Another Example of the WTH effect!

In the kettlebell world, we often talk about the what-the-hell effect. I’ve written about it a few times before. The combination of weight and complexity of movement that you get with kettlebells gives you gains that you can’t get anywhere else (with lower biological cost too!)

Last summer, I did an experimental program from the StrongFirst folks. I won’t disclose the details because it’s secret, but here are some of my personal results - very little effort and huge gains in fitness.

The what-the-hell effect usually happens when you do something that you haven’t done in a while and are so surprised how easy it was that you say “what the hell?” I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but I still am - every time it happens!

We’ve been diligently training in a very boring way for the last couple of months. Even though I’ve mixed up the movements a bit - and even gave you a month break with lots of barbells - we’ve been following the same basic template since the beginning of the year. (And if you look back, you’ll see many similarities for the last 2 years.) I’m sure everyone is tired of it, but we put in a small amount of AGT every day. Anywhere between 4 and 10 minutes after the main workout. Most AGT work is a bit longer than that, but I figured I’d go with frequency over volume here.

How can something as boring as 10 swing on the minute for 4 to 10 minutes (or only 5 swings if it’s dead-stop) make you more fit? Well, all of the AGT literature (like this) say it will work. It’s just hard to believe. Especially when you walk away from the gym not feeling like you got a workout.

One of our members (a 4-5 day-a-week person) has been doing the standard (boring) programming all year. We just switched things up for him to do a dedicated strength program as we’re going into summer. But since I can’t give up kettlebells - even in a barbell-heavy program - I had him do the S&S test and that’s where we got the WTH effect.

The Simple and Sinister (S&S) workout is part of Pavel’s Program Minimum (minimum you need to get/stay fit). It’s basically a 5-day a week workout of swings and get-ups. Ten sets of ten swings (un-timed, just return to the bell when you’re recovered) followed by ten TGUs. Once every couple of weeks, you do the S&S test which is the ten swings every 30 seconds, a one minute rest, and then a single TGU every minute for ten minutes.

The “Simple” standard for guys is the 32kg bell, and the “Sinister” standard is 48kg. So when we the S&S test two weeks ago, I figured it would be the rushed glycolytic stimulus I was looking for in this program. It usually is. I know when I did the Simple standard last, it felts like a CrossFit Metcon (and that’s ok if you do it rarely). But this time it wasn’t even a challenge - at 32kg!

I know that this is all part of the plan, but to see it work so well - it’s still amazing to me. This is what consistency in training is all about. The folks who are here every day and put in the boring work see these crazy results - without any suffering too!

Our programming may look boring, but it does work! You don’t need fancy exciting workouts that get you hot and sweaty and tired. Just come in, do the work - don’t go to heavy or to fast - and you’ll get stronger and healthier without the suffering. It’s the perfect complement to the typical Boulder sports. We can use our programming to make you stronger and perform better at your activities without being so sore from the gym that you can’t enjoy your weekends.

Michael Deskevich