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Kettlebell Program

author
James Lee
• Wednesday, 21 October, 2020
• 13 min read

If you don't associate kettle bell exercises with building muscle, well, that's understandable. But make no mistake: Kettle bells can be a huge ally in the quest for mass.

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Contents

As I explained in my article Grind to Grow: Try Your Squats and Presses with Kettle bells,” part of the reason the kettle bell triggers newfound strength and muscle growth is because of its offset shape. It forces the body to stabilize its joints differently from barbells, dumbbells, and other traditional bodybuilding equipment.

This forces your muscles to contract differently than normal, and increases the demand placed upon them. Look no further than the extra depth that every lifter instantly discovers when they front squat with a pair of kettle bells in the rack position, versus a barbell across the back.

With this new and increased range of motion comes increased muscular growth in your legs, and strength in your entire torso, from the inside out, including the all-important core musculature. Best of all, the kettle bell lends itself to a simple, but very challenging programming.

This 12-week program requires only two kettle bells and time for three workouts a week. But after one time through it, you'll find yourself more muscular in all the areas that matter: shoulders, upper back, upper chest, arms, legs, and posterior chain.

Mechanical Tension: Lifting heavier weights for lower reps, similar to the way powerlifters train; think multiple sets of 2-5 reps. Muscular Damage: Lifting moderate weights for medium to higher reps, similar to the way bodybuilders train; think multiple sets of 8-20 reps. Metabolic Stress: Doing either high reps or complexes where you don't set the weight down, producing intense burning and the release of metabolites like lactate.

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Swing (single or double kettle bell): Lower body pulling Start the program with a pair of matching kettle bells you can press approximately 4-6 times.

Your goal is to do as many sets of each exercise, with perfect form, as you can in that time. Then, when you're ready, clean the kettle bells back into the rack position and perform a set of front squats.

Your goal is to do as many sets of swings as you can, with perfect form, in that time. To start this phase, determine your rep max (RM) with both the military press and the front squat using your two trusty kettle bells.

Always round down the number of reps if you hit a decimal point in your math. Your goal is to do as many sets of each exercise, with perfect form, as you can in that time.

Clean the kettle bells to the rack position, then perform a set of military presses. Clean the kettle bells back into the rack position, and perform a set of front squats.

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Do an RM test with your pair of kettle bells for the swing. If not, use these weeks to keep practicing with the one-handed swing, trying to build up to 20 reps per hand, each at chest height.

Your goal is to do as many sets of swings as you can, with perfect form, in that time. Once again, find your RM for the military press and the front squat.

There's one big difference in these workouts: You'll clean the kettle bells to the rack position and perform a set of military presses, followed immediately by one set of front squats. When your rest time is over, clean the kettle bells back into the rack position and repeat.

This slight variation may not seem like much, but it increases the time under tension you experience and triggers metabolic stress. *Your RM will drop due to fatigue as the sets progress.

By this point, you should be able to comfortably swing a pair of kettle bells. Do an RM test with your pair of kettle bells for the swing.

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If not, keep on practicing with the one-handed swing, working up to 20 reps per hand, each at chest height. The amount of tension running through and across your abs will already be severe, especially combining the military presses and front squats in the same day.

However, if you can't live without ab training, I recommend you do hanging variations, like hanging leg raises, to decompress your spine from all the loading. Since this is a strength and muscle program, you need to eat a lot.

A tried-and-true starting point is to multiply your body weight (in pounds) by 15-20 for total calories. In my book, you can't beat the time-tested 30/40/30 split of protein/carbohydrates/fat when growth is the goal.

If you start putting on fatter than you'd like, cut back. Otherwise, your assignment is simple: Eat, sleep, lift, and grow.

But accomplishing either is also extraordinarily difficult. Likewise, just because Pavel Tsatsouline’s five-week training program requires only two exercises a day using a single kettle bell doesn’t mean you won’t be cursing him every step of the way.

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There’s a lot of work here, but if you stick with it you’ll come out a stronger and leaner man on the other side. Tsatsouline, the author of Kettle bell : Simple & Sinister, is a former Soviet special forces instructor and currently a subject-matter expert to elite U.S. military and law enforcement special ops units.

He cites Russian professor Victor Stoyanov’s research with Russian national sports teams as inspiration for designing the plan you see here. “When the Russians measured wrestlers’ blood right after competition, they discovered the losers were more acidic than the winners,” says Tsatsouline.

“Instead of focusing on training to tolerate acidity better, Stoyanov decided to avoid acidity altogether and developed a methodology for growing mitochondria, aerobic power plants in the muscle cells, in fast-twitch muscle fibers.” This method trains you to minimize the formation of lactic acid and dispose of it easily.

Tsatsouline says you need a high workload (you’ll be lifting six days a week) paired with long rest periods. As for the fact that this plan incorporates only a kettle bell and a pull up bar, Tsatsouline is steadfast in his belief that no training implement can rival the kettle bell.

If barbells and dumbbells make up the majority of your training, you’re about to get a serious shock to your system. Try the following for five weeks, and watch your strength soar.

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(Source: bodyspiritual.com)

Kettle bell Swings Whenever you see swings in this program, you’ll be doing seven reps per minute for the prescribed number of sets. Seven swings will take about 10 seconds; rest for the remainder of the time.

Clean a 6-8RM kettle bell once and press it 5 times with your left. Drop, switch hands, clean with your right, and do your 5 presses.

Without setting the kettle bell down, keep switching hands and counting down the reps: 5-4-3-2-1. Walk around for a couple of minutes, and do the pull ups in the same descending rep ladder of 5-4-3-2-1.

Skill level Duration Days per week Type Kettle bell Goblet Squat: Focus on sitting back with your hips and opening your knees to achieve depth.

Russian Kettle bell Swing: Stand behind the kettle bell with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and slightly turned out. Sit back and grip the handle with both hands.

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Let the kettle bell float momentarily at chest level before smoothly guiding it back for another rep. Single-Arm KB Press Tense your body, crush the handle of the bell, and drive it straight up to a full lockout.

Weighted Pull up Hang a kettle bell or weight plate from a dip belt and get to work. On every day but the final day of the program, your pull up “sets” will be long, descending ladders.

(See workout boxes.) See how many reps you can do for each exercise (except the goblet squat) using the same weight you've been using throughout the plan.

Do any conditioning workout you’ve done in the past such as a CrossFit Won or an uphill run. You’ll be impressed with the results. This kettle bell workout plan will increase your strength and cardiovascular endurance without the typical work to ratio seen in high intensity interval training.

Workout Routines Who say lifting weights doesn’t burn fat? This 4-week program composed entirely of supersets will turn your love hand...

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Build Strength and Power With This Complete Kettle bell Program | STACK I saw this program by Pavel in “Muscle and Fitness” online and it caught my interest.

I hate these magazine web layouts. Anyone wants to decipher this in a more simple form? Yeah, OK, I actually wanted to see the programming, so I copied it into a spreadsheet.

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(Source: workoutexerciseszukishiba.blogspot.com)

Press/Pull supersets are 8 minutes long and I don't know how to summarize their progression. Swings are seven reps per minute for the prescribed number of sets.

Without setting the kettle bell down, keep switching hands and counting down the reps: 5-4-3-2-1. Walk around for a couple of minutes, and do the pull ups in the same descending rep ladder of 5-4-3-2-1.

I love super setting pull ups and presses, it's fun and feels great. Overall the program looks similar to a short term, wavy Top, with slightly reduced press volume and no snatches.

It also looks a good bit quicker than Top, with the longest press days being 32 minutes instead of the hour plus for heavy Top days. This looks like a mix of the new Endurance protocol, the ladders from Top and, EDT type training.

Jeffry, we support table formatting here on the Strongest forum. I've given a sample below, both how it looks and then in a “code” section, what you do to make it happen.

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(Source: kettlebellalexch.blogspot.com)

Without setting the kettle bell down, keep switching hands and counting down the reps: 5-4-3-2-1. Walk around for a couple of minutes, and do the pull ups in the same descending rep ladder of 5-4-3-2-1.

Jeffry, many thanks for plotting it out, makes it easier to see how the progression is supposed to go! The Muscle and Fiction article on my tablet is hard to open without pop ups and redirects.

Gave the press/pull day today, seems pretty tough to get all those presses one after the other. Guess I'll need to build some volume up elsewhere before I give this a proper try.

Day 33, curious as to why they note the swing test as 3xRM, 1XRM...to me that's just 4xRM unless I'm missing something.... Maybe some specific amount of rest was listed, I don't remember, you can check the link.

I will offer an opinion based from Top where I believe Pavel talks about varying rest periods for goals, rest more and you will still get stronger just by a different mechanism. This lets you rest your press while you pull and vice versa, but all the stabilizers and everything else is still going pretty steadily.

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Jeffry I agree with you on the density involved and I've gone for your option C. I was using a 28 kg which I can get 7 good reps on each side out of, I've shifted down to the 24 kg now, and might take a second run at the program after completing it with a bigger weight. I've written it up and saved it as a PDF to make it easier to follow.

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Sources
1 www.cavemantraining.com - https://www.cavemantraining.com/caveman-kettlebells/best-shoes-for-kettlebell-training/
2 shoepractitioner.com - https://shoepractitioner.com/best-shoes-for-kettlebells/
3 sabosports.com - https://sabosports.com/girevoy
4 www.strongfirst.com - https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/shoes-for-kettlebell-training.13622/