Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

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Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by JasonC » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:53 pm

I’m doing a series of blog posts on “20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline,” and I’d like any input that y’all bitchez have to offer, especially IGx OGs who were early adopters back in the PTP and proto-RKC days.

The questions I’m chewing on right now are:

• What were his big contributions (especially in the early days, before he was a phenom)? Me, the first thing I think of is the idea of “skinny strength,” tension, and strength as a skill. Additions/amendments?
• Why did he attract a following? Of the hundreds of personal trainers out there? I’m sure a lot of it was JDC’s fucking marketing genius—remember the ad copy like “traffic-stopping muscular definition?"—and the turn to the “certification” business model. Beyond the marketing/business side, though, what else made him the right guy for that time?
• What did Pavel do differently then? What were the concepts or techniques that he was into then that he evolved away from? (The first thing that comes to my mind is the flexibility stuff, but I also noticed that things like the KB snatch technique has come a long way since the first RKC video.)

And anything else that comes to mind.

In the blog posts, I’m not getting into the “Kremlinology” of interpersonal politics in DD and the RKC organization, but I wouldn’t mind hearing people’s reminiscences about that either. I never did an RKC cert, only met Pavel once, and was never in the inner circle (or even the outer one).

Thanks in advance for anything you’ve got to offer.

-Jason
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Fat Cat » Tue Nov 06, 2018 5:40 pm

Hey boss, cool idea for some articles. I actually think highly of a great deal of Pavel's contributions, although it's a very mixed bag to be clear. This may be a bit rambling, but...

I first encountered Pavel's writing in (maybe '99) PLUSA, in the original Smolov-Feduleyev squat program article. The whole approach was far different from the Western periodization style programs that I typically saw there, and it pretty well summarizes a lot of what I liked about his early stuff: it was detailed, it was clearly presented, and it was based on empirically-tested Soviet sports science instead of bro-knowledge from the latest star lifter.

He kept to that basic formula in Power to the People, which remains an excellent primer for people interested in strength training. Even just recently I was doing a program very similar to it: press, pull, curls, just like in the book, for frequent low-volume workouts and getting great results. His ability to cut through the haze of choices facing a trainee and be like, "do this" and measure your results, is incredibly useful in this age of information overload is invaluable.

From there, his other notable works to me are Relax into Stretch and Russian Kettlebell Challenge. RIS remains my go to stretching book, and if I'm struggling in some area I will virtually always consult that book and use it's basic principles to address the problem. There's a reason why Louie Simmons was crazy about this book, and to be honest, if Pavel is a true expert at anything, it's flexibility training.

Finally, RKC and all the dogshit that came after it. Fedorenko may be the guy who introduced real, Russian GS-style training to the USA, but honestly nobody gives a fuck. Everyone knows it was Pavel who put KBs in the hands of a billion bros. He made them available, but more to the point, he got people excited about the idea. That's something really rare: the ability to recognize untapped value, generate enthusiasm for it, and then market it. Only a few people, guys like Arthur Jones, can do it. Pavel did it in spades. Now, anybody who looks at the original RKC video can see that Pavel is not the master of any fucking sport at all. He's terrible. I mean it. But he did have the basic idea that training a variety of high-tension and ballistic lifts with kettlebells could make almost anybody stronger and more athletic, and he was able to pass that on to many, many other people. Kettlebell training has been a huge boon to my training over the years, and I credit him with that.

Final, final codicil to all of this is that Pavel's greatest strength is his ability and willingness to keep learning. I think that he did not come to the US as a master coach, he made himself into one here, by associating himself with people who really know what the fuck they are doing and being willing to draw on these strands and tie them together.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Sangoma » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:09 am

In no particular order.

1. Minimalist strength building routine - PTTP with deadlifts and OA presses. Possible transition to the bear routine if wanted.

2. Kettlebells for fitness. Pavel's contribution is nothing short of huge.

3. Stretching wise - I am not a huge fan. I think Thomas Kurtz's material is better.

4. Tension principles.

5. Periodization - first time I read about it was PTTP.

6. Attention to various aspects of muscle activation. From Pavelizer to Beyond Bodybuilding.

7. 5 reps - the corollary of lifting heavier for strength and size. Fairly novel idea at the time when sets of 10 were the bodybuilding norm.

Not something you can pinpoint, but if you see Pavel's name as the author the piece is pretty much guaranteed to be interesting and useful.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Grandpa's Spells » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:46 pm

Good posts above, a few things I think are:

A: Timing. A lot of people who found Pavel were almost exclusively exposed previously to Weider/BB/maybe some PL stuff, including athletes. The term "strength coach" as overused as it's become for personal trainers, was fairly new to the mainstream. To take a fraud example, Matt Furey could not get off the ground today.

B: KBs are great for getting normals to do fast lifts, which I kind of think is still underrated. He brought a legit tool to the market, shtick aside.

C: Pavel's also an extremely good distiller of ideas. A lot of people have excellent technical knowledge, and a lot of people communicate well, but both of those things together is not common. Strength as skill, Grease the groove, etc. A few things did not hit (LOL Pavelizer) but good concepts along with kettlebells for the neophiles, and stretching concepts, was very solid.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by powerlifter54 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:25 pm

For me it was the idea of not taking sets to failure and working more often.

All the above inputs are spot on, but as a Voracious reader of every resource I could find and a huge WSB guy, the idea of volume in the moderate load range done frequently was the piece of the puzzle that brought it all together for me.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by SubClaw » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:14 am

Pavel was the one who kind of gave me permission to “take it easy” and still make progress.

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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by JimZipCode » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:43 am

PTTP demystified the barbell and deadlifts and the weight room and periodization. Spells mentioned above about "getting normals to do fast lifts:" PTTP was great for getting normals to do deadlifts; hell, getting us into the free weights room at all. Once you can stride purposefully to a deadlift station and do a couple sets, a few times a week for a couple months, the rest of the weight room starts to open up for you. PTTP remains a really potent, I dunno, gateway drug. Maybe "on ramp" is a better term.


His 5x5x5 program (first chapter of BB) is an incredibly manageable "easy strength" program, and a fun way to lift. I did it over the summer and set PRs in deadlift and bench. (Mind you, I'm still a novice so my PRs are low-hanging fruit: but still.)


Swings and Turkish Get-ups are still pretty goddam great.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Sangoma » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:32 am

powerlifter54 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:25 pm
For me it was the idea of not taking sets to failure and working more often.
I forgot about this one. Definitely one of the most important training concepts. Also seldom testing your max. And when you do rather settle for a "sort of max" rather than going all out effort.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by powerlifter54 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:02 pm

Sangoma wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:32 am
powerlifter54 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:25 pm
For me it was the idea of not taking sets to failure and working more often.
I forgot about this one. Definitely one of the most important training concepts. Also seldom testing your max. And when you do rather settle for a "sort of max" rather than going all out effort.
Honestly, maxing in the gym, except on multiple rep RMs or special exercises did me absolutely no good.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Shafpocalypse Now » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:09 pm

IDK, you need to go back and find the archives of the Parillo magazine and Muscle Media (though most of the MM stuff is in Beyond Bodybuilding)

Pavel's first two books were on stretching and abs, like someone mentioned above, Thomas Kurz is better, and is almost assuredly his source for most of his stretching stuff.

The Ab Pavelizer? Did anyone ever use that thing?
Bringing kettlebells the mainstream was the biggest. There is a big contingent of folks who think he brought barbell training into vogue, that is not the case, he flew in on the coattails of Brooks Kubik who repopularized his harder and more voluminous versions of HIT and Hardgainer stuff.

The Pavel thing is weird, most of the early folks who heard about them were IT guys interested in karate and similar.

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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Shafpocalypse Now » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:16 pm

There were a few people who really were in position to take advantage of the burgeoning internet in the late 90s, early 00s. Pavel was one of them, Brooks Kubik was another, Matt Furey, most of all, there is no way Matt Furey's weak shit would fly today.

Matt Furey is the guy who basically invented the fitness circle jerk marketing techniques via consultations with outside sales gurus.

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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Fat Cat » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:48 pm

Shafpocalypse Now wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:09 pm
IDK, you need to go back and find the archives of the Parillo magazine and Muscle Media (though most of the MM stuff is in Beyond Bodybuilding)

Pavel's first two books were on stretching and abs, like someone mentioned above, Thomas Kurz is better, and is almost assuredly his source for most of his stretching stuff.

The Ab Pavelizer? Did anyone ever use that thing?
Bringing kettlebells the mainstream was the biggest. There is a big contingent of folks who think he brought barbell training into vogue, that is not the case, he flew in on the coattails of Brooks Kubik who repopularized his harder and more voluminous versions of HIT and Hardgainer stuff.

The Pavel thing is weird, most of the early folks who heard about them were IT guys interested in karate and similar.
I dunno about the Kurz thing; of course the stretches are mostly the same but I don't recall there being anything like the tense-hold-relax into stretch thing that Pavel had. It's been a long time tho.

The Pavelizer is a joke, definitely one of his biggest turds. But while I agree with you that Brooks had Dinosaur Training going big in the late 90's (old school strempf forum woot!) he was into HIT 20-rep bullshit and some singles. Pavel was the one who really nailed the moderate-to-high intensity, high frequency, low volume stuff IMHO.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Hanglow Joe » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:27 pm

Hopefully one will be on how he ripped off the guys in the RKC who worked for him.

Or lied about being Master of Sport in Russia

Steve Cotter calling him out for being a 'mo...

I'll give him credit though, he's made a lot of money for his schtick and some of his stuff is great.

However, Simple and Sinister is the genital wart on the vagina of kettlebells that refuses to go away.

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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Fat Cat » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:35 pm

Hanglow Joe wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:27 pm
Hopefully one will be on how he ripped off the guys in the RKC who worked for him.

Or lied about being Master of Sport in Russia

Steve Cotter calling him out for being a 'mo...

I'll give him credit though, he's made a lot of money for his schtick and some of his stuff is great.

However, Simple and Sinister is the genital wart on the vagina of kettlebells that refuses to go away.

Two questions:

1. Is Pavel really an *ahem* androphilist?
2. Why the hate for S&S?
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Hanglow Joe » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:00 pm

I have no idea about him being a cockchugger...

S & S is so overhyped. To me, it's a nice finisher from a workout. Do 15 goblet squats, 10 getups and 100 swings, big fucking deal. Every day.

For 6 years the WTH moments, the after 3 weeks, I've noticed my forearms are bigger and all that shit. Getups are great, swings are great. But don't tell me it makes you bulletproof. It's overtaken kettlebell and that's what is driving people away.

Snatches, clean and press, jerks, complexes, chains. Moving from one exercise to another, that's what makes using kettlebells great. Not 10 getups and 100 swings. BORING.

ETK's ROP was legit and hard when you got to a 32 and higher. Though at that point, you're really sore after heavy day.

This is such an amusing blast from the past.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Fat Cat » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:29 pm

Hanglow Joe wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:00 pm
S & S is so overhyped. To me, it's a nice finisher from a workout. Do 15 goblet squats, 10 getups and 100 swings, big fucking deal. Every day.

For 6 years the WTH moments, the after 3 weeks, I've noticed my forearms are bigger and all that shit. Getups are great, swings are great. But don't tell me it makes you bulletproof. It's overtaken kettlebell and that's what is driving people away.
You're on to something. The who kettlebell reddit is devoted to "what weight should I start S&S" type shit. I found S&S to be excellent, however, so I kinda understand the enthusiasm.
Hanglow Joe wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:00 pm
ETK's ROP was legit and hard when you got to a 32 and higher. Though at that point, you're really sore after heavy day.
I've been taking a closer look at that recently.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Grandpa's Spells » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:27 pm

Hanglow Joe wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:27 pm
Hopefully one will be on how he ripped off the guys in the RKC who worked for him.
huh?
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Fat Cat » Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:01 pm

Grandpa's Spells wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:27 pm
Hanglow Joe wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:27 pm
Hopefully one will be on how he ripped off the guys in the RKC who worked for him.
huh?
An article please, Comrade!
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Sangoma » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:46 am

Fat Cat wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:48 pm
Shafpocalypse Now wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:09 pm
IDK, you need to go back and find the archives of the Parillo magazine and Muscle Media (though most of the MM stuff is in Beyond Bodybuilding)

Pavel's first two books were on stretching and abs, like someone mentioned above, Thomas Kurz is better, and is almost assuredly his source for most of his stretching stuff.

The Ab Pavelizer? Did anyone ever use that thing?
Bringing kettlebells the mainstream was the biggest. There is a big contingent of folks who think he brought barbell training into vogue, that is not the case, he flew in on the coattails of Brooks Kubik who repopularized his harder and more voluminous versions of HIT and Hardgainer stuff.

The Pavel thing is weird, most of the early folks who heard about them were IT guys interested in karate and similar.
I dunno about the Kurz thing; of course the stretches are mostly the same but I don't recall there being anything like the tense-hold-relax into stretch thing that Pavel had. It's been a long time tho.

The Pavelizer is a joke, definitely one of his biggest turds. But while I agree with you that Brooks had Dinosaur Training going big in the late 90's (old school strempf forum woot!) he was into HIT 20-rep bullshit and some singles. Pavel was the one who really nailed the moderate-to-high intensity, high frequency, low volume stuff IMHO.
Fatso, Kurtz is definitely the post-contraction-relaxation guy. He dismisses any other method of stretching as of only secondary value.
Pavelizer - definitely crap, but I mentioned it as an example of Pavel's knowledge of detail: contract the hamstrings - abs get activated better. Another example that blew a few of my friends away is KB press: get someone to do 16 kg OA press standing, then ask them to do the same from a deep squat. Big difference in the effort required.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Ryan » Mon Nov 12, 2018 1:42 pm

Sangoma wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:46 am

Pavelizer - definitely crap, but I mentioned it as an example of Pavel's knowledge of detail: contract the hamstrings - abs get activated better.
Its the adductors, not the hamstrings.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Mickey O'neil » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:05 pm

I really enjoyed PTP. Hmmm...

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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Fat Cat » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:05 pm

If PTTP has an issue, IMHO, it's just that nobody really wants to do the side press. He should have stuck with the standing press or the floor press, or just go with the bench as it's what most guys want. Other than that, it's a superb program: deadlifts, presses, curls, done frequently at high intensity and low volume will make anyone stronger and more chiseled.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Sangoma » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:31 pm

Ryan wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 1:42 pm
Sangoma wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:46 am

Pavelizer - definitely crap, but I mentioned it as an example of Pavel's knowledge of detail: contract the hamstrings - abs get activated better.
Its the adductors, not the hamstrings.
Not that it matters, but it's hamstrings. And glutes.

The Hardest Sit-up
According to Dr. Janda (and Pavel), the crunch does not isolate the abs. In fact, Janda says it’s impossible to completely eliminate hip flexor recruitment during the crunch. The crunch supposedly takes the hip flexors out of the movement by eliminating the top portion of the sit-up; the lower back stays down on the floor, while you curl up, pulling the rib cage towards the hips using the abs alone. That’s only partially true, says Dr. Janda, because of a neurological phenomenon known as irradiation, which simply specifies that tension naturally spreads from a contracting muscle to its neighbors. In the case of the crunch, the hip flexors are necessarily activated (irradiated) to some degree, taking some of the stress off the abdominal muscles.

Janda solves the problem by calling on the principle of reciprocal inhibition, which says that the nervous system, as a matter of efficiency, relaxes the muscles opposite the ones contracting. "The alternative would be similar to stepping on the gas and the brake simultaneously," says Pavel.

The Janda sit-up ingeniously inactivates the hip flexors by contracting the hamstrings and glutes. Dr. Janda accomplished this by placing his hands under his patient’s calves as they assumed the standard bent-knee sit-up position. He then asked the patient to pull against his hands as they attempted to sit-up. Presto, the hip flexors are inhibited by the contraction of the opposing knee-flexor hamstrings and the hip-extensor glutes. The result, according to Dr. Janda, is true isolation of the abdominal muscles.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by Ryan » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:36 pm

Sangoma wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:31 pm
Ryan wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 1:42 pm
Sangoma wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:46 am

Pavelizer - definitely crap, but I mentioned it as an example of Pavel's knowledge of detail: contract the hamstrings - abs get activated better.
Its the adductors, not the hamstrings.
Not that it matters, but it's hamstrings. And glutes.

Actually we're both correct. I didn't realize you were talking about reciprocal inhibition of the hip flexors.

I'm talking about contraction of the adductors, which amplifies contraction of the abdominals. He talks about this in his books.
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Re: Ideas for "20 Years of Pavel Tsatsouline" series

Post by JimZipCode » Thu Nov 22, 2018 1:19 am

Fat Cat wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:05 pm
If PTTP has an issue, IMHO, it's just that nobody really wants to do the side press. He should have stuck with the standing press or the floor press, or just go with the bench as it's what most guys want. Other than that, it's a superb program
Just replace the side press with a one-arm DB press, or a KB. Same-same.

  1. Deadlift
  2. One-arm press
  3. Pull-up
  4. Profit!
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