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3 + 6 = Excellence
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By David A. Clancy, SFG, CSCS     Three days, six exercises. Simple. That is what the StrongFirst SFG certification is. Sure, there are tests, both physical and written. There is downtime for practicing with other attendees. There are lectures. … Continue reading

The Cost of Adaptation
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Today I will revisit some of my writings from fifteen years ago and then expand on the topic of health and performance. According to Prof. Bayevsky, at any given moment, between 50 to 80% of all … Continue reading

Thank You, Veterans
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By Eric Frohardt, CEO     I would like to quickly thank all the brave men and women who have or are currently serving in our armed forces for their service and sacrifice. As a Veteran, I know what it … Continue reading

Training Kettlebells, Music and Surgery: Same But Different?
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By Dr. B Ramana, SFG     A young man came up to me at the airport and asked: “Aren’t you Dr. Ramana? I’m sure you have forgotten but you operated on me, as well as on my wife, and … Continue reading

Strength Training for High School Volleyball
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By Kash Morrow     I have had the opportunity to strength train my two daughters for the last few years. Savannah is 16 years old, 5’10”, a junior in High School and a volleyball athlete. Madison is 14 years … Continue reading

The Long View
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman     The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is a remarkable work of faith, art, and engineering. Enter it, and you experience an out-of-this-world feeling of being lifted up to heavens, floating up on a beam … Continue reading

SFG Level II Prep Story
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By Abby Keyes, SFG II     The Level II SFG As expected, StrongFirst blew me away with an incredible weekend, at the Level II SFG.  We are lucky to be able to learn from the phenomenal lineup of Masters, … Continue reading

The Truth Shall Set You Free
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By Al Ciampa, SFG I’ve got a few articles brewing right now, but I woke up in the middle of the night with this idea burning in my brain so, I put the “pen” to it.  I wrote an article … Continue reading

How Heavy Should I Go in a Turkish Get-up?
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By Delaine Ross, Senior SFG   Should Your Get-Ups Be Light or Heavy? Here’s the thing.  We TEACH get-ups very light.  That’s because students are moving around for the very first time with a weight overhead.  And so of course, … Continue reading

Strength Aerobics
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman   “Conditioning” is a very vague term—and it is for the better, given the scientists’ lack of understanding of endurance, its different facets, and the variables affecting it. Fighters and other hard living types love killing … Continue reading

How to Make Your Snatch Test Easier
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By Aleks Salkin, SFG II, SFB     Wailing.  Gnashing of teeth.  Rending of clothing and sitting in sack cloth and ashes. Nothing about the SFG certification weekend, it seems, causes as much internal drama, strife, worry, fear, and nervousness … Continue reading

Bodyweight Strength for Ultra-Endurance Sports
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By Nathan M., SFB     I was introduced to StrongFirst through my employer 5.11 Tactical.  I will admit I was a bit stoked the night I was seated next to Pavel for dinner at the first meeting, as it … Continue reading

Who Doesn’t Need a Better Press?
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By Dr. B Ramana, SFG     If you are around on online forums, social media and fitness blogs, you may have heard this: “Yeah, who doesn’t need a heavier press, huh?” Many of you are worried about not being … Continue reading

“Dry, Fighting Weight”
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman and Geoff Neupert, SFG II   At StrongFirst we never focused on fat loss — and got it anyway as a side effect of our strength and power focused training.  We used to call it “the what … Continue reading

Find Your Balance, Then Pull Heavy
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By Derek Miller, SFG II     So, I want to deadlift. I want a strong deadlift. I want a really strong deadlift.   Oh, you too? I don’t need to inform you of the benefits of adding barbell work … Continue reading

Maximizing Your StrongFirst Kettlebell Certification in Year 1
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By Russ Moon, SFG     Congratulations!  You have separated yourself from the pack and joined the Alpha-Predator of the Strength and Development field.  Your preparation, hard work, fighting spirit and willingness to set aside your ego and accept coaching … Continue reading

Chinese Food For Rapid Pressing Gains
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By Daniel Hanscom, SFG   As the saying goes… “To press a lot you must press a lot”.   The Problem It takes a lot of reps to build up to a respectable press. The challenge is that pressing is … Continue reading

The Swing Sandwich
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman   For years, kettlebell instructor Missy Beaver has been placing a set of swings between sets of everything else.  She has had great success with her students who range from professional athletes and fighters to celebrities.  … Continue reading

How to Build up to 100 Consecutive Pistols
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By Sergey Rudnev, IKSFA President, 5-Time GS World Champion     The one-legged squat or “pistol” demands coordination, strength, and flexibility and has many positive effects. Every one of the muscles and joints of the legs is involved, and so … Continue reading

Strength Has a Greater Purpose
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By Eric Frohardt, SFG, CEO   From Pavel:  Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored to introduce you to StrongFirst’s new CEO. Eric Frohardt is a former US Navy SEAL, a decorated combat veteran with multiple tours of duty in Iraq … Continue reading

Tempo Runs + Kettlebell Work = Your Next “Recovery” Day
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By Jeremy Frisch SFG     Each summer as the weather gets hot and the training gets brutal, I find it important for myself and my athletes to get outside the “four walls” of the gym, away from the high-intensity … Continue reading

Five Weeks to a Bigger Deadlift
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman     Did you suddenly decide to compete in the October 4 TSC and realize that your deadlift is not where it needs to be? All is not lost.  If you have decent technique and you … Continue reading

Strong Mind/Strong Body
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By Mark Reifkind, Master SFG     Strength is a choice. Not always an easy one, because it usually requires doing something difficult that one can’t do easily; but that is precisely the point. Strength, by definition, requires the use … Continue reading

Flexibility for Kettlebell Training and Kettlebell Sport
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By Sergey Rudnev, IKSFA President, 5-Time GS World Champion     Flexibility is one of the five main physical qualities.  High level of special flexibility enables freedom, quickness, and economy of movement.  Although this article is dedicated to developing flexibility … Continue reading

The Little Things Add Up to Big Things over Time (a 73lb. journey in 90 days)
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by Jason Martin and Jason Marshall, Senior SFG     I am new to the kettlebell and the StrongFirst community, but I am all in.   90 days ago I entered a local contest in Lubbock Texas, the Bodyworks 90-day … Continue reading

Forward to the Past
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman     Next year is the thirtieth anniversary of the classic film Back to the Future.  What makes this anniversary special is 2015 is the destination of one of Doc and Marty McFly’s time travels. Sure, … Continue reading

The American Swing
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By Brandon Hetzler, SFG Team Leader   “All great truths begin as blasphemies” —George Bernard Shaw     The American swing (or the overhead swing — OH Swing): Is it good or is it bad? This is a tougher question … Continue reading

The TSC is About Participation, Community, and Strength
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By Andrea U-Shi Chang, Senior SFG, TSC Coordinator     The Spring Tactical Strength Challenge had over 350 competitors. Most had a lot of experience with the kettlebell, barbell, and bodyweight exercises, but some had never pulled a barbell deadlift prior to a … Continue reading

Hardstyle for the Sport Guy: Simple & Sinister for Kettlebell Sport Athletes
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By S. H. Mathews     Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple and Sinister program is a reworking of his second program minimum — the swing and the get up.  The program minimum from Enter the Kettlebell left readers with room for interpretation … Continue reading

SFG Chicago 2014: An Event for the “Ages”
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By Jim Hatcher, SFG Editor’s Note:   If you have heard anything about the SFG Certification, you have heard that it is a grueling, difficult, and demanding 3 days. There is nothing gratuitous about the intensity of this challenge, however. … Continue reading

10 Things to Know About Preparing for Your First Powerlifting Meet
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By Danny Sawaya, SFG Team Leader, SFB, SFL   Editor’s Note:   You’ve thought about it.  Maybe you have even talked about it. Since learning the basic powerlifts and discovering the joy in lifting heavy things, the thought of training … Continue reading

The Origins of StrongFirst Programming
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman     There are many ways to get strong.  Most are mediocre, some are effective, a handful are extraordinary.  One—if not the only—system in the third category is the Soviet Olympic weightlifting methodology of the 1960s-1980s.  … Continue reading

From Weak to Beast in 6 Months
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By Tim Almond, SFG II   I had always really struggled with my pressing.   I’m not just talking about building pressing strength; I’m talking about the actual execution of the press. My press had never felt smooth, never had … Continue reading

Focus (Kime) and the Hard-Style Swing
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By Reneta Music, SFG II, SFB, SFL     “You need to keep your abs tight.” “Grab the floor with your toes and tighten your legs.” “The only part of your body that should be loose are your arms.” “Mrs. … Continue reading

Using the Hanging Leg Raise Progression to Build a Solid Strength Foundation
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By Mark Snow, MA, ATC, SFG-II, FMS   Not too long ago I went to a conference and one of the items we worked on was to assess pelvic stability. Upon finishing the pelvic stability portion of the conference, I … Continue reading

StrongFirst Team Pulls Strong Again
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By Jason Marshall, Senior SFG and Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman     Ladies and gentlemen, this is Jason Marshall.  We had two lifters for the East Coast meet in Philly, Ellen Stein and Lisa Burke.  Both won their divisions.   Ellen pulled … Continue reading

Simple & Sinister: Progressing From Two- to One-Handed Swings
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By Steve Freides, Senior SFG     Adding one-handed kettlebell swings to your Simple & Sinister training can be daunting for some people.   Some of the symptoms include: Grip – you feel like the bell is going to fly … Continue reading

Get Stronger: The Chronicles of a Lightweight Beast Tamer, Part II: The Pistol
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by Kenton Boutwell, SFG II Part 2   All I did was try not to think. Instead, I was focused on my breathing. Inhale… Exhale… Repeat. I knew my body had the movement memorized, as I had done it countless … Continue reading

How My Knee Injury Helped My Bench Press
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By Melody Schoenfeld, SFG II     As a competitive powerlifter, my bench has always been my Achilles’ Heel. It has always been the slowest to build for me, and has been a source of frustration for a long time. … Continue reading

The Toughness of a Strength Athlete
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman     In the public mind the word “toughness” is associated with endurance. A marathoner gutting it out for hours. A professional boxer surviving a dozen rounds. Yet the never-give-up mindset is just as present in … Continue reading

A Speed Bump in the TGU
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  By Gray Cook Working with StrongFirst and Brett Jones at our first joint event — Foundational Strength at Phil Scarito’s DV8Fitness in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania — was a great experience. It was exciting to introduce people to the … Continue reading

Kettlebell Lessons with a Firearms Instructor
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By Eric Frohardt, SFG   I’ve been training with kettlebells since 2005.  I’ve been training with firearms even longer. My experience with both led me to the conclusion that there are a LOT of similarities between the two.  During one … Continue reading

Tactical Strength Challenge: Results. News. Prizes. Tips.
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman and Oliver Quinn, SFG II   Congratulations to the winners of the Spring 2014 Tactical Strength Challenge!                 VIEW ALL RESULTS HERE     Veteran of Royal Marines Ollie … Continue reading

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ Fighters
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By Danny Clark, SFG   This past November marked my greatest athletic accomplishment of my life: Representing Team USA at the FILA World Grappling Championships in Krakow, Poland and taking home the bronze medal. Afterwards, Pavel asked me to write … Continue reading

2-1-3, CPSq
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By Dan Cenidoza, CSCS, SFG   2-1-3 The 2-1-3 workout is a complex made up of 2 cleans, 1 press, 3 squats; with double kettlebells. It’s another beautifully simple creation of Dan John and it’s used as a SFG grad … Continue reading

A Secret Kettlebell Weapon for a Big Bench Press
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman   It is an axiom: if you want to bench big, you must arch big.  An arch shortens the range of motion, puts you into a much stronger decline press angle, pre-stretches the pecs, and puts … Continue reading

Justa’s Singles Strategy Adapted to Double Kettlebell Pressing
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by Iron Tamer Dave Whitley, Master SFG   This is a program that I have used for improving the double KB military press. It was inspired by Steve Justa’s singles routines, which call for a high volume of weekly singles … Continue reading

Get Stronger: The Chronicles of a Lightweight Beast Tamer
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By Kenton Boutwell, SFG II Part 1 Intro     I’ll never forget the first time I witnessed the Beast Tamer challenge.   It was during my level one SFG kettlebell instructor certification in Philadelphia last year. Known in the … Continue reading

Programming 50 Pistol Squats, 12 Consecutive Pistol Squats with 32kg, 20 Handstand Pushups
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By Eric Moss SFG, SFB     A while back I was looking for a challenge, and decided to go for 50 consecutive pistol squats.  I could not find anyone performing this on YouTube, so I saw a unique opportunity … Continue reading

He Did Not Return From The Battle
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman   Seconds after this iconic photo was taken in 1942, this young officer leading his men into assault, Alexey Yeremenko, was killed. God rest in peace the strong souls of the warriors who gave their lives … Continue reading

Always Be Press Ready
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By Brandon Hetzler, SFG Team Leader The commercial with the meathead that keeps rambling “I pick things up and put them down” makes me chuckle every time I see it. For one reason it is kind of humorous. On a … Continue reading

Improve Your Double Kettlebell Snatch
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By Artemis Scantalides, SFG II In the world of Kettlebell Training, the Kettlebell Snatch is considered the “Tsar” of kettlebell lifts.  It is a fantastic movement for total body conditioning and for learning force production.  Those who know the kettlebell … Continue reading

Hardening the Soldier for Combat
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by Al Ciampa, MS, SFG, FMS, ACSM, USAW When Pavel asked me to make a contribution for an article, I was honored. His request was made in a forum post discussing the preparation of a combat unit for the mountains … Continue reading

No Substitutions.
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman     There is a restaurant in California that serves a mean burger and uncompromisingly refuses to change it in any way.  No, we will not hold the bacon and no, there is no ketchup.   This … Continue reading

How We Train for the TSC at TNT
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by Derek Toshner, SFG II, CK-FMS As a child I was taught to be careful who I listen to, and what I hear. Keeping in mind, who we listen to, is extremely important, I feel the need to gain some … Continue reading

Why a Kettlebell?
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By Mark Reifkind, Master SFG Why a kettlebell? To bring out the athlete inside. Kettlebells are seemingly everywhere these days in the fitness world. From magazines and internet articles to TV shows, these cast-iron balls-with-a-handle are making their way around … Continue reading

Kettlebell Complex Programming, Part III
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman StrongFirst continues to present our readers’ solutions to putting together a six-week program based on the Moving Target Kettlebell Complex.   Several weeks ago I wrote about the design by Dave T.; let us call it Plan … Continue reading

Revisiting Athletic Body in Balance
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by Gray Cook In 2003, I had the honor of having my book Athletic Body in Balance published by Human Kinetics, and for the first time people could read a perspective I’d been toying with since the early 1990s. Now, just past the … Continue reading

“Things Are Going So Well, Help Me Screw It Up!” Part 2
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By Dan John, Master SFG and Mike Warren Brown, SFG (Continued from Part 1) All too often we see well meaning instructors fresh out of a cert and excited to teach progress way too quickly to snatches and cleans before … Continue reading

“Things Are Going So Well, Help Me Screw It Up!”
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By Dan John, Master SFG and Mike Warren Brown, SFG The other day on the SFG forum, one of our regulars made an excellent post about his improvement. His goals of a double bodyweight deadlift and 15 reps on the … Continue reading

Moving Target Kettlebell Complex, Part II
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Several months ago, StrongFirst published Moving Target Kettlebell Complex, a workout we sometimes put the students through at SFG I instructor certification.  I asked the readers with program design experience to build a four- to six-week … Continue reading

The Forgotten Benefits of the Turkish Get-Up
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By Brandon Hetzler, SFG Team Leader “As above, so below.” -Unknown We like what is new. Look at how well Apple has benefitted every time they release the latest iPhone, iPad, or Mac. The followers of Apple are fiercely loyal. … Continue reading

“I’m Possible”
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman and Eric Kenyon, SFG   At the 2014 Winter Paralympics closing ceremony an enormous sign hung above the stage proclaiming: “IMPOSSIBLE”.  Paralympian Alexey Chuvashev rolled onto the stage in a wheel chair.  A vet who lost … Continue reading

The Stress-Free Strength Routine
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By Geoff Neupert, Master SFG, CSCS We just had our second child – a daughter. She’s amazing as is the pure lack of sleep we are experiencing. It is not uncommon for me to get around four hours a sleep … Continue reading

Strength At Any Age: A Woman’s Perspective
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By Gabby Eborall, SFG II There comes a time in our lives, almost as if by surprise, when we realize we’re not as young as we used to be. Aging can be a difficult and uncomfortable topic of discussion. Especially … Continue reading

Thumbs Up in Kettlebell Pulls?
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman   Recently we have seen a number of students coming to SFG certs clean and swing with their thumbs up.  I am here to put an end to this fashion. Other kettlebell systems have been known to … Continue reading

How to Conquer the Dreaded Deep 6
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Class Programming By Jon Engum, Master SFG Several years ago I designed a practice based on an idea I got from Maxwell’s omelet workout—the difference being, where the omelet served up a bit of everything, my Deep 6 focused on … Continue reading

Moving Target Kettlebell Complex
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman  Kettlebell complexes rock.  A few months ago StrongFirst published the “Total Tension” Kettlebell Complex in this blog.  Those of you who followed the plan as written saw excellent results.  Senior SFG Tommy Blom, for instance, gained … Continue reading

The Secret to Instant Strength Gains
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By Andy Bolton A couple weeks back, my friend Elliot and I went to a seminar held by our good friend Mehdi of Stronglifts.  After I’d given my talk, the guys (and gals) at the seminar got practical and did … Continue reading

The Fighter Pullup Program Revisited
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Last week we posted an outstanding article on training for the TSC by Jason Marshall, Senior SFG.  Jason referenced the “Fighter Pullup Program”, an plan by an unknown Russian author I wrote about a decade ago.  … Continue reading

Tactical Strength Challenge – The Plan
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By Jason Marshall, Senior SFG If you decide to test your mettle in the Tactical Strength Challenge, you better have a plan.  There are an infinite number of options in preparing for such a challenge, including not preparing at all … Continue reading

The Barbell Front Squat
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By Dr. Michael Hartle, Master SFG The barbell front squat is a very effective squat variation, and when compared to the back squat, is just plain hard work! In addition, the carryover to sport and life cannot be ignored. From … Continue reading

The AK-47 of Exercise Equipment
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor the (in)famous AK-47 assault rifle, recently passed away at the age of 94.  RIP. Revered in Russia, the inventor of the deadliest personal weapon of the XX century is often reviled in … Continue reading

Breathing New Life Into Your Workout
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by Ronen Katz, SFGII, SFB “Breathing has never been an issue for me… as an old guy sparring with my fighters, I breathe and recover fully during the breaks between rounds… with no problem. I’ve always had abs… and I’ve … Continue reading

Everything IS a Nail
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman At a recent SFG kettlebell cert Dan John and I were waxing poetic about the sheer perfection of a program of swings, goblet squats, and get-ups for anyone, from the proverbial “Edna” on Social Security to … 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
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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
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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 Do 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
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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

The Way to Strength: My experience towards the Italian National Raw Powerlifting Trophy
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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
StrongFirst Deadlift Team

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
StrongFirst - July 4, 2013

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

Front Squat Your Way to a Better Kettlebell Jerk
Michael Perry SFG Barbell Front Squat

by Michael Perry, SFG Team Leader There is no denying the benefits of the hardstyle kettlebell jerk. Whether your goal is power, strength, hypertrophy or endurance, these can all be accomplished by training the hardstyle jerk. There are various drills … Continue reading

Back to Basics. For Real.
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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

Strength Fixes Everything
Peter Lakatos, Master SFG

by Peter Lakatos, Master SFG “Strength fixes everything.” -Mark Reifkind Short intro – I started to work with some of the best judokas in Hungary about five years ago, and somehow it was logical I would end up training ground … 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
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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, CEO and Senior SFG Instructor 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 … 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
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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
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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 space. … 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 Strong First 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 Strong First
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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.
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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
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By Mark Reifkind, Master SFG I probably shouldn’t write this. It’s not the politically correct thing to say. Some people will be offended. But that’s okay, as well as the point. Getting strong is not for everyone. That is not … Continue reading

No Distractions
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman “How are you feeling?” one Russian asks another. “Worse than I used to—but better than I will be.” That about describes the state of strength today. Recently I had a conversation with a well-known bodybuilder. Not … Continue reading

My Strong First Manifesto
Steve Freides, SFG Team Leader

By Steve Freides, SFG Team Leader Why do I choose to be Strong First?  Because strength kept me out of a wheelchair. From my 20’s to my early 40’s, I was a jogger but then a disc blew in my … Continue reading

The “Best” Hip Hinge Exercise
Pavel and Peter Lakatos teaching kettlebell swings to the Hungarian federal counter-terrorist team.
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman Two weeks ago Steve Belanger started a thread on the StrongFirst forum asking the readers to pick their favorite barbell, bodyweight, and kettlebell exercises. For all the limitations and contentiousness of “top lists,” writing them is a … Continue reading

“What Makes Strong First Different?”
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by Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman We received many enough e-mails asking that question. 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 … Continue reading

PSOAS? So What?
The V-Sit 2 KB Press
DON’T EVEN ATTEMPT THIS without a great V-sit. Try with only one KB to add another amazing twist to this great drill.

By Brandon Hetzler, SFG II If that is your mindset or you are of the mindset of, “Oh, you mean half of the IlioPsoas group?” then you are drastically missing a keystone to your own strength and performance as well … Continue reading

Not All Questions About Strength Need To Be Answered
Dan John, Master SFG

By Dan John, Master SFG “How?” That’s probably the question I hate most in the strength industry. The truth is this: I have no idea “how” getting stronger helps performance. I have no idea how getting strong helps women lean … Continue reading

School of Strength
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By Rob Lawrence It’s hard to believe, but it’s been twelve years since I first met Pavel in New York City. At the time I was a karate student simply trying to improve my flexibility. I attended a small stretching … Continue reading

Meet Strong First
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By Pavel Tsatsouline Chairman “You can be anything you want… But you must be strong first.” I ran this statement by several of my friends and colleagues and asked: what is a fitting name for the new company? Two gents, … Continue reading

Are You Training Through or Toward an Injury?
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A few weeks ago, I saw a post on a fitness forum from a trainer complaining about a pain in his wrist, accompanied by a “snapping” sound when performing kettlebell cleans. I asked a physician associate of mine to respond … Continue reading

Show Me Your Friends and I Can Tell Who You Are.
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If you look around to all of your closest friends and realize you are the smartest, hardest working person among the group, then it’s time to get some new friends. —–Jeremy Schoemaker When I first started powerlifting, I had the … Continue reading

Vote Strong
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By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman “The Soft American.” That was the title of an article forwarded to me by my friend Professor Tom Fahey. The author was president-elect John F. Kennedy. What he wrote over half a century ago hits home … Continue reading