If you’ve been searching for a single session that engages every major muscle group, you’re in the right place. This kettle bell workout does exactly that and more.
Comprised of multi-joint functional movements, the primary focus is maximal activation of the body. Big compound exercises such as sumo deadlifts to high pulls, thrusters, and dead hang snatches will ensure that no one muscle escapes this workout unscathed.
But this workout is not all about strength gains. Concluding the full body training plan there’s a fitness challenge. No kettle bell workout is complete without a Girevoy Sports-style sweat fest.
However, before chalking your hands and picking up a kettlebell, let’s have a look at some fitness benefits you could bag if you decide to have a bash at this workout.
Kettle bell workout forges functional strength
Strength is typically associated with the physical ability to exert force against a resistance (usually quantified as a percentage of body weight). For example, a person that can bench press 100-plus kilograms is said to be strong. As is the lifter that can squat their own body weight or more.
But as John Shepherd reminds us in The Complete Guide To Sports Training, strength comes in different shapes and sizes. And not all strength was created equal. While it might win you some much-coveted kudos to heave your body weight above your head, beyond the gym such feats of strength are seldom required. Rare is the day when we must execute a technically flawless maximal lift.
Functional strength, in contrast, is abundantly useful and can ease the burden of daily tasks and chores. Defined broadly as the ability to exert force against a sub-maximal resistance while simultaneously coordinating the body through a complex movement pattern, the application of functional strength can be seen in many activities.
From carrying the weekly shopping to hoisting the kids out of the car, the development of functional strength can support us in everyday life. This kettle bell workout has been designed to enhance strength in all the major muscle groups.
Related: Have you got what it takes to complete the 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge?
Enhance all round fitness
A key characteristic of this kettle bell workout is the promotion of ‘all-round fitness.’ That is the simultaneous development of multiple components of fitness.
Running improves cardio capacity and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, resistance builds strength (or muscle endurance). Kettlebell training combines the two.
The author of The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, Pavel Tsatsouline, observes that ‘although many pieces of equipment claim to promote ‘all-round fitness’ only K-bells deliver.’ With this single item of exercise kit – which, as well as taking up ‘very little space [and is] ‘virtually indestructible’ – you can enhance ‘strength, explosiveness, flexibility, endurance’ and all while burning fat and building lean, defined muscle.
Enhance physical robustness
To the long list of fitness benefits kettle bell workouts bring about, Tsatsouline, adds a couple more. The first is what he playfully calls the ‘the dinosaur factor’ (personally, I prefer the term ‘physical robustness’ – but either or).
The dinosaur factor refers to the toughening of both the body and mind; an inevitable consequence of exercising with a training tool that’s ‘as brutish and unforgiving as Stonehenge rocks.’
But let’s be honest, as motivational impetuses go, the dinosaur factor isn’t one that’ll spark a surge in kettlebell sales. I imagine such a training effect features low down on most people’s list of fitness priorities. Could you imagine someone saying, ‘I’m gonna start kettlebell training so I can get tough like a dinosaur.’ No, me neither.
The second of Tsatsouline’s benefits, though, might be of more interest.
Strengthens connective tissues
Due to the dynamic and unconventional way that they move, the kettlebell is a ‘highly effective tool for strengthening the connective tissues.’
Strengthening the connective tissues – ligaments and tendons – can improve the structural integrity of the body which can reduce injury risk (The Complete Guide To Strength Training).
This is a coveted outcome that should inspire everyone to start kettlebell training.
How to do this kettle bell workout
You’ve got a couple of options to choose from with this kettle bell workout. There is the standard sets-reps-rest structure, which observes the ‘conventional’ training model. This option is for those that prefer an orthodox exercise experience.
For those looking to unleash the dinosaur within, you’ll prefer option two – the 'Girevoy Sports Challenge'. Created for the cold-blooded girevik, the second option is comprised of a series of timed AMRAPs.
The objective here is to perform as many reps as possible before the AMRAP expires. This training method, which is far more physically demanding than the sets, reps, and rest system, more closely reflects the Girevoy Sport kettlebell competitions.
If you’re unfamiliar with these competitions, they consist of lines of steely-eyed gireviks – kettlebell lifters – fighting furiously to amass the greatest number of reps before being timed out. The lifter with the highest number of reps wins.
Kettle bell workout key points
First, complete the 10-minute progressive intensity warm-up.
Select the training option that aligns with your fitness goals. To recap: option one aims to build strength and power while option two focuses more on muscle endurance, power, and aerobic capacity.
A note on rest periods. For option one, because the aim of the game is strength gains, extensive rests have been enforced. After each set, you will take 2- to 3 minutes. But remember, the weight of your kettlebells should reflect the strength training protocol. Both the rest duration and kettlebell weight are lower for option one. Concluding each 10-minute AMRAP, you will get a mere 2:30 to recover. Once the rest elapses you are to get straight into the next AMRAP. Nasty I know, but you wanted to be a dinosaur!
10 minute warm up
In the interests of stimulating novelty, we’ve mixed things up a bit with this warm-up. Instead of the standard string of exercises, for this warm-up, they’ve been rounded up into a circuit.
Of course, the warm-up process remains the same. That is, progressively increase the training intensity until it is representative of the ensuing workout. However, whereas we’d normally notch up the intensity at pre-specified time points, you’ll be turning up the heat on completion of a lap of the circuit.
Full body Kettle bell workout
Girevoy Sports challenge
Kettle bell workout hints and tips
Because the kettle bell workout is pitched at an advanced level, a high degree of kettlebell handling competency is assumed. However, a couple of exercises in the first workout are seldom performed even by the consummate girevik.
For example, you are no doubt familiar with the ‘snatch’, it being a cornerstone kettlebell exercise. But the 'dead hang' prefix might cause confusion.
The dead hang is merely a modification of the original movement and differs only in the initial execution phase. Instead of allowing the bell to swing between your legs, which generates momentum for the explosive snatch, you are to arrest the bell bringing it to a complete stop at the lowest position. From here and without the assistance of kinetic energy, you will smoothly snatch the bell above your head.
Point of note for when dead hang snatching for the first time. Because this variation requires considerably more force to perform, it is recommendable to drop a pood from your usual snatching weight. If you snatch, say, a 24kg KB, select a 16kg – at least until you’ve got the measure of the movement.
Related: When you're done here, try this Kettlebell Snatch Workout
Kettlebell pullover and press
The pullover and press (from here on out POP), like dead hangs, rarely feature in kettlebell workouts. They are the KB equivalent of dumbbell chest flys. But as you’d expect, there are a few technical differences.
For example, POPs are performed in a prone position. Lying flat on your back, two bells spaced at arms-length to your sides, grip the KB and pull it up until it is poised above your chest. At this point, you have three options available.
First, keeping the angle of the elbow fixed, lower the bell back to the floor. Second, press the bell as you would a conventional dumbbell press. And third, lower the bell behind your head in the manner of a barbell pullover.
All three variations of the POP can be performed with one or two kettlebells.
Related: Master these 10 Killer Kettlebell Exercises
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