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Kettlebell Simple & Sinister

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,953 ratings  ·  205 reviews
Learn how to use the extreme hand-held gym from the source - the man who started the kettlebell revolution.

- Simple & Sinister will prepare you for almost anything life could throw at you, from carrying a piano upstairs to holding your own in a street fight.
- Simple & Sinister will forge a fighter's physique - because the form must follow the function.
- Simple & Sinist
Kindle Edition, 172 pages
Published January 2nd 2015 (first published November 20th 2013)
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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 ·  2,953 ratings  ·  205 reviews

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Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
2 exercises, the swing and Turkish get-up. Daily. 5 sets of 10 of the former, 5 sets of 1 each side of the getups.

Pared down from experience, not top down from untested theory.

No split routines. No check the chart. No Level 4 of exercise 11. No deathmarch.

Just the white hot nidus of the 20% that gives 80% of the general preparedness results (or rather, the 2% that hits 80% of the general buttons, that you can do 98% of the time).
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
As a personal trainer (CSPS/NSCA-CPT)I'm always experimenting with different programs. I have a variety of clients with different needs. For a few of my clients looking for general overall strength and fitness, kettlebells are an ideal fit. They provide varying degrees of strength, strength endurance, power, aerobic and anaerobic development - all in one handy tool. Not to mention fat loss.
I have experience with various programs, including Pavel's older programs such as Enter the Kettlebell.

Bon Tom
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I have to admit, when bodybuilders make fun of kettlebells, it can be really hilarious. There are gems in that "legacy" that can make me drop the weight on my head. That's why I always wear headphones in the gym, they literally are a life saver. Now, I'm not a kettlebell man, yet, but I dig the common sense and philosophy behind this approach so much.

I realized, I was applying the main principle of sustainable training and effort intuitively myself, for years. And felt guilty in the process, be
May 12, 2016 added it
"Simple" is correct (although, naturally, "easy" isn't.)

Pavel is of the opinion that unless you have specific requirements, just two exercises will make you strong as you want to be - the kettlebell swing and the Turkish get-up. I have no idea if he's correct, but he makes a convincing case. I've started swinging, and feel stronger, at least.

I've deducted two stars, however, for the repeated and indefensible use of the word "sissy".
Brad Johnson
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stellar read. As longtime crossfitter, loved the thought process that ran counterintuitive to much of what crossfit stands for... "if you don't have heavy days, you don't need light days."

Simple and Sinister is more about consistency of training and a program that's hard and intense enough to produce results, but easy enough on the body that it can be done daily.

Also surprised by the amount of deep philosophy in this book with quotes from Einstein, Nietzsche, & Friedman to name a few.

Lastly, lov
Preston Smith
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If “God is in the details” is a way of expressing that details are important to any task one accomplishes, then Pavel Tsatsouline is God and his book, KB Simple and Sinister is the Bible. Inside this “Bible,” Pavel teaches you how to perform two of the kettlebells most popular and most empowering moves, “Get Up” and “Swing.” He also spends time discussing the correct number of sets and reps to do and the amount of weight to use for each exercise, as well as the reasons why these factors matter. ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book is almost like a graphic novel, lot's of pictures (expected) and a big font with lots of padding (not so much). It's very non-PC, so, if you are easily offended, move on. My review here is of the book and not the program. I still have reasons to believe the program is sound and this book might even be good at teaching how to do the program.

The reason why I'm giving it only one star, is because there's a lot of pseudo-science and a fair amount of bullshit in this book. Some things are c
Bubba Fett
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was ok

Good for sedentary individuals and beginners to gain a little strength and conditioning.
Brief workouts.


A little too simple for intermediate or advanced athletes looking to take strength levels very high.
No snatch. Swings and get-ups only.

Verdict: Decent if you're looking for accessory work. Best used in conjunction with a more traditional barbell strength program. This program won't take you very far by itself.

Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before going to the review, I'll make a brief overview of kettlebell and its functions.

Kettlebell is a cast iron ( a cannonball with a handle) used to perform power training that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. They are also the primary equipment used in the weight lifting sport of kettlebell lifting. Unlike barbell and dumbbell they don't build muscle but greatly improve overall athletic performance in any field.

Aside form the many movements, the primary exercises of
Janine Southard
Nov 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
There might be something good in here underneath the astounding sexism. (Note: before you say "oh, it's just that he doesn't speak English as a first language", know that he doubles down on his word choices. Go to the website forums and watch him defend derogatory words that I would never ever use).

There might be something useful in between pictures of Russian strongmen and nostalgia stories.

I hear there's a workout plan if you make it closer to the end of the book.

I did not get past the sexism
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
The simple: this "how-to" book wins mega points for being an easy-to-follow, entertaining read with lots of good pictures and valuable info that didn't get bogged down by overly technical material or jargon.

The sinister: this book seemed a smidge culty and a more than a smidge like a promotional pamphlet for Pavel's company and stable of "certified" trainers.

On the whole, this is a terrific (picture) book that I plan to re-read and implement to get some sort of for-real kettlebell workout going.
Fr. Thomas Sandberg
Jun 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I love kettlebells, this program works, but I found my quads got weaker.

I fell for Pavel hard, but there is some questions that arise about some of the stuff in his writings and about his alleged background. Google some question mentioning Pavel and Steve Cotter and decide for yourself, but that just opens Pandora's box...
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For what this book is, it is a definite five star. To say Pavel is no nonsense seems to be insufficient, but it is true. I have been using kettlebells for some time, but this pulls it all together and corrects misapprehensions and mistakes. Great book. Also, Pavelisms are worth the price of admission.
Adam Parker
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: learning
This little book is an exceptional primer for getting motivated to get fit and instructing you on how to accomplish said goal. The author is quite funny, though I'd recommend the softer, more tender left-leaning folks steer clear as they might become offended by his direct and masculine/military voice.

The content itself is evidence based, and I can attest to it personally, as I've been utilizing the program for over a month now have improved my ability to deliver a punch in my MMA class by leap
Kalle Videnoja
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
It is no wonder that Tsatsouline likes to quote Taleb's Antifragile thorough the book. They both seem to share the urge to please men with low masculine self-esteem and bore the common reader with never-ending babble about imaginary street-fights and other machismo. Both, also, are fond of using degrading and sexist language. As an ad hominem one might argue that at least Tsatsouline is not just another obese trader like Taleb but really does have an informed understanding about fighting and mil ...more
Will Rattan
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I really like the concept and simple nature of the program design and involvement of only two exercises. It is very intriguing. I was already doing lots of kettlebell swing intervals trying to maintain strength endurance well within an aerobic metabolic pace. The material herein is largely consistent with the years of study I've completed in relationship to running and have applied a base building aerobic phase that is at least 90% aerobic training, and I've designed the swing days l
Oct 08, 2020 rated it liked it
A little exercise book that explains a near-daily kettlebell program consisting of two exercises (plus some warm up and stretching). I don't think the book length treatment is necessary, but it's a fun read with lots of pictures. Author Pavel Tsatsouline loves to regal readers with the strength feats of old school russian strongmen and strongwomen, and I think these anecdotes help build up the alluring mystique around the miracle strength effects of kettlebells. These miracles are mainly about h ...more
David Lubin
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Worth the time to read

I started using Kettlebells years ago, stopped using them for a while and then came back to them. For me, they give the most benefit for the lowest risk of injury. Since quarantine I have been doing Kettlebell HIIT’s daily. I have made good progress. Since reading this book, I have adapted to the Swing Fast, ten sets in about ten minutes program. I do the Get ups with low weight. Progress has been interesting. I feel better, stronger and have more energy at the end of the d
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Strengh comes quickly with this "simple" routine

After listening to Tim Ferriss' interview with Pavel & some digging into the internet about a week before, I was inspired to try this out. The book is excellent, and gives you a framework for how to transform your body nearly overnight.

I had been doing a simple circuit of swings, goblet squats & cleans for 3 weeks, 3x/wk, and had noticed a significant strength increase and definition improvement. However, when I switched to the Sinister & Simple r
Nov 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a book with good info, but too much useless fluff.

Typical of Pavel Tsatsouline, lots of useful information is given. However, typical of Pavel, lots of NOT useful information is also given. What could have been easily a much smaller book became an average length one with useless stories of non important details. While they do have quite some relevancy in Naked Warrior for example, here they are often just boring and repetitive.

I honestly think that Pavel would be able to write an awesom
Josh Street
Good program, cringy writing

The program itself is good and I've definitely seen very positive results after just a bit over a month with it. That said, the writing style often veers into the cringe zone with admonitions to "not be a sissy" and other unnecessary and unhelpful comments.
I don't really know how I want to rate this book. I like the workout program - simple and challenging - as well as the descriptions of technique, breath, and mindset. But the talk of "sissies" was so misogynistic that it made me feel really icky.

I'd love to see this workout packaged in a nicer, less sexist format.
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Get fit!

This is a great book with a very simple exercise program. The instructions are clear but there are also some YouTube videos you can find by the author on how to properly do a swing. I highly recommend.
Dan Chastney
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Even simpler than Enter the Kettlebell - I like it. I love Pavel's sense of humour too. ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting introduction to kettlebells by the master. The material is good and easy to follow, but the book design feels like its trying to be a website on paper.
Jon Gaudet
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Excited to try the workout, but geez there sure is lots of toxic masculinity in the book.
Oct 30, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, health
I will need to reference this book every day after my two lighter kettlebells arrive next month.

I thought I could get away with just one kettlebell, 16kg (35 lb), but yesterday I learned that a couple reasons why people fail this Simple & Sinister program (p. 88) is by starting off too heavy and not having enough bells. So I went with adding the recommended 8kg (18 lbs) and 12kg (26 lbs) for "an average strength lady."

My original intention was to follow Tim Ferriss's "Simple 2021 Reboot" lette
Apr 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing
As I was doing the workout from this book today I realized I never marked it as read or wrote a review about it. I think Nassim Taleb said something about the best books don’t look like books. This was 100% the case with this one. This book has probably had the most tangible benefit to my life than anything else I have read. It’s something more like a religious ritual than a workout. The kettlebell is my lover as well as my friend and my enemy. This book was lent to me in the form of a printed o ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I listened to the Audible version, so many of the referenced images were missing (but I knew that going in). This book is what it is: a collection of thoughts on strength and endurance using the ultimate tool in Pavel’s eyes to accomplish that mean - The Kettlebell. Pavel is a mad scientist when it comes to training for sport and training, so it’s good to pick his brain. His teachings have blown up in the MMA / CrossFit scene, due to the raw functionality of his expertise stemming from Russian & ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books for training and getting shit done. The book is no frills and can be read in a day or two.

Two lifts - KB swings and Turkish Get Ups. That's it.

There's no need to add in a ton of specialty lifts to build strength. A lot of Pavel's training starts and ends with General Physical Preparedness. This definitely hits on it. You don't add sets, you don't add reps. Just pure strength for 20-30 minutes a day and rinse and repeat.

The program is as follows:

10x10 Swings
1x5 TGU.

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