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

Ryan T

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
My way was is a little less conventional...

Contributions:
—Reading S&S 2.0 and getting my foundation and start there.
—Being at Be Well and Strong. It is the project and forum/community created by Al Ciampa which focuses on his methods of combining strength, endurance/aerobic base training, and breath work.
—Betterman Blue Print coaching program by Hector Gutierrez, Jr. Really learned how to create systems and structures to facilitate a mindset and follow through for change. Good foundation for strength and power training too.
—Swing Strong by Hector Gutierrez, Jr. I used that for the last 9 weeks to hone in and peak toward Simple. He programmed swings and GUs a little differently than what I’d seen elsewhere. The program could be called Get Up Strong…

Be Well and Strong methodology and community was the really the game changer. Interestingly enough, although I developed strength and skill with kettlebell work, the aerobic base building contributed just as much (or more) to my success. I absorbed ,my general training better and my interset recovery was much improved. Nasal breathing and calm. No need to get amped up and I really didn’t make a big deal about the attempt in my mind.

Simple was not hard but not easy. Snatch test with 24kg is harder.

Based on how I felt, I could do it any day of the week with little to no warm up. That's how it should be; it's an achievement, but not something I can barely do. I own Simple.

Happy to help anyone down this path. Reach out if you'd like.
 

acutaiar12

Level 6 Valued Member
I achieved timed simple today!

I’m a 21 year old college student, studying to be a teacher. 6 feet tall, usually weight between 80-83 kilos consistently. I’ve always been obsessed with athletics of some sort (1,000+ point scorer in high school basketball and 455kg powerlifting total before pandemic).

I got into kettlebell training due to the pandemic and needing to find a way to train. My dad had 4 bells that he never used (20kg, 28kg, 36kg, and 48kg).

My first year of kettlebell training wasn’t smart….lessons learned, I’ve moved on.

On April 22nd, 2021, I started S&S with 28kg swings and get ups. I was ending my junior year of college, was bombarded with exams and projects and needed a program that was simple, effective, left me energy for my day and required zero thinking. S&S fit perfectly!

Slowly worked towards owning Timed 28kg, then slowly worked towards owning Timeless 36kg, and finally, after almost 7 months and many lessons learned, I’ve achieved Timed Simple (36kg).

I am in the overall best shape of my life. S&S has the perfect blend of power, explosiveness, strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, coordination, balance, mobility, flexibility, etc. I highly recommend it to everyone and have done so on many occasions.

My body has loved working on purely goblet squats, swings, and get ups, so I have no intentions of switching programs. Now, it’s time to work towards achieving the big goal, Sinister!
 

Scottlapier

Level 1 Valued Member
If you've achieved the Simple goal from Pavel's, "Kettlebell: Simple & Sinister," we loved to hear about it! We'll keep this thread visible near the top of the Kettlebell forum.

Please tell us a little about yourself, when you started and when you achieved Simple - and whatever else you like because this is your story in your words.

-S-

I had been actively employed as a Personal Trainer since I graduated school with my Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. Kettlebell Swings we’re always part of my and my clients’ programming (al beit not utilized properly). When the pandemic hit, I essentially lost both of my jobs over course of Spring and Early Summer 2020. I moved back in with my parents and worked construction to make ends meet. By January, I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to do some kind of training or non-work related activity.

Fortunately, I remembered Kettlebells as a good, cost-effective and limited space friendly option for training at home. After a few hours of research, everything lead me back to Pavel and Simple and Sinister. I bought a copy and read it, I will admit, i did think it was a bit gimmicky, but decided ‘what the hell? it’s only 30ish minutes a day.’

I have been so pleasantly surprised with my results so far and kept training regularly from January through to now (with some downtime to buy my own house. I’m now re-employed in the Fitness Industry, training regularly and when in doubt will do 100 Single Arm Swings and 10 get ups with our 24 KG bell. I am about to start ‘The Quick and The Dead’ and am looking to being my strongest in a few short weeks. If it goes as well as I’m expecting….I think my next goal is go for a StrongFirst Certification.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Scottlapier, congratulations on your good choices, your good training, and your good results.

Please take a moment to review S&S on amazon.com if you haven't already, and thank you in advance for doing that.

-S-
 

Jaco

Level 2 Valued Member
I achieved Simple on Sunday the 31st of October 2021. The journey to this point has been absolutely amazing and one of the most meaningful and rewarding learning curves that I have ever been on.

Background: I am 45, 193 cm tall, weigh 92 kg and I live close to Cape Town in South Africa. In terms of fitness, I have mostly been involved in aerobic sports (swimming, cycling and running) and my prior experience in strength training was basically non-existent.

At the start of 2019, I was out of shape and 30 kg overweight after 4 years of working full-time and studying part-time - a period during which I never managed to maintain a consistent training programme. I started on a quest to get my diet sorted out and to find a training approach that would provide overall strength and resilience – as I identified this as crucially missing from the aerobic training that I did in the past. Part of my criteria was that the programme should require minimal investment and I should be able to do it from home, since I felt this would increase the chances of sticking to it.

I initially started on a popular HIIT based body weight training programme. This worked well for a few months – but I soon reached a point where there was no noticeable improvement anymore. I was also frustrated with the programme, because it changed exercises every two weeks and I never felt that I had the chance to master any of the movements (which I also believe contributed to my stalled progress).

I came across Simple & Sinister after searching for minimal training programmes. I bought the book on Kindle and was sold to the philosophy behind S&S and to the utility of kettlebells after the first few chapters. My next challenge was to find proper kettlebells in South Africa during the COVID19 hard lockdown that started in April 2020. By a stroke of luck, I came across Kettlebells for Africa which imports and distributes authentic RKC kettlebells to South Africa and are located about a 30 min drive from where I stay. I ordered a 16kg and 24 kg online to start with. Seeing that we were still in lockdown, I thought that it would take while for the kettlebells to be delivered. The two kettlebells arrived at my doorstep 2 days later, hand delivered by Shaun Cairns, SFG Master Instructor, and owner of Kettlebells for Africa. This made my day and eventually my year!

I started on Simple & Sinister on 1 July 2020 using the 16kg and slowly incorporating the 24kg – as by the programming described in the book. I veered from the program twice in the first few months – either going up in bell size quicker or adding additional elements to the program. Both of these ill-informed decisions led to minor injuries or tweaks that required me to take a few days of before continuing. I therefore decided to just stick to the programme as it is written and to be patient and enjoy the process. I did the full S&S programme, with warm-up, swings, get-ups and stretches for either 5 or 6 days a week throughout.

I lost three months twice - firstly, after having COVID19 at the end of 2020, which required about a month of no training and then 2 months to get back where I was. Secondly, I had a sinus surgery in June 2021, which again required about 3 months to get back to where I was before the surgery. So, the whole journey took about 17 months (to get from 16kg to 24kg to 32kg) instead of 10 – but every step was worth it. There were many lessons about my own physical strengths and weaknesses, about patience and about perseverance, that not only applied to training but also directly transferred to my personal and work life.

Achieving Simple has truly been a transformative experience that has improved many aspects of my life, including:

General improvements:

Needless to say, I am much stronger now than at the start of the programme. However, I am also significantly stronger than I have ever been at any previous point in my life. This is not just strength measured in terms of the S&S programme - but in terms of everyday functioning. Everything just feels better. My posture has improved, I am moving better, stronger and more confidently; I am sleeping better and even my asthma has almost completely cleared up. My body composition has also changed dramatically – Pavel’s descriptions of “fighter’s physique” captures it best.

What The Hell Effects:

I am not a professional athlete. My motivation for doing S&S was to improve my overall physical ability and to build a foundation that will allow me participate in the outdoor activities that I enjoy without feeling restrained by my physical condition. Aside from S&S, I would usual do a hike in one of the nearby mountains once a week. It has been amazing to see how my overall hiking ability and endurance has skyrocketed over the past few months – I can literally maintain a solid hiking pace for hours without getting tired. Also, although I have not trained for this – I can now do several sets of 3-5 pullups, which I could not do at the start of the programme.

A note on tweaks and sprains:

I had no serious injuries while doing S&S, but did have a few minor shoulder, back and hamstring tweaks. In all cases, I could deal with this by either just taking a day or two of – or just adding an extra day of two-hand swings to recover. I usually added some additional stretching as well for a week or two to aid recovery. I incorporated a foam roller recently which helped quite a bit, in combination with stretching, for minor tweaks.

I did encounter an odd situation when moving up to the 32kg bell, since I could not find a grip position in the TGU that does not bruise my upper left arm. The right arm is not a problem, only left. I tried to just push through this, but he bruising accumulated over time to the point where it affected my wrist posture in the TGU and I started getting some inflammation at the inside of my elbow (golfer’s elbow) as consequence. The solution was to use a tennis style sweatband on my left wrist, which eased the pressure of the kettlebell on my left arm enough to continue without bruising or hinderances. The golfer’s elbow subsequently also quickly disappeared. I hope to ditch the sweatband in the future once this arm has toughened up a bit.

Literally all the tweaks/sprains were caused by moments where I lost focus during the swings or the TGUs. I am therefore trying to be present throughout these exercises and to keep my eye on the bell at all times. I have started using a heart rate monitor a few months ago, which has become a useful tool in this regard. Elevated heart rate or slow heart rate recovery allows me to pick up if I am a little more exhausted than I perceive – and therefore more at risk of losing focus during the exercises. When I pick this up on the HRM, I take extra time to recover between exercises, to focus and move consciously through the swings and get-ups to avoid unnecessary mistakes and, consequently, injuries.

My goals for the immediate future are to continue with S&S to reach timed simple and to bring my goblet squats up to 32 kg. I have already acquired a 40 kg and would like to continue onwards to own this bell in S&S during the courses of 2022. I might alternate S&S with Rite of Passage. Anyway, I am not yet sure, but whatever happens – I am sure it will be great.

My biggest challenge at the moment is to not change the topic of all conversations to something revolving around kettlebells. ?

Thank you, Pavel! Thank you StrongFirst! This has been life-changing and absolutely awesome!
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Jaco, thank you for the report, and congratulations on achieving Simple.

(Please post a review of S&S on amazon.com if you haven't already.)

-S-
 

Tomas B

Level 2 Valued Member
Achieved Simple Standard on November 14th for my 37th birthday, after over 10 months of S&S. I'm a male, 5'8'' and ~140 pounds, so about double the weight of the kettlebell and I have a broken spine.

My journey started in the beginning of 2020, a few years out of shape after becoming a dad of two and right after getting well from covid, when I decided it was time to get my body back. I used to do a lot of running in my 20s, so I figured that would be a decent way to go about it and boy I was wrong. After a couple runs of a few miles each, I ended up with quite a lot of pain in my hips and legs, and the pain wouldn't go away for weeks no matter what I did. Sitting was almost unbearable, bending, twisting, even getting out bed was making the pain worse. Finally, I got it checked out and the diagnosis was much worse than I had feared. Turns out I had broken my spine, a condition known as spondylolisthesis, where the hooks that keep the vertebrae together got severed on the lowest lumbar vertebrae (L5) causing my spine to shift forward and basically impinge on the nerves. Turns out I had some birth condition that predisposed me and running with bad form and anterior pelvic tilt was enough to break the monkey's back.

What followed were months of daily physical therapy trying to strengthen my glutes and core, loosen my hip flexors as well as relearning movement patterns that protected my lower back. I had to change how I slept, walked, stood and moved in general and slowly the pain started to subside to more manageable levels but it wouldn't go away completely even after I completed my PT treatment. At this point, it had been over a half a year since my injury and I had accepted that I would be in chronic pain for the rest of my life, unable to do many of my favorite physical activities like running and rock climbing without risking reinjury.

Fortunately, in my own research I heard about Dr. Stuart McGill's study, where he measured the impact on spines from kettlebell swings, that Pavel also participated in. I was intrigued to hear that the swing was resulting in shear force towards the posterior part of the body, which was the opposite of my issue. I got myself a 16kg bell, watched some Mark Wildman videos on youtube and tried a few swings. Those early swings were badly executed but the effect was unmistakable: the pain was diminishing almost instantly! At this point it felt like a miracle to me. It still brings tears in my eyes just thinking of it.

It was around January this year, when I started doing the swings regularly and trying to learn more about kettlebells, when I read some of Pavel's work and started doing the Sinister protocol. I had seen the light and started getting up and swinging towards it!

After about a month I got myself the 24 kg bell and started transitioning it into my workouts. I tried being conservative and careful but the effects of the swings were so evident that I just wanted to keep doing them. At this point, I also started a back-to-running program, which was mostly walking with some short bursts of jogging, which I kept increasing in length. It was risky but I was feeling good about managing my pain by now and it kept on getting better consistently. I even tried rock climbing here and there.

Mid May, after about 4 months of kettlebells, I tested successfully with 24 kg and ordered the 32 kg, which at this point still seemed completely wild. At around the same time, I worked up to being able to run 30 minutes straight without pain. I've been doing 3-4 days of S&S every week, running 2 times a week and doing some squats, pullups, rows and dips here and there. I also continued some basic mobility and core exercises every morning. Oh and also I started climbing in the gym about once per week!

I transitioned to two hand swings with the 32 kg within a month but it took another 3-4 months to get to all one armed swings and all 10 getups. At this point, I hurt my wrist (failed getup: caught the kettlebell with my elbow perpendicular to the floor - as Pavel says, it's your own fault...). This delayed my Standard by a couple of months during which time I subbed pullups and dips instead of the kettlebell.

I had other setbacks during the time I've been doing the program: some pain in one shoulder then in the other one (indian and heavy clubs to the rescue), tight muscles in the upper back and other stuff that I generally worked through without having to stop exercising altogether. The progress always felt pretty steady but not continuous. It would come in small bursts where I would notice that the swings don't leave me as out of breath as last week or the getups are smoother, the rests shorter, etc. This made the experience pretty enjoyable or even addictive. I was always looking forward to my workouts.

My spine orthopedist was surprised by my recovery and called it remarkable but told me that the fractures will not heal and I will need to keep doing what I'm doing to avoid the pain. He said it made sense that the kettlebell swings would make it better given the mechanics of my injury. That sounds good to me. It's been a rewarding journey of learning and growth personally as much as physically. And kettlebells have become less of a means to an end as just a part of my practice. It appears that with regular practice the body adapts around the pain and the mind adapts around trauma. I hope my story is encouraging to someone the way this forum has been encouraging to me.

So much respect and gratitude to everyone here and especially Pavel.

PS. Here's my video in case anyone would have feedback on technique:
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Tomas B, congratulations on your achievement, and welcome to the StrongFirst forum. (Please post a review of S&S on amazon.com if you haven't already. Thanks.)

-S-
 

Keriroli

First Post
Certified Instructor
42 year-old bloke. I've been big all my life but by two years ago I was up at 140 kg, at 1.85 m not a good place to be at all.

Six months of dieting, jogging and going to the gym got me to 125 kg and left me realising: 1) I prefer my own company when exercising 2) I cannot stand waiting for resistance training machines 3) I can't plan or log a workout.

Internet research led me to kettlebells by Easter 2014 and 'Enter the Kettlebell' - I still think this is the clearest description of remedial exercises for learning the swing.

I bought a 12 kg kettlebell initially (no confidence, should have started heavier) and set to work learning how to swing and get-up. I bought S+S and the simple everyday programme really clicked for me and I began doing it by the book at least 5 nights a week in my garden or garage. The jump from 16 to 24 kg was a massive shock and I scared myself once or twice with the get-ups. I went from 24 kg to 32 kg via 28 kg as a result.

Springtime this year I got interested in the writings of Phil Maffetone (someone in this forum called him the godfather of easy-running so I looked him up) and gradually tried to turn my S+S practice into a more aerobic event by using a heart rate monitor and longer rests. I still don't know if this helps at all with strength development but I do feel very good working like this. End of July 2015 I tested myself and ignored heart rate and nailed the simple goals every night of a week then took a two week holiday.

Bodyweight is currently at 102 kg with a resting heart rate of 48-50. On a good day I feel indestructible, and most days are good - swings, get-ups and not eating crap has completely transformed my life, although there is clearly some way to go. Only regret is that I should have done it 20 years ago!

I've switched to the Rite of Passage from ETK now as my press is weak (20 kg) and I have a long term goal of an unassisted pull-up (currently doing band assisted with the RoP). I am unsure yet if I will stay on this programme to a half body weight press - it feels frankly impossible to me and so far snatches are beating my hands up. But I will progress to ladders with 32 kg and see how I feel. I will come back to S+S and try to achieve the sinister goals.

Apologies for the long post but S+S is a great programme and I feel passionately about it (and yes, I have reviewed it on Amazon UK). This is also a great forum and as a KB novice I appreciate the advice (and attitude) of the community.
Well done
 

Singlecoilquack

Level 1 Valued Member
I achieved simple today, 12/04/21. I'm 37 years old, 6'2", 185 lbs. I have ~10 years of strength training experience, first with barbells and then kettlebells for the last three years. Decently strong but not by true strong man standards. Basically a perpetual tall and skinny kid who is competent with his body and can be useful when work needs to get done.

I've been aware of S&S for a couple of years but had no interest in a program with only two movements and one of them being the TGU (never understood them).

I was running the Giant, working toward my goal of developing a 24kg double C+P 10 RM and decided to give s&s a go on an off day. I had pieced enough of the workout together by reading this forum and attempted the timed standard on my first session on Sept. 19 because I didn't know any better. Was using a 24kg bell and got through the session in the allotted time. I was hooked after the first session and immediately fell in love with the TGU. It was therapy for my shoulders after spending years doing a lot of pressing.

Did a handful of additional sessions and bought the book. Realized the time constraints didn't apply to the typical workout. I bought a 32kg bell and did my first session with it on 10/26. The jump in weight was tough! Needless to say, these sessions were timeless.

I had a good night of sleep last night and decided to go for timed simple today. After the third set of swings, I knew I had it. The swings (and my grip) have been my limiter with S&S. The TGUs, probably due to my weight training history, have always been the easier of the two movements. In all, I did 21 sessions over the course of almost three months as a supplement to my other training. I wasn't starting from zero, but it was definitely a challenge.

S&S is a nice complement to other types of training and I plan to continue practicing it once or twice a week. For me, S&S, Q&D snatches, and a push/pull strength program are everything I need for my preferred GPP style of training.
 

Bellamy

Level 1 Valued Member
If you've achieved the Simple goal from Pavel's, "Kettlebell: Simple & Sinister," we loved to hear about it! We'll keep this thread visible near the top of the Kettlebell forum.

Please tell us a little about yourself, when you started and when you achieved Simple - and whatever else you like because this is your story in your words.

-S-
I achieved s&s simple today after 4 months and a couple of minor injuries. I'm 5'6" 70kg and a couple of months off 47years of age. I've attached a couple of files of the last sets hs swing and tgu, I hope you can see them and I think you'll find a marked improvement in form from my previous post. If you've got any advice or you have questions please don't hesitate to ask or tell me. P.s. I am a qualified pt. Persistent pays off. I look forward to hearing from you.
 
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