Simple & Sinister

These are my notes from Pavel’s excellent book Kettlebell Simple & Sinister.


Train daily. If you’re fatigued or stressed reduce the weight in one or both exercises.

Warm Up (3 Sets of 5)

  1. Prying Goblet Squat
    Grab a kettlebell by the horns, squat keeping your heels down, wedge your elbows between your knees, and move imagining you’re prying your hips out of their sockets. Do a few curls without moving your elbows. Stand and repeat.
  2. Hip Bridge
    Lie on your back in a situp position with your knees bent about 90º. Squeeze your knees together, grip the ground with your toes, dig your heels in, and lift your pelvis as high as possible. Hold for 3 seconds while trying to lift even higher. Relax and repeat.
  3. Halo
    Hold a kettlebell upside down by the horns. Slowly circle the bell around your head, progressively tighter and lower. Perform 5 circles in both directions.


Once you can consistently achieve the goals on almost any day you can then move up in weight for that exercise.

  1. 100 Swings
    The goal is to do 100 swings in 5 minutes. They can be two-arm, one-arm, and they don’t have to be completed in one set.
  2. Rest
    The goal is no more than 1 minute of rest.
  3. 5 Get-Ups
    The goal is to do 5 get-ups (5/arm) in 10 minutes.

Simple Goal: 32kg
Sinister Goal: 48kg

Simple Goal: 24kg swings, 16kg get-ups
Sinister Goal: 32kg swings, 24kg get-ups

Non-Stop Testing

Once your normal training has reached the Simple Goal for swings introduce non-stop swing testing. Attempt every 2 weeks with a kettlebell one or more sizes lighter than your swing. The goal is to work up to 100 non-stop perfect swings (always stressed on quality over quantity).

After the non-stop swings catch your breathe and do your get-ups.

Cool Down (1-3 Sets)

Hold for more than 1 minute. The longer you hold, breathing through the tight spots, the better.

  1. 90/90 Stretch
    A modified hurdler stretch with both legs at 90º pointed toward your back. Hinge at the hips and lean forward. Relax and breathe. Switch Sides. Diagonally turn your body toward the front foot for a deeper stretch.
  2. QL Straddle
    In a relaxed straddle position (not too wide) reach your right arm straight overhead and bend to your left, attempting to grab your toes. Repeat on the other side.
  3. Short-Stop Drill
    Hip hinge and strongly grab your thigh muscles above the kneecaps (like a shortstop waiting for a pitch). Anti-shrug your shoulders using your lats. This is meant to learn the swing, but I like it as a postural practice.


Experience and science agree that kettlebell training develops a wide range of attributes: strength and power, various types of endurance, muscle hypertrophy, fat loss, health, and more. The kettlebell swing has been known to improve the deadlift of elite powerlifters—and the running times of high-level long distance runners. This is what gireviks call “the What the Hell Effect.” The kettlebell defies the laws of specificity.

“It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.”
– William of Occam

“To build a superman, slow movements and quick lifts are required.”
– Bob Hoffman, York Barbell

Once you have conquered the get-up, you will be the master of your body, not its guest.

“A workout should give you more than it takes out of you.”
– Ivan Ivanov

You never really own a kettlebell. You merely look after it for the next generation.

If you are wondering what “strong” is, it is probably not you.