sauna, which was hot. Of course there were some Russian guys in there speaking what else but Russian. John kept telling me to talk to them. I always get put on the spot for this because my great grandparents spoke only Russian. They were both born there before immigrating to the US in the  1920’s. My Grandpa Filer only learned two words in English and he used them when playing cards – “Old Bullshit!” No one in the Filer Family even pronounces Stolichnaya correctly anymore.  And, it wasn’t just the beanie, the bruised women, and the communication barriers, but there was the small distraction of guys beating each other with bundles of leaves… Awkward.

That awkwardness of the sauna got replaced by the next step – the cold tub. Nothing like walking out of a hot sauna and stepping into a 46 degree pool – even colder when John pulled out the bucket of ice you pour over your head. From there, it was to the salt water tub, to the hot tub, to the steam room, and then back in the sauna.

Three hours later, I didn’t even remember the squats from earlier in the day. I now am definitely a believer in the sauna for a recovery approach. The boxing I’m still on the fence about.


Ghetto Banya: Updated version

The above article was written for our first cycle. We got a little lazy after that. We started to branch out and find ways of not having to cross the bridge out of West Seattle(there are trolls under that thing). So when we found out that the Club’s own GogO had a dry sauna we were all over it.

“This shit will make you a goddamn sexual Tyrannasaur, Just like Me….”

But you may ask yourself… “But Zach, isn’t part of the whole Banya experiance the cold pool?”

Of course it is my friends! First time we did it I wanted Johnny to go jump in the Sound with me from the sauna. But the tide was to far out to make the run then get deep enough. Next best idea?

That’s right turn on the shower to cold… Balls cold, this is me bracing in the shower. It was described to me as looking like bracing to get hit by a truck.

So in the end if you can’t make the simple weekend or midafternoon trip down to Seattle’s Banya 5, make do. Eat, Sleep, Recover…

Majestic SilverBack Recovery…

Posted by:  Z