“Only by contending with challenges that seem to be beyond your strength to handle at the moment you can grow more surely toward the stars.” My challenge for myself was to complete Simple and Sinister with the 36kg.
The inspiration for this daunting challenge was my husband, Brian. He achieved Sinister when he completed the challenge with the 48kg. This is approximately 60% of his bodyweight. The 36kg is 60% of my bodyweight, and I had already completed S&S with the 32kg for both the swings and the get-ups. So, of course this would be the next progression. Get-ups are a big part of my training. For the last 6 years, every Monday I’ve done get-ups 1/1×5 and then some type of other get-up practice a second day later in the week. It’s not always heavy, and sometimes done with only a shoe. The get-up is all about the effort you put into it. It is a technical skill that takes consistent practice, and it will still present you with its own challenges. This dedication has created a strong wrist and forearm that can withstand the pressure of the bell.
Previous Experience with Simple and Sinister
Simple and Sinister (S&S) has definitely been one of my favorite plans. It is a stand-alone plan, working 3x per week. The original program from Pavel’s book Kettlebell Simple and Sinister consists of 100 swings in 5 min, then 10 get-ups in 10 minutes. Simple for women is using the 24kg for swings and 16kg for the get-ups. Sinister for women is 32kg for the swings, and the 24kg for the get-ups. Simple for men is 32kg for both the swings and the get-ups. Sinister for men is 48kg for both the swings and the get-ups. I have completed this program with the 16kg, 24kg, 28kg, and the 32kg. I used the same bell for the swings and the get-ups each time. Getting up to the 32kg took me 7 weeks to complete. 3 weeks to go from the 24kg to the 28kg, then another 3 weeks to get from the 28kg to the 32kg. It took two attempts before completion.
The Role of Strong Endurance™
The Training: Plan 260
After I attended the Strong Endurance™ workshop, I was eager to try a program out. My husband had used Plan 260 for his Sinister journey, so I followed suit. Programming the get-ups into the plan is another challenge. My husband Brian recommends that you should able to do 10 get-ups in less than 10 minutes with the bell you will be testing with before starting this plan. Waving the load of the get-up during the plan is necessary for success. For example: one week, work with the heavy bell on Friday and Monday. Another week, work with the heavy bell only on Friday. Be aware of how your body responds to the get-ups.
In my own experience, if you start to decline in your strength endurance during the get-up, take it back to one heavy day a week. On the rest of the days you can practice with a lighter bell doing singles or even multiple get-ups.
Plan 260 is 6 weeks long, or you can take it out 8 weeks by repeating weeks 1 and 2. In the Strong Endurance™ plan, there is a 10-15 minute rest break in between series—this time should be used for breath work and active recovery. Use this time wisely!
Set-Backs and Opportunity
When starting Plan 260, I planned to take my time and really own the 36kg on the swings and get-ups. After the first two weeks, I tested to see where I was at. I completed the swings, but could not stand up from half kneel on the first get-up because my legs where exhausted. This is when I began to question whether or not I was going to be able to complete the goal. The get-ups were going to be intense! This is when I decided to repeat weeks 1 and 2.
As week 4 of the plan rolled around, it was really starting to wear on me physically and mentally. Thoughts of quitting the program passed through my mind. To calm myself, I would visualize and meditate on what I wanted the end goal to be and my anxiety would subside. You need to be all-in to complete this task!
When test day arrived, I was a nervous wreck. I was nice and relaxed through the swings, but then I got anxious and rushed to get through the get-up portion. It was a true fight that day, and I finished 20 seconds after the timer went off. This attempt was incomplete. Brian suggested that I do the get-ups on the minute and enjoy the rest time on my next attempt. 3 days later, I attempted the test again. I felt stronger and more relaxed than the first time—I did the get-ups on the minute and finished with time to spare. I thought it was complete until I watched the video, but realized set 9 only had 9 swings. Frustrated (to put it lightly) yet determined, two days later I attempted a third time. With my designated counter (Brian), I felt more relaxed and more energized than the previous two attempts. This time it went off without a hitch. The third time was the charm. This program actually went out 9 weeks for me, from start to finish.
Don’t give up if you don’t complete it on your first attempt, or you will miss out on the opportunity to succeed in something that is hard to achieve.
Recommendations and Self-Care
When you get inspired to do this plan, whether it’s the original or from Strong Endurance™, make sure you are efficient with your get-ups. I feel like this is the hardest part.
The warm-up for S&S was goblet squats 3×5, and light get-ups with the 20kg. On heavy get-up day, you can do a heavy bottoms-up clean to determine how strong your grip is going to be for that day. Do a couple get-ups to half kneel with your working weight. On some days those heavy get-ups would intimidate me—this would help give me confidence to power through.
Active recovery on your days off are a must with this plan. Hiking, biking, or walking—anything except being sedentary; you will get tight. Indian clubs, halo, or arm bar will help you keep your thoracic spine mobile and flexible. Using a PVC pipe for shoulder dislocations, your shoulders and upper thoracic will need lots of attention. Be prepared to spend some time in Brettzel and frog, as these will help combat the body tightness you may encounter.
Massages helped immensely during this plan. Going every other week kept my neck and shoulders from getting tight. Give yourself a day of active recovery between a massage and your heavy working day. You will need to take some time to get your body tight and responding before doing heavy weight, with tension work. Examples are 20 sec hardstyle plank, 3 slow pull-ups, and 3 sit backs, for 3 rounds.
Visualization and meditation will help you get through when you feel like it is too much and are overwhelmed. Think about what you want the end to look like and feel like…and breathe. Simple and Sinister is about how efficient—yet powerful—you can be with your swings, and then how calm and focused you can keep your mind and body during the get-ups. When you do this plan, it is important to stay true to 10 swings every 30 seconds and do your get-ups on the minute. Appreciate the rest time and think only about the very next task: the next 10 swings or that next get-up.
If you feel the rest time is unnecessary, you will need to go up on your weight.
I love a challenge that makes me nervous and anxious. It makes you feel uncomfortable and you have to overcome thoughts of quitting something that is hard. This has definitely been that kind of a challenge for me.
Note from Chief SFG and StrongFirst DOE Brett Jones:
If there was a mountain higher than Everest I know people would seek to climb it. That is the nature of achievement and those that pursue the highest levels of accomplishment. When Pavel established the Sinister standard, it provided an “Everest” to climb. But unlike mountains people are able to create a goal beyond the standard.
Roxanne Myers did this by going beyond the Sinister standard performing 100 one-arm swings with the 36kg in 5 minutes and performing 10 get-ups in 10 minutes with the same kettlebell.
For perspective, the Sinister standard for women is those same “lifts” with a 32kg kettlebell for the one-arm swings and a 24kg kettlebell for the Get-ups. Going beyond Sinister indeed!
Roxanne’s one-arm swings were a bit below the Simple and Sinister chest height standard, but she is “beyond” the goal and in new territory. I encouraged Roxanne to write this article and share her experience in achieving this incredibly impressive goal. As I make my own way to achieving the Sinister standard for men it is made clear to me just how impressive Roxanne’s accomplishment is for anyone even if not to “chest height”!
You can see both Roxanne’s Sinister 32kg video and her Beyond Sinister (36kg) video, so you can see what these achievements look like and you can read below to get a window into how Roxanne went beyond the standard. Take notes! —Brett