Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Original "Sinister"! And the workouts!

If you went through this years San Jose RKC, then you might recall a little swing workout Pavel let me take you through.....  OK, so a few months ago, maybe almost 1 year now, I walk into my Bikram's yoga studio, owned by our close friend, and HKC, Mike Mayle.  I asked, "So have you been training lately?"  He knew I meant kettlebells (of course!). His answer?  "Well, I've been doing some swings with the 24kg...5, 10, 15 and 20 reps every 30 seconds."

Hmnn...  In my head I thought, "What?  5, 10, 15, 20?  I've never thought about 5 reps, never thought about 15 reps (except in my "work into rest" method).  My whole swing world consisted of 10, 20 and 40 rep sets (and more, but in increments of 10)  I think I'll give it a go!"  Here is what I ended up naming "Sinister"!

"Sinister" was designed to use "The heaviest kettlebell you know you can swing for 20 reps, but you don't like to!"  (Tommy Blom complimented me on this description of how to chose your correct bell size at the SJ RKC this year!) I named it "Sinister" because it's deceiving in it's's only 20 reps max, right?  Mu-ah-ah-ah!

Every set is started on a 30 second interval. The first set is only 5 reps, the second set, 10 reps, the third, 15, and the fourth, 20 reps.  The last 30 second interval is a rest period, which you will need and be very grateful for!  It's a grip and forearm killer for sure because the deceit lies in the second minute.  The first minute you only swing a total of 15 reps (5, and 10), but the second minute you swing 35 reps, with only 7.5 seconds in between! (15 and 20)

The other beauty of this workout is that each rotation ("round") equals 50 reps, and lasts 2 and 1/2 minutes! In other words it is an "equal work to equal rest ratio, but done in an entirely different way!  Who said EW2R was easy?  I loved it!  And it's easy to add up reps at the end of a workout!

In this first video I invited Mike to train it with me, I wouldn't have had it any other way!  We do 4 rotations, 200 swing reps.  I'm using the 16kg because it was not a "training day" for me, and I wanted to be able to talk comfortably through the workout.  Mike uses a 24kg (his body weight btw is 140lbs!)  I also just finished a 90 minute Bikram's yoga class and the studio was still hot and humid...just sayin'

One more thing...IF the last two sets are still a challenge and you need more rest I demonstrate to you the option of starting the last set 15 seconds later, and 10 reps shorter.  It's all good!  Don't compare yourself to anybody else's workout!  You are your own best trainer and coach!  The important thing is that you show up for your next workout!

"Sinister", the workouts!

"Sinister"  Ladder Up, Ladder Down

This version of Sinister uses 4 progressive sizes of kettlebells, although you can chose two or three, or of course, you can use just one!  If you have the luxury of multiple bells then lucky you!  But if you don't, then lucky you too, because the beauty of training the kettlebell swing is that all you really, really need is one bell!  Ok, so on with the workout!

Arrange your bells in order from light to heavy.  Start the first two rotations with your medium weight bell to get used to the progression.  At this point you can chose whether you want to start the third rotation with your heaviest bell (laddering down), or your lightest bell (laddering up).  My bells were the 14kg, 16kg, 20kg, and 24kg.  I had to share the 20kg with my training partner Maribel, so that's why it's on the end (out of order!), otherwise I always like to line my bells up!

Pretty simple when you know the rep count, and in this version all swings are done, in the original intent, with two hands.  All sets start on a 30 sec interval.

5 reps
10 reps
15 reps
20 reps

50 swings, 2.5 min per rotation

After our first two rotations, with a "medium weight bell", I ladder up.  We complete 6 rotations in total (3 up, 3 down) before finishing 4 more rotations only laddering up, AND getting rid of our lightest bell!  Get rid of it!  Start each new set with your heaviest bell, for 5 reps.  Then go on to 10 with your "new" lightest bell (which should be your 2nd lightest of the original 4).  My new bell order was 24kg, 16kg, 20 kg, 24kg.

I have posted the entire 40 minute video on Youtube here:

It includes a bonus!  A bonus of 3 rotations of "Mini Sinister"!  Mini Sinister is a shorter, but not easier, version I designed to do in a class held in Minneapolis!  Get it?  "Mini-apolis"!

Enjoy!  Oh, and not to worry about your next workout!  I've got another, even better (aka harder) version "in the can"....get those double bells ready!

PS I love doing Sinister in city's that start with an "S".  Not sure if I did Sinister in San Clemente....oops, I'll have to get back there to do it if I forgot!  Look for Sinister in San Diego soon!


Diana said...

I love this.....AND it's truly a shame that I have to work today!! I won't get to this until the weekend.
And since I live in a town.."Slinger", it's a must!!

guy said...

I'm doing this after work today, shooting for a 24kg. This post absolutely rocks! Thank you so very much, BossLady!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Sinister in Slinger! Sweet! Get out those heavy bells!

Tracy Reifkind said...


But will you stop after 4 rounds? Don't forget the full length version! 40 minutes!

Anonymous said...

Great swing workout! Thanks for sharing. I will be trying this later today. FYI, looks like you forgot to type out the 15 reps in the workout above. Skips from 10 to 20 reps ;)

Tracy Reifkind said...


Yikes! Good catch! I wouldn't want anybody to skip 15!

Nirinjan said...

OOOH! I live in Santa Fe! I will have to do Sinister in Santa Fe. Probably not until the weekend though, I am taking a couple of rest days after a whole lot of heavy double clean and jerks last night. Thanks!

Nirinjan said...

Also, I thought of you because I made black bean soup in my pressure cooker today. ;-)

Hanneke said...

Did 800 sinister reps yesterday. Good and heavy stuff....THANKS!!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I expect to hear back! Sinister in Santa Fe is a must! Lots of takers so far though and the bar has been set pretty high!

And if you haven'e ordered Rancho Gordo's Black Turtle beans then you must! I'm so hooked!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Ah, 40 minutes of swings! Nice! I taped a version with a double bell ladder that I will post by Monday, and I did the workout at least 4 times last week all different kinds of ways, so I have to take a bit of a break!

BUT, since Karen Rossler did 4 rounds with the 32kg yesterday and posted it on facebook, that means I have to "Lady up" and do the same! But only 4 rotations tomorrow. And then keeping with the new theme of "200" I'll finish the workout with set of 200 reps (5 minutes)....I think! Who knows what will really happen!

Diana said...

Sinister in Slinger is done!

Mahda16 said...

I loved the workout! Used my heaviest bell since my lightest is too light. I felt great after the workout was over.

Mahda16 said...

I loved the workout! Used my heaviest bell since my lightest is too light. I felt great after the workout was over.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Sinister, in Slinger, on a Saturday, in September...Sweet!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Short, and not so sweet!

Mahda16 said...

Did it again today.... Lovin' every minute of it....