Friday, April 12, 2013

Sinister Swing Ladder Cycle

Before I get into this swing workout let me preface this training post with a couple of things.

#1 This particular Sinister routine is designed for advanced kettlebell athletes, but in no way is it NOT scalable to any and every level.  I would never suggest anyone do this before establishing an "equal work to equal rest" ratio of interval training using the kettlebell swing.  AND once established I encourage training the Sinister routine with only one bell multiple times before moving on to a ladder, especially a ladder that includes this kind of increase in weights.

#2  Being at an advanced level you should know how to scale it!  Although these are my exact numbers doesn't mean they are your exact numbers!  In fact, I may change the routine slightly as the weeks go by, paying attention to the total workloads of my other training and schedule.  This is a template.

#3 I trained for my 20kg snatch test using a heavy swing program, not a heavy snatch program.  My ultimate goal is to do the snatch test with the 24kg (there, I said it), but beforehand I need to lay some serious groundwork.  I need to test the 20kg multiple times before moving forward.  Once I finish this cycle, and maybe one more 4-6 week cycle, I will test the 20kg again.  From that point I will test it more often, maybe every 8-10 weeks, before seriously setting my site on the 24kg.

#4 I did NOT use my Sinister swing routine to train for the 20kg snatch test and I have yet to journal and post my training that lead up to the success with the 20kg, so before I do I wanted to train for it one more time using this protocol as part of the progressive strength and endurance build up so here goes, on to the workout....

For the details of my Sinister routine here is the original blog post where I first introduce this protocol.

Sinister is basically an "equal work to rest" ratio, BUT reorganized in a much more difficult, should I say 'Sinister' way?  Most of the work piles up in the last two sets challenging your grip and cardio endurance before granting you a full 30 seconds to recover for the next round!  50 reps in total are completed in 2.5 minutes.  Sure you could do 5 sets of 10, but that wouldn't be as hard...I mean as fun!

Each set is started "on the 30 seconds"

5 reps
10 reps
15 reps
20 reps
30 sec rest

All reps are done with 2 hands, OR double bells at an advanced level.  Here is how I made it super advanced without making it super duper advanced!  lol

Using 5 progressively heavier bells, 32kg, 28kg, 24kg, 20kg, I used an uphill and downhill ladder alternating with a medium difficulty weight, 16kg for each "round" of Sinister.  A total of 8 rounds before scaling back to the last 4 rounds using one more difficult weight, but not THE most difficult weight!  That's coming!  Don't be in such a hurry!  lol

Ladder down

32kg 5 reps
28kg 10 reps
24kg 15 reps
20kg 20 reps

16kg, 5, 10, 15, 20 reps

Ladder up

20 kg 5 reps
24kg 10 reps
28kg 15 reps
32kg 20 reps

16kg, 5, 10, 15, 20 reps

repeat one more time

400 reps, 20 minutes

24kg, and dbl 16kg's (intermediate heavy weight, and now I've forgotten the exact distribution..yikes!)
4 rounds, 5, 10, 15, 20

200 reps, 10 minutes

A total of 30 minutes

This was the exact routine I shared with one of my training partners, Brenda.  My other Thursday morning partner, Maribel, used:

uphill and downhill
alternating w14kg for a full round

She finished her last 4 rounds w/20kg and dbl 10kgs (I think!)

Next Thursday we will pick up where we left off and for the next 5-6 weeks I will design the program that will end with mostly 32kg, 24kg and 16kg reps, eliminating the 20kg and 28kg, still only training 30 minutes.

If you are a strong male the weights I would suggest are

alternating the 24kg for an entire round of Sinister


alternating 20kg for an entire round

Next Thursday, and potential progressions

#2 No downhill ladder, only uphill!  alternating with the intermediate weight, 16kg for the first 8 rounds.  The 4 final rounds yet to be determined.
#3 Back to uphill and downhill ladder, replacing the intermediate weight with the 20kg instead of the 16kg
#4 no downhill ladder
#5 Uphill and downhill ladder, geting rid of the alternating intermediate heavy rounds altogether.
#6 Uphill ladders.  Ouch!

This is just "theory".  I have not tested it so I'm completely open to the plan changing.  As long as the cycle climbs upwards over the set amount of weeks is all I care about.  I'm not training for the Sinister Olympics!  I simply want to challenge myself every week, increasing workloads based on what I did the previous week.  Once it's completed I will take a full week to 10 days off, training much lighter until the next cycle.  I may choose to test my 20kg, 5 min test again, or I may wait to train another heavy swing cycle, I haven't yet decided.


Maribel said...

I did double 14's for that last part.

This heavy rotation is so hard, but it's really rewarding. I'm glad I'm in for the ride.

Karen Rossler said...

Sinister Olympics! Now there's a thought. lol

Tracy Reifkind said...


Thanks for the correction! I can barely keep track of my own numbers! lol

Tracy Reifkind said...


I know huh? You set the bar with that amazing 32kg! Now nothing below comes close!

KrisR said...

Hey Tracy,

Do you ever do a de-load week? Do you think it's necessary with kettlebell work (assuming 3-4 sessions per week)?

I was looking in your book for any reference to this topic but didn't find anything.


chrystad72 said...

Whoa this is awesome. This is definitely on the schedule this week for me and I am so looking forward to it.

Quick q for ya...Ive been trying to find some good heavier bells..I bought one from Perform better and the handle is huge. I have super tiny hands..any suggestions?

thanks!! and awesome workout too! Will let ya know once I try it out!

Diana said...

One word....Nice!

Tracy Mangold said...

Oh yes. I can't wait to try this! Thamk you for sharing. :)

Tracy Reifkind said...


I usually ramp up having a particular goal in mind for 4-6 weeks, then I back off, choose something else to work at. For instance this heavy Sinister ladder I will train for 6 weeks, then not train super heavy like this, instead focus on a lighter/faster loading, or maybe something else heavy, like squats or snatches, but not 32kg swings.

I don't write about general "training" programs in my book, I write about programming swing workouts. Training in cycles is not for someone looking to start a fitness program and lose some weight. First consistent workouts and a base level of fitness need to be established. For me it took years before I was doing this kind of training.

The book is the beginning and this blog, my training journal, gives ideas for more, when and if someone gets here.

Getting to "equal work to rest" takes months sometimes years for some people get to, and that's not a bad thing, it's an individual thing. Sinister is an advanced routine even though the rep count is the equivalent of EWR.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Mark recommended some bells but I forgot now the brand. When you say huge, bigger than a Dragon Door bell?

Tracy Reifkind said...


I'm assuming you haven't gotten a 32kg yet? Look into the brand that Mark just got, it was much less expensive and every bit as good, if not better,

Tracy Reifkind said...


It's what I'll be doing every Thursday morning for a few weeks! lol

have fun!

chrystad72 said...

hard to say if its bigger than the DD since I dont have one from them in that size. So not too sure...If anything I would imagine its around the same size

KrisR said...

Thanks for the follow-up Tracy. I've been 'at it' consistently for 6 months and can do equal work to rest - feels great.

I'm ready to tackle the snatch but have a surgery scheduled in 3 weeks so will probably wait until I'm recovered from that.

Thinking to cycle back through your programs 6-13 from your book over the next 3 weeks - perhaps with heavier weights. I'll have 'forced' de-load post surgery for several weeks.

Diana said...

No I haven't gotten any bigger bells. I'm not going to be able to do anything for most of the summer after my surgery, so decided the bells can wait a while! I'm still doing fine with that 24kg!

Unknown said...

Great exercise.

wholesale jerseys

360Degree Ladders said...

Just The Safety You Need To Take When Using Industrial Ladder.
Who All Working In Industrial Plant Do Comment For It.

aluminium ladder manufacturers
aluminium scaffolding manufacturer