Old age

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Christine Hermanowicz 1 year, 5 months ago.

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    Seeking some opinions from older boys and girls who achieved their SFG. I know you’re only as old as you feel of course, I turned 50 recently and much to my daughters’ embarrassment behave more like a teenager than they do.

    So currently having great success and enjoyment with S&S and would perhaps at some point look to do the SFG, as I’m now obsessed by it all. Only picked up a 24 a couple of weeks ago and  advancing well with the swings but a slower pace with the get ups. I’ll get a 32 when the time is right and strive towards the simple goal.

    I would then look to either etk or kb strong for further strength training. I know really age doesn’t matter however I think the experiences of a fit 24 year oldmartial artist, pro athlete, serving military or anyone with solid strength base  will be different from an older  person with a life time of knocks and scars.

    I did etk a couple of years ago with a 16. never managed 5 x5 pull ups in the ladder  but did 4 sets and subbed in 1 arm rows for the final set. The volume I found challenging at the time and recovery, diet all impact on the success or otherwise of any gains and so does age and gender. Pavel writes in S&S that there is no dispensation for age in S&S which I get as the goals are reached at one’s own pace but when there is a shift to more volume and specific targets like a SFG I’m wondering what if any problems age may or may not impact on that Level of workload.

    So if you never picked up a Kb until you mid to late 40s and achieved the SFG, without having a lifting background, I’d be really interested to hear your experiences. Thanks kids…….



    I did..and was tested with normal weights, no seniors one’s and passed. Last year, did the ” kettlebells for Crossfit course ” with Jeff Martone, and 2 elites training camp with. Sergey Rudnev.. Competed in GS snatches 2 weeks ago and training for a higher rank, at least 130 snatches x20kg, my goal for December is 130 snatches x 24 kg x 10 minutes, one hand switch…my overall training age is 40 years old, in martial arts also and never stop to train. Nothing wrong with the age as long you don’t have medical conditions or musculoskeletal disorder, healthy food and a lot of recovery, and the most important is to trust and stay motivate, could be the hardest part…so, kid, go head !!!and train SMART, no rush, everything in good order,warmup, workout and cool down. Acid lactic is OK, no pains…All the best !





    I also train  Crossfit which is the very similar at the GS general preparation to compete, so HIT, ( never been injured ),  but raised my levels in matter of endurance and other fitness components :)


    Bill Been


    I’m about a year ahead of you. I completed SFG Level 1 in January, about a week shy of my 51st birthday. I had begun kettlebell training in September of ’11 at Nashville Kettlebell under the gentle and compassionate tutelage of Iron Tamer Dave Whitley, so when I took my training “in-house” last August, I had a pretty firm handle on form and a pretty decent strength base. Previous weight training  had been high school and one brief exposure on a deployment in the Air Force – maybe 2 months worth. All of that had been built on bodybuilding methodology although I didn’t kow the difference at he time.

    That’s the background from which I say: you’re approaching this exactly correctly in my opinion.  You are using the proven programming of really smart people to build your strength base and to become deeply familiar with the foundational movements. You have an eye to the future and what your priorities should be, but you’re not allowing that to distract you from what you’re doing at this moment. One of the benefits of a bit of mileage is the skill of honest self-assessment. I can honestly look at myself – and am betting you can too – and say “my biggest need is ____” then set out a plan to fix “_____”.  I have little tendency to fool myself. I know what I’m not good at, but I also can prioritize.

    With all that in mind, here’s how I prepared for Level 1, which quite honestly was not nearly as hard as I had built it up to be. Keep in mind that I had basically built it up to be a 3-day version of BUDS Hell Week or SAS Selection.

    I trained for strength first. August-September, I did a squat-intensive program from Geoff Neupert’s “More Kettlebell Muscle” called “The Wolf”. This made my whole body stronger, increased my press (yes, my press went up on a squat program) and drove my conditioning up nicely. Then in Oct-Nov, I did what you’re considering: the first program, “Strong!”, from Geoff’s “Kettlebell Strong” with double 32 kilo bells – my press max, which you’re not really supposed to do. I adapted quickly and this program made me harder than Quantum arithmatic. There is no “metcon” in this program at all, yet I did two different snatch tests without difficulty during its course and conditioning stayed very high. I tried to wedge Pavel’s fighter pullup progression in with Strong!, but got to 4,3,3,2,1 and aborted due to elbow pain. From that point on, I wigged-out about pullups, unnecessarily as it turned out. From late Nov-Dec, I did Geoff’s MKBM “Ballistic Beatdown” coupled with another round of Strong! looking to solidify conditioning. The last two weeks, I used “Simple & Sinister”, mostly using a 24, but occasionally going up in either the swings or the Get Ups, but not pushing at all. This was a deload/tonic/technique period really focusing on form, although I did do one more snatch test, this time without putting the bell down..  I used “Original Strength” resets throughout for pre and post-training moves as well as recovery as well as resets throughout the days of the cert. Learn these and do them – they reestablish long dormant comm pathways to give you better use of the strength you already have, not to mention increased safety.

    The result was passed the cert. even the pullups, which I did palms inward chinup-style.  During the grad workout, I went and did rounds with the studs who were using 28s and 32s. I did “The Worst Workout”*  in its entirety, putting the bell down once for a couple seconds but still completing every rep.  All in all, I was very glad I trained for strength first. I didn’t train snatches much at all, but when I did, I did them heavy: [1-5 ladders] with 1-3 done with a 32 and 4-5 with a 28.  Don’t let the snatch test override strength building. Getting stronger helps your snatch test. It also helps your press, clean, squat,  and Get Up. All these other skills are tested just as the snatch test. Imagine if your 1RM in the press is 24kg. Doing 5 clean reps with double 20s is hard. Having a lot of headroom in my strength was a very large benefit to me.

    Stay in touch. We’ll make you a monster, age 50 or not.


    *This was universally described as awful by….well…. everyone. But I did it.


    Thanks Christine and Bill for your replies. You both seem to be saying – use tried, trusted and proven routes, do the work, shouldn’t be a problem. Good to hear. It’s assuring to know that snatch improves with increasing strength as my snatch technique isn’t great, hopefully it will be once my swings get stronger and more powerful. I’m not confident at all at snatching a 24 but just going to wait and find out when the time feels right. It’s reassuring to know too that I’m in good hands here. I’ve known about the website for a while and looked at some of the content but only just joined the forum. The advice, knowledge and experience of others is priceless. Again, thanks for the tips.


    Bob Treacy

    I discovered Enter The Kettlebell a few years ago in my mid 50s. Certified for the first time in Boston SFG1 class 2, at age 60. I think I heard someone certified in Nashville in their 70s and I know there are a number of 60- somethings and at least one 70-something going for SFG1 at the Dome in April. I hope to be healthy enough for my SFG2 at the Dome.

    In addition I can think of a few of  50 somethings in StrongFirst leadership such as Master SFG Rif and Senior SFG Instructor Steve Freides -who is ever-present on this site and also manages the StrongFirst instructor Facebook page



    Iron Tamer

    Listen to these folks, they got the knowledge.


    Logan Murphy

    You’re only as old as you feel,  and y’all are already ahead of lots of younger guys!


    Same as Bill Been, I did workshops and personal training sessions with Iron Tamer and Master Shaun Cairns in Australia 4 years ago. Technique is paramount to train safe and smart. Grab the get-up with uncle tamer in no time !

    I am focus on snatches because this is why I compete in GS, but in Hardstyle, a snatch is a swing, so a lot swings rather as a lot of snatches. The snatches test is only 5 minutes and with as many hands swishes as necessary, just pace yourself and swing your 24 overhead ! More acceleration pull through your hips, that’s all. ( don’t like to write it, but I am 56, and training to compete for Master of  Sports, if that can help you and motivate you a bit more…) and began in kettlebells in 2010…



    But it is not ” easy ” train most of the days, alternating strenght and endurance, and Crossfit, to recover quicker, swimming, massages, stretching and magnesium blend to relax your muscles. Don’t take protein or other supplements, I eat as properly as I can. Around 5 smalls meals/day. Don’t hesitate if you have more questions,  I forgot : mobility exercises, a lot, shoulders and hips.


    Bob Treacy

    Like Bill, I was also heavily influenced by Iron Tamer – he guided me through my cert training. One of the first knowledge bombs from him for me was that the swing and snatch are fundamentally the same movement-  so yes,  your S&S practice will get you on the road to a good snatch.

    By the way, while it’s great that many 50+ folks can meet Open Class standards for the cert – go for it when you can make the Masters standard, don’t create an artificial barrier. Spending a weekend at the cert with all those StrongFirst sisters and brothers and soaking up the knowledge from Master instructors,team leaders,  and assistants and the Manual is a game changer not to be postponed.



    @Bob : indeed.


    Michael P

    Alistair, looks like you’ve already gotten lots of good advice, and I don’t have much, but just wanted to join the club/chorus of “older boys and girls” backing you up.  I started training with kettlebells about 15 months ago.   I had been in shape before, and lifted before, but at the time I picked up a bell, I was weak and slovenly.  Well, maybe not slovenly, but weak and a little overweight.  My dad had been working with kettlebells for some time, so I found myself an SFG instructor to put me on the right path.  My goal was to lose weight and be generally stronger and healthier.

    Somewhere along the way the bug bit me.  I achieved SFG I in February a few days shy of turning 52, and about 14 months after having picked up a kettlebell.  At the time I started training for cert, I had been doing a kettlebell/bodyweight combination program as I was working toward handstands, and before that a ROP variation.  Upon the decision to train for the cert, 16 weeks out from the date, I started doing my coach’s variation of Brett Jones’ prep program (I can’t find it right now but it’s on this site).   That was very effective for me, of course with my coach adjusting it as needed for me.

    As an older girevik, “listen to your body” is always good advice.   SFG coaching was key for me, both in the beginning and in cert prep, as I felt safe in working by myself and pushing my own limits with “adult supervision.”  I obviously know more now, but I’m still going to work with my coach.  Not because I need the safety factor anymore, but because I know he still knows a heck of a lot more than I do and can help me progress better.

    Power to all of us!


    You are right Alistair, always good to train with somebody more qualified, too easy to lost a goodtechnique. I also find very usefull to find a realistic goal and to train for this goal, training without goal, I find it hard at my age, it is great motivation. Certifications or competitions, this is a fight against myself….

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