Double 32kg Kettlebell Setup

What Does It Mean to Be Strong First?

The phrase “You can be anything you want… But you must be strong first.”  is a powerful statement written by StrongFirst’s Chairman Pavel Tsatsouline.

What does it mean to be strong first? 

Strength is not the only quality, but is a very important one that takes many forms and is not measured solely in pounds or kilograms.

The discipline to achieve  requires you first have strength of mind and character.
The ability to help others first requires you to be strong enough to help yourself.
Flexibility first requires you to be strong enough to achieve a position.
Posture first requires you be strong enough to hold a position.
Speed first requires you be strong enough to move your body.
Endurance first requires the strength to endure…
and the list goes on.

Since 2008 the way I have been taught in the original RKC by Pavel and now StrongFirst has always emphasized quality over quantity. I’ve always been taught that in order to become strong, I must first learn to move well, then learn to add strength to good movement. At the instructor courses I’ve attend and been fortunate enough to assist at I’ve consistently witnessed candidates being taught to emphasize form and quality  before emphasizing quantity of volume, intensity or load.
Repeatedly I’ve heard the message that strength is useless if you can not move your body well enough to use it efficiently. Finally, the instructor certification experience itself is built around requiring candidates to first become strong enough to perform the techniques well before teaching them to others.  Just as I’ve been taught these lessons by my team leaders, senior and master instructors, I too have striven to teach movement and quality first to my own students.

I believe…

A fast movement is inferior to an equally fast movement performed with more strength and therefore less perceived effort.
A harsh action performed from a position of weakness is inferior to a gentle action performed from a position of strength.
A beautifully executed movement is inferior to an equally beautiful movement that is also stronger.

I believe strength has a higher purpose.
Become strong enough to make life better… for yourself and others.


Here’s a simple & FREE kettlebell swing program that requires three different bells (small, medium, large) and as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day, 3 days per week.

You’ll arrange the bells in various prescribed orders and simply move to the next bell every round. Each day the total number of rounds change and every two weeks the order of the bells change. That’s it.


The idea is that the lighter weights teach you how to move the heavier weights and the heavier weights teach you how to generate power with the lighter weights. The goal is make every rep look the same regardless of the weight used.

It’s a very simple program that follows principles of waving the load by manipulating the most variable of variables… volume.
This program gives you one easy, hard and medium workout per week. Over the course of six weeks you’ll gradually increase the difficulty, back off, then build up again. By week six you’ll more than double the amount of work performed on week 1, day


3 Bells x 3 Configurations x 6 Weeks


Choose the heaviest bell you can perform 20 continuous swings with, then choose one lighter and one heavier bell.
Women can use 4 to 16kg jumps between bells, Men should use 8 to 16kg jumps between bells.

Women use  12kg, 16kg and 20kg or  16kg, 24kg, 32kg or  24kg, 32kg, 48kg
Men use  16kg, 24kg, 32kg or  24kg, 32kg, 48kg

You’ll perform the workout three days per week. e.g. M,W,F or Tues,Thurs,Sat for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

Every 30 seconds perform 10 reps.
Switch bells every 30 seconds.
Alternate which bells you use every set in such a way that you use the middle bell every other set and the first bell every 4 rounds like this (Left bell, Middle bell, Right Bell, Middle Bell, Left Bell, Middle Bell, Right Bell, Middle Bell….etc.)

Arrange the order of the bells by placing the LIGHT bell in the middle and the medium bell on the far left. Start round 1 with the leftmost/medium bell.
On Day 1 perform 10 rounds
On day  2, 14 rounds.
On day 3, 12 rounds.
On day 4, 16 rounds
On day 5, 20 rounds
On day 6, 18 rounds
Change the order of the bells by placing the MEDIUM bell in the middle and the light bell on the far left. Start round 1 with the leftmost/light bell.
Remember to use the medium bell every other round.
On Day 7 perform 10 rounds
On day  8, 14 rounds.
On day 9, 12 rounds.
On day 10, 16 rounds
On day 11, 20 rounds
On day 12, 18 rounds

Change the order of the bells by placing the HEAVIEST bell in the middle and the medium bell on the far left. Start round 1 with the leftmost/medium bell.
On Day 13 perform 10 rounds
On day  14, 14 rounds.
On day 15, 12 rounds.
On day 16, 16 rounds
On day 17, 20 rounds
On day 18, 18 rounds


If you already train three days per week, just perform this workout either after your normal workouts or on separate days. It’s time efficient and repeatable while featuring the most accessible, powerful and transformation kettlebell technique, the swing.
Now, go forth and be strong(er).

The Golden Rules of Training (What I Learned from Father Guido Sarducci)

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in fitness related articles with alarming titles that warn about the top 5 or 10 things we should never do. The quality of these lists covers the spectrum from educational to contrarian to misinformed. While there is some good information out there, the thing that always bothers me about such lists is this: once I know a something is wrong… how do I identify what else to avoid, or better yet how do I use this information to find what is correct on my own?  Additionally, if you compile enough of these lists together and you’ll find that nearly every  exercise you can think has made it on the list of exercises to avoid leaving you with little to no options.  I view these sort of negative lists as the equivalent of taking a fish away from a starving man when instead you could either choose to give him a fresh fish or teach him how to fish and feed himself. 

Father Sarducci and The Missing Commandments

Back in the 1970’s and 80’s a comedian named Don Novello frequently appeared on Saturday Night Live playing a character named “Father Guido Sarducci”. I remember one skit in particular where the good Father shared some inside information and let the world know that there were originally more than 10 commandments from the Old Testament. According to Father Sarducci  when Moses came down from Mount Sinai and found his people idolizing a golden calf, he smashed the tablets in a rage. “He-a had a chip on his shoulder because of the cow incident,” Sarducci explained.

“There were actually more than ten (commandments), but Moses was old and grumpy, and after he broke the tablets he could only remember the negative ones. ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that.’ The truth is, most of them were more like advice. The Twelfth Commandment, for example, was ‘Whistle while you work.’ (People think its from Disney, but Disney stole it from God.)

– Father Guido Sarducci, on The Ten Commandments

I remember there were a few other missing commandments along the lines of  “it’s all right to eat fried chicken with your fingers”,  “Wait 15-minutes after eating before swimming”, “Never give a chicken bone to a dog” and “When you use Q-Tips just go around the outside of the ear.”

In addition to being funny, the skit made me think a little more about the Ten Commandments. Prior to that day I had never really noticed how 8 out of 10 commandments were rules telling me what NOT to do. Furthermore, the “Thou shall not” commandments only forbade one specific act at a time such as “don’t lie” or “don’t commit murder”, which makes you wonder if it’s acceptable to merely wound someone instead of committing murder or avoid telling the truth instead of telling a lie. Conversely, the other two commandments tell us what to do, which seems to allow for an infinite numbers of ways to do good deeds. 

This lead me to think about the Golden Rule which seems to cover at least six of the 10 commandments in one elegant statement: “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them”(Matthew: 7:12). The Golden Rule tells us what to do in such a way that it becomes obvious what not to do, all you have to do is screen your action towards others with “would I want others to treat me this way?”  This one simple rule clearly forbids things like stealing, racism, murder, lying, extra marital affairs, disrespectful behavior toward your parents as well as things that never would have been thought of back in biblical times like running red lights, drinking while driving,  suicide bombings, posting rude comments on Facebook and more.

I believe the world is in desperate need of more minimalistic Golden Rules that tell us what we can do and fewer lists from grumpy authors telling us what not to do. After all, if one Golden Rule can cover the majority of something as important as the Ten Commandments then why shouldn’t we strive to create Golden Rules to simplify other things like fitness?

So… I decided to give it a shot and come up with a single golden rule for training (which proved to be impossible) and instead I ended up with two.  These two rules are intentionally very minimalistic, but they rule out a lot of stupid things like overtraining, high-risk exercises, bragging about injuries, poor technique, becoming a selfish gym-rat that hides from worldly responsibilities and so on. They also allow for a lot of things like choosing any form of exercise that appeals to you and gets the job done.


  1. Only use training methods, volumes and loads that do no harm.
  2. Regularly train, eat, drink, rest and live in ways that positively impact your ability to enjoy life and to help others.


There you have it. Two simple rules that tell you what you should do, and by deduction tell you what not to do. Let me know what you think.


If you happened to see Father Guido Sarducci a.k.a. Don Novello, tell him I said “Thanks”.

I was unable to locate any video of Father Sarducci’s Ten Commandments bit. However, I did find this  excellent clip of Father Sarducci explaining his brilliant plan for a “5-Minute University”. Enjoy.