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If you’ve only got 30 minutes on the clock to squeeze in a workout, make it this kettlebell circuit. As well as targeting every major muscle group, it also engages multiple components of fitness.
In addition to providing a whole-body workout, this 30 minute kettlebell circuit can promote a number of desirable health and fitness benefits. For example, dynamic exercises such as snatches and swings forge what Michael Boyle calls functional fitness – defined as the ability to handle your body weight in all planes of movement.
Moreover, the combination of functional movements and cardio exercise can together help burn fat and improve body composition. So, while you’re improving your fitness, you’ll also be strengthening your heart while losing weight.
Assuming you’re sold, skip straight to the kettlebell circuit. If not, read on for some more benefits.
Related: You need a Competition Kettlebell to do this circuit
30 minute kettlebell circuit fitness benefits
We’ve just seen that the kettlebell circuit below possesses the capacity to facilitate the development of a diverse range of fitness benefits. But the question that needs to be answered is how does it deliver those outcomes.
The first factor has to do with the training method selected. Circuits are one of the most effective ways to promote complete fitness conditioning. In his book, Physical Fitness & Athletic Performance, Watson observes that as well as being ‘extremely adaptable,’ circuit training is a way of developing cardio and strength while decreasing body fat.
But the benefits of circuit training do not stop there. The authors of the book The Complete Guide to Circuit Training maintain that circuit training is a mode of improving not just physical fitness but also social and emotional fitness.
The second factor has to do with the exercises that comprise the circuit. According to Pavel Tsatsouline, author of The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, compound movements such as the swing, snatch, and goblet squat deliver ‘strength, explosiveness, flexibility, endurance and fat loss.’ Furthermore, these dynamic, multi-plane exercises have been shown to reduce injury risk by strengthening connective tissues – ligaments and tendons – and developing proprioception.
On their own, either one of these factors confers a coveted range of benefits. But when combined, they pack a potent fitness-promoting punch.
Related: Here's even more Benefits of Kettlebell Training
How to do this 30 minute kettlebell circuit
First things first, you’ve got to warm up. Warming up, remember, reduces injury risk, improves training performance, and gees up exercise motivation. A quick tip. On those days that you really can’t be bothered to train, just tell yourself that all you’re going to do today is the warm-up. After the warm-up, if you’re still not feeling the love, you can call it quits and hit the shower. I bet you won’t.
Once you’ve completed the progressive intensity warm-up, you’re ready to start the circuit. To appeal to a wider audience, and broaden the scope of fitness benefits on offer, there are three training options available.
Billed as the ‘fat loss’ circuit, option one has been crafted to maximise the number of calories burned in 30 minutes. This accounts for why it features cardio as well as big, calorie-gobbling compound exercises. As you would expect, the training volume is high and the output constant.
Related: Want to know How to Start Kettlebell Training?
Option two is suitable for those who want to enhance whole-body muscle endurance. The kettlebell stations are interspersed with bodyweight exercises. And while the work rate is not as high as the fat loss circuit, you should still aim for a methodical output.
Function strength is the focus of our third and final circuit. It’s comprised of the kettlebell equivalent of powerlifting movements – sumo squats, cleans, and the long cycle. To get the most out of this circuit, it is advisable to select a heavy kettlebell. Better still, use two bells.
Circuit key points
Get in the groove by completing the 0-minute progressive intensity warm-up.
Select the circuit that aligns closest with your fitness goals and training aspirations. A quick recap:
Option 1: Fat loss, improved body composition and cardio fitness.
Option 2: Muscle endurance and muscle tonality.
Option 3: Functional strength and power.
The process for each option remains the same. Spend one minute on each of the ten stations. Repeat three times through.
warming up activities
Begin with 2 mins of mobility movements (ankle/shoulder rotations and knee bends) → 500 metres rowing (or 2 mins of a cardio exercise of your choice) → 5 kettlebell swings → 250 metres rowing → 10 kettlebell swings → 250 metres rowing → 15 kettlebell swings → 250 metres rowing → 20 kettlebell swings → 250 metres rowing → Start the circuit!
30 minute kettlebell circuit hints and tips
Due to the intended training outcomes of circuits one and three, it’s best to leave them as timed stations. However, if you’re in the mood for a more intense workout, you could apply the HIT protocol to circuit two. Remove the timings and replace them with a rep range – say, 10 reps per station. Your new objective would be to complete as many cycles of the exercises as possible in 30 minutes.
Make the circuit an AMRAP
How might you utilise the AMRAP protocol? Instead of spending one minute on each exercise, expand it to three. This will provide you with enough time to find your rhythm and rack up those reps. Remember, though, the exercise will be visited once throughout the 30 minutes. The objective now is to amass as many reps as possible before the buzzer sounds.
Make the circuit an EMOM
How might you utilise the EMOM protocol? First, set yourself a rep target on all the exercises. Be careful here. If you’re too ambitious, you won’t leave yourself with enough time to recover before progressing to the next exercise. But, conversely, if you’re not ambitious enough the workout will be too easy, and you’ll be left unchallenged. (Welcome to the Goldilocks dilemma. I leave it to you to resolve.)
Once you’ve determined your rep targets, set a repeat 60-second countdown timer, then progress through the list of exercises. When the reps have been polished off, the remaining time within the minute is taken as rest.
Resource: Learn How to Program Kettlebell Training
Final tip. Don’t forget that you can change any exercise in the plan. If you identify yourself as a beginner, you may not yet feel confident enough to have a go at challenging exercises like the snatch, clean, and long cycle. That’s not a problem. Just swap them out for a comparable replacement that you are confident at performing. The same goes if you feel that a different exercise to the ones selected will better serve your training goal(s).
Related: Need some Kettlebell Exercises ideas?
Enjoyed this circuit?
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About Adam Priest –
A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or email@example.com.