Skip to content. | Skip to navigation


Personal tools
You are here: Home / Blog / Cool Stuff Pavel Tsatsouline Says in His Books

Cool Stuff Pavel Tsatsouline Says in His Books

| filed under: , , , , , , , , ,
Pavel Tsatsouline, a master of kettlebell training, has reshaped the fitness landscape with his pioneering approach to strength and conditioning, as detailed in his influential works "Power to the People!" and "Enter the Kettlebell!" His methodologies emphasize the kettlebell's power to enhance strength, flexibility, and endurance, advocating for a regimen that combines heavy lifting with the precision of Russian training secrets for unparalleled physical prowess.
Cool Stuff Pavel Tsatsouline Says in His Books

Pavel Tsatsouline

In the world of strength training and fitness, few names are as revered and influential as Pavel Tsatsouline. A master of kettlebell training, Pavel Tsatsouline's methodologies have transformed the landscape of physical conditioning, introducing the Western world to the formidable power of Russian strength secrets. Through his seminal works, "Power to the People!: Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American" and "Enter the Kettlebell!: Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen," Pavel has demystified the ancient Russian weapon against weakness—the kettlebell—and presented a comprehensive guide to achieving supreme strength, flexibility, and endurance. This article delves into the core principles of Tsatsouline's training philosophy, showcasing how the humble kettlebell can be the key to unlocking unparalleled physical prowess, all while challenging the conventional wisdom of modern gym culture. With a focus on efficiency, safety, and the cultivation of a warrior's mindset, Pavel's teachings promise a revolutionary approach to fitness that is as rigorous as it is rewarding.

Cool Stuff Pavel Tsatsouline Says in His Books

There's a feature in my Kindle Paperwhite that I abuse which is to save quotes from Kindle books onto Goodreads so that I can look at them later. Here are some that I like that Comrade Pavel Tsatsouline says that I like. 

Power to the People!: Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American by Pavel Tsatsouline

  • The most intelligent way to develop strength is to lift much heavier weights than most weekend warriors play with but to terminate your sets before your muscles fail. Doing a triple with a weight that you could have done five reps with is a lot safer and more effective that an all-out set of ten.

Enter the Kettlebell!: Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen by Pavel Tsatsouline

  • When We Say “Strength,” We Mean “Kettlebell.” When We Say “Kettlebell,” We Mean “Strength.”
  • In Russia kettlebells are a matter of national pride and a symbol of strength. In the olden days, any strongman or weightlifter was referred to as a girevik, or “kettlebell man.” Steeled by their kettlebells, generation after generation of Russian boys has turned to men.
  • What is a kettlebell? It’s a cannonball with a handle. It’s an extreme handheld gym. It’s a statement: “I’m sick of your metrosexual gyms! I’m a man, and I’ll train like a man!” Lifting a kettlebell is liberating and as aggressive as medieval swordplay. It’s a manifestation of what Ori Hofmekler has called the “warrior instinct.”
  • The kettlebell delivers extreme all-around fitness. All-purpose strength. Staying power. Flexibility. Fat loss without the dishonor of aerobics. All accomplished in one to two hours of weekly training.
  • Russian kettlebells traditionally come in poods. One pood, an old Russian unit of measurement, equals 16 kilograms, approximately 35 pounds. The most popular sizes in Russia are 1 pood, the right kettlebell for a typical male beginner; 1 1/2 pood, or a 53-pounder, the standard issue in the military
  • You will make the fastest gains if you do a few reps here and there throughout the day, every day.
  • Everything in this program must be practiced barefoot or in flat shoes without cushy soles. Wrestling shoes, work boots, tactical boots, and Converse Chuck Taylors are authorized. Almost any shoes worn by a guy named Chuck will do. Chuck #1, RKC, wears size 15 chicken-yellow water shoes, and Chuck #2, RKC, digs skateboard Vans with a chess print. Unconventional, but good enough not to warrant a set of push-ups.
  • A natural athlete moves from his hips, never from his back or knees. Hips-first movement is safest for your back and knees—and most powerful.
  • Stand up and place the edges of your hands into the creases on top of your thighs. Press your hands hard into your “hinges” and stick your butt out while keeping your weight on your heels. I learned this neat trick from Kathy Foss Bakkum, RKC, God rest her strong and kind soul. It will teach you to go down by folding at your hip joints rather than bending through your back. Glenn Hyman, DC, RKC, stresses that this bit of instruction has been instrumental to the terrific success he has had rehabbing his patients with kettlebells.
  • Don’t try to get yourself smoked; this will come soon enough. A 30-minute practice is about right. When done, you should feel energized rather than wiped out. You should hardly be sore the day after.

Kettlebell - Simple & Sinister by Pavel Tsatsouline

  • If a kettlebell were a person, it would be the type of a guy you would want [on your side] in an alley fight. —Glenn Buechlein, powerlifter
  • The kettlebell is an ancient Russian weapon against weakness.
  • Called girya in Russian, this cannonball with a handle has been making better men and women for over 300 years. In imperial Russia, “kettlebell” was synonymous with “strength.” A strongman or weightlifter was called a girevik or a “kettlebell man.” Strong ladies were girevichkas or “kettlebell women.”
  • “Not a single sport develops our muscular strength and bodies as well as kettlebell athletics,” reported Russian magazine Hercules in 1913.
  • Kettlebells are compact, inexpensive, virtually indestructible, and can be used anywhere. The unique nature of kettlebell lifts provides a powerful training effect with a relatively light weight, and you can replace an entire gym with a couple of kettlebells. Dan John, Master SFG[1] and a highly accomplished power athlete, famously quipped, “With this kettlebell in my bedroom I can prepare myself for the Nationals.”
  • Experience and science agree that kettlebell training develops a wide range of attributes: strength and power, various types of endurance, muscle hypertrophy, fat loss, health, and more. The kettlebell swing has been known to improve the deadlift of elite powerlifters—and the running times of high-level long distance runners.

The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: Xtreme Fitness for Hard Living Comrades by Pavel Tsatsouline

  • With kettlebells, cardio intensity is increased by increasing the poundage, increasing the reps, speeding up the pace and/or extending the session duration. There seems to be little questioning that diligent use of kettlebells can provide a cardio session as intense as a person can stand and muscle hypertrophy will occur if the poundage is sufficient.
  • Girevoy sport, on the other hand, is a working class sport. Kettlebells are cheap, no platform is required, and almost anyone can master the skills in a short period of time from a book or a video.
  • And keep in mind that if you throw the KB into anything harder than sand you could break the handle; cast iron is hard but brittle.
  • An athlete from a rough sport cannot find a better power tool than the kettlebell, period.
  • Get a light dumbbell, say ten pounds for an average lady and two to three times as much for a gentleman, and do one arm snatches two to three times a week followed by ab work and back and hamstring stretches. Do as much as you can stand; the sets, reps, and rest periods are up to you. Just make sure to have your heart checked beforehand and slowly ease into the program. And do not forget to synchronize your breathing with your movement, otherwise you will wilt in no time flat.
  • The one arm snatch will work as many muscles as a single exercise could. It strengthens the back, from the tips of your traps all the way down to your butt, every bit as well as the deadlift.
  • Train 2-7 times a week. Try to complete your workout in 45 min or less. Vary the length of your workouts, for example Monday 30 min, Tuesday 45 min, Wednesday 20 min, Thursday off, Friday 35 min.
  • Each session do as few or as many exercises as you wish but do not work equally hard on every one of them. For example, on Monday do a lot of sets of the bent press, on Tuesday skip the bent press or take it easy and work hard on snatches, etc. Do not be overly pedantic about the order. Just do not do one pet feat at the expense of everything else all the time. Also, do not be afraid to make some workouts relatively easier than others.
  • Do not be afraid to push into slight overtraining and then back off with lighter workouts. As a Lithuanian saying goes, “A river with a dam has more power.”
  • Ballistic drills, at least with kettlebells, can get away with much greater numbers; it is a lot easier to keep your technique in the groove.
  • Falameyev advises to start training with 16kg, advance to 24 kg in four to six weeks, and later to dvukhpudoviks. Beginners are not supposed to train longer than 30 min per workout. Three workouts a week on non-consecutive days, preferably at the same time of the day, are the rule of thumb.
  • In the beginning of your career, the Russian expert advises you to limit your load to three sets per exercise in two-arm exercises and three sets per arm in one-arm drills. You should select a weight that enables you to do no less than 5-6 and no more than 15-16 repetitions in a given exercise.
  • The Official Soviet Weightlifting Textbook Girevoy Sport Competition Training Guidelines (Falameyev, 1986) Train three times a week on non-consecutive days, preferably at the same time of the day. In the beginning limit your sessions to 30 min and your load to 3 sets per exercise in two arm exercises and 3 sets per arm in one arm drills. Select a weight that enables you to do 5-16 repetitions in a given exercise. Perform your exercises through the full range of motion. Breathe deep and smooth without excessive straining and breath holding. Rest for 2 min between sets. Calmly walk around. Train the one arm snatches, presses, and C&Js in 3-5 sets. Complete all the sets for the weaker arm first. Once a week work both arms back to back without setting the kettlebell down on the platform. Perform 2-3 such competition style sets. Do extra snatches with the weaker arm. Pay a lot of attention to the development of your wrist strength. Before tackling the competition-level, two arm/two kettlebell C&Js, master one arm/one KB C&Js, with a special emphasis on the weaker arm. Train the two arm/two kettlebell C&J in 6-8 sets. Include two different kettlebell exercises in a training session and follow them up with 2-3 barbell exercises. As the competition approaches, the number of barbell exercises in a session is decreased, so is their volume.


What are the key principles of Pavel Tsatsouline's strength training philosophy?

Pavel emphasizes mastering foundational exercises, focusing on building strength through tension, and employing consistent practice and progressive overload.

What is a kettlebell?

According to Pavel, a kettlebell is a "cannonball with a handle" and an "extreme handheld gym."

How does Pavel recommend starting with kettlebell training?

Pavel suggests starting with a kettlebell weighing around 1 pood (35 lbs) for a typical male beginner.

Why does Pavel recommend Grease the Groove (GTG) training?

Pavel recommends GTG to improve strength and skill by developing muscle memory and promoting consistency.

Is there a particular shoe recommendation for kettlebell training?

Pavel recommends flat shoes without cushy soles, like wrestling shoes, work boots, or Converse Chuck Taylors.

How should one breathe while doing kettlebell exercises according to Pavel?

Pavel recommends deep and smooth breathing without excessive straining or breath-holding.

How often should one train?

Training frequency varies, but 2-7 times a week is recommended. Pavel suggests keeping each session under 45 minutes and varying workout lengths.


  • Kettlebell: A weight resembling a cannonball with a handle, used for strength training.
  • Girevik: Russian term for "kettlebell man," a strongman or weightlifter proficient in kettlebell training.
  • Pood: An old Russian unit of weight measurement; one pood is approximately 16 kg or 35 lbs.
  • Hardstyle Plank: A specific type of plank exercise that focuses on maximum muscle tension.
  • Power Breath: A specific breathing technique to enhance athletic performance.
  • Grease the Groove (GTG): Training methodology involving frequent submaximal sets of an exercise throughout the day.
  • Overtraining: Exercising to the point of fatigue, requiring a period of light workouts or rest to recover.
  • Enter the Kettlebell (ETK): A foundational kettlebell training program introduced by Pavel.
  • Periodization: A training structure that changes up your workout routine at specific times to keep your body on its toes.
  • Pavelizer: A device used for practicing Pavel’s "GTG" method, particularly for pull-ups.
  • Tension: The art of creating muscle stiffness intentionally to generate more force and stability.
  • Swing: A fundamental kettlebell exercise that works the hips, glutes, and hamstrings.
  • Turkish Get-Up: A complex kettlebell movement that trains stability, coordination, and strength.
  • Simple & Sinister: A minimalist kettlebell program designed by Pavel focusing on swings and Turkish Get-Ups.
  • Double Kettlebell Complex: A series of kettlebell exercises performed back to back without setting the kettlebells down.
  • Plyometrics: Exercises that involve rapid stretching and contracting of muscles to increase power.
  • Snatch: A kettlebell exercise that involves pulling the kettlebell from the ground to overhead in one fluid motion.
  • Clean: A kettlebell move where the weight is pulled up to the chest and rotated so it rests on the forearm.
  • StrongFirst: An organization founded by Pavel that focuses on teaching strength training methods.
  • Comrade: A term Pavel often uses to refer to fellow practitioners or readers, signifying a sense of community.
  • Press: A fundamental kettlebell move where the weight is pushed overhead from a racked position at the shoulder.
  • Racked Position: The position where the kettlebell is held at chest level, resting against the forearm.
  • Prilepin's Chart: A table that prescribes optimal sets and reps for strength training, often referred to by Pavel.
  • Ballistic Moves: Explosive movements that require acceleration, like kettlebell swings or snatches.
  • Grind Moves: Slow, strength-based movements, like presses and squats.
  • Farmer's Walk: An exercise where heavy weights are carried by your sides while walking.
  • Russian Twist: A core exercise performed while sitting on the ground, holding a weight with both hands and twisting the torso from side to side.
  • Hollow Hold: A core stabilization exercise where you lie on your back and hold your legs and shoulders off the ground.
  • Volume: The total amount of weight lifted in a training session, calculated as sets x reps x weight.
  • Intensity: The level of effort required in your workouts, often measured as a percentage of your one-rep max (1RM).
  • One-Rep Max (1RM): The maximum amount of weight you can lift for one repetition of an exercise.
  • Active Recovery: Low-intensity exercise or movement performed to help the body recover after intense training.
  • Passive Recovery: Complete rest or minimal movement, often used to help the body recover from strenuous workouts.
  • Cluster Sets: Small groups of repetitions separated by short breaks, allowing for more volume and intensity in a workout.
  • Eccentric: The lowering phase of an exercise, like bringing the kettlebell down in a swing.