Zero to Sinister

somanaut

More than 300 posts
I was wondering if anyone has gone from being truly untrained to achieving Sinister without any detours?
Or I could ask in a different way with a personal anecdote:
When I was first introduced to the TGU I couldn’t even do it with a 12kg. When I started S&S properly I just did partial TGU with a 16kg, until I could do a full one. Fast forward to today where I can do one with a 40kg (only tested it for 1x1 each side) and the only other thing that I have trained besides S&S was some weeks of OAOLPU (which I have only ever managed one crappy one of on one side, and not repeated the feat, and this was after my first time of reaching Simple goal).
Since S&S was my first strength training program that I have followed consistently, I would be considered untrained (and I still consider myself untrained, I have just paid my entry to the world of strength), as Pavel writes “no longer a boy” however this does not mean you are a man (same criteria for women ofc), since pressing a 32kg is considered the passage from child to adult in ETK.
Anyway my point is that I went from zero to Simple without any detours to further the process. Has any just continued from Simple to practising for Sinister, without detours to ex. snatching, pressing etc?
I am thin and was never strong before (not claiming that I am strong now, just stronger than before Simple), so I assume a strong guy/ girl could power through to Simple and beyond easier than myself, even if they perhaps weren’t allready a strength athlete.
So what I am asking, if anyone of us that struggled to complete any or both of the exercizes continued all the way to Sinister without doing other moves or training modalies?
 

crazycanuck

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Female here. I am currently working on Simple, and have been since June 2016. I was not new to kettlebells and had been using them for several years off and on before starting along with sandbags, some bodyweight. Dabbled in Enter the Kettlebell when it first came out, did not complete ROP standards. Like you S&S is the first program I am endeavoring to completion.

I have broken practicing due to other reasons but not related to being distracted by other kettlebell things....Detoured for injury (broke dominant hand, off for 3 months all together if you count casted time plus physiotherapy) and restarted right from the basics again like the start of the book described (was using 20kg one handed swings and 16kg getups at the time of my injury). Also another detour due to rib/intercostal issues/strain....took a month off and did light other things, problem returned a few months later and I took 6 weeks off under guidance of an athletic therapist who had some KB familiarity to focus more on my thoracic/shoulder mobility, which has made a HUGE difference. I have had in person visits with an SFG or two, but I think I may have had some sloppy habits I didn't realize I was doing which led to the rib strain.

I am currently at 16kg getups, and working on incorporating 24kg swing sessions (taking 2 -3 of my sessions of the week of the 5-6 I aim for to do 24kgx10, rest are 20kg sessions). This so far is feeling nice and moderate to me and not too tiring. I am anticipating within the next number of weeks all my swing practice will be with 24kg.

I find swings to be the harder exercise and always have, as far as building lung capacity and endurance. I actually was looking at my workout notes last night, and saw an entry from when I very first started something along the lines of "very winded with these!" and that was with 5 sets of 16kg one handed LOL. I had let my fitness lag a bit obviously. Now I can swing a 24kg one handed in sets of 10.

As far as achieving Sinister, I really don't know and havent' thought much about what I would do next. Sometimes I have toyed with the idea. I enjoy swinging my 32kg two handed for a few sets of 5, but yet when I do I can't wrap my mind around swinging it one handed....it seems like such a monster.

I guess I have seen Sinister as something in the realm of SFG instructors obtaining it or something and it is beyond us mere mortals, since there are so few "official" cases of people getting it (on video, submitted, etc). But then again, at one time I found a 16kg tiring, so there's that. I also get the impression it takes a lot of work to make that jump, and I would have to weigh carefully if it is worth the effort of time and energy. Although, for sure I have obtained huge benefits from what I have done with S&S so far and many WTH effects in my life though. Lots to think about....
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
I could do the TGUs with the 48kg bell. It was the swings that were the problem. I've done them several times all the way through with the 40, but nowhere near the time test limit. I haven't ever made the Simple time test limit, although I've come close at 7 minutes for swings.
 

somanaut

More than 300 posts
I guess I have seen Sinister as something in the realm of SFG instructors obtaining it or something and it is beyond us mere mortals, since there are so few "official" cases of people getting it (on video, submitted, etc).
My thoughts exactly. When I read about the Sinister goal, I thought “well that is obviously for people who are nuts”.
My first time achieving Simple I thought “well that was that, let’s do something else now”. The 2nd time I thought “let’s stay with this for a while and try and own it”. And now the 100 1h swings feels like a good warmup (some days), and the next bell (40kg) seems within the realm of possibility (although brutal). But the 48kg seems something for mutants.
I am still wondering (as you mention) about the cost benefit of going for Sinister for beginners, and if anyone has ever done a relatively straight line to it.

I admire your persistence despite setbacks.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
My thoughts exactly. When I read about the Sinister goal, I thought “well that is obviously for people who are nuts”.
My first time achieving Simple I thought “well that was that, let’s do something else now”. The 2nd time I thought “let’s stay with this for a while and try and own it”. And now the 100 1h swings feels like a good warmup (some days), and the next bell (40kg) seems within the realm of possibility (although brutal). But the 48kg seems something for mutants.
I am still wondering (as you mention) about the cost benefit of going for Sinister for beginners, and if anyone has ever done a relatively straight line to it.

I admire your persistence despite setbacks.
Something I've felt is that for my size, a bit heavier than 32kg would be good. I'm sort of between 32kg and 40kg. I feel like I'm getting a heroic workout when I do at least the TGUs with the 40kg bell and it works fine, but like I said it feels "heroic", but 100 1 handed swings with the 40kg bell in any kind of reasonable time - I'm just not there yet!
 

JCORN

Double-Digit Post Count
I was wondering if anyone has gone from being truly untrained to achieving Sinister without any detours?
Or I could ask in a different way with a personal anecdote:
When I was first introduced to the TGU I couldn’t even do it with a 12kg. When I started S&S properly I just did partial TGU with a 16kg, until I could do a full one. Fast forward to today where I can do one with a 40kg (only tested it for 1x1 each side) and the only other thing that I have trained besides S&S was some weeks of OAOLPU (which I have only ever managed one crappy one of on one side, and not repeated the feat, and this was after my first time of reaching Simple goal).
Since S&S was my first strength training program that I have followed consistently, I would be considered untrained (and I still consider myself untrained, I have just paid my entry to the world of strength), as Pavel writes “no longer a boy” however this does not mean you are a man (same criteria for women ofc), since pressing a 32kg is considered the passage from child to adult in ETK.
Anyway my point is that I went from zero to Simple without any detours to further the process. Has any just continued from Simple to practising for Sinister, without detours to ex. snatching, pressing etc?
I am thin and was never strong before (not claiming that I am strong now, just stronger than before Simple), so I assume a strong guy/ girl could power through to Simple and beyond easier than myself, even if they perhaps weren’t allready a strength athlete.
So what I am asking, if anyone of us that struggled to complete any or both of the exercizes continued all the way to Sinister without doing other moves or training modalies?

Reading your story, I am stoked thinking that I can achieve simple, starting in much the same manner as you did without a big strength training background. Right now I am stuck on the 24kg for swings, pretty close to the 32kg for all TGUs. This is for you or anyone else, but did you go right to the 32kg for 1h swings or go to the 28kg? I have both and have been able to get about 40 of the 100 swings with the 28kg, but wondering if I could just add in the 32kg, doing sets of 5 1h swings or continue to learn to own the 28kg, then go to the 32kg. I know the book method is to jump to the 32kg, but I also don't want to get injured by doing too much too soon.
 

crazycanuck

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Reading your story, I am stoked thinking that I can achieve simple, starting in much the same manner as you did without a big strength training background. Right now I am stuck on the 24kg for swings, pretty close to the 32kg for all TGUs. This is for you or anyone else, but did you go right to the 32kg for 1h swings or go to the 28kg? I have both and have been able to get about 40 of the 100 swings with the 28kg, but wondering if I could just add in the 32kg, doing sets of 5 1h swings or continue to learn to own the 28kg, then go to the 32kg. I know the book method is to jump to the 32kg, but I also don't want to get injured by doing too much too soon.
I've gone from 16kg to 20 before I fractured my hand, and was doing some intermittent swinging two handed of 24kg. Last restart at s&S did the jump from 16kg to 24 as I had been also at this time started swinging the 24 two handed. (this was a year after hand fracture though, just time off for other issues so grip was not as huge a factor). Spent some time with two handed swings of the 24kg until I felt I had some good lung capacity for 10 sets of 10 and feel that was time well spent even if it was several weeks.

I think there are several ways to attack one handed swings. What worked best for me after some experimentation was to have the first rep or two as two handed, then do some hand to hand at first...take the hand off the bell at the top of the swing, allow the backswing then back up to the top of the swing, then switch hands at the top. (This is not dropping/catching the bell like some think of hand to hand swings) if I was tiring or I was not sure of my grip I would just do the next rep or two as two handed and this when I first started was all decided rep by rep and by feel. Eventually was able to do 2 and 3 and more reps before switching. I then got to the point where I worked on sets where say my first set was 7L and 3R for example and the next set L and 7R, with goal of those sets becoming 10 reps per hand, and all the rest were all things like 5L/5R. That I preplanned and was actively working on getting a solid set of 10.

I did surprise myself one day being able to do a good strong set of 10 each side. I have since then adopted a strategy of taking 1-2 sessions a week of doing as many sets of 10 in a practice session with good form and over a couple weeks have achieved a practice session with all 10 reps/10 sets at this weight, strongly although of course needing rest between sets and not near the 5 min time standards. The rest of the weeks sessions are done with the lighter weight of 20 kg 10 reps per side. Next 2weeks do another couple sessions in this manner with the heavier weight, then (not preplanned) go by feel/how your week is going/fatigue levels and add more sessions each week with the heavier bell until eventually you are pretty much exclusively working with it.. I saw this tip given a long time ago to someone on the forums I believe from an SFG instructor, and liked it enough to make a written note of it. I like it and it has made me feel less tired, 20kg is a pretty easy to moderate weight to me anyways. It just makes it feel less fatiguing incorporating it, like the "waving the load" concept I guess.

If I did not have a 20kg bell/$$ to get an inbetween size, I think I would still make that jump, just slower than I did. And your grip will catch up eventually and you'll feel like you are getting more power from the hips once you are more confident in your grip (and vice versa) and get the timing right of letting your arm fall to the body and hinging back at the last possible minute. Your swings may be a bit slow or not chest height at first, but everything comes together in my experience at least, so far.
 
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somanaut

More than 300 posts
Reading your story, I am stoked thinking that I can achieve simple, starting in much the same manner as you did without a big strength training background. Right now I am stuck on the 24kg for swings, pretty close to the 32kg for all TGUs. This is for you or anyone else, but did you go right to the 32kg for 1h swings or go to the 28kg? I have both and have been able to get about 40 of the 100 swings with the 28kg, but wondering if I could just add in the 32kg, doing sets of 5 1h swings or continue to learn to own the 28kg, then go to the 32kg. I know the book method is to jump to the 32kg, but I also don't want to get injured by doing too much too soon.
I went straight from the 24kg to the 32kg. And I think that it is a safe method. The method I would suggest is mixing 24kg and 32kg swings (perhaps not doing full 10 reps with the 32kg in the start). Focusing on explosion/power in the 24kg sets, but just holding one hand and hip hinging with the 32kg. If you can swing the 24kg 10x10 under 5 min. (which you should be able to do before moving on to adding the 32kg) you should be able to just hold and hip hinge (drinking bird) with the 32kg. Just treat it as a slightly more dynamic deadlift, and bit by bit the swinging motion should come almost naturally.

I think that Pavel was correct in saying that most people (healthy'ish) should be able to reach the Simple Goal/Standard. Will it take some time, practise and frequency? Yes. Will it be faster for some than others? Yes. But it is a reasonable standard. Does it require discipline? Yes. And tbh besides being a good starting foundation for other physical activities, the main thing that S&S teaches is discipline (or atleast that is what it helped teach me). Best of luck!
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Now, I'm not Sinister or certified, just my opinions here.

I think, assuming one has the genetic potential, that one could reach Sinister on a steady died of vanilla S&S practices. But, I suspect that would not be the fastest route there, so I doubt that's the path the current Sinister folks are taking. Periodization is a powerful tool that not many of us really know how to use well (I don't), but the serious athletes do. For example, real powerlifters don't just go out and max the deadlift/squat/bench 5 days a week. I would guess that cycling between limit strength and S&S conditioning might in the end yield a faster path to Sinister - and would get you there with some nice gains in limit strength while you're at it.

Pavel also posted the article From Simple to Sinister: Waving Volume on S&S | StrongFirst as another example of how to vary training when things are getting more challenging.

I think the "thou shalt do nothing else" aspect of S&S is primarily geared to the untrained. When you're untrained, anything will work - but consistency is key, you can't keep program hoping at the first sign of challenge. Dedicating all your training time to a single objective is as much about building your mental work capacity as your physical work capacity. Once you can claim Simple, you aren't untrained anymore - I think you've earned at least a little say in the direction of your training.

Bigger question might be whether everyone has the genetic potential to reach Sinister. Can't say I know... but when you look at some of the folks who have done it, they aren't 7-foot-tall monsters who look like their made of steel. They're well trained folks who know what they're doing. It sure looks to me like more people have the potential than you might imagine when you first start trying to toss the 32 around.

My personal journey - I'm a pretty big guy, and I wasn't untrained when I started, so I hit Simple in a couple months of semi-regular kettlebell work. It's taken me around 9 months to acclimate enough to the 40 to be able to use it for a full session, and I'm nowhere close to the time standard. It would not surprise me if it takes me another 6 months or more to whittle down to the time standard with the 40, and in the meanwhile I'll try to acclimate to the 48 a little - I'm planning to wave a little back and forth between those two goals, paired with some limit strength. Maybe not the fastest road to Sinister, but I think still time well spent.
 

somanaut

More than 300 posts
Something I've felt is that for my size, a bit heavier than 32kg would be good. I'm sort of between 32kg and 40kg. I feel like I'm getting a heroic workout when I do at least the TGUs with the 40kg bell and it works fine, but like I said it feels "heroic", but 100 1 handed swings with the 40kg bell in any kind of reasonable time - I'm just not there yet!
This sounds similar to my own situation. Reading your posts, I know that you can handle more weight than me, i.e. you are stronger, so there will be some difference. But there are days, where I just don’t feel that the 32kg TGU is enough, and on some days it is more than enough. Swings has been my weak spot since starting S&S. Perhaps it is my background in ashtanga yoga where you have a lot of isometric holds. And when I did kendo I was never explosive, so I had to work around that to be competetive.
Will be buying a 40kg january and if injury free start to aim for Solid (is that the acceptable name for test with the 40kg?).
Right now I am away from my 32kg and working “offroad” with my 24kg and the press.
 

somanaut

More than 300 posts
Dedicating all your training time to a single objective is as much about building your mental work capacity as your physical work capacity.
Well put. You expressed it much better than me, but this was what I meant.
I might disagree a little about a person being called trained after reaching Simple, but that is hardly important. I do however agree that after reaching Simple, you have atleast a little say in what and how you could train. Which brings me to what follows after Simple. For myself it seems logical to focus on clean, press and snatch. Practise these moves before some or all of your S&S sessions, and then begin ROP. But I do think that there is missing a more linear system a la S&S between Simple and starting ROP. Maybe it’s because I am not smart, but the fluctuating swings and snatch sessions seem to require a good deal of experience, other than S&S and practise with clean, press and snatch.
 
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