The Anatomy of a 90-Day Kettlebell Complex Workout

15 minute Workouts

As I mentioned in my last post, this was a 3-month self-experiment.

The goal:

Observe performance/body composition impact of practicing a super time efficient kettlebell complex 3-4 days per week, across a 90-day time frame.

I used the same catalog of movement patterns for 90 days straight. 

Nutrition and calorie intake mostly remained the same, or as close to the same as possible without going insane.

Here is the play-by-play breakdown of the simple program that I used…

  • Total time: 90 days
  • Workouts per week: 3 (occasionally I mixed an anaerobic interval based Schwinn Airdyne session in on the weekends, always with 1 day rest between sessions)
  • Sets per workout: 5
  • Reps per movement: 6 (except for KB swings and pushups… 15 reps for those)
  • Training tool/weight used: 2 Kettlebells x 53lb (24kg)
  • Rest: No rest between movements and 60 sec after completing 1 round before starting the next round

The Perfect 15 Minute Workout for Fat Loss:

Double Kettlebell Clean x6

Double Kettlebell Front Squat x6

Double Kettlebell Military Press x6

Alternating Gorilla Rows x6 r/l

Double Kettlebell Sumo Squat x6


Double Kettlebell Reverse Lunge x6 each side

2-Hand Kettlebell Swing x15

Bodyweight Push Up x15

Done.  Well done actually.

Rest 60-75 seconds, repeat 4-5 more times.

This is a total body workout that leverages many of the big upper and lower body movement patterns in less than 15 minutes.

No rest between each exercise and incomplete rest periods after each round increase the cardiovascular demand and post-workout calorie burn.  

Complex training is well known for it’s ability to condition athletes and is very effective for fat loss (to the degree that you pay attention to diet).  The beauty of this training is being able to preserve muscle and condition at the same time.  

Can’t help but notice the time effectiveness also.

Here’s a clip of the kettlebell complex… 

Before you try this workout… 

Words of caution before you get after it…

… complex training is great for burning fat and conditioning but is delivers a very different training effect versus steady state cardio or lifting weights with recovery rest periods.  

In other words, there are risks involved when conditioning with external loads, in this case, kettlebells.  

There are risks involved with crossing a busy intersection.  

Jumping from exercise to exercise without rest between increases the onset of fatigue exponentially.  You’ll feel fresh on one rep, gassed on the next.  It can and often does happen quickly.  Metabolic conditioning is well known for this. 

Resistance training while under fatigue (metabolic conditioning) can be hazardous for individuals who haven’t been exposed to such training, so… work into it slowly.  


Make common sense common again.

It’s important to have some previous background experience with each lift and kettlebells in general.  You should substitute dumbbells or a barbell if you do not have access to a pair of same weight kettlebells.  

Make sure you’ve got some technical proficiency with these basic kettlebell lifts. 

Progress slowly and adjust the training variables incrementally…  Start with light weight, decrease the reps, add rest periods between each exercise, increase the rest after each round.  

Over time, do the exact opposite of the previous suggestions to keep the workouts challenging.  Increase weight, increase reps, reduce or remove rest periods between each exercise or shave off time after each round.   

Let exercise technique be your guide.  If you feel technique degrading rapidly, strongly considered taking a brief rest before starting up again.  

Workout Results…

I was leaner coming out of the 90 day time period and this was highly predictable.  Again, complex-style training is brutally effective for stripping body fat.  I didn’t progress the 

Work capacity improved dramatically.  Again, this adaptation was highly predictable.   Specific adaptations to a very narrow scope of effort (imposed demands).  In other words, I got REALLY efficient at this workout and everything it entailed.  Not a bad thing, but not necessarily the greatest.  

Toward the end of the 90 days I felt like I could add an additional round to the complex, so I did.  I ended up working through 6 total rounds for the last 3-4 training days.

Strength gains plateaued quickly, but this was also expected.  I didn’t increase the weight of the kettlebells.  Without progressive increases in weight, it’s hard to keep gaining strength.

But again, massive gains in strength wasn’t the goal.  The goal was to beat on a super short workout across a 3-month timespan to see how it impacted my performance and body composition.   

The obvious:  90 days is a long time to beat on virtually the same workout.  Keep in mind I did adjust reps, sets and eventually added a full round, but this little test was barebones.  It’s not ideal for long-term progress.  

On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoy testing training like this.

Applications for the real world…

Complex training is perfect for people who are short on time, high on motivation and looking for a hard workout to give them respectable results.  Including a warm-up, this workout will take 20 minutes which is as time efficient as it gets.

For those who are currently exercising 3-4 days per week, using this kettlebell complex could provide a nice deviation from your normal regimen.  If you’re currently heavy on on the cardio training, adding weight can help your cardio training. 

*** Be mindful of not overdoing it.  Don’t force a workout if your body is telling you otherwise.  

If you’re interested in diving deeper into metabolic resistance workouts or the potency of kettlebell training, here are some popular resources from DragonDoor Publications and Amazon:


Keep it simple, keep it smart, keep progressing.

Have fun and let the fat fall off.



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