A Tough 20 Minute Kettlebell Workout: Clean+Squat+Press

20 minute Workouts, Kettlebell Training

Simple training tactics will give you the greatest return on your time investment.

Want to build strength?  Keep it simple.  Want to lose fat?  Keep it simple.  Want to dunk a basketball?  Keep it simple.

Keeping things simple, is keeping things productive. The more you can simplify, beat on the basics and remove unnecessary feelings of decision fatigue, the more clarity you’ll have in what work needs to get done.

Complicating matters with too much exercise variety, mixing training tactics often lead to inconsistent efforts.  Why?  There is no focused effort, very little direction.

Keep it simple, and maintain laser-like focus.  Choose one path and move down that path with confidence, conviction and attention to detail.

Yesterday, my workout was a simple but potent concoction, and now I offer it up to you…

1)  Double Kettlebell Cleans

2)  Double Kettlebell Squat

3)  Double Overhead Kettlebell Press

Three basic kettlebell exercises.

The clean, squat and press are all highly effective big bang movements.

Kettlebell cleans are an explosive total body movement. Kettlebell squats fatigue the anterior core (front rack position) while training the lower body.  Overhead kettlebell pressing reinforces the vertical pressing pattern of the upper body, which is arguably one of the most important functional movements to maintain for everyday life activities.

The metabolic training stimulus is tremendous when these exercises are coupled together.

Here’s a short summary of the workout…


Of course, it is important to warm-up.  You may feel differently, but until I see a reason that warming up is harmful, I will ALWAYS warm-up.

A brisk, comprehensive warm-up can get a lot of work done in 10-15 minutes or less.  If you’re a calorie counter, consider the warm-up a time to burn a few extra calories (at the very least).  Most people will have a good lather of sweat going by the end of a productive warm-up.

The pre-workout period allows an opportunity to assess how I am feeling on that particular day.  There have been a handful of times when I’ve pulled the plug on a workout based on how my body felt during the warm-up drills.

{If physical exertion doesn’t seem to agree with your body on that particular day, scrap it and come back tomorrow and crush it.  Often times, you’ll find that what your body needed was REST}.

My warm up was free flowing, mixing and matching traditional dynamic stretching with plenty of isolated activation work, crawling variations, traditional bodyweight movements and some basic Ido Portal drills.

The components of a warm-up should provide a gentle introduction to the more potent training stimulus that lies ahead.  Various stretches, joint mobilizations, muscle activation and low-load movement patterns a great pre-workout.

Much of my pre-workout warm-ups are infused with Ido Portal-esque movements.

All ground-based, full range of motion, concentrated and controlled.

On the tail end of the warm-up, I worked through some kettlebell drills to gradually prepare my body for the exertion to come.

All of these drills were completed using only one kettlebell, a DragonDoor 24kg/53lb kettlebell, except for the squat+press-outs, which required a lighter 20kg (44lb) for technique reasons.

Around-the-Body Kettlebell Revolutions     x15 each direction

Single Arm Kettlebell Swings     x10 each arm 

1-Arm Kettlebell Cleans     x8 each arm

Squat + horizontal press-outs     x6

Kettlebell Windmills     x8 each arm

The Workout:


Alternating exercises each rep (clean then squat then press) is extremely challenging, especially if you’re accustomed to kettlebell complexes where all reps of each exercise are completed before moving on to the next exercising.

Here, your mind must stay sharp throughout each “set”.  The kettlebell will be changing positions, transitioning from knee, to chest to an overhead position quickly and frequently, and the minimal rest period only comes after completing 6 full repetitions of each exercise.

By rounds 6, 7 and 8, you’ll appreciate the rest periods, but they won’t feel long enough.

If you find that 30 seconds of rest is too short, bump it up to 45 seconds, maybe 60 seconds.  But remember that the goal is to perform a lot of work in a short amount of time, so don’t get too loose with the rest period.  You should be sucking wind.

I’m not big on boasting about who can use the heaviest weight for a workout like this, that’s not the point.  Consistent training and progress earns you heavier weight.

In general, you should be able to clean, squat and press 4-5 more reps beyond what are suggested in this workout.  So you should be using a weight that you clean, squat and press for 10 repetitions.

Weight-wise, a benchmark to aim for males and females would be:

Time Breakdown…

The “work” portion of this workout required just over 11 minutes.

Including the warm up, we are looking at a total time investment of 21 minutes.

The question I’ll ask to the person who feels they have no time for a workout is this:

What non-productive activities could you eliminate to allow for 21 minutes of productive physical practice?

  • Trade 21 minutes of Facebook scrolling for 21 minutes of workout.
  • Swap 21 minutes of TV watching for 21 minutes of workout.
  • Wake up 21 minutes earlier than normal to accommodate 21 minutes of workout.

Although we all have unique daily responsibilities, it’s important to become aware of where and how we are spending out time, right down to the minute.  A detailed assessment of the allocation of our time can often reveal that we have much more time than we perceive.



Cheers to time effective training without compromise…



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