Kettlebell Challenge Workouts

Best Beginner Kettlebell Workout

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Chinup ladder.

I always strive to reduce the time to do my snatches. I currently am under 7:35. This is one of the most strenuous workouts I have ever done.

When the weather is nice, I go outside and throw the kettlebells for height and distance -one handed and two handed from every angle. Throw, then sprint to the implement; throw again for time. Usually 6-10 minutes or the length of whatever tournament I am preparing for. I will repeat for three 'bouts'. I will also thread a towel inside the handle for various throws, lifts, and swings.

Good luck on your book -talk to you soon.

Your friend,

Steve Maxwell




Alexander Falameyev is a former USSR weightlifting record holder and a prominent scientist. He authored the chapter on in the authoritative weightlifting textbook edited by Prof. Alexey Medvedev.

Predictably, Falameyev advises to start training with 16kg, advance to 24 kg in four to six weeks, and later to dvukhpudoviks. Beginners are not supposed to train longer than 30 min per workout. Three workouts a week on non-consecutive days, preferably at the same time of the day, are the rule of thumb.

In the beginning of your career, the Russian expert advises you to limit your load to three sets per exercise in two arm exercises and three sets per arm in one-arm drills. You should select a weight that enables you to do no less than 5-6 and no more than 15-16 repetitions in a given exercise.

The scientist stresses the importance of the full range of motion. He insists on deep and smooth breathing without excessive straining and breath holding. He recommends 2 min rest intervals between the sets, filled with calm walking around.

"Repeat the one arm snatch in 3-5 sets, first with the left (if it is the weaker one), and then for the same number of sets with the right arm. For some sessions, perform the complete cycle of the exercise by switching the kettlebell from hand to hand. Pay a lot of attention to developing your wrist strength. Snatch more often with the weaker arm.

"Train the press in a similar fashion. First, give an adequate load to the weaker arm (3-5 sets till substantial fatigue), then to the strong one. Once a week, perform a full cycle of the exercises (in 2-3 sets—as in a competition): press the kettlebell out with one arm until total exhaustion, and then repeat the drill with the other arm, without setting the kettlebell down on the platform."

Before tackling the competition-level, two arm/two kettlebell clean and jerk, the textbook prescribes mastering one arm C&Js with a special emphasis on the weaker arm. In line with the other KB drills, he suggests 3-5 sets per arm. When you finally C&J two bells at once, plan on 6-8 sets.

"It is best to include two different kettlebell exercises in a training session and follow them up with 2-3 barbell exercises. As the competition approaches, decrease the number and volume of barbell exercises in a session. As the sports training becomes more narrowly specialized, the bulk of the load is made up with kettlebell lifts. In the last sessions they are performed in the competition order."

To sum up:



(Falameyev, 1986)

Train three times a week on non-consecutive days, preferably at the same time of the day.

In the beginning limit your sessions to 30 min and your load to 3 sets per exercise in two arm exercises and 3 sets per arm in one arm drills.

Select a weight that enables you to do 5-16 repetitions in a given exercise.

Perform your exercises through the full range of motion.

Breathe deep and smooth without excessive straining and breath holding.

Rest for 2 min between sets. Calmly walk around.

Train the one arm snatches, presses, and C&Js in 3-5 sets. Complete all the sets for the weaker arm first.

Once a week work both arms back to back without setting the kettlebell down on the platform. Perform 2-3 such competition style sets.

Do extra snatches with the weaker arm.

Pay a lot of attention to the development of your wrist strength.

Before tackling the competition-level, two arm/two kettlebell C&Js, master one arm/one KB C&Js, with a special emphasis on the weaker arm.

Train the two arm/two kettlebell C&J in 6-8 sets.

Include two different kettlebell exercises in a training session and follow them up with 2-3 barbell exercises.

As the competition approaches, the number of barbell exercises in a session is decreased, so is their volume.

In the last sessions before a meet, the lifts are performed in the competition order and fashion.

Alexander Falameyev has his own unique method of teaching a greenhorn his way around a kettlebell: perform one arm/one KB lifts, but assist your working arm with your free arm. Here is how it is done for the snatch.

Take an overgrip of the kettlebell handle with your stronger—let's say right— hand. Fortify your right by taking an undergrip around it and pressing down hard with your left. Now practice swinging the bell between your legs and lifting it overhead while holding it tight.

The next step is to learn fixing the KB overhead with one arm. The left hand moves away when the right one has complete control. As you are improving, help less and less with your left and eventually let go with it completely. Study the left hand snatch in the same fashion.

In the same vein, if you cannot tackle the weight with one arm during military presses, you may press against the bottom of the kettlebell with your free hand (just don't ask me to demonstrate this maneuver though; my IQ is insufficient).


Recognized girevoy sport expert V. I. Voropayev proposed innovative changes in K-bell training methodology and developed unique routines. Even if you find them too complicated you might get some ideas for a schedule of your own. One of Voropayev's ideas was a new way of measuring training intensity. For the record, Russian weightlifting coaches measure intensity by averaging out the weight lifted in an exercise, workout, week, etc. (I explain this definition of intensity based on weight, in my book Power to the People! — a definition considered controversial from the Western viewpoint). For example, if an athlete squatted 200kgx4, 220kgx2, 240kgx1, 250kgx2/3, his coach will start by calculating all the kilograms lifted in each set:

200kgx4 = 800kg 220kgx2 = 440kg 240kgx1 = 240kg 250kgx2/3 = 1,500kg

Then he would total all the tonnage:

Then he would add up all the repetitions:

200kgx4, 220kgx2, 240kgx1, 250kgx2/3 4 + 2 + 1 + (2x3) = 13

Finally he would divide the tonnage by the reps:

Voropayev logically argued that with a fixed weight this measurement is meaningless. In his example a girevik performed the following snatch sets with a 32kg kettlebell:

32kgx60, 32kgx55, 32kgx50, 32kg45, 32kgx40, 32kgx35

The tonnage adds up to 9,120kg and the total reps are 285.

No information.

Voropayev suggested defining kettlebell-lifting intensity as a percentage of the last competition results. For instance, a girevik snatched a 24kg fifty times at the last meet. The number 50 corresponds to 100%

Now he puts up the following snatch numbers in his training session:

24kgx40/2, 24kgx30/3

40 repetitions corresponds to 80% intensity (40 ; 50 = 0.8) and 30 to 60%. Now just add the intensity values for each set and average them out:

According to Voropayev, the above approach to calculating intensity provides meaningful information about a given workout and eases the coach's job of charting out programs for sportsmen of different qualifications. If Ivan can snatch 24kg 100 times and Sergey stalls at 24kgx50, they can follow the same workout by plugging in their numbers. E.g. if the coach demanded a set with 90% intensity Ivan will knock off 90 reps and Sergey will only have to do 45 although both will be equally bushed. Voropayev insists on the importance of calculating and monitoring the training variables, something he believes should be taught to beginners from the get go.

Voropayev has also introduced tempo variation into kettlebell lifting. "Competition lifts for the (the snatch and the C&J) are usually performed with a medium tempo. This tempo is most economical and the athlete has an easier time controlling his actions. The medium tempo of lifts synchronizes with the breathing rhythm, which enables the athlete to maintain high work capacity for a longer period of time and therefore show a better result. However, training with a constant tempo causes adaptation, which slows down the sports performance growth.

Experimental data has shown that doing kettlebell exercises with an accelerated tempo facilitates the athlete's gains."

The following table was proposed as a guideline. The author points out that the values will change from individual to individual. & _


(Voropayey, 1986)

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