Common Simple and Sinister Mistakes

Marcus Aurelius

Level 5 Valued Member
Hello Everybody,

I am beginning Simple and Sinister tomorrow and am asking for insight on common mistakes that beginners make on the Simple and Sinister program or something the people experienced with Simple and Sinister wish they knew or did differently.

Much Appreciated, Marcus

Keep Lifting

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
+1 @Gerry K - just keep reading the book over and over.

- moving too quickly thru your practice and wanting to get to the end before you've started the process.
- gripping the bell too tightly on the swings.
- not adhering to the test days every couple of weeks.
- focusing more on moving the weight than on proper technique. strength is a skill.
- switching the program after a couple of months, out of boredom. patience is rewarded.
- beginning without an objective.
- lack of focus on breathing.
- failing to engage the abbies; at the beginning of the swing, at the top of the swing and throughout all stages of the get-up.
- skipping the warm-up and the stretches.
- understanding when you're pushing too hard (technique breakdown) and not hard enough (weight too light).

Im sure others will come up with more. enjoy the ride.


Level 9 Valued Member
All of the above...
And if you have the means, get your form checked by an SFG.
Unless you are 100% confident on your understanding and ability to use the correct form on both exercises you could ingrain a lot of bad habits, that at best, may be difficult to deprogramme. And at worst be harmful.

Unable to see an SFG? Then post a video here.

Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.


Level 3 Valued Member
The book describes going by feel with lots of rest on the swings. If that is a foreign skill (it was for me, I was used to sweating throughout my whole workouts) you can get an idea by taking 1 minute rest between each set. This will make the swings take a little under 15 minutes once you're doing 10 sets. It's best to learn to "autoregulate" your rest, but since I know that I myself and most others I've heard from rushed the rest on the swings, it's probably good to time it out at first to get a feel for what a whole minute rest feels like. I think after reading about "5 minute swings" for the test conditions, the reader can get unrealistic expectations of how short the normal daily session will be. Expect both swings and getups to take about 12-15 minutes each, and learn to auto regulate from those expectations (although up to 20 minute for each section would still be reasonable).
For TGU's, I like to do one side, switch, take a deep breath or two, then do the rep on the other side. Then I take a full 90 second rest and go again.

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
S&S is a jab-cross-left hook of movement, strength & conditioning. Practice your goblet squats, swings, and get-ups, get stronger, and you will know out most other guys who practice 1001 secret and deadly techniques.


Level 5 Valued Member
Working on to 1 hand swings too quickly, especially if you have not done any swing based protocol. I see this all the time one Reddit, "I've never exercised, and been doing SaS for 4 days and my 1 arm swings are not good...."


Level 1 Valued Member
The biggest mistake I made was rushing, including:

- Skipping the KB deadlift to get to swings - one should be able to do these perfectLynnette before going to swings.
- Skipping the naked tgu until I could do them consistently with a shoe
- not addressing my mobility issues before doing the program
- rushing through the sessions. Now my focus is 100% technique. I don't worry about whether I get all the reps. If I need more rest between sets, I take it. If I feel too tired to finish my reps or sets with perfect technique, I stop.
- rushing Turkish getups - there is a lot going on with this move. Take you time to get positioning and tension as perfect as you can for every rep and every step within every rep. Again, this can lead to slow getups and make it difficult to do all sets (at least for me). I don't worry about it. If I'm tired, I got a workout and I'm done. The work capacity is coming the longer I do them and as my technique continues to improve.
- focussing too much on doing the workout almost every day. I'm a cyclist and put in a decent number of hours biking and for me it was too much. Again, I hope to get to a point where I can do it most days but I'm letting that capacity build at its own pace. I measure hrv every morning to help gauge my recovery.
- rushing to get to the next weight
- trying to program my progress by which I mean deciding ahead of time how many weeks it should take to move up in reps, drop in rest time, or move to a new weight.
- rushing to one hand swings

Wow - writing it all down, no wonder I had issues, including:
- strains and aches
- getting sick
- burning out
- not making any real progress

Two last words of caution:

1 - after 2 years trying to make progress on S&S I'm "still" on the 16kg for tgu and only doing three slow sets and I'm taking a break from swings and just focussing on single leg deadlift with no weight - this was all because of rushing.
2 - this is just me. Others in here have jumped right into program and made great progress without these challenges. It's very individual. If you can do that great. If you aren't progressing quickly, don't worry about and hesitate to slow down even more. Going slowly may be the faster path.

Since I decided to be patient I'm making much better progress. I worked with an sfg2 to get my mobility to a safe level and address gaps in my technique - this took a good 4 months and I still work on it everyday. Ironically, the improvement in my mobility seemed to expose the weakness in my core and I've had to give up swings until I get that sorted out. For the first time I. Two years of doing swings my back started hurting from from them despite having better technique thanks to Sfg instruction. Hence the single leg deadlifts while I do other core work. Sigh.

I know all my issues sound bad but I'm now happy because since feb 2017 (when I decided to slow down and just deal with my issues) I've made the following progress:
- I can get into a deadlift position without rounding my back
- I can get my elbow straight at top of getup (or straight enough to be safe - still improving on it but it's close! And a MUCH stronger position)
- I can do a goblet squat past parallel without rounding my back.
- I haven't been sick or missed more than a day of exercise
- every week I can feel that I'm just a little bit stronger and move just a little bit better than the week before

I hope that my post hasn't discouraged you or anyone else. I'm still 100% committed to the program and getting to the simple goal. Hopefully the summary of my screw ups will help someone else from doing the same.

Good luck with the program!


Level 1 Valued Member
New member here, first time posting. I began S&S in April of this year. In June my wife had twins(!), life has been pretty hectic since! I'm still able to train 3-4 times a week if/when both babies are asleep, though it's typically at night or 5am. Because of the babies I only get a handful of hours sleep at most, rarely more than 2 hours at a time. It goes without saying that I'm always tired, but S&S has given me more energy (a recharge) than I would've believed possible.

However, being tired all the time has also helped contribute to the biggest mistakes I've made with S&S so far:

1. Stopped warming up, just didn't have the time. I'm now re-evaluating that decision.
2. Tried to go too heavy too fast with the one-handed swings. I attempted to jump from 24kg to 32kg entirely too soon and my form suffered.
3. I've sometimes focused on quantity instead of quality, and allowed my form to go south instead of stopping when my body was too tired to continue.
4. Neglecting rest and/or the light day option when my body needs it.
5. Occasionally did other routines when S&S felt boring.

That said, since starting S&S I have lost 20lbs and gotten pretty gosh darn strong! My shoulders feel better than they have in years, my posture is better, and my body moves differently. Looking forward to reaching the simple goal (currently performing both exercises with 28kg).

When S&S gets boring, re-read the book, you'll pick up on a lot that was overlooked. The moves will become much more interesting as you explore each facet of the exercise.
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Level 7 Valued Member
I say (also based on questions asked on the forum) one big common mistake is not carefully reading the book and implementing the things in it or implementing them in the wrong way (too soon, too late, never doing them etc.).
For example shadow swings, 5sec pause TGUs, straw breathing, farmer carries and others.
Plus, like @MicahK said, you'll pick up a lot of hidden, overlooked gems.


Level 6 Valued Member
I think it all boils down to (other than technical mistakes) most people going too fast, i.e. not treating it as a practice and chasing numbers
That took me about 3 starts to finally get right
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