What Has Changed Since I Discovered Pavel

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 same thing, big American pickups (forgive me Ford versus Dodge nuts). It could be argued, on the other hand, that a Prius and a Ferrari are two different types of things altogether. Yes, they’re both cars, but at some point everything is a “thing,” so it is fair to say these are two different types of things. They both have four wheels, but one is about efficient transportation, the other is about beauty, history, and power.

When I first discovered Pavel in the ’90s, I was already many years into my training and martial arts journey. I had read everything I could on training for sports, martial arts, and strength. Pavel offered a different type of thing altogether. Although Pavel is one of few strength coaches who always gives credit to his sources—and there are lots of them since Pavel reads widely—once Pavel synthesizes this information, adds his insight, and molds it into his own template, it becomes a different type of thing altogether. A Ferrari among a sea of Priuses and pickups.

What Has Changed Since I Discovered Pavel

What Has Changed Since I Discovered Pavel

The effect of Pavel’s teachings on my training has been profound. I can simply never buy a program that’s too complex now—because I know Power to the People!, Enter the Kettlebell!, and other similarly simple plans work better.

I can never buy a plan that hurts you and makes you tired—because I know you can be strong and flexible and fresh. I can always check out something new, because there are many ways to skin the cat and you never know where you can cull one little gem that will spark your training forward. I’m a beat-up old ex-martial artist now, with two sons under five, who travels almost every week for work. So you know what I can really never buy: excuses for not training. Real reasons (injury, disability)—of course, but excuses—no way, comrade.

Understanding Pavel’s principles has allowed me to tailor my training to the ever-shifting realities of being a parent, husband, and boss. When you understand how to use tension to leverage your whole body to do every drill, you know you don’t need fifteen drills to train your whole body. When you have the discipline to eat correctly, you don’t need to run on a treadmill like a hamster to be lean and hard. When you understand how to really train hard, then you don’t need to train two hours a day.

What My Training Looks Like Now

My training is mostly very simple—floor presses, curls, and goblet squats. Whenever I’m home, I do a finisher set of at least 100 two-hand swings with a 32kg kettlebell. I tend to train in little micro-compensation cycles based around my travel. I generally travel a few days a week, and I’ve found training three to five days straight and then resting when I travel really works well.

My training schedule changes every week, but here is a sample:

  • Sat—Heavy bag training/also serves as warm up (strikes and weapons), floor presses
  • Sun—Goblet squats, curls, two-hand heavy kettlebell swings as finisher
  • Mon—Travel (off)
  • Tues—Travel (off)
  • Wed—Back home, follow same training as Saturday
  • Thursday—Same training as the Sunday before travel
  • Fri—Travel (off)
  • Sat—Same as Sunday
  • Sun—Same as Saturday
  • Mon, Tues, Wed—Round trip from Philadelphia to San Francisco and back (three days off to recover from four out of five straight days)

And so on, with intensity, sets, and weight always waved up and down for non-linear progression.

Pavel’s Training Is a Different Type of Thing Altogether

It’s been over a decade since I first discovered Pavel. I’ve had the opportunity to be taught by him, train Navy SEALs with him, and most importantly spend a little time with him outside of all that. I’ve continued to read, experiment, and play with different training ideas and methods, but I always wind up back at the source.

I have a bookcase in my basement with 200-plus martial arts and training books. But no book can match the experience of training with Pavel. Pavel has richly earned the opportunity to develop and broaden his ideas and audience through the StrongFirst platform. Pay attention, it’s a different type of thing altogether.

Bill Fox
Bill is a hard training 55-year-old who has been using Pavel's methods for fifteen-plus years – meaning since the days of the MILO article. A long-time martial artist, Bill discovered kettlebells when he was training BJJ at Steve Maxwell's gym in Philadelphia. He went on to help develop the TSC, train Navy SEALS with Pavel, and the crew and help teach the Naked Warrior seminar (where he knocked off a pull-up with 2x32kg strapped around his waist after an abdominal raking from Pavel).

Now Bill trains himself and his two sons, five and eight, in the basement gym – complete with courage corner, pull-up bars and barbells - and prays that the hotel gyms he is stuck with half the time have a pull-up bar. His oldest has recently taken up karate, carrying on the family tradition.

11 thoughts on “What Has Changed Since I Discovered Pavel

  • Bill!!! So great to see your article here and know you’re doing great, my friend! Pavel has done for me as he has for many others, his methods have made me an infinitely better coach and lifter. Can’t thank him enough!!!

    Looking forward to your next article, Bill!!

  • Great post Bill!
    I’ve been a fan of both you & Rob for some time and reading these articles has been inspiring to see you both still in the game. As a busy father of 3 young children and fellow road warrior I not only gleam great info but share a sense of spirit in the optimizing of minimalist programs.
    If you guy’s somehow find the time to run a KB or BW course in PA I’d gladly make the drive up from MD to attend.
    Keep up the great work!

  • Thanks guys. The Floor presses, or even Hamner presses w/ the seat all the way up seem to be easier on my shoulders

  • When I was younger I read a book by a man named Scott Peck called the Road Less Traveled that had a profound effect on my mental, emotional and physical life. Fast forward after 30 years of teaching, training and coaching in a public high school I came into contact with three other books in this order. Enter The Kettlebell, Power To The People and Easy Strength. They have had a very similar profound effect on my life. I am not a particularly strong or talented person, but have always been enamored by those who are. Due to this preoccupation I became a fledgling student and practitioner! I beat myself up in pursuit of “fitness” for many years! I found the kettlebell at age 51. I went to Minnesota and passed the RKC under Pavel (double bells) at age 56. The principles in the three books that I mentioned and the experience with Pavel and those team leaders has revolutionized and rejuvenated my training and attitude toward strength and conditioning. At age 58 with a few miles on the chassis I deal with a couple of health issues. Pavels ability to boil down complicated scientific info. into easy to follow programming and disseminate it to our community is his genius. I regularly do workouts or I should say practice sessions of 200 to 400 24k swings and 6 to 20 TGU’s all sessions are 30 minutes or less. I have never felt better! I am a grateful believer for life!!!

  • Great stuff. I’m a beat up old martial artist ,too. Why floor presses,though? Why not pushups? Just curious.

  • Bill gets it – it’s that simple. The big picture, the small details, and everything in between. Well said, sir, and thanks for taking the time to write that blog.


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