Four Sinister Success Stories

If you’ve read Simple & Sinister by Pavel, you understand the amount of work it takes to attain the “Simple” goal alone, and how much more work and dedication it takes to reach the “Sinister” goal (both goals are shown in the table below). This article outlines the training plans of three of my students who were successful in reaching the “Sinister” goal for women. I had experience with the programs from Simple & Sinister because I had tested them myself using Pavel’s book as well as articles on the StrongFirst website. These resources helped me choose the right weights and training plans for my students. These strong women did not reach the “Sinister” goal by accident. Each of them had trained for several years and already had solid technique and strength. In addition, they had already achieved the “Simple” goal and had a strong drive and ambition to reach “Sinister.”

Simple and Sinister Goals for Women

Simple and Sinister Goals for Women
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My First Student

It began with Magdalena Kostarczyk, who was the first one to come to me with the intention to achieve “Sinister.” Her strength and strong mindset were very promising as she started her program. Magdalena was already able to perform a 32kg get-up and did not have to test this lift (she has now moved on to the 40kg). After conducting a few tests to choose the right plan and load for swings, it turned out Magdalena’s hands could not withstand the necessary workload. We took this into account when programming swings.

Magdalena Kostarczyk performing the two-armswing

Magdalena’s pre-test included 100 reps of two-arm swings with the 32kg in five minutes, putting the kettlebell down every ten reps and resting to the 30-second mark. After testing we began the six-week plan shown below. You can find this plan on page 82 of Simple & Sinister by Pavel. It is short and simple, but not easy.

Magdalena’s Plan

Magdalena Kostarczyk's plan
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Magdalena stuck to the plan and performed each training session under my supervision. By the end of week six, she was able to perform 100 one-arm swings with 32kg in five minutes.

My Second Student

My second student to achieve the “Sinister” title was Barbara Filipowska. She already had advanced conditioning and strength, but after testing I decided to extend her plan about two times longer than Magdalena’s. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were not able to train consistently together. Barbara was advanced in the swing, but her get-up was far from the “Sinister” goal.  

Barbara Filipowska performing the get-up

Barbara, like Magdalena, performed several tests. She was already able to do 100 one-armed swings in five minutes with 28kg and ten get-ups with 20kg. Although we could not train together in person, Barbara recorded every training session on video which allowed me to regularly comment and correct her movements. Her training plan was designed to minimize fatigue after performing swings so she could focus on training the get-up. She trained weighted get-ups only once a week with 24kg. On the other days, she practiced get-up technique by balancing a shoe on her hand. With the support of StrongFirst articles such as “The Timeless Solution for Swings, Snatches, and More” by Brett Jones, StrongFirst’s Director of Education, I chose the optimal kettlebell weights for Barbara. She was able to reach the “Sinister” goal following the ten-week training plan shown in the table below.

Barbara’s Plan

Barbara Filipowska's plan
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My Third Student

The third student of mine to reach the “Sinister” goal was Magda Kwiecień. She had a gymnastics background and extensive experience in hardstyle kettlebell training. She had taken a two-year break after having a daughter and had just returned to training. After a few weeks of light adaptive training, Magda began to lift heavier weights and set goals for herself. One of them was to achieve “Sinister.” Like the women above, Magda had solid technique, a strong mindset, and was highly motivated.

Magda Kwiecień performing the get-up

We started with a test of one-arm swings with 32kg. With a bodyweight of 60kg, we were not sure if she could swing over 50% of her bodyweight in one hand. After several sets of ten reps, we discovered she could in fact perform one-arm swings with 32kg. It was clear that she could follow the same plan as Magdalena since they had both similar strength and bodyweight. Magda had a strong get-up, like Magdalena, and could perform a get-up with 36kg. The challenge for Magda was managing her time with a small child and the approaching holiday season. We had to adapt the training plan to fit her schedule. Fortunately, despite the complications of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were able to train in person. Magda was able to reach the “Sinister” goal after four weeks of training.

Reaching Sinister

Another one of my students, Marzena Małota, has also just achieved the “Sinister” goal following the same plan as Barbara. Her training plan also included heart rate monitoring and following the talk test (a method that focuses on even breath as a sign of an aerobic heart rate). Through training these women, I have found that to reach the “Sinister” goal seventy percent of success is choosing the right training plan and having a solid foundation of strength and technique. The remaining thirty percent is discipline, mindset, and motivation. Only this combination, will allow you to achieve “Sinister” or any other goal you set for yourself.  If you have achieved the “Simple” goal and want to reach “Sinister,” test yourself and accept the results. Perhaps your swing is stronger than your get-up or you have technical issues to address. No matter where you start, if you follow a solid plan and are dedicated to the process you will reach your goal.

Marzena Małota performing the one-arm swing
Simple & Sinister Revised & Updated
Grzegorz Palaszewski
Grzegorz Pałaszewski is a StrongFirst Certified SFG Level II Instructor. He has been associated with hardstyle kettlebells according to Pavel’s StrongFirst system since 2015. He is also a Flexible Steel Level I and II instructor and a bodybuilding instructor. His athletic background includes weightlifting, basketball, and armwrestling. He earned the bronze medal at the Armwrestling World Cup, as well as multiple wins at the Polish Armwrestling Cup, Polish Championships, and international tournaments such as the Orava Armwrestling Challenge. He currently coaches in several clubs in Silesia and has helped his students achieve strong goals.

8 thoughts on “Four Sinister Success Stories

  • Exemplary work–a titanic accomplishment bolstered with strong program, and necessary, as you proved, regardless of their background in strength.

  • I have read that kettlebell exercises are good for golf. I do some, but not sure what I’m doing. I do lunges with 18 lb. kettlebell in each hand. Plus I lift 60 lb. kettlebell in a dead lift. What do you think?

    • Look for a StrongFirst Instructor in your area to introduce you to Kettlebells

  • Fantastic, do you have any guidelines of how you find out the right starting weight for somebody who wants to start this path?

    • 10 x 10 Swing 1A with a weight you can hold without losing your technique without timing – such a weight can be used but it is not a rule. I choose each one individually.

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