Question for Pavel Regarding Rite of Passage Conditioning Protocol

James Sullivan

Double-Digit Post Count
Elite Certified Instructor
If you were to re-write the RoP conditioning protocol today, would it look the same?

(I wanted to ask at Strong Endurance in Denver this fall, but didn't get the chance)

thanks
 

Tim Randolph

Triple-Digit Post Count
If you were to re-write the RoP conditioning protocol today, would it look the same?

(I wanted to ask at Strong Endurance in Denver this fall, but didn't get the chance)

thanks
Hi James. Welcome to the forum!

I have wondered this exact same thing and would love to know the answer. Unfortunately, Pavel doesn’t participate in the forum, so it’s unlikely he will answer here.

Having read a few threads that touched on this, I would say that many many people use alternate protocols or don’t even snatch when doing ROP. The press portion definitely is followed much more strictly.
 

James Sullivan

Double-Digit Post Count
Elite Certified Instructor
Hi James. Welcome to the forum!

I have wondered this exact same thing and would love to know the answer. Unfortunately, Pavel doesn’t participate in the forum, so it’s unlikely he will answer here.

Having read a few threads that touched on this, I would say that many many people use alternate protocols or don’t even snatch when doing ROP. The press portion definitely is followed much more strictly.
Hi Tim!

For me, Rite of Passage is the simultaneous pursuit of the 10 min snatch test and the 1/2 BW C&P. IMO if they are not following the plan exactly then it's a different plan with a different name and a different goal "one step to the left and I shoot!".

I'm increasingly convinced (after attending Strong Endurance and having achieved C&P with 1 bell bigger than my SFGII 1/2 BW using RoP as written) that treating the pressing and conditioning portions of the plan as a separate, swappable elements will not result in reaching the pressing or conditioning goals faster. My supposition is that the plan elements work together to provide the appropriate stimulus needed to realize the desired adaptations. The RoP plan results in more than the sum of its parts.

At Strong Endurance Pavel told us that the reality is no one knows exactly why many of these plans work - they just work. There effectiveness was determined empirically by careful observation and experience. So if even Pavel, when he sat down to write ETK:RoP, was passing on to us the most effective plan in his experience rather than prescribing what he thought (anticipated, figured, predicted, or otherwise determined from first principles) "would/ should" work for us - than who am I to sit down and 'figure out' what a better conditioning component for this plan should be?

Of course it would be easy for me to grab an SE template or reach out to global snatch experts and pin something different to the end of my pressing ladders, but in ETK Pavel explicitly tells us not to mess with the system. He tells us that ETK is our "set in stone path" and "Take it or leave it, but don't mess with it until you are a blackbelt in kettlebell training." I can tell you that the more I develop my strength practice (currently a SF Elite trainer) the more I realize how little I (and everyone else) actually understand. Very few people have access to the data required to statistically substantiate their plan choices or program design changes. For me that data set is the blackbelt I likely will never achieve.

Ok, but all of this is essentially an argument to not seek an updated RoP right? The issue for me personally begins when I'm preaching AGT principles with my athletes and students and then I'm going home to practice (at least semi-) glycolytic RoP conditioning workouts 3 days a week. Seems like EVERYONE is adopting AGT. S&S has been updated. Brett Jones's recent article even seems to disavow the snatching portion of his beloved (at least by me) SFGI prep plan.

So this leaves me wondering about ETK:RoP. Is it perfect as is? Is Pavel sitting on the answer and a revision is in the works? Does Pavel consider this combination of goals relevant enough to issue revised guidance? Are the portions of the plan swappable after all? Etc, Etc.

In the absence of further guidance from Pavel I'll be continuing with the plan as written (although I'm not great about skipping the re-cleans on lite days lol). Even though the grass appears overgrown and it seems like everyone has moved to other training fields (nevermind still watching for compliance) I can't be sure that Pavel isn't hiding somewhere waiting to shoot if I take that one step to the left.

Those of us with attention spans a bit longer than "a ferret on espresso" are still at our posts and are anticipating official orders.
 

Tim Randolph

Triple-Digit Post Count
@James Sullivan thanks for the fascinating insights. I never considered the whole program aspect of it before or not being sure why it works, but trusting that it does.

I used to assume that the answer would be something in line with SS2 or the Long Rests article. Or at least manage the variability better with a Delta 20 approach and a tighter range for time or reps. Now I am sure that I just don’t know :)
 

Bauer

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@James Sullivan : Interesting points!

I am not completely sure the conditiong part is a "non-swappable" part of RoP. I think Pavel has stated occasionally that people could follow the press plan from RoP without mentioning the ballistic plan.

In the comment section of the Total Package template, for example, Pavel states that you could use the RoP pressing plan for the strength days, dropping the light day (thus 2x per week). You would then be free to design your own ballistic days - for example in line with A+A or Q&D (for example 1x A+A swings and 1x A+A snatches).

The same goes for the Swing Sandwich plan option 3, which features RoP heavy and medium pressing days + 2 extra sandwich days and optional extra conditioning days.

And when discussing the DL plan that he designed for his father, Pavel comments:
Pavel said:
Peter, you may use the ‘Enter the Kettlebell!’ Right of Passage press plan, just lower the volume to 3 ladders. (…) there are several options. One is (12345)x3 on the heavy day, x2 on the medium day, and x1 on the light day.
‘Unrealistic’ Athletic Goals: Why and How to Pursue Them

That being said, Pavel has also given some hints in Q&D and elsewhere, that glycolitic workouts have their place, and that testing days give interesting training effects:
Pavel in QnD said:
This is a lot of tests and a bit of time, but it is time well spent—you are not just testing; you are training. The above load qualifies as glycolytic power repeats, a smart type of glycolytic training that maximizes the benefits of acid while minimizing the problems caused by it. More about this type of training in the future.
So all in all we can still expect some new orders by the chief and at the same time try some alterations of RoP.
 

James Sullivan

Double-Digit Post Count
Elite Certified Instructor
@James Sullivan : Interesting points!

I am not completely sure the conditiong part is a "non-swappable" part of RoP. I think Pavel has stated occasionally that people could follow the press plan from RoP without mentioning the ballistic plan.

In the comment section of the Total Package template, for example, Pavel states that you could use the RoP pressing plan for the strength days, dropping the light day (thus 2x per week). You would then be free to design your own ballistic days - for example in line with A+A or Q&D (for example 1x A+A swings and 1x A+A snatches).

The same goes for the Swing Sandwich plan option 3, which features RoP heavy and medium pressing days + 2 extra sandwich days and optional extra conditioning days.

And when discussing the DL plan that he designed for his father, Pavel comments:

‘Unrealistic’ Athletic Goals: Why and How to Pursue Them

That being said, Pavel has also given some hints in Q&D and elsewhere, that glycolitic workouts have their place, and that testing days give interesting training effects:


So all in all we can still expect some new orders by the chief and at the same time try some alterations of RoP.
Mr. Bauer - I appreciate your very thoughtful and detailed response. You have great command of the available information. Have you seen anyone successfully modifying the plan in pursuit of the originally intended press and snatch goals? I'm looking forward to reviewing the items you have referenced above.

Thanks again!
 

Sean M

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Bauer Good reminder on the RoP-lite versions (3 ladders only, or heavy-medium only).

My last cycle I did:
  • Monday: Heavy ladders
  • Tuesday: Heavy 1HS 20-30 sets of 5 ~EMOM
  • Wednesday: Medium ladders, 10x10 medium bell swing EMOM
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Light ladders, snatch density progression (4+4 EMOM x 12 minutes —> 8+8 EMOM x 7 minutes)
 

Oscar

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@James Sullivan , an issue I have with the ROP ballistics is that I just dont understand the program. I know we should do snatches on the light day, swings the other two days, and duration is given by the dice roll. So far so good. After that, I just dont know what to do. I can snatch the 16, 20, 24 and 28, each for different sets, reps and volume. Which one should I use?

Same for swings. Is it 2 hand swings or 1 hand swings? 1 HS with 40 kg? 2 HS with 16 kg? Lets say I roll 6 minutes on a medium day. I could do 4x5 1HS with 40 kg, or 4x40 2HS with 16 kg. I never understood if I should do one, the other or anything in between. I read the section a few times, but maybe I missed something.
 

Sean M

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@James Sullivan , an issue I have with the ROP ballistics is that I just dont understand the program. I know we should do snatches on the light day, swings the other two days, and duration is given by the dice roll. So far so good. After that, I just dont know what to do. I can snatch the 16, 20, 24 and 28, each for different sets, reps and volume. Which one should I use?

Same for swings. Is it 2 hand swings or 1 hand swings? 1 HS with 40 kg? 2 HS with 16 kg? Lets say I roll 6 minutes on a medium day. I could do 4x5 1HS with 40 kg, or 4x40 2HS with 16 kg. I never understood if I should do one, the other or anything in between. I read the section a few times, but maybe I missed something.
I think the idea at the time was: RoP is a complete strength and conditioning program with a single bell.

The heavy day swings are “test your meddle” hard/glycolytic sets, medium day is sets “to a comfortable stop”, light is snatch technique practice. I would think on heavy day you use whatever combination of forms to go the distance, eg left to exhaustion then right to exhaustion then two-hand to exhaustion, rest a bit, go at it again, until time is up. This is obviously different philosophy than SE/AGT...then again, it’s only one of the days.

The idea is: the work capacity developed from the heavy/medium day swings carries over to snatch test days once a month; if each month you snatch more reps in 10’ than you did last time, you are making progress.
 

James Sullivan

Double-Digit Post Count
Elite Certified Instructor
@James Sullivan , an issue I have with the ROP ballistics is that I just dont understand the program. I know we should do snatches on the light day, swings the other two days, and duration is given by the dice roll. So far so good. After that, I just dont know what to do. I can snatch the 16, 20, 24 and 28, each for different sets, reps and volume. Which one should I use?

Same for swings. Is it 2 hand swings or 1 hand swings? 1 HS with 40 kg? 2 HS with 16 kg? Lets say I roll 6 minutes on a medium day. I could do 4x5 1HS with 40 kg, or 4x40 2HS with 16 kg. I never understood if I should do one, the other or anything in between. I read the section a few times, but maybe I missed something.
Hi @Oscar,

Good point. There absolutely is room for interpretation. I've approached this a few different ways, but am currently employing the following scheme based on guidance from a very experienced SF coach:

Light Day - Snatch Test Size Bell (24 kg) - sets of 10 reps - I calibrate the 50% effort based on rest time. For me, snatch test level of rest would roughly be my 100% effort (i.e. 100% effort looks like ~20 seconds for 10 snatches + 10 seconds rest = 30 seconds) about a 2:1 work to rest ratio. To cut down to 50% effort I double the rest, so sets every 40 seconds or 1:1. If I'm feeling good I shoot more for the 60% effort range with sets every 35 seconds. This works for the higher probability rolls quite well (4-9 min total). Rolls below 4 end up being closer to the 2:1 ratio. Rolls above 9 are harder to be prescriptive with. Sets on the 45 or 50 seconds depending how I'm feeling.

Medium Day - One-arm swings 32 kg - Sets of 10. I can complete 100 swings with a 32 in 5 minutes with an RPE of about 8. I don't have an accelerometer, but I feel that power does not drop off for me with this bell doing sets of 10. Similar story here with calibrating the 80% effort. To simplify, I assume sets on the 0:30 are 100% effort for most rolls (~1:1.125) so adding 20% more rest puts me in the range between sets on the 0:35 and 0:40.

Heavy Day - two-arm swings 40 kg - Sets of 10. Here too bell choice is based on no drop-off in power during sets of 10 under most reasonable conditions. I use sets on the 0:30 as my 100% baseline here. Again, this works well for the higher probability roll totals. Above 9 may call for a bit more rest depending on the day.

When RPE gets consistently lower than prescribed I have been chopping off a few seconds of rest each set.
 

Maine-ah KB

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
there are more then one way to skin a cat. Rite of passage has worked for many people, both in the condition section and the pressing section (though I personally always had problems with the pressing part around week 7-8. volume for whatever reason ground me down.) Ive also done some Strongendurance style work. Both made me more conditioned and stronger, I don't ask why I just go with it.

I will say that at moments Glycolitic training like in RoP ballistic portion made me feel like I was mentally able to get after it more. were as strong endurance more lead to me doing something and being surprised by the results.
 

James Sullivan

Double-Digit Post Count
Elite Certified Instructor
@Maine-ah KB

How did you structure the pressing portion when the volume ended up being to much?

Factors I have found critical (aka I have made mistakes with in the past)
1) correct bell size
2) properly interpreting and laying out the plan
3) managing the rest b/w rungs and ladders
4) overtraining due to other activities

Bell size .... I have found that if I can't clean and press the bell I'm planning on working with for at least 7 reps - clean for each press rep - I have trouble with the volume as well. As taught in Plan Strong, to keep my form perfect for each rep during a session, I need my planned rep totals to be about 50% of my rep max for that particular effort. I've found 7 reps is the sweet spot for me.

Program layout .... so far I have seen the most progress when I'm patient and stick to the minimum increase each week. This has required discipline on my part for sure. Many times tempted to add an extra set and shorten the program. Again when I drag it out until the point where the presses are nearly effortless and I have to remind myself to keep tension and irradiation then I have seen the best progress.

WeekHeavy (Sat)Light (Mon)Medium (Wed)
13(3)3(3)3(3)
24(3)4(3)4(3)
35(3)5(1)5(2)
41(4) + 4(3)5(2)5(3)
52(4) + 3(3)5(2)5(3)
63(4) + 2(3)5(2)5(3)
74(4) + 1(3)5(2)5(3)
85(4)5(2) 5(3)
91(5) + 4(3)5(3)5(4)
102(5) + 3(3)5(3)5(4)
113(5) + 2(3)5(3)5(4)
124(5) + 1(3)5(3)5(4)
135(5)offTest

Rest between rungs and ladders .... when I start with a new bell I give myself up to 3:30 between sets (I think up to 5 would be ok. After that your body and CNS start to down regulate - vasculature, etc.). As I progress and the work becomes a bit easier over time I scale back the rest to a target of 1:30. The goal is 100% recovery before the next sets. These are repeats. Fatigue should not be noticeably accumulating as you move through a session. If so, add recovery time. I based these numbers on a combination of inputs including physiology of recovery stuff from Strong Endurance and dialing in from personal experience. This helps to keep session duration reasonable as you approach the 75 rep finally.

Overtraining .... (caveat I'm almost 42 so this may not apply to younger or older folks) I have done RoP including the pull-ups, done it in addition to other deadlift programming, also done it while training for SFB and also done it with only variety days as indicated in the original RoP. Guess when the most progress was made... with 'as written' variety days that I skip if I'm not feeling 100%.

Like you say - many ways to skin the cat, but this way has proven to work the best for me.

Thanks for reading!!
 

Maine-ah KB

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@James Sullivan Thanks for detailing your layout for RoP. I had the layout correct (according to my log), I was using a 6rm last time and I may have rushed breaks between ladders if memory serves. I have improve my press with lower volume plans plan strong style plans (and at one point GtG with one arm pushups) at the moment my press is at a consistent 40kg for 1 through a combination of Dips and Pressing (though its about 8kg short of my current 1/2 bodyweight press, though I generally lose 8-10lbs in spring)

I may try at one point to take on RoP again but im pretty pleased with my press at the moment.
 

John Grahill

More than 300 posts
Just my 2 cents...the ROP is one of the best programs I've ever done. I started from scratch years ago after not doing resistance for several years and quite frankly it delivered a bit of everything. I gained muscle in the shoulder girdle and hips, I dropped my resting pulse, I gained stamina and I had people say to me things like, "I see you're lifting again"! I met the standards (1/2 bw press and USSST with a 24) and was able to go on to other programs with no issues! This includes doubles programs. I have returned to the program numerous times. (Have a couple of years ago done it with a 40 kg, then tried a 44 kg but just couldn't handle it- at my age now, I don't plan on trying again any time soon!)

In a nutshell, the ROP delivers "as is" and although I am not an instructor nor do I have a desire to do so, I am a basic "garage gorilla" in his mid fifties who enjoys training to stay in shape and has tried numerous programs over the years since my teens. I mean no disrespect to the instructional staff either as in my mind they are dedicated and awesome!

I say just do it as written. No program can deliver "everything" but this comes darned close. In my mind it ranks up there with Bill Star's 5x5 as a great program that both a beginner and a veteran can benefit from. Meet the standards and see!
 

James Sullivan

Double-Digit Post Count
Elite Certified Instructor
@John Grahill awesome! Great story. I’m also of the opinion that this is the most effective and efficient strength plan I’ve ever followed. I’m a bit behind on achieving the 10 min snatch test, but for me pressing had always been difficult and this plan has delivered incredible results when followed precisely.

like I mentioned, I’ll be following as written until otherwise directed... but I can’t help wondering if Pavel has a tweak for this book up his sleeve also.

If you don’t mind me asking ... how did you organize the conditioning portion? Would love to hear about a plan that resulted in a pass on the 10 min snatch test!

Thanks.
 

John Grahill

More than 300 posts
@James Sullivan .... Well, I basically did the "conditioning" after the strength work (the presses and pullups).... Honestly and this is no pun... I got strong first before I attempted the SSST!

Ya know what, and I realize this now, back then when I attempted it at first the whole program had a conditioning effect. Doing clean and presses and pullups back to back and condensing the rest periods as much as possible THEN hitting the "conditioning" portion was almost like 2 conditioning sessions if you know what I mean.

Basically I just attacked the program as written/suggested and it delivered.

When you bake the best cakes in town, don't change the recipe! Lol
 

John Grahill

More than 300 posts
By the way, subsequent runs through the ROP pressing ladders were done with significantly more rest through the ladders ... I became less pedantic worrying about the rest between rungs and ladders. It worked well as I could more explosively work on the ballistics afterward. The workouts were longer but I told myself basically to suck it up.
 
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