Simple Sinister is a short kettlebell program consisting of swings and get ups. Apart from a few other exercises in the warm up part, there is not much else to it. It was designed as a quick strength training session that complements your main activity/ sport.
In this post, I’m going to share my take on Pavel’s program. I am not affiliated with Strong first or RKC, but I come from a Girevoy Sport background. I guess “hardstyle” purists will criticize my technique. In my experience, whichever style or technique you use do not affect how nicely the program works.
I first tried Simple Sinister back in 2014 where I made a video description and review. By all means go to Amazon and cough up the 10 bucks to get a copy. The info about how the program works is to be found online quite easily, so I am not revealing any secrets… I can’t say I stuck to the program for too long, but it was a welcome change. I got back onto it towards the end of 2016, and this is where it gets interesting.
The main key points of the Simple and Sinister program is to train 2-5 times a week, without going for broke every time. Rest intervals are just “as needed” basis. Nothing is pre-set. It’s all about listening to the body and training according to the form of the day, practicing the same skills over and over.
Simple Sinister is a low volume approach
Fast forward to 2016. I quit competing in Girevoy sport, but I do not just want to do random stuff.
I enjoy the simplicity of the program and low volume. It allows me to recover fast and have energy left for 2 small kids, and odd jobs on the farm. Compared to Girevoy Sport, this training approach is more sustainable for my life style at this stage. My goals and requirements are different now, so there’s no need to compare apples and oranges…
Since I do not plan to compete again, I have no need to bash myself with high volume and competition exercises just for fun. At 45, as long as I am progressing in a positive direction, I am happy. I have no expectations about anything else apart from becoming stronger in the 2 main exercises of the program. It addresses my current needs, an important concept to grasp that’s often overlooked. Do not expect hyped up results mentioned in an ad copy.
I have been training Simple Sinister for 9 weeks so far. Today, after my warm up, I decided to test myself with 36kg, which is just over 50% of my own bodyweight. It was not planned, the sun was shinning and I felt full of energy, so I went for it.
I was done with the 100 1 arm swings and 5 sets of get up in under 15 minutes. Nothing world class, but in my case, it’s a pretty good return on investment.
The interesting thing is that I basically train 2-3 times a week. In nearly all my sessions, I pretty much do the minimum recommended volume of 6*10 sets of swings and 1 TGU each side for 3 sets. I pace myself with nearly full recovery between sets, never approaching my sessions like a test day.
I follow up with some mace swings or practice with Indian clubs when possible. You’re supposed to have time and energy left for other pursuits, do not start trying to improve the basic template too much…
In my warm ups I do a type of pull up or ring row, Hindu push ups, swing some clubs, and do a lunge or squat. All these exercises are done for low reps, and 2-3 rounds. Very basic stuff, very simple. Other movements are addressed when I push wheel barrows or shovel things around.
So there you have it, an honest review of Simple Sinister I hope. The magic is in the consistency, and progressively challenging oneself further. Weights are going up slowly and steadily. I am not burning out, no aches and pain, and I am not spending my time in the gym or thinking about the next workout. If in doubt about my work capacity on a given day, I’ll err on the cautious side.
Latest update: Mid December, 2 weeks after receiving a 48kg kettlebell I set a new PR.