Question Clarification needed on what book means re starting weight for swings on main program

Mike Nunan

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Greeting to you all, I’m a new member and just getting started on S&S. I’m familiar with both movements from a few years of Crossfit (at a great box with outstanding attention to movement standards, unlike some) but have had a few months layoff. My swing is solid while my TGU is ok and will benefit greatly from the program, I’m sure. I don’t have injury issues but my left shoulder has a tendency to click and I want to build up some more stabiliser strength before going for 24kg one-arm swings in the main program structure.

I’ve read the book a few times through but would be very grateful for pointers on the following, from Pavel or any of the experienced practitioners on here. The book recommends 24kg as a starting weight for men, but if I begin the main program that means one-arm swings all the way – should I stay in Program Minimum mode until I can put up the 24kg single-handed, or start immediately with a 16? Or even a 20 in this case? I like the 8kg jumps and totally see the wisdom of that, but in this situation 20kg might be the sweet-spot starting weight for me, and I’d then progress to 24 and use 8kg jumps from there.

Basically though, I’d like to follow the format of the program as written, as far as possible – have I understood correctly that 24kg is the minimum requirement for men to start the main program? It is only mentioned in the Program Minimum chapter as far as I see, so I’m making an assumption that the weight carries over to the main program. If it’s legit to do the main program with 16, then I could just blast away for technique and power with the 16 until my 24 feels do-able with my left arm. (However, I did try that today as an experiment, 10x10 one-arm swings took me just 4:00 mins and felt like a cruise...)

Best regards,

Mike
 

jca17

More than 300 posts
Coming off a shoulder injury, I rehabbed with 12kg swings and moved up from there into S&S. Without needing the rehab, I'd say 16 or 20kg is fine to start. Even if your hip power is more than sufficient, you'll be able to really focus on the upper body technique. Also, Pavel Macek has mentioned having students actually hit the 4kg jumps along their way for swings, while keeping 8kg jump for TGUs (if I'm not mistaken). So 20, 24, 28, 32. The nice thing about the program is that it doesn't REQUIRE you to own the in between bells.

The one arm swing feels like a completely different exercise at first, and if I were teaching friends, I would have them start with 16/20kg rather than having them try with 24kg and have their forearms giving out at 3 reps.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
@Mike Nunan
Welcome...
There is nothing wrong (and in my opinion everything right) about starting with the 16.
Especially if you have any concerns about your shoulder. Dial in form and technique before progressing.
I realize that you are experienced, but there still may be some merit in working with an SFG or taking the one day course.
I'm sure you will enjoy the journey with S&S....
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Basically though, I’d like to follow the format of the program as written, as far as possible – have I understood correctly that 24kg is the minimum requirement for men to start the main program? It is only mentioned in the Program Minimum chapter as far as I see, so I’m making an assumption that the weight carries over to the main program.
Hi Mike, I think you are reading it correctly, 24kg is the intended starting weight for men, but two points:

1) The program intends for deadlifts until the hinge pattern is solid (page 25), 2H swings until the 2H swing is solid (page 32), and then mixed and 1H swings in smaller sets (page 51) working up to 1H swings. "Then do five sets of ten swings, mostly two-arm swings at this stage, occasionally adding a couple of sets of one-arm or hand-to-hand swings. A couple of months down the road when your one-arm swing is solid, it will be the only version you will be using." Then increase to 7-8 sets of 10 (page 53), I think you may still be with 2H swings at this point), working up to 10 x 10 "when you can comfortably get through that workout and the morning after, if your energy is high an soreness is minimal."

So with that in mind you may want to do all or mostly 2H swings until your left shoulder is feeling more solid.

2) Many people do start with a lighter weight and have done fine, as others describe above. So,

I like the 8kg jumps and totally see the wisdom of that, but in this situation 20kg might be the sweet-spot starting weight for me, and I’d then progress to 24 and use 8kg jumps from there.
I agree, the 20kg might be a good one for you, as you described.

Welcome to the forum!
 

The Nail

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
If it’s legit to do the main program with 16, then I could just blast away for technique and power with the 16 until my 24 feels do-able with my left arm.
Remember, the get-up is a complex move that is a series of complex moves. It is fine to start with the 16k; I did. It will take you time to master it...as does anything worth doing! Have you mastered the shoe get-up yet? It's a powerful teacher.
"Practice this shoe get-up, drilled in stages and as a whole, until you own the movement. Then enter the kettlebell."
Tsatsouline. Kettlebell Simple & Sinister​

As far as the swings, two hand swings make my shoulders feel wonderful; do not underestimate their power. The plank/float at the top works voodoo magik on the lats/shoulder girdle that you will love.

Good luck on the path!
 

Mike Nunan

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Thanks all for the responses and the warm welcome! For today's session I decided to go with 24/16 but do just 5 sets of swings, with 3 of those two-handed, so just one set with the left arm, but it behaved itself perfectly. I think that was due to extra focus on shoulder packing and lat engagement, along not trying to push it to do 5 sets on that side. So my plan now is clear - stick with 24kg swings and go up to 7-8 then 10 sets, slowly increasing the proportion of sets I do one-armed.

@Anna C yep I'd checked those passages and I think arrived at the same conclusion now too ;) - and I do see around here that plenty of people have started lighter than the suggested weight, but I was keen to follow the program to the letter, if I could. Happily, now seems I can! 24kg two-handed "shadow swings" will keep me honest until I've built up enough stability to do the full number of one-armed sets.

@The Nail I was referring to swings not get-ups - for those I'm definitely a 16kg guy right now, I'd have no chance with 24 yet (16 was actually my previous record but today did all 10 @16 for the first time and it's feeling sustainable and much more solid already). I will keep the shoe get-up in the warm-up until I've done a clear week without dropping it once, I think.

Thanks again for the input guys, nice to be here in this community :cool:
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
In addition to what Anna points out, many people seem to miss the text on p.49 of the book for some reason. S&S is dense (lots of meat) and tightly edited- most people benefit from additional readings, especially as you learn more.

Also, when you do your 5 sets of swings, no need to make some whole sets one-handed. You can start with just taking one hand off the bell slightly off for a few reps during some 2-handed sets. This helps keep the proper pattern. Don't be in a hurry to do the one-handed swings until you really get the form down. Form is more important than the weight.
 

LejonBrames

Triple-Digit Post Count
I find people miss the part where Pavel says go to 1 handed swings ONLY when you are ready, and no sooner. The Reddit boards are full of people trying to start 1h after like 2 weeks, and worse, people telling others they should be incorporating 1h before they're ready. I'm personally 7 months into my SaS, and a few months ago, I switched BACK to 2h swings, and there is a very good chance I will finish out the year with 2h swings. I'm not ready for 1h, and I'm ok with that.

It's not a race. Do not go to 1h until you are ready, like really ready. And know what ready means, it's not 'well I think I can now'.
 

jca17

More than 300 posts
How long you should stay at 2 hand swings probably has more to do with how good your hip hinge is. I would say if you have confirmation from others that you have a good hip hinge, I don't see the need to wait as long. The 1 hand swing is its own exercise when it comes to upper body and core, and you learn it by doing it.

If on the other hand, you do not have a lot of reps in with good hip hinge mechanics, then yeah, there's no need to throw in more complication while you're still getting that down.

All that said, I'm going back to 2 hand swings for a while when I get back to S&S :)
 

Mike Nunan

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
@Matts I've now done 4 full passes through the book and suspect I haven't yet finished - you're right, it's very information-dense. I pride myself on having a good "information quality meter" and this, like all Pavel's material, gets a big deflection on the scale. The more intel, the more passes needed to absorb it.

@Steve Freides many thanks!

@LejonBrames I hear you - I can definitely handle the load in my posterior chain and grip, the issue is just whether my shoulder tendons are being protected enough by surrounding structure. I think easing in a few one-armed reps/sets at 24kg is the right level for me right now, doing 5 sets on that left arm would be pushing too far.

@jca17 thanks too - my hip hinge is really solid in the opinion of expert lifters but I'm not embarrassed about keeping some two-handed swings and waiting to progress to the main program for as long as it needs; also in a way, it's good to get those two-handed shadow swings in while I can, before the main schedule kicks in and every rep is one-handed :)
 

Zach

Double-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
for those I'm definitely a 16kg guy right now, I'd have no chance with 24 yet
This was me as well (shoulder pain too). I've been practicing for only about 6 weeks, and where before I couldn't even get the first part of the get-up with a 24, now I can fairly easily do 24kg 5 each arm, 1 per minute.

I remember at first reading the book I was thinking "get-ups every day? That sounds kinda lame." Now, get-ups are my favorite part of the training.
 
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