Kb strong and The ONE program


Level 6 Valued Member
While this thread is on an MKM tangent; I've got my dad following Upper Back Attack for his 2nd time through using 20kg's (Started with double 16's)  I've never seen him be this serious about training before.  He's tightened his diet up and it's amazing what a difference it's made in him down to his very <em>personality.</em>

Lots of people start a program on a whim and often times it fades out, but with him it seems like he's already won and events are just playing themselves out.  Approaching every session is a question to his character and a challenge to a dual.  Where most fall off because it's difficult, he gets amped up for it, locks horns with the complexes one hip snap at a time until he's defeated the day's opponent.

Hearing a 52 yearold tell you they feel more stable, stronger, healthier and more charged for life than they felt 30 years ago because of a single habit they've made for themselves puts a warmth in my heart, a fire in my abdomen, and a smile on my face every time.  Being able to realistically look forward to meeting the skinny version of a person who has been well over 300 lbs since the day of my first memory is a very very cool thing.

Thanks for the great programs Geoff.  They tend to feel like wars with each session being a battle you almost lose in your mind just over half way through, but they're the only wars I'm aware of that become more win/win the longer they last.

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
Connor Peterson that was an AWESOME tribute to your Dad and to the power of proper programming. I feel just like he does, despite only being a fifty year old whippersnapper. It has to do with having looked forward at a possible life of neverending degeneration, saying "screw THAT", and meaning it.


Level 5 Valued Member
That is one of the things I love about the Kettlebell. You have to pay attention to it. You have to focus. It fights with you. You have to take charge.For me that makes it much more interesting than some machine at GloboGym.

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
Digging this one back up because, well it's worth it.

I just passed my Level 1 Cert in Nashville this last weekend. For background, I started training with David Whitley in September of '11 and took my training "in house" in August of '13.  I'm a few days shy of my 51st birthday, so the appropriate bell for the cert was the 20 kilo.  A few thoughts:

1.  In Aug-Sep, I did a squat-intensive 6-week double kettlebell complex program from Geoff Neupert's "More Kettlebell Muscle".  There was nothing in the cert that was as hard as any given session from "The Wolf".  Yes, I was just as surprised as you are.  The cumulative daily fatigue was greater at the cert, but no individual session could touch The Wolf.

2.  Everyone says to train for strength first in your SFG cert prep work.  I don't know how many people actually do this because way too many people spend all their time freaking out about the snatch test.  But I did it.  After the muscle-building character of The Wolf, it was time to make my new muscles strong so I began the "Strong!" program from Neupert's "Ketttlebell Strong" book.  No ballistics at all. Just heavy KBs (32s for me) moving through a building volume of a Big Bang exercise.  I got strong.  It was really nice to know I had so much "headroom" in my strength.  When you've been training with double 32s, flinging your double 20s around at the cert is so far below your strain threshold that you can focus entirely on improving your technique which is what you should be doing with each rep anyway.  Get strong.  Strong fixes everything.

3. Another bit of StrongFirst wisdom is that at the level most of us are at, metabolic and aerobic conditioning will travel alongside pure strength improvement for a long time.  I found this to be absolutely true.  Despite training Strong! for over 2 months (almost 500 reps), I rarely broke a sweat in training.  My kinda program.  My conditioning from The Wolf never went away and an impromptu snatch test showed my "walkin' around" conditioning would easily pass it in 4:45.

4. Original Strength resets are invaluable.  Buy the book, take the workshop, get somebody to teach you how to do this stuff.  Whatever, but when you can breathe, rock, roll, nod, march, and crawl for 2 minutes and literally be ready for whatever challenges await you at a cert - you've found gold.

5.  Speaking of breathing:  learn how to breathe.  There's a nice section on this in Pavel's "Simple & Sinister".  There's good stuff on this in "Original Strength".  If your response to the idea of "learning" to breathe causes you to scoff, you're probably doing it wrong.  We did an exercise at the cert that involved holding a bell at lockout for - a while.  This will separate those who can breathe from those who scoff.

Okay, that's it.  That's how I trained.  The Wolf; then Strong!, then Strong! combined with Ballistic Beatdown (only a couple weeks on this combo); then Simple & Sinister to work swing and Get Up technique (only about 2 weeks of this as well).  I touched a kettlebell for the last time on the Sunday prior to the tune of 50 swings, then I rested and took care of my hands.

The long and short:  get strong first.  It's no joke.  It's no marketing ploy.  It's no clever jingle.

Mike Lindner SFG II

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Bill - Dead on points sir! Funny enough, I was freaking out about the snatch test about 3 months before my certification as I had only ever hit 84 reps on a good day.

Once I started getting my strength dialed in (I think that's right around when I did 4 weeks of a program from SFG II Scot Iardella) took a couple weeks off and came back with new found strength and passed my snatch test with a 4:42. From that point on I would test every couple weeks to stay sharp after keeping the strength as the focus (Wait .....a StrongFirst candidate focused on Strength....First? Sounds Crazy I know) I even got it as fast as 3:50 but I felt technique degraded when pushing the pace. Pass is pass and there was no prize for getting it done faster so I just kept swinging, pressing, and squatting heavy.

I felt VERY relaxed at my cert weekend because  I knew I was going to pass before I ever boarded the plane. If lightening struck an arm before the cert, I was passing my snatch test with one arm then and that was just going to have be the way of it. I felt I was able to pay attention to the coaches and get dialed in better to the cues for students and even myself.

Getting stronger made me better overall and showed me that I still have a LONG way to go.

BTW congratulations on graduating as an SFG! Your story on the forums always made for a good read for the insights and I always enjoy reading them.


Level 3 Valued Member
Congrats Bill, I had been following your progress on this thread for some time, really great to hear that you nailed it. Thank you for a very insightful post on your approach.

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
Thank you guys.  Very much.  My very first "client" (my pastor) is finishing up the combined Strong! and One programs soon.  I'll interview him and post results.  For now it's instructive to note that when I broach the subject of "well, what's next?" with him, he must've used the words "I don't know, but I don't want to lose this" 2 or 3 different times.  What "this" is, is the massive conditioning level that he has achieved and his new ability to kick life's heinie day in and day out.

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
I did too but I think the idea is to use your 4-5RM.  Geoff says something like"by the end of the program, you'll be doing XX reps with a weight you struggled to press 4-5 times".

Jason Ginsberg

Level 4 Valued Member
Geoff has said (earlier in this thread, I think), that the Strong program is designed for recleaning the bells before each press, so I would tend to test that way when establishing a starting weight.

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
As promised, here's a brief report on my pastor's results with the combined "Strong!" and "One" programs.  He did "Strong" with double 28s and "One" with 16s.  He was getting a bit shagged out towards the end of the combined program.  I noticed a rapid increase in the "snap" on his cleans, his stability and firmness in the rack, and the consistency of his pressing groove - once he had finished "One" and was doing the remainder of "Strong" by itself.  In lieu of a "rep max" at the end of "Strong", he decided to C&P my 32s for 3 clean, solid reps.  The 4th would likely have gone up, but he felt it mighta been sloppy so he parked them.  I must be doing something right.  Meanwhile, we did as Geoff said and practiced the drills he had less experience with: double snatches and double front squats in particular.  He picks things up very fast and I have to remind myself he's an ex-collegiate baseball player who's detrained, not a completely inert spaz like I was.  I picked him another program, this time from "More Kettlebell Muscle" that focuses on the neglected squat pattern, and he has excelled through the first 2 weeks of that one as well.


Mark Limbaga

Level 7 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Awesome report Bill

Has anyone used the Strong or Slow and Steady using a push press with minimal leg drive just to get past the sticking point?

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
Mark, I'm debating doing something pretty close to that when I complete "Jerk Werk" in about 3 weeks.  I'm thinking of going heavy, but I'm not sure my elbows are ready for another "Clean and...." program, so I was considering a "Squat and....." program perhaps with push presses, maybe with jerks.  When I mentioned doing the "Strong!" program with clean & jerks, Geoff was decidedly lukewarm about the idea.  I'm now wondering if the lack of a grind in that combo makes it easy for it to be too much power work and very hard to gauge when your CNS has had enough.  Could also have been the my proximity to my SFG cert making him think it a dodgy idea.  I dunno.  But I'm hopeful the squat plus jerk (or push press) might be a workable combo.  I know a couple guys earlier in this thread were doing clean and squat combos.  I'd love to hear back about that.
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