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What Do I Think About Simple & Sinister By Pavel Tsatsouline?

Andrea asks:

Hi Dave! I hope all is good with you. I'm getting back into kettlebell. What do you think about the Simple and Sinister program by Pavel?

Which is a lovely question once we dig into it some.

Simple and Sinister is the evolution of the old “Program Minimum” as featured in Pavels benchmark book “Enter the Kettlebell “

While he'd been around for a while, it was this excellent 2006 book that really put him on the map.

SImple and Sinister is pretty much a 2019 sequel.

But is the program any good?

Yes, it is a good program.

Limited yes

But still good.

The two lifts, the Turkish Get Up and either Swing or Snatch are all excellent lifts. And between them they tick a lot of boxes.

They need little space, minimal kit and not a lot of time.

Pavel really propagates the idea of high frequency training, so short, concise workouts fit this idea. Making his work ideal for busy people

Where these programs fall down is they are only 2 movements in particular rep schemes so the outcomes are going to be somewhat limited.

The 2 lift methodology is another Pavel classic.

Power to the People : Deadlift and Bent Press

Naked Warrior: Pistol Squat and One arm Push Up

Enter the Kettlebell: Get Up and Swing, then Clean & Press and Snatch.

Simple and Sinister: Get up and Swing

Quick and Dead: Push Up and Swing or Snatch

Have I missed any?

What Pavel does do, that I think many miss, is he teaches principles through his works.

This is where he shines.

The programs themselves are fairly unremarkable and if I'm honest limited, I'll get to that shortly.

But if you pay attention, not just to the texts, but how you perform the drills and protocols, there is real magic there.

After all, doing Swings and Get Ups is pretty standard fair.

The way you do your Swings, the way you do your Get Ups, with the particular intensity, the particular set and rep scheme, the particular rest periods, the attention to detail.

This is where magic lies.

The minimalist programming will suit beginners as an entry into training or people returning to training after a lay off.

It'll suit sports people/martial artists who are already doing a lot of movement patterns in their actual training, so don't need much in the supplementary fitness work.

But people who aren't doing sport and are looking for well rounded fitness training, you’re going to miss out.

Unless the convenience of short 2 move training is all your schedule allows.

My own experience with Pavels work started when I bought my first Kettlebell and the Enter the Kettlebell Book back in around 2006 or 7.

At that time I was training daily in the Martial Arts academy and was working the doors.

I was also trying to get over some severe back injuries.

The program minimum suited me down the to the ground.

5-15 minutes work, 5 or 6 days per week.


I actually credit that with a large part of my early recovery.

The “Rite of Passage” programming in that book is what gave me the ladder set and rep scheme, which I used on different exercises, but that also gave me a huge step forward in my rehab.

I had started collecting Pavel’s work at this stage, so was using the Naked Warriors Pistol Squat and One Arm Push up, with the addition of a pull up.

Each day I arrived at the Martial Arts academy, I cracked on with the “Rite of Passage” template.

As a result, my midsection became incredibly strong, I regained the hip[ mobility I’d lost and pain reduced significantly.

I was back!

And I’ve used very similar with a great many clients over the years, very basic minimalist training that allows time and energy for many other things.

Which brings us back to the idea that if this is your main training, is it enough?

Honestly, not really.

Once past the beginner stage, you are likely to plateau pretty hard.

I hope this helps.

As I said, Pavels work is brilliant, but I think maybe dragging that brilliance out of the books takes a bit of thought and knowledge.

If you're interested in looking at what Pavel is produced, this is my Amazon affiliate link that will take you to his author page:

And if you have a question like Andrea's, or any of the guys from the previous emails, do hit the reply button and send it in for future editions.


Dave Hedges

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