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Kettlebell S&S taking much longer than expected

intox8907

Level 2 Valued Member
First, I am a BIG fan of S&S! I am 35 and in 8 months, I have achieved the most strength and conditioning I have had in my whole life. I am stronger (measured by deadlift, goblet squad, and bench) and more resilient (measured by ruck duration, ease, and speed, as well as overall mobility and elimination of joint pain) than I was after 5 years of training in my 20’s (I was a mess back then).

I am currently doing 6 sets of the movements with the 32 and 4 sets with the 24. I have had some coaching from an SFG2/SFB instructor and I have started using an H10 heart monitor and following Al Ciampi’s heart rate method. My target HR is 155. I have found that I need to let my heart rate reset to 120 before I start another set, or else I go over 165. However, if I wait a few minutes longer, until I am below 110, I still shoot up to about 163. Anyway, if I follow this method, it takes me about an hour and a half to finish all swings and TGUs. Combined with the 15 minute warmup and about 15 minutes of stretching, I am at 2 hours for an S&S session. If I follow the talk test, then I am closer to an hour and 40 minutes, sometimes an hour and a half. Sometimes I also do a bit of hanging (as recommended in the book) and have added in some pull-ups (as recommended in a recent strongfirst email), adding more time.

So my questions are:

1) S&S is sometimes advertised as a “30 minute program”. However, the warmup and stretching alone take me 30 minutes. Am I misunderstanding something?

2) Is my heartrate training normal? Is there maybe something wrong with my heart? I plan anyway to get an evaluation from a cardiologist.

3) My heartrate always shoots to about 10 beats higher than my target HR, regardless of how long I wait and regardless if I also ensure that I pass the talk test. I know the formula is not exact, but is +/- 10 within normal expected variability?

Many thanks and best wishes,
Rob
 

Starlord

Level 5 Valued Member
First, I am a BIG fan of S&S! I am 35 and in 8 months, I have achieved the most strength and conditioning I have had in my whole life. I am stronger (measured by deadlift, goblet squad, and bench) and more resilient (measured by ruck duration, ease, and speed, as well as overall mobility and elimination of joint pain) than I was after 5 years of training in my 20’s (I was a mess back then).

I am currently doing 6 sets of the movements with the 32 and 4 sets with the 24. I have had some coaching from an SFG2/SFB instructor and I have started using an H10 heart monitor and following Al Ciampi’s heart rate method. My target HR is 155. I have found that I need to let my heart rate reset to 120 before I start another set, or else I go over 165. However, if I wait a few minutes longer, until I am below 110, I still shoot up to about 163. Anyway, if I follow this method, it takes me about an hour and a half to finish all swings and TGUs. Combined with the 15 minute warmup and about 15 minutes of stretching, I am at 2 hours for an S&S session. If I follow the talk test, then I am closer to an hour and 40 minutes, sometimes an hour and a half. Sometimes I also do a bit of hanging (as recommended in the book) and have added in some pull-ups (as recommended in a recent strongfirst email), adding more time.

So my questions are:

1) S&S is sometimes advertised as a “30 minute program”. However, the warmup and stretching alone take me 30 minutes. Am I misunderstanding something?

2) Is my heartrate training normal? Is there maybe something wrong with my heart? I plan anyway to get an evaluation from a cardiologist.

3) My heartrate always shoots to about 10 beats higher than my target HR, regardless of how long I wait and regardless if I also ensure that I pass the talk test. I know the formula is not exact, but is +/- 10 within normal expected variability?

Many thanks and best wishes,
Rob
One massive factor for you to bear in mind is that the vast majority of people doing S&S will be using the talk test.

So for these people 30mins is very accurate.

You have deviated away from this by utilising recommendations from a coach. Nothing wrong with this, you are using data from a HRM as opposed to thr talk test.

It's just the way it is.
 

intox8907

Level 2 Valued Member
Thanks for your response! I got the HR monitor on my own volition. My SFG instructor never mentioned it. I decided to start it last month, assuming it would be more accurate and potentially healthier and more anti-glycotic.

And that’s the thing, though. Even talk test takes quite some time, but maybe I am very strict about it. To me, I aim for normal discussion level with no noticeable breathing patterns that would indicate that I just did swings, so how I would talk if someone dropped by my office at work to ask a question . So, before I had the HR monitor, that would be about 3 minutes rest between sets. So, 30+ minutes for swings alone. But, I guess the idea is rather “able to talk, but still allowed to huff and puff a bit”?

And I guess the warmup and stretching are not actually factored into the “30 minute” duration?

I discussed it with some friends who have experience with kettlebells and they said if they followed the talk test in their workouts, then they would definitely be taking much longer and they could not imagine finishing swings and getups that fast if saying the pledge clearly was the test, but I guess, as mentioned, we are all taking the criteria too strictly.

Or perhaps we have to push ourselves to train the talk test and do the movements in 30 minute?

Best wishes,
Rob
 

SUOMI-PUKU

Level 6 Valued Member
I thought the warmup was 3x5 bridges, haloes and goblet squats. When I did these I just did them in a circuit (one set every 40s) and it takes 6 mins.

The stretching too I did about a minute per side per stretch so 4 minutes total, usually done at some point later in the day where it didn’t interfere (in front of TV, before bed etc).

Does the book have more in than that I have missed?
 

intox8907

Level 2 Valued Member
Perhaps, I am took weak or move too slow. The warmup is indeed as you say, but takes me 12-15 minutes, either when using the talk test or the HR monitor. However, the book is unclear here. It just says “don’t waste time, don’t be a sissy”, which doesn’t provide me with any direction, since one person’s strong is another person’s sissy, so I just assumed it is most straightforward to pass the talk test between rounds of the warmup.

The book says you should do three rounds of stretches and that “you need more than a minute” in each stretch. I do about a minute for each. So the four positions of the Q-Q and the two of the straddle, plus time to transition between positions, for three rounds, is about 15 minutes for me. And to me, even if done later in the day, that is still time dedicated to the program.

Thanks and best wishes!
 

Bauer

Level 7 Valued Member
1) S&S is sometimes advertised as a “30 minute program”. However, the warmup and stretching alone take me 30 minutes. Am I misunderstanding something?
I think everything is good.

The book is a little contradictory on that matter.
At the beginning it says (already in S&S 1.0 but also in 2.0)
Your session is barely half an hour long; stay focused.

Tsatsouline, Pavel. Kettlebell Simple & Sinister: Revised and Updated Edition (S.27). StrongFirst, Inc.. Kindle-Version.
But later Pavel explains (in 2.0):
It is not unusual for a very powerful athlete to take half an hour to complete 10x10 max power swings guided by the talk test.

Tsatsouline, Pavel. Kettlebell Simple & Sinister: Revised and Updated Edition (S.148-149). StrongFirst, Inc.. Kindle-Version.
You will get more efficient over time, I guess.

When I started a controlled GU took me about 50-60 seconds. Last time I checked they only lasted 25-35 seconds, depending on the weight - without rushing!

Same with the warmup and of course the swings.

When you have a big aerobic engine you will be able to clear out waste products faster. Mitochondria can use lactate as a fuel - the more, the bigger and the more efficient mitochondria you have, the faster you can recover between sets. So that might be a factor. Also your ratio of fast- to slow-twitch fibers etc.

Then there are recovery tactics between sets (also between warmup sets):
- fast-and-loose: shake it out in a way that feels good; keep moving
- relaxing your breath: SecondWind goes into detail here, but for now you could just take an inbreath through your nose that feels good and exhale slowly through pursed lips (or another type of resistance). Directly after finishing your set of swings you might inhale for 2-3 seconds and breath out for 2-3 seconds, before starting the next set it might be something like 4-6 seconds in and 5-10 seconds out (my own observation).

I usually take my time during the warmup do some household chorse inbetween warmup rounds. Then I focus on my swings and TGUs. I tend to do the stretches in the evening (maybe one quick round of 30 seconds each directly afterwards).

Timeless Simple took me a bout 35 minutes (without a warmup) guided by the talk test (about 17 minutes per exercise.) A couple of weeks later it went down to 30 minutes or so, but then I got sick and switched plans afterwards.

Hope that helps!
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
Good inputs above... Don't fret about the maximum HR. Al eventually moved away from that philosophy. You can still use HR as a guide but no need to keep it under a certain value during S&S. For you I'd recommend use the talk test (you want to be able to say phrases, not necessarily sentences) and maybe record and observe your HR over time, but don't watch it during your sessions for a while.

I have a complete session video which may give you some "pacing" for warm-up and cool down. Keep in mind this is "test pace" for swings and get-ups, which you wouldn't use in daily training. But it shows that the session can be done in 30 minutes, complete.

 

oukeith1

Level 5 Valued Member
My S&S sessions consistently take a little over an hour, using the talk test. I rest as long as I need to in order to rage on the next set.

I’ve also tried more fast paced sessions and feel that plenty of rest is much better for strength development, and I still get a good amount of conditioning benefits.
 

Anth

Level 4 Valued Member
I experienced something similar with Timeless Simple. My best timeless simple sessions (the ones that left me feeling the best) were the ones that I did with a partner and took over an hour. Once I started using the 32 kilogram, I needed a lot more time to recover. I also found that I could only do it 2-3 times a week.
 

JeanneRising

Level 2 Valued Member
hm… maybe this isn’t exactly Strongfirst philosophy because I tend to look a bit more into Kettlebell sports these days…

But from my point of view I got the feeling maybe you could get more out of the 24 before increasing the weight? I‘d probably stay with it til you can pump out a rather relaxed Emom. Maybe not exactly as written, but it feels like a natural point of transitioning for me…
 

John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
And that’s the thing, though. Even talk test takes quite some time, but maybe I am very strict about it. To me, I aim for normal discussion level with no noticeable breathing patterns that would indicate that I just did swings, so how I would talk if someone dropped by my office at work to ask a question . So, before I had the HR monitor, that would be about 3 minutes rest between sets. So, 30+ minutes for swings alone. But, I guess the idea is rather “able to talk, but still allowed to huff and puff a bit”?
I think your talk test may be a bit generous. You want to be able to say a 12-15 word phrase in one breath without gasping. A common phrase (if you're in the US) is "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America." Being able to say that = passing the talk test.
 

spc

Level 2 Valued Member
In the beginning it took me like 40min. Later on (now) 30min max.
5 min warm up
10 min Swings/ 10 min TGU.
A little lizzard/cobra stretch and that's it.
I always do ten deep breaths between swings. (Loose drill with arms above head for 5 sec. than normal loose drill)
A get up takes me 30 sec. I loosen and get down for the next.
Accordingly faster if it's Timed Simple.
 

Benjamin Renaud

Level 8 Valued Member
Working on breathing exercises such as those found in the S&S book (straw breathing etc) or from Oxygen Advantage or Second wind course could do wonders for your CO2 tolerance and thus help shorten your rest periods.
 

BJJ Shawn

Level 6 Valued Member
I think your talk test may be a bit generous. You want to be able to say a 12-15 word phrase in one breath without gasping. A common phrase (if you're in the US) is "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America." Being able to say that = passing the talk test.
I agree with this. I am just a few years older than you, and I find passing the talk test to be around 135 bpm. Waiting until 110 or even 120 is way more than what I would think you need to do in between sets of swings or getups. If you're doing pure strength movements, HR doesn't seem to be a good indicator for rest, but in S&S once you can pass the talk test (which should correspond pretty good to a consistent HR number) you should be able to continue.

Also, 15 minutes for warmup is WAY too much IMO. I am with those above, that my warmup usually consists of 6 minutes on this program if you do all 3 sets as outlined, but I often found I was ready to go after 2 sets which was only 4 minutes. Stretches afterwards and hanging was about another 5 minutes.

If you truly feel you need 4 minutes of rest between every set of swings and getups (90 minutes of work) then I might suggest you may need to work on your aerobic capacity for a bit as that is definitely excessive.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Elite Certified Instructor
First, I am a BIG fan of S&S!
I have started using an H10 heart monitor and following Al Ciampi’s heart rate method.

You are:

#1, using a heavier weight
#2, trying to keep your heart rate down
#3, trying to fit it all into a specific time

You can't have all three - pick any two:

You can have #1 and #2: go heavy weight, keep your heart rate down, at the expensive of #3's shorter time frame.​
You can have #1 and #3: go heavy, take shorter rests, at the expense of #2's higher heart rates.​
You can have #2 and #3: go lighter, stick to your target heart rate and target time, but you'll have given up on #1.​


You don't have to pick your two goals and stick with them forever.

You can focus on shortening workout length gradually if you pursue #1 and #2.​
You can focus on gradually lowering your heart rate if you pursue #1 and #3.​
You can focus on gradually going heavier while sticking to your time and HR if you pursue #2 and #3.​

Note the word "gradually."

Engineers have a saying similar to this: "Light, Cheap, Strong - pick any 2."

NB: I don't believe S&S suggests using a heart rate monitor.

-S-
 

Max Parish

Level 4 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
One more rule of thumb I've found helpful: focus first on enough recovery for perfect form on next set, then on sustainable HR across all sets. I might do 4-5 sets fine, but start feeling more out of breath on each subsequent set. That's a sign of not enough rest upstream. This approach has served me well without a HR monitor. You could try shortening your rests little by little until you notice this happening, then back off, paying attention to how your body feels throughout.
 
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