Workout Finisher: Kettlebell Swings and Burpees


Workout finishers (also known as metabolic finishers or conditioning finishers) are a short burst series of exercises at the end of a workout designed to complement strength based training.  

A workout finisher can be a single exercise, like a burpee, or a series of exercises strung together (squat, push up, pull up, etc).  Finishers typically take 1-10 minutes to complete, and can be organized into intervals or metabolic resistance training (think thrusters).  

A tough finisher will burn extra calories, boost cardio and work capacity while increasing the fat burning potential of the days workout.  

These days, I mainly string together several different exercises, using a variety of movement patterns and equipment.  From time to time, I’ll schedule a single exercise finisher, but it’s rare.  Burpees are a great exercise to use if you’re only going to do choose one.

Mixing Kettlebell Swings and Burpees

This post is all about one of the toughest workout finishers…

The word “burpee” makes me cringe. Burpees are a brutally effective exercise and I rarely program burpees into my own training simply because they are hard.

I shouldn’t admit that.

Burpees jack up your heart rate fast.  Few other bodyweight exercises compare to burpees for total body conditioning.  Burpees, though simplistic, are extremely functional.  Transitioning up from a low ground position to a standing position happens in sports all of time.  Maybe not for high reps like we program in a workout, but it happens.  

How do you make the burpee experience harder? Add in some kettlebell swings. 

This kettlebell swing and burpee workout finisher is brutal.  Back when my equipment arsenal consisted of 3 kettlebells, I gave the kettlebell swing/burpee finisher a go.

The combination fit the equipment and space I had available perfectly.   

I stopped twice on my first attempt. Not for extended periods, but long enough to consider throwing in the towel.  It’s hard to remember my finishing time, but I think it was less than 8 minutes.

I do remember the fatigue however, it was hard to gather myself.  I ate a pile of food that night and the following morning and the afterburn effect was potent.  

So I share this workout finisher with you. Keep it in your back pocket on the days where you’ve completed your skill work and strength training and still high on motivation.

Equipment needed… 

You’ll need one kettlebell and some space to for burpees. Ideally the burpees will include a squat jump each time (aka: full burpees), so take into account overhead clearance. Choose a kettlebell you can swing for 15-20 repetitions comfortably. It will be sub-maximal weight for the swings.

I recommend most males to swing a 24kg or a 28kg kettlebell and females to swing a 20kg or a 24 kg kettlebell.

Of course, you can swing whatever size kettlebell you want, the recommendations are just generalized suggestions.  A heavier or lighter kettlebell may be chosen based on your fitness level and experience with swings under extreme fatigue.

By design, this workout finisher has 100 kettlebell swings and 55 burpees.


10 KB Swings + 1 Burpee
10 KB Swings + 2 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 3 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 4 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 5 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 6 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 7 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 8 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 9 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 10 Burpees

The kettlebell swing reps remain fixed at 10, while the burpees increase by 1 rep each round. When you finish the 10th burpee on the last round, you’re done.

When you’re doing this workout finisher, it’s easy to lose track of what round you’re on.  I’ve performed several rounds twice by mistake.

Modification and Variations

Decrease Difficulty

There are a ton of options to reduce the stress of this workout finisher, here some examples:

Decrease kettlebell swings to 5 reps each round
Swing lighter kettlebell (keep reps at 10)
Burpee with no jump (removing the jump makes burpees easier)
Burpee with no push up and no jump (again, much easier)

Don’t forget… take rest if you need it.  Resting is a simple way to decrease the difficulty of this workout finisher.  The goal should be to push through each round without rest, but if you need it and technique depends on it, take it.

Increase Difficulty

Careful here.  Having completed this workout finisher periodically over the years, I know how brutal it can be.

Before trying to make this harder, set a target finish time finish of 6 minutes or less. Anything over 6 minutes and there is no reason to make it harder.  You’ve got progress to make before increasing the difficulty.

If you finish in less than 6 minutes, consider sizing up the weight of the kettlebell or adding an extra round where you’ll complete 11 burpees in the final effort.

I don’t foresee a lot of people needing more intensity, but there are always options to do so.

Variations to the original…

Smaller Cycles w/ rest periods

Keep kettlebell swings at 10 reps but stop at 5 reps of burpees.

Round 1:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 1 Burpee

Round 2:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 2 Burpees

Round 3:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 3 Burpees

Round 4:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 4 Burpees

Round 5:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 5 Burpees

Above is an example of one round.  

Rest for 90sec-120sec after this round before starting the next round.  Complete anywhere from 2-5 rounds total.  This decrease the working time in half and give you a chance to rest before going again.  

Break up the Burpees into separate movements

Instead of performing a full burpee with a push up and squat jump, break it up.  Now you’ll be performing like so:

Round 1:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 1 Push Ups + 1 Squats
Round 2:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 2 Push Ups + 2 Squats
Round 3:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 3 Push Ups + 3 Squats

And so on…

Flip-Flop Swing and Burpee Reps

Switch around the kettlebell swing and burpee reps.  

Round 1:  1 Kettlebell Swing + 10 Burpees
Round 2:  2 Kettlebell Swings + 10 Burpees
Round 3:  3 Kettlebell Swings + 10 Burpees

And so on…


The afterburn effect of this workout finisher is HUGE.  If you’re pushing your boundaries, you’ll feel it for hours post-workout.  Personally, I like to position something like this after a strength training session where I know the next day is a rest day.  

Workout finishers are great for adding in a little work capacity and increasing the fat loss potential of a workout.  

Give this a try and let me know how you did. 




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.





The Best Thanksgiving 2013 Workout… (That I could come up with…)

Quick Tips


I designed this workout to be a gut check burn out training session in honor of Thanksgiving 2013.

I’ll be honest, this workout is a beast.  

Normally, I abide by the “any fool can make another fool tired” motto, but hey, there is nothing wrong with crushing yourself every now and then.  Physically and mentally it feels good to attack a workout like you’re ascending to the peak Everest, just don’t make it an all of the time habit.  

Sustainable training habits, remember? 🙂

The workout is minimalist by design, using primarily bodyweight exercise to induce a massive training effect.  Notice that I offered an alternative to kettlebell swings if you don’t have any kettlebells.  The best part about this workout is that you should be able to execute it in a telephone booth.  In others, no matter where you’re at for this Thanksgiving 2013, this workout is a fully portable, anytime, anywhere workout.  You don’t need much space to kill it with this one.

The workout leverages a brutal ascending rep scheme.  What does that mean exactly?  It means that you’ll start the workout by executing each exercise in order (1-5 from top to bottom) completing 1 rep of each, then 2 reps, then 3 reps, then 4 reps, 5, 6, 7, 8 , 9, 10.  When you finish the last set of 10 burpees, you’re done.  Grab a drink, towel off and mop up the pool of sweat on the floor because its time for your recovery nutrition before you (and me too) gorge yourself on all of the Thanksgiving fixings.

As the volume increases by 1 rep for each round, take rest as it is needed.  Ideally, you would work through without rest as much as possible, but since exercise technique is vital, you may need to stop and breathe.  In this case, take a few seconds to gather yourself and push up.  Stay on your feet during this rest, don’t sit down.  Breathe deep and center yourself.  It’s just physical work, you can manage it, right?

If you cannot perform pistol squats or chin ups, remember the exercise regression for each.  Regress to traditional bodyweight squats or rear foot elevated split squats (aka: “Bulgarian Split Squat”).  For chin ups, loop a band around your knees for assistance or use small jumps to help initiate the pull vertically.  If you need more of a challenge, strap on a weight or add weight.  I can’t imagine would need it considering how high the volume is.  

By high volume, I am talking about 145 reps… for each exercise.  145 reps x 5 exercises = 725 reps.  That’s a lot.  That’s the kind of volume that can cause ridiculous muscular soreness in the coming days, and probably reduce you to scheduling rest days to heal your body.  You’ll bounce back.  🙂

Grab a stopwatch and time how long it takes to complete the workout.  If you’re up to it, bookmark this blog and leave your time in the comments section.

I’m sure there are a lot of workouts circulating the internet today, but give this one a shot.  If you can’t make it happen today, give it a shot tomorrow.  Lord knows we will all have plenty of calories banked from all of the feasting that awaits us.

If you’re a loyal reader of this blog, I’d like to offer a sincere thank you.  I appreciate you taking time out of your day to improve yourself physically, leveraging my workouts and other tips to give yourself a physical advantage.  It’s a great journey working to improve yourself physically.  

I’ll be releasing ebooks in 2013-2014 and also transitioning to a custom blog/website design.  Time to turn pro 🙂



Cheers to Thanksgiving and offsetting the damage with a kick ass workout!



Chin Up + Kettlebell Swing + Squat + Jump Rope + Push Up… Workout

Quick Tips

I’ve never felt inclined to name any of my workouts.  Thus, I give you the:

Chin Up + Kettlebell Swing + 2KB Squat + Jump Rope + Push Up…

… workout.

There is another organization that names all of their workouts, which isn’t a bad thing,  I just don’t feel like labeling my workouts with someone else’s name.  I could name this one “Brutus” or “Cactus Jack”.  Maybe I should name my workouts after WWF wrestlers past and present.  That would be cool.  Everyone seems to know WWF wrestlers names whether they admit to watching it or not.

I could use a numbering system I suppose, like “Workout #1” or “Level 5”, but maybe I’ll just call it what it is.

I selected the movements listed above because they represent most of the major movement patterns, and also because these exercise could be easily executed with the workout equipment that I had available the other day.

What did I have available?

As I mentioned, I typically only incorporate big movement patterns into circuits.  To be honest, I don’t like wasting time with exercises that hardly stress the prime movers.  Bicep curls and such are desert.  If I have time after I have completed what I often refer to as the “main meal”, I will work in the accessory exercises for fun.


I value my time.  Time is a commodity in my life (as I am sure that it is in your’s) so I prefer to get in, get out and get back out to experience other aspects of life.  Sure, I write about working out, structuring workouts, movement and nutrition a great deal, but that doesn’t mean that I am working out 2 hours a day.  Efficiency is the name of the game.  How effective can I make my workouts without taking away from other areas of my life that I also value.

Occasionally I will add an exercise or two that is slightly out of the box, but these movements are usually treated as a filler exercise (active rest) between more demanding exercises, or reserved for before or after the main circuit of the workout.

While I will admit that doing this is my personal preference, I would suspect that most of you will find that your own workouts are immediately enhanced by working in the big movements instead of a series of fillers.  More muscles engaged equals a greater training effective at the end of the workout session.

If you do more work in a smaller time frame, now you’ve primed your body for fat loss + muscle gain.

This is a great scenario, one that we need to keep advocating instead of “weight loss”.  You can lose weight by dehydrating yourself down to a raison in a sauna.  That’s weight loss, right?

Swap the fat tissue for muscle tissue.

Chase muscle and while running away from fat.

So what are the big movements?  In this case, the big movements that I leveraged for a training effect were:

I’m continually amazed at how effective bodyweight strength movements are, especially when organized into a circuit.

I can get the training effect that I desire while minimizing risk of injury and awful soreness in the days that is so commonly associated with resistance based training.   Of course, if you have never performed a push up or a squat, you’re going to be sore in the coming days.  That’s something you can expect with a new training stimulus and re-discovered muscle contraction.

Loading up on bodyweight style training sessions.  This type of training sessions should be heavily considered by anyone that struggles with achy joints, etc.  Bodyweight resistance exercise provides a low load introduction to basic strength drills, easing your body back into the swing of things.

Plus, being able to control your body exhibiting stability, strength and power through a healthy range of motion will do wonders for your performance, whether that performance be for sport or raking the leaves out of your yard.

So what does last weekends workout look like?

The structure looked something like this:

Metabolic Resistance Training Circuit

I loaded up most of the movements and went for 4 rounds, which took slightly over 20 minutes.  20 minutes continues to be the sweet spot for workout duration.  Anything more than that and I lose output, anything less and it seems like it wasn’t enough… as if I left some fuel in the tank.

20 minutes also seems to allow for focus on proper exercise technique (and grooving) while the fatigue continues to snowball.  Technique is important, don’t forget that.

If you take another look at the exercise selection above, I’d like to share a couple of substitutions that you could make.  If you cannot perform a bodyweight chin up, wrap a resistance band around the chin up bar you’re using, and stretch it down around your knee or foot.  This will assist you on the way up and ease you down from the top.

You could swap out standing broad jumps or squat jumps for the kettlebell swings, although there really isn’t a movement to mimic a kettlebell swing.  If you have dumbbells you could use those in a pinch, but again, there is no tool that functions quite like a kettlebell.

If you don’t have a suspension trainer, just do regular old push ups.  If you want a less expensive option that does a decent job of mimicking the push up+knee tuck combination, use furniture sliders or socks on a hard surface.  Both work decently.  I would go the furniture slide route if I had to choose.

If you don’t have kettlebells, dumbbells or a barbell for squats, you can do bodyweight squats just as well.  If bodyweight squats are easy, mix in pistols alternating each leg.  If you squats are too easy and pistols are too hard, use squat jumps.

If you don’t have a jump rope or a bike, run in place.  High knee with simultaneously arm action.  If you’re lucky enough to have a place to run a short distance, figure out how far it takes to run half of a 20 second shuttle run (10 sec out, 10 sec back).

As you can see, there is a progression, regression and alternative to just about every single movement known to man.  Once you know what a level up and a level down from an exercise is, you’re in business. Now you can OWN your workouts.

Replenish and refuel your body with some rock solid recovery nutrition, and you’ve just done your body good.



Cheers to Chin Ups, Kettlebell Swings, Squats, Jumping Rope and Push Ups!


PS:  Seriously check out the nutritional link that I posted above.  If you want to see dramatic change in your body and performance, nutrition is at the bottom rung of the pyramid.  

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:

Photo Credit:

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!


A Kettlebell Swing Workout (Part 2): Singles and Doubles

Quick Tips

An entire workout can be centered around the kettlebell swing.

There are very few exercises other exercises I would feel comfortable saying that about.  But the kettlebell swing is definitely a movement that be an all-in-one solution.  One stop shopping if you will.

Based on the popularity of my previous post, It’s Just a Kettlebell Swing Workout, I decided to go ahead and continue posting samplings of other kettlebell swing based workouts.

But I must be clear about one thing:  I am in no way endorsing that the kettlebell swing be the only exercise that you leverage in your movement training programs.

While the kettlebell swing is certainly a world-class movement, it is important to develop strength and power through other exercises as well.  Remember, the human body pushes, pulls, jumps, twists, carries, etc.

Humans have to be able to execute a wide range physical tasks if you stop and think about it.  Especially when you consider that you never really know what the demands of the workday or weekend are going to bring.

It really pays to be physically prepared.

Workouts are scheduled bouts of physical exertion.  You know exactly what is going to happen during a workout and how it is going to happen.  So much of our daily lives are unscheduled, random and out of our control.  The workout is one aspect of our lives that we can control.  We control the amount of effort, intensity, exercise selection and duration of the workout.  We have complete control of what happens during this brief period of time.

It’s a real turn on for some people who feel like they have little control over anything else in their schedule.

Anyways, back to the point of this blog post.

Kettlebell swings, and how we can organize and rearrange kettlebell swings into highly effective training sessions.

When I sense boredom creeping up on my training habits (as many of you have also experienced) I know that it is time to shuffle a few things around.  I value the impact that 2-handed kettlebell swings- especially heavier swings for longer duration work sets- can have on maintaining my body composition, but I also know that too much of anything can be a bad thing.

Boredom is part of being human, so it’s important to inject energy into your training sessions.

In this case, single arm swings added an element to my training session that reinvigorated the entire session.

Here is what the workout looked like.

Kettlebell Swing Workouts

If you get serious about adopting kettlebell swings into your workouts, you’re quickly find that your body will enter a different realm of lean.  I have to admit that I thought kettlebells were gimmicky in the beginning, but after submerging myself into kettlebells exclusively one Summer, I prove my own opinions incorrect.

I got really lean, really quick.  From just swinging the damn thing between my legs, back and forth like a pendulum.  The concept seemed too good to be true initially.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t have the greatest technique at the time, but I had established a great foundation of all around strength, stability and resilience to fatigue which allowed me to continue advancing my workouts.

This is an important point.  I would strongly advise that anyone reading this post go and seek out a professional who has the credentials of a high level swinger.  RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) or StrongFirst certified individuals would be a great place to start.  Most of these folks were trained under Pavel Psatsouline, who is the godfather of kettlebells in the Western World.  You would get fantastic tips, tricks and technique adjustment from these individuals.

But, if you have a willingness to learn and a decent bodily awareness, I also personally believe that you can teach yourself how to swing at home.  Set up a smart phone and shoot short clips of yourself swinging.  Compare it to other videos like the following:

Neghar has great technique… check out her blog

Pay attention to the difference in your technique and Neghar’s swing technique.  Critique yourself bit by bit.  Make the small adjustments.  Most people will notice that they are “lifting” the bell versus swinging it, or squatting versus hinging the hips.

We have the ability to teach ourselves things- not just mental education but physical education also- which I sometimes think that we forget.  We can be self-sustaining.

If you find that you have little time, and want a workout that is bare bones simple, try this little diddy…

10 minute kettlebell swing workoutRecently, I jumped into this exact workout prior to my evening plans.  I didn’t have much time to train but needed to get some amount of work done to feel good about myself, so this 10 minute workout fit the bill.  Using a 28kg KB, I recorded 215 swings.  Not a world record but also not too bad in my mind.

Kettlebell swings are a highly productive exercise.  Add them to your training, and with an ounce of consistency I know that you’ll see some significant return on your investment.  Just do it.

Cheers to swing workouts!


A Simple Kettlebell Swing and Jump Rope Workout for You to Try

Quick Tips

I love simplicity and this workout doesn’t disappoint on that front.  

When I am not training to build raw strength, I love work capacity style training sessions to improve cardiovascular performance, maintain my strength and probably best of all… stay lean.  I don’t have to sacrifice muscle with work capacity training sessions that use resistance-based exercises.  This is important to me as my goal is to keep bodyfat low, not lose muscle mass.

Keeping muscle mass is the reason that most people stay lean in the first place, it is a calorie consuming tissue.  It takes more calories to sustain muscle than it does to sustain fat.  Keep trying to build more muscle at all costs.

I will never deny that work capacity training is unreal for people who seek fat loss or those who have already lost fat and just want basic maintenance training.  I hold the opinion that we can organize these work capacity workouts to be just as effective without all of the risk of injury.  Choose exercises and the variables wisely (rest periods, work periods, load, etc)  

That is an idea worth pursuing in my humble opinion.  Keep people safe and while getting rid of fatty tissue at a rapid rate.

You get the vibe.   

Let’s get into the workout.

So here is what you’ll need on hand for this workout:

–  Small space (8x8ft or so)

–  Jump Rope

–  Kettlebell that you can swing 20 times with no problems (lighter than your best)

–  Interval Timer or any other timing device


Here is how the workout will be structured:

1)  You’ll be working in 2 minute segments, alternating between the following drills w/o rest in between:

  • 1 minute of jump rope
  • 15 Kettlebell Swings

2)  After your last rep of kettlebell swings, rest for the remainder of the 2 minute block.

3)  Catch your breath, towel off, grab a drink and set up for jumping rope once again.

4)  Once the clock reaches the 2 minute mark, you’ll begin jumping rope for 1 minute followed immediately by 15 kettlebell swings.

*** There is NO REST between the transition from jumping rope and kettlebell swings.

 ***Just so I can make sure that you understand the structure of the rounds, you’ll begin the next set of jumping rope (after 20min) at:  18min, 16min, 14min, 12min, 10min…etc.  Does this make sense?  


Why do I love workouts like this?

Because I can get the cardio training effect that I want while staying vertical and using a movement like kettlebell swings to elicit a near total body muscular contraction.  Kettlebell swings are notorious for being a great method for decreasing body fat, and jumping rope is a skill that everyone could stand to get better at.  Vertical cardio work like this is highly functional if I do say so myself, especially when you compare it to other forms of cardio that involve fixed machines like elipticals, treadmills and recumbent bikes.  

Staying on your feet while working through fatigue has great carryover to the demands of life.  

I value this aspect of a workout like this.  

Holding posture during the later rounds of the jump rope will be challenging, but it’s important to control your breathing patterns as you fatigue.  It’s not as bad as you think it is, so relax, stay vertical and let the air flow in and out.  Focus hard on technique with the kettlebell swing.  If it gets sloppy, stop the set and rest until the next bout of jumping rope arrives.  


—>  Beginners

If you’re a beginner, you can scale the workout back a bit to better suit your abilities.  Try jumping for 30-45 seconds and swinging for 8-10 reps.  You could even knock off a few rounds, and work through say 8 rounds instead of 10.  It’s up to you how you want to work it out.


—>  Advanced

If you want to ramp it up beyond the original workout listed above, your best bet is to add a few rounds or increase the weight of the kettlebell.  I have done as many as 15 x 2 minute rounds (30 minutes total work) which got a little long I must admit.  

This is a great workout that can truly breathe fresh air into your currently training schedule.  If you are sick of boring ass cardio, give this a shot.  A workout like this will have a far greater impact than jogging or biking for the same about of time.  It’s important to know that you have alternatives to traditional cardio training.  

Trade the treadmill for a kettlebell and a jump rope.  Then get to work. 

Simple training tools, simple exercises and simple workout structure… Enjoy!


Cheers to swings and jumps!






How to Choose Exercises for a Time Efficient Total Body Circuit Training Workout For Strength and Fat Loss

Quick Tips

If you’re in the market to lose a little fat, circuit training is for you.  The bonus is that you’re going to build some strength and work capacity in the process.  Or maybe it is the other way around, maybe the bonus is that you’re going to burn some fat while you make an effort to build strength and work capacity?

Benefits of Circuit Training

Either way you look at it, you’re circuit training is going to kill multiple birds with one stone.  This is time leverage for a workout.  If you’re going to make the time to workout, you should really be utilizing a training method that is going to continue to work for you even after you finish the last rep.  That’s smart training.

When I say “circuit training, I’m not referring the kind of training where you move from one machine to the next.  There will be no use of machines- at least not how they were designed to be used- on this blog.  I can confidently say that.  An able-bodied human needs to move about their joints freely, not sit on a machine.

I guess I don’t mind fitness machines… for hanging my jacket on them when I arrive to the gym.

Total body circuit training should fatigue just about every single muscle in your body by the end of the training session.  That’s why we call it “total body”.  In fact, I will make the argument that just about every circuit training workout should be total body.  I guess am just not a fan of training the upper body on one day and the lower body on the next, or splitting sessions up by body parts.

The total body approach builds athleticism.  Circuit training using the total body approach will allow you to perform more work using heavier loads for each movement pattern while remaining as fresh as possible.

That’s a mouthful.

The most effective circuit training in the world involves strength based (or resistance based) multi-joint movements.

If you aren’t familiar with the terms “multi-joint movements”, I am referring to exercises like:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-Ups
  • Chin-Ups
  • etc…

All of these movements require freedom of movement about multiple joints and recruitment from multiple muscles.

Total body muscular fatigue.

Just because I keep saying total body, doesn’t mean that you’ll be performing 20 different exercises in a training session.  Don’t confuse that.  The goal with exercise selection is to keep it simple and focused.

When selecting exercises to incorporate prior to the workout, there is a simple format that you can follow to help you along.

You can literally plug any exercise into the following categories and whammo!… You’ve got yourself a quality training session.

Here are the movement patterns that I would like you to address during the session:

1)  Total Body Explosive  (Kettlebell swings, thrusters, etc)

2)  Upper Body Vertical Pulling (Chin ups, pull ups, etc)

3)  Lower Body Pushing (squats)

4)  Core/Pillar (ab wheel rollouts, body rocks, suspension trainer pendulums)

5)  Upper Body Horizontal Push (Push-Ups, bench press, etc)

6)  Lower Body Hip Dominant (Lunge, deadlift, hamstring curls, etc)

7)  Cardio Filler (Schwinn Airdyne, mountain climbers, jump rope, etc)

Exercises for Circuit Training

Seven categories of movements that will build you a lean athletic body: burn fat, develop strength and power, improve performance and save you time in the gym or at home.

Here is how the exercise would be ordered for the training session:

Effective Circuit Training

A workout like this is what I call a leveraged training session.  Time is leveraged and the training effect of the workout is leveraged.  Just about any workout is to elicit a metabolic response, but an aggressive workout like this done 3-4 times per week will really shake up your system.

A workout like this combined with some sensible food choices will send a body transformation into overdrive.

Where people fail, is they fail to take action.  Or, if they take action, the motivation to stick with the program begins to fizzle out.

Stay with it for at least 4-6 weeks and you’re going to see some amazing changes take place.  Trust me here.

But you have to stay with it.


Cheers to DIY circuit training!


I Love Kettlebell Swings

Quick Tips

Over the years I have found that I like certain movements more than others.

My favoritism toward kettlebell swings has nothing to do with my swing technique, efficiency, any muscular dominance, body composition, etc.

I just like kettlebell swings.  Actually, I love kettlebell swings.

Talk to anyone who has been training for any length of time, and their disclosure initially might be that a balanced program is the best approach (which it is), but dig a little bit deeper and they will spill the beans that they have favorite exercises also.  It’s natural.  Just as people tend to favor certain brands of clothing, so do we favor and enjoy certain movements more than others.

—>  I wasn’t a jumper, but now I am…

I used to be the guy that would watch other people jump off the bridge first.  I would watch them hit the water, then determine if I should jump based on their experience.

What I’m saying is that I used to have mentality that was rather conservative when it came to training tactics.  Eric Cressey mentioned in a recent post on T-Nation that he is approached with a lot of crazy workout shit at conferences.  Some of it has worth and makes sense, and some of it is flat-out nuts.

I thought kettlebell swings looked flat-out… nuts.

That was the strength coach mentality in me though.  Any new method or piece of equipment was required to make it through a very fine mesh filter before I ever thought about implementing it into our programs.

—>  Humbling myself with swings…

My first experience with any “swing” type movement pattern involved a 45lb dumbbell mixed into a circuit.  I can remember it like it was yesterday.  I was working out with a friend and colleague in Michigan, and we thought we would mess around with a modified swing to see how it felt.

Honestly, it felt good.  It felt unnatural, but that was because it was new.  The new feeling was to be expected.

Fast forward a couple of years, I finally got my hands on a kettlebell at a Perform Better conference in Chicago.  The heaviest bell they were selling was a 20kg, which equates to about 44lbs.  It felt heavy as hell.

Keeping my pride intact, I didn’t dare swing it at the conference.  I saved that moment for my return to the hotel room.  I will say that carrying that little guy through the sky walk out to the parking garage really sucked.  It was basically a 3/4 mile farmer, waiter bear hug carry.  Makes me laugh just thinking about how disgustingly sweaty I was.

Once I returned to the hotel room, I geared up and worked my way through a proper warm up.  I had no idea how to swing a kettlebell, but I understood movement:  hip hinging, breathing, etc.

That 20kg buried me.  

This is the same 20kg that buried me a few years ago.

  • My grip strength felt inadequate.
  • My hip snap (hip extension) felt inadequate.
  • My conditioning felt inadequate.

—> I had a Lance Armstrong moment…

Now I know that implementing new training methods can make a person feel somewhat deconditioned.  A perfect example of this would be the transition from cycling to running.  Take Lance Armstrong for example.  When he got off of the bike and took up running, everyone thought (based on his world-class conditioning) that he would finish quite high in the New York Marathon.  He finished with a time of 2:59:36 in 2006 and commented that, “without a doubt was the hardest thing physically that I have ever done”.

Lance Armstrong, despite whatever feelings you have toward him after confessing to taking PED’s, is a world-class athlete.  Even without PED’s, he is in the top 1% of athletes in the world.  Don’t forget that.  He is world-class physically in his sport.  But, the interesting thing here is that the transfer of his bike conditioning into his running conditioning helped, but not nearly as much as many sports performance experts thought.  Based on endurance related stats on him, he should have finished in the top 20.

—> Back to my love of swings…

Short story long (yes I just said that)… that is exactly how I felt swinging that piece of cast iron that day.

Since that time, I have submerged myself into the kettlebell world, trying to get a true grasp of what place the tool has in the fat loss game, strength and conditioning for athletes arena, and generally seeking to acquire a larger respect for the tool.

Kettlebells are a device that aren’t going to disappear.  They are here to stay.  Gyms across the world are starting to offer their members access to kettlebells.  I think that’s both very cool and very dangerous.

Cool because we are introducing people to ground based movement.  Dangerous because a lot of people can’t move properly without kettlebells, much less with kettlebells.  There definitely is a danger factor there.

I typically swing 3-4 days per week.  The volume of swinging varies from workout to workout, but I value the kettlebell swing so much that it now has a permanent place in my daily warm-up and workout.  In the workout, I have used swings as an important puzzle piece in complexes and circuits, and also as the ONLY puzzle piece on occasion.

Yes, sometimes my workout will only involve kettlebell swings and I love that.

A kettlebell swing ONLY workout puts the simplicity back into training and staying lean yet functional.

A single movement workout puts the “art” back into training because my focus is on one thing and one thing only… my swing technique.  I have really come to appreciate the discipline required to put sooooo much effort into perfecting a movement.  Maybe I will be a world-class kettlebell swinger, maybe not.

What I do know is that the kettlebell swing is an incredible movement worth learning more about.  If you’re an evidence based exerciser, go grab a bell and swing it for 4-6weeks with decent form and tell me what happens to your body composition.  “Evidence base” that you turkeys.  I maintain my stance on the results-based approach.

—>  A nice little kettlebell article…

There was a kettlebell article that came out a few years ago that showed the effectiveness of kettlebell training, and you can find that paper by clicking on the link below:

—> Twice the Results in Half the Time?

*Please just read what the researcher found and not the program that they recommend, yikes.

kettlebell training picture

Zoning in on the perfection of one movement reminds me of my days as a youngster participating Tae Kwon Do (yes I am a black belt… or was a black belt).  The martial arts are an incredible example of progression, discipline and art.  High level martial artists practice the same movements over and over and over and over.  Most people would fizzle out on that in short time.  The mind control required to perfect the basics in order to earn the right to progress to the complex is such an admirable thing.

The modern-day strength coach will roll his/her eyes at this, but hey… I could give a rip because it’s my blog.  Don’t like it?  Change the channel.

As for the rest of you… give the swing a try.  Don’t judge it until you try it, and when you finally do try it, take the time necessary to learn the technique.  Your technique will not be perfect on the first set.  However, progressing at a reasonable pace with attention to detail will quickly put you in a position to integrate the kettlebell swing into your own training programs.

Cheers to swinging the fat off your body…


Two Movements… “Loads” of Fun

20 minute Workouts, Kettlebell Training

If you didn’t catch my original post about my introduction to kettlebell training, you can find it here:

Kettlebells for Beginners

I posted some pretty cool demonstrations inside of the post to help make my points.  I am a visual learner, so I would expect that many of my readers are as well.

In my effort to expose some of the training methods the I have used to stay lean over the last 4 years away from the traditional gym, I will be posting more and more sample workouts using a wide variety of training tools.

As you’ll soon see, I don’t discriminate when it comes to training tools.  If it makes sense, it has a place.

Some workouts will involve just one tool, and some will fuse many different tools into one workout.  The fusion of methods is important for overall development.  Close your mind to one style of training and you may close the door on a valuable opportunity.

What follows is a simple workout that I have adapted over time.

It’s one of my favorites because it reminds me of how simple effective training can be.

It has become a mainstay movement/skill based training session for kettlebell work, but provides so much bang for your buck that I had to share it with you…

Here you go…

Tools needed:  Gymboss Interval Timer and 24kg kettlebell (go lighter if need be)


“Swings and TGU’s”

1)  10 minutes Alternating Turkish Get-Ups


2)  15sec on/ 15sec rest for 24rounds of 2-Hand Kettlebell Swings (24kg)

***Complete #1 in its entirety, rest for 1-2 minutes, then complete #2.


As always, if you are new to this time based training… Use your head.  You will get an amazing training effect even if you have to dial back the time to 5, 6 or 7 minutes of turkish get ups.  In fact, you shouldn’t even worry about performing this workout if you have never done a Turkish Get-Up.

A time based workout is not the place to learn a new movement.  Develop your technical skill before diving into a workout.

Check out a tutorial and all around fun way to learn Turkish Get-Ups right here.