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Old Forum How strong and well-conditioned is Sinister?

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Level 6 Valued Member
If you have progressed through Simple and Sinister and meet the Sinister goals, just how strong and well-conditioned  will you be?   Would you for example have conditioning and strength comparable to an average special ops soldier or how would you compare to a college athlete?  Are there many RKCs or SFGs who are Sinister?

I know that this is a difficult question to answer but would be interested in the views of those who have made it to the Sinister goals or who are just Sinisterly conditioned and strong.



Level 4 Valued Member
Someone who meets the Sinister goal is very strong and very well conditioned.

When we start talking about conditioning (and I love these discussions), "conditioned" is relative.  Conditioned for what?  Last week Matt mentioned that he wants to be able to go for a long time since he loves stomping around in the mountains.  I do, too.  Being really strong in sprints like S&S doesn't really translate to that for me, personally, but it's definitely going to get me ready to have some fun up there.  If I really wanted to do a program strictly for mountaineering, it would be more endurance-based.

Same could be said when comparing to college athletes (which sport?) or specialized military groups.  My experience around college football players is that they're usually really strong and pretty well-conditioned.  More than I got out of S&S alone (I only went to the Simple goals).

That said, hitting the Simple goals, and then the Sinister goals is pretty damn respectable and probably among the elite of your peers.


Level 5 Valued Member
I hit the sinister goals earlier in the year.  As the poster above says, fitness is specific, so comparing this achievement to other non-similar ones is difficult.


The groups you mention, (spec ops and college athletes) are not a homogeneous group either, and fitness levels will vary among them.  Also, it is the skills of these people which set them apart generally.


So, some more tangible comparison points from my own experiment of 1;


I have since moved to barbell based exercises, and these are my recent numbers:

front Squat - 110kg x 5, 130kg for an easy single

OH Press - 65kg x 6 reps

Deadlift - 140kg x 11 reps.


These are lifts that are familiar to me but have not been trained specifically for a few years.



Level 3 Valued Member
my feeling is that the simple goals will have your body ready to take on any specialization program necessary to meet your objectives and, though I am still progressing thru the 40 so have not met the sinister level, I suspect that sinister would put me in a position to fully support a high level skill set, basically bullet proofing my body.  would it make me a pro level athlete, no that requires a specificity which S&S does not address, but would I be able to handle the training that a pro level athlete engages in to prepare for a season, yes I believe Sinister would have my body in the best position, mentally and physically, to begin training at an extremely high level.  and if my goal is to be a weekend warrior on a field with a bunch of other 50 year olds, I would fully expect to absolutely kickass once I am Sinister.


Level 3 Valued Member
Have you Tried to swing a 48kg kettle bell for 100 continuous reps yet? Try to do that. Imagine doing that while singing Rudolf the red nose reindeer as loud as possible. THAT is how conditioned you will be if you reach the sinister goal.

Have you tried to press a 48kg kettlebell with one hand yet? That is how strong you will be if you can do 10 techincally perfect get ups easily.

In other words the Kettle bell lift. Standards are worthy goals in themselves. Dan Johns Quadrants model. Kettlebells are basically the best tools for quadrant three, If you have limited time, and limited resources (not a professional athlete or a school child) Then the Kettle bell standards will give you the best possible value.

Breaking muscle and Kettlebell science both have excellent articles about the scientific evidence showing that the kettlebell lifts are valid tools for building strength, endurance, grip strength. They are good for backs and shoulders and are best for beginners and professional athletes.

Harald Motz

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
You become like a hurricane:

Stillness in your center (mind), potentially devastating and powerful on your border (limbs)

Physical Culture

Level 6 Valued Member
All metaphor aside, this is a question I've considered.  I was rocking on S&S a while back before I started working with a GS coach for long cycle.  He had me doing other things, but now that it's off-season, I'm looking to incorporate more hardstyle swings for general conditioning.  I don't know if my interests will be served by taking it all the way to sinister. 

Michael indicated a number which interests me- his deadlift.  I punched his 308 lb. x 11 reps into a 1rm calculator online and it estimated a max of 427.  For a movement that is familiar but untrained, that's impressive.  A powerlifter who could pull over 400 without training the deadlift could do some real damage after a dedicated cycle or two.

I would have been interested as well in any endurance results Michael experienced.  I can imagine that someone who has met the sinister goals cuts a swarth between high levels of strength and middle distance endurance.  He may not be as strong as a powerlifter, or as fast as a runner, but someone who can deadlift 400-500 and run a fast 5k is a rare find.  

If he were a skilled judoka or karateka, he'd be a nightmare in the ring.

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I do love these thought experiments and philosophical questions.

Superior mettle and work & recovery capacities are not only critical prerequisites for high-end sport and MIL applications, but they are the foundational traits... so basically, genetics combined with mental fortitude.  As much as we dislike the idea, it is largely genetics.  If you don't understand this, then you haven't met and worked with a good number of these individuals.  The competition level weeds out the genetically inferior, and mentally weak.  Note that "inferior" and "weak" are relative terms.

Sinister is one potential tool that the above type of individual could have used to on their path, but this does not mean that anyone can use Sinister to get to this end.  So the answer to David's main question, in my opinion, is: "no".

However, Steve and others bring the discussion to applicability: what can S&S (note I didn't say "sinister") do for me?  And this is relevant to this forum...  if S&S affords a few of us from the inferior-genetic soup gang to be a bit above the "above average", and/or reach our goals, it may be worth spending time on.


Level 4 Valued Member
I just agree with Al. I don't know how many times I've pulled out genetics in these types of discussion and people seem to think I'm blaming my failures  on it. I just acknowledge it. You have to.

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
To expand this thought experiment, let's consider 3 identical triplets, Mike, Mark, and Mordecai, who are coming off the couch to "get in shape". Unable to agree on which trainer to put their faith in, but sold on the idea of strength training, they choose 3 different trainers. Mike is shown how to do swings and Get Ups and follows the programming in Simple & Sinister. Mark is shown the double kettlebell clean and press and follows a program of building low-rep sets with 5RM weights up to 10 sets of 3. Mordecai is shown how to squat, press, and deadlift a barbell and follows a linear progressive overload program based on 3 sets of 5 reps.

Let's now run out this experiment - which includes identical sleep and dietary patterns - until Mike has completed the "simple" goal with a 32 kilo bell.

What would our intrepid audience deduce to be the relative strengths and weaknesses of each man? What types of events would favor one or another and why? Would any of the results change if we allow Mike to progress all the way through to the Sinister goal?

Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I punched his 308 lb. x 11 reps into a 1rm calculator online and it estimated a max of 427.
Steve, no way 308 x 11 equals 427 x 1. Most 1RM calculators won't even touch more than 10 reps, and the higher the rep count, the greater variability there will be in the 1RM estimate from one person to the next.

I put 308 x 10 into one 1RM calculator and got 390, and I think that's even high. I think I could manage 308 x 10 and I have a 1RM of 360.



Level 5 Valued Member
I would say 420 would be very accurate. I used jim wendlers formula because it was always right on with poundages when I used his program. But everyones body is different when it comes to percentages.


Level 5 Valued Member
I'll pull a single over the christmas period and see.  I think the estimate of 400-420 feels about right.  My best ever is a shade over 500, but I've not gone for a heavy single since 2012.  2013-mid 2014 was all KB's and bwe, but I feel like I could pull around 400 now based on previous experience and indicator exercises.  I'm not much of a 'repper' in the DL as I fear pulling my back.


It's certainly nothing to brag about, so lets be clear on that one!



Iron Tamer

Strongman, Speaker and Seeker of Truth
"Would you for example have conditioning and strength comparable to an average special ops soldier or how would you compare to a college athlete?"

No. Because you aren't playing sports or operating. Apple, meet orange.

You will be conditioned to meet the specific numbers laid out by the  goal of the program. Maybe. Hitting those numbers once and being able to hit them anytime you want are two very different things.

I see people struggle with the 24kg x100 in 5:00 snatch test at certs every year. Some make it, some don't. I can roll out of bed hungover and hit those numbers before I have my coffee. Am I better conditioned than someone who cannot hit the numbers under ideal circumstances? Conditioned for snatching, sure. Conditioned for college sports, big fat NOPE.

A better way to paint it would be to say that I am better at snatching a 24kg for 100 reps in 5:00. This has as much to do with the fact that I have done that very feat of strength/endurance literally hundreds of times over the past 12 years as how "conditioned" I am. I would be roadkill if you put me on a college football field. A really bad high school cross country runner could beat me. Specificity rules.

I would encourage you to think about whether pursuing S&S is going to condition YOU for YOUR goals in strength or fat loss or endurance or whatever. That's really all that matters.


Level 6 Valued Member
Iron tamer. You brought up a point that I would like to ask. I know kettlebell work burns alot of calories. Has anyone ever done s&s. To see how many calories are burned in the 16 minutes? Say with a 53, 70, 88, and 106? Im just starting with a 53. Just wondered.


Level 4 Valued Member
Bobby, I think it's going to vary with each individual based on weight and current conditioning.
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