Simple & Sinister : The Day After

Kettlebell swings have to be one of the weirdest exercises I have ever tried. By a long shot.

As soon as I woke up the day after my S&S workout, while not particularly stiff, I felt soreness in my triceps and trapezius muscles. Hamstrings got a severe beating, as expected, and most surprisingly even the insides of my thighs (the adductor group of muscles) got a workout.

V complained that the soles of his feet had just died.

And I couldn’t tell you whether my muscles gave out or my cardiovascular system first, because my heart was pumping hard after just a couple of sets of swings.

This was definitely a WTH moment for us, that a single exercise would do this much and more, all in a span of 15 minutes total.

Compare that to a typical workout session at the gym, where you work on groups of muscles at a time. (Everyone in the know will now share a quiet chuckle at the concept of chest day, leg days, back days :D)

Tim ferriss talks about the humble Kettlebell swing and how it works the entire posterior chain of the body, which you use for pulling, lifting, jumping, running and almost any activity you can think of.

The posterior chain is the group of muscles, connective tissue and fascia, all acting as a single unit, running from the back of your neck all the way down to the heels and the soles of your feet.

The only movement it isn’t used primarily for is pushing motions, like the bench press.

And girls, if you want the perfect butt, you know which exercise to do now. 😀

As an aside, if you want to know more about Tim Ferriss’ adventures in crafting the perfect female backside, you should go check out his book, The Four Hour Body.

I like to get a couple of sleep cycles (and atleast one) to know how a particular workout has fared and how well my body is recovering. And Pavel Tsatsouline wasn’t wrong when he claimed that S&S will leave enough gas in the tank to be more or less fully functional the rest of the day. I went hiking later in the day, for God’s sake.

Also, the fact remains that if you want want your body to switch to burning fat rather than storing it, you need to get in some high intensity and extremely short duration interval training. And what are kettlebell swings, if not high intensity intervals. And definitely better than doing sprints, as they’re easier on the joints and you only need a space of about 4×6 feet to swing some iron, rather than a 50m track.

Add in some Turkish get ups, and this comes as close to the ideal of the perfect exercise (if there’s such a thing) than almost anything else I can think of.

Of course, as to how well it worked for me, that’ll only become apparent after a couple of months.

I’m also doing thrice weekly sessions of PNF stretching, which leave me a bit sore. My hamstrings are finally getting looser for the first time in years, which is very exciting for me! But this also takes away from my focus on the S&S kettlebell workouts. I hope I’ll have something concrete for you in the coming weeks.

Next in our series, is the history of the kettlebell, both ancient and somewhat more recent.

Did you have an amazing or less-than-amazing experience with kettlebells? Leave a comment below.

Yash Chheda


Simple & Sinister : Day 1

Simple & Sinister Kettlebell

The Simple & Sinister (S&S, for short) Kettlebell routine is both much easier and simultaneously much more effective than it seems at first glance.

Why this seeming contradiction?

This is a simple enough routine to follow, and credits to Pavel to have made this completely idiot proof.

It consists of three warm up exercises, and two main exercises. This is essentially it.

The warmups consist of a circuit of 5x Goblet Squats, 5x Hip bridges & 5x Haloes, repeated three times in all.

The meat of the workout consists of 10×10 sets of Kettlebell swings, and 5×1 sets of Turkish Getups (TGUs) after the swings.

Of course , this is a very simplified explanation of the exercises, and there are a lot of subtleties and the devil, as you know, is in the details, but that’s pretty much the entire workout.

Yeah, doesn’t sound like much, until you actually get down to it.

Well, for the first day, when I actually did the warmups, I couldn’t finish them. Literally. I assume the body adapts pretty quickly so they shouldn’t give me any trouble down the line, but I could only do 3 circuits of the warmups instead of the recommended 5. And I was sweating like a pig (if pigs actually sweat, that is).

After that, four sets of ten swings with a 12 kg Kettlebell. Yup, I’m a sissy.

Aaaand when I went to do the TGUs with a 15 pound dumbell, as I’ve done many time before, my form was shot to hell. I did only 2 TGUs a side before I decided to call it a day and rest before I hurt myself. After all, Pavel says if you can’t do an rep with perfect form, it doesn’t count and it’s best to hang your hat.

So this workout, while it doesn’t look like much on paper, is actually doing lots of things to your body on a lot of levels.

Plus, I had an excess of energy the rest of the day. So much so, that I even went hiking in the evening.

I can’t help but contrast this to my previous workouts at the gym, where I trained to total failure of each muscle group and at the end all I wanted to do was go drop down on the couch and not get up.

I really loved S&S, and the fact that this works the muscles as well as conditioning the cardiovascular and metabolic systems.

V, on the other hand, has been inspired by Tim Ferriss and his book, the 4 Hour Body, which is an awesome read, btw. If you haven’t already read it, buy it ASAP. I promise you that you’ll be coming back to it again and again.

If you’ve read the previous post, his goal is to lost body fat, while keeping his muscles mass more or less constant and as low maintenance as possible. He did a set of 60 swings, with some whole body stretching beforehand. We’re both being conservative in the beginning, while we feel out the new kettlebells, and are choosing to work on perfecting out form.

I plan on sticking to this, and documenting my experience as I progress on this path.

If you haven’t checked out S&S already, and are unfamiliar with kettlebells, I highly recommend you do so. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂


Yash Chheda