S&S Intensity Question

Elvin

Level 1 Valued Member
Hello all,

I've become very enthusiastic to achieve both Simple and Sinister standards. My question/confusion is how to know when I've hit the ideal intensity. What I've read says to not work out to the point of being sore for a long time. This is rather tough for me as I don't know how to ensure I'm not easing up too much. I've fallen into that trap of equating a lot of soreness to a good workout. I completely trust the logic of Pavel in the book. I think subconsciously I will either revert to going to hard too soon, or not pushing myself enough. Any tips on how to manage my level of work intensity would be greatly appreciated.
 

ClimbStrong

First Post
Hi Elvin,

I'm not an SFG but am also following S&S 2.0 and have recently read the book again.
2 reasons in my limited view.
1- your not getting enough rest between sets. Are you using the talk test to measure rest periods?
2-The KB is too heavy for you at the moment. Maybe go down 4-8kg and see what happens to soreness levels. If they become bearable and you feel ready to go every day, that is where I would spend the time for 4 weeks. Then start adding in the next bell up as per the book.
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
My question/confusion is how to know when I've hit the ideal intensity.

This is the big thing, what makes it such a rich programme.
Many, many articles and threads on heart rate, breathing, talk tests for you to dive into.
To badly summarise it all.....moderately hard, for you.
Overtime, your definition of that will change.

Like a lot of people, thrashing yourself to bits is what they know. Me included.
S&S teaches you to curb it. Partly because you do it almost every day, so going hard at it is not going to work out well.
So baby steps.
You will build a picture of how much/little is appropriate and you build a framework, for you. Overtime. Don't rush.

This can get misconstrued as easy, s&S isn't, it still is high intensity but moderated, fine tuned for daily practice.
Learning that distinction is the most rewarding thing.
Invest in and try out different aspects of various tools that will help you along the way, heart rate, breathing etc....all of which require learning about too.
Good luck and enjoy.
 

DunteH

Level 5 Valued Member
I've never found myself not pushing hard enough.
I don't mean I'm special, I mean, after an SFG weekend, twice now I've taken a couple of days off, then started S&S again with a light weight. I like 6-10 days at each very light bell - from 2 to 4 weeks depending on my frequency - before moving to a light bell before moving to a moderate one. Sure, it's slow going, but I find it relieves my mind from driving hard and it leaves me with lots of spare mental space to monitor my technique, breathing, HR, satisfaction, etc. I think I get better, faster under light weights. So there may not be a "too easy," at least in my case. Was at the Dome for a cert last weekend, I can hit timed sets at 36kg comfortably, and I'm back to 16kg right now. Feels great.

A few years back, my first time through S&S (worked up to 40kg timed, 44kg untimed), I didn't take any "crazy switch" days. I had competitions in T&F every month - and after any PRs on the track, I dropped back to 28 or 32kg and worked back up. Same reasons - if you're focused on technique and grace and pursuing a single perfect rep, the strength comes.

It took 10 years of pushing too hard and hurting myself to really buy into the wisdom of S&S - and I found I needed even more time under light and moderate weights to make real progress.
 

Elvin

Level 1 Valued Member
@Elvin, please let us know where you in are in S&S progression, what weights you're using, how many times per week you do it, how long you've been following the program, etc.
Hi! Currently I've been going for about 3 weeks. I've been trying to workout at least 4 days per week and have been sticking to it. I'm starting with the simple standard and I'm currently using a 16kg for both swings and getups. I have a 24kg and a 11kg also. At this point, I'm experimenting with the best times to practice so that I can practice every day with the rare off day should life throw me a curve ball.
 

Elvin

Level 1 Valued Member
Better to slow cook than burn.

Honestly, a simple heuristic for swings - is each rep crisp? If not, stop/slow down/more rest.
For get ups - do I feel shaky? if yes, slow down
Thank you! that is such a simple statement, but really puts it into perspective for me!
 

Elvin

Level 1 Valued Member
This is the big thing, what makes it such a rich programme.
Many, many articles and threads on heart rate, breathing, talk tests for you to dive into.
To badly summarise it all.....moderately hard, for you.
Overtime, your definition of that will change.

Like a lot of people, thrashing yourself to bits is what they know. Me included.
S&S teaches you to curb it. Partly because you do it almost every day, so going hard at it is not going to work out well.
So baby steps.
You will build a picture of how much/little is appropriate and you build a framework, for you. Overtime. Don't rush.

This can get misconstrued as easy, s&S isn't, it still is high intensity but moderated, fine tuned for daily practice.
Learning that distinction is the most rewarding thing.
Invest in and try out different aspects of various tools that will help you along the way, heart rate, breathing etc....all of which require learning about too.
Good luck and enjoy.
Thank you for reminding me of that distinction about it being tuned for daily practice. My old way of thinking will probably be what I need to get rid of
 

Elvin

Level 1 Valued Member
I've never found myself not pushing hard enough.
I don't mean I'm special, I mean, after an SFG weekend, twice now I've taken a couple of days off, then started S&S again with a light weight. I like 6-10 days at each very light bell - from 2 to 4 weeks depending on my frequency - before moving to a light bell before moving to a moderate one. Sure, it's slow going, but I find it relieves my mind from driving hard and it leaves me with lots of spare mental space to monitor my technique, breathing, HR, satisfaction, etc. I think I get better, faster under light weights. So there may not be a "too easy," at least in my case. Was at the Dome for a cert last weekend, I can hit timed sets at 36kg comfortably, and I'm back to 16kg right now. Feels great.

A few years back, my first time through S&S (worked up to 40kg timed, 44kg untimed), I didn't take any "crazy switch" days. I had competitions in T&F every month - and after any PRs on the track, I dropped back to 28 or 32kg and worked back up. Same reasons - if you're focused on technique and grace and pursuing a single perfect rep, the strength comes.

It took 10 years of pushing too hard and hurting myself to really buy into the wisdom of S&S - and I found I needed even more time under light and moderate weights to make real progress.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I think I am going to have to constantly remind my self to ease my foot off of the gas pedal so to speak. As I'm aging, I'm more concerned with longevity than rapid results that don't last. I've made many errors in the past for the sake of speed and what I believed to be a great workout. I think S&S will give me the perfect way to finally be strong and uninjured.
 

Bauer

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello all,

I've become very enthusiastic to achieve both Simple and Sinister standards. My question/confusion is how to know when I've hit the ideal intensity. What I've read says to not work out to the point of being sore for a long time. This is rather tough for me as I don't know how to ensure I'm not easing up too much. I've fallen into that trap of equating a lot of soreness to a good workout. I completely trust the logic of Pavel in the book. I think subconsciously I will either revert to going to hard too soon, or not pushing myself enough. Any tips on how to manage my level of work intensity would be greatly appreciated.
That is actually a tough one. I used to do too much in the beginning and didn't listen to my body, as I thought that I needed to train 5-6 times per week to see any kind of progress. But I cannot sustain 500-600 reps week for more than 3 weeks. Personally, I have found that 350 reps (on average) per week work well for me.

My advice: Commit to 4 weeks of moderate practice and see how far you will have come. Pavel uses the analogy of manual labor: The sets should feel like work. But between sets, conserve energy. Imagine having to do it all day. Would you condense the rest periods? Of course not. You would take your time, shake it out. Can you repeat the effort set after set, day after day?

Practically this could mean taking 2 breaths more during each rest period than normal and skipping training on days, where you feel too run down. You will be fine :) Test it for yourself and then adjust from there.
 
Last edited:

oab

Level 1 Valued Member
This is an excellent question. The right amount (dose) will yield an optimum response. Not too little. Not too much. It is a hard question as well. Tracking sets, reps, weights, how hard it feels (rate of perceived exertion) will help to work this out. Bauer's idea of tracking a weekly "dose" ie total swings per week is a good one.

Also, read Anna C's new article:
Finding the “Easy” in Simple and Sinister…and Life | StrongFirst
I think she was being modest not mentioning it.

Perhaps take a step down to a lighter weight for a few weeks to really let the nervous system develop the skill. At the end of the day, there is a process of simple experimentation involved ie you undertake a program for a few weeks and then review (or re-assess). Remember, that the optimum dose may be less than you think.
 

Bauer

Level 6 Valued Member
Remember, that the optimum dose may be less than you think.
This is also discussed in the Strength Podcast Episode with Brett Jones:
(about minute 27 to 33)

Very worth a listen!
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Hi! Currently I've been going for about 3 weeks. I've been trying to workout at least 4 days per week and have been sticking to it. I'm starting with the simple standard and I'm currently using a 16kg for both swings and getups. I have a 24kg and a 11kg also. At this point, I'm experimenting with the best times to practice so that I can practice every day with the rare off day should life throw me a curve ball.

Sounds good, and you're getting some good advice! Keep after it and let us know what other questions you have along the way.

Kettlebell deadlifts and 2H swings with your 24kg will go well with your 16kg practice.
 

Adachi

Level 5 Valued Member
@Elvin . Welcome .

Pavel does describe that when administering the talk test , it's better to err in the side of too much rest between sets.

However, he does advise that the reps should be explosive and to keep things dialed in around 80-90%.

I think it's a judgement call, as to whether you're at the dialed in to an 8 or 9 on the volume knob. Maybe try the intensity drill he described in the book, and see where the bell goes when you call out the number you're trying for.

But, as long as your swings are explosive to chest height, and you're getting that extra flex in the glutes and abs at the top, that's a gauge I use for where I'm at. The quality of my lock out at the top, and the lateness of my break on the down swing. I think it tells me about my confidence level with the current bell size.
 

Nacho

Level 5 Valued Member
You are using 16kg at the moment. Work on doing as many sessions a week as you can. Build a habit and focus on technique. Get used to the volume with a fairly light weight first. After a while start to incorporate a bigger bell to the mix with the progression described in the book. If you need to take light days or drop the session frequency as you move to heavier bells, just adjust by how you feel. Err on the side of using a lighter bell, but focus on moving it fast and powerfully on swings and slow and super controlled in get ups.

Just my own experience.
 

Elvin

Level 1 Valued Member
Sounds good, and you're getting some good advice! Keep after it and let us know what other questions you have along the way.

Kettlebell deadlifts and 2H swings with your 24kg will go well with your 16kg practice.
Thank you! Are there other complimentary exercises that I can have a small dose of without getting in the way of my main goal of achieving the Sinister standard? Like pull ups or dips? I am very curious about the "what the hell" effect, but not to the point where my curiosity will rob me of progress on S&S. I'm really enjoying the simplicity of S&S thus far think it'll go a long way into keeping my consistent.
 

Elvin

Level 1 Valued Member
Thank you all for the very helpful replies. I think it'll be usefully to regularly revisit the book and refresh my memory. I often find that different parts of a book come into better focus with each revisit
 

oukeith1

Level 3 Valued Member
I felt like I was getting the most out of S&S when I finally learned to slow down and take what felt like VERY long rests between sets. I started making faster progress with the 32, and learned to swing much more explosively than when I insisted on making it a cardio workout. It was also more enjoyable and I felt great.
 
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