If you’re looking to improve your level of fitness then you know that means more than losing weight or building muscle. You train for more than to look good in an outfit. You want to improve as an athlete, get stronger, and increase your endurance. With those thoughts in mind, you know that you can’t look for the easier road or the simpler workout to help you achieve those goals. Your training plan has to challenge you physically and push you mentally. It may also be nice if those workouts won’t mean committing to a couple of hours in the gym.
By Roger Lockridge
This plan can serve as a solution to all of those qualifications. You will find that this plan pushes you aerobically. In other words, you’re going to be breathing heavy and your heart rate will increase dramatically. This program is also going to challenge you anaerobically. It’s going to require you to train the entire body and you’ll have very little time to transition from one exercise to the next. This combined with minimal rest means your muscles are going to burn and will be craving nutrients for recovery as soon as possible. Both of these factors mean you’ll have to put yourself in a mindset that regardless of how difficult this workout is, you will finish it because your success will depend on it.
The Advantages of the Kettlebell Workout
Kettlebells were originally used as far back as the days in Ancient Greece. When they made their way to Russia, farmers used them as a way to weigh and measure grains and other crops. At gatherings, they would swing and lift the heavy weights as a way to show off their impressive strength. It didn’t take long for competitions to start and the fitness benefits became obvious. Eventually kettlebells became the popular choice for resistance training. They didn’t become popular in North America until the latter part of the 20th century. Nowadays you can’t walk into a gym without finding them in a rack or stored in a row on the floor.
Barbells, dumbbells, and machines are great tools to help you train effectively but I think that even in 2016 kettlebells aren’t used nearly as much as they should be. It’s a versatile piece of equipment that should be used by everyone regardless of their fitness level. If you’ve never used one before, now is a great time to start because every exercise in this workout requires the use of a kettlebell.
The handle at the top of the weight means that the weight is beyond the hand which makes lifting it more of a challenge. There are exercises which will call for you to hold it at the top of the handle or on the sides, otherwise known as the horns, of the weight. Although it might take some practice to get used to the movements, you’ll be hooked and won’t do a full workout without them again once you master the form with these exercises. Every exercise in this program requires the use of one kettlebell. There are other exercises that require two. Also, for you home gym goers that don’t want to buy several different weights, there are adjustable kettlebells available that allow you to use weight plates to adjust the amount of resistance you use and you can find those at major sporting goods stores.
Giant Sets Work
If we want a workout that will challenge us both aerobically and anaerobically, then straight sets won’t get the job done. We need to up the ante and find the most intense protocol we can. This is where giant sets come into play. Whereas supersets are two exercises performed back to back without rest and trisets involve three exercises performed in the same manner, giant sets call of four or more movements to be performed consecutively. To maximize the effectiveness of them, transitions from one exercise to the next needs to be minimum. This is why all the exercises involve the use of one kettlebell. All you will have to do is change your positioning and how you hold the weight.
Giant sets are effective for two reasons. The first one is by the time you get to the final exercise in the circuit, you’re going to feel the cardiovascular benefits including elevated heart rate and heavier breathing.
Second, muscular endurance will be a factor because you will perform several reps over the course of the giant set so that burning sensation will become prominent. The key to success is pushing on until you reach the finish line. The long term result will be stronger muscles.
The Kettlebell Workout
Most programs will call for you to perform a certain number of reps per set. This workout is different because you will perform the exercises for time. You’ll need to be near a clock or use a stopwatch to time yourself. This four exercise giant set will challenge the entire body so make sure you warm up effectively for a few minutes before you start. Next, choose a kettlebell that isn’t too heavy. You want to feel resistance but you also don’t want to reach failure before the end of the sets. Finally before you start the clock, perform each exercise for a few reps to make sure your form is proper and you’re ready to take on this challenge.
Hold the kettlebell by the sides of the handle or “horns” at shoulder height. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width. Keep your chin up and look straight ahead while keeping your back straight and core tight. Bend your knees and lower your hips until the top of your thighs are parallel with the floor. Using force from your legs, push yourself back up and return to the starting position. Repeat for as many reps as you can within the time limit.
Stand with feet wider than shoulder width. Hold the kettlebell with both hands on top of the handle and hold it at arms’ length. Bend at the hips and lower the weight until it’s between your legs. Don’t squat. This bend should be similar to a deadlift. While keeping your arms straight throughout the whole movement, use as much force as necessary to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height. As you lift the weight up you should also return to a straight standing position. Once the weight is elevated to shoulder height that is one rep. Let the weight go back down between your legs while keeping your arms straight to perform the next rep. Don’t round your back as you lower the weight. Keep your back straight and push your hips back as the weight swings between your legs. Continue to perform this swinging motion for as many reps as you can within the time limit.
Lie flat on the floor and hold the kettlebell by the sides of the handle (horns) on your chest. Press the kettlebell up until it’s at arms’ length over your chest. Keeping your arms straight, lower the kettlebell behind your head until it touches the floor. Don’t let the weight slam on the floor. Control it until it makes contact. Immediately lift the weight back up to the starting position while keeping your arms straight. This is one rep. Repeat for as many reps as you can within the time limit.
Weighted Crunch with Legs Elevated
Lie flat on the floor and hold the kettlebell by the bottom of the weight in both hands. Press the weight up until it’s at arms’ length over the chest. Bend your knees and lift your legs up off the floor. Your legs should make a right angle with your thighs vertical and calves parallel with the floor. This is your starting position. Lift your shoulders off the floor as high as you can while holding the weight at arms’ length. Contract your abs while doing this. Lower your shoulders back to the floor. This is one rep. Repeat for as many reps as you can within the time limit.
Perform this program 2-3 times a week as a part of your fitness program for eight weeks and you should notice cardiovascular improvement, bodyfat loss, and improved athleticism.
Kettlebell Workout: The Plan
After your warm up, you’ll perform each exercise for 30 seconds until you’ve completed all four exercises in the giant set. This means one giant set should take no more than three minutes counting transitions from one exercise to the next.
Goblet Squat – 30 seconds.
Kettlebell Swing – 30 seconds.
Pullover – 30 seconds.
Weighted Crunch with Legs Elevated – 30 seconds.
You should rest for two minutes between giant sets. Beginners should perform three or four giant sets. Intermediates and advanced lifters should shoot for six to eight giant sets in their program. This means at the most you will train for 40 minutes.