"I Achieved S & S Simple! Here's My Story"

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by Steve Freides, Sep 6, 2015.

  1. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count


    During the last 8 months I trained exactly 4.39 times per week. That is a gross average and it includes football season, illnesses, work trips and the like. On a normal week during football off season I would train 5-6 times per week.

    I did a few things to remain consistent:

    • I reduced TGU frequency. I didnt do them once per week.
    • I sometimes did GTG swings instead of a regular session.
    • Instead of light days as per the book, I did about 60 reps with a heavy weight and skip tgu. Or something similar. That way I was in and out it 10 min.
    I just tried to get 3 regular S&S sessions per week, and the other days I did my swings however I could.

    Are you doing the program?
    Bauer likes this.
  2. J Cox

    J Cox Double-Digit Post Count

    Don't know that I fully qualify, but I achieved my first 32kg get up today. It was only 1 rep each arm. It felt amazing.

    Got my 32 10 days ago and the swings were quite heavy and intimidating. I didn't try even a rolling 45 until this past Thursday. Did them yesterday and felt strong in tall sit. Got to the tall sit today and said, let's see what else I can do from here.

    Confidence is definitely part of strength. Even though I got those up, I dropped back to my 24 to finish the remaining reps.

    The journey thus far has helped me drop 25 lbs in two months and get quite strong. I am not doing presses but my shoulders are popping and i even got comments on my forearms being substantially bigger.

    Still not at simple, but I am loving the trip.
  3. J Cox

    J Cox Double-Digit Post Count

    That is great. I have a toddler and work fulltime but S&S fits just right. I have become much stronger but mostly agile enough to keep up with my toddler. Yes, I was way out of shape. This really is something I can easily sustain that gets me where I need and want to go.
  4. J Cox

    J Cox Double-Digit Post Count

    As I moved up to 32kg swings I will do 4x10 two handed then finish out the 100 with one hand swings. Picked that up from Tracy Riefkind who always starts with two handed swswings. Before I did 60 two handlers before the one hand. Next I will do 20 then all 100 as single hand swings. It has worked well in getting used to the heavier weight.
  5. Oskarand

    Oskarand Double-Digit Post Count

    OK cool. yes I am on the program but been doing it 2-3 times per week. Will try to increase it. I am currently on 24kg and I am ok doing all of them one armed. Soon time to go up to 32... feels like a big jump. Will follow J Cox advice...
    Oscar likes this.
  6. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Sounds good. Yes, 2-3 times per week is too little unless you are doing something else. Try to increase frequency a bit more.

    24 to 32 is a big jump. I started with sets of 5. Ask for advice here if you need.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
    Oskarand and Anna C like this.
  7. Cobra

    Cobra Second Post

    38-year-old Swede here. Started practicing S&S in November 2018.

    Being a "program-hopper" I tried to mix S&S in other routines in the past (gymnastic bodies, Convict Condition, + stretch-program + S&S; you can probably guess how it went). Finally, I decided that I was just going to focus on "one" program at a time.

    I've always defaulted back to bodyweight training, having trained capoeira for about 15 years. Got bitten by the iron-bug a few years back but just couldn't find a good balance between spending time in a gym with a barbell and getting quick and effective training at home.

    Then I seriously started practicing with kettlebells.

    The satisfaction of lifting iron mixed with conditioning and pure strength was a game changer. I feel even stronger despite not having done any other strength work for over six months.

    As I said, started in November last year and achieved "Simple" just today with the 32 kg bell, weighing in at 71 Kg of bodyweight. I'm currently struggling through a depression these last few months so training has not been as consistent as in the beginning. I still manage at least 2-3 sessions per week, though; I see it as medicine.

    Granted, I'm still not sure I'm "owning" the weight, having practiced solely by myself. Having just done swings and getups for over six months though have given me confidence that I'm at least not doing anything stupid. I feel strong

    I'll keep working the program a while longer. Then my aim is to start practicing for "ROP" before trying double-KB work.

    Feeling proud right now.

  8. Tobias Wissmueller

    Tobias Wissmueller Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Congrats, @Cobra and welcome to StrongFirst!
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    Yes, welcome and congratulations. If you have a moment, please post a review of S &S on amazon.com

  10. Cobra

    Cobra Second Post

    It has been done!

  11. Ben H

    Ben H Double-Digit Post Count

    I wasn't expecting to be able to post my story in this thread so soon.

    After playing around with them a few times in the past, I took up training with kettlebells properly last year for a crash course in physical preparation before a 2100km mountain bike event. Even though I only did a couple of months of S&S with a 24kg KB it made a noticeable difference to my strength and endurance - so after coming back from the event (having set a record in my class) I properly committed to training for Simple.

    Since then it has been a pretty steady diet of swings and TGU. Work means I can't dedicate the time to long-distance training on the bike, so KBs have become my main GPP. Oddly, I find that the daily repetition is anything but monotonous. My very cheap 24kg kettlebell has an unusually large grip which severely challenged my grip for a long time, and the over-gripping led to a period of big callus/blister issues which forced me to address hand care seriously and set me back to using a mixture of 16&24kg kettlebells for a few weeks. It took me until last September before I resumed using the 24kg kettlebell exclusively. By the end of November I passed the test standard with a 24kg kettlebell.

    The demand on my grip strength did make the transition to 32kg (with a smaller grip diameter) less difficult in some ways, and by the end of the year I was mixing in a couple of sets and remembering what it felt like to be thrown around by a bigger bell that I was accustomed to. In January I decided to switch to 10x10 2H swings with the 32kg to get full power and ROM while working on my grip with accessory movements.

    After a few weeks of 32kg TGUs feeling incredibly ropey, something clicked in the new year and I found that I could do them quite consistently, albeit frightening myself from time to time. It felt great to be under all that weight, and my constant niggling rotator cuff issue got dramatically better.

    Into February this year I began working with HTH swings, which got me over a bit of a hump but seriously taxed my hands. I find that if I can relax and get a sound hook grip from the first swing then I'm fine, but if I get anxious, tired or sweaty then I overgrip and the wear and tear picks up too fast to be recovered by the next day. I began using chalk which had a fantastic effect on my grip, eliminating the sweat and goosenecking problems immediately, but trading them for agonising pinch calluses on the joints of my fingers. After fighting through for a month or so I realised I was regressing so took a few weeks off from swings, doing some fun variety exercises until I healed up.

    In April I stepped back to a 24kg for the 1H swings for a couple of weeks, then retried the 32kg and immediately saw the same issues reoccurring. This was when I had a real sanity check of my handcare routines and equipment condition . My 32kg kettlebell had a lumpy handle with some significant bumps and ridges, so instead of waiting indefinitely for my hands to toughen up, I took a dynafile to it and brought it back to smoothish raw iron. I also began using abrasive methods on my calluses; previously I had shaved them off, which left a very good flat surface, but also prevented the skin from really toughening.

    Inspired by the HR training discussion on this forum, I began using a basic HRM religiously in mid April, and committed myself to using the 24kg KB for swings until such time as I could do 10 sets of 10 in 10 minutes - without exceeding my Maffetone number, and allowing my HR to decrease to twice resting HR before beginning the next set. Initially, when it would take me 20 minutes by these rules, this seemed impossible. But as I trained my aerobic buffering by only cycling under the MAF number for 40-50mins each day, my recovery between sets came down dramatically, and I did it in 9.55 in early May. I became accustomed to hooking the fat grip with my fingers only, with my thumb out of the way to make the familiar 'death grip' impossible. I also finally nailed my breathing, converting myself from a gasping mouthbreather on the bike, and carrying this over to my swings too. This was a mentally challenging period of rebuilding a base which I had found to be lacking only when I tried to build on it.

    Meanwhile, 32kg TGUs began to feel easy. On one strong day I did a TGU on each side with 40kg - a 32 and an 8 held in the same hand. It was overconfident to attempt the feat, but it made me realise what I could do when I was meticulous placing my body underneath the weight in the correct fashion. I distinctly remember struggling with 24kg TGUs and being amazed to read that people could usually get up more than they could swing. Now I had a different experience of the skill side of the strength equation.

    Parallel to this, I began training my military press, first doing Soju & Tuba in the evenings (with S&S in the mornings), then ROP style ladders on alternate days as the recovery time made double session days impossible. I feel like I have come on tremendously with my swings and getups, but my presses are humiliatingly bad. Years of cycling have left me pretty strong from the mid-torso down, but deficient above. I ran S&T with a 16kg kettlebell, fully expecting to press 24kg at the end. I couldn't move it off the rack position. I turned to the ROP ladders as a way to increase the volume, and by the end (last week!) I could still barely start the 24kg moving. I have decided that a full KB size jump is not going to work for me, so since I can't afford a 20kg kettlebell, I will be taping some small plates to my 16kg to split the difference. I plan to overcome this embarrassing deficit little by little. I see people pressing the Beast and it seems as plausible as pressing a car! But I remember when I thought the same about doing a TGU with the Beast, and now I'm within single digits...

    Back on the swing front, I continued to use the HR monitor, doing more, shorter sets with a 32kg KB to keep below my MAF number where needed. At the end of May I hit 84 consecutive daily sessions without a break, then spent a week cycling in the Scottish Highlands.

    After a week's rest, I found that I could now consistently do a set of 10 x 32kg 1H swings without going over my threshold. I also realised that I was fresher doing S&S every other day, interspersed with a ROP style military press day and some grip work.

    Preparation for another cycling event last weekend disturbed my usual metronomic consistency, and I hadn't trained since last Wednesday. So this morning I was feeling rested as far as the demands of S&S go, and feeling motivated by the unheardof pleasure of a third consecutive day off work. So I put on The Clash, chalked up, and did the Simple test.

    In lots of ways, it was a mess. I set my watch wrong, so my expected EMOM timer stopped after each minute and had to be manually reset. Without the time to fix it, it distracted me and I somehow lost count of sets (no HR monitor on today, so no way to check). I certainly did 10 sets at test pace; I can't be 100% sure that I didn't do in fact overshoot and do 12 sets in 6 minutes by mistake. And I was so distracted I may have done 12 TGUs as well. With the humidity pretty high today I was overgripping a little and tore a chunk off my palm, something I've not done since I first learnt the hard way to grip the KB correctly!

    After a couple of total failures on my press goals, it was gratifying to feel a severe challenge but still know I had the training in the bank to continue with confidence. After a couple of sets of swings I had no doubts I would do it.

    I will be repeating the test to get a clean run once I feel that it's the right time. In the mean time, I will still be doing 10 x 10 swings with a 32kg bell at least every other morning - the HR monitor and breath work has given me a massive late boost in the last two months, but I still don't honestly feel like I own the 32kg 1H swings.

    It's been 54 weeks since I began properly training S&S. My body composition, visually at least, seems to have changed significantly while keeping roughly the same bodyweight and, to be honest, paying very little attention my (vegan) diet. On the bike my endurance and recovery have dramatically improved. In less than 2 months I am racing the Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan. The altitude and conditions will make it a very difficult race, but I feel that I have built a rock solid foundation.
  12. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Ben H, awesome result, and congratulations on your record.

    Please be so kind, if you have already, as to post review of S&S on amazon.com

  13. Bauer

    Bauer More than 500 posts

    This is so cool @Ben H ! Thanks for sharing and keep going :)
  14. Ben H

    Ben H Double-Digit Post Count

    Thanks for reading the whole thing! It was never supposed to be too long but looking back through my log I found I had a lot to say when I could see it all in perspective.

    @Steve Freides - glad to do so (albeit on amazon.co.uk)
    Steve Freides and Bauer like this.
  15. Ben H

    Ben H Double-Digit Post Count

    After a few more weeks' steady practice I had another clean shot at the Simple test, with no timing messups this time.

    Since running the ROP ladder progression with 18.5 and then 21kg weights (16kg bell + 1-2 2.5kg plates) I can also now strictly press the 24kg for singles on both sides. I have a very big bike race coming up so I'm tapering now, but I'll run Soju & Tuba when that's out of the way and see how it goes.
    Bauer, Tobias Wissmueller and Lee like this.
  16. Phi' D'

    Phi' D' Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Hello Strongfirst Community!

    Today I achieved the simple goal of 100 1H swings in 5 mins, 1 min rest, 5 TGUs each side in 10 mins, with the 32kg bell. This is my first post but I’ve been stalking these forums a while now. Now I’ve reached this goal I’d like to share my experience, so that it might motivate others, just as these forums and Strongfirst Articles have helped guide and motivate me. I’ll try to keep it relevant.

    I’m 31 year old male, currently weighing around. 85kgs, 181cm tall (5ft 11.5 inches). Having no prior strength training experience I bought my first 16kg KB 4 years ago, as I was looking for a way to get stronger for swimming. I had become quite obsessed with swimming, after reading Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin. This book introduced me to treating a session as a practice, the advantages of easy/efficient training, and how your hips generate the power expressed through the rest of the body and extremities (“hands are just the tips of the propeller” - TI). I also learned how visualisation cues could have an immediate impact on technique.

    Soon after reaching my goal of swimming the Dart 10K in 2015, I found myself without a goal, and I was no longer seeing progress other than accumulated volume in the pool. I realised in order to get better I needed to get stronger. Somehow I stumbled on kettlebells as the means to do so, enticed by the promise of whole-body strength in one simple implement – (also happy to find an alternative to dumbells or barbells which had never interested me/intimidated me). Swimming (the Total Immersion way!) had prepared me with good mobility in the shoulders and fair aerobic conditioning.

    With no coach, my first go at 16kg swings went badly, ending with a sore lower back (nothing serious). That was instant feedback on technique! I took a few months before I came across Pavel’s Kettlebell Simple & Sinister, which took some time to digest. I learned the hardstyle swing and TGU, using visualisation cues and tips, the same way I had when practising front crawl from TI. Focusing on technique, drawing my attention to different parts of the body, reviewing each rep as a chance to improve the next.

    A year on from my first 16kg, I bought a 24kg. The shock was unbelievable! It was murder on my grip, and glutes. I became more adept at TGUs. I could feel the benefits of KB training, however was not training regularly so therefore progress was slow, however every time I did it was with the same deliberate practice mindset.

    Another year and I bought a 32kg, not to swing as I did not yet ‘own’ the 24kg, but to get accompanied with the bell I affectionately termed ‘the bas***d’.

    At the end of 2017, I did my first 32kg TGU. It took a few sessions just lying in the floor-to-press position for holds of 30 secs to get my wrist ready. Once I was comfortable with that time, I knew I could complete the rest of the movement, and did so with success first time. Think about the technique, not the weight! – as has been said here.

    2018 I was still unstructured in practice. However I’d come to practice a lot more presses, windmills, bent presses and BU presses.

    At the beginning of 2019 I set some goals, Simple, and a 32kg press, following ETK. I finally started a training diary (Finally!). I’d lost 1H swing grip strength on 24kgs, and had to start over. It took about 10 sessions to get all 1H with 24kg. TGUs progressed faster than swings. By April, I was doing 24kg 1H swings in 5 mins and hitting the Simple standard for TGUs (32kg). I also pressed the 32 for the first time after several months working up to 5 x 1,2,3,4,5 ladders with the 24kg.

    It’s the last day of July, and today I hit Simple. It was pretty tough, so yet to really ‘own’ the bell, but I did it. Just 8 sessions ago I was at 10m-2m-10m for Swings-Rest-TGU. This is where things got tricky. Trying to condense the swing time was just gassing me, and requiring longer to rest and do the TGUs. Then I stumbled across this article A Solid Game Plan for Acing the Snatch Test | StrongFirst which I adopted for swings, jumping in at Phase 3 (80 reps in 5 mins, 5x16). This worked really nicely! I would advise anyone struggling to get their swing time down to Simple, to have a look at this article.

    That’s it! I appreciate this is a long post, so thanks for reading. Also thank you to Pavel and all the Strongfirst community for creating and sharing such excellent work! I’ve learned so much and am much stronger than I was. I’m truly grateful.
  17. Sparker

    Sparker Second Post

    Well done Phi’D’.

    I too achieved Simple today - for the second time. I first achieved Simple two years ago.

    I am a 39yo, 72kg, 5’10” male. The journey started for me about 3.5 years ago when I came across kettlebells as an option to help me build strength as an injury prone runner. I bought ETK on Kindle and read it in a night. I ordered a 16kg and 24kg and my path was set.

    I started with the PM for a few months and then started with the ROP 16kg. That went ok, but I found I couldn’t quite jump into ROP 24kg, and so progress stalled. I played around for several months without any real structure (or any real progress), experimenting with a variety of programs and some doubles work. I made ROP with a 20kg stick for a while. 6 months or so went by and these forums eventually lead me to S&S.

    I started S&S in about March 2017 with 16kg, and quickly had the goal of Simple in my sights. I achieved the time standards with the 24kg in a few weeks, before trying to work out how on earth to progress from 24kg to 32kg. It just felt that much heavier. Discovering chalk was most of the solution for the swings, and the TGU just took a bit of patience. Once I could easily complete the full volume with the 32kg, it only took another month or so to achieve Simple. That was August 16 2017.

    After that, I set off on the ROP 24kg, and almost completed all ladders before taking a holiday. I had started to run a lot again, and unfortunately on return from the holiday I was silly enough to focus only on running training, and let strength training slide...... for about 15 months.

    Running was going well during that time. I trained up to half marathon distance, and also completed a sub 20min 5k. But when training for a half marathon, the volume got to me and I eventually decided that I didn’t want to do this, and it didn’t really feel that healthy anyway. I stopped the half mara training program in February this year.

    I was at a bit of a crossroads with training, and it took another month or so to decide what to do. After mucking around with some body weight movements, I eventually decided to dust off the kettlebells and get back into it. I was a bit shocked at how much my strength had regressed, but I haven’t looked back. I had forgotten how good it feels to be getting stronger, and this kind of training leaves me feeling revived, instead of drained with dead legs as running often did. I made a few mistakes getting back into it, trying to do too much. I went straight into 5-7 days a week, which was too much to start with at the intensity and volume I tried to achieve. After being frustrated by a back strain, rotator cuff soreness, and some hand rips, I started to make progress just focussing on S&S.

    S&S has been all I’ve been doing for the last 3-4 months. I tried to get back to 32kg too quickly, and had to back off TGUs for about a month. The last 2 months I’ve taken a more sustainable approach, and it’s been going well. I’ve been reading with interest a lot of the Strong Endurance and A+A approaches recently, and daily workouts have become much easier. I have been sprinkling in a few 36kg reps recently also.

    After a couple of days away for work, I decided more or less on a whim to have a crack at the Simple standard this morning, and did it! I was really puffing at the end of the swings, and my heart rate peaked at 195 (nothing like 220-age!). I think the swings might have been a bit easier if I had have begun to put in a tougher session once a week or so, which was my intention before attempting Simple. The TGU was tough for the first few reps due to not being fully recovered from the swings, but was manageable from there.

    I’m not able to say that I could achieve the standard on ‘almost any day’, but I’ll keep plugging away. I’m not fully decided on what to do next, but thinking to make a proper commitment to ROP with the 24kg. From there I’ll decide on whether to make another push for a 36kg half body weight press, to come back and achieve S&S 40kg, or perhaps to incorporate Q&D once I know more about how that fits in.

    If you’re still reading, thanks for reading! Thanks to others for their stories, and for the leadership for all the great advice on these forums.

    Jim Hooper, Dekapon, Ben H and 6 others like this.
  18. Jan

    Jan More than 500 posts

    Congratulations on reaching Simple, and welcome to the forum :)
    Phi' D' and Sparker like this.
  19. Jan

    Jan More than 500 posts

    Congratulations on reaching Simple (for a second time :) ) and welcome to the forum :)
    Sparker likes this.
  20. Ben H

    Ben H Double-Digit Post Count

    Well done @Phi' D' and @Sparker! Both reaping the rewards of consistency and dedication, for sure.
    Sparker likes this.

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