Pavel Tsatsouline Story

Pavel Tsatsouline’s father is a fanatic of self-improvement. It is mainly due to his father that Pavel began to have interest in martial arts and physical conditioning.  Naturally, Pavel’s early training is military style physical training: pull-ups, one-legged squats and running. It is only later in his teens, he began to start getting into kettlebells.

When Pavel first came to America, he opened his first gym inside an abandoned bank vault – ‘courage corner’ as Pavel called it. For him it was a perfect place. The vault is almost sound-proof; you can drop any weights without anyone hearing. He started with basic equipments such as barbells, pull-up stand and power rack. Just to add ‘kicks, Pavel displayed a book titled The History of Torture on his desk

Pavel is a very resourceful person, he believe that you should not limit yourself. When he first got to America, he trained on the children’s playground. For weight training, he lifted whatever objects he can get his hands on. He made makeshift rings out of nylon webbings tied them to the doorway of a storage locker; though later it proved to be a bit too smart for himself as the nooses tightened around his wrists – leaving him stuck in the doorway.

He used to do dead-lifts and heavy ab work with Bullet-Proof Abs in his bank vault – followed by a kettlebell workout. Nowadays, his training is a mixture of kettlebells, dead-lifts, pull-ups, pistols, heavy abs.

Pavel method is very diverse – everything from yoga techniques to old school power lifting. He mastered the theory and practice of weight training. He gain knowledge from everywhere he can find them –  from Russian textbook,  neuroscience journal, pre World War II Strength & Health, and even his website’s forum.

It’s fair to say that Pavel is well-versed in the subject of strength training and human body. Pavel understand the different dynamics between training a civilians and a soldier. He explained that an athlete has the luxury to gain strength by having large muscles, but that’s not the case for a soldier. In wartime muscle rapidly melts away. Most soldiers suffer from malnutrition, sleep deprivation, and stress. A soldier must gain strength by retraining his nervous system to contract his, even shrunken, muscles harder.

If you have any doubts on Pavel Tsatsouline credential, get this: Pavel is subject matter expert to the U.S. Marine Corps, the National Nuclear Security Administration/U.S. Department of Energy, and the US Secret Service.

Pavel Tsatsouline on Kettlebells

Pavel Tsatsouline claims that with a kettlebell, you can do pretty much the same thing as you can with a dumbbell, only better.

Why better?

According to Pavel, it is all about the resistance. For instance, if you perform curls with a dumbbell, as you are nearing the top, the resistance will become lesser. On the other hand, if you were to do it with the kettlebell, the center of gravity is displaced, forcing you to work harder to get to the top. This characteristic of the kettlebell also will develop your wrist flexor, which in turns giving you a bigger biceps.

Many sportsmen are beginning to give serious consideration to the kettlebell workout. In the Arnold Sports Festival, Pavel’s booth proved to be popular with the arm wrestler among orthers, with Wolrd Champion Mary McConnaughy giving the kettlebell two thumbs up.

For the chest muscles, kettlebell flyes are absolutely brilliant, giving rsistance right until the top of the movement. For shoulder exercise, try doing the Scott or the Arnold press with kettlebells and you can feel the difference immediately. Training with kettlebells also will teach you to perform a proper squats. Overhead squats are one of the best ways to improving your squatting technique. Most people, however, just not interested because they can’t even get started as they can’t hold the bar far enough. Trying doing it with a kettlebell and you will feel the center of gravity is displaced, helping you with your shoulder flexibility. Amy Weisberger, the World Power Lifting Campion, tried them at Pavel’s booth and immediately gave her approval.

Kettelbells are also a great for regular people to perform the alternative exercise to the Olympic lifts snatch and clean and jerk. These ballistic exercises, even with a relatively light weight, are a great way to develop absolute strength.

Another thing that Pavel like the most of the kettlebell, is that there just look nasty and evil.

To check out on kettlebells and instructional books and DVDs, head on down to

Pavel Tsatsouline Biography


23 August, 1969, in Minsk, Belarus (formerly Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)

Wife, Julie.


  • Former physical trainer and drill instructor with the Spetsnaz, the Soviet special forces.
  • Now a civilian trainer and consultant with the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, nuclear-security units of the U.S. Department of Energy and elite units of U.S. Marshals and SWAT teams.

Physical Culture Institute, Minsk – Degree in Physiology and Coaching


  • Relax Into Stretch
  • Instant Flexibility Through Mastering Muscle Tension
  • The Russian Kettleball Challenge
  • Xtreme Fitness for Hard-Living Comrades

Contributing editor with Muscle Media Magazine.

Kettlebell – The Russian Way

Pavel Tsatsouline once said that a Russian day well spent is to have Vodka at night, pickle juice in the morning (the best thing for a hangover); and in between this hangover and the next, throw some kettlebells around.

Kettlebells have been around for over 300 years, a staple for Russian strongmen.  On the 1986 publication of the Soviet Weightlifting Yearbook, it is stated that it is hard to find any sport that have deeper roots than the girevoy (kettlebell) sport.

Throughout history, Russia has been consistently producing among the strongest people in the world. Some say kettlebells is the one of the main reason for it, they might be right. Kettlebell is immensely popular in Russia that in Tsarist, a weightlifter or strongman is referred to as a giverik (kettlebell man).

Kettlebells look primitive to most of us, deceptively simple. Yet it is extremely effective and versatile. The Soviet scientist now have confirmed what many Russians had already know – lifting kettlebells is one of the best method for all around physical development and fitness.

Now a new wave of kettlebell movement is hitting the United States hard, and the person responsible for this is none other than Pavel Tsatsouline.

Once voted Rolling Stones Hot Trainer of the Year, Pavel Tsatsouline is a former Soviet Special Forces instructor and nationally ranked in the Russian ethnic sport of kettlebell lifting.

Many of his followers shares identical stories. A lot of them was into bodybuilding or power lifting for years, but they all lacked the result that they craved for. It is through Pavel’s teaching that changes all that – same effort but different method, it makes all the difference in the world. Once you are hooked, there’s no turning back.

So what is so special about the kettlebells? What makes it so effective at building strength and burning fat? A simple answer would be the kettlebell’s handle. The handle on a kettlebell allows you to perform lifts from many angels. These variation target different muscles group, making it a complete workout. Some of the lifts are virtually impossible to do without using the kettlebell.

Try lifting a kettlebell and you will quickly learn that in order for you to perform the lifts, you need to manipulate your body as a single unit. Human body is suppose to function as a unit, that is how nature intended it to be. A lot of the workout requires you to start the motion by moving from the toes up to the leg and torso. This synchronized movement of muscles working in tandem with each other is highly effective. A 30 minutes workout with kettlebells can be as effective a 2 hours of a normal workout.

If you are serious about strength and conditioning, incorporating kettlebell workout routines into your physical training will do wonders. To learn more about kettlebell training and workouts, check out the books & DVDs from Pavel himself.

Enter The Kettlebell! Strength Secret of The Soviet Supermen

Kettlebell Training… The Closest Thing You Can Get to Fighting, Without Throwing A Punch Federal Counterterrorist Operator The kettlebell.

AK-47 of physical training hardware. Hunk of iron on a handle. Simple, sinister, brutal and ferociously effective for developing explosive strength, dramatic power and never-say-die conditioning. The man s man s choice for the toughest, most demanding, highest-yield exercise tool on the planet. Guaranteed to forge a rugged, resilient, densely-muscled frame built to withstand the hardest beating and dish it right back out, 24/7.

Once the prized and jealously-guarded training secret of elite Russian athletes, old-school strongmen and the military, the kettlebell has invaded the West. And taken no prisoners thanks to former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor and strength author, Pavel Tsatsouline s 2001 publication of The Russian Kettlebell Challenge and his manufacture of the first traditional Russian kettlebell in modern America. American hardmen of all stripes were quick to recognize what their Russian counterparts had long known nothing, nothing beats the kettlebell, when you re looking for a single tool to dramatically impact your strength and conditioning.

A storm of success has swept the American S & C landscape, as kettlebell Comrades have busted through to new PRs, broken records, thrashed their opponents and elevated their game to new heights of excellence. With Enter the Kettlebell! Pavel delivers a significant upgrade to his original landmark work, The Russian Kettlebell Challenge. Drawing on five years of developing and leading the world s first and premiere kettlebell instructor certification program, and after spending five years of additional research into what really works for dramatic results with the kettlebell we have Enter the Kettlebell!

Pavel Tsatsouline Ladder Chinups

Pavel Tsatsouline’s “Grease the Groove” technique is very effective in maximizing the number of chin-ups. The trick is doing multiple sets of chin-ups spread out over the duration of the day, several days a week. This theory is called synaptic facilitation – doing frequent, non-exhaustive sets of a specific exercise to strengthen the nerve pathway. It is said that Bulgarian and Russian Olympic weightlifters have been using this method that makes them so successful in the world stage over the years.

For regular guy like us, the problem is scheduling time to do many sets of an exercise throughout the day. While juggling work life and family obligation, it just seems unpractical for most of us.

There is an article by Pavel in the December 2000 issue of Milo magazine. The article explains “how to grease the groove on a tight schedule”.  Pavel reveals that it is a method used by the Soviet Special Forces to meet the Spetsnaz requirement – 18 dead hang pull-ups wearing a 10-kilo (22 pound) bullet-proof vest.

Here is the technique in details:

  1. Find a partner to do the Chin-Ups Ladders.
  2. You do a pull-up, he do one. he do two and he matches  you.
  3. Do it until one of you unable to keep up with the other.
  4. Start over.

What if you are training alone? Simply time your breaks by estimating how long it would take a partner to match your reps. Pavel especially recommend the small-interval so that “your odds of burning out are lower”.

If you want to maximize the volume without over straining yourself (which is always a good idea), learn to limit yourself. Stop each ladder one or two reps short of your limit. Say if you can work up to 10 reps, stop at 8. This approach encourages you to learn to listen to your body, know its limit. In other words, the workout is suited to be in tune with your body.  As Pavel says, “The ladder, on the other hand, enables the strong man to grease the groove of his chosen feat with extraordinary volume”.

So go ahead give it a try today!

Pavel Tsatsouline the Evil Russian

People who have worked with him call him the Evil Russian. In the 80’s, he was a physical trainer for the elite Soviet special-forces units, Spetsnaz – preparing Soviet soldiers to fight in Afghanistan.

Pavel Tsatsouline is now an American. He owns Advanced Fitness Solutions Inc, specializing in fitness and conditioning, in Santa Monica, California. This Evil Russian commands the respect from his peers and also his followers. From martial practitioners to soldiers, they avidly seek his advice and follow his suggestions.

Lean and wiry, 6 feet 2 inches tall and a lean 187 pounds. Born to a ballerina, his power is well complemented with grace. You couldn’t find a better advertisement or testament to the fitness program he advocates.

Now Pavel Tsatsouline helps train troops in the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, working with the Marines at the Quantico [Va.] U.S. Marine Corps Reservation.

Pavel Tsatsouline’s approach comes entirely from his own experience training in the Soviet Union. He is the author of several fitness books and videos. He often emphasizes that “tension and power are the same thing”. He explained that there are two ways of gaining strength. Simply build yourself a bigger muscle, or learn to contract the muscle that you already have even harder.

Pavel would use this example to demonstrate what he means. Find a partner and squeeze his hands as hard as you can. Then flex you abs muscle as hard as possible (like bracing for a punch) – then contract them as hard as you can. Your friend is going to notice that you’re stronger.

Training with the Marines, he focused on exercise that employs the same principle. In a matter of minutes, the trainees add about a palm’s length to their toe-touch exercise. It is all about the muscle tension, he said. Learn how to increase muscle tension and you will increase the muscle flexibility.

In short, the training provides is greater strength and ability in a relatively short time. They are designed to produce rapid gains. Marines do not have the luxury of spending 10 and 20 years achieving mastery. They have to prepare a troop of fighters in a matter of months and need to get them in top condition for the battles coming ahead. The techniques that Pavel teaches are especially tailored to deliver the instant gain that they need.

Another technique from Pavel is to limit the repetition during workout. Naturally the body will be under stress as you train hard. But training hard does not mean training to muscle failure. Instead of performing sets of 10 repetitions until you can’t do another, do three repetitions with a weight you could have lifted for 5 repetitions. This technique is used by top power-lifter and strength athlete, and has been proved to be a lot more effective and safer.

One thing that can’t be left out when one is mentioning Pavel Tsasouline is the Russian Kettlebells – the cannonballs with handles. They have been around for decades, used by the Soviet Union since the 60’s. Pavel teaches the old Russian art to the Marines, SWAT teams and the nuclear-security teams of the Department of Efiergy. Kettleballs help you acquire body skills for doing a lot of things. As Pavel would say, train with kettleballs, improve whatever physical abilities you need.

To learn more, check out Pavel Tsatsouline’s books and DVDs, or even sign-up for one of his Seminars.

Pavel Tsatsouline Diet

Pavel Tsatsouline doesn’t consider himself as a diet expert

Generally, Pavel is very flexible on his diet.

Basically, he tries eat green vegetables.
To recover from trainings, Pavel would get high content of protein for his meal.

Pavel Tsatsouline on High Intensity Training

Pavel Tsatsouline is a former physical training instructor for Spetsnaz, the Soviet Special Forces, and he is hugely popular with the martial arts community all over the world. Pavel is the main reason for the kettlebell workout phenomenon that is hitting us hard right now.

A lot of Pavel’s ideology leans more towards functionality, but it must be noted that many of his may be applied to bodybuilding and powerlifting as well.

Pavel has an interesting observation on American in the gym. He is especially against the “high intensity training”. To Pavel, there is one common denominator of the training of the strongest people in the world like weightlifters or powerlifters. They keep the repetition low and lift heavier weight. They don’t train to failure.

While it is true that intensity important for weight training, the mainstream definition of intensity on the other hand is the “percentage of momentary ability” — is meaningless. The only way you can measure intensity is through the percentage of your one rep max.

Studies have shown that there is only one variable that matters – the absolute value of tension. What matters is the absolute tension, the force that muscle exerts and the time the muscle spends under tension. Relative tension, which pretty much means “how hard it feels”, is not significant. Failure, fatigue and exhaustion do not factor in. In fact, when you train to failure, because of the Hebbian mechanisms, you will fail you nervous system and train yourself to fail.

Low repetition is also much safer, even if you’re using a heavy weight. The tension of the supporting muscles will protect you.

It is unfathomable to some how muscles can be built with low repetition training. Pavel however, beg to differ. He says that if you get a pump with heavy weights you shall grow. Volume will deplete the muscle, but its the tension that increases the amino acid uptake. A powerlifter lift really heavy and rest for five minutes in between sets, that’s tension with less fatigue. A high intensity training requires you to a hundred reps, so what you have is the opposite. You have the fatigue and the pump, but not the tension.

Instead, Pavel suggests that you use a heavy weight and do reps of five (not taken to failure) with only one or two minutes of rest for up to twenty sets, you’re going to be able to use a heavy weight and get a great pump. Many bodybuilders who have tried this approach have reported impressive gains.

In Pavel’s book and video, “Power to the People!”, he talks a lot about the deadlift and the bent press, or side press. To Pavel, the deadlift is the working class answer to the squat.

Check out Pavel Tsatsouline books and DVD here.

Pavel Tsatsouline on Ab Workouts

In the book Bullet Proof Abs, Pavel Tsatsouline point out all of the wrongs when it comes to abdominal trainings. Pavel says that to use high reps to get cut up. Getting cut up only serves as a function of resting tension in the muscle and low body fat.  Many people think that by doing high-rep programs they are going to cut up. Instead, they started to gain more mass, especially glycogen and water.

With high reps you feel sore and pain just by sneezing or laughing. Pavel suggests going heavy instead. Keep your sets low and you rest a lot. The trick is to find a challenging exercise. That is where the problem is. There is this belief that abs can be isolated from the hip flexors by eliminating the movement in the hip joint, like they do in the crunch. Pavel is strongly against that notion. Hip flexors can only be inhibited neurologically.

One of the best ab training is that Pavel recommends is the Janda Sit-Up. Vladimir Janda, an Eastern European Professor, has developed a special sit-up where your training partner places his hands under your calves and pulls back. You attempt to sit-up while steadily pushing against his hands. This movement activates the hip extensor muscles. Reciprocal inhibition takes place and the hip flexors relax. Back stress is eliminated and the abdominal muscles are isolated.

All in all, to really train your abs well, do the power breathing and the Janda Sit-Ups (both are thoroughly explained and demonstrated in Pavel’s book Bullt Proof Abs). That’s the cornerstone of all ab training.

One important fact about the Janda Sit-Ups is that you need to have a partner to hold your calf. Pavel has developed a device that is called the Ab Pavelizer to simulate the Janda sit-up without the need of having a partner. According to Pavel, the Ab Pavelizer is the only ab training device that’s catching on in the powerlifting circles (seeing a powerlifter using an ab devise is extremely rare). They like it because it is very hard. Unlike regular sit-up, Janda Sit-Up using the Ab Pavelizer teaches you to contract all your midsection muscles the way you should for a deadlift, squat or overhead press.

If you would like find out more, go to to get more info on the Bullet Proof Abs and the Ab Pavelizer.