After 4+ years of S&S

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I started S&S I think back in February of 2016 after buying some kettlebells and the S&S book. I soon thereafter found the website and have been obsessed ever since. I missed about a year and a half total of regular S&S training however due to some injuries; the 16kg kettlebell was critical in recovering from the injuries. Every year-ish I write some kind of update on the forum of what I've learned and where I am now in my thoughts about S&S, kettlebells and fitness. I've gotten some new ideas so I'm writing this one now. In no specific order:

1. The Simple target with the 32kg bell is a target for a reason! If you are doing this regularly then you are VERY STRONG! The virtual weight of the 32kg bell is about 100kg! That means you're swinging your own bodyweight in just one arm! That's ridiculous! Going past Simple to 36kg or 40 or even 48 for some few blessed individuals is super impressive, but nobody should feel anything but exhilaration and pride at attaining and maintaining S&S with the 32kg bell! Simple is STRONG! With Simple I can do crazy things I could never handle before without hurting myself!

2. I finally broke down and purchased a "mid-way" bell (the 28kg) yesterday. I really liked my S&S workout with it today. It is obviously going to be smoother and easier if you progress by 4kg increments rather than by 8kg, and you might find your ultimate "maintenance weight" to be one of those increments (I might discover the 36kg for instance as my eventual "workhorse" S&S bell.) Nothing wrong with 4kg increments! This shouldn't be an issue. They're in the new S&S 2.0 book too!

3. Everything is indeed in the S&S 2.0 book. They've worked on this in some way or another for over 20 years. The S&S programme has been under huge public scrutiny for about a decade also, let alone Pavel's work in general since the start. The book has it all. Trust the book! 2.0 though... The first book is far surpassed by the second. If you don't have it yet you HAVE TO get it if you love S&S!

4. 1 handed swings make a very fine primary exercise to base my training around! They cover almost everything in the body. What they miss the TGU fills in the gaps for (and to some lesser extent the warmup goblet squats). It's the 1h swings though that are by far the more important of the two moves.

5. The goblet squats are important! They are exactly what the book says they are - a warmup. However, the goblet curls are strength building moves, explicitly said so in the book. If you can't or won't do 3 sets of 5 goblet squats then why not? I had to ask myself this question and got no satisfactory answer from myself. I'll trust Pavel and do the goblet squats! Keep in mind that they are the one fully symmetrical exercise out of the three! This is again a nice "warmup" to balance the body with before challenging it to separate itself apart with the anti-twist qualities of the 1 handed swings and getups!

6. The strength and conditioning carry over of S&S to other athletic pursuits is remarkable!

7. Don't be afraid to go light when you're not feeling strong! Going light is still progress. Going nothing is not progress.

8. The TGU is more about filling in the gaps in your strength than anything else. It strengthens the awkward natural movements we make when turning, shifting, angling. The TGU strengthens especially the weak links in your strength chain! While it's worth 20% of your strength only, without this 20% you could collapse given the wrong angle of force!

9. If you are finding S&S boring or annoying then GO DOWN A WEIGHT LEVEL! Do not fear light weights!

10. You don't need other moves. However, I think it is sensible and good to train other moves (like chinups, dips, presses etc...) to some extent because an athlete should be able to do anything needed. Even if S&S is the base, it needs to be the base of SOMETHING, and if you never train anything else, what is it the base for, what is that SOMETHING? The book is all about pursuing other forms of supplementary athletics - hiking, combat arts, barbell lifting etc... I go for several hikes/walks a week of at least 75 minutes a session, train kendo and judo...

11. The TGU is so important to grapplers because we are going to take you apart based on the weak links in your strength chain, and the TGU seals them for you leaving us nowhere to exploit!

12. I think both heavy and light days are sensible for S&S, as the book says. What weights you use for these can vary. 32kg is the target to maintain once acquired. For right now my heavy days are with the 32 and my light ones are going to be with the 28 (the 24 was just too light for me, I weigh 105 kg.)

13. S&S DOES give you a model-like physique! Strong is strong and strong is beautiful!

14. Keep your very light kettlebells! I've used the 16kg bells a lot while recovering from injuries! Without them I would never have gotten my strength back!

15. S&S makes your legs strong and well-conditioned. I'm someone who relies on his legs for my combat sports and for hiking. I definitely lost strength in my legs when taking time off S&S. While training S&S I feel like I'm gliding along doing kendo or judo footwork, or speedwalking. S&S makes leg work feel more like flying than anything else!
 
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watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
If you can't or won't do 3 sets of 5 goblet squats then why not?

First off, thanks for the great write up!

The KB goblet squat is a good starter squat.

But I think there are better KB-based squats if one wants to get more bang for the buck.

I think 1 arm KB front squats have more to offer, TBH.

Especially if you do a hand change at the bottom.
 
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ps_bond

Level 1 Valued Member
I was under the impression that the goblet squat was not the key issue, but that it is a prying goblet squat? For hip mobility? The book makes the point that once timeless simple is achieved the first set should still be prying (with a lighter weight), but subsequent sets can be "normal" GSQ with the swing weight. Currently I'm using a 20kg for prying and wondering if it's too light, but I'm not sure about using a 24kg for the halos.

I only started on S&S in March this year (same time as we had to stop training on the mat); full incorporation of the 32kg should start the week before Christmas. Still mulling whether to move to 36kg or 40kg as S+ in building up to timed simple. If I go for 36, then my S- is a 28 that I already have (damn lockdown panic buying...); 40 will require a 24 which I don't currently own. Or possibly a pair of 24kgs.

Overall it's been pretty good. I quite like the repetitive nature of it - it's easy to focus on just the technique then (analyse, adjust, reinforce), rather than worrying about is it leg day, what's the next movement etc. etc. I did have to take a week off, albeit not due to S&S itself - I was trying to improve my military press technique using a 20kg bell after a session and managed to twitch a muscle on the opposite side (rhomboid major, I think). Irksome given that's a lighter weight than I'd been using.

Results are interesting. Overall fitness is better, my randomly-assigned-by-Fitbit VO2Max is higher (still trying to get it solidly into "excellent" rather than mostly there, despite the arbitrary nature of it); I can see my recovery periods between sets are shorter (although I spend longer on the warmup now so the entire session is pretty much the same duration); daft measures like getting up from a sofa hands-free where a couple of years ago I needed to use my functioning arm... Body weight seems to have stayed static, but definition is better; my 1RM on bicep curl was at ~12kg when I started, it's now at ~23kg. I can press a bag of feed overhead easily, but given we don't keep them on high shelves, that's more an amusement than a real-world application. Really looking forwards to seeing what difference it makes on the mat.

My only concern now really is what to do after timed simple - I don't think sinister is a goal for me, but I'd like to do more on the GPP side. I'll add in more cardio when I get to timeless & reduce from 6 days/week.
 
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forkmantis

Level 1 Valued Member
As someone who has only invested half a year into S&S so far, and already had to take time off due to injury, this is a very motivational post. I'm really looking forward to getting back on track, and to my first session where I've earned the right to do my first 2 sets with the 32kg bell. I'm also looking forward to achieving Timeless Simple and maintaining it. Thanks for sharing your observations and experience.
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
I was under the impression that the goblet squat was not the key issue, but that it is a prying goblet squat? For hip mobility? The book makes the point that once timeless simple is achieved the first set should still be prying (with a lighter weight), but subsequent sets can be "normal" GSQ with the swing weight.

The book does make that point about hip mobility for the GSQ.

But I don't think the prying GSQ is awesome for hip mobility, either; it's okay. There are other more multi angle approaches to good hip mobility warm up, especially as preparation for all the angles the TGU works.

I get much better hip warm up results using a 7-way hip + shin box.

Then I can pick a better KB squat for the purpose of squatting.
 

mar2safety

Level 5 Valued Member
12. I think both heavy and light days are sensible for S&S, as the book says. What weights you use for these can vary. 32kg is the target to maintain once acquired. For right now my heavy days are with the 32 and my light ones are going to be with the 28 (the 24 was just too light for me, I weigh 105 kg.)
Further to this, I like to have Heavy, Medium, Light days for S&S. Currently I run:
Heavy = 32k 1HS timeless
Medium = 36k 2HS timeless
Light = 24k 1HS timed (currently compressing rests down to timed standard)

TGUs bother my knees, so I progress that load separately. Some options I use:
- Pyramid sets (16-20-24-20-16) up and down, or just up (16-20-24-28-32),
- 1/2 TGUs (from ground up to 1/2 kneeling then back down) superset with windmills
- just go light 12k bell and pause for 3-5 seconds at every point of the get up and get down
 

Snake River Jim

First Post
Currently I'm using a 20kg for prying and wondering if it's too light, but I'm not sure about using a 24kg for the halos.
Forgive me if I misunderstand this comment, but it sounds like you are saying the halo weight needs to keep up with the goblet squat. I don’t believe this is true. In the book Pavel says to pick a lite weight for the halos. It’s just a warmup and should feel pretty easy. Personally I just use a 25 lb barbell plate for halos, but I use the 32 kg bell for the goblets.
 

Bauer

Level 6 Valued Member
TGUs bother my knees, so I progress that load separately. Some options I use:
- Pyramid sets (16-20-24-20-16) up and down, or just up (16-20-24-28-32),
My favourite way to set up TGUs is to do "die Kette" ladders, inspired by Herrmann Görner: You pick a couple of bells and go up a weight with each rep.
For example:
16L, 24R, 32L, then a second ladder starting with the other arm:
16R, 24L, 32R
You could of course also use more bells, if you have them.
This way each rep feels different and I find it the contrast to be refreshing. Furthermore the heavier reps are spread out. I find I need less rest and am more mindful of my reps.
 

Rumsmike

Level 4 Valued Member
@Kozushi As others have said I'm really impressed with your passion and dedication to this program. I was pretty consistent for almost two years up to timeless solid but at that point my level of interest dropped off a cliff. Really enjoy rotating through S&S, Q&D (swings or snatches) and A&A snatches in 8ish week blocks these days to keep things relatively fresh. Loving the getup as a warmup before overhead press days.
 
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Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
First off, thanks for the great write up!

The KB goblet squat is a good starter squat.

But I think there are better KB-based squats if one wants to get more bang for the buck.

I think 1 arm KB front squats have more to offer, TBH.

Especially if you do a hand change at the bottom.
Yes, I've tried those and they are clearly a great movement for many reasons (asymmetrical load, challenge to your balance...)
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I was under the impression that the goblet squat was not the key issue, but that it is a prying goblet squat? For hip mobility? The book makes the point that once timeless simple is achieved the first set should still be prying (with a lighter weight), but subsequent sets can be "normal" GSQ with the swing weight. Currently I'm using a 20kg for prying and wondering if it's too light, but I'm not sure about using a 24kg for the halos.

I only started on S&S in March this year (same time as we had to stop training on the mat); full incorporation of the 32kg should start the week before Christmas. Still mulling whether to move to 36kg or 40kg as S+ in building up to timed simple. If I go for 36, then my S- is a 28 that I already have (damn lockdown panic buying...); 40 will require a 24 which I don't currently own. Or possibly a pair of 24kgs.

Overall it's been pretty good. I quite like the repetitive nature of it - it's easy to focus on just the technique then (analyse, adjust, reinforce), rather than worrying about is it leg day, what's the next movement etc. etc. I did have to take a week off, albeit not due to S&S itself - I was trying to improve my military press technique using a 20kg bell after a session and managed to twitch a muscle on the opposite side (rhomboid major, I think). Irksome given that's a lighter weight than I'd been using.

Results are interesting. Overall fitness is better, my randomly-assigned-by-Fitbit VO2Max is higher (still trying to get it solidly into "excellent" rather than mostly there, despite the arbitrary nature of it); I can see my recovery periods between sets are shorter (although I spend longer on the warmup now so the entire session is pretty much the same duration); daft measures like getting up from a sofa hands-free where a couple of years ago I needed to use my functioning arm... Body weight seems to have stayed static, but definition is better; my 1RM on bicep curl was at ~12kg when I started, it's now at ~23kg. I can press a bag of feed overhead easily, but given we don't keep them on high shelves, that's more an amusement than a real-world application. Really looking forwards to seeing what difference it makes on the mat.

My only concern now really is what to do after timed simple - I don't think sinister is a goal for me, but I'd like to do more on the GPP side. I'll add in more cardio when I get to timeless & reduce from 6 days/week.
Yes, sorry, yes the goblet squats are a lot about prying the hips "apart". On the bottom I tend to move my hips around and stretch them out like the book says. Still, there is the curl aspect to them that Pavel tells us to to do as many times as we can! This is for strength. The whole squat movement is a kind of primer for the swings and getups of course.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
As someone who has only invested half a year into S&S so far, and already had to take time off due to injury, this is a very motivational post. I'm really looking forward to getting back on track, and to my first session where I've earned the right to do my first 2 sets with the 32kg bell. I'm also looking forward to achieving Timeless Simple and maintaining it. Thanks for sharing your observations and experience.
Yes indeed! :)
I'm like some others here who find great joy in taking a few select things and then working hard at refining them over long periods of time. I find that there is always a middle point between novelty and accomplishment where it seems you're just spinning your wheels, but if you keep going until you're actually quite proficient in the skill, it pays off immensely in the end! It took me 23 years to get fluent at Korean for example, but I'm still only 43 years old, and I've already unlocked a whole other culture (the culture of my wife, by the way - there was a reason to try to learn it!) Swings and getups don't prepare me for every single thing out there, but they nearly do, I think!
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
@Kozushi As others have said I'm really impressed with your passion and dedication to this program. I was pretty consistent for almost two years up to timeless solid but at that point my level of interest dropped off a cliff. Really enjoy rotating through S&S, Q&D (swings or snatches) and A&A snatches in 8ish week blocks these days to keep things relatively fresh. Loving the getup as a warmup before overhead press days.
If I wasn't involved in hiking, judo and kendo, I'd be spreading out my wings more into different programmes too... although I'd likely never abandon S&S (esp. the 1 handed swing) as the core element of my training. It just gets too many things done at once for me to want to give it up.
 

ps_bond

Level 1 Valued Member
Forgive me if I misunderstand this comment, but it sounds like you are saying the halo weight needs to keep up with the goblet squat.
Not remotely - I'm currently using 20kg for the GSQ & halos; I could happily go higher with the GSQ (prying), both for hip flexion and the curls; I'm less keen in principle on my using more than 20kg for halos but at the same time I'd rather not have to muck around with too many different weights in one session (20, 28 & 32 at the moment - and I think 3 is sufficient to have in the way at any one time). Conflicting requirements is all.

As always, YMMV. What works - or doesn't - for me is not an indicator that it should or should not for someone else.
 
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NormanOsborn

Level 5 Valued Member
I started S&S I think back in February of 2016 after buying some kettlebells and the S&S book. I soon thereafter found the website and have been obsessed ever since. I missed about a year and a half total of regular S&S training however due to some injuries; the 16kg kettlebell was critical in recovering from the injuries. Every year-ish I write some kind of update on the forum of what I've learned and where I am now in my thoughts about S&S, kettlebells and fitness. I've gotten some new ideas so I'm writing this one now. In no specific order:

1. The Simple target with the 32kg bell is a target for a reason! If you are doing this regularly then you are VERY STRONG! The virtual weight of the 32kg bell is about 100kg! That means you're swinging your own bodyweight in just one arm! That's ridiculous! Going past Simple to 36kg or 40 or even 48 for some few blessed individuals is super impressive, but nobody should feel anything but exhilaration and pride at attaining and maintaining S&S with the 32kg bell! Simple is STRONG! With Simple I can do crazy things I could never handle before without hurting myself!

2. I finally broke down and purchased a "mid-way" bell (the 28kg) yesterday. I really liked my S&S workout with it today. It is obviously going to be smoother and easier if you progress by 4kg increments rather than by 8kg, and you might find your ultimate "maintenance weight" to be one of those increments (I might discover the 36kg for instance as my eventual "workhorse" S&S bell.) Nothing wrong with 4kg increments! This shouldn't be an issue. They're in the new S&S 2.0 book too!

3. Everything is indeed in the S&S 2.0 book. They've worked on this in some way or another for over 20 years. The S&S programme has been under huge public scrutiny for about a decade also, let alone Pavel's work in general since the start. The book has it all. Trust the book! 2.0 though... The first book is far surpassed by the second. If you don't have it yet you HAVE TO get it if you love S&S!

4. 1 handed swings make a very fine primary exercise to base my training around! They cover almost everything in the body. What they miss the TGU fills in the gaps for (and to some lesser extent the warmup goblet squats). It's the 1h swings though that are by far the more important of the two moves.

5. The goblet squats are important! They are exactly what the book says they are - a warmup. However, the goblet curls are strength building moves, explicitly said so in the book. If you can't or won't do 3 sets of 5 goblet squats then why not? I had to ask myself this question and got no satisfactory answer from myself. I'll trust Pavel and do the goblet squats! Keep in mind that they are the one fully symmetrical exercise out of the three! This is again a nice "warmup" to balance the body with before challenging it to separate itself apart with the anti-twist qualities of the 1 handed swings and getups!

6. The strength and conditioning carry over of S&S to other athletic pursuits is remarkable!

7. Don't be afraid to go light when you're not feeling strong! Going light is still progress. Going nothing is not progress.

8. The TGU is more about filling in the gaps in your strength than anything else. It strengthens the awkward natural movements we make when turning, shifting, angling. The TGU strengthens especially the weak links in your strength chain! While it's worth 20% of your strength only, without this 20% you could collapse given the wrong angle of force!

9. If you are finding S&S boring or annoying then GO DOWN A WEIGHT LEVEL! Do not fear light weights!

10. You don't need other moves. However, I think it is sensible and good to train other moves (like chinups, dips, presses etc...) to some extent because an athlete should be able to do anything needed. Even if S&S is the base, it needs to be the base of SOMETHING, and if you never train anything else, what is it the base for, what is that SOMETHING? The book is all about pursuing other forms of supplementary athletics - hiking, combat arts, barbell lifting etc... I go for several hikes/walks a week of at least 75 minutes a session, train kendo and judo...

11. The TGU is so important to grapplers because we are going to take you apart based on the weak links in your strength chain, and the TGU seals them for you leaving us nowhere to exploit!

12. I think both heavy and light days are sensible for S&S, as the book says. What weights you use for these can vary. 32kg is the target to maintain once acquired. For right now my heavy days are with the 32 and my light ones are going to be with the 28 (the 24 was just too light for me, I weigh 105 kg.)

13. S&S DOES give you a model-like physique! Strong is strong and strong is beautiful!

14. Keep your very light kettlebells! I've used the 16kg bells a lot while recovering from injuries! Without them I would never have gotten my strength back!

15. S&S makes your legs strong and well-conditioned. I'm someone who relies on his legs for my combat sports and for hiking. I definitely lost strength in my legs when taking time off S&S. While training S&S I feel like I'm gliding along doing kendo or judo footwork, or speedwalking. S&S makes leg work feel more like flying than anything else!

Excellent post. But I have to ask: where do you get the virtual weight of a one-handed 32 kettlebell swing being 100kg?
 
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