The STRONG Program with Pull-Ups & Squats

Today, I’m answering a question from a long-time reader, John, about how he’s working his way back to Double Kettlebell Training.

John’s doing something smart and starting with Pavel’s Rite of Passage Program from Enter the Kettlebell and then will delve back into the STRONG Program found in Kettlebell Strong!

Before we get into it, there are a few things that you should know…

1. I use A LOT of terms that you might not be familiar with.

You have to have been in the Kettlebell Strength Game a few years and be a student of mine, Geoff’s or Pavel’s to understand.

If you’re lost, there’s a legend of some of the terms I use to the right.

2. This whole email is talking about Kettlebell Strong.  

I think you should own a copy if you’re serious about kettlebell training.  

That is my expert opinion and the opinion of many others in this industry.  

It is by far, THE BEST guide to Double Kettlebell Training there is today.

You can get your copy HERE.

3. I TEACH in this email/article. If you haven’t been reading my stuff for very long, you should know that I prefer to teach people how to fish rather than giving them some crappy salmon.  

This is different from a lot of my peers because most of them just give you some fish and hold back, then wait for you to come back to give you more (or make you buy more).  

I’m of the mentality that if I give you value and teach you how to do something, then you’ll be back to LEARN more… not to just blindly take my workouts/programs.

OK, Here’s his question…


In 2015 I did “Strong” phases 1 and 2 with 36kgs and had great success.  

Since then I did a lot of dumbbell and barbell work.  Made great gains until this winter when I badly injured my calf….still swells if I over do it.

Although I last used 36s, I admit I lost the kbell groove.  I started back doing one arm work, specifically the famed ROP.   I started conservatively approaching the end of a bout of 32 ….. Then back to doubles work!
Anyhow, i really like the idea of supersetting the pull ups I believe you mentioned.

Would that be 10×1 with a pull up after each single rep…..sort of like the ROP with doubles??

Also considering adding a front squat after clean and presses but that would be a BRUTAL 10×6 in phase 2…..pull ups would be much better for me…..especially my age..52.
John Grahill

Pull-Ups SquatsANSWER:

Hi John – 

Thanks so much for the email!!!
Happy to hear that you’re working ROP on your way back to doubles.
Yes, we had a discussion about this on the SF Forum.
During the first phase of Strong, I was using a 1:2 C&P to Pull-Up ratio that worked quite well.
After Phase 1, when I got up to 10 x 6, I dropped to a 1:1 ratio.
I found that going 1:2 in the later phases was too much volume on Pull-Ups and was taking away from my pressing.
As Dan John says, “You have to let THE GOAL, be The Goal”.
I would suggest going with the 1:1 approach if you’re adding pull-ups.
With double front squats, there are 3 options that you can consider…
Option #1: Double Front Squats to FINISH

Geoff once suggested to me that after each “light day” of C&Ps, you do 5 x 5 double front squats to finish the session and after every “heavy day” of C&Ps you do 3 x 5 (or 3 x 3) to finish.  

This approach would really work well if you’re supersetting C&Ps with Pull-Ups in your training.
Option #2: Double Front Squat Superset with Double Your Chin-Ups Program

Another thing that I’ve tried is going EMOTM combining my C&Ps with my Double Front Squats.
So on my 10-set days, I would set my timer for 20 minutes, do my set of C&Ps, rest the remainder of the minute and then do a set of Double Front Squats.  

This would be done in a 1:1 C&Ps to Squat ratio.

I’ve used this approach before while using my 28-day Chin-Up Program where you train chin-ups almost everyday sub-maximally (as prescribed).
Option #3: Every Minute On The Minute C&P, DFSQ & Chin-Up

If you really want to challenge yourself – especially in the later phases of STRONG! – you could go EMOTM with C&Ps, DFSQs and Pull-Ups.  

Similar to above, set your timer for 30 minutes and perform a set of each EMOTM on your 10-set days. 
On your “heavy, lower set” days, just multiply the time by 3.  
So for example, in Phase 1 of STRONG, your “Light Day” could look like this…
STRONG Light Day – 10 x 1
Minute 1 – C&P x 1
Minute 2 – DFSQ x 1
Minute 3 – Pull-Up x 1
Minute 4 – C&P x 1
Minute 5 – DFSQ x 1
Minute 6 – Pull-Up x 1
etc… all the way up to Minute 30
STRONG Heavy Day – 5 x 2
Minute 1 – C&P x 2
Minute 2 – DFSQ x 2
Minute 3 – Pull-Up x 2
Minute 4 – C&P x 2
Minute 5 – DFSQ x 2
Minute 6 – Pull-Up x 2
etc… all the way up to Minute 15
Those are the ways that I have used STRONG with DFSQs and/or Pull-Ups in the past and they all work well.
Option #3 is my favourite though 🙂
Keep in mind that if you’re combining all 3 exercises, you should opting to do STRONG twice per week instead of 3 times per week.
If you’re combining STRONG with ONE, then you ABSOLUTELY must only train with the STRONG PROGRAM twice per week (and the ONE program 2 days per week for a total of 4 days of training per week).
It would look something like this…
Monday – STRONG PROGRAM Light Day
Tuesday – THE ONE
Wednesday – OFF/Active but NOT training
Thursday – STRONG PROGRAM Heavy Day
Friday – OFF/Active but NOT training
Saturday – THE ONE
Sunday – OFF (full day of recovery)

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