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Kettlebell Who are these programs FOR?

oukeith1

Level 3 Valued Member
As someone who has developed an interest in exercise and strength training over the last two years, I find myself quite interested in the art and/or science of program development, and who some of these programs are really designed for.

As we head into the winter season, I will likely be transitioning back to kettlebells, and as I look at the various StrongFirst program alternatives, I think it can be confusing to assess some of these programs and if they are right for me.

Often on this forum, when someone asks for advice on which program to pursue next, someone will ask what their GOALS are? This is a question I tend to struggle with. As an average Joe, my question is partly “what SHOULD my goals be?” It’s not a question that someone else should answer, but more an indication that I don’t really know how hitting some of the goals in programs like S&S or ROP would benefit my life in the bigger picture, beyond just hitting the numbers.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to summarize who the target audience for some of these programs are for.

Background on me…I’ve reached Simple and have spent the last 6 months working on the BP, DL, and Squat. I will be spend the winter season with kettlebells.

But I think the question applies to anyone.

Here is my take on how I perceive these programs. Would like some more feedback from the experts…

S&S - For beginners and to be used as a general fitness / wellness practice. One of its benefits is the ability to tailor it to your needs. If I want to spend a season with this, having already achieved Simple, I can sort of chill and do timeless every day, or I can get more aggressive conditioning by going EMOM. All kinds of options. Can also pair nicely with other programs. Seems to be a great all around program for strength, conditioning, and mobility, but may not be great for top end strength.

ROP - I’ve never done ROP. But I view this program as being a bit more “in your face.” From what I’ve read, this is for someone looking for a challenge, and someone who maybe is a bit more interested in body composition changes. Great for developing your press, and for high intensity cardio smokers, but maybe not so great for general aerobic base.

Q&D - Seems to be more of a conditioning protocol for those who’ve already developed excellent strength and conditioning. This one has a more limited target audience, from what I can tell.

A+A Snatches seem to be great for general wellness and pair well with running and some other targeted strength training. Great for someone looking to improve their aerobic base while also developing power.

Double KB work seems more geared to those interested in top end strength. I’m not as familiar with most of the programs here, but it sounds like there are many different programs here that can be tailored to your needs, similar to the other programs.

So those are my thoughts. What do the experts have to say?

Thanks!
Keith
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
Great thoughts!

I would add to Double KB work, can be great for hypertrophy.

I agree, the "What are your goals?" question can be a confusing one for people new to kettlebells when they don't have a clear picture of what is possible from this type of training. I always had trouble with that one when I was working as a part-time personal trainer. Generally, the trainee doesn't know. They just know that they need to move things in a positive direction, and want some professional help with that.

A better question might be,
"If you imagine a range of physical changes you might experience from training, what changes appeal to you?"
- combined with -
"What skills and abilities would you like to develop, and what would you like to learn more about?"
- combined with -
"What do you enjoy doing, and what helps you develop a better and more training habit that works well within your life?"
 

JR47

Level 4 Valued Member
As someone who has developed an interest in exercise and strength training over the last two years, I find myself quite interested in the art and/or science of program development, and who some of these programs are really designed for.

As we head into the winter season, I will likely be transitioning back to kettlebells, and as I look at the various StrongFirst program alternatives, I think it can be confusing to assess some of these programs and if they are right for me.

Often on this forum, when someone asks for advice on which program to pursue next, someone will ask what their GOALS are? This is a question I tend to struggle with. As an average Joe, my question is partly “what SHOULD my goals be?” It’s not a question that someone else should answer, but more an indication that I don’t really know how hitting some of the goals in programs like S&S or ROP would benefit my life in the bigger picture, beyond just hitting the numbers.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to summarize who the target audience for some of these programs are for.

Background on me…I’ve reached Simple and have spent the last 6 months working on the BP, DL, and Squat. I will be spend the winter season with kettlebells.

But I think the question applies to anyone.

Here is my take on how I perceive these programs. Would like some more feedback from the experts…

S&S - For beginners and to be used as a general fitness / wellness practice. One of its benefits is the ability to tailor it to your needs. If I want to spend a season with this, having already achieved Simple, I can sort of chill and do timeless every day, or I can get more aggressive conditioning by going EMOM. All kinds of options. Can also pair nicely with other programs. Seems to be a great all around program for strength, conditioning, and mobility, but may not be great for top end strength.

ROP - I’ve never done ROP. But I view this program as being a bit more “in your face.” From what I’ve read, this is for someone looking for a challenge, and someone who maybe is a bit more interested in body composition changes. Great for developing your press, and for high intensity cardio smokers, but maybe not so great for general aerobic base.

Q&D - Seems to be more of a conditioning protocol for those who’ve already developed excellent strength and conditioning. This one has a more limited target audience, from what I can tell.

A+A Snatches seem to be great for general wellness and pair well with running and some other targeted strength training. Great for someone looking to improve their aerobic base while also developing power.

Double KB work seems more geared to those interested in top end strength. I’m not as familiar with most of the programs here, but it sounds like there are many different programs here that can be tailored to your needs, similar to the other programs.

So those are my thoughts. What do the experts have to say?

Thanks!
Keith
Actually found this super helpful. Thankyou
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@oukeith1, sometimes picking a goal for the sake of having a goal is OK, too. The goal doesn't necessarily have to represent some deep yearning on your part. Participating in a competition is a fine goal - the TSC, a powerlifting meet, e.g. Or working to attend and pass a StrongFirst certification. These bring a focus to your training, help you pick a program. Any goal can help you in the big picture of your life - you set out to accomplish a thing and then you go about trying to reach your goal.

-S-
 

barrak

Level 6 Valued Member
Often on this forum, when someone asks for advice on which program to pursue next, someone will ask what their GOALS are? This is a question I tend to struggle with. As an average Joe, my question is partly “what SHOULD my goals be?” It’s not a question that someone else should answer, but more an indication that I don’t really know how hitting some of the goals in programs like S&S or ROP would benefit my life in the bigger picture, beyond just hitting the numbers.

Thanks!
Keith
Well said.

Sometimes we get stuck in defining goals too narrowly or too directly related to the training modality we're tinkering with at the moment. For example, pressing half body weight when working with kettlebells, or deadlifting 2x bodyweight when working with barbells. Not that there's anything wrong with these goals. It's just such narrow goals might become an obsession for some... to the point of over-training leading to injury, or once the goal is achieved, the training mode is jealously maintained for fear of regression. Neither is healthy, physically or mentally.

Then there are other broader ways of defining goals. @Anna C just mentioned above a few good leaders. A more broadly defined goal can allow one to align such a goal to their lifestyle, joyful activities or a planned career change/retirement, to name a few endeavors. It becomes easier then to put training modalities in context and even mix and match several modalities within a coherent and highly personalized long term action plan. Besides, the journey towards achieving such a goal can be life enriching by itself.
 

Pete L

Level 5 Valued Member
For me the paradigm shift came when I started to define my goals around my sport (started kickboxing at 38) and not how my body looked.

Off the back of shoulder decompression surgery I wanted to regain my press up capacity and a Google search came up with Grease the Groove and StrongFirst.

My revised goals until recently had been stable shoulders and stronger and faster legs to support my black belt grading.

Having achieved that, and with a much better broader GPP base, I now want to improve my press specifically but without losing that GPP functionality. Why do I want to press more? Probably from reading all the SF content rather than for a sporting reason. i.e. in this regard I have moved away from the sport defined goal.

Also, I wonder whether the GPP goal would have been less defining for me had I not spend 10+ years sitting at a desk focusing on my career while deteriorating physically!
 

Bauer

Level 7 Valued Member
Great question. I don't have a sport and I work at a desk, so my main general, overlapping goals are:
  • Being able to live an active life: Playing with kids, not shying away from manual labour, going for a hike, etc.
  • Maintaining and improving my ability to move well and free of pain
  • Being resilient to different kind of physical stressors
  • Improving cardiovascular health, mitochondria, etc.
Overall it is about health, well-being and resilience.

More concrete goals are and were
  • Getting rid of joint problems and joint pain
  • Building some muscle mass, looking more toned or whatever :D
  • Improving posture
  • Finding an enjoyable routine that helps to relieve stress
Overall I don't have an idea if, say, presses will help with any of that. So far, S&S + Original Strength + Walking has actually helped me with all of the above.

One thing I enjoy a lot about StrongFirst is the element of deliberate practice and mastery. One thing I enjoy a lot about Original Strength is exploring how my body works and what it is capable of. I like this GPP approach.

In the past I pursued some vanity goals, like being able to do as much pullups as my friends. Well, that did not help me with any of the goals above.

So I feel you. Where should I go next? Soon I need to purchase new bells and make a decision: Staying with S&S post Simple? Or exploring different routes? But to what end?

Right now I think I would like explore and unpack my newly developed capabilities, for example by following the LCCJ plan from SF-KB + adding some running alongside it. It feels good to feel good, as Tim Anderson says, and being strong, enduring, healthy are part of it. I guess the longer one trains the more switching plans and exercises is also about keeping one interested in the process.

(And for some this might involve specific goals, like one arm pressing 1/2 BW etc.)
 

Coyotl

Level 6 Valued Member
As someone who has developed an interest in exercise and strength training over the last two years, I find myself quite interested in the art and/or science of program development, and who some of these programs are really designed for.

As we head into the winter season, I will likely be transitioning back to kettlebells, and as I look at the various StrongFirst program alternatives, I think it can be confusing to assess some of these programs and if they are right for me.

Often on this forum, when someone asks for advice on which program to pursue next, someone will ask what their GOALS are? This is a question I tend to struggle with. As an average Joe, my question is partly “what SHOULD my goals be?” It’s not a question that someone else should answer, but more an indication that I don’t really know how hitting some of the goals in programs like S&S or ROP would benefit my life in the bigger picture, beyond just hitting the numbers.
I can share my take on goals. These can be specific - run an 50k in October, press the beast with both arms, etc. - or they can be a little more nebulous - I want to look better, I want to feel better, I want to be healthier. Often a lot of these come from a place of self-confidence and self-worth - the goal isn't the lower bodyfat or more musculature, but to be able walk around with more confidence in who you are and a measure of pride that you've achieved something. Often, these are also not expressed or formulated clearly by the individual.

This is very similar with people that start strength training or start a martial art like BJJ. Their goal is not what is stated (I want to be shredded and able to kick butt) but lies deeper - I am insecure and want self-confidence, I think if I am shredded and can kick butt I'll be a better person and therefore have more self-worth and therefore be more self-confident and therefore less insecure.

Specific goals (e.g. achieving a beast press and passing the USSS) are relatively easy to plan towards, and working with people with goals like that is different (and sometimes eaiser in my opinion). The problem is that at least a good chunk of the time a specific goal is a proxy for developing self-confidence. I suppose that isn't really a problem, but it is something to be aware of, especially if you're working with people.

S&S - For beginners and to be used as a general fitness / wellness practice. One of its benefits is the ability to tailor it to your needs. If I want to spend a season with this, having already achieved Simple, I can sort of chill and do timeless every day, or I can get more aggressive conditioning by going EMOM. All kinds of options. Can also pair nicely with other programs. Seems to be a great all around program for strength, conditioning, and mobility, but may not be great for top end strength.

ROP - I’ve never done ROP. But I view this program as being a bit more “in your face.” From what I’ve read, this is for someone looking for a challenge, and someone who maybe is a bit more interested in body composition changes. Great for developing your press, and for high intensity cardio smokers, but maybe not so great for general aerobic base.

Q&D - Seems to be more of a conditioning protocol for those who’ve already developed excellent strength and conditioning. This one has a more limited target audience, from what I can tell.

A+A Snatches seem to be great for general wellness and pair well with running and some other targeted strength training. Great for someone looking to improve their aerobic base while also developing power.

Double KB work seems more geared to those interested in top end strength. I’m not as familiar with most of the programs here, but it sounds like there are many different programs here that can be tailored to your needs, similar to the other programs.
When looking at the programs I think of it in the terms I described above. If someone is wanting to look better, feel better, or get healthier, or feel more confident by developing mastery of something - any of these programs would deliver, although I'm not sure I'd use Q&D. The programs also have stated goals: S&S says the goal is to develop GPP, ROP says the goal is develop a 1/2BW press and to pass the USSS, Q&D to develop power, A&A to develop endurance.

With double kettlebell work since there isn't a single program being looked at, it is way too variable - you could be talking about Geoff Neupert's the Giant (goal - strength, conditioning, fat loss) or Hector Gutierrez's Russian Bear (build muscle). Double kettlebell work isn't really a program, and as such it can be used for anything from GPP (like Pavel's BJJ program) to fat loss to hypertrophy.
 

Eyetic

Level 5 Valued Member
Great question. I don't have a sport and I work at a desk, so my main general, overlapping goals are:
  • Being able to live an active life: Playing with kids, not shying away from manual labour, going for a hike, etc.
  • Maintaining and improving my ability to move well and free of pain
  • Being resilient to different kind of physical stressors
  • Improving cardiovascular health, mitochondria, etc.
Overall it is about health, well-being and resilience.

More concrete goals are and were
  • Getting rid of joint problems and joint pain
  • Building some muscle mass, looking more toned or whatever :D
  • Improving posture
  • Finding an enjoyable routine that helps to relieve stress
Literally this is me, but my main problem is vanity, even if I 've abbandoned it a bit during the years I tend to opt for a kind of hypertrophy program allways.
 

Steve W.

Level 7 Valued Member
"What do you enjoy doing, and what helps you develop a better and more training habit that works well within your life?"
This is my starting point. My main goals are to maintain the continuity of the training process, do things I enjoy, and do them in a way that works in my life. I've had a number of short and long layoffs through the years, so the first goal of just continuing to train is my main priority, and the other two support that.

Even my more specific goals are mainly based on participation. I'm currently doing The Giant as a training focus, supplemented by Q&D sessions with snatches and double cleans, double KB front squats, ring pullups, some club swinging, and a grab bag of variety and "movement play" drills and moves. What are my goals with these activities?
1. Do three sessions of The Giant each week.
2. Do one or two Q&D sessions each week.
3. Get in a bunch of sets of double KB front squats each week (sometimes one or two higher volume days, sometimes just a set or two here and there throughout the week).
4. Get in a bunch of sets of ring pullups each week (sometimes one or two higher volume days, sometimes just a set or two here and there throughout the week).
5. Swing clubs most days in some form or fashion (both Indian clubs and heavy clubbells).
6. Do some random movement play or variety drill most days in some form or fashion.

Any positive effects on performance or appearance, I consider side effects of the training process rather than goals I am training to achieve.
 

TimothyGander

Level 1 Valued Member
I think it's important to distinguish between proxy goals and real ones. For example, unless you're planning to earn the SFG2 (or some other cert/job/anything else that may come with this requirement), 1/2 bodyweight press is just a proxy goal - putting a heavy kettlebell overhead has no use by itself, it doesn't give you or anyone else any real benefit. However, it's an useful approximation of many real but less measurable goals - upper body strength, physical resilience, body composition, health, bone hardness, being useful in various physical endeavors etc. The same goes for most GPP program goals, unless the GPP modality is your sport/occupation (like the snatch test for the USS agents, the bench-squat-deadlift for powerlifters and so on). So in my opinion the trick is to select and train the proxy goals that correctly approximate your real goals.

To give a personal example: my main mode of transportation is a bicycle. Since I've started doing swings and increased my numbers in this lift (proxy goal), I've been noticing more and more that I'm able to reach many places faster than before (real goal). It's hard to measure the exact improvement, as my time per mile depends on a huge number of variables, with most of them beyond my control (like traffic levels on any given day), but I know it has happened, that increasing my numbers in this lift increased my capability in an useful way and so I consider kettlebell training a good use of my time and energy.

I think it's important to state because for many people immersed in physical culture, reaching that 1/2 BW press (or Timeless Simple, or any other arbitrary fitness standard) may be a sort of goal in itself (often because the connection to real goals seems so obvious as to not require pondering on). However, for most people, this (or "getting strong" as such) doesn't cut it - you need to show them the connection between the proxy goal and the real goals in their life if they are to consistently train and succeed.
 
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oukeith1

Level 3 Valued Member
Thank you all for the wonderful, thoughtful, responses! There is some really good stuff in this thread, and to be honest, I view it as a bit of a happy accident on my part.

My intent for starting the thread was more revolving around how the programs or stated goals translate to real world functionality.

I think @TimothyGander summarized best what I was trying to get at when referring to real goals vs proxy goals. For example the real world benefit that a few cycles of ROP might get you as compared to quality time with an A+A type program. What is the the real world benefit and should that real world benefit drive your choice of programs?

That is where my head has been as I think about the next program I tackle. It is fun to think about, given I enjoy reading this message board and Pavel’s books, etc.

In other words, what does “the science” say I should choose as my next program?

What is interesting to me is that almost none of the experienced folks here seemed to put that as a primary decision point. Rather, the focus is simply on what you want to do? What will you enjoy? What will you keep doing consistently?

And let the rest take care of itself.

For someone like me, there really isn’t a need to overthink anything. And the responses sort of clarified that.

And with that, it helped me choose how I will spend the winter!

So thanks everyone.
 

WxHerk

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
If I may add one more thought, please. A few years ago my steady diet of swings, snatches, cleans, presses, and getups “kept my carburetor primed.” I did a 12 week 5/3/1 deadlift cycle and went from a poor 455 single to a 565 projected max at age 55. While not having a goal I kept myself mentally and physically prepared and at a high jumping off point when I did decide on a goal. Same thing last year: after many months of A&A snatching the 32kg along with rucking I did several cycles of the Giant through 1.2 (dbl 32kg) and into 1.1 with dbl 36’s. Not precisely what you are asking about, but food for thought.
 

svencandy

First Post
I agree with your take on S&S, as someone who has partaken in many newbie programs, S&S is the only one that has addressed mobility issues that a newbie may have (hips and shoulders, aka disease of modernity as Nassim Taleb would say)
As for the others, I read q&d over the weekend, and it has me excited, am wondering if it is possible to transition from S&S to Q&D after achieving simple.
 

Shawn

Level 5 Valued Member
Literally this is me, but my main problem is vanity, even if I 've abbandoned it a bit during the years I tend to opt for a kind of hypertrophy program allways.
Vanity is my main problem also. Coming from bodybuilding style of training it's a hard mentality to get out of. Because of this I tend to get bored after 4 weeks or so. So sometimes I tend to spin my wheels which is not good sometimes.
 

Bunn

Level 5 Valued Member
I agree with your take on S&S, as someone who has partaken in many newbie programs, S&S is the only one that has addressed mobility issues that a newbie may have (hips and shoulders, aka disease of modernity as Nassim Taleb would say)
As for the others, I read q&d over the weekend, and it has me excited, am wondering if it is possible to transition from S&S to Q&D after achieving simple.
Absolutely! Of course, you will need to ensure your technique for the swing and pushup is correct (snatch if you go that route), if all is good, Q&D and S&S are an excellent combo to cycle through.
 

WxHerk

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
…what does “the science” say I should choose as my next program?

What is interesting to me is that almost none of the experienced folks here seemed to put that as a primary decision point. Rather, the focus is simply on what you want to do? What will you enjoy? What will you keep doing consistently?

And let the rest take care of itself.

For someone like me, there really isn’t a need to overthink anything. And the responses sort of clarified that.
Ah, good points!! Two things to reinforce your observation:

One: the “best” program is one you will do consistently.

Two: a slapdash program done with grit, passion, and determination will beat the dog out of a perfect program done halfheartedly. In the same vein, people often get different results from the same program because they put different amounts of their physical, mental, and emotional energy into that program.

I have seen this numerous times. I’m sure plenty others will attest to it, as well.
 

Adachi

Level 6 Valued Member
I agree with your take on S&S, as someone who has partaken in many newbie programs, S&S is the only one that has addressed mobility issues that a newbie may have (hips and shoulders, aka disease of modernity as Nassim Taleb would say)
As for the others, I read q&d over the weekend, and it has me excited, am wondering if it is possible to transition from S&S to Q&D after achieving simple.
I had been reading Q&D Way earlier than achieving simple. I wanted to try Q&D but in admitting that I do not know better than the author, I waited to start Q&D until achieving simple.

I believe that as my power is still on the lower end of the overall spectrum. I found that the 033 protocol was probably a better match power wise than 044. But in my minimalist preferences I currently choose snatches.

I will work up the gumption and discipline to complete and entire cycle of 033 at a later date, but I'm currently beginning a cycle of straight 10x10 (EMOMx3).

I'm sure this is subjective, but my power seems to be relatively higher in swings and pushups than snatch. but maybe I'm mis reading that. And my experience seems to point to snatches being suboptimal for power currently but I'm sure that will improve over the course of the cycle.

In any event - as far as my perception of the programs goes - it does seem to get me thinking that S&S is not something that I graduate out of into Q&D. S&S is a much taller mountain, and a much deeper river than I thought after thinking that I was moving into a greener pasture. Not quite.

i am, once again, under the impression that I'll be alternating these programs.

S&S
build strength
develop myofibrils

Q&D
harness strength
develop power
build mitochondria

A+A
practice power
improve mitochondria

There will be some deadlifting and pressing, but mostly swings and snatches. Given my current trajectory and outlook on GPP.
 

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
Double KB work is great off-season work for barbell athletes.
I had an experience this week that really drove this home. I was looking at adding deadlifts into my double KB program and wanted to establish some max numbers to work from. So I proceeded to do increasing weight sets of singles and doubles to determine an approximate 1TRM. Finally ended up pulling 140kg/309lb. I haven’t touched a barbell in over a year and the last time I pulled a deadlift 100kg/220lb felt heavy.

To the OP’s question, I think it’s a turning point when the goal can be performance based instead of self-esteem based. I don’t know if I’m there yet if I’m being truthful, but I’m trying to center my goals on being strong (nebulous definition) and being strong for grappling. I’ve always be envious of the guys that everyone whispers about being gorillas, and I’ve never considered myself strong, finally decided to change that.
 
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