Blog

When Tension Is a Beautiful Thing
The Importance of Tension

I am neither discussing different types of headaches, nor the strength properties of a barbell and its ability to resist bending and becoming permanently deformed. I am talking about what your body needs to generate prior to loading it. Continue reading

Spring 2016 TSC Results
April 2016 TSC Results

This April 2016 TSC included nearly 1,200 participants—the most in history. Here are the highest scores in each of the eight categories. Continue reading

Calisthenics for Iron Domination: From Bodyweight to Heavy Weight
Iron Domination Through Calisthenics

Training bodyweight exercise will help you demolish your previous strength records in your barbell and kettlebell practice and replace them with all new levels of iron domination. Continue reading

If You Want to Get Better, You Must Think Better
StrongFirst Strong Mind

Just like any movement or lift you’ll encounter in the gym, getting yourself into a proper head space more strongly and consistently starts with practice. And you know what the first step toward a better mental practice is? Continue reading

Personal Space Rules When Snatching the Kettlebell
Personal Space and the Kettlebell

There is significant research into what we casually refer to as “personal space,” and surprisingly, the concept of personal space can also assist us in enhancing our technique in snatching a kettlebell. Continue reading

How to Intelligently Define, Determine, and Test Your 1RM
Determining Your 1RM

Let’s take a more detailed look at the 1RM. Specifically, how you can determine your 1RM based on your training with a lighter weight, what a “1RM” really is, and the best way to test it. Continue reading

One Good Rep: How to Perform the Perfect Push-up
Perfect Push-up

Done correctly, the push-up will give you great strength gains and can be done anywhere at any time. But first, we need to make sure you can do one great repetition. Continue reading

Overcoming Mediocrity Through Strength and Purpose
Overcoming Mediocrity Through Strength and Purpose

Your brain is brimming with the mental tools to become more than what you are. In art. In business. In your profession. And particularly, in strength. Continue reading

A Comprehensive 3-Month Plan for Beginner Group Lessons
StrongFirst Beginner Group Lessons

Here is a detailed blueprint of how we conduct our beginner group lessons and build skill, enthusiasm, knowledge, and, most of all, strength in all our students. Continue reading

The 3 Pillars: How to Build Skill While Being Real
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Dr. Thomas refers to the Three Pillars of Progression, Variety, and Precision. Using these pillars, you can advance your learning and skill level while avoiding two of the most common mental traps. Continue reading

Standing on the Shoulders of StrongFirst Giants
Louka Kurcer tells his StrongFirst story

When I was twenty, I was arrested and sentenced to an eight-year prison term. In that unlikeliest of places, I found inspiration and a journey to something better through StrongFirst. Continue reading

Empowering Self Advocacy: Taking Charge of Your Back Pain
Strong Back by StrongFirst

There is no such thing as “non-specific back pain” or degenerative disc disease – there are only those individuals who have not had a thorough assessment. Continue reading

Your First Pull-Up: A How-To for Senior-Aged Women
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If you’re an older woman, you can still get strong. And one of the best ways to both demonstrate and build your strength is by training to do your first pull-up. Continue reading

The Simple Way Pavlov’s Dogs Can Improve Your Performance
Pavlov's Dogs and Kettlebells

You have probably heard of “Pavlov’s dogs.” But did you know the work of famous Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov might have a powerful application to your training? Continue reading

The Subtle But Essential Role of the Triceps Brachii in the Deadlift
Doc Hartle's Triceps Brachii in the Deadlift

The triceps brachii are often overlooked in the deadlift, even by competitive powerlifters. But when engaged properly, they help you generate more strength and power and reduce injury. Continue reading

The 3 Key Distinctions of the Kettlebell Press
Kettlebell Press

When I learned the nuances of this movement, I can’t tell you how much of a difference it made, not only in my pressing strength, but in my overall shoulder health. Continue reading

How Plan Strong Programming Empowers the Weightlifter
Plan Strong for Weightlifting

Using Plan Strong programming gave Mira new strength – and the edge she needed to win a silver medal at the USAW Masters Nationals Weightlifting Championships. Continue reading

Paving Your Personal Road to TSC Victory
TSC StrongFirst

Here’s how my past athletics primed me for TSC success. Have you ever considered that yours may have, too? Included is a free 12-week TSC training program. Continue reading

The SFG Level II Preparation Guide
SFG Level II Certification

You asked for it, so here it is: a step-by-step approach to preparation and training for the SFG Level II. This is not a plan you can just follow, though – it requires assessment, planning, and analysis of your own. Continue reading

2016 Leadership Promotions, and How They are Chosen
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Team Leaders, Seniors, and Masters are positions of trust and responsibility in the StrongFirst community. It is my honor to present to you the SFGs stepping into or moving up in leadership roles within SFG. Continue reading

The Big Bell Theory: Plans for Pressing Bigger Kettlebells
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One of my students pressed the Beast after training for one year — and he started with 16kg. I hope my sharing of his journey will help you to increase your strength and press the 48kg Beast, too. Continue reading

The 5TRM Back Squat Program
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Sometimes it is not appropriate to measure 1RM, but what if your back squat program is based off one? Enter the 5TRM – your five technically perfect rep max. A new program inspired by Plan Strong. Continue reading

An Expert Approach to Mastering Bodyweight Training
Mastering Bodyweight Training

Proper bodyweight training doesn’t require equipment. But it does require an expert approach. Let’s start by using holds to prepare ourselves for good movement. Continue reading

Strength Is a Skill — Strength Is Liberating
Strength Is A Skill

If you practice badly, pain will find you. Not in pain yet? Keep doing what you’re doing badly. I did it all wrong for decades. But StrongFirst set me straight with one of their central tenets: strength is a skill. Continue reading

The Will to Happiness
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I learned a lesson about life and training that I would like to pass along. It comes from the book that made the greatest impression on me last year: “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi. Continue reading

Happy StrongFirst New Year: What I Learned in 2015
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As I reflect on 2015 and the lessons it provided, I’m humbled by the opportunity to be a part of the StrongFirst community. I’m also thankful to have so many great people at every different level of the StrongFirst Team. Continue reading

Forge New Footprints: Consistency, Variability, and the FMS
FMS and Kettlebell Training

Consistency is key in training, but must be paired with variability. To move well, you first need a baseline, and then a system that takes you into different postures and positions. Continue reading

No Excuses Allowed: I Became an SFG II at Age 70
Dr. John Sullivan at SFG Level II

I recently passed the SFG Level II Certification. At seventy years of age, I was told I am the oldest person to pass. But I never let excuses stop me. Continue reading

300 Seconds: A Guide to Maximizing Your Rest Intervals
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This length of time may seem like an eternity, but taking long rest intervals between work sets is one of the keys to building strength. Continue reading

How Being Coachable Helped Me Tame the Beast
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I recently trusted my Beast Tamer training to Pavel. The experience gave me renewed insight into what it feels like to be coached – and how to be coachable. Continue reading

Surprise Yourself With Strength on This Bodyweight Training Plan
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More than one SFB attendee has stated that had they attended the SFB prior to SFG I or II they would have done better and been stronger for their pressing. Continue reading

An Outlier on the Normal Kettlebell Curve
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I do not use the kettlebell to train. I train to become the kettlebell. Let me explain the strength of this goal. Continue reading

How to Prepare for and Pass Your SFG Level I
Having a great experience at my SFG Level I

Successfully completing your SFG Level I takes smart planning. This was my path to a successful Level I and the eight-week training plan I followed. Continue reading

Experience and Skill Will Always Trump Science
Gary Music Teaches Karate

I know I am not a scientist, and, believe it or not, that gives me a great advantage over many when it comes to learning and perfecting a physical skill. Continue reading

Fall 2015 TSC Recap
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The Fall 2015 TSC saw more participants than ever. Incredible results, and INSPIRING efforts! Here are the highest scores in each of the eight categories. Continue reading

Practice vs. Performance: The Mentality of the Old-Time Strongmen
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Attempting a maximal lift in front of a crowd for a show is the move of an amateur. Run “wide open” all the time and something will break. The thing that breaks ain’t gonna be a record. Continue reading

The Power of Swings and Get-ups for Hockey Training
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Learning how to properly execute and teach these two movements has had a huge impact on my programming philosophy as a coach to professional hockey players. Continue reading

Simple & Sinister + Heart Rate Training
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This article will explain how to incorporate heart rate training into the Simple & Sinister program, and how to progress over time. Continue reading

Understanding Center of Mass in Kettlebell Training
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Dumbbells tend to center the weight with your hand, but a kettlebell’s center of mass is about six to eight inches from the handle, and that changes depending on the exercise. Understanding this can be used to your advantage. Continue reading

How to Systematically Improve Your TSC Numbers
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Here’s my advice on how to improve your TSC numbers based on my personal experience and success in competition. Some of these you can try today. Continue reading

Simple & Sinister Progression Tactic
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Let’s examine science and history to best understand how a strategy of “anti-glycolytic” training can be applied to a Simple & Sinister progression plan. Continue reading

Daily Dose Deadlift Plan
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This plan will outline how you can overcome a plateau and keep building your lifts using the deadlift as an example. It’s simple, and even feels easy to do. Continue reading

Strength Training Will Get You Far – Even a Half Marathon
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I didn’t mean to train for a half marathon without doing any running, but due to an injury I only did strength training. And I was shocked how well I did! Continue reading

The Perfect Kettlebell Swing: Is There Such a Thing?
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There is a perfect kettlebell swing, but only if you take into account individual structure and history. We will examine each of these to find YOUR swing. Continue reading

Posture: An Easy Way to Up Your Performance
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In a great majority of athletic events and real-life tasks, a ramrod straight posture, or at least its approximation, greatly improves the efficiency. So get your carcass rebalanced. Continue reading

3 Squat Tips: Understanding Squat Cues
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The following is the visual, or intrinsic cuing, I use to help my students understand the confusing squat cues I personally wasn’t able to process early on. Continue reading

5 Simple Tips for a Stronger Pistol
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To get stronger and healthier, we need mobility and stability to maintain alignment while developing forces. These tips for a better pistol are based on that idea. Continue reading

Lifting Stones: The Value to the Modern Trainee
Bud Jeffries with a 400lb+ stone.

I became fascinated with lifting stones when I read an article about a man in New Zealand not much bigger than me – who was lifting stones over 400 pounds. Continue reading

Six Weeks to Strong: The SF 930 Plan
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The plan uses high reps of 8-12 per set and unheard of rest periods between them. It will build a lot of strength into your weighted pull-up and kettlebell press in just six weeks. Continue reading

More StrongFirst
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StrongFirst is in the hypertrophy phase. Today, I am proud to announce our Chief SFL and Chief SFB. Continue reading

Chuck Taylor Redesign: A Survival Guide
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In the Chuck Taylor redesign, Converse changed little of the external appearance, but the new cushioned sole is a soul CRUSHER in our strength-training world. Continue reading

Program Minimum [Squared]
Mark Cheng, Senior SFG

Pavel’s original Program Minimum used the bent press and the snatch. He reinvented the PM with two equally-effective drills: the swing and the get-up. What if we use all four? Continue reading

Use Goal Cycling to Stay on Target
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By Jukka Mäennenä, SFG, SFL Have you written down your goals? Great. The next step is to determine how to reach those goals. Some methods will work better than others, for any given person or task. On the other hand, … Continue reading

A Long Way to Press: Work Capacity, Levers, and Tall People
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For those of us in the business of getting people strong, we may need to reevaluate how we do that for each athlete. Let’s look at the science of pressing for tall people. Continue reading

The Case for Grease-the-Groove Jump Training
Soviet high jump legend Valery Brumel

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman So you want to improve your jumping ability? First, get strong and symmetrical. Then start “greasing the groove” (GTG) with all sorts of jumps. The Obsession of World-Class Jumpers Speaks Victor Lonsky, Distinguished Coach of the … Continue reading

10 Reasons Your Progress Is Stalling
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If you read all manner of training articles and get highly motivated, yet surprisingly fail to progress much in your efforts, then this article is for you. Continue reading

The Seven Basic Human Movements
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“How do I put together a program at home?” The simple answer is to include both grinds and ballistics within the seven basic human movement patterns. Continue reading

An Olympic Weightlifting Approach to Coaching the Kettlebell Clean
Coaching the Kettlebell Clean

The kettlebell clean is tough for people to “get.” I’ve found using weightlifting techniques makes coaching the kettlebell clean simpler and more effective. Continue reading

Swing Versus Snatch
Swing versus snatch

When it comes to swing versus snatch, which should you be doing and why? Let’s break it down by goal and muscle group. Continue reading

The Turkish Get-Up — A Clinician’s Perspective
Turkish get-up

It is an ongoing joke that if you come to me with an orthopedic issue, I will tell you to do a Turkish get-up. But in seriousness, it is an excellent tool for diagnosing movement. Continue reading

What is “Work Capacity”? [Part II]
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The original Russian term rabotosposobnost literally translates into “work ability.” A better translation would be “potential productivity.” Continue reading

The Psychological Complexities of Becoming Strong
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By Hannah Fons, SFG II, SFB As I work and observe the broad range of personalities and athleticism at my school, Five Points Academy here in New York City, I’ve come to view strength training as something like an iceberg. There’s … Continue reading

What is “Work Capacity”? [Part I]
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Fight the urge to say “work capacity” — or be ready to specify the dominant energy system or the power, tempo, and duration of the exercise. Continue reading

Simple & Sinister in a Rehabilitation Setting
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Anyone who has experienced a complete tendon rupture knows the recovery process is long. Simple & Sinister along with a focus on movement basics helped me rehabilitate faster than anyone expected. Continue reading

Long Rests: Russian Science to the Rescue
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My father and I were having a typical conversation about rest periods between sets when he reminded me of “Smoke Bellew,” a classic story by one of our favorite writers. Continue reading

Rucking: What It Is and How to Do It
How to ruck

I will take the reader from A-Z on all the essentials of rucking: how to prep your gear, how to walk, how to structure your workouts for different goals, and why. Continue reading

S&C Training for MMA With Simple & Sinister
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Here is a summary of our basic MMA fight prep for UFC fighter Viktor Pešta – including his strength and conditioning training, how he ate, and more. Continue reading

The Patience of Strength: Rest Intervals
Dave RigertSquare

An Italian food writer launched a “slow food” movement to promote leisurely meals to enjoy the company of friends and even to taste the food. Perhaps we should do the same in strength. Continue reading

Training Endurance Athletes for the Long Season
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I am known for my work with endurance athletes, such as cyclist Lance Armstrong and motocross legend Chad Reed. Here how I train them to peak performance. Continue reading

The Top Five Ab Training Mistakes
The full contact twist.
Photo courtesy Prof. Stuart McGill’s Spine Biomechanics Lab at the University of Waterloo, Canada

By now, proper abdominal training should not be a mystery. Pavel sets us straight with his own list article of ab training mistakes. Continue reading

TSC Competition Prep: The Final 2 Weeks
Snatch Test

Let’s take a look at the last two weeks leading up to a TSC competition and outline how you can best set yourself up for success on event day. Continue reading

StrongFirst After Pregnancy: Postpartum Workout Advice
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What enabled me to regain my strength and to perform better than I ever had prior to pregnancy? The starting point was reconnecting to my “core.” Continue reading

How to Build Your Slow Fibers Part III
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Attempting to combine FT and ST training for all major muscle groups is a different ball game. Before you jump in head first, here is what you need to consider. Continue reading

The Tactical Strength Challenge as Celebration of Life
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October 4 was Jim’s one year anniversary of heart surgery and the date of the Tactical Strength Challenge. Jim had begun his reborn life and was determined to compete. Continue reading

Golf Fitness Training With StrongFirst
Tiger Woods

Strength and conditioning training for golf doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, a routine of squats, get-ups, and swings can do wonders for injury prevention and performance. Continue reading

How to Build Your Slow Fibers, Part II
Karen Smith, Master SFG demonstrating the diamond pushup

I present you with a plan that will increase your pressing strength and endurance by building up slow muscle fibers in your triceps. Continue reading

Optimizing Back Health With the Kettlebell Swing
Spine Shearing

As a rehabilitation professional and a former back patient, I believe the properly performed kettlebell swing is essential for a pain free back, and the science backs it up. Continue reading

How to Build Your Slow Fibers, Part I
Mahmoud Esambayevsquare

Selouyanov’s protocols have been used with extraordinary success by many elite Russian athletes from a variety of sports, so let’s take a look at them. Continue reading

How to Train for Mass With Chins and Dips
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Training for mass without barbells is tricky business. I designed this program to create mass with chins and dips. It’s a serious strength program for the upper body. Continue reading

Our New Chief SFG Instructor: Brett Jones
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Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce our new Chief SFG Instructor — Brett Jones! Continue reading

Should You Train Your Slow Twitch Fibers?
Franz Snideman, Senior SFG, a 10.7sec 100m sprinter

Cutting-edge Russian research tells us every type of athlete, from marathoner to powerlifter, has a lot to gain from training slow twitch fibers. Continue reading

Okinawan Strength: Developing the “Iron Body”
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The martial arts embody a particular set of strength principles. We have investigated some of these techniques in the lab and the training room. Here are some thoughts on Okinawan strength and developing an iron body. Continue reading

Marine Corps Training and the Raider Project
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Here is what the Marine Corps does and does well when it comes to physical training, and also what we can do to thank them for their heroic efforts. Continue reading

From Simple to Sinister: Waving Volume on S&S
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You may want to start “waving” your volume in the manner of Soviet weightlifters. Studies have documented the greater effectiveness of “waved” training for experienced athletes. Continue reading

An NFL Strength Coach, the Kettlebell, and Elite Athletes
NFL Players

When I first met Pavel, when I was a rookie NFL strength and conditioning coach facing questions and challenges, he forced me to decide what path my future would take. Continue reading

Balance…With Priorities
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I always divide my year into four training periods to maintain balance. This year, I’m going to try something different. For the first two periods, I’m doing Simple & Sinister. Continue reading

The Pause That Comes Before a Successful Press
Moment of my failed press test

I failed the half-bodyweight press at my SFG Level II re-certification. Then I changed two things and re-tested successfully. Here are those two things. Continue reading

What the Hell Effect Military-Style
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Somewhere in central Iraq, I stopped in my tracks. “What the hell?” I had read about this phenomenon many times but was not sure if I believed it. I did now. Continue reading

From Simple to Serious Endurance
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I will offer you a road map toward building serious endurance. It is based on the idea of improving your level of conditioning by using short but powerful bouts of work. Continue reading

Kettlebells and Deadlifting: A Match Made in Heaven?
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There are many excellent exercises you can do with a kettlebell, but I have stuck to the two-hand swing. As an assistance exercise for the deadlift it is amazing. Continue reading

Heads Up! Proper Neck Position in Hip Hinge Movements
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A strange idea has emerged from the clinical world: the insect head. White coats telling lifters to lock their heads onto their torsos during hip hinge lifts. I urge you not to get bogged down by their arguments. Continue reading

SFG Level I Certification: 3 + 6 = Excellence
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The SFG Level I Certification digs deep into the six movements that test your skills, strengths, and weaknesses – and even your mental strength. Continue reading

The Cost of Adaptation: What Do You Choose?
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The path to health seems simple: train hard, increase your health, and live happily ever after. But the cost of adaptation makes you vulnerable to other stressors. Continue reading

A Veterans Day Thank You
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On behalf of StrongFirst, I would like to thank veterans and their families for their service, selflessness, and sacrifice. Without you, the world would be a very different place. Continue reading

Strength Is Like Music or Surgery: The Value of the SFG
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If you want to learn the skill of strength, the SFG Certification will have you set for life. You will get a solid start to learning the methods you can use to help people become stronger and mobile. Continue reading

Strength Training for High School Volleyball
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I coach my teenage daughters in strength training to prepare them for high school volleyball. Here are my tips and recommendations to ensure your success. Continue reading

The Long View: A Solid Foundation Built to Last
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The nobility of undertaking a task far bigger than one’s life with the certainty of not seeing it completed is incomprehensible in the XXI century. We must consider taking the long view. Continue reading

SFG Level II Certification Prep Story
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Here’s what to expect at your SFG Level II, how I prepared, and my recommendations to you to ensure you have a successful Certification weekend. Continue reading

The Truth Shall Set You Free…in the Fitness Industry
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How do you evaluate the credibility of an author and his recommendations? Without decades of personal trial and error, how do you discern the truth from the misinformation? Continue reading

How Heavy Should I Go in a Get-up?
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Once a student owns the movement, then a much heavier bell can (and should) be used. The get-up is not just a light warm-up mobility exercise Continue reading

Strength Aerobics: “Conditioning” Workouts That Work
Alexey Senart, SFG Team Leader

Hard-living types love killing themselves in the glycolytic pathway. But this is far from the only way to “condition.” Continue reading

4 Tips to Make the SFG Snatch Test Easier
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This program can fit into your current training without interrupting or bogging it down.But it will make your SFG snatch test easier – and far less dramatic of an experience. Continue reading

Bodyweight Exercise for Ultra-Marathon Running
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After earning my SFB and applying its teachings, I am a believer. I have seen and felt the difference it makes in my ultra-marathon running performances. Continue reading

Getting a Bigger Press: 3 Big Tips and 10 Ideas
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Many of you are worried about being able to press your snatch bell with confidence. There are many things you can do to fix your weakness, and some might even be fun. Continue reading

Fat Loss Through Strength: Your Dry, Fighting Weight
A student of Geoff's, Stacy Clemson, SFG II

Let’s look to both science and weightlifters to see what they do for fat loss. May you reach your “dry, fighting weight” without the dishonor of dieting and aerobics! Continue reading

The Secret to Big Deadlifts: Do the Small Things
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Here is what you need to do to stay healthy while gaining strength in your deadlifts and other barbell lifts. Continue reading

How to Get the Most Out of Earning Your SFG
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Here are five suggestions for continuing the momentum you built in the course of earning your SFG Level I Certification. Follow these and keep improving! Continue reading

Chinese Food for Rapid Pressing Gains
Granville Mayers, SFG II

How can you train for rapid pressing gains without overloading your nervous system? The answer: American-style Chinese food. Also known as “rung-a-day.” Continue reading

The Swing Sandwich: What It Is and Why It Works
Hinano Cafe, Venice Beach

Russian sports scientists advocate sandwiching full-body exercises like squats between upper-body muscle building exercises to benefit from a hormonal spike. Kettlebell swings appear to have the same effect. Continue reading

How to Build Up to 1 Pistol – Then 100 Consecutive Pistols
Sergey Rudnev

First, learn how to do the perfect pistol. Then follow my plan and before long, you’ll be performing 100 consecutive pistols and reaping all the associated benefits. Continue reading

Strength Has a Greater Purpose
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StrongFirst is hardcore, but safe. Enjoyable, but effective. Best of all, through StrongFirst you create strength that has a greater purpose in your life. Continue reading

Tempo Runs + Kettlebells = Your Next “Recovery” Day
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The kettlebell can work for just about every purpose. In the case of a recovery/low-intensity conditioning training session, use a combination of kettlebell work and tempo running. Continue reading

The 5-Week TSC Deadlift Plan
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If you have decent technique and have been building your base with sets of five, the following plan will give you more than a fighting chance of a deadlift PR. Continue reading

A Strong Body Starts With a Strong Mind
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I’ve never met a strong man or woman with a weak mind, and in fact, I believe our physical strength starts by building a strong mind. Here’s how. Continue reading

Flexibility Exercises for Kettlebell Training and Kettlebell Sport
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Although this article is dedicated to flexibility exercises specifically for Girevoy Sport, I believe it will benefit anyone who trains with kettlebells for any reasons. Continue reading

My 90 Day Challenge: I Lost 73lbs and Got My Life Back
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In ninety days, I lost 73lbs and got my life back. I have the cardio to play with my kids and I feel good about my strength and body. And it was all so simple. Continue reading

Back to the Future: Move Forward to the Past
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The surprising truth is the strength-training methods of the 1980s were decidedly superior to today’s methods. To go forward, we must go BACK to the future. Continue reading

The American Swing: Is It Good or Is It Bad?
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The American swing (also known as the overhead swing, or OH swing): Is it good or is it bad? This is a tougher question to answer than it appears on the surface. Continue reading

Tactical Strength Challenge: Participation, Community, Strength
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The Tactical Strength Challenge is a powerful tool – not just for building your muscles, but also for building your business and community. Here’s how! Continue reading

Simple & Sinister Training for Kettlebell Sport Athletes
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Lower body power, upper body stability, grip, and strong heart and lungs. Things the kettlebell sport athlete needs, and Simple & Sinister delivers. Continue reading

SFG Certification: An Event for All “Ages”
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How did a 72-year-old guy decide to attend an SFG Level I Certification and — perhaps more importantly — prepare for the rigor of those three intense days? Continue reading

10 Essential Tips to Prepare for Your First Powerlifting Meet
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Here are a few important things you need to know if you plan on competing in your first powerlifting meet. Continue reading

The Origins of StrongFirst Programming: The Soviet System
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An experienced eye can easily see the logic behind an American training plan. A Russian plan, when you look at it up close, is just noise. You have to step a lot farther back to see the pattern in what appears to be chaos. Continue reading

My 6-Month Plan for Pressing the Beast
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I was told I would never press heavy because of “poor shoulder mechanics.” Despite this, I gave myself six months to work up to pressing the beast. Continue reading

Hard Style Training Principles Across Karate and Kettlebells
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I practice Shurite Kempo, which is a hard style training method in self-protection. The principles we practice are the same as strength training. Continue reading

Use the Hanging Leg Raise to Build a Foundation for Strength
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After training the hanging leg raise, I saw a big improvement in technique and strength, as well as a cessation of chronic low back pain. Continue reading

StrongFirst Deadlift Team Pulls Strong Again
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Updates from Jason Marshall and Pavel on recent meet results and the future of the team. Read for information on how to apply. Continue reading

Simple & Sinister: Getting from Two- to One-Hand Swings
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Adding one-hand swings to your Kettlebell Simple & Sinister training can be daunting for some people. Here’s a simple method for achieving that goal. Continue reading

Chronicles of a Lightweight Beast Tamer, Part 2: The Pistol
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Being a lightweight and conquering the Beast Tamer is no easy feat. Here are my tips on how to train for and execute your Beat Tamer pistol. Continue reading

How I Got a Nearly 10% Bigger Bench Press in 2 Months
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Little did I know that being sidelined by a knee injury would end up being the impetus I needed to achieve a bigger bench press. Here’s the program I used. Continue reading

The Mental Toughness of a Strength Athlete
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My goal is to instill respect in an all-out strength effort as an act of mental toughness every bit in the league with an exhausting race. And to remind you the meaning of respect, period. Continue reading

Why There’s a Hip Extension Speed Bump in the Get-up
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The three-point bridge is a great way to get people using the get-up as corrective to first see it as a screen. But it has to show you a problem before you can have the insight to correct that problem. Continue reading

The Similarities Between Kettlebell and Firearms Training
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I’ve been training with kettlebells since 2005. I’ve been doing firearms training even longer. My experience with both led me to the conclusion that there are a lot of similarities between the two. Continue reading

Tactical Strength Challenge: Spring 2014 Results and Tips
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Announcing the winners of the Spring 2014 TSC, as well as Ollie Quinn’s story of how he trained to win the Men’s Elite Division accompanied by analysis and commentary. Continue reading

Strength and Conditioning Program for BJJ Fighters
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This program is a practical approach to strength training for someone interested in supplementing their BJJ game based on a formula I have applied to prepare myself and others for the toughest of martial arts competitions. Continue reading

The CPSq Kettlebell Workout
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The CPSq is performed 1 clean, 1 press, 1 squat, switch hands. Here are suggestions on how you can endlessly manipulate this program to achieve your goals. Continue reading

The Lateral Arch: A Secret Weapon for a Big Bench Press
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If you do not compete in powerlifting, then you have no business arching your lower back like the pros in the bench press. But you can and should use one professional technique called the “lateral arch.” Continue reading

Justa’s Singles Strategy Adapted to the Double Kettlebell Press
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This is a program I have used for building strength in the double kettlebell press. It was inspired by Steve Justa’s singles routines. Continue reading

Get Stronger: Chronicles of a Lightweight Beast Tamer
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Becoming a Beast Tamer began as an idea , but once I came up with the perfect formula I knew I could tame this Beast. The formula was simple: get stronger. Continue reading

How to Program Your Way to 50 Consecutive Pistol Squats
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Here is how I trained to achieve 50 consecutive pistol squats. But the truth is, you’ve already learned everything you need to know from Pavel. Continue reading

He Did Not Return From the Battle
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God rest in peace the strong souls of the warriors who gave their lives for a just cause. We will never forget. For the living doing their duty today, here is a training tip. Continue reading

How the Neurodevelopmental Sequence Will Strengthen Your Press
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By examining the neurodevelopmental sequence in toddlers, we can see how the press plank proves to be a useful exercise in increasing our shoulder stability and press strength. Continue reading

Improve the Double Kettlebell Snatch With Chains
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A kettlebell chain is a series of movements performed sequentially by performing a single repetition of each. I use swing, high pull, snatch chains to both teach and improve the double kettlebell snatch. Continue reading

Military Deployment Prep: A Program for Hardening the Soldier
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Preparing for deployment is what I do professionally, so I’m providing an overview of my philosophy. Here’s how I train for military deployment. Continue reading

No Substitutions
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I have news for you. Being full of yourself for no reason whatsoever is the ticket to wasting your twenties and possibly thirties. In training and in other aspects of your life. Continue reading

12-Week TNT TSC Training Program
Derek Toshner

We have a training system at TNT that produces outstanding TSC numbers. I would enjoy hearing the results from anyone willing to follow this TNT TSC program. Continue reading

Building the Master Quality of Strength With Kettlebells
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Strength is the master quality. From strength all other fitness aspects are derived. Kettlebell strength is unique because kettlebell training builds usable strength. Continue reading

Moving Target Kettlebell Complex: Plan B
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StrongFirst continues to present our readers’ solutions to putting together a six-week program based on the Moving Target Kettlebell Complex. Here, we take a look at Dave T.’s Plan B. Continue reading

Athletic Body in Balance: What I Would Go Back and Change
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Now that we’ve passed the ten-year anniversary of “Athletic Body in Balance,” I want to tell you what’s happened since, and what I would add or change if I were to rewrite the book today. Continue reading

Things Are Going So Well, Help Me Screw It Up, Part 2
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We should use performance standards to dictate when new skills are introduced. Follow the path laid out by Pavel and other top instructors. Let’s take a look at how this works. Continue reading

Things Are Going So Well, Help Me Screw It Up
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The road to mastery is, and should be, a long one. The following is a systematic approach to mastery using programs created by Pavel. Continue reading

Moving Target Kettlebell Complex, Part II
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I asked the readers with program design experience to build a four- to six-week training plan around the Moving Target Kettlebell Complex. Here is Dave T.’s solution. Continue reading

The Forgotten Benefits of the Get-up
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Crawling might be popular in fitness right now, but the get-up has all the same benefits plus many more to offer. Let’s compare the two, and I’ll explain. Continue reading

I’m Possible: Training for the Winter Paralympics
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You do not need comic book movies to find inspiration for your training. Paralympians, StrongFirst salutes you! Coach Eric Kenyon shares his experience training gold-medal winning athlete Evan Strong. Continue reading

The Top Set Method: A Stress Free Strength Routine
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I can make great, steady progress using the Top Set Method. If you’re burnt out, stressed, or short on sleep, this program is designed for you. Continue reading

Strength for Women After 40: My Plan and Perspective
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How is it that at 49-years old I’m able to maintain a weight of 132lbs and 16% bodyfat? To do a full wheel backbend and 100 40kg swings or 100 16kg snatches in five minutes? Here are my thoughts on strength for women after 40. Continue reading

The Proper Thumb Position in Kettlebell Pulls
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Recently, we have seen a number of students coming to SFG Certifications who clean and swing with their thumbs up. I am here to put an end to this fashion. Continue reading

A Group Lesson Plan for Conquering the Deep 6
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What follows is a practice/plan to take your group class on a guided tour of the Deep 6, ensuring they have and keep stellar technique, as well as stay together as a unit. Continue reading

The Moving Target Kettlebell Complex
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Here is a simple, but effective kettlebell complex. Systemically, you will get tired, but the muscular stress target shifts and you can keep going without compromising technique. Continue reading

4 Tips for Getting Tight and Instant Strength Gains
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I’m about to give you some tips you can take to the gym the next time you train. If you use the tips as I suggest—you’ll see instant strength gains. Continue reading

The Fighter Pull-up Program Revisited
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Here is a powerful Russian pull-up program adaptable to any level of ability. It can double or even triple your number of pull-ups in one month. Continue reading

TSC Training Plans for Athletes of All Levels
Jason Marshall

The best TSC training approach would be a progressive, consistent plan that waves volume, density, and intensity while taking into consideration your current abilities and foundation of strength. Continue reading

The Basics of the Barbell Front Squat
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The barbell front squat is an effective squat variation, is just plain hard work, and has a carryover to sport and life that cannot be ignored. Here are the essentials you need to know. Continue reading

The AK-47 of Exercise Equipment
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As Kalashnikov said himself, “It is very simple, this assault rifle. But I must say that making it simple is sometimes many times harder than making it complex.” Continue reading

Breathing Drills: Maximize Force and Oxygen
Ronen Katz

The goal of both the martial arts practitioner and the StrongFirst practitioner is to generate maximum force. Practicing breathing drills is how we do this. Continue reading

Everything (and Every Trainee) Is A Nail
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One of the students at a Cert respectfully asked me, “Could it be that if the only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail?” My answer was, “Every trainee IS a nail.” Continue reading

improve your get-up = improve your one hand swing
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By Eric Gahan, SFG Recently I designed a training session, which involves the Get-Up (GU) and the One Handed Swing (1H Swing). I designed this session to help clients gain a better understanding of the Get-Up. I found myself revisiting … Continue reading

the way you carry your strength matters
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Have a strong year, brothers and sisters in strength! I am not going to patronize you with “Go get, ‘em, tiger!” speeches.  You have your training plans and goals and Jan 1 is just another date … Continue reading

strongfirst roadwork
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman About five years ago I wrote up the following workout for operators and martial artists in my newsletter. Run.  Shadow box.  At intervals you have set for yourself—so many minutes or so many phone poles—stop and … Continue reading

build a barbell military press on a kettlebell foundation
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman  The barbell military press is a classic test of upper body strength and a powerful strength builder.  At StrongFirst we teach it on a foundation of our kettlebell skills.  And while the principles (bracing, wedging, etc.) … Continue reading

gray cook on simple & sinister
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Simple and Sinister, Pavel Tsatsouline’s new book, is eloquent in its simplicity. People try to overcomplicate a position by adding more where it’s unnecessary, but the true artist sculpts, whittles and pares things down to leave something that’s absolutely beautiful—not … Continue reading

an excerpt from: kettlebell simple & sinister
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman   Ladies and gentlemen, I present you my new book, Kettlebell Simple & Sinister. If you are new to kettlebells, S&S is your entry point.  If you have been around the kettlebell block, S&S will deepen … Continue reading

peaking and assessment as preparation for the sfg
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By Dan John, Master SFG, and Mike Warren Brown, SFG I Mike’s voice is in italics. Mike has been in the strength and conditioning for over a decade splitting time between coaching on the field and in the weightroom. Mike … Continue reading

no country for old men
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman, StrongFirst Back in the late nineties I had the pleasure of strength coaching a seventy-some year-old gentleman named Milton.  He had a sparkle in his eye reminiscent of a young boy ready to kick the world’s … Continue reading

circle of iron
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By Mark Toomey, CEO of StrongFirst, Inc. and Senior SFG Small reminders surround us each day of the men and women who, in the words of Winston Churchill, offered their blood, sweat, toil and tears in places forgotten by many; … Continue reading

my strength is outta control and i’m hardly trying
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by Lauren Brooks, SFG Team Leader Over the last few months I have performed some lifts that I previously didn’t think could be done by a gal my size. After exchanging some emails with Pavel, he has asked me to … Continue reading

the tension day
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman, StrongFirst   Have you done the Total Tension Complex we posted six weeks ago? Please post your results if you did. There are two types of training a strength seeker must do. First, perform a number … Continue reading

the right way to get strong
Andy Bolton

If you got all excited by the title of this article, I hate to bring you back to reality… But I’m going to do so anyway… You see, there is no ‘right way to get strong.’ Sure, there are many … Continue reading

lifts, feats, and exercises
Josh Halbert

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Understanding the difference between lifts, feats, and exercises will simplify your life and make it easier to reach your goals. A “lift” is something a lot of people compete in.  The barbell squat, bench press, and … Continue reading

wanted – a man
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From Pushing to the Front, 1911 by Orison Swett Marden Over the door of every profession, every occupation, every calling, the world has a standing advertisement: “Wanted–A Man”. Wanted, a man who will not lose his individuality in a crowd, … Continue reading

a total package weekly template
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman If strength and conditioning are equally important to you, the following weekly kettlebell training template will serve you well. Focus on strength twice a week and on conditioning twice a week. Train your endurance the day … Continue reading

emergency action plan programming
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by Mark Toomey “It’s always funny until someone gets hurt. Then it’s just hilarious.” -Bill Hicks The problem is there are not many times when an injury in your own facility elicits laughter. Most times, the emotions run along the … Continue reading

“total tension” kettlebell complex
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman  No matter what your goals are—strength, mass, conditioning, or cuts—kettlebell complexes deliver.  This is why they are so frequently featured in training plans by our best program designers like Master SFGs Geoff Neupert and Dan John. … Continue reading

tsc a decade later
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman, StrongFirst  It was 2002, the RKC kettlebell cert barely a year old. I was training many military and law enforcement operators and was looking for ways to help them focus on exercises that would help them … Continue reading

how to double your kettlebell press in six weeks without touching a bell
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By Jon Engum, Master SFG Pavel’s StrongFirst Bodyweight Instructor Certification is coming to New York City on December 7-8th 2013.  Now, if you are like me you may be thinking what is the big deal about Bodyweight Certifications?  I mean … Continue reading

why kettlebells, barbells, and bodyweight demand different programming
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman At every barbell and bodyweight cert I get the same question. “If StrongFirst is a principle-based school of strength, why does it teach different approaches to programming for different modalities?” A fair question. I will limit … Continue reading

bar exam
My father.

by Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Do you need to train with a barbell? Unlike the kettlebell, which belongs in the training arsenal of every man and woman, champion and beginner alike, the bar is not for everyone. You must train with … Continue reading

my experience towards the italian national raw powerlifting trophy
Elisa Vinante Price

by Elisa Vinante, SFG II   Since I was a child I always wanted to be strong. I’ve always been attracted by anything that was a manifestation of strength and power, but I’ve never had a particular susceptibility to competition. … Continue reading

better one day as a lion…
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By Jerry Trubman, SFG, SFB, SFL The subject of this blog came from a conversation with a friend about how ‘everything we need to know we learn from the iron’… although I’m certain I wasn’t the first to come up … Continue reading

kettlebell complexes for technical perfection
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman A “complex” of different kettlebell exercises strung together in an intelligent manner delivers many benefits: muscle hypertrophy, fat loss, etc. Today’s blog is about another benefit of complexes—accelerated skill development. David Whitley, Master SFG calls the … Continue reading

strongfirst deadlift team pulls strong
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by Jason Marshall, StrongFirst Deadlift Team Captain On June 22-23, 2013, the StrongFirst Deadlift Team competed at the IPA Strength Spectacular at the mecca of strength training, York Barbell Club in York, PA. The lightweights lifted on Saturday followed by … Continue reading

how to prepare for a deadlift competition
Tim Almond, SFG II, SFL

by Jason Marshall, StrongFirst Deadlift Team Captain There are many ways to train for a deadlift only event. You can find some great preparatory cycles and training methods in many of Pavel’s books, the best being Power to the People Professional and Deadlift Dynamite, … Continue reading

strongfirst sfg kettlebell certification prep guide
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by Brett Jones, Master SFG, MS, ATC, CSCS Eleven years ago I arrived in St. Paul to attend the second ever kettlebell certification from Pavel Tsatsouline. Throwing water balloons in freezing temperatures and having VERY sore lats are just a … Continue reading

strongfirst on “5×5”
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman The “5×5” method is credited to Reg Park, a bodybuilder who built a 500-pound bench press in the 1950s.  It remains one of the most reliable ways to build strength in existence. Train a lift three … Continue reading

the strength to run
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by Joel Pino Two things you should know about me right from the start. First, I love running. It’s something I’ve been doing for 15 years (along with quite a bit of competitive cycling) and I owe much of who … Continue reading

class envy
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman I despise class envy. In any form and in either direction. Today’s blog is about strength envy directed by today’s upper class towards the working class. Externally it manifests itself as “disdain” for strength, the way … Continue reading

the miseducation of stretching
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By Brandon Hetzler, SFG Team Leader “I want to be more flexible” is a statement I get from many of the young athletes I train.  My immediate follow up of “Why?” is usually met with a dumb look (or at … Continue reading

the fourth of july
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From Mark Toomey, CEO The Fourth of July is upon us again. Viewed as an “American” holiday, July 4th has marked so many important moments in the lives of people worldwide. In 1453, forty-one Jewish martyrs were burned at the … Continue reading

the courage to do less
John Scott Stevens

by John Scott Stevens, SFG II Instructor A few weeks ago I was testing some of my lifts in preparation for attending July’s upcoming StrongFirst Barbell Certification. Despite having limited experience with barbell training I was pleased to find I … Continue reading

“green” strength
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Since time immemorial young people jockey for position in their peer groups.  In less enlightened ages you had to be stronger, tougher, smarter, or more artistic to become an alpha male or female.  Today you just … Continue reading

if it looks right, it flies right
Mikhail Baryshnikov

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Ron Swanson from Parks & Rec thus spoke about poise: “Sting like a bee.  Don’t float like a butterfly.  That’s ridiculous.” The trainer I watched obviously had not listened.  I came to the gym to help … Continue reading

How the Front Squat Can Improve Your Clean and Jerk
Michael Perry SFG Barbell Front Squat

The dip in the kettlebell jerk and the barbell front squat should be almost identical. This is why a month of front squats will do wonders for your jerk. Continue reading

back to basics. for real.
Bring it on, Nature

By Alexey Senart, SFG Team Leader Every once in a while, at some social gathering, when I’m presented to my new acquaintances as a strength coach or, God forbid, ‘fitness expert,’ the same question almost inevitably pops up: from the … Continue reading

it is strength that makes all other values possible
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman When I was a kid, a merchant marine friend of my parents gave me a treasured gift, a calendar with scenes from Enter the Dragon. The envy of all of my friends, the calendar stayed on … Continue reading

kettlebells + deadlifts, part ii
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Several months ago I wrote how a girevik should go about converting the posterior chain strength he or she has built with swings and snatches into a respectable barbell deadlift: Kettlebells and Deadlifts Go Together Like … Continue reading

8 Rules for Proper Strength Training for BJJ
Peter Lakatos, Master SFG

Here are my eight rules, as a BJJ practitioner and a strength coach to black belts, for how to most effectively perform strength training for BJJ. Continue reading

memorial day
United States Flag at SFG Boston 2013

By Mark Toomey, CEO and Senior SFG Instructor I was watching a television program that followed a company CEO as he went “undercover” in his own company, working with people at various levels to ascertain what improvements could be implemented … Continue reading

build up to your first handstand pushup
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By James Sjostrom, SFG II Let’s cut to the chase. I walk around at 6 foot 3 inches and about 240. Let’s just say that gymnastics is not exactly a gift for me. However, I have found throughout the years … Continue reading

how to get good at programming
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman If you want to learn to write effective training plans, first you must understand the principles of program design.  They will vary from system to system.  At StrongFirst there are three meta-principles: Continuity of the Training … Continue reading

using barbells and kettlebells together
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By Dr. Michael Hartle, DC, Master SFG I started training with barbells when I was 17 years old during my senior year in high school. Our weight room was the size of a large closet, which included a bench press … Continue reading

the blank serenity of the invulnerable
Chris

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman “The blank serenity of the invulnerable.” Peter Benchley was writing about a barracuda but the same can be said about strong people. Unless they are attempting a world record, they are calm and unperturbed. You could … Continue reading

confessions from a “recovering” bodybuilder
Scott Iardella, SFG II

by Scott Iardella, SFG II This is a little embarrassing, but I admit I was an obsessed bodybuilder for about six years of my life.  My training was completely different about twenty years ago.  One of the key things I … Continue reading

when you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument.
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument.  Everything is debatable.  But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.” If you do not heed this insight from Messrs. Fried and Hansson in … Continue reading

strength’s greater purpose
StrongFirst Boston

By Mark Toomey At StrongFirst, we like to say, “Strength has a greater purpose.” It’s in the finding of that purpose we discover parts of ourselves we have either turned away from or never seen at all. Striving to obtain … Continue reading

“Come At Me, Bro!”
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By Nikki Shlosser, SFG Team Leader That is totally what I would shout at a teeth-baring mountain lion, interrupting a lovely Malibu hike.  Or to some crazy machete-wielding psychopath creeping through the campsite.     Okay not really.  But here … Continue reading

training the one-half bodyweight kettlebell press
Mark Reifkind, Master SFG

by Mark Reifkind, Master SFG OK, so you have done your kettlebell clean and press ladders and have put in your volume. You can press for sets and reps with a fairly heavy weight, but when it comes time to … Continue reading

do not be afraid to be alone
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman A smart alec newspaper columnist made fun of the “guys who bench a lot and then stare at the wall.” You have missed the point, champ. These gents have their act together. You should have made … Continue reading

the grad workout, or the road to the inn
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By Dan John, Master SFG I get dozens of requests by email, phone call and even house visits about how to prepare for the three day Kettlebell certification course. I am more than happy to help prepare them for the … Continue reading

from bodyweight to heavy weight part 1: mining the one-arm one-leg pushup for a heavier military press
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By Aleks Salkin, SFG, SFBW Long before the bench press was the apple of every gym rat’s eye, in the days before drugged-up muscles, pills, powders, and potions ruled the world’s fitness scene, only one thing set the real men … Continue reading

strength lessons from a martial arts master
Donn Draeger

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Having known a gentleman who had trained under Donn F. Draeger, a Western pioneer of Japanese martial arts, I did not hesitate for a moment when I saw a book he co-authored in a used book … Continue reading

the more things change
StrongFirst

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman   Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that our first ever SFG kettlebell cert rocked. The show must go on, even if the name has changed. At the StrongFirst leadership meeting several weeks ago, … Continue reading

change beckoned; strength answered.
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By Laura Nepodal, SFG I think I knew I wanted to be strong when I threw a boy for distance for the first time. It was June of 1997, in a little basement of a little farmhouse in a little … Continue reading

why amateurs should train like professionals
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman If StrongFirst can help world champions and special operators, we have got your needs covered. The last time I saw Prof. Stuart McGill, a couple of months ago, he told me what had happened at a … Continue reading

greatness: an obsession?
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By Dr. Judd Biasiotto A while back I read a blog written by Ben Stein in Physics Meetings…The Truth about What Happens When Physicists Meet.  He was talking about obsessive-compulsive behavior and how it was related to greatness.  The idea … Continue reading

the role of the kettlebell at strongfirst
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman When our Masters, Seniors, and Team Leaders checked into their hotel rooms before our meeting, each was greeted by a bottle of vodka, a jar of pickles, and a note welcoming them to the Phase II … Continue reading

the short stop squat: a drill for setting up big pulls
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By Stuart McGill, PhD. I am often asked for my opinion about the best way to squat, or pull a loaded bar. My answer always is, “It depends on the person.” We all have a different injury history influencing which … Continue reading

strength has a greater purpose
StrongFirst

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Ladies and gentlemen, here is the key point from my speech on the mission of StrongFirst that I gave at our recent leadership meeting. Our motto is “Strength has a greater purpose.” There are two ways … Continue reading

who says women can’t do pullups?!
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By Amanda Perry, SFG Most of you probably remember back a few months ago when the New York Times wrote about how women can’t do pull-ups. I didn’t get involved in all the smack talking that was going on, but … Continue reading

what is “conditioning”?
Michael Yilek

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman In his classic book Power Dr. Fred Hatfield described an imaginary contest between a 154-pound marathon runner and a 210-pound bodybuilder. (Given the fact that Dr. Squat is a 1,000-pound record breaking squatter, it is safe … Continue reading

just give me 10 minutes and i will make you a man: the ultimate kettlebell exercise for the standup fighter
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By Jon Engum, Master SFG Question asked the other day… What is the go to kettlebell exercise for martial conditioning? Well, pick your poison; you really couldn’t give a bad answer. Are Kettlebell swings good for the martial artist? Uh, … Continue reading

is new really better?
Sig Klein, unfashionably strong

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Once in a while I drive by a gym with a sign in the window: “The most unproven programming in town!” OK, it really says, “the most innovative programming,” but I fail to see the difference. … Continue reading

the capable woman
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By Asha Wagner, SFG II StrongFirst recently asked some of its female instructors to define what makes a strong woman. While I have a reputation of being a decently strong woman, this was not the initial goal in my training. … Continue reading

bench to kettlebell press more
Vladimir Kravtsov, Russia’s top bench presser.
Photo courtesy Powerlifting USA

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Here is how to set a kettlebell military press PR within weeks. You will be benching with a close grip. The CGBP is the best tool for strengthening the triceps. Its winning combination of very focused … Continue reading

a different type of training altogether
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By Bill Fox One of the most important things I learned on my way to a Masters degree in Philosophy was the “type/token” distinction. Think of it this way.  A Ford 150 and a Dodge Ram are tokens of the … Continue reading

A Leap of Faith Between Kettlebell Sizes
Nikki Shlosser, SFG II

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman   When they first encounter Russian kettlebells, Westerners are always surprised at the large jumps between sizes. The original reason for limited sizes was probably as mundane as saving roubles and a few square meters of storage … Continue reading

to be a warrior
John Faas

By Jane E., Founder of John Faas Foundation To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one.  It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives.  … Continue reading

a word on rows
Russian strongman Dikul is showing the tug of war row.

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Master SFG Mark Reifkind insightfully warned: “Don’t live in your sports posture.” Which is where bodybuilding pull-ups and rows come in. As correctives. I favor bilateral chest supported rows like Dan John’s ‘batwings’ or Hammer machine … Continue reading

why a woman should be strong
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By Karen Smith, Senior SFG Women should be strong because we are capable of great physical strength. Too often, women limit themselves by thinking strength training is for men, or that it will make them look like men. I am … Continue reading

assisting your gag: how to defeat the evil wheel
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By Doug Nepodal, Senior SFG So I have a student that has been working for some time on successfully completing a single rep with the ab wheel from a standing start. To say that the past attempts he’s shown me … Continue reading

the “best” upper body pull
Pavel Tsatsouline

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman This one is going to be simple. There is only one contender—a hollow position pull-up, strict and heavy. Note that “hollow” does NOT mean hollowing your abdomen/sucking in your stomach! The hollow position is a posture … Continue reading

announcing the strongfirst deadlift team
Team captain Jason Marshal, SFG Team Leader has stood up with 600 weighing less than 180.

By Jason Marshall, SFG Team Leader, StrongFirst Deadlift Team Captain Eumastas the son of Critobulus lifted me from the ground. —Inscription found on a 480kg (1058lb) black volcanic stone in Santorin dated to the 6th Century B.C. Being that we are … Continue reading

kettlebells and deadlifts go together like vodka and pickles
Brandon Hetzler, SFG II, CK-FMS, has measured the forces generated in the kettlebell swing.  In this set of swings with a 53-pound kettlebell the force exceeded 500 pounds.

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Speaks 1,000-pound deadlifter Andy Bolton: “The [Kettlebell] Swing is a great developer of the posterior chain and will teach you how to develop some awesome SNAP in your hips.  For lifters, this makes them a useful assistance … Continue reading

my journey to the kettlebell
Stuart McGill and Pavel Tsatsouline

by Prof. Stuart McGill The kettlebell is special to me! The kettlebell has linked me to several important events in my life. And it was part of the beginning of my friendship with Pavel. (Pavel Tsatsouline—the man who introduced Kettlebells … Continue reading

be a man among men
Vladimir Tsatsouline

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Why do so many men give up on being men once they have reached a certain age? (I could ask women the same question.) Not my father. A month ago seventy-five year old Vladimir deadlifted 407 … Continue reading

grow stronger!
David Whitley

By Dave ‘Iron Tamer’ Whitley, Master SFG The movie “The 13th Warrior” is a story of a Muslim scholar named Ahmed and his account of a journey with a group of Vikings. Like any good Viking saga, there is an … Continue reading

merry christmas from strongfirst
StrongFirst Picture Globe

Mark Toomey, CEO, StrongFirst In the Sierras, the first winter storm is blanketing the mountains with snow. What a joyous time to reflect back on the past twelve months and look forward to the promise of the new year to … Continue reading

the “best” press
Russian bench press star Svetlana Dedulya
Photo courtesy Powerlifting USA

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman The contenders for the “baddest” press title are: Kettlebell military press Barbell military press Handstand pushup (wall supported) One-arm pushup Parallel bar dips Barbell bench press The kettlebell MP is the healthiest in the line-up, thanks … Continue reading

strength through female eyes
Lauren Brooks SFG Team Leader

By Lauren Brooks, SFG Team Leader Note from Pavel: Several weeks ago Lauren asked me: How strong does a woman need to be to be considered “strong”?  I thought it was a question that should be answered by women (strong … Continue reading

the “best” squat
An MMA fighter Zercher squatting.
Photo courtesy Steve Baccari

By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman What squat variation will give you the biggest bang for your buck? Let us go through the list. Pistol with added weight Lunges, split squats & Co. Barbell back squat Barbell front squat Double kettlebell front … Continue reading

If You Want to Be Strong, You Must Be Tough
Rif deadlifting 545 @ 181

Strength is a choice. It is an attitude. It is a belief in your power to move things in the direction you desire. By sheer force of will and imagination. And toughness. Continue reading

No Distractions: The Occam’s Razor Training Plan
StrongFirst

In the 14th century, William of Occam of Occam’s Razor fame gave us the best training advice: “It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.” Continue reading

Strength Kept Me Out of a Wheelchair
Steve Freides, SFG Team Leader

Strength kept me out of a wheelchair. In my early forties, I blew in my spine. After a year-plus-long rehabilitation, I started becoming strong—by deadlifting. Continue reading

The Best Hip Hinge Exercise
Pavel and Peter Lakatos teaching kettlebell swings to the Hungarian federal counter-terrorist team. Photo courtesy of TEK.

The kettlebell swing is hands down the best hip hinge exercise. Here is my analysis of the possible exercises, and why the swing wins out. Continue reading

What Makes StrongFirst Different?
StrongFirst

The answer is: “I am not saying you are wrong. I just know I am right.” If you want to compare us to Brand X, help yourself, because we are not doing it for you. Continue reading

Can You Answer These 4 Questions About the Psoas?
Importance of the Psoas

If you think you understand the importance of the psoas, ask yourself these questions. If you don’t know the answers, then it will benefit you and your clients if you keep reading. Continue reading

It Doesn’t Matter How You Get Strong

I have no idea how getting stronger helps performance. I have no idea how getting strong helps women lean out. I have no idea how anything, really, in the body works. And, it doesn’t matter. Continue reading

My Story of Pavel and the School of Strength
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It’s been twelve years since I met Pavel in New York City. At the time, I was a karate student trying to improve my flexibility. It was immediately clear to me that Pavel was a gifted teacher. Continue reading

Why StrongFirst?
StrongFirst Leadership

I asked several of my friends and colleagues: what is a fitting name for the new company? Two gents, both from New Jersey, came back with the identical name: “Strength First.” What are the odds? Continue reading

Are You Training Through or Toward an Injury?
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I love riding motorcycles, and I know how important it is to walk around the bike before I press the starter. I can’t “out-ride” an “injury” in my bike’s structure, and if I try, the repercussions can be grave. Continue reading

Show Me Your Friends and I Can Tell You Who You Are
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If the situation you find yourself in is not allowing you to reach excellence and self-fulfillment, then it most likely is time to take a good look at the people around you. Continue reading

Vote Strong
Vote Strong

It is the StrongFirst vision that today’s young adults who are members of our brotherhood and sisterhood of strength will raise the next “great generation.” Vote Strong! Continue reading