A couple of weeks ago Al Ciampa, SFG wrote an excellent blog entitled “Where Do You Go After Simple.” In it he outlined a “serious endurance” swing protocol. I strongly recommend it to those who want to take their conditioning to the next level.
If you choose to hold the course to the “sinister” goal while sticking to “easy endurance” type training, here is another option.
As Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler
Albert Einstein famously quipped, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I pushed Kettlebell Simple & Sinister (S&S) programming to the very edge of its statement, to the verge of being too simple. I have done it on purpose, in order to eliminate any possible excuses you might have for non-compliance.
I intentionally removed load variability or “waviness,” as Russians call it. Just bang out your 100 daily swings and 10 get-ups, like brushing your teeth. All of your attention is on technique and power, and zero brain cells need to be involved in analyzing your workout, attempting to change it.
Once you have put in your time and effort, and reached the “simple” goals — 16kg for get-ups and 24kg for swings for ladies; and 32kg in both events for gents for the specified sets, reps, and times — you may carry on using the same simple template inspired by old-time strongmen.
Or, you may start “waving” your volume in the manner of Soviet weightlifters. Multiple studies have documented the greater effectiveness of “waved” training for experienced athletes.
How to “Wave” Simple & Sinister-Style Training
The first step is identifying your monthly volume. Note that the “month” I am referring to is not a calendar month but a block of four weeks. S&S is intended to be practiced daily but most people end up doing it five days a week. For swings, the numbers then add up to:
(5 days x 100 reps = 500 reps a week) x 4 weeks = 2,000 reps a month
When the training load is static, every week makes up 25% of the monthly total. “Waviness” describes the pattern of making some weeks’ number of lifts (NL) greater than this average, and other weeks’ NL smaller. Soviet weightlifting specialists proposed the following classification:
Many successful combinations of percentages have been arrived at through painstaking experimentation by the Soviets. We shall go with 15, 20, 30, 35%. These percentages are named, respectively, deloading, maintenance, developmental, and stress-developmental.
With a 2,000-rep monthly total we arrive at 300, 400, 600, and 700 reps per week. Again, waviness means making the volume of some training periods both greater than and less than the average, while maintaining the same average.
Note that the weeks do not have to be arranged in the above order. Experiments have demonstrated any order to be effective for different reasons. 300-700-400-600, 400-600-300-700, or any other combination of these four numbers, will make you stronger. So just pick one, and make sure to use a different one next month.
Your choice can be random, or influenced by your plans. For instance, if you are climbing a mountain on week two and want to do a bare minimum of swings, assign the lowest NL, 300, to that week. Or, if you have a competition in your sport on week four, then taper the volume towards that week: 700-600-400-300. Make the week after Thanksgiving the highest volume week of the month. You get the idea.
When you are planning two months back to back, make that you do not use the same NL in the last week of the first month and the first week of the second month.
Due to the fractal nature of this type of planning, you must also vary the volume within a week. Use the table below. Note that the number of training sessions changes depending on the week’s volume. This was a standard operating procedure for Soviet weightlifters on whose methodology the “From Simple to Sinister” program is based.
As with weeks, any order of the above percentages is acceptable for different reasons, and should be varied. Make sure the NL on the last day of one week does not match that of the first day of the next week.
3-Month “From Simple to Sinister” Program Outline
To make your life easy, I have written up the first three months of your “From Simple to Sinister” swing training:
For your training load on “From Simple to Sinister,” you will use the next kettlebell up from the one that allows you to do 100 swings in five minutes, on any day—the one that you “own.” Go up 4kg for ladies and 4 or 8kg for gents. E.g., a lady who has reached the “simple” goal with 24kg should swing 28kg. A gent who has bagged 32kg should train with 36kg or 40kg. (Or both, but that would complicate the planning.)
There is no need to time your rest periods, except on the test days appearing in the last week of every month. Just rest long enough to maintain maximal power output. Obviously, 180 reps will demand longer rest periods than 80.
As in the original S&S template, on days when you are dragging your tail, do two-hand “shadow swings” with a kettlebell close to 30% of your bodyweight or lighter. Soviet weightlifting specialists discovered that cutting back on weight and focusing on speed-strength “creates favorable conditions for recovery processes in the body.” (Chernyak, 1978)
On the last Friday of each month, test yourself with a timer going off every thirty seconds. If you feel your power about to drop off, switch to a lighter kettlebell for the rest of the 100 reps. If you are still going strong after 100 with the target weight, keep going as long as your power does not fade.
If you have made 100 in five minutes with confidence and power, increase the weight next month. If you did not make it to 100, or, you did but it took a great effort, stay with the weight for another four weeks.
There are no bimonthly two-handed swing tests on the “From Simple to Sinister” plan.
The Ideal Practitioner for “From Simple to Sinister”
This plan was designed for someone who does exclusively swings (and goblet squats at the beginning of each session) for the lower body. If you want to figure out how to introduce another squat or hinge into the mix, you are on your own.
You can continue training the get-up in the usual S&S manner: five singles per arm almost every day. Or, if you feel up for it, add variability to your get-up training using the swing plan as a template. Note that the volume dynamics for different lifts are independent. In other words, a 30% week or day for swings can correspond to 15, 20, 30, or 35% for the get-up. Do not try to introduce a pattern (e.g. making them go up in sync or at counterphases) where there should be none.
If you are interested in the logic and wisdom behind this type of Soviet weightlifting based programming and how to apply it to your strength lifts, the Plan Strong™ seminar is right up your alley.
More power to you.
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