Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Kettlebell Simple And Sinister Program - I'm still at it

 An article for home exercise that gives me some ideas for incorporating Front Lever and some other skills into my training.  For the most part I intend to stick to Simple and Sinister as my main exercise program but it's nice to be able to switch to something else once in a while:

An article offering an alternative approach to achieve the Sinister standard under Simple And Sinister.  I will probably never go for it as I don't see a 48kg kettlebell in my future.  If I work up to Turkish Getups and 1-arm swings with my 32kg kettlebell, my base of general physical preparedness would be more than sufficient to pursue other fitness goals that interest me more than achieving Sinister - these include Front Levers, Planche Pushups,  Handstand Pushups, and performing the Flows from the now-discontinued Rings One and Parallettes One programs.  However, perhaps the advice in this article will be useful for transitioning from the 24kg to the 32kg kettlebell when the time comes.

I sort of kept a training log on a discussion forum, but didn't bother to update my own blog.  So I copied and pasted the log entries from the other forum.   It's interesting to see all these entries in one place.  Among the lessons learned:

1. Check the swing forum thoroughly.  As the entries show, there was a setback in my progress due to swinging with incorrect form and having to relearn it.
2. Start practicing the Turkish Getup at the Prone to Elbow Stage as soon as you can.  Substituting another exercise like the military press will not help with the Turkish Getup.

Aug 20, 2019
Still training in the style of Simple & Sinister with the KBs. Shoulder presses in the mornings, swings in the evenings after biking home. I'm up to 10 sets of 10 2-arm swings w/ the 24kg KB. I will start working in some 1-arm swings in my swing sessions this week. I've temporarily replaced the KB reverse lunge with exercises to strengthen the arches of my feet. I've been told I have flat feet since I was a child but rarely attempted to fix them. After experiencing back and knee issues, I gained a greater appreciation for strong foot arches. There are so many websites and videos teaching foot arch exercises but I decided to go with this simple routine, since it's on a website for powerlifters: https://www.elitefts.com/education/build-your-arch-why-flat-feet-kill-your-squat/

Sep 28, 2019
I've continued pressing the 16kg KB and practicing reverse lunges with it, working up to a 7-rep max in both movements. Shoulders feel a lot more stable. The insteps of my feet don't get sore as easily after practicing the lunge with the "tripod foot" which is mentioned in a couple of articles - just Google "tripod foot squat". There's still plenty of room for improvement in my tripod foot technique but practicing it seems to have activated my foot arch. In the swing portion of S&S I've worked up to 10 sets of 10 swings with the 24 kg KB. I was doing a mix of 1- and 2-arm swings until I realized I was still rounding my back. I got rid of the back rounding by looking up more during the bottom half of the swing while still ensuring the hip hinges back instead sinking down. There's noticeable improvement in my hamstring flexibility as a result of the swing practice. I'm currently working on the prone-to-elbow stage of the Turkish Get-up, as well as reverse lunge with the KB held overhead with a locked-out arm. Both movements are a step up in difficulty for me. The prone-to-elbow movement places a surprising amount of load on the abs and oblique.

Nov 10, 2019
I've been practicing only 2-arm swings with the 24 kg KB, and at the lower volume of 5 sets of 10 reps, as I work on fixing problems with my form. I'd forgotten one is supposed to give the glutes an extra squeeze at the top to protect the back and hips, and on the downswing I should wait until my forearms slam into my gut before hinging at the hip. I improved from struggling to perform just 2 reps of the Prone-to-Elbow stage of the Turkish Get-Up to 5 reps. I'll keep practicing at this stage as my form still needs a lot of work. Once in a while I hit the perfect groove - the perfect combination of the angle of torso movement in relation to the straight leg, coordination of the muscle groups, etc. - but the rest of the reps there's some slop. Part of the problem is my body sliding on the floor a bit but that can't be helped.

Nov 24, 2019
Started practicing the next stage of the Turkish Getup, which is Elbow to Tall Sit. The Simple & Sinister book says to practice the Turkish Getup in stages, with the goal of 5 perfect reps per stage. I asked on the StrongFirst forum if I practice Elbow to Tall Sit by itself until I get to 5 perfect reps or if I practice the TGU from starting position (Prone) to Tall Sit. The responses seemed to indicate that either approach is fine. For me, a "perfect rep" is the one in which the kettlebell is moved with minimal effort, while the arm supporting the KB stays vertical. Practicing Prone-to-Elbow stage in 6-rep sets now. About half the reps are effortless, the other half a struggle.

Jan 11, 2020
Continuing my practice of the kettlebell Simple And Sinister program. Progressed to 7-10 sets of 10 2-arm swings with the 24kg KB. In the Turkish Getup, progressed to lifting the 16kg KB from prone position to tall sit position - an improvement over my starting point in 2019 when just lifting the KB from prone position to elbow position was an epic struggle. Biking to work off to a slow start for 2020 due to a snowstorm and lingering ice on the ground. It's just enough of a workout to get the adrenaline going to start the work day, and wake the body up after the work day.

Mar 13, 2020
Progressed to 6-8 sets of 1-arm swings with the 24kg KB, with 2-arm swings for a total of 10 sets per session. Once I get to 10 sets of 1-arm swings (5 per arm) I'll start increasing the power to further challenge my grip. In the Turkish Getup, I'm working on the transition from the Tall Sit to the Lunge position. I was stuck on the Tall Sit stage until I realized I need to sit a little taller and keep the KB overhead for a little longer, to build up the necessary stamina to keep the KB overhead while slowly working from prone position all the way to Lunge. I currently work into Tall Sit, play with support hand/arm positioning, then raise the hips off the floor to test the support arm. I was climbing up the hill to my house on speed 3 or 2 on my 35lb 8-speed bike. Lately I've been pedaling on speeds 4 and 5. Probably the result of bike commuting more times a week, getting some leg strengthening and gradually refining pedaling technique and stuff. There may also be some carryover from the KB S&S practice. Latest addition to the routine is clubbell practice, for some supplementary forearm strength and conditioning - at least until I get a Captains of Crush grip trainer. To keep it simple I just practice the Shield Cast and Side Pendulum movements, working towards the Mill/Reverse Mill.

Apr 12, 2020
What a difference a couple of weeks make. Got the mandatory telework order, roughly the same time everyone else (who isn't "essential personnel") did, so no more biking to work. Doing 8 sets of 1-arm swings with the 24kg KB consistently, thanks to the grip not giving out as easily. Hanging from a pullup bar was the optional part of the cooldown routine in Simple And Sinister, so I skipped it on days that I got up a bit late and had to rush to the office. But now I have more opportunities to do this hang, and it's great for strengthening the grip, as well as the primary purpose of stretching the shoulders and spine. Still working on getting stronger in going into and out of the Lunge position in the Turkish Getup progression. My latest tweak is to superset Prone to Elbow reps to get stronger in that phase of the movement.

Apr 19, 2020
First session with full Turkish Getup movement using the 16kg kettlebell. The time spent working on strength and control in segments of the movement (Prone to Elbow, Prone to Tall Sit, Tall Sit to Lunge) is paying off. Last year when I tried the full movement it was a mess - nearly fell down and bumped my knees and elbows.

Apr 25, 2020
Completed the first week practicing the full Turkish Getup. 1 single per side seems sufficient for me. 2 singles per side with a couple minutes rest between singles is pushing it a bit - definitely feel the CNS wearing out after the 2nd single. Tried just the Prone to Elbow stage of the TGU with the 24kg kettlebell. Doable for 1-2 reps but with a lot of effort. I got the idea to try partial movements with a heavier KB from a more recent Karen Smith (StrongFirst coach) video. I'll wait until my body adapts to the full TGU with the 16kg before mixing in partial movements with the 24kg. Also started mixing in two-arm swings with the 32kg KB.