This 15 minute full body kettlebell workout has been designed around the Girevoy Sports competition. In traditional kettlebell lifting the athlete – or girevik – aims to perform as many repetitions as physically possible in 10-minutes.
This form of competitive kettlebell lifting has a long history in Russia dating back to the early 19th Century. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that kettlebell lifting was developed into an organised sport.
Classic full body kettlebell workout
Though the kettlebell is a bewilderingly diverse training tool – boasting more than 50 different exercises – Girevoy Sports competitions consists of only three main lifts or events. These include the snatch, jerk and long cycle.
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Because the jerk and long cycle require two bells, this full body kettlebell workout has been modified to accommodate trainers with one KB. But, if you have access to two, and you can competently perform the jerk and long cycle, then by all means go traditional.
However, if you only have one kettlebell, don’t think that you’re going to get off easy. Yes it is certainly harder with two KBs (because both arms are constantly engaged throughout the lift), but this workout is still a tough physical challenge with one bell.
Full body kettlebell workout AMRAP
Classic kettlebell competitions are comprised of the three events which are organised around the snatch, jerk and long cycle. The lifter has 10-minutes to perform as many reps as possible. However, there are some rules.
Once the 10-minute countdown timer begins competitors cannot put their kettlebells down. If they do, if they are forced to down their bell because of fatigue or a poorly executed lift, they are disqualified from the event.
For repetition to be counted by the judges, lifters must complete the full range of movement. Any half reps or incomplete exercises and the rep will not feature on the scoreboard.
During the 10-minute snatch, the competitor is entitled to one hand change. Typically, the girevik will start on their dominant arm and go for as long as possible before changing.
However, over time this leads to strength imbalances and breeds excessive one-sided dominance. To avoid this the snatch and long cycle exercises will be completed in alternate arm cycles – that is, the hand will change on completion of each rep.
How to approach this full body kettlebell workout
Split into three individual 5-minute AMRAPs, your objective is to amass as many repetitions as possible on each of the featured exercises.
Unlike the strict Girevoy Sports competitions, the rules outlined above are not to be enforced. So, if you need to rest your kettlebell during the 5-minute AMRAP, do so. The moment you feel that you are ready to accrue more reps pick it up and start lifting.
Remember, your aim here is to amass as many ‘quality’ reps as possible in the allotted time. This is the only rule that you should observe. While you are trying to maintain a high output, it is imperative that you observe correct lifting techniques. As the saying goes, quality over quantity.
Check out the 5 best AMRAP and EMOM training timers
15 minute full body kettlebell workout
10-minute warm-up (optional): 2000 metre row at a steady pace. Intersperse the distance with 10-reps of each kettlebell exercise.
#1: 5-minute AMRAP Kettlebell Snatch
Muscles worked: primarily those of the back, core and forearm. But, throughout a snatch AMRAP, the heart works especially hard to power the movement.
Standing over – NOT behind! – the kettlebell, adopt a shoulder-width stance.
Grasp the bell and, ensuring your weight is on your heels, heave it back between your legs. Your arm should pull into your groin.
In one smooth movement drive the bell forward from the hips. You are using the strong muscles of the glutes, lower back and transverse abdominus to get the bell moving.
As the bell sails serenely up, assist and guide its flight with your arm. The kettlebell should come to a gentle halt directly above your head.
Remember: the kettlebell should swivel clockwise around your wrist into position. It must not ‘flop’ over the hand. You’ll know if you’re applying incorrect technique because after the AMRAP you’ll be left with a nasty bruise on the back of your wrist.
#2: 5-minute AMRAP Kettlebell Jerk
Muscles worked: primarily those of the shoulder but also the core, quads and calves.
To get the kettlebell into position you’ll need to execute a clean: hoist the bell into the nook of the elbow. The folded arm that is cradling the KB should be resting on the torso.
Once in position and before initiating the movement, organise your feet so that you make a solid base or platform from which to lift. A good solid base will make all the difference when jerking.
Firstly, take a shallow dip at the knee and then fire through the quads. To initiate the movement, we use the strong muscle of the quads and glutes – not the shoulder!
As the kettlebell begins its vertical trajectory, we help it on its way with a push of the arm.
When the kettlebell has cleared the head dip a second time at the knee. Here you are effectively dropping underneath the bell locking the arm out as you do so. At this point the kettlebell should be stationary, your arm straight and knees partially bent.
Now stand up.
Congratulations! You have completed the first phase of the jerk. Now simply return the bell back to the start position and repeat.
Remember: as the bell falls into the fold of your arm you should dip at the knee so as to expel the shock of the impact; it also helps to exhale sharply. If you are completing the jerk with a single kettlebell, complete 5 reps on one arm before changing. Of course, if you change arms after every rep, you’ll be performing alternate arm clean and press.
#3: 5-minute AMRAP Kettlebell Long Cycle (or alternate arm clean and press cycle)
Muscles worked: primarily those of the quadriceps, glutes, lower back, upper back and shoulders. Plus, every muscle in between. Seriously, the long cycle – or alternate arm clean to press cycle – is a beast of an exercise.
Standing over the kettlebell with a shoulder-width stance (or slightly wider), grasp the kettlebell and, in one fluid movement, swing it back and execute a clean. In this position the kettlebell should be resting in the nook of your arm.
Taking a shallow dip at the knee use your quadriceps to get a bit of momentum in the kettlebell. Assist the upward flight of the kettlebell with shoulder and arm strength.
From here return the kettlebell back to the original start position but ensure to change hands between the legs so that you can perform the next repetition on the opposite side.
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Circuit training is one of the best forms of physical exercise for maintaining and increasing overall-fitness. A well designed circuit will provide a great cardiovascular workout, strengthening the heart and lungs in the process, whilst also improving muscle endurance and developing functional strength. This unique combination, of fat burning and muscle building, which singular exercises, such as running, cycling, swimming or weights cannot give, will help to sculpt a lean defined physique.
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Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.