Workout Finisher: Kettlebell Swings + Ascending Burpees

10 minute Workouts

Today’s workout finisher is retro-style, but remains one of the most difficult finishers I’ve ever come across.  If I recall correctly, this finisher could be one of the first end-of-the-workout challenges I ever attempted, back when the only equipment I owned was a couple of kettlebells.

It’s a potent mixture of two exercises:  kettlebell swings and burpees.  

Burpees have been making headlines frequently over the last 5 years or so, and for good reason.  A well executed set of burpees can pure magic for conditioning, fat loss or entrance to heaven.

Here are the details of the workout finisher:

Equipment needed: kettlebell (sub-max weight that can be swung for 15+ reps)
Time required: 8 minutes or less
Exercises: 2 (kettlebell swings, burpees)
Rest: None (continuous work until finished, rest as needed to maintain technique)
Total Rounds/Reps: 10 rounds/ 100 kettlebell swings, 55 burpees


*** Note:  The workout is finish after round 10, which will have you doing 10 kettlebell swings and 10 burpees.  The above snapshot misleads a bit, only showing 5 rounds and burpees up to 5 repetitions.  The end point is 10 rounds.

For kettlebell weight, choose something you can swing for 15 reps with ease.  For males, 24 kg (53lb) will feel light in the beginning and torturous toward the end.  For females, 16kg (35lbs) may feel the same.

Feel free to keep a lighter kettlebell nearby if you need to decrease weight.  There is no shame in dropping down in weight if you need to.

This workout finisher will leave you gasping, and also degrade your kettlebell swing technique faster than hell.  When swinging a kettlebell while under high fatigue, you must proceed with caution.  It is your duty to monitor your technique during this challenge.

To train smart, rest when you feel fatigue start to overpower technique.  Just like any other exercise, it’s possible to predict when the next swing is going to be below average.  You can sense the slop coming from rep to rep.  The reaction time is decreased, but you can feel it.

Below average technique with kettlebell swings can wreck your body.

I’m an advocate for pushing the limits against fatigue, with boundaries.  Fatigue is a well-known exercise technique killer.  A body exerting in sub-par positions can result in injury.

Personally, I advocate shutting down the work-set until energy is restored.  Some people will not agree.

My guide is a simple question:  Is resting 30 seconds worth saving yourself from exercise related back or shoulder surgery?

For me, it is.  For you, it may not be.  Know thyself.

Cautions given, get after this workout finisher and let me know how you did.






Workout Finisher: 250-meter Row + Burpee + Overhead Slams

10 minute Workouts, Workout Finisher

I whipped up this potent workout finisher to end my training session on a high note yesterday, and it turned out to be fantastic.  Workout finishers provide a fresh take on traditional cardio training without the nauseating time commitment (aerobic) and a nudge to burn body fat.

Prior to the workout finisher, I had spent roughly 30 minutes time pounding away on some controlled strength training:  single-leg deadlifts, unsupported pistol squats, kettlebell over-head presses and weighted inverted rows.

Leading up to the workout finisher, it was these 4 simple strength exercises to address everything:  upper body push, lower body hinge/pull, upper body pull, lower body push.

Since tweaking my back, I’ve made a dedicated (and difficult) effort to address core control and rebuild my hips, which is why I’ve been hammering away on slow, controlled strength training.

Admittedly, it is difficult to ween off of the metabolic style training sessions and into strict reps coupled with even more strict rest periods.  It’s probably how a NASCAR driver feels driving 30mph around town in a Prius after hardcore racing at the Daytona 500.

To be honest, I had no intention to include anything more than my strength training.  My last set of pistol squats found me wanting a challenge, so why the hell not?

Here are the details of this workout finisher…

  • Equipment needed: slam ballrowing machine
  • Time required:  10 minutes or less
  • Exercises:  2 (“burpee + over head slams” are counted as one exercise)
  • Rest:  None (continuous work until finished, rest as needed for technique)
  • Total Rounds:  4 


What?! That’s it?!

Yes, keep it simple here.  Cycle back and forth between the 250-meter row and burpee+over head slams for a total of 4 rounds.  Do not stop until you’re finished.

Each burpee will be completed as a 3/4 burpee, with no push-up at the bottom.  Adding the push-up would disrupt the flow because the slam ball would be positioned too far in front of the feet.

Instead, you’ll lower your hands to the floor, kick the feet back into the top of the push-up position, then quickly snap the legs back underneath to the bent knee athletic position (similar to the start position of a deadlift).  From this position you’ll lift the slam ball from  the floor to a fully extended overhead position and slam.

Again picking the slam ball off of the floor, do so with the same technique that you’d use to deadlift or clean a barbell.  Keep the slam ball close to your body on the way up.

In all, you’ll be rowing 1000 meters and completing 40 burpees and 40 slams.

Unplanned efforts have their place.  Not everything in a workout, or in life, needs to be by the planned and by the book.  Breaking free, going for it when your body has the energy to do so is liberating.

Planned for 8 reps but able to get 10 reps?  Go for it.  Cardio not originally part of the day’s workout?  Go for it.  Not scheduled to workout today but feeling awesome?  Go for it.

Know thyself.


Give this workout finisher try, let me know what you think…





A 10 Minute Non-Traditional Treadmill Workout

10 minute Workouts, 15 minute Workouts

If I absolutely had no choice but to run on a treadmill, which I have been forced to do before, I have a plan.

But there are some important things I would do before, rather than just jumping on cold.  They are:

1)  I would self massage using a foam roll and lacrosse ball on my feet thoroughly.

2)  I would work my corrective exercise and pre-hab

3)  I would mobilize the hell out of my joints to deliver nutrients.

4)  I would turn on (activate) on musculature that will be engaged in my running efforts.

5)  I would work through a series of dynamically oriented stretches.

6)  I would make sure my inexpensive heart rate monitor is properly placed around my torso and the watch is reading the signal clearly.

7)  I would begin at  a slow running pace focusing on arm swing, breathing and smooth strides.

8)  I would begin jogging on the treadmill, progressively increasing the speed of the treadmill until I reached about 80-85% of my max run speed (about 5 min), then I would step off and get ready for the following workout…


Heart Rate Based Treadmill Conditioning:


  • Set the treadmill at speed and incline that requires a full stride (7.5-9.5mph @ 2.0-8.0 incline)
  • I prefer increasing incline over speed.  Reason? Increased heart rate and forced knee drive and emphasis on arm mechanics.
  • Practice stepping off a couple of times, face plants are hurt and are embarrassing.
  • Get a heart rate monitor. I use the Polar FS1, the most simple/inexpensive model they make.
  • Stay tall when you sprint.  Core engaged and vertically tall.
  • “Cheek to cheek” on arm swing (butt cheek to face cheek).



*  Complete 8-15 rounds depending on your current conditioning & peri-workout fatigue level.

  • Sprint 30 seconds.
  • Step off and rest until your heart rate recovers to 130 bpm (beats per minute).
  • Sprint 30 seconds.
  • Step off and rest until your heart rate recovers to 130 bpm (beats per minute).
  • etc…

Why so much emphasis on heart rate?

Let your heart rate monitor, your body’s natural physiology, tell you when you are ready to go again.

How hard are you working?  Let your heart rate monitor tell you.


A few words on treadmills…

I have to admit that I am not completely anti-treadmill.

What bothers me about treadmills is that they remind me of hamster wheels, and people use them like hamster wheels.  Same workout, same speed, same incline, same distance, same music, reading the same magazine… Same same same.  “Same” is the enemy of progress.  Trust that.

image credit: movnat


Also, recognize that there is an incredible difference between:

1)  Running on a treadmill where you are simply keeping up with the speed of the belt and

2)  Running on a real world landscape where you are having to put true force into the ground to create movement.

If it is nice outside, and right now it is, get your ass outside and perform a similar workout.

If you do head outside, be prepared for the intensity to be jacked up ten-fold if you are shooting for the same structured workout as I described above.  Real world sprinting is fatiguing, especially when organized as a timed effort combined shorter than normal rest periods.


Is aerobic training bad?

There is nothing wrong with aerobic training assuming you are progressing, moving toward your goals and avoiding overuse injuries.

But why not challenge yourself a bit, melt some fat, preserve the lean healthy tissue you worked so hard to develop, and increase aerobic AND anaerobic pathways all in one shot?

Did I mention how time effective this type of training is?

Here is a great visual depiction to support my case…


What is so non-traditional about my workout you ask?

Well traditionally, a)  Most people don’t use heart rate monitors (they guess) and b)  Most people coast or “relax” on the hamster wheel for a few miles for a light sweat.

That being said, my workout is non-traditional.  I am asking you to let your heart be your rest/work indicator along with requesting that you put forth an effort that is unfathomable for a lot of the population.


See you soon…


Just getting warmed up.


(P.S. As an end thought… if you are able to read any book or magazine comfortably while training, you aren’t working nearly hard enough)

Video: Long Circuit Kettlebell Training for Fat Loss

10 minute Workouts, Kettlebell Training, Pure Fat Loss

I have to admit that the circuit in the video below has been adapted over the last few years to serve as a warm-up for me before my higher work capacity/short bout training sessions.

I use it for two reasons:

  • It gets my brain and eyes focused on what’s about to happen (hand to hand exchange helps this).
  • Physically, I warm-up every muscle in my body in one shot (after foam rolling/static/dynamic stretch)

In the video below, I am using my trusty 20kg kettlebell, that’s 44lbs for all of the Americans reading this.

 This is my warm-up bell, my hand to hand swing bell, and my long cycle snatch bell.

Initially, when I started kettlebell training it was all I could handle weight-wise.  That’s my indirect advice to you to start slow, and progressing at an your intelligent  pace.  Don’t “Hail Mary” your training or you may find yourself in the emergency room.

All in good time.

Enjoy the music…

The details:

  • 5 reps of all movements (keep it simple!).
  • All movement patterns must be addressed (with exception of upper extremity pulling).
  • Don’t put the kettlebell down until the circuit is complete.

A couple tips…

Tip #1:  Use a dry erase board to map out what movements you’ve programmed and what order you want to perform them.  This helps a lot.  Double clutching a 44lb kettlebell rarely has a positive end result.

Tip #2: Treadmills and ellipticals are $2,000 coat racks.  Sell your old useless fitness equipment and go buy some Lifeline kettlebells or PowerBlocks.

Have fun, tell me how it goes…

Coming soon:  Why single kettlebell/dumbbell training is where it’s at…

A Simple Bodyweight Based Workout

10 minute Workouts, 15 minute Workouts, 20 minute Workouts

Bodyweight training is effective as hell for fat loss.

Honestly, don’t underestimate it.

You can accomplish so much work in a very short amount of time using a simple bodyweight training only template.

The same rules apply for a bodyweight based training session:

  • NO crunches (micro-trauma to your spine!)
  • Multi-Joint Movements (Squats, hip hinge, upper press, upper pull, etc)
  • Limited or no rest periods (we want a training effect)
  • Keep the main thing, the main thing with bodyweight training.

Also, get away from fancy/complicated exercises.  I promise you that you won’t get any greater training effect out of fancy circus-like movements as opposed to basics.

Keep it simple and get it done.  I will show my cards early here in this post.

Here is a perfect workout for you in a pinch…

10 bodyweight squats


10 push ups

20 Jumping Jacks

10 Reverse Lunges

  • Rinse and repeat.
  • Complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes, 15 minutes or a 20 minute time limit.
  • Transition from movement to movement WITHOUT REST for the duration of the time limit that you choose (10min, 15min, 20min)
  • This is an timed based AMAP (as many as possible) workout
  • Start slow, this may crush you harder than you think.

I spent a number of months using strictly bodyweight training for fat loss when I lived in my apartment.

I got an incredible training effect from the workouts that I designed.  Some were more “flowing” than others.

These days, I use the exact workout listed above for 2-3 rounds before my kettlebell/suspension trainer fusion workouts.  I can activate a large amount of musculature rather quickly and safely, increase core temperature and blood flow to joints, grease the groove on fundamental movement patterns all while preparing myself mentally for the work about to be done.

The downside is that bodyweight training has it’s limits with regard to progression.  Like anything you cannot perform the same workout over and over and expect to see results.  Adaptation will occur and something about the workout/program will have to be tweaked.

Did you notice anything else about the workout above?

No pulling movements.  If you don’t have a bar of some kind or some straps, awesomely big bang movements such as chin ups/pull ups and inverted rows are a no go.  Some people say, “Use chairs for inverted rows”.  That advice is a stretch and quite frankly chairs for inverted rows were unstable as hell when I last tried it.

What I have found is that for the biggest return on your time investment, any tweaking that is done is most commonly got to be an increase in loading.

What do I mean by loading?

Meaning you have to add weight of som kind, either in the form of a weight vest or external loading with any number of training tools (dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, etc) to continue to see accelerated fat loss, strength gains, etc.

The body adapts quickly to physical exertion.  Be aware of this if you are frustrated with your current regimen…

Have you changed anything lately?  Chances are you probably have not.

Bodyweight training isn’t the end all be all, but it is a refreshing change from the gym, it’s free, can be performed anywhere and can be progressed or dialed back very easily based on your training level.

Give it a go.

Tell me what you think in the comments section…

More to come… Just warming up here… 🙂