The Iron Road


Level 4 Valued Member
I’ve always logged my own training for myself but the result of a changing preference for ‘how’ has meant that I’ve gone through paper diaries, loose sheets, laptop documents, and on my iPhone Notes app for the last few years. Looking back at my methods for my own reference is now impossible, which is annoying as some of my strongest phases were recorded in those now-lost paper diaries. Never again. From now on I’ll be keeping it all right here so I can reflect on my n=1 records and work out what to toss and what to keep.

To quickly summarise my background, I played field hockey as a child and teenager, though with very little talent or fitness (music has always been my thing, and thankfully it paid off as I’ve ended up making a career out of it). I took up rowing when I was 14 and discovered that I was stronger than some of the other kids as I matured a little earlier. It also turned out that while ball/team sports were a low point for me, I actually wasn’t too bad at pacing myself for a 2000m rowing race and co-ordinating my power generation and my oar with the other rowers – quite a revelation for someone who was generally picked nearly last in team games! I stuck with this for a few years and did reasonably well at it at school. In hindsight, you could say it probably gave me the first inkling that there was a style of training that I really enjoyed – ergometer and weights sessions to complement the time on the water.

Kung fu was my next passion and I was committed to it from the age of 21 to 35, though it took a back seat when I moved from Australia to the UK where there was no class. I kept training on my own (as I always had at home between the two classes per week) but the feeling I was cementing poor technique through a lack of correction kept nagging at me, and with some heavy heartedness I would say I finally admitted to myself last year that I was no longer a practitioner.

With more relevance here, in 2005 I was scouring the internet researching the most efficient tools for fat loss, conditioning, strength and muscle gain combined when I stumbled on this ball of iron with a handle, promoted by a Russian man with his ‘comrade’ this and ‘the Party’ that. To say I was sold immediately is an understatement as I ordered my first 16kg and the Russian Kettlebell Challenge book and DVD that very afternoon. When it arrived, I realised how weak I was; pressing that thing for 5 reps was a serious struggle but I kept at it. I practised my swings and my snatches and my presses and windmills and all of that stuff with real diligence, and in the scheme of things it wasn’t long before I was doing it all with a 24kg. And then a 32kg. And then doubles with another 24kg. And then with another 32kg. In some ways I couldn’t believe how strong I’d become when I started at such a low level – going from struggling with 16kg overhead for 5 reps to putting 64kg overhead for 75 reps in a session - but when I considered the work I’d put in and with such a smart choice of implement, it made sense.

Over the years I shifted focus a few times. In 2008 I earned my qualifications as a Personal Trainer and took up training with barbells and dumbbells with the (almost) sole aim of hypertrophy and strength. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this and I gained plenty of muscle, buying my own power rack and other assorted gear along the way, and I kept up a maintenance level of kettlebell training alongside. Then in 2011 I moved to England to pursue my singing career with my wife. Given we only brought a suitcase each with us, there was definitely no room for weights so I picked up a couple of cheap 24kg KBs to keep things going. We had more belongings shipped over a few years later and I was finally reunited with my decent KBs, including my beloved 32s. Then I bought some adjustable dumbbells to mix things up. For some time that summed up my home gym – six kettlebells, two dumbbells up to 52kg, a stand-alone bench and a doorway chin-up/dip bar and dip belt.

That fairly minimalist combination of tools kept me in pretty good condition for years, and it confirmed my ideas that you don’t need a complex set up (or a gym membership) to achieve your physical training goals, though I did really start missing my barbell and power rack.

Now I’m back in Australia with all of my equipment reunited – and it’s a wonderful feeling. To get back into my barbell training, I ran a variation of Stronglifts 5x5 (with accessory lifts) for a few months and gained my technique and barbell strength back. Then I reassessed my needs and trained ‘park bench’ style with my KBs to see where I was at with my strength and conditioning levels. In the process I tested myself for the Simple standard – and surprised myself by achieving it without much difficulty. What I decided to at that point is to run the Rite of Passage program (I’m a great lover of the press) and here we are.

My plan going forward is to keep to the StrongFirst ideal in all of my training. As a 36-year-old father of two, I can no longer justify beating myself up – I simply want to be strong, mobile, and fit for the remainder of my life, and the StrongFirst approach is the way to do it!

[EDIT] Beginning stats:
H: 181cm/5’11.5
W: 83kg/182lb
BF: approx 20%
Last edited:


Level 4 Valued Member
Welcome! What's the RoP goal? Going for half BW press?

Thanks! I'm running it with 32kg and my goal is to get my numbers back up with it, hopefully resulting in the 1/2 BW press as well.

I'm hoping because I've had the 1/2 BW before (40kg, which I managed 18 months ago) it shouldn't be out of reach but I'm open to going through it a couple of times with a break in between to really earn it. I did a slightly bastardised version of RoP - if you could even call it that - in 2017 in which I used double 32s and only did the ladders once/week, adding a rung to every ladder each time. On my other days I was doing weighted dips and other non-KB lifts but I managed to get the 75 reps with the doubles on my final day after about 6 weeks. I'm really enjoying doing it by the book this time though, and having it feel less haphazard!

Have you done RoP? How did you feel on it, if so?


Level 7 Valued Member
I've never done RoP myself -- think I am somewhat anomalous in that all my KB pressing strength comes from barbell press, and I find barbell press more comfortable on the shoulders. Talking to some other folks it seems I'm the odd man out there, most people enjoy KB press more and I haven't heard a bad thing about RoP.


Level 4 Valued Member
For a quick summary of my first three weeks of RoP, working with 32kg presses:

11.55-12.27 32 mins

Heavy Day wk 1
(1,2,3) x 3
With pull ups
c.20 mins

Sw x 32 (10 mins) max
30:30 - 40kg x 60, 32kg x 120 = 180 swings

Variety Day #1

TGUs 24kg x 5/5

Light wk 1
(1) x 3
With pull-ups

Sn x 24kg
5 mins - 20/20 x 3

Medium wk 1

(1,2) x 3
With pullups

No swings

Bent press practice

1100-1135 35 mins

Heavy wk 2
(1,2,3) x 4 = 24
With pull-ups
C.28 mins

Max swings x 6 mins (changed to 4 mins for sickness)
40kg x 40, 32kg x 20

0921-0948 27 mins

Light wk 2
(1) x 4
With pull-ups

Snatches (50%) x 8 mins = 40/40 (5/5 OMEM)

0925-0958 33 mins

Medium wk 2
(1,2) x 4
With pull-ups
C.15 mins

A+A snatches 12 mins
OMEM 6 x 4 32kg = 24
6 x 5 24kg = 30

Variety Day

TGU 32kg 5 x 1/1
Loaded cleans 40kg 5 x 5/5

1159-1235 36 mins

Heavy Day wk 3
(1,2,3) x 5
With pull-ups
C.31 mins

Swings 40kg
OMEM x 3 - 10,10,20 = 40

0807-0841 34 mins

Light Day wk 3
(1) x 5
With pull-ups
C.10 mins

Snatches OMEM x 14
32kg 8 x 3 = 24
24 kg 6 x 5 = 30

0807-0840 33 mins

Variety Day 1 wk 3
TGUs 24kg - 1/1 x 3, 2/2 x 1
BP 16kg - 2/2 x 3

0843-0834 51 mins

Medium Day wk 3
(1,2) x 5
With pull-ups
C.20 mins

OMEM Snatches 20 mins
32kg 10x3 = 30
24kg 10x5 = 50


Variety Day 2 wk 3
TGUs 32kg 3 x 1/1


Level 4 Valued Member
29 April 19

0707-0755 52 mins

Heavy Day wk 4

(1,2,3,4)x1 (1,2,3)x3
With pull-ups
C.31 mins

OMEM x 10
Sw 40kg x 7 = 70

Today was pre-coffee so it was a little tougher than it ordinarily would be, though I also seem to have compressed my rest without meaning to. Today’s grinds took 31 mins - which is the same duration as the previous heavy day, but with an extra rung of 4 reps.


Level 4 Valued Member
1 May 19

Light Day wk 4
(1,2) x 5
With pull-ups
C.16 mins

Snatches 24kg 2 mins
5/5/5/5, 5/5 = 15/arm

3 May 19

Medium Day wk 4
C.28 mins

Too fatigued for ballistics or pull-ups.


Level 4 Valued Member

Variety Day 2 wk 4
Real mixed bag.

Heavy Day wk 5

(1,2,3,4) x 2 + (1,2,3) x 3
With pull-ups
C.33 mins

OMEM 40kg swings
5 x 10

Illness got in the way here. True ‘flu so took 1.5 weeks off completely.

Back to Week 4 beginning on Light Day. Will then repeat all of week 4 next week.


Light Day wk 4
(1,2) x 5
With pull-ups
C.16 mins

Snatches 24kg
Pyramid 1/1 to 5/5 to 1/1


Level 4 Valued Member

Still easing back into it.

Medium Day wk 4
(1,2,3) x 5
With pull-ups
30 mins

OMEM 32kg swings
3 x 20


Level 4 Valued Member

Variety Day
Bent press practice
Sets of 3/3 with 16kg and 24kg

1058-1158 60 mins

Heavy Day wk 5 #2
(1,2,3,4) x 2 + (1,2,3) x 3
With pull-ups
C.44 mins

Longer rests so more time for presses and pull-ups than usual.

OMEM 24kg 1H sw


Level 4 Valued Member
0845-0919 34 mins

Light Day wk 5
(1,2) x 5
With pull-ups
C.16 mins

OMEM snatches 9 mins
32kg 3 x 4 sets
24kg 5/5 x 5 sets

1118-1210 52 mins

Medium Day wk 5
(1,2,3) x 5
With pull-ups
C.32 mins

OMEM 1H swings 12 mins
32kg 10 x 4, 7 x 8 = 96 swings


Level 4 Valued Member
I find barbell press more comfortable on the shoulders.

@Phil12 I think you really must be the odd man out! I personally find that barbell presses are very deeply uncomfortable for my shoulders. Have you toyed with a KB pressing pattern more akin to that of a barbell? Double KB presses even..?


Level 7 Valued Member
I've never really trained doubles. I haven't experimented with KB press too much since I seem to do well with the barbell.


Level 4 Valued Member

Heavy Day wk 6
(1,2,3,4) x 3 + (1,2,3) x 2
With pull-ups
C.50 mins

No ballistics due to illness.

0850-0916 26 mins

Light Day wk 6
(1,2) x 5
With pull-ups
13 mins

OMEM snatches
32kg 3 x 2 sets
24kg 7 x 2 sets


Variety Day 1 wk 6
TGUs 32kg 5/5
Attempted 40kg TGU but failed roll to elbow.

1610-1652 42 mins

Medium Day wk 6
(1,2,3) x 5
With pull-ups
C.27 mins (PR)

OMEM 32kg 1H swings 10 mins
10 x 10 = 100 swings


Level 4 Valued Member
1206-1258 52 mins

Heavy Day wk 7
(1,2,3,4) x 4 + (1,2,3) x 1
With pull-ups
C.42 mins

OMEM swings 2H 40kg
15 x 4 sets = 60 swings

Taking it easy after gastro yesterday.
0815-0845 30 mins

Light Day wk 7
(1,2) x 5 (3 sets CP, 2 sets MP)
With pull-ups
C.20 mins

OMEM snatches 24kg
5/5 x 8 mins = 80


Level 4 Valued Member
1230-1318 48 mins

Medium Day wk 7
(1,2,3) x 5
With pull-ups
C.28 mins (PR 27m)

OMEM 1H swings 32kg
10 x 12 sets = 120 swings


Level 4 Valued Member

Variety Day 2 wk 7
Bent press 24kg 2/2 x 5 done over 4 hours.

0807-0852 45 mins

Heavy Day wk 8
(1,2,3,4) x 5
With pull-ups
C.43 mins

No ballistics due to time. Will do tomorrow.


Level 4 Valued Member
12-JUN-19 c.25 mins

Heavy Day ballistics
OMEM 40kg 2H swings 12 mins
10 x 12 = 120 swings

Cook Drill 16kg
Twice through
C.12 mins


Level 4 Valued Member
13-JUN-19 35 mins

Light Day wk 8
MP (1,2) x 5
C.16 mins
Long rests.

Today’s snatches were my first attempt at the SFG1 cert snatch test. I used a OMEM 10/10 protocol.

Sn24 test 5 mins
100 snatches = 4’56

Fairly pleased with the test, especially on the back of today’s presses and pull-ups.

Few days break for wisdom teeth now.


Level 4 Valued Member

Light Day wk 8 rpt

MP (1,2) x 5

OMEM snatches 32kg x 8 mins
3L,3R,3L,3R,4L,4R,5L,5R = 30


Variety Day 1 wk 8 rpt
TGU 1/1 x 2
40kg C&J holding lockout - 2/2
TGU 1/1 x 3
40kg C&J lockout + rack walk 1/1

21/6/19 42 mins

Medium Day wk 8 rpt
(1,2,3) x 5
With pull-ups
1218-1253 35 mins

Interrupted during 1st set.

OMEM 1H swings 32kg
10 x 2 sets = 20 swings

Not feeling good, possibly due to horrendous sleep.
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