S&S efficacy

Closed Thread. (Continue Discussion of This Topic by Starting a New Thread.)

Stephen Reynolds

Level 3 Valued Member
I made the mistake of reading an RKC article regarding the overall efficacy of S&S. According to them, S&S does not address a broad enough spectrum of fitness and one should incorporate other moves. Is S&S a stand alone effective workout ? Is Pavel T. correct in his opinion that S&S is all one needs to build a good foundation? Confused.


Level 4 Valued Member
I guess if you try to do 10x10 swings in 5 minutes, and 5x1 TGU on each side in 10 minutes, with a heavy enough weight (and that weight is different for everybody!), you will find the answer yourself :)
The swing is regarded the king of the KB movements, and the TGU puts the whole body under constant tension for a fair amount of time. In my personal opinion, unless you have a specific goal in mind, S&S is all you need.

Sean M

Level 6 Valued Member
Can you link the article or give us the title to search for it? I'd like to read it for full context.


Level 5 Valued Member
I made the mistake of reading an RKC article regarding the overall efficacy of S&S. According to them, S&S does not address a broad enough spectrum of fitness and one should incorporate other moves. Is S&S a stand alone effective workout ? Is Pavel T. correct in his opinion that S&S is all one needs to build a good foundation? Confused.
Efficacy can only be assessed in relation to a goal. If the goal is to increase pressing ability, there are better programming.

Darren Best

Level 7 Valued Member
Yeah we need to be pointed in the direction of the article to find out the context of what was said, without that we are throwing darts blindfolded in a room full of balloons.


Level 8 Valued Member

Efficacy is a pretty vague word. As @StanStan said, efficacy for what purpose ?

If we talk about bulking up, sure there is better. If we talk about a specific program, yes again there is better (for instance fighter pull up program).

S&S is designed to be non specific but having carryover on almost all other moves and giving you conditioning.

Comparing S&S is more or less possible only with other non specific programs.

Kind regards,



Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I agree it's hard to judge efficacy against unknown criteria. It's a GPP program. I have used it for over 20 months I have found it more effective for my overall strength/ conditioning and more importantly health than the numerous cookie cutter programmes I used in my twenties. I weave it in and out of other programmes such as FPP and 2 day barbell programmes but as a program minimum it is more than effective..


Level 7 Valued Member
Let's put it this way. I train 15-20 minutes a day, and I'm fit, good looking, super strong, and I can fight better than ever before in judo and kendo.

I think it depends on how heavy you're doing the S&S at. If you're cranking out 100 swings at 40 or 48 kg, and 10 getups at the same weight, you're darn strong!!! And your cardio is pretty darn good to boot!

Without reading the article, I think its premise is wrong. OBVIOUSLY S&S is an amazing general preparedness fitness programme. It's also super time-efficient! It's obviously a great base for strength and fitness.

Anyhow, Pavel has other programmes for harder-core training, one being ROP, but lots of others too. BUT, S&S is still "hard core training" if you do it at heavier and heavier weights. As a guy said to me who is a Masters world champion powerlifter, "I can't do a getup with a 40kg weight!!! Are you nuts!?" I think this says it all right there!

Riley O'Neill

Level 3 Valued Member
I revert to the article by Brett Jones about separating drills into Main Dishes and Spices Spices vs. Main Dishes: How to Program a Proper Training Menu . S&S is a main dish and there are other spices you can do to improve certain things but they don't need to be a focus. S&S isn't all I do but its the only fitness thing that I actually give focus towards. I do other things but I don't give them anywhere near the regularity or effort.


Level 6 Valued Member
What about Get-ups, swings, Prying goblet squats with curls, halos, bridges and stretches...I think that the other parts of S&S often get neglected when people think about it.

+1 about goals, but here is my take. S & S has defined my goals. I have a goal of meeting the simple standard. S & S provides a blueprint. Doing two moves repeatedly with little variation increases mindfulness and body awareness. This leads me to use meaningful accessory exercises.
- I notice that my thoracic mobility is encumbering my get ups...so, I add arm bars and bent arm bars.
-I notice that my grip is slowing down my swing progression...so, I start to GTG during my workday with CoC grippers.
-I notice that my pelvic tilt is irritating my back when standing with a heavy weight overhead during get ups...so, I start doing hip flexor stretches.

S&S defined a clear goal and revealed the chinks in my armor. The assistance movements make sense to me viscerally. This is different to me than assistance with other programs such as 5/3/1 where I did assistance because it was prescribed but didn't come out of my clear awareness of what was preventing my progression.

Just my recent experience...your mileage may vary.

P.S. Read the article and have a few more observations.
I challenge the idea that swings are just a lower pull. They light up my lats far more than doing one hand rows. I also note that the author adds reverse lunges as a lower push, but aren't these part of the get up, already. Also, aren't prying goblet squats a lower push. The article is clearly intended to be a challenge to S & S, but I would stand by my argument that S & S provides a template that can be used to assess and address individual movement and strength gaps. Then again, maybe I've just drunk the Kool Aid.
Last edited:

Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I made the mistake of reading an RKC article regarding the overall efficacy of S&S.
Fair enough, but mistake or not, you are asking many questions about the article.

According to them, S&S does not address a broad enough spectrum of fitness ...
A broad enough for what purpose? I will tell you, for my purpose, S&S addresses _more_ than I need, not less. I'm perfectly happy deadlifting and walking. If you'll forgive me, I will take some examples from my career as a musician and music teacher.

You can hand me most kinds of music, in styles I've never even heard of, and I will play it well enough that you'll say, "Yes, that's exactly how it goes - how did you know?" I know because I have prepared myself by methods that make me an anti-fragile musician - I can play anything someone has written down correctly, and I can figure out just about everything by ear if it's not written down.

I teach my students according to the same philosophy: I teach them to how fish rather than handing them one fish. I prepare them for whatever may come their way and whatever they may wish to do with their skills for the rest of their lives.

S&S is such a program - on it, you can build may kinds of specific fitness, but S&S makes no attempt to be "broad spectrum" in its choice of movements. To the contrary, S&S states, and I agree 110%, that most people will be better off, and most goals better achieved, by achieving a high level of skill in a few, basic movements. A "broad spectrum" of people will benefit from S&S's very limited but highly focused choice of exercises.

...and one should incorporate other moves.
Why? One can incorporate other moves when there are reasons to do so. I practice swings and getups, and deadlifts and one-armed pushups and overhead presses. The first two are foundational movements as explained in S&S, and they help me with the other three, which are movements I want to be better at in competition and/or for my own satisfaction.

Is S&S a stand alone effective workout ?
What "effect" are you looking for?

Is Pavel T. correct in his opinion that S&S is all one needs to build a good foundation?
S&S is enough to build a good foundation, and if it's enough to build a good foundation, what more does one need? Can you build a better foundation? A foundation's purpose is to support what you build on it; if your foundation does that, what purpose is served by having a "better" foundation? If your goals require specific things, let's address those issues specifically. A foundation is, by definition, general.

Is more better? Sometimes, yes, and sometimes, no. All we can say about more is that it's more. All we can say about S&S is that we have a long thread in "I Achieved Simple and Here's My Story," full of people telling us how S&S has improved their strength, their endurance, their martial arts performance, and a whole host of other things. One can build many kinds of house on the same foundation.

Yes. :)

Clearer now?



Level 7 Valued Member
The article seems well meaning and all, but it isn't resting its case on anything. It's just saying you need more variety without explaining why. The judo forums I used to be part of were like this too - lots of good ideas written in type on a screen but they didn't mean much when on the mats with an opponent in front of you who is as strong as you or stronger.

The getup is really several exercises done in sequence, like a karate kata:
  1. floor press
  2. side plank
  3. windmill
  4. squat variation
  5. lunge
  6. isometric overhead hold
  7. lunge
  8. squat variation
  9. windmill
  10. side plank
  11. floor press
In my case, I pass the bell over my belly to the other side gripping its horns, and this works some other muscles too - a kind of belly-halo or something, hahaha.

Anyhow, in the getup alone, there is a LOT of stuff happening! Lots of weird twistings and bendings of everything.

The 1 handed swing is also a complicated movement and takes you from facing downwards to straight forward and upright, keeping your weight from flying out of your hand.

Goals of all around strong and good cardio and good looks and good fighting ability achieved.

Robert Noftz

Level 5 Valued Member
I made the mistake of reading an RKC article regarding the overall efficacy of S&S. According to them, S&S does not address a broad enough spectrum of fitness and one should incorporate other moves. Is S&S a stand alone effective workout ? Is Pavel T. correct in his opinion that S&S is all one needs to build a good foundation? Confused.
I read the article by Mr. Shank. I have some questions about it. He claims by adding the exercises he recommends to your routine and doing less swings and get ups you will not invest more time and will get "more bang for your buck". I question if that is really the case and will put some reasons below. I do mean to be respectful. I have no doubt that Mr. Shank is a highly skilled trainer with a lot to offer. I merely question some of his assertions and what he calls improvements.

Mr. Shank did not mention a warm up. In S&S you warm up with goblet squats and halos. There is a hip bridge for beginners. In regards to the stretch he recommends, flexibility is something which can be taken care of with a stretching routine which Pavel recommends.

In Mr. Shank's routine it looks like he intends the two sets of exercises to be done as part of the same routine. If they are to be done on separate days he does not specify that. In regards to the sets for each side of the body perhaps some people understand the system of numbering them better than I do.

In regards to the get ups, if he is recommending 5 for each arm then you are not saving any time because it is the same amount you do in S&S, that is, unless you are doing the two routines on separate alternating days.
Is he recommending 5 sets of swings using two hands at the same time or 5 sets of one arm swings for each arm? Take a look at it and you may see what I mean. If he is recommending 5 sets with each arm then you are not saving any time and you are not doing less swings unless you are alternating the two routines on different days.
If you are doing 5 sets of swings with 2 hands then you are doing less but you are missing out on the anti rotation benefits from doing 1 arm swings. Perhaps you can make up for that by doing the thoracic bridge.

He recommends 5 sets of rows and 5 sets of reverse lunges. If he is adding these in to the swings and get ups on the same day then there is no way you are saving time. I still am not clear about how many swings or get ups he is recommending or how often they are to be done.

I do question if the rows will be any better for my upper pulling as he describes it. I seem to be getting great overall back development from doing the swings. I am surprised just how well my whole back is developing.

In regards to the reverse lunges, I don't see how this is a great addition to the S&S routine because I do a reverse lunge every time I do a get up.

Thoracic bridge may be a good exercise but is seems like I do bridging with mobility every time I do a get up.

It looks like Mr. Shank needs to clear up some issues and be more specific about what his recommendations are. If you are doing the second set of exercises as an addition to swings and get ups on the same day then it seems obvious it will take more time unless I misunderstood his way of recording sets and reps.
If the second set of exercises are to be done on a different day than the swings and get ups then I don't see how they will make a significant improvement to what you are doing. The swings and get ups are incredible overall body exercises and you get a little extra with the goblet squats and halos you do in your warm up.

Another point is that Mr. Shank did not address the endurance aspect of the routine. S&S is designed to be tested within certain time limits and when done in this way the practitioner will develop a high level of endurance when they are working with the heavier kettlebells. It takes a lot of endurance to do 100 swings in 5 minutes with a heavy kettlebell and then to do 10 get ups in 10 minutes.

Perhaps Mr. Shank's routine would be good for many people but I don't see how it is an improvement over S&S for someone who is looking for a basic all-around strength and conditioning routine. Mr. Pavel Tsatsouline did not recommend S&S as a routine that is designed to take care of everything but rather as a simply designed basic routine for strength and conditioning. S&S is a foundational routine. People who have more specific needs can address them as needed.

I suspect Mr. Shank may have missed many important points about S&S when he wrote his article. I also believe he has failed to demonstrate that the exercises he recommends are an improvement over the S&S routine. It seems like the exercises he recommends in his second set work some of the same muscles as the swings and getups but leave some other areas uncovered. They don't appear to be as good for overall body development as the swings and get ups. Overall there were too many points he failed to address.

In regards to S&S, I have been noticing great development in my whole body since I started doing S&S exclusively. I am building muscles in places I never expected and my endurance is improving dramatically using two overall body movements. I don't see how adding the second set of exercises on the same day can be done in the same amount of time. If I did the exercises as listed it looks like they would take more time and energy. Also, I question whether I would be able to maintain the workload on a daily basis. If I needed more variety it seems like there are other exercises I could add that don't overlap so strongly with the swings and get ups.
I plan to stick with the S&S for now. When I do add other things I will look to the Strongfirst curriculum for exercises to add. I am planning to add front squats, cleans and military presses, and a stomach exercise after I make good progress on the S&S. This is something I can take care of by implementing Pavel's other material in my routine.

God bless and best of luck in your practice,
Last edited:

Chris F.

Level 3 Valued Member
Not with StrongFirst. It's one of the things I admire most about this group. Whatever may be said about the division several years ago, this group has demonstrated taking "the high road" over and over again. As Steve points out repeatedly when these things pop up: "We don't say they're wrong, we just know we're right."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have my S&S session to attend to


Level 7 Valued Member
Anyone, please correct me if I'm wrong. But isn't part of the reason for S&S that it's the minimum effective dose? If you are for instance participating in climbing, martial arts, rugby, or just a weekend warrior you can be fit with 30 min. a day and still have time for life.

If a young man came to me and ask, "old man, I have limited time and need to get stronger for next football season, what should I do"? If I told him to do clean & presses and squats does that mean that there isn't a better program? Of course not, but for the biggest bang for the buck, he could get stronger for his chosen goal by arguably using only these two movements.


Level 8 Valued Member
I've done one program of mr. Shank. It was press, row, squat, swing and pushup/plank. One kettlebell, 80% effort, 2-6 rounds. Great program which I enjoyed. It was simple and effective and all strenght movement patterns were included.
My recent goal is achieving simple so s&s is all I need for now. :)
Closed Thread. (Continue Discussion of This Topic by Starting a New Thread.)
Top Bottom