The 5 minute Kettlebell Swing + Burpee Challenge

Quick Tips

I love metabolic challenges, especially ones that incorporate kettlebells and burpees.

If you didn’t get a chance to check out the burpee challenge from a few days ago, I suggest that you do.  It’s a tough workout that will definitely get your heart rate up.

—>  Metabolic Challenges/Finishers Over Boring Cardio

I favor metabolic challenge workouts, sometimes referred to as “finishers”, because they test your mind and body in a controlled setting.  The movements and reps/sets (aka: volume) should always be structured to YOUR own physical abilities, not someone else’s.  Nothing during a metabolic workout should be forced.

It is crucial that a high tempo work capacity style training session have progressions and regressions.  One size does not fit all.  The workout should be scaled to fit each of us on an individual level.  This will decrease the likelihood of injury while promoting physical transformation and improvements in performance.

Once you have proven that you can move efficiently without pain and have acquired adequate strength, stability and mobility to execute basic exercise like squats, push-ups, chin-ups, lunges and planks, it may be time to consider mixing in some metabolic work.

Remember this picture from a recent post?…

Strength Cardio Movements

I use “cardio-strength” and “metabolic” interchangeably…

At the very least, you can mix in some short burst finishers toward the end of your strength training session.  Adding finishers to the end of a workout will shift the way that you think about conditioning.  I know that it did for me.  It was a game changer.

There is nothing wrong with traditional activities like bike and hill sprinting, but to be honest, I find it painfully boring.  I know for a fact that I do not sit alone with these feelings.  Boring cardiovascular training can actually do more harm than good.  If you dread boring cardio to the point that you choose not to workout at all, that’s bad.  It shouldn’t have to be this way.

Boring Cardio Hamster Wheel

Do you ever feel like this while working out?

You don’t have to be a fanatic about your training habits, but long-term adherence to a life full of movement requires that at the very least you find some amount of enjoyment from your workouts.

The main point is that you have great alternatives to the long, slow, boring treadmill trot.  Finishers will keep your training fresh and challenging.  The return on investing in finishers is large.

I will always encourage beginners, novice and even advanced trainees to continue to make conscious efforts to improve strength and power.  This will never change.  So much good comes from building basic strength.

In a normal training session, after working through a complete warm up, strength and power work should be next on the day’s agenda.  Most workouts will require anywhere from 15-20 minutes to work through 2-3 tri-sets of strength/power enhancing movements.

—>  Kettlebells and burpees collide

Lifeline Kettlebells

Lifeline Kettlebells…

I am a huge kettlebell fan.

Kettlebells changed my perception of working out.  Kettlebells brought  the importance of strong, stable, free-flowing movement back into the fitness equation.  You have to be 3-dimensionally strong to lift, swing and carry a kettlebell.  My gym sessions transformed from a of time devoted to the typical big lifts- squats, pressing and pulling- to ground based movement sessions that built strength and stability using in greater ranges of motion.

I now have a level of stability, mobility, and functional strength that I didn’t know was possible for me to have.  Kettlebells aren’t a miracle, but the shift that they caused in my views on what an effective workout could be certainly make them one of the most influential pieces of training equipment I have ever used.

Kettlebell training is represents true movement.

The Turkish Get Up


Next, the reason that we’re gathered here in the first place.

—>  The kettlebell swing + burpee metabolic challenge

I cannot remember where I first saw a version of this challenge posted, so please forgive me.

Credit belongs to someone out there, so take it if you’re deserving of it.

I’ve adapted it to fit my needs over the years, as I do with most everything related to training.


Tools needed:  To complete this challenge, you’ll need a kettlebell that you can swing for about 15-18 reps continuously for multiple sets.  I use a 24kg or a 28kg kettlebell for a finisher like the one described below.  Have some kind of timing device on hand.  I always go with my trusty GymBoss.

You’ll also need an open space of about 8ft x 8ft.  This should work just fine.  You can get by with less- and I have- but the more the merrier.  The ceiling of the space you are training in should be high enough to avoid hitting the top of your head when jumping.  If you’ve got clearance, you’re in business.

Here is how the challenge is formatted…

kettlebell + burpee workout

Make sense?

Take note of how each round accumulates burpee reps while the kettlebell swings remain the same.  It’s a very simple format to remember.  Two exercise finishers work great because they take very little thought.

The weight of kettlebell used will vary from person to person, but in general I would go with the following:

Females:  12-16kg

Males:  24-28kg

Of course there are going to be those of you who can use heavier kettlebells than what I suggested, but these are common weights for each gender.

The ultimate goal is to finish in 5 minutes.

I won’t p that I “think” a beginner, novice or advanced trainee should be able to finish a challenge like this in.  That’s not the point.  The goal is to finish in 5 minutes, end of story.  Anything longer than that indicates that you have a goal to work toward.  Sound good?

Stop Sign Warning

—->  Mandatory warnings to this workout

If you have never swung a kettlebell before or you aren’t proficient in swinging kettlebells for higher volumes or while under fatigue, this is not the time to test yourself.  Work up then work in.

Lastly, technique breakdown automatically initiates rest until technique can be maintained.  Fatigue kills exercise technique.  Leave your ego at the door when you train, it will save your body from injury.

Work smart and hard, not smart and reckless.

Give it a shot, have some fun and post how you finish up…

Cheers to the conditioning without boredom!



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