Improving Pavel’s Quick and Dead Workout

I was going to wait until I had completed the full 12-weeks of the Quick and Dead workout, but this can’t wait. I see some potential issues with the Q&D and so have a few other commenters. First, I’ll cover some of those issues and then we can brainstorm on ways to improve the workout.

The most concise criticism of the plan came from Zap.

As much as I love Pavel, this is not a complete routine/program for most anyone. KB swings are not a pull of any kind. A swing is a hinge. There is no true upper body pull action at all (rowing or pull-up motion) and very minimal squat/lunge/quad stress.

Zap is absolutely correct. At the expense of being super minimal and using just 2 exercises, the back and especially the legs don’t get worked out nearly enough.

Greg agreed:

I also concluded that swings + pushups weren’t enough.

Once push-ups become too easy, Pavel says to use bands to make the movement harder. My gym has one 30-pound band. It is awkward as hell. I tried using it a few times, but I could get solid form reps using it. Maybe I need a better band or maybe the push-up isn’t ideal? A weighted vest might work better, but I don’t want to buy one right now.

The second issue I had was between all the push-ups and KB swings, my shoulders were taking a beating, while the rest of my body felt under-utilized.

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard

I liked the 10 sets of 10 reps inside 3-minutes, but it wasn’t long before I started eyeing other exercises.

Pavel doesn’t like machines, but I do. So, in one workout I cycled between 2 Hammer Strength machines – a chest press and the Iso-Lateral Low Row. The problem with going back and forth with machines in a shared gym is that it can be a challenge to hold two pieces of equipment for 30 minutes. I don’t ever want to be the jerk in the free weight room. Unlike Millenials, I had great role models in the 1990s in Tampa’s hardcore gyms.

Fixing the Q&D might be as easy as picking 2-3 exercises that can be done explosively in a safe manner and cycling between them. We don’t need to do the same workout each time. Focus on the explosive movement and getting sufficient rest between sets instead.

When I lift HIT style, I am pure intuition. I rarely have a plan when I arrive at the gym and I never write anything down. I look around the gym, see what is available that is of interest to me, and then lift HIT style, before moving onto the next exercises. Q&D 2.0 will require a bit more planning if you are in a shared gym but should be doable.

I can do explosive goblet squats or push-ups next to any machine.

If you have any tips or suggestions for making Pavel’s Quick and Dead better, leave a comment below.

2 Comments

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  1. This is an interesting discussion. I haven’t tried Q&D as yet, as I am certainly not fit enough or ready for it. My comment, though, for what it’s worth is about Swings as “pulls”. I know they are a “hinge”, but the “hinge” movement occurs in movements that we might recognise as “pulls” – the move from the “power position” to full extension in the clean or snatch, for example. In my experience, a good swing feels like a fast “pull”

    I haven’t done Swings for quite a while, but when I did them regularly, esp. if I pushed towards an all out max-rep set, they really hit my lower back and, to a lesser extent, my legs. (This took the form of intense, but short-lived pain, probably due to local muscular fatigue.)

    I rarely felt any strain/pain/soreness, etc. in my shoulders or upper body – that is, only if I was doing them incorrectly.

    In that respect, the nearest exercise in terms of feel, for me, is the deadlift – which is about the purest pull you can get in terms of heavy loading. (Normally, I would not expect to feel any lower back “pain” at all in deadlifting, but have done so when I have “gone mad” and tried to do high volume sets without preparing properly for them – again, the “pain” was fatigue-based and not injury-related.)

    I have never felt any pain or strain in my shoulders or upper body doing deadlifts. I ought to admit that I have Cerebral Palsy and my mechanics may not be “correct” in either the Swing or the Deadlift. For me, the swing was not an easy movement to learn or to do, so I found swings, even with a light bell, more challenging, initially, than heavy deadlifts.
    This is only an attempt to comment on my experience and should not be taken as challenging or contradicting anything anyone else has said.
    (BTW can I mention I added a comment to an old discussion on Kenneth Jay’s “Cardio Code” and aerobic/cardio exercise, if that is still relevant?)

  2. @Karoly – I ended up not liking for the swings myself. When combined with all the push-ups from the Q&D my shoulders were taking a beating.

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