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Old Forum Ss and long rests

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Does the long rest article change the s and s protocol? By the third set of the swings I'm huffing and puffing for the duration.


From Pavels's blog post:

In intermediate and fast fibers mitochondria are developed by pushing the fibers into light acidity (slight local fatigue), then backing off and recovering aerobically over and over. (Kettlebell Simple & Sinister does just that.) if you are huffing and puffing early in the sets, you probably need to rest longer or go lighter perhaps!

 It's difficult to change a mindset of pushing hard to make a time when the target is a timed interval, ultimately. I know I've pushed things too much with s&s in charging towards using the 32. Now that I'm embedded with the 32, read and hopefully understood the mechanisms involved with greater clarity I've backed off from reaching  a timed goal. I'll just get there when I get there. It does involve a considerable change of mentality, I think. In the book, Pavel talks about the ratio of breaths, 2 to 1, so 10 hard style swings and 5 recovery breaths. Perhaps the 5 minute goal is just a guide - for most people - and if using the 2 to 1 breathing it should be about 5 minutes. I manage 4 or 5 sets with 5 breaths, then take more as I progress. Yesterday though I tried to space them and started with 8 breaths and finished the sets equally, give or take. Is there a difference between doing 45 seconds per set, to on the minute or the first few at 30 and extending the rests as needed? You could argue there is no difference but exploring the approach yourself you may realise a subtle difference. Ok it may result in the same thing but it is much more intuitive using your breath as it tells you when to go rather than a beat of an external disconnected clock. In the book Pavel encourages breathing control. I missed it the first 6 times I read through it! do not rush the sets, be in no hurry to compress the sets, Pavel says often. I get it now. It has taken me the best part of a year to finally get it. At least I think I do!

So, longer rests! As long as needed, for you and where you are. Or go lighter.
Indeed. The time goals are something to work up to, not a place to start at. When moving to a heavier bell, the S&S practice might take an hour; that's fine, it will quickly drop. It doesn't need to be 16 minutes on the very first day, nor should  it be.
My humble 2 cents


Only when you can do all sets of swings and getups with the same bell strongly should you start slowly compressing rest periods to work up to the standards
Jason / Mark / Others,

A couple of points here:

- in my opinion, our langauge and word choice is probably not only confusing novices, but experienced folks alike.  Providing advice such as, "work up to", and, "start compressing rest periods", may be the source of some inividuals using protocol inccorectly.  I'm not picking on anyone here, just using these latest examples of what I think some of the problem is with certain language... there are plenty of others throughout the forum, including my own former "mistakes".

- Pavel and I have been discussing the idea of who the responsibility falls w/r to comprehension... the reader, or the writer (or speaker).  Sure, both, to some extent; but the writing can always be improved... so, what is the proper descriptive language for this idea of increasing density, "passively"?

- the idea of "actively compressing rest periods" that is spawned from this language is maybe what gets folks into trouble. If we are framed in a fitness society that is already entrenched in, "do more, do harder, kill yourself in every outing", then the "work to up to less rest", night be understand as, "actively seek to do more work next time out".

- the observations I am seeing are, "let the rest periods reduce on their own"... "passively" increase density, not "actively".  This is not a subtle difference.  Moreover, "go when you feel ready again" does not track with HR metrics, for many (save for the former endurance junkie)... so we may want to say something like, "go when you feel ready again, + :30", or something of that nature.  More rest is better then less.

- so, to passively increase your density (reduce the duration of your rest periods), go again after ~30sec of your feeling ready, each and every time you approach the bell.  If you happen to run a clock (because the clock is not at all necessary), you will notice your rest periods decreasing "on their own" as your aerobic fitness responds to the stimulus and improves.  Yes... "aerobic fitness" (I know it sounds like blasphamy ;] ).  (One might also suggest here, "alactic fitness", though I'm not sure this term describes the importance of developing the aerobic system.)

- Conversely, if you are actively trying to reduce your rest periods, you will likely be using anaerobic fueling completely, and avoid aerobic fueling (through recovery) altogether.  Expect a wall on your progress and/or a low ceiling on your overall performance level (yes, even if you are "elite").

- Lastly, there seems to be no linear progression to the goal (in terms of S&S) of 100 swings @ 5min.  In other words, you don't progress by say starting out at say, 90 sec rest between sets of swings, then "passively" reducing to 75s, then 60, then 45, then 30, then test... for an easy to understand example.

- What seems to happen is that as the aerobic system gets stronger, you may find your rest periods compress to a certain point, say 40-50s or so, and stays there for a week or two (remember passive rest reduction).  The beauty of nature is that she saves anaerobic glycolysis whether training it or not (anecdotally).  So, go ahead and leap off that bigger aerobic tank you created and test out...  now, is the ONLY time you actively shrink the rest periods: for the goal.  You might surprise yourself.  If you succeed, and increase the bell size, guess what... your rest, dictated once again by, "go again 30s after you feel ready" will likely increase your rest periods to over a minute.  You're doing it right, don't fret.

- do not confuse training recommendations with competition recommendations

Sorry for the long diabtribe... thoughts?
Al, very good post - thank you for taking the time to do that, sir.

One more way to approach this and I will offer myself and my training as an example.

I adjust volume.  I like to do a new set of swings in about equal rest and work, and that generally means I start a new set every 40 seconds.  I don't get to 100 swings very often, although I have when my swing practice has been consistent.  Typical for me is 40 to 60 swings on a day that I swing a kettlebell.  At that point, I am ready to start sucking wind on the next set, so I don't perform the next set - I stop with the idea that I will recover quickly and recover well and be able to do the same thing again tomorrow.  I am not on the S&S "program" but I have adapted it to my needs - I do my swings first in order to keep them as explosive as possible, I rest, and then I do the rest of my strength training.

Hi everyone! This is my first time posting at the forum but I've been a long time Strongfirst and Pavel follower. Just want to give my opinion at this topic.

I just recently found the right way of doing S & S two weeks ago (in another post in this forum) after doing it for 8 months. I think it was an answer by Al to a similar post. Needless to say I was speechless and re-read S &S inmediatly. It was there in the book, the need to advance first in volume and then start to compress rest time.  I don't know why I got it backwards (even after reading the book 3 times before starting).

So what I was doing was this: always shoot for 5m swings and 10m tgu, increasing sets trying to stay on that time limit. Here's a list of things I experienced:

- Every 3 weeks very low energy, mental and physical fatigue.                                                                         --2-3 weeks mark: need to go for a lighter bell, little pains in shoulder.                                                            - My first two months were 5 x wk practice, after that I got ill (not so severe pneumonia, largely by the air quality in my city). After that I felt there was no way I could do it 5 x wk so I tried 3 x wk.                   - In spite of this, I am way stronger than before, including being able to do some bw exercises that I irregulary practice (pistols, tuck front levers, clutch holds).

Changing to longer rest has been nothing more than amazing to me, a spark of renewal to my training. I feel more fresh after my practice (now is a recharge to me), much more explosive, the last sets are now just as explosive as the first ones in the swings. In the get  up, doing all the sets with the 24k doesn't feel like I'm going to get crushed in the final sets. I know is just been two weeks but it feels diferent and easy to the body. It seems that my progress could have been better if  I did S&S right from the beggining. I'm hoping to get more good things for longer rest ( I really want to feel a stronger aerobic system for my soccer games).

I hope people who just got started don't make the same mistake as me and others: trying to rush into things, turning S&S into a timed crossfit workout. To the points Al touched, I think the mistake of comprehension is mainly in the readers side,  in my case for turning everything into competition. In this fast society is difficult not to rush into things (fast food, fast reads, fast thoughts). Maybe the confusion comes with the need to advance at all cost and not looking at things at the long term. Also, what really help me to understand my mistake and it's consequences are the lastest articles of Pavel, Al and some forum posts that deal with energy system training. For me, the explanation of things helps me get it right (e.g: what happens when you go glycolitic, etc).  So in my case, I needed more details to understand what's behind the protocol and why to stay away of rushing into things. Maybe better than the sentences Al described (that are trying to summarize many things and effects) is the direct explanation of biological effects of what is and what happens with the S & S protocol, what is the testing, how often you should do it. On the side of the readers, obviously read things slower and re-read from time to time. I always find when Pavel explains what is behind his protocols (the research, body reflexes, etc) things get clearer for me.

Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading.

Also thanks to Al Ciampa, your concise answers and explanations are very revealing. I really enjoy your post and blog articles.
The book is unclear.

If it wasn’t for this forum I would still be trying to gradually reduce the rest periods, compromising my explosiveness in the last 4 sets or so.

While it is true that the book doesn’t advocate actively compressing rests, it does say that one should only move up in weight when time standards are met and we are able to do them strongly. This is ultimately interpreted  as being able to meet the standards during regular training days, as there  is no  mention whatsoever of saving it for a test day.

For me personally 7 minutes feel very natural for the swings. It’s been that way for months. I can only do 5 minutes if I clock myself and actively compress the rest periods.

Bottom line: I think the book should be revised to clarify this concept, otherwise it is inevitable that most people will start compressing the rest periods at some point.
I think a large part of the issue is human nature.  The hardest golf shot for most people is the next one after a good one.   My golf teacher will tell me to use 50% effort, and I'll hit a beauty that flies. Then, there's something inside that wants to try 10x as hard to hit a better one, and it'll be a short slice.  Even though I've been through this a number of times, it still happens.

I started S&S in late January, and I interpreted the program to allow a good recovery after each set of swings- I interpret the "talk test" as an easy aerobic pace.  After making great progress for several weeks, though, I all of a sudden wanted more quicker,  got a timer out, and  started pushing it trying to make the times, etc.  I just got worn out, felt worse, and realized the impatient part of me had gotten hold again...  After going back to the original pace, I started making great progress in my conditioning again.

I've had a long history of working out properly- my Dad was a Marine; when he taught me to do pull-ups as a kid, he said never do more than a few, but do them several times a day.  He'd say let the other guys wear themselves out and fail the PT.  I made my best advances running 30 years ago when I agreed to train with a friend who wanted to run a marathon, even though he had Crohn's disease. I ran at his pace for a few months instead of mine, and cut several minutes off my 10K time.  However, even with experience, I still occasionally fall into the trap and try to push it and get it all right away.  Much of the marketing in our culture appeals to this tendency.

I don't know the best way to describe the rest periods, except to say one should keep doing the same comfortable thing- whether it's a "talk test," a HR range, or whatever, and let the adaptations the body makes reduce the rest period organically, not let the "inside guy" who wants it all "this minute" get in charge of the timing.

I appreciate S&S, Pavel, and the programs here because they work, and they don't pander to the "great arms and a six-pack in 2 weeks" or "double your squat in 6 weeks" mentality. But I think it's a struggle for a lot of people to be patient and let it happen.  When I do exercise patience, I tell people "I'm patient only because I realize it's the quickest way to get what I want."

Like I said, I think the book is at fault, otherwise why would we need Al Ciampa to come and clarify that the time standards should be saved for a "test day" and not for regular training days?

That's what changed everything for me.
According to the book one should gradually reduce the rest periods until we are able to do 5 minutes.

But according to Al Ciampa and late comments by Pavel, one should not reduce our rest periods but instead test ourselves once in a while to see if we meet the time standards.

This is what the book says:

Stay with whatever weight you are using for a while. Focus on technique in both exercises, and on power in the swing. Gradually reduce the rest periods— but without undue pressure. S& S is an “easy strength” and “easy endurance” program.

Eventually you will reach the point where the work-to-rest ratio is 1: 1, which means you will hammer out 100 swings in five minutes and ten get-ups in ten minutes. It is almost time to move up in weight.


And this is what Pavel said recently <a title="here" href="">here</a>:

Walt, in S&S the compressed rest periods apply mostly to testing and the sessions leading up to it, so take your time.

So which is it?



In other words, the book doesn't mention anywhere that the time standards are supposed to be a test.

The way it is written we are led to believe we should reach a point where we are meeting the standards day in and day out on regular training days.
It is both.  My day to day standard is equal parts work and rest and S&S is not my focus.  When I practice it 5-7 days a week, I am able to reach 100 1-arm swings without needing more rest.  This is with a 24 kg at 60 years of age and 69 kg of bodyweight.


Answer me this question.

When should we move up in weight in S&S?

a) When we are able to meet the time standards day in and day out on regular training days?


b) When we test ourselves and are able to meet the time standards strongly?


The concept of "testing" in S&S is new and that's why some of us are confused.

It was mentioned by Al here:

The “thing” that you should be trying to stimulate with this protocol is doing more work under aerobic-dominant fueling. This takes patience and discipline. Rest longer, be patient, do the work, and over a short period of time, you will increase your work output while still being aerobic. Then, you can “test” while fueled predominantly by glycolysis. Whatever your test outcome, go back to training under aerobic fueling.

Just because glycolysis is always there to kick in, like a turbo charger, and increase your output, does not mean that this is also the goal of your training. 
I don't see any conflict here- the book says to recover to aerobic base between sets, and even the 2nd para of the excerpt from the book you quoted above says when you eventually meet the time standards, it is "almost time" to move up.  Read the concept of "owning" the bell that's in the book- that's when you move up, and even then, gradually work in the next bell.   I think it's good Al and Pavel write extra for us here to explain the physiology and metabolic functions for us, but no reason to put them on the spot for it.   Chop wood & carry water....
Steve... you're very welcome!  And, thank you.

Felipe... thank you for that post.

Tom... I agree that human nature is a part of it.

Pnigro... where do I begin?

The book is very clear, as Steve pointed out.

Both Pavel and I try to provide directives that communicate exactly what we are trying to say; and ensure that it precisely explains the evidence that we use to formulate these directives.  I feel confident that I can speak for him on this last point.

The need for further explanation in addition to the book is not unlike how a professor will teach a class.  Of course, he/she could also just say, "read the text", and not lecture at all.  Which group of students will better understand the material?

It sounds like your difficulty is with the word test.  Note that I have it in quotes, indicating a loose definition of the term.  Additionally, you seemed to have found a contradiction, so let me explain...

S&S is written for the beginner.  The idea of resting until you feel ready again, and passively reducing your rest periods as your fitness develops, will, for the beginner with a lighter weight, continue to improve all the way down to 10 sec of rest (making the goal of 100 in 5min).  This has been reported again and again.

Once you close in on simple (assuming that have indeed followed the instructions and not failed to train your aerobic system), things change a bit.  The load becomes an increasingly weighted variable, meaning folks just may not have the genetic potential for an aerobic capacity that can take them down to 10sec of rest between sets with a 32, 40 or 48.  I can tell you that I don't, in the two latter cases.

So, here, you train by letting your rest periods be naturally dictated by feel, until you improve to a point where you plateau for a number of weeks, regardless of what you do (lighter shadow swings, e.g.).  I would recommend that you actively try to reduce your rest periods to develop your glycolytic power and capacity for a very short time (less than a week), then have at the goal: attempt 100 in 5min.  Try not to let the word "test" confuse you; for me, it means the same as "goal attempt".

I could go on about what to do from here (pass or fail / achieve the goal or not), but 1. it's written in S&S, and 2. I've neglected my day job long enough for now.

Let me just clarify here that I actually appreciate this type of feedback, because one of the skills I practice is written communication.  If not everyone understands something I write, then I know it can be improved upon.  Thanks for the session ;]
Pnigro - you seem to be over thinking this.  First off, testing is not a new concept, Pavel has mentioned some form of testing in most all of his writings about strength, whether it be a test every two weeks with a lighter bell to see how many swings you can achieve before your technique fails, or following a specific program leading up to a military assessment, pushing yourself to do AMRP in the 12 minute snatch test or participating in a powerlifting meet.  Testing has been a standard part of the protocol from the beginning of time, it's your choice whether you employ it or not..  Second, move up in weight as you see fit.  You don't have to meet the 100 swings in 5 minutes before you mix in one or two or three sets of swings with a heavier bell.  In fact, increasing the weight as you are able is what will help you to attain the time standards described in the book.  Lastly, relax, this program is not a sprint, just the opposite - S&S is a daily practice - PRACTICE being the operative word.  Chill out man, save the tension for your training.
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