The Simply Sinister Training Plan

Lately, I’m busy—but surprise, who isn’t. Who has too much time these days? Between work, other work, teaching, family, training, keeping up with social media, and staying up to speed with The Big Bang Theory, I find the time noose getting tighter and tighter each day.

An extra two minutes here and five minutes there, plus the stupid road construction that never ends, which turns my thirteen-minute commute to twenty every day (I know, still pretty lucky on that one). Something has to give each day, but what?

Simply Sinister

After some trial and error, I learned that work still requires forty-plus hours per week, forgetting the seven-year-old at school is not a good time-saving option, and at some point the DVR fills up.

So what gets cut? Sadly, more often than not, it’s training time.

Back in my young, single, very little responsibility days, training for two-plus hours a day was the norm (although how much was actual training versus people-watching, socializing, resting, etc. could be debated). Now, if I can get an hour at lunch to train, eat, shower, and run errands I am ecstatic. Like many Monday morning social media posts proclaim: Adulting is no fun many days.

Reality

After Pavel’s book Simple & Sinister came out, of course I had to give it a go. Reaching the Simple status was, well simple. Getting all the way to Sinister was, you guessed it, pretty sucky. But, after a few weeks, I made it and marked it off my training bucket list:

Simply Sinister

Now fast forward to 2017. At the facility I manage, we created a year-long challenge board to recognize those individuals we train whom we witness reaching what we call impressive goals. (Keep in mind, everyone we work with trains as a supplement to their sport. These are not purely strength athletes.) We decided that “Sinister” warranted a spot on our wall. Of course, I had to be the first to get my name on the board. I mean, I had already reached the goal, so why not?

But unbeknownst to me, the real world had chipped away at what I had accomplished two years earlier when I completed the Sinister requirements.

My first attempt was a Giant Fail.

The Protocol

Obviously, now I had a goal again, but there was a big thing in the way of this goal. Putting myself in a position to be uncomfortable while training to manage the suck of the Sinister protocol was not the problem. Finding time consistently to do this was.

I needed to be more efficient in the little training time I had. After some trial, error, and Sufferology 101: Time Under the Bell, I stumbled across something that significantly compressed the intensity and efficiency of training for Sinister.

Here is what I started with, and what we consider the “basic level” at our facility:

  • 10 swings left; 1 snatch left (to get the bell overhead); 1 reverse get-up left (start from standing, descend to the floor, return to standing); reverse snatch the bell into a swing to switch hands
  • 10 swings right; 1 snatch right; 1 reverse get-up right; reverse snatch the bell into a swing to switch hands
  • Repeat for 5 total rounds

In a very short amount of time, you receive the benefits of 100 swings, 10 snatches, and 10 get-ups. (And if you’re wondering about the rest periods between rounds, don’t worry—we’ll get to that shortly.)

There are other variants to this “basic” program depending on your focus:

SWI=Swings; SN=Snatch; GU=Get-up
SWI=Swings; SN=Snatch; GU=Get-up

This workout also lends itself to adaptability:

  • Want to kill it each round? Great jump up one or two kettlebell sizes, crush the round, and then rest as needed. To keep things on point, a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio or a 2:1 is sufficient. So, time the round and then rest as needed.
  • Want to do the whole thing unbroken? Cool, drop a bell size.
  • Want it to progressively get worse? Start lighter and end heavy.
  • Want it to progressively get better? Start heavy and drop a bell size every round.

The ultimate goal is to do all five rounds without the bell leaving your hands with as heavy a bell as possible, and as quickly as possible. But, almost in the words of David Whitley, “I don’t care how many times you can do something crappy.” We expect technical proficiency with each repetition.

Don’t train until you get it right—train so you can never get it wrong.

In the world of sports and athletics, being able to pay attention to detail and be technically proficient is cake. Being technically proficient and paying attention to details when you are tanked is where the line of separation between average and impressive lies.

Simply Sinister

Conclusion

8 minutes. Using a bell that is two sizes heavier than your snatch-sized bell.

That’s how long you have to complete all five rounds and earn a spot for your name on our wall.

But don’t just stop two sizes above your bell size. Remember, the goal behind the creation of this program is to meet the Sinister requirements.

Once I was able to complete the basic level unbroken with the 40kg kettlebell (not in less than eight minute, though), meeting the Sinister criteria was as easy as it could be—but it still wasn’t fun.

First and last photos courtesy of Pamela Maliniak.
Brandon Hetzler
Senior SFG, SFL, SFB
Brandon Hetzler is a Certified Athletic Trainer who serves as the Manager for Mercy Sports Medicine in Springfield, Missouri, where he oversees the Sports Medicine program as well as the Sports Performance program. He helped to develop the curriculum for and teaches in the Masters of Athletic Training degree at Missouri State University. He is a StrongFirst Senior Instructor, SFG II, SFB, and SFL and holds several additional credentials in multiple training disciplines.

Brandon is the co-creator of Movement Restoration, LLC and the Athletic Development Institute, LLC. He has written a book titled Movement Restoration, which proves anyone with enough free time and persistence can write a book. He teaches several workshops every year and when he is not traveling to teach, he spends his time trying to keep his wife, son, and dog in line and going strong.
Brandon Hetzler on Facebook

11 thoughts on “The Simply Sinister Training Plan

  • What are the thoughts on doing one varient each workout.. M-snatch, W- C+P, F- Carry? Or should you focus on dominating one first?

  • Great stuff and you guys are beasts who can do it!

    I’m at 40kg with S&S and I don’t think I’d be able to do the programme on this page with the 40. I definitely need my rest periods in between sets.

  • So glad I came across this article. I have been doing Simple and Sinister for 3 months now. I started with a 16kg bell and just starting to get into a 28kg bell. The problem is as beneficial as the program isI am getting bored with it and not really getting anywhere with snatches and c&p’s. Plus my time to workout is limited. I gotta be done in 30min including my warmup.

    This version is even more appealing in terms of the variety of movements, the different variations you can leverage and the time factor. Just gave this a whirl with a 20k bell c&p variant. Loved it!

    Curious to run through this for a few weeks and then test my swings as you normally would on S&S.

    Thanks for posting this.

  • Thanks for the great article! I love S&S but this looks like a great way to work the core movements while spicing things up with the addition of the snatch.

    Thanks again.

  • Great post, and what a fun-looking protocol. Thanks for the inspiration to re-visit my physical bucket list.

    One comment: the “8 minutes to do the whole thing” standard had me confused, until I thought about it more.

    My understanding of get-ups is that they shouldn’t be rushed – shoot for almost 1 minute per get-up. Therefore, S&S’s 10-minute standard for get-ups is already a 1-1 rest ratio. You rest on one side for one minute, while doing a get-up on the other side.

    8 minutes for 10 get-ups, 100 swings, and 10 snatches: sounds like you’ll be doing those get-ups pretty quick! But you’re just reverse-snatching and then swinging to change hands. At the end of a normal get-up, you floor-press back down, swing it around your head, and adjust your hand to press it back up on the other side, and that takes much longer.

    One question: if Simple and Sinister (S&S) is your main daily workout, how often would you throw this in there? I’m thinking a few times per week, since it sounds more intense.

    • 8:00 is doable but it will take work. The getups are your rest from swings and your swings are your test from the getups. If you set the bell down or stop, you won’t hit the <8:00 mark.

      I throw this in when my time is very limited. Usually 3-4 times/week.

      The swings should take about 2:30. The get ups will depend on your pace. Yes get ups should be done under control at all times, but control doesn't mean slow.

      Enjoy!

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