Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pavel Power: Simple & Sinister by Pavel Tsatsouline & Easy Strength by Dan John & Pavel

Pavel inspecting his trainees

A recent fun and worthwhile podcast interview of PavelTsatsouline by Tim Ferris prompted me (reminded me) to write reviews of these two books. I read them a while ago, but they’re almost like reference books, which you can return to repeatedly for guidance, ideas, and motivation. Both books focus on fundamentals. After functional movement, strength is the most important physical attribute, Pavel argues. This makes sense, as endurance must always operate as a function of any activity undertaken. Also, as many sources suggest, you can cultivate cardiovascular endurance and health through strength training programs. It saves a lot of time on boring treadmills if you do it right. 

Basic program from the man who brought kettlebells to the New World
I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from books by Pavel. He combines learning, practice, and humor into his no-nonsense books. Born in Minsk, Belorussia, he served as trainer for Soviet special forces in the 1980s before emigrating to the U.S. He interjects Soviet and Russian (or Belorussian) humor in his books, which is good for a wry smile. But he also brings the knowledge that made Soviet and Russian (-speaking) athletes some of the most successful in the world. What they lacked in technology (which may have been a blessing of sorts) they made up with dedication to learning through science and experience. Thus, a rather blunt, clumsy looking apparatus like a kettlebell can serve as a terrific training device. I’ve gotten very serious about Pavel’s Simple and Sinister kettlebell training regimen since returning home from our trip over break, and it’s really paying off. If like me, you’re looking for general fitness and strength development, I’m not sure you could find a better place to start than with this program. Male or female, old (like me) or young. 

Covers a lot of territory
In Easy Strength, written in tandem with master trainer Dan John, you have an encyclopedic treatise on athletic and fitness issues and ideas. Written almost in the form of a dialogue, these two masters share a great deal of knowledge and insight about training issues. (By the way, as Pavel mentions in the Ferris podcast (that can serve as an excellent introduction to Pavel), he doesn’t “work out”, he “trains”. Big difference. As he might say, he wants to work “up”, not “out”.) While Simple and Sinister is a terrific basic program, this book allows you to consider more wrinkles to your fitness program and helps you dispense with a lot of nonsense and wasted time and energy. 

While I’ve greatly enjoyed other books by Pavel (Power to the People! and The Naked Warrior), these two books really cover the most territory, offering on the one hand simplicity, and on the other, breadth. 

Enjoy, comrade!

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