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

André S

First Post
I Achieved S&S. Swings 10x10, 32 kg. 4.31min/TGU 2x5, 9.34min, 32 Kg. 4 august 2020.

46 year old male, 91 kg, 186 cm high.

Here is my S&S story.
I have been training the bodyweight program, Body Transformation Pro, from Calimove for 35 weeks when I listen to Joe Rogan Podcast with Pavel. I was intrigued and decided to get some kettlebells myself. 20 years ago, I trained Jui-jitsu and Karate for 5 years. One of my training partners was a body builder. He was so inhibited by his stiffness in his body, that I became very wary of weight training, since I saw how it inhibited his mobility. What use is big muscles if you cannot move fluently with speed, and punch and kick freely? KB seems not to have that same problem, since movements are explosive, ballistic and compound (and many martial arts clubs now have kettlebells)

After seeing several YouTube video with programming, I ended with a program with way too many reps, not enough rest and I started to feel my back muscles become sore. I could not train well for 2 days due to soreness. Quickly thereafter I go the S&S book and did the program together with my Calimove training. I was fairly strong before entering this program (max about 10-11 clean pullups from dead hang, about 16-18 Archer push ups, 11-13 slow deep dips, 70 sec Right hand hang, 58 sec left hand dead hang from rings after normal training)

I started with 16 kg,, but felt it was way to light for me, so I quickly progressed to the 24kg. Soon that started to feel too easy too. Only struggle I had was balancing the wight with TGU in the beginning. I started with the 32 kg (maybe too soon, but 24 felt so easy). I discovered that swinging a 32kg bell is a completely different beast than 24 kg. I had no problems with grip since I have extensively trained pullups, rings and one arm hangs, but I started to get neck pain (I trained swings 4-6 times a week) once I solely trained with the 32kg. I started doing 4 exercises every morning for posture (5-10 min) and after every training I would feel better, but pain would come back after my swings. My solution gave instant relief and was simple. After googling it, I stopped looking at my own mirror reflection to correct form for swings, but let my head naturally follow my body down. The neck pain was completely gone in 2 days and after swinging my neck would actually fell better.

I also learned that shoulder protraction at the bottom of the swing is important for shoulder health/fatigue. It is not enough to only rely on grip strength. I love doing the TGU, it feels great for shoulders/straight arm strength and very safe for joint, even when I pushed the progression and I had to drop the 32kg kb.

I achieved simple in about 1 month, partly due to my ego and partly since I wanted to stop training Kettlebells almost every day, so I again could focus more on my body weight training. All went well, but it would have been safer to follow the progression in the book starting with 24kg. I was too quick with replacing the 32kg on all my swings and should have done it slower. I personally do not think it matters that much progressing quickly with TGU for me since I already had strong shoulders, but swings are different.

I also did some pike push ups, clean and press 2-3 times a week, since I wanted to work on my overhead press (for the human flag) and some suitcase carries with 32kg kb +24 kb, + 30kg weight west. Deadlifts with this weight, followed by jump squats with only the west.

So what have the benefits of S&S been for me so far?

I do a variety of sports, but right now I focus on bodyweight training and a few calisthenics moves. I have been able to progress to the next level for front and back lever (straight back, bent legs). So my straight arm strength has increased. L sit has become very easy, I have doubled my hold time without training it and V-Sit seems within reach. Same for straight feet to bar hang (or 90 degrees) - at least 50% increase. I feel my shoulders are much stronger and I can hold my current progression of human flag twice as long as before without training it. I have been struggling to hold a free handstand for quite a while, I did not train it the last month, but when I tried again last week, I did a hold of 25 sec free hold with no balance problem at all. I noticed that the activation of my glutes, giving me a better posterior pelvic tilt made all the difference. It is a much more stable platform to hold a straight aligned body and was the last piece of the puzzle.

I think the glutes activation is very beneficial for people like me that are sedentary, working behind a computer for many hours a day. My back feels solid as a rock, I have no problem picking up my wife and carrying her around or playing with my kids (I did not have before, but now it just feels so easy 😊).

My wife and friends have all noticed that I have become more muscular, more toned over the last month, better posture. My bodyweight stayed the same, but my callipers tell me that I have lost fat (so I must have gained muscle). My core is much stronger, I feel my abs and posterior chain are solid.

I kitesurf, and I have noticed some carryovers. Strong back, glutes and quads, has increased the time I can be on the water without fatigue. I no longer feel my abs at all when jumping.

For stand up paddling, my paddle now feels much smaller. Pulling hard is easier, however, I fell that there are still parts of the back that only gets activated with paddling, so it is no complete substitute for paddle training. It did not improve my endurance, but sprint capabilities. Maybe that is because I trained KB so many times per week and was not fully recovered when I went for paddling.

As an former competitive swimmer in my youth, I feel a clear difference in freestyle and breaststroke. Pulling fast through the water is much easier and I have higher endurance even though I do not frequently train swimming. It was no surprise, since the sup paddle movement is strongly correlated with freestyle, but breaststroke strength was a nice surprise. Also, no more lateral pain in my right knee from leg breaststrokes even at sprint. I have had this problem for 30 years and has since then not been able to sprint breaststroke with 100% legs. I read a study finding this exact same result from KB training, so I am happy I got this benefit.

Finally, I swim with fins for freediving training once a week and the stronger glutes makes a difference. I feel stronger and can relax more going up and down.

So what did I not get? I think that since I train the kettlebell, so many times a week with (too) fast progression and not that much recovery, I did not see an increase in pullup, even though I have been training them during this month. Also, no change in dips. I hope this will change once I start going to Kettlebells only 2-3 times a week. I also started every bodyweight training with the KB training, so I could feel a small drop in training abilities.

So what are my plans for the future. I plan to slow down my progression towards Sinister since with the heavier weight I need more recovery (Maybe get the 40kg in 1.5-2 month or so) and take my time, slowly substitute the 32kg with 40 kg and max train kettlebell 3 times a week. I will keep on progressing in clean and press, do more weighted dips, pullups and push ups. In 2 weeks when I finish my Calimove program, I will start with the complete calistenics program to focus more on skills and not only on strength. I count on KB basic training will keep improving my strength foundation to learn these skills.

It is an interesting observation only 1 month after starting S&S. I feel I have progressed in my overall fitness as much as I would have in 3-5 months. I think this is due to full body coordination, glutes activation, stronger abs increased shoulder health.

Anyway, thanks for the inspiration for the journey. It is a great book.
 

André S

First Post
I off course ment shoulder retraction and not protraction.

I also learned that shoulder protraction at the bottom of the swing is important for shoulder health/fatigue. It is not enough to only rely on grip strength. I love doing the TGU, it feels great for shoulders/straight arm strength and very safe for joint, even when I pushed the progression and I had to drop the 32kg kb.
 

rwleonard

Level 6 Valued Member
My son started when he was about fifteen. He didn't have enough control over his body to do a TGU with a little yellow five pounder. By the time he was 18, he could knock out Simple, including the goblet squats, in about 25 minutes without trying.

The interesting thing for his story is that I think he has the perfect S&S attitude:

-He is not the least bit interested in working out, so he just does what I tell him, thus sticking to the program.

-I know I can't push him too hard, or he'll quit, so he really owns where he is before we add anything.

-Within a workout, he doesn't like it, so he wants it over with, on the other hand, he doesn't want it to hurt, either, so he doesn't push too hard.

It has really worked for him!

A couple of examples of its benefits: We were doing some yard work which included filling garbage cans with weeds, rocks, etc. We were filling them and stacking them by the pick up truck to haul off. He started picking them up and setting them in the back of the truck, over the side. They probably weighted anywhere from 40-70 pounds, depending on the fill. I had him notice what he was doing, and pointed out he could not have done it last year. He smiled and I asked, "Feels good to be strong, doesn't it?" "Yeah."

On another fitness quality, he was invited to play in an ultimate frisbee league, lot's of repeat sprints on a football field sort of game. When he got back, I asked him how his conditioning was. He said it was fine, no problems keeping up with the regular crowd.

S&S delivers, if you do it.
 
Last edited:

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@rwleonard and @barrak,

If you are willing to take the time to do so, it would be great if you'd post a review of S&S on amazon.com and mention the things you mentioned in your posts above.

Thanks.

-S-
 

jtsang

Level 1 Valued Member
Hello friends.

Today my wife and I both achieved the 'Timed Simple' standard.

I received the revised Simple & Sinister book from a friend as a gift and began practicing consistently starting mid March.

I am very fortunate that said friend happened to be a StrongFirst Team Leader, so I was able to get a lot of guidance from them.

A bit about us:

My wife is 33 years of age, 45kg, and 154cm in height.
She practices Muay Thai and works a typical office job.

I am 35 years of age, 61 kg, and 165cm in height.
I practice Jiu Jitsu and work as a structural firefighter.

Although the standard is titled 'Simple' it was pretty intimidating for us as the standard weights were both more than 50% of our body weight.

I enjoyed the simplicity of the training program and felt like it was beneficial for both my profession and Jiu Jitsu. I found the get-up especially relevant for Jiu Jitsu. I felt the swings improved my air management on the job.

We generally trained 6 out of every 8 days, alternating one arm and two arm swing days.

It was really enjoyable to train together and watch each other get stronger.

I have since gifted the book to several friends interested in kettlebell training and provided a positive review on Amazon.

We are looking forward to discovering more from the StrongFirst community going forward.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@jtsang, congratulations on your achievement, and welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

If you have a moment and haven't done so already, please post a review of S&S on amazon.com.

-S-
 

cruizea5

First Post
I started the Simple and Sinister program last year. It was a great program to do during ski season. We ski each weekend and it's nice to have a training program that leaves something in the tank for your 'job, duty or sport.' (as Pavel would say). Found it worked best to do S&S Mon-Thu, take Fri off, ski Sat & sometimes Sun. If I had anything left over on Sat, I'd do some light get-ups (practice).
 

Grizzlyman

First Post
Did it! Finished Simple today!!! Super excited !! October 8 2020.

Finished the TGUs 3:15 early.

I’m a 6’2 (188 cm) former college football player. 36 yrs old. Currently at (265) 120kg, started the program at 129kg. (285)My optimal weight for my size is probably 105kg (230)

Started dec 15 last year (2019)w a 16kg (35lbs) kettlebell after I saw myself in the mirror one day.....:)

I’m up to a 40kg(90 lb) for two handed swings and 40kg get ups for 2 reps out of 10!)

I delayed testing with the 32 kg for simple challenge for a few months because I was worried about the cardio for the swings section in a 5 min timeframe and whether or not I could hack it. I actually did a “test” test back in June with a 25 kg (50) and I couldn’t do it!

My short story. I had gotten badly out of shape over the last number of years. Would work out/ run often and then fall off for 3 months... over and over. The simplicity of this program as well as the movements themselves appealed to me- like powerlifting sort of- without the heavy weights.

I can honestly say this is the longest I’ve stuck with anything in the last 10 years

body transformation has been amazing. I’ve gotten muscles back that I forgot I had! Let alone some new ones that I NEVER had even when lifting weights regulary and doing olympic lifts like cleans and squats. My “functional strength” is maybe the highest it’s ever been.

Lost a lot of fat, but not near enough. Love handles starting to melt away and abs starting to sort of pop out (ona good day) Eating is my problem and I know this, but haven’t quite got that fully under control yet. Regardless I’ve lost inches off my waistthough my weight hasn’t dropped that much- just 20 lbs I suspect I’m simply replacing a lot of fat with muscle.
I notice things now like how “loose” my hips feel when I walk/hike. How easy stairs are. How easy it is to get off the floor when playing with kids and just how strong I am over all.

I’m currently building a cottage that requires me to carry the lumber and supplies up a 50ft hill and back over a hundred meters. I can 100% say I would not be able to do this without S&S.

Stick with this folks.

I almost quit because I didn’t feel I was getting results and then bam- like 3 months in I started to really see a difference. I remember the day I lifted the 32 kg the first time. I thought “absolutely no way”- especially with one handed swings. now I bang it out like it’s a paperweight.

We have a saying in our house “WWPD?” What would pavel do?!!

keep it up- I’m now focused on sinister! I hope to be back here in a year (or maybe 2? Lol) bragging about sinister!
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Did it! Finished Simple today!!! Super excited !! October 8 2020.

Finished the TGUs 3:15 early.

I’m a 6’2 (188 cm) former college football player. 36 yrs old. Currently at (265) 120kg, started the program at 129kg. (285)My optimal weight for my size is probably 105kg (230)

Started dec 15 last year (2019)w a 16kg (35lbs) kettlebell after I saw myself in the mirror one day.....:)

I’m up to a 40kg(90 lb) for two handed swings and 40kg get ups for 2 reps out of 10!)

I delayed testing with the 32 kg for simple challenge for a few months because I was worried about the cardio for the swings section in a 5 min timeframe and whether or not I could hack it. I actually did a “test” test back in June with a 25 kg (50) and I couldn’t do it!

My short story. I had gotten badly out of shape over the last number of years. Would work out/ run often and then fall off for 3 months... over and over. The simplicity of this program as well as the movements themselves appealed to me- like powerlifting sort of- without the heavy weights.

I can honestly say this is the longest I’ve stuck with anything in the last 10 years

body transformation has been amazing. I’ve gotten muscles back that I forgot I had! Let alone some new ones that I NEVER had even when lifting weights regulary and doing olympic lifts like cleans and squats. My “functional strength” is maybe the highest it’s ever been.

Lost a lot of fat, but not near enough. Love handles starting to melt away and abs starting to sort of pop out (ona good day) Eating is my problem and I know this, but haven’t quite got that fully under control yet. Regardless I’ve lost inches off my waistthough my weight hasn’t dropped that much- just 20 lbs I suspect I’m simply replacing a lot of fat with muscle.
I notice things now like how “loose” my hips feel when I walk/hike. How easy stairs are. How easy it is to get off the floor when playing with kids and just how strong I am over all.

I’m currently building a cottage that requires me to carry the lumber and supplies up a 50ft hill and back over a hundred meters. I can 100% say I would not be able to do this without S&S.

Stick with this folks.

I almost quit because I didn’t feel I was getting results and then bam- like 3 months in I started to really see a difference. I remember the day I lifted the 32 kg the first time. I thought “absolutely no way”- especially with one handed swings. now I bang it out like it’s a paperweight.

We have a saying in our house “WWPD?” What would pavel do?!!

keep it up- I’m now focused on sinister! I hope to be back here in a year (or maybe 2? Lol) bragging about sinister!
Great job @Grizzlyman! Love your writeup.
 
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