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Kettlebell Simple & Sinister Paperback – November 20, 2013
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An incredibly simple guide to creating sinister workouts that really work. Don't mistake simple for basic. The instruction in this book is exactly what you would learn were you to train with Pavel himself. I know, because I have had in-person coaching from Pavel who is recognized around the world as the master of kettlebell training and am a student of his methods. --Adam Campbell, MS, CSCS, Men's Health Fitness Director
Pavel has done it again! In Kettlebell Simple & Sinister you get the secrets that the experts of all experts in this area has uncovered… here you have it all in a highly functional package that without a doubt will take you to the next level! --Timothy DiFrancesco, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, Los Angeles Lakers
Kettlebells were not featured in my musclebuilding routines years ago. If I had this snappy book in my hands at the time, my training would have been different. There's tough joy in those kettlebells, and Pavel and his sturdy friends clearly prove it. --Dave Draper, Mr. America, Mr. World, Mr. Universe
About the Author
Pavel Tsatsouline is a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, currently a Subject Matter Expert to elite US military and law enforcement special operations units. Pavel introduced the Russian kettlebell to the West in 1998 and started the kettlebell revolution. Dr. Randall Strossen, one of the most respected names in the strength world, stated, "Pavel Tsatsouline will always reign as the modern king of kettlebells since it was he who popularized them to the point where you could almost found a country filled with his converts". Pavel is the Chairman of StrongFirst, Inc. In addition to the gold-standard kettlebell instructor certification StrongFirst.com offers user courses internationally in kettlebell, barbell and bodyweight training.
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The reviews on Simple & Sinister seemed too good to be true, but I bought it on a whim. It ended up entirely changing my training routine. It may be too early to post a review, but I have been following this routine exactly as prescribed for about a week and I love it. I thought I'd share my experience from a novice's perspective, and if I find in a few months that I am unsatisfied with the routine (or that I still love it) I will follow-up my review. Since most of the reviews are on the information and quality of the book (I'd still give it five stars-- the writing is motivating and informative), I am going to focus on the routine's prescribed itself.
I'm not your typical kettlebell/crossfit nut who asks for punishment-- I'm an out of shape guy who wants (and needs) to lose fat and get stronger. Like every other dissatisfied-with-their-bodied American, I bought a kettlebell last year but didn't really know what to do with it. I got Enter the Kettlebell like recommended, and was even more confused. So the $50 bell that was supposed to solve my fitness woes sat in the closet, and I kept paying my $25/month gym fee. I went in yesterday to cancel my membership-- I now have a fitness plan to last me a long time.
The premise behind Simple and Sinister is, well, simple. While I don't want to spoil what is in the book, it is so simple and easy to understand that it isn't going to be a secret for long. Some books on fitness tell you to "do this-- but you could also do this, this, or this", but Simple and Sinister has just two options: Simple (what I'm on), and Sinister (for the experienced kettlebeller).
Here is the layout for the simple routine. I won't share with you how many times a week to do the program or any of the other programming tips. You have to buy the book for that.
The simple routine starts with a warmup set that is repeated three times:
1x5 Goblet Squats
1x5 Supine Bridges
After that, the workout is:
10x10 KB swings
1x5 turkish get ups, each side
That is it. While similar to the Program Minimum of ETK, this program focuses more on strength rather than time. Each rep is controlled and powerful.
When I started on the routine, I was worried by 35lb KB would be insufficient (I am a 240lb guy, after all). Did I ever get a wakeup call. The first day I had to lay in a pile of sweat after the sets. I woke up and everything hurt. But I kept coming back, and it kept getting easier. A few things I noticed after only about a week:
1. My chronic shoulder pain has all but diminished. I had heard that turkish get ups were great for shoulder stability, but even after watching dozens of youtube videos I never got them right. Pavel's tips and shoe trick got me to learn it within a day.
2. I've dropped five pounds (I'm also dieting, which helps)
3. My posture is better, and despite working out harder than I had been I feel pretty good sitting at my work desk all day.
4. My legs are tighter and stronger feeling than they were a week ago. I had been doing a 3x5 powerlifting program before this and my legs got huge. I like the idea of fitting in normal jeans again.
5. My grip is much stronger. The first few days I struggled to not drop the kettlebell on my face, and now I am finding I want more of a challenge.
The beauty of the simple program is that it can be scalable for a long time. Once my 16kg bell feels too easy, I am buying a 24kg bell. Then, a 32kg bell. If I can do the program with a 48kg beast, I'll be the baddest dude on the block. So I have years of programming that I can do in my living room for about a total of 3 hours per week. No gym memberships, and the only cost will be a collection of kettlebells that will last forever.
I look forward to continuing the program. I hope my wordy review convinces another lost beginner to just go ahead and buy the book, grab a kettlebell, and start. It's the solution to your New Years Resolution!
After nearly three months using the program, I purchased a 24kg kettlebell a week ago and have been continuing to progress. I started eating *clean* in January and have lost nearly 18lbs (from 247 to 229lbs) and 5 inches on my waist line (from 44 inches to 39, still got a gut). I'm down to doing the program 2-3 times a week, and I swim/go to a crossfit style workout class 3 other days a week. The Simple and Sinister routine has done wonders for strengthening my weaknesses like my hips, abs, and shoulder girdles. I hadn't touched a barbell in a few months, but I deadlifted a new personal record of 295lbs on Saturday. Still have a lot to work on, but the fact that I continue to lose weight without sacrificing the very little strength I have is a good sign! Still 5/5 stars for the program and the book, thanks Pavel.
I had seen an article about kettlebells on the Art of Manliness blog a few years ago, and another book (“Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog”) got me really interested. It didn’t take long to come across Pavel Tsatsouline, StrongFirst, and “Simple & Sinister”. I started in October 2016 with a 16kg kettlebell, reached the time standards with a 24kg bell in February, and reached Simple proper (32kg) in August. I trained 3-5 days a week, following the book exactly (warmup, swings, getups, stretches) in about 45 minutes.
I can’t speak highly enough of this book. The program is simple but effective. It requires a shift in your mindset from “working out” to “practice”, for “Strength is a skill”. A “blue collar” mindset where your job is 15 goblet squats, 100 swings and 10 getups done hard enough to get it done quick, but not so hard that you can’t do it again tomorrow.
The progressions, warmups, drills, exercises proper, and cool-down stretches are thoroughly illustrated. One small criticism is the dark clothing against a dark background makes it harder to see than something like a gray background.
If you follow the program as written, you WILL get stronger, guaranteed. This is a “general physical preparedness” program, not designed to specifically improve a sport or something like powerlifting (though it likely will). It is in essence a “minimum effective dose” foundational strength and conditioning program.
I lost 30 pounds, developed forearms like Popeye (stabilizing 70 pounds overhead while moving underneath it for 60 seconds, 10 times a day, 5 days a week, will do that for you), stronger abs and obliques (the anti-rotation effect of heavy one-arm swings), and mobile hips (goblet squats).
This is the definitive starting point for kettlebell training. Attaining the Simple standard is your passport to other great kettlebell training programs, such as the Rite of Passage from Pavel’s previous book “Enter the Kettlebell”, which adds the snatch and clean & press (focusing on the press).