Is The “Program Minimum” Really A “Minimum” Program?

I’m about to find out.

I decided that I’ve got to shore up my foundation and my framework. This conclusion after spending about 12 days doing “rehab” work for a 7-year old back injury that I thought was fixed.

For those that don’t know what the “Program Minimum” is, it’s essentially Swings and Get Ups. Sounds boring, I know. (You can and should read the details in Enter the Kettlebell if you haven’t already plus it’ll make a good Christmas present…)

But, I’ve seen way too much evidence (yes, anecdotal not “scientific”) to suggest that I’m not making a mistake – from “unfrozen” shoulders to happy backs and hips and literally everywhere in between. Interestingly enough, those are all the areas I’m looking to fortify – lower back, hips, shoulders and everywhere in between.

So worst case scenario is that I waste 30 days and get “weaker.” Best case scenario is that I end up moving really, really well under load again, strip off some body fat, and push ┬ámy GPP up so that once I get under the bar again I can recover much more quickly.

Today is December 1st. I am traveling A LOT in December so this program is very convenient (KBs fit in cars and hotel rooms – barbells don’t). The timing actually couldn’t be better, especially with the holidays coming up.

My goal is to post my daily workout schedule.

I intend to train 5-6 days per week, using various size kettlebells for my training sessions, depending on how I feel. I’ll either train in my studio or at home, depending on my schedule. Along with the Program Minimum, I’ll be doing variations of the Get Up and Swing. So that means I’ll be keeping some of the tall kneeling and half-kneeling work Brett gave me. I’ll also be doing some “Bottoms Up” work. And finally, I’ll be allotting no more than 45 minutes for each training session.

If you are at a loss of what to do for the holidays as far as workouts go or find yourself pinched for time due to parties, kids out of school, etc, why don’t you plan on joining me?

I’ll be posting my workouts right here so you can check back. You can even stop in and comment on them and tell me what you did for that day – accountability is a very powerful tool to keep you motivated.

I not only look forward to my results on Jan 1st, but also to the “ninja” knowledge I acquire in the process.

12 comments… add one
  • Gunther Dec 1, 2009 @ 18:13

    Good luck, it will work perfectly. Last year my routine was based around the PM but I always added some extra’s. I have also started this week with more “pure” PM as our baby will be born within 2 weeks and so I won’t get that much sleep and this way I get a good workout done in short time. I will keep an eye on the blog to see your results. Again good luck.

  • Doug Starr Dec 1, 2009 @ 18:25

    I’m really excited to see yor results. I’ve experienced some surprising gains from several weeks of doing basically “the minimum.”

    But I started at 0.5 on the fitness scale of 1 to 10. Your experience will give me some indication of whether I can continue to expect results or whether I need to think about changing up my program.

    As an aside, It’s really been a revalation to finally find something that actually works. I’m talking about Kettlebells, of course. I’m no fitness god by any means, but for the first time ever I’ve experienced improvements that I can feel and other people can see. Keep up the good work, and please convince one of your RKC colleagues to open a studio in Bakersfield.

  • Russ Moon Dec 1, 2009 @ 19:04

    I like tests….will follow your general swing regime adjusted for my impure technique and unacceptably low conditioning. Just tell me 2 or 1 and the rep scheme/ladder.

    The whole sit back and hip explosion out of the bottom seems to really be a key move, which I don’t have grooved this should help that though…right ?

    The Get Up – I am totally clueless, asked for DVD on GU for xmas, want to stick with basic mechanics of swing even if it takes a couple years. Unable to pace you there at present. Just being honest.

  • Dino Dec 1, 2009 @ 19:24

    Hi this is an excellent idea, I started the PM with a 16kg last month and have been using the ETK book. Im still learning the basics, ive got the TGU wrapped up but the swing is proving more difficult.
    I look forward to following your progress,also do you know how long you have to follow the PM for?

    Cheers dude

  • Ryan Dec 1, 2009 @ 20:27

    Cool.

  • Bob Gill Dec 1, 2009 @ 22:08

    Thanks for posting this! I look forward to the results.
    Your documented scientific approach will be great to follow.
    I’ve used the PM and simple variations therein (with my trainers at Punch Gym) a few times when I’ve “tweaked” things like my elbow and shoulder, and its great to still train and progress without further aggravating things. With a sore elbow (from pulling too hard on heavy cleans, not enough legs, my fault ), I wasn’t sure what I could do. The trainer spent a lot of last night working detailed exercises that simulate just portions of the TGU, followed by the TGUs themselves. It was great, and no sore elbow this morning!
    Good Luck.

  • Russ Moon Dec 1, 2009 @ 22:16

    Single KB Press 1×1,2 w Beast. It’s owning me right now.
    Dual KB Press 32 kg – 20,20,17,13,8,6,9,10
    Dual KB Press 24 kg 3 x 20

    Swings tomorrow, lead the way Geoff !

  • Chris Leeman Dec 2, 2009 @ 3:11

    Read my mind as usual. Was doing great getting old torn up shoulders back with arm bars and TGUs. Started ETK press ladders again and was making fast progress. Then as you put it in your last post they weren’t my favs(tgu’s and arm bars) hence torn down shoulders. Had decided to do only the remedials this month so I’m with you. Started today with 10 minutes of Chuck Taylor get ups just to check and re-enforce movement patterns. Great Stuff. Enjoy your travels.

  • Adam t Glass Dec 2, 2009 @ 4:09

    I a doing the same thing- sumo deadlifts and axle presses. That is it. Simple tests better. I pulled ten sets last night and felt ready to repeat it today (took it off for other reasons)

    I am not very busy tomorrow, so give me a call when you slow down midafternoon

  • Russ Moon Dec 2, 2009 @ 22:39

    My goal today was to push to the edge but not over. Started out attempting a ladder to 10 of 1 arm swings w Beast. For some reason started at 10 (think that was dumb now) and made through 6’s. Left grip started giving out, so for safety switched over to 2 arm swing and completed the remaining reps as 2 arm swings two 5’s became one set of 10. Total reps wound up being 80 1arm swing and 38 2arm swing with the Beast. My abs have been officially pulverized, if I have any guts I’ll knock out some grease the groove with the 16 kg later tonight. At least 200 more reps.

  • Kevin Dec 3, 2009 @ 1:04

    Ha, sounds like an awesome goal for the month; I’m in. Yesterday I did 12 minutes of 2/2 TGUs followed by a 3 minute break before fitting in as many rounds of 12 swings 5 pushups (using two 24kg bells as stands of course) as I could in 12 minutes. Needless to say, by that 24th minute I was doing my pushups as slow as possible. Today I plan on throwing in a 5minute TGU workout followed by some yoga.

    Push yourself and train smart.

  • Russ Moon Dec 3, 2009 @ 6:24

    I didn’t have the guts to finish prior to midnight but did come back for
    my midnight madness finale.

    1 set 100 reps 1 arm swg 24 kg switching hands after 20,20.10
    1 set 100 reps 1 arm swg 16 kg switching hands each 10

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