S&S Quest

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Level 2 Valued Member
Hey all, new to Strongfirst and kettlebells generally as of last month. I heard Pavel on the radio, my head exploded, then I bought Simple and Sinister, read it, started last month - May 2nd, 2017.

I won't bore anyone with how last month went, but it started like this:

Swings: 5 x 10 - 2 hands - 24kg

GUs: 8 x 1 (L/R) - 8kg -- 2 x 1 (L/R) - 12kg

and it ended, on May 30th, 2017, like this:

Swings: 10 x 10 (L/R) - 24kg

GUs: 10 x 10 (L/R) - 20kg

Long rests between sets helped with getting all 10 sets of both without faulting.

Needless to say, I love S&S! Never seen such results. Few things happened along the way:

1. I shredded the s*** out of my hands. Blisters became calluses that became blood blisters. I got bandages, and an emery board to file them down, which both helped a lot. But it did interrupt training on a few days.

2. Bell slipping was a big issue. I certainly have a grip imbalance between hands. I'm right handed, and my left hand swings were more slippery than my right hand ones, even though they were equally sweaty.

But I used chalk for the first time today, and it was the first day I had no concern about dropping the bell.

Between May 30th and today, I had a couple of very messy sessions. Dropped the bell a couple times on swings, attempted my first TGUs with a 24kg bell just to test it out -- completed one rep on each side. But went on to gabble with friends at the gym and lose track of sets. Less said about these last few days the better.

So here's today - June 4th, 2017:

Swings: 10 x 10 (L/R) - 24kg. (Chalked left hand only for first time - zero bell slipping).

TGU: 5 x 1 (L) - 20kg. 4 x 1 (R) - 20kg. Faulted on last Right Side TGU. Attempted twice, faulted twice.

I've had a strange experience with TGUs on my right side - which is my dominant side. I find my "lunge to stand" is much more difficult than on my left side. When I'm in the lunge position on my right side, I just feel like I can't get up. I tense forearms, abs and glutes (I heard that's Pavel's recommendation, is that correct?) and it helps a bit, but sometimes elbow buckles. Just sitting in the lunge position with the bell in my left hand, I feel like I can get up, no problem. Anyone else encounter this?

Thanks for any tips!


Level 7 Valued Member

I'd recommend posting a video of both -- you will get some high quality advice from folks on here.


Level 2 Valued Member
June 6th, 2017 -- (I know these posts are time stamped but what the hell, I like writing the date)

Did the timed S&S "Program Minimum" today - 10 x 10 swings (L/R) with 24kg in five minutes, and 10 TGUs (L/R) with 16kg in 15 minutes. 1 minute rest.

The swings had me gasping by the end, but the final set felt fairly crisp. Once again, chalking my left hand saved me from embarrassing bell drops. And a small circular bandage on a blister/callus/nuisance on my left palm prevented any pinching, which I've experienced a lot of in the past. Hopefully never to return.

I think I corrected the problem with my right hand TGUs as well. Doing it under time made me focus on form in a particular way I hadn't before, and I realized that when I was in the lunge position with the bell in my right hand, my left knee was too far forward. So I was driving more up than straight ahead when I stood from the lunge.

I adjusted my left knee position, made sure I was pushing more forward off my left toes, and it felt much easier than before.

I've been training TGUs with the 20 kilo bell, so the 16kg felt very comfortable. While I finished 100 swings with 15 seconds left in the 5 minutes, and was breathing like a beached porpoise, I finished 10 TGUs in about 8 minutes and felt decent.

I still plan to post a video of my TGUs for form tips in the near future. I know they can improve in several areas. Besides the right hand "Lunge to Stand," I need to refine the move up from the "Post into Lunge" on both sides. I'm packing my shoulders and tensing my abs, glutes and forearms, but I'm wobbly in the Post. Not so much with the 16kg, since it felt comparatively light.


Level 5 Valued Member
Mitch, welcome. Looks like you're off to a good start already doing one-armed swings at that weight! Look forward to following your log.

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Hi Mitch, good job on meeting the time standards with the 24kg!


Level 2 Valued Member
Hi Mitch, good job on meeting the time standards with the 24kg!
Thanks Anna C! I was overdue to try them under the time standards.

Took a week off for a bunch of sorry excuses of reasons. Back today and surprisingly okay.

Here's today - June 14th, 2017:

swings: 10 x 10 (L/R) with 24kg in 6:35.

TGUs: 6 x 1 (L/R) with 20kg -- 4 x 1 (L/R) with 24kg.

In the interest of maintaining conditioning standards, I think from now own I'll time my swings. I passed the Talk Test for each set, but I feel like it'll keep me reasonably honest about rest in order to build towards the Simple Goals under time.

Today was my heaviest day yet on TGUs. I was surprised to find I could do four without faulting with 24kg. The last one on my left side, I'll confess my elbow bent, starting around the Post-to-Lunge on the way up.

But I tensed forearms, abs and glutes like I didn't know I could, and it seemed to carry me through. I heard Pavel describe how if the muscles are the speakers on your stereo, tensing those three spots is like turning up the amplifier.

I've tried it on tough sets, and admit I didn't feel a huge difference. Then again, I wasn't really max-maxing the tension in any of them, just trying it out.

Anyone have much experience with this technique? I'm very curious about it.


Level 2 Valued Member
Forgot my chalk today - don't do it folks! Bell felt like a greased fish in my left hand.

Swings: Right - 5 x 10 w/ 24kg. Left: 2 x 10, 6 x 5 w/ 24kg.

TGUs: 6 x 1 (L/R) w/ 20kg. 4 x 1 (L/R) w/ 24kg.

Felt okay in the 24kg TGUs. Faulted once on my right side, re-attempted after doing a rep with 20kg, and then it didn't feel bad. Always surprised how much it's about technique.

I think I'll work in a set of two-handed swings with the 32kg bell in the next few days, see how it goes.


Level 2 Valued Member
Pushed hard today, hopefully not too hard. Will likely take tomorrow "off" - or the version of it Pavel describes in S&S, drilling movements with light bells.

here's June 17th, 2017:

Swings: 2 x 10 two-handed, 32kg. 8 x 10 (L/R), 24kg.

TGUs: 6 x 1 (L/R), 24kg. 4 x 1 (L/R), 20kg.

Two handed swings with 32kg were heavy, but definitely achievable. Reasonably crisp.

But I tentatively tried a single hand swing - just one hike pass - not happening, not even once.

Long rests between get-ups allowed me to get 6 complete ones with 24kg.

The 32kg bell at my gym is the kind that looks like a gorilla head.

I am very eager to start using it regularly.


Level 2 Valued Member
Yet another inexcusable multi-day hiatus. But, counting my lucky stars, not too much drop off. I won't miss a day for the next week.

Here's June 22nd 2017:

Swings: 6 x 10 (L/R) w/ 24kg. 2 x 6 (L/R) w/ 32kg. 2 x 4 (L/R) w/ 32kg. 2 x 10 (two hand) w/ 32 kg.

TGUs: 6 x 1 (L/R) w/ 24kg. 4 x 1 (L/R) w/ 20kg.

Two-handed swings with 32kg felt fine. Decent snap, bell came up to shoulder level.

Today I made my first attempts at single-handed swings with the 32kg. Pretty sorry- looking -- bell went to about mid-stomach level. Couldn't complete a set of 10 so I broke it up on both sides. Snap/explosiveness pretty soft on both sides.

Surprising disparity between single and two-handed in terms of the snap of the hip drive. The 24kg single hand swings feel great, I try to keep them sharp and aggressive.

I'd move up to a 28 kilo bell instead but my gym doesn't have one, I'll try to sweet talk them into getting one just for me.


Level 2 Valued Member
Didn't log yesterday's workout, so here's Saturday June 24th 2017:

Swings: 8 x 10 (l/r) w/ 24kg. 1 x 10 (right hand) w/ 32kg. 1 x 7, 1 x 3 (left hand) w/ 32 kg.

TGUs: 6 x 1 (l/r) w/ 24kg. 2 x 1 (l/r) w/ 20kg.

I felt really tired and shaky on my get-ups, despite normal amounts of rest. even when I moved down to 20kg. unsure why, but I figured I'd come back strong the next day (today).


Level 2 Valued Member
Here's today, Sunday June 25th 2017:

Swings: 8 x 10 (l/r) w/ 24 kg. 1 x 10 (right hand) w/ 32kg. 1 x 9 (left hand) w/ 32kg. time -- 7:30

TGUs: 10 x 1 (l/r) w/ 24kg.

First day I was able to complete all ten get-ups with 24 kilos. Felt good throughout, even the last rep. I was surprised, especially given how shaky yesterday was.

Also felt good on swings. I've introduced sets with 32 kilos, and although they're not crisp or explosive yet, the 24 kg sets feel like they're getting increasingly sharp, which I'm happy about.

The 32kg sets have brought the imbalance in my grip strength into sharp relief. I can't finish ten swings with my left hand, not even

I think I'll go back to a couple sets of two-handed swings with 32. It's clear to me I need to build the ballistic strength to get the bell up there, and to work consistently on grip with the 24, chiefly in my left hand.


Level 2 Valued Member
Traveling this week, but got one session in on the road.

Here's Tuesday, June 27th 2017:

Swings: 10 x 10 w/ 24 kg

TGUs: 9 x 1 (L/R) w/ 24kg - faulted on final left hand get-up.

For some reason I kept faulting on my left side - elbow bent on the lunge-to-stand, or on the descent, during the lunge-to-hinge. strange because all the other reps on both sides felt pretty comfortable.

I decided not to keep pushing it and call it a day after that. I guess I could've extended my rest and gone for one more, but it just didn't seem like the right idea.


Level 2 Valued Member
Here's yesterday, June 29th 2017:

Swings: 10 x 10 w/ 24kg (L/R). 1 x 5 w/ 32 kg (left hand)

TGUs: 10 x 1 w / 24kg (L/R).

Tried to do one set of swings with 32 kilos with my left hand and it was not happening. Grip strength seems to be the larger issue than hip drive, although that's not where it should be either.

I think I'll order a set of the crushing grippers as some people on the forum have recommended and see what they can do for my grip issues.


Level 2 Valued Member
Still need to get better about posting these things in real time - here's June 30th 2017:

Swings: 6 x 10 w/ 24kg (L/R). 4 x 10 w/ 32kg (L/R).

TGUs: 10 x 1 w/ 24kg (L/R).

The 32 kilo swings were actually okay - wasn't able to swing quite to chest height, but was able to get enough hip drive for the bell to float a bit at the top.

I'm still sweet talking my gym into getting a 28 kg bell. Would make life much easier for me!


Level 2 Valued Member
Here's today, July 2nd 2017:

Swings: 6 x 10 w/ 24kg (L/R). 4 x 10 w/ 32kg (L/R).

TGUs: 10 x 1 w/ 24kg (L/R).

I did the get ups under time - tried to achieve all of them in 15 minutes, ended up being about 18.

I had said earlier I intended to do swings under time every day. I'll start walking that walk now with both swings and get ups. I've been lackadaisical in keeping both exercises within a time frame that maintains conditioning. Think I'll do swings in 6 or 7 minutes, get-ups in around 18.

Today was the first time I focused on over-swing eccentrics in all my swings with the 24 k bell. Enjoyed them. Hope that while I'm waiting for my gym to get around to buying that 28 k bell that eccentrics will help the progress continue.


Level 2 Valued Member
Hey Mitch, I believe the test for the Get-Ups is 10 minutes, right?
Right you are sir. I just use the 15 to 18 minute timeframe for training. I'm not even at 28 kilos for the get-ups yet, so I'm working to get to '32kg in 10 minutes' by around eight weeks from now, if I can stay consistent. And if I can get my dang gym to buy a 28k bell so I can move up.

Important update: as of today they said they "probably will." Here's July 3rd 2017...

swings: 6 x 10 w/ 24 kg, 4 x 10 w/ 32 kg in 8:30

TGUs: 10 x 1 (L/R) w/ 24kg in 19:30

Slow day. I will keep myself honest about time from now on, because if I don't, I'll never get down to the test times.

Good news is get ups felt stronger than ever today. I have had a frustrating habit of faulting in my last rep in the last few weeks, often in the lunge-to-stand portion. Never consistent as to which side, but it's clearly fatigue. Only happens in the last or penultimate rep. But today I wasn't close to faulting even on the last two.

Swings with 32 kilos feeling better. Focusing on "aggression," as Pavel said in the book.

Even so, realistically it'll be another month at least before it's 10 x 10 with 32kg. And more than a month of 28k get ups before attempting even one with 32kg.
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Level 2 Valued Member
Took this great nation's birthday off yesterday. Here's today, July 5th 2017:

Swings: 4 x 10 w/ 24kg (L/R), 4 x 10 w/ 32 kg (L/R) 2 x 10 w/ 32kg (2 handed)

TGUs: 10 x 1 w/ 24kg (L/R)

Today at the gym I was told that they technically "Don't allow hand chalk... so, y'know, just... keep it clean." I used it anyway. On my way out, the guy who told me that asked me where I got my chalk. Said it looked like it worked.

I think they owe me that 28kilo bell now.


Level 2 Valued Member
July 6th, 2017:

Swings: 4 x 10 (l/r) 24kg, 4 x 10 (l/r) 32kg, 2 x 10 (2 handed) 32kg - 9 min

TGUs: 10 x 1 (l/r) 24kg - 19 min.

Even with hand chalk, blisters have persisted. Today I changed my grip a bit, per advice aroubd the forum, and used my fingers more than palm. I think it helped, the blister I already have on my left hand certainly wasn't more aggravated after the session.

TGUs feel better. High time to accelerate them.
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