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4 Simple Kettlebell Workouts

Get into the swing of things by choosing one of these four straightforward kettlebell workouts from kettlebell king Mike Mahler. 

Weight matters: If you have a bit of training experience, you should start by using a 16kg kettlebell. That can feel heavy but most kettlebell moves involve recruiting big muscle groups, so that load shouldn’t feel excessive if you perform the move with perfect form. As you progress you can start to use a 20kg or even a 24kg bell, but only if your technique doesn’t suffer. Kettlebell moves should always be performed with a fluid action.

1. Quickfire kettlebell circuit

Aim Burn fat Time 12min

Do five reps (five each side for one-arm moves) of the following kettlebell exercises without resting to complete one circuit. Rest for one minute before completing another circuit. Do five circuits in total.

  1. Two-arm swing
  2. Clean
  3. Overhead press
  4. Snatch

Progression You can progress by either reducing the duration of rest between circuits by ten seconds or by adding an extra rep to each exercise.

2. Rep ladder

Aim Strength endurance Time Varies

Pick an exercise and start by doing two reps. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat but add another two reps. Repeat the process until you fail to beat your previous rep count. Simple, effective, brutal. Start with the (admittedly pretty obvious) kettlebell swing and go from there.

Progression Record how many reps you do and try to beat your last score.

3. Snatch challenge

Aim Increased efficiency Time 10min

Do as many snatches as you can in ten minutes. Yup, that’s it. This is a challenge performed in kettlebell sport contests. They sometimes restrict the number of times you can swap hands. In this instance, do it as often as you like.

Progression Aim to beat the number of reps you did last time, or try to change hands less frequently.

4. GVT muscle

Aim Build muscle Time 30min

This workout uses the German Volume Training (GVT) protocol invented by strength coach Charles Poliquin. Pick two exercises and do ten sets of ten reps of each as a superset (do one set of each back to back without resting). Rest for 60-90 seconds between supersets. You should find you fail to complete the sets by the eighth or ninth round. Here’s an example:

1A Swing
1B Overhead press

Progression Once you’re able to complete all ten sets without failing, use a slightly heavier bell.

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