Lately, I’m busy—but surprise, who isn’t. Who has too much time these days? Between work, other work, teaching, family, training, keeping up with social media, and staying up to speed with The Big Bang Theory, I find the time noose getting tighter and tighter each day.
An extra two minutes here and five minutes there, plus the stupid road construction that never ends, which turns my thirteen-minute commute to twenty every day (I know, still pretty lucky on that one). Something has to give each day, but what?
After some trial and error, I learned that work still requires forty-plus hours per week, forgetting the seven-year-old at school is not a good time-saving option, and at some point the DVR fills up.
So what gets cut? Sadly, more often than not, it’s training time.
Back in my young, single, very little responsibility days, training for two-plus hours a day was the norm (although how much was actual training versus people-watching, socializing, resting, etc. could be debated). Now, if I can get an hour at lunch to train, eat, shower, and run errands I am ecstatic. Like many Monday morning social media posts proclaim: Adulting is no fun many days.
After Pavel’s book Simple & Sinister came out, of course I had to give it a go. Reaching the Simple status was, well simple. Getting all the way to Sinister was, you guessed it, pretty sucky. But, after a few weeks, I made it and marked it off my training bucket list:
Now fast forward to 2017. At the facility I manage, we created a year-long challenge board to recognize those individuals we train whom we witness reaching what we call impressive goals. (Keep in mind, everyone we work with trains as a supplement to their sport. These are not purely strength athletes.) We decided that “Sinister” warranted a spot on our wall. Of course, I had to be the first to get my name on the board. I mean, I had already reached the goal, so why not?
But unbeknownst to me, the real world had chipped away at what I had accomplished two years earlier when I completed the Sinister requirements.
My first attempt was a Giant Fail.
Obviously, now I had a goal again, but there was a big thing in the way of this goal. Putting myself in a position to be uncomfortable while training to manage the suck of the Sinister protocol was not the problem. Finding time consistently to do this was.
I needed to be more efficient in the little training time I had. After some trial, error, and Sufferology 101: Time Under the Bell, I stumbled across something that significantly compressed the intensity and efficiency of training for Sinister.
Here is what I started with, and what we consider the “basic level” at our facility:
- 10 swings left; 1 snatch left (to get the kettlebell overhead); 1 reverse get-up left (start from standing, descend to the floor, return to standing); reverse snatch the kettlebell into a swing to switch hands
- 10 swings right; 1 snatch right; 1 reverse get-up right; reverse snatch the kettlebell into a swing to switch hands
- Repeat for 5 total rounds
In a very short amount of time, you receive the benefits of 100 swings, 10 snatches, and 10 get-ups. (And if you’re wondering about the rest periods between rounds, don’t worry—we’ll get to that shortly.)
There are other variants to this “basic” program depending on your focus:
Click on image to enlarge.
This workout also lends itself to adaptability:
- Want to kill it each round? Great jump up one or two kettlebell sizes, crush the round, and then rest as needed. To keep things on point, a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio or a 2:1 is sufficient. So, time the round and then rest as needed.
- Want to do the whole thing unbroken? Cool, drop a kettlebell size.
- Want it to progressively get worse? Start lighter and end heavy.
- Want it to progressively get better? Start heavy and drop a kettlebell size every round.
The ultimate goal is to do all five rounds without the kettlebell leaving your hands with as heavy a kettlebell as possible, and as quickly as possible. But, almost in the words of David Whitley, “I don’t care how many times you can do something crappy.” We expect technical proficiency with each repetition.
Don’t train until you get it right—train so you can never get it wrong.
In the world of sports and athletics, being able to pay attention to detail and be technically proficient is cake. Being technically proficient and paying attention to details when you are tanked is where the line of separation between average and impressive lies.
8 minutes. Using a kettlebell that is two sizes heavier than your snatch-sized kettlebell.
That’s how long you have to complete all five rounds and earn a spot for your name on our wall.
But don’t just stop two sizes above your kettlebell size. Remember, the goal behind the creation of this program is to meet the Sinister requirements.
Once I was able to complete the basic level unbroken with the 40kg kettlebell (not in less than eight minute, though), meeting the Sinister criteria was as easy as it could be—but it still wasn’t fun.