A Quick (and effective) Kettlebell Swing + Bodyweight Movement Workout

Quick Tips

I’ve started to trend some of my posts toward topics that people are searching for in Google, which I am informed of on my blog.  You cannot see these stats and search terms, but I can, so advantage to me!

I won’t sell out and write what I think will drive more traffic to this blog (a lot of fitness bloggers do), but I am interested in what kind of traffic numbers will arrive if I direct some of my posts toward the needs of the people.  My goal has always been to write authentically and reach as many people as possible.  We will see how it turns out.

Ha, listen to me… “The needs of the people”.

Photo Credit:  tv.com

Photo Credit: tv.com

I sound like I should run for city office, or city treasurer on Boardwalk Empire.

Anyways, I put myself through what I would consider an intermediate workout tonight.

This workout was heavily centered around kettlebell swings, and supplemented with various other bodyweight movements.  I feel like “supplemented” is the proper terminology in this particular situation, as you’ll see from the workout below.

The bodyweight movements that separate the kettlebell swings are nothing more than filler exercises used to keep my heart rate elevated in between bouts of swings.  More muscles worked, more calories burned during and after training.

I tend to choose both upper and lower body bodyweight movements to disperse the training stress to  more of a total body approach.  Splitting the movements to upper and lower allows for a brief period of training stress directed at a specific movement pattern (horizontal push, squat, vertical pull, etc) without exhausting that pattern completely.  This allows for intelligent fatigue management during other bodyweight movements and more importantly during kettlebell swings.

When fatigue sets in, technique gets ugly, people are exposed to bad habits and injury.

So, without blabbing any further, here is the structure of the workout, please notice that it is very similar to the multi-method cardio approach:

sample kettlebell and bodyweight workout

A couple of points…

First, there is a lot of work being done here, as you can see.  There is a lot of muscle being stressed and the rest is light.  A workout like this could be a complete training session for a beginner or an intermediate, or scaled up for an advanced lifter.  Scaling up for an advanced trainee might involve a bump up in bodyweight exercise progression or adding a weight vest to those movements.  It’s all a matter of tweaking the variables based on your unique situation and needs.

Second, I kept the reps to even numbers, 10’s and 20’s.  Why?  Because it is annoying having to check your notebook after every movement.  I want you to be focused on what you’re doing during the training session not counting reps like people count food calories.  Focus on your movement, your breathing, your recovery.  Forget about complicated rep schemes… I have plenty of those that I will post in good time.

Third, go sub-maximal but not too light on your kettlebell swings.  Grab a bell that you could swing for 30 reps and focus on hip snap during those suggested 20 reps.  Guys you might grab a 24kg or a 28kg, gals you might grab a 16kg or a 20kg.  Both guys and gals, you’re allowed to grab more or less than that, but on average, males and females will use those weights.

Remember, don’t gauge your energy expenditure on the first set of swings because you’ve got 3 more sets of swings and 4 different bodyweight movements lying ahead.  Manage your fatigue appropriately.  If you have a heart rate monitor, I would suggest using it to check you heart rate.  Of course, you’d want to already have an idea of the beats per minute that separate you from exhibiting crappy movement technique.  When you reach that heart rate, you can back off, rest for a few seconds, then get back into the workout once you can control and OWN the movement.

Why 20 reps of swings?  Because I personally feel that anything more than that really doesn’t provide much benefit other than poor technique (lack of finishing in full hip extension, slouching, etc) and a rising risk of losing the bell on the backswing or at the highest point of the arc.  One slip will kill your pet or put a hole in your wall, and the other will destroy your brand new LED TV.

20 reps (or less depending on your conditioning level) seems to allow for a sufficient elevation in heart rate without making the swings pointless from lack of load and endless volume.  There will be plenty of work performed in this training session, it doesn’t all need to be accomplished with kettlebell swings.

If you’re bored with your typical cardio routine, I would highly recommend giving a workout like this a real shot.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how hard your cardiovascular is taxed during a training session like the one described below.  20 minutes seems to be the sweet spot for me.  I have tested up to 30+ minutes of work like this, and it just doesn’t work for a couple of reasons…

1)  I feel like I am just going through the motions with regard to loading (aka weight used).

2)  I feel like I am adding  volume for an unjustified purpose.

These days, workouts like this serve as a great follow-up to my 2-day on/1-day off training schedule.

Day 1 is a heavily focused on strength work with a splash of jump rope or Airdyne cardio work, while day 2 (this workout) is dedicated to sub-maximal movements strung together to work cardio-strength (traditional strength moves with incomplete rest periods).

Ultimately, the goal is to stay physically prepared until I shift my training toward a particular goal.

Also, although the 20-25 minutes of work being completed in a workout are definitely stressful and draining, I feel as though it’s a short enough bout that allows for adequate recovery between training sessions, avoiding over-training.  The full 24+ hours of rest is also a motivating factor to work hard during this type of training session.  The rest day is just that… a rest and recovery day.

Be a perfectly golden marshmallow at the end, not a crusted black scabby marshmallow.

Give it a shot and let me know how you make out!

Cheers to short effective bouts of exercise!

Kyle

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