Kettlebell Sticking to a program

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Level 6 Valued Member
Like dieting, you could have a cheat day. Follow S&S or press ladders or whatever. Then once a week try out something new no rules. Learn the armbar, Getups with a shoe and your eyes closed. Learn to juggle. Go ruck or whatever. Keep one program stable while constantly playing with the rest of your program.

Papa Georgio

Level 6 Valued Member
You need to stick to your program. It's just as important to strengthen your focus as it is to strengthen your muscles.

You can take a deload week at the end of your 12 weeks to decide on your next program. Until then stay committed and focused.

It's true that some people can constantly change programs a go by feel and make progress. But they are the exception and not the rule.

There's a lot of well meaning people with good advice on here. But if you fall off the wagon because of this thread then shame on you.

If you notice you will continue to get bombarded with more optimal workouts on here.

Good luck brother!
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Bret S.

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
In the 'Enter The Kettlebell' video at the end Pavel goes through a list of rules for practicing 2 to 7 times per week. I personally haven't tried this type of variety training as I'm lazy and like to set my program and put it on auto pilot. Maybe put together a list of exercises you like or want to learn and pick from it while varying training loads, session length, # of training days etc. Maybe doing this you'll find your own path as opposed to trying this program or that program.

Just another thought..

Steve W.

Level 7 Valued Member
If it involves swinging, cleaning, or pressing, I'm going to want to do it. My problem isn't doing the movements, it's the programming for those movements.

Yes, my understanding was that you have no problem getting yourself to train, and my advice was given in that context (although it could certainly also apply to someone who has difficulty training consistently at all).

I suspect you would do best with a template that structures each session and/or training week, but gives flexibility in the options you plug into that template. Pavel's original RKC book had a set of principles for structuring each session that is like this.

In the 'Enter The Kettlebell' video at the end Pavel goes through a list of rules for practicing 2 to 7 times per week.

I haven't watched that video in a long time, but I suspect those guidelines are the same ones from the RKC book mentioned above.

Or something like the template in this article that you could adapt to your favorite drills:
Total Package Weekly Kettlebell Training Template | StrongFirst


Level 6 Valued Member
Well, Tim Anderson seems to go by feel following his own principles and he is doing fine. Showing up consistently is probably the most important aspect of strength and fitness. Programming is important, sure, but just moving and exploring and challenging the body is of grea value in itself.


Level 7 Valued Member

This a Japanese amulet I came across today called Daruma. I was interested by it because I'm also struggling with my training these days. Apparently, Japaneses use it for determination and to achieve worthy goals. When you determine your goal, you paint one eye pupil black. Then, every time you see the Daruma you will be reminded of your goal. When you achieve it, you paint the other eye. If I'm not mistaken, you are supposed to burn it afterwards. I'm gonna get myself one.
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Level 7 Valued Member
GTG is a program. I read about it in the Naked Warrior book. It is especially handy for bodyweight training it seems, since bodyweight is easy to do anytime.

My immediate recommendation would be to keep playing but to try to increase the reps, increase the weight, and if we're talking about moves with an isometric component like TGUs or pullups, try to hold the positions for a bit longer every time.

Instead for having set numbers of sets or reps, focus on a few moves, perhaps only 3 or 4, and keep inching your way "up" with them little by little. Like, aim for more 2h swings with the 48 or with less rest time in between sets, but keep 2h swings as a staple move.

Having said all of that, Strong First does have recommended programs. S&S is the main one recommended at least to beginners. I've been on it for over 2 years and I'm still making progress with it and finding more strength and athleticism than I thought I could all the time. You can pare it down to only twice a week if you like - you'll still progress with it, leaving the other 5 days of the week to "play".

For instance, ever since I got my gymnastics rings, I am never going to stop using them. It's like training bench press but with the tradeoff of less max weight but more(?) muscles being activated to hold up my lower body off the ground. I am also never stopping deadlifting. This is maybe the one "most ideal lift" as it is basically the definition of absolute full body commitment strength. Chinups are great. S&S is the staple core of it all.
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Adam R Mundorf

Level 6 Valued Member
When You Don't Know What You Believe... | StrongFirst

The only thing that worked for me was just to do it. Take my brain out of it and follow the program. I've ran countless different programs over the years making meaningful progress in none of them. Hopping around just isn't worth the stagnation of progress in my opinion. There is a reason why almost every successful person preaches consistency. Good luck and the training log is a great idea to keep accountable.

IMO, the key to sticking with a program is picking a program you can stick with. Make it what you want to do, instead of what you need to force yourself to do.
This is a really great point. Every time I change programs I find myself coming back to the Rite of Passage because I enjoy doing it. I also know for sure it's been proven to work.

Matt Piercy

Level 3 Valued Member
I'll add variety by ocassianly amrap'ing the second set of bench. With swings I'll just hit my 100 swings by using a variety of weights as rep schemes.


Level 5 Valued Member
What helped me stick to programs after years of hopping is that I started choosing only programs with measurable goals at the end and with realistic, but challenging deadlines. And I internalize that goal so that if it is not reached, I know I failed. "Maybe I should try this new awesome program? It's only 4 weeks... No, if I do that, I might not have enough time to reach my main goal and I. WILL. FAIL"


Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I went ahead and I'm going to commit to the program I laid out. I started the log recommended my Anna as well
Excellent! Now, please report back regularly on this thread. That's the best way to resist the temptation to wander, as you don't want to explain it to the forum. Also, please attack the program. We have all heard that a so/so program executed with heart and vigor beats the heck out of a perfect program executed halfheartedly..that is true. The guys & gals who get after it always outperform those who go through the motions.

Matt Piercy

Level 3 Valued Member
Thanks Herk, I was thinking about that this morning. Almost that exact thing. I actually expect several things to happen after this 12 weeks. I don't expect anything out of this world, but I'm sure I'll see improvements


Level 6 Valued Member
Lots of great advice on this thread already. I learned from Marty Gallagher that the will power which is useful to get something started is very limited in supply. So while the will power lasts, one somehow needs to develop an enthusiasm for the project that one is doing (in your case 'the program'). How do we do that? Look at the improvements/benefits/results/transformations that the program is giving you. And these should help drive the enthusiasm, which in turn help you get going with it and finish it.

As per the @Anna C and @Antti the improvements is not just in poundage or weight.

Great questions to ponder. Some thoughts on what form improvements can bring... Maybe not more weight on the bar initially, but a greater potential for more weight on the bar. Opening up new space in front of you; lifting more weight with greater skill, strength, finesse, and safety. Taming the impulses, refining. Mastery over the details of the movement. Providing the example for others to emulate even as they start out. Using the muscles more in harmony, leading to less creaks, aches, and pains as we age. A slight edge on recovery as the body has less microdamage to repair from poor use and more from good use. Some of this may be real and some just powerful imagery, but it all seems worth striving for.


Level 5 Valued Member
This a Japanese amulet I came across today called Daruma.

Thanks for the inspiration. (y) This is a nice idea for my courage corner. There is a empty shelf in which I will put a Daruma for each first complete and uninterrupted run through a program. I guess this growing little army is further motivation.

Usually I have no problems with sticking to a program. I can´t cancel something I started, also if it is a very bad book or movie. :confused:

Graham Henderson

First Post
I did test my bench (e1rm), but I hadn't tested my swing yet. I started with a 48, dropped to a 32, but finally had to go down to a 24 to compete my swings close to 5 min. I think now that I know what bell I'm starting with I'll test with a 32k tomorrow.

I should do the log too.

Training log/journal might help. I find it a lot easier to stick to a program if I make sure to write my observations after each training day. (on technique, energy, recovery, etc.) It cements the sense data from the work/program in my mind and crowds out other options.

Might even be helpful to reread your own notes instead of checking out other programs/other people's experiences online. (That's as much to myself as to you.)


Level 6 Valued Member
The reason people have issues sticking to programs are simple.
1. The program is over ambitious
2. The program is too long
3. The program is tedious.

I have no issues sticking to a program. What works for me not to make the program too long. 4-6 weeks works best, sometimes 9, but I usually don't go any farther than that.

It also depends on what your goal is. 85% is just showing up.

If you just want to be healthy, exercising and getting swings, presses, squats in 4 times a week. You're doing great, better, than 75% of the population.

I actually like going off programs in the summer and doing variety. See what you like. Maybe sprint, jog, use, bodyweight, machines and barbells. It won't kill you to do that for 4-6 weeks either.

However, if you start a program, quit and then don't do anything else, it is a problem. And most importantly....

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