How to Make a Home Workout Out of Crawling and Kettlebell Swings


Today’s home workout includes two exercises that are perfect for the home gym: crawling and kettlebell swings.  

The theme is SIMPLICITY.  

Combining two exercises might sound limited, but if you select the right exercises it can be a deadly way to achieve a total-body training effect. 

Workouts don’t need to be complicated to be effective.  There doesn’t need to be a long list of exercises to work through.  

Alternating between two non-competing movements reduces decision fatigue, makes the workout time efficient and keeps things focused.

I could design a 5-day per workout training program with each day focused on two major movement patterns and a sprinkling of cardio conditioning.

It’d look something like this:

Day 1:  Mobility, Crawling, Kettlebell Swings

Day 2:  Mobility, Upper Body Pull, Squat

Day 3:  Mobility, Cardio Circuit

Day 4:  Mobility, Turkish Get-Ups, Flow Sequence

Day 5:  Mobility, Upper Body Push, Deadlift or Hip Thrust

A person could slip a core movement in on Days 1, 2 and 5 to complete the motif. 

👉👉👉 Notice each workout starts with dedicated joint mobility conditioning. 🤔

But in the spirit of keeping the main thing the main thing… today’s blog post is about crawling and kettlebell swings.  

Wait, isn’t crawling just for kids?


Adults can reap the rewards of crawling throughout life, even if just from the perspective of re-learning a movement skill.

This article will cover the benefits of crawling and kettlebell swings, variations of both exercises and how to organize them into nano-circuits sure to test your metal. 


Even the worst-of-the-worst home gym spaces and cramped hotels are crawling approved, which is why I love it so much.  

6-8 feet of straightaway space can accommodate a dynamic crawl.  Even if you had to train in place, there are ways to modify the crawl.    


If you’re new to crawling start with flat surfaces.  However, as you gain strength and coordination with the patterns, consider increasing the challenge by introducing obstacles, crawling over, under and around different terrain creates a whole new challenge.  

Most people will be humbled by the difficulty of crawling.  It looks easy but it’s not.  

The shoulders, chest, core, and hips tire quickly, which is not necessarily an indicator of an effective workout, but more so a point to make for folks who think crawling looks “too easy”.  

I’ve been crawling consistently in my workouts for about 3 years now.  My first few sessions really sucked.  I lacked coordination, had limited endurance and really had no connection with my limbs.  Hand and foot contacts were loud and sloppy.  

God bless the process of adaptation. 🙌

Let’s close out this section with a few known benefits of crawling:

  •  Spatial awareness
  •  Total body strength and conditioning 
  •  Coordination
  •  Confidence (movement skill education)
  •  Minimalist (can be performed anywhere, anytime)
  •  Scalable for beginners to elite movers
  •  Easily adjusted to elicit different training effects
  •  Pair well with other exercises (lower body, pulling, swings)
  •  Natural movement other than lifting weights and linear cardio

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings pack a punch considering how minimalist they are.  

If you’ve got 1 kettlebell, you’re GOOD TO GO.  And not just good to engage in swings.  You’ve got access to the entire catalog of kettlebell exercises, combinations, and workouts.

Like crawling, kettlebell swings can be performed in extremely small spaces, outside, hotel rooms, etc.  This makes swings an excellent exercise choice for home gyms.  

Loaded cardio training, which some refer to as metabolic conditioning, is a great fat loss accelerator.  Kettlebell swings, in particular, seem to strip fat but hold on to hard-earned lean muscle.  

There are many case studies of people who have undergone incredible body transformations by leveraging a basic caloric deficit and higher volume kettlebell swings.  

Power training is essential for aging adults.  As we age, we lose power roughly faster than strength.  Kettlebells swings can improve power with a short learning curve. 

Benefits of kettlebell swings:

  • Increased power for the go muscles (posterior chain)
  • Builds a strong back
  • Grip endurance
  • Quick learning curve
  • Minimalist… 1 kettlebell for a great workout
  • Time-efficient total body training
  • Cardio, both aerobic and anaerobic
  • Pair well with other exercises (ex: crawling)

Crawling Variations 

📺 Forward/Backward Crawl

📺 Sideways (Lateral) Crawl

📺 Bear Walk

📺 Lizard Crawl

You can see how the lizard crawl and bear walk differ with regard to hip position.  

Bear walks keep the hips high with the arms straight (soft elbows).  The lizard crawl drops the hips close to the floor and with elbows flexed.   


Kettlebell Swing Variations

The video above demonstrates 3 basic kettlebell swing variations:

  • 2-hand kettlebell swing
  • 1-hand kettlebell swing
  • Hand-to-hand swing

There are a lot more variations to explore, but I would consider these to be the fundamentals. 

We will pair these variations up with a crawling pattern for each of the nano-circuits shared below. 

Nano-Circuit Training

[I made up the Nano-Circuit description, so don’t go searching for any white paper support.]

Nano-Circuits are work-sets that include 3 exercises or less.  

Attacking smaller circuits with only 2 exercises being performed in alternating fashion for set reps or time is a great way to focus on the task at hand.  

Reducing the exercises removes the amount of thinking involved, or having to remember what exercise comes next and for how many reps, time under tension, etc.  

All of your energy can be directed at moving well.  

Here are a few ideas for you to try:          

Forward/Backward Crawl + 2-Arm Kettlebell Swings

Accumulate 20 yards of forward and backward crawling.  The target distance for the crawl should not burn you out on the first set.  After finishing the crawl, step up to the kettlebell and perform 10 swings.  

Side-to-Side Crawl + Single Arm Kettlebell Swings

Accumulate 20 yards of side to side crawl.  If 20 yards is too far, shorten the distance.  Upon finishing the crawl, step up to the kettlebell and perform 10 reps of 1-hand swings.  

The Medley:  FW/BW/Side-to-Side + Bear Walk + 2 -Arm Swings

Let’s shake things up a little bit and include forward, backward, side-to-side crawl, bear walk… and then 2-arm swings. Perform each crawl variation for 10 yards before switching to the next variation.  Swing the kettlebell 10 times. 

Lizard Crawl + Hand to Hand Kettlebell Swings

Obliques are going to take a beating with this combo.  The lizard crawl is one of the toughest crawling patterns. Lizard crawling might require shortening the crawl distance because of how aggressive it is.  Play around with it.  Perform 5 reps per arm with the hand to hand swings.  Use a lighter kettlebell if needed. 

I am a HUGE proponent of moving with discipline. 

Not every exercise needs to be picture-perfect from the get-go.

Beginners will feel and look wobbly, which is why selecting an exercise variation of the appropriate difficulty level is so important. 

Even with simple exercises, movement mechanics are rarely sexy in the early days.

No matter which exercise variations you choose, establish the discipline DO IT RIGHT, versus opting to do it fast, intensely or while versus blasting through it chasing burn. 

Generally, moving slow to learn exercises and develop strength, mechanics, and coordination.  

I think people chase fatigue by rushing through exercises far too early in the process.

Learn slow, create a solid foundation, then add in the sexy stuff.

A fun challenge is making a 10-yard crawl last 60 seconds or longer


How to Make Turkish Get Ups More Challenging

Kettlebell Training

The Turkish Get Up is not only one of the premier kettlebell exercises, but one of the best exercises on the planet.

In the past, I’ve done my best to avoid playing favorites with exercises, but if I could only choose one exercise, it would be Turkish Get Ups. 

Blending total body strength, joint range of motion, movement transitions, functionality and options to modify for a cardio training effect, the Turkish Get Up exercise checks a lot of boxes all in one shot.  

In this article, I’m going to share how to add exercises to an already complex exercise, to make it, well, more complex.  

Many Exercises Rolled Into One

Boiled down, a single repetition of Turkish Get Up is made up of a diagonal crunch, modified lateral plank, hip lift, kneeling windmill, lunge, and static overhead carry.

Every pattern listed is performed concentrically and eccentrically.   

Start in a lying position.  Roll up to the elbow, then the hand.  Lift the hips, bring the leg underneath, windmill up to kneeling.  Lunge to stand up.  Reverse the flow.  

The only major movement pattern Turkish Get Ups don’t really address is upper body pulling.  


I’ll show you how to include bent-over rows to get your pulling work in.  

There is an infinite number of ways to reorganize traditional Turkish Get Ups without losing the incredible benefits of the exercise.  

Since the main positions of Turkish Get Ups include lying, kneeling and standing, we can slip exercises into each of these positions to create a brand new movement challenge.  

Here are some examples of exercises that can be added to the traditional Turkish Get Up pattern to increase the movement complexity.

Turkish Get Ups w/ Cleans, Pressing, Squats and Z-Press

Once in a standing position, the exercise options are limitless.  

The kettlebell clean and press is a staple combination.  Descending down to the floor with an offset loaded kettlebell front squat gives the body a dose of asymmetric loading.  

Once seated, get tight and press the kettlebell overhead.  

Expect the Z-Press to be the limiting exercise with regard to weight selection.  

Pressing from this position is far more strict compared to other overhead press variations.   


Turkish Get Ups w/ Cossack Squats and 1-Arm Swings

I place a high value on being able to squat in different ways.  

People have beaten the mechanics of the basic bilateral squat to death.  

Cossack Squats require pretty aggressive hip mobility and strength in an uncommon pattern that a lot of people just don’t train.  The adductors will be singing.  

Once standing, the hand-to-hand 1 Arm Swings deliver a short burst dose of loaded conditioning and indirect core training.

Turkish Get Ups w/ Squats

Normally, Turkish Get Ups are performed with a lunge to stand and return to the lying position.  This variation removes the lunge completely, using squats instead.

Caution:  Must have sufficient shoulder/t-spine mobility and stability for this.  


Turkish Get Ups w/ Bent Rows

One knock against calling Turkish Get Ups a “total body exercise” is the lack of upper body pulling.  This variation provides a solution by including bent over rows.


Turkish Get Ups w/ Pistol Squats and Z-Press

Pistol squats, the slang description for unsupported single leg balance squats, are one of the best squat variations I know.

Improving single leg performance is great for sport and daily living.

At the halfway point, it’s time to return to the floor.  This variation leverages an overloaded eccentric pistol squat for the descent mechanism, which is pretty challenging and effective way to return the ass to the ground.

Once settled, press the kettlebell overhead with a strict Z-Press.

In my own training…

… I engage in exclusive Turkish Get Up workouts several days per week.  

To be clear, the “work” part of these workouts ONLY includes Turkish Get Ups, nothing else.  

Mobility exercises come first to prime my body.  

I pull out the kettlebells, set the timer, turn on the music and start moving.  

These sessions start with a lighter weight kettlebell, gradually bumping up in weight every 4-5 minutes.  

I like to finish the session with a heavy kettlebell, testing my will, focus and ability to stay organized physically while the fuel tank runs low.

Controlled movement while under fatigue is an underlying goal of most of my training.  Explore new movements while fresh, morph the basics for conditioning and mental tests. 

Yes, these sessions can be monotonous, but they are free of bullshit and any unnecessary exhaustive decision making in the gym.  

The work is non-stop.  I’ll take rest for a sip of water and to towel off the sweat, but always getting right back into the work.

Fatigue is going to set in as time passes.  This is understood and accepted.  

When the body becomes fatigued, movement quality degrades.  

Maintain awareness about how fatigue impacts movement, blurs the mind-body connection and also how to continue moving with quality.

If rest is needed, it is taken.   

Expanding movement capacity is best done while fresh.  But don’t forget how to program your body to move well when tired.  

The key is to know thyself, which means knowing your current fitness level and when you’re about to overstep your capacity to exercise safely.  


General Tips/Insight/Common Sense

The question of “how many reps should I do” varies greatly from person to person.

I prefer to set a timer (anywhere from 10-20 minutes) and begin working.  You might only be able to go for 5 minutes.  Who cares.  Celebrate the effort and build on it.  

Focus on QUALITY repetitions.  Take breaks as needed to execute quality reps.

Despite the soul-sucking marathon workouts found in at-home DVD’s, magazines and on social media, it’s unnecessary to beat yourself into a pulp every single workout.  

Deliver a potent dosage of movement, get on with your day.  Rest, recover, regenerate, grow stronger. 

Learn each add-on movement in an isolated fashion.  Do not Z-Press in the middle of a Turkish Get Up having never performed a Z-Press before.  Do not attempt swings, cleans, rows, etc… having not practiced each of these exercises in isolation.

Make sense? 

Always dabble with light weight first.  Playing with new movement combinations while flinging a heavy kettlebell increases the risk of disaster.  We can mitigate the risk of injury by using lighter, more manageable weight.   

Again… move with quality.  There’s a time and place for high intensity, balls to the wall, aggressive exercise with a little less emphasis on precise movement.  

Turkish Get Ups are not an exercise to rush through. Embrace the slow, meticulous grind.  Move with purpose, grace, soft hand/foot touches and strength in transitions.  


Don’t forget to breathe. 

Kettlebell Clean – Press- Squat


Years ago when I was low on cash and training in my studio apartment, my lone pair of 24kg kettlebells provided workout after challenging workout.  Making the most of a tiny home gym also gave me PHD in resourcefulness. 

Kettlebell training is unique, unlike any other mode of training.

Bursting onto the fitness scene in the early 2000s, kettlebells gradually became a mainstay piece of equipment in gyms all over the world.

Kettlebells disrupted fitness.  The spotlight was shifted really functional loaded exercises.  Drills like swings, cleans, snatches, Turkish Get Ups and other combinations became the new standard.  Most of which performed in standing position.

Though the effectiveness of kettlebell training has never changed, the novelty of the tool has since dissipated, which is common in the fitness industry.  

Exercises, equipment, and methods lose their popularity in the mainstream… here today, gone tomorrow.  

“Bring in the next shiny toy of the year, please!”.  

Despite the sex appeal fading a bit, basic kettlebell exercises remain brutally effective for building strength, conditioning, and fat loss.  

I’m one of those people who don’t forget.   

Outside of nutrition, sleep, hydration and adequate non-exercise activity on a daily basis… short burst kettlebell training (high intensity, low rest, etc) is amazing for burning body fat.

And yes, if you want to maximize workouts, you’d better be auditing habits outside of the gym.  Don’t sabotage your efforts. 


Kettlebell Clean, Press and Squat Combo

The clean, press and squat combination is a prime example of how a simple 3 exercise circuit can be leveraged to produce a significant training effect.  

And it doesn’t require much time at all.  15-20 minutes at most. 

For your eyes only… 

This kettlebell combination features 3 staple exercises:  clean, press and squat.  

Each exercise is performed with very little or no rest in between each exercise.  

Smooth transitions between each exercise is the goal.

Changing levels with the kettlebell… cleaning the bell from under the legs up to the front rack position, pressing overhead, back down to the front rack for the squat for repetitions…

… is pure work.  

This work creates a total body training stimulus.  

It’s the “magic sauce” of this combination.  

Before moving on, here are some key thoughts:

  •  You must have a working familiarity with each exercise before engaging in this circuit.
  •  Respect fatigue and what it does to the body while under load (increase rest if needed)
  •  Work reps, rounds and rest periods appropriate to your 
  •  Choose a sub-maximal kettlebell weight that allows for 10-12 reps per exercise (even though you’re going to do 6 reps).
  •  Not sure what weight to start with? Go light, work up as needed.
  •  Keep the workout short (15-20 minutes at most)



Not everyone is going to have access to a pair of kettlebells that are the same weight, or maybe they are the same weight, but too light or too heavy for your current fitness level.  

One of the most important ideas in staying fit is becoming resourceful.  When space is limited, equipment is scarce or time is tight, DO NOT FOLD.

How many times do we read a workout blog or fitness article and realize we don’t have the same set up the author did?  I’ve had this experience hundreds of times.  

What do you do?  Make adjustments, move forward, get the work done.

No kettlebells?  It’s ok!  Here are some equipment alternatives:

  • Barbell (same exercises and reps)
  • Dumbbells (same exercises and reps)
  • *Bodyweight (change exercises and reps)

Barbells and dumbbells are the most common pieces of weight training equipment in the world.  Most hotel gyms, YMCAs, 24Hour Fitness or Big Box Gym is going to have one or the other.  

Both allow for the clean+press+squat exercise combination to be performed.  The main difference between barbells/dumbbells and kettlebells is the design and how you can maneuver them.  

Barbell training fixes both hands to the shaft of the barbell.  For some people, this is great because you’re not having to control each hand independently.  

Dumbbells allow for independent arm work, but the shape of dumbells means you’ll have to tweak hand position/technique for each exercise.  These are subtle adjustments are mainly to avoid bumping the dumbells into your body on each movement.  

Bodyweight.  Now, if you’ve got no equipment available whatsoever, you’re still in the game, don’t worry!  You’ve got plenty of options.  Tons.  

When resources are scarce, you make adjustments, adapt and push forward.  Don’t get hung up on imperfections. 


Try this bodyweight combination…

Wouldn’t it be great if life was perfect all day, everyday?  Yes, it would be. 

(👋 slap across the face)

Life’s not perfect and never will be, so the best practice is to be ready to embrace the situation presented and make do with what you’ve got.

If bodyweight is the only option for the workout, consider digging into this circuit:

  •  Alternating Split Squat Jumps
  •  Dive Bomber Push-Ups
  •  Air squat (or variations: pistols, rear foot elevated, etc)
  •  Burpees

– 6-8 reps per exercise

– 6-10 rounds

– Limited/no rest between exercises

– 45-90 seconds rest after each round.

Perform in descending order (top to bottom) without rest between exercises.  Alternating split squat jumps first, then dive bomber push ups, etc…  

Factoring in no weight is being used to load these exercises, consider increasing reps per exercise, increasing the number of rounds performed or reducing the rest periods.  

Be mindful not to adjust all of these variables in one shot, it may create more fatigue than what your body can handle.  It’s like fine-tuning the dial on a boombox to get the signal of a radio station.  

Tweak here, tweak there.

Burpees?!?! What?!?! I h*te you!?

I don’t believe burpees are the greatest exercise on the planet. 

Some people do, I do not.

Burpees are often blindly prescribed to the wrong people and abused by many, but burpees are an incredible exercise to increase heart rate quickly and condition the entire body… in a pinch.

Personally, I rarely perform burpees.  But if I have few other options, hell yeah, I’m going to rip out some burpees.  

Don’t tar and feather me.

👉👉👉 Up for a challenge?  Try this burpee variation.

So, you have access to kettlebells, but… 

  • Kettlebells are too light
    • Increase the reps 
    • Increase the rounds
    • Decrease the rest periods
    • Add other kettlebell moves or filler bodyweight exercises
  • Kettlebells are too heavy (for desired rep range)
    • Decrease the reps
    • Decrease rest periods
    • Insert bodyweight filler exercises to achieve desired training stimulus)
  • Only 1 kettlebell (see video below)
    • Perform exact same exercises one side at a time 
    • Finish both sides, take rest period
    • Single kettlebell training is fantastic.

Ok, I’ve laid it out for you.  Time to dig in.  

Get after this exercise combination.  The kettlebell clean-press-squat combination is awesome for improving strength, conditioning and fat loss. 

Go.  Now. 








3 Fresh Turkish Get Up Variations


Turkish Get Ups reinforce total-body movement.  

TGU’s are Swiss army knife of sorts, serving as a movement assessment or an effective strength and cardio builder.  

I’ve dabbled with longer duration TGU workouts (5+ minutes continuous), which can provide an impactful form of low impact, externally loaded cardio.      

The general premise of a Turkish Get Up is to move from a lying position to a standing position.  Once at the top, repeat the process in reverse, return to the lying position.

That’s it.  Lay down, stand up, lay back down.

Is there some technique to it?  Absolutely.  But the goal is to stand up and lay back down efficiently.  

Turkish Get Ups, used alongside other exercises like deadlifts, kettlebell swings, heavy loaded carries, bodyweight strength training and Gymnastics-based drills can create a potent training program.   

Toss in some Kinstretch and now we’re talking.

Popularized by the kettlebell crowd in the early 2000’s, Turkish Get Ups still seem to fly under the radar with the mainstream.  It could be due to the learning curve, the unknown benefits or the fact they aren’t easy.   

Over the last 10+ years, Turkish Get Ups have been embedded in my weekly training. 

When workout time is short, 20-25 minutes of continuous Turkish Get Ups paired with Kettlebell Swings is a staple movement session.  Allocate 10-12 minutes for Turkish Get Ups (alternating each side) and the remaining time for Kettlebell Swings.   

Traditionally, a kettlebell is the tool used to add load to the Turkish Get Ups.  However, a variety of training tools can be used (should be used).  Dumbbells and sandbags work quite well as alternatives.  

If there was an “Original” variation, it would likely look something like this:


Steps to the Turkish Get Up


Ascending to standing position:

Step 1:  Punch and roll

Step 2:  Elbow support

Step 3:  Hand support

Step 4:  Hip lift

Step 5:  Straight leg slides underneath body

Step 6:  Stand up via lunge motion


Descending back to floor:

Step 1:  Reverse lunge 

Step 2:  Lower hand to find the floor

Step 3:  Bring leg through to the front (extended)

Step 4:  Raise hips and pause for moment

Step 5:  Drop butt to the floor, supporting weight on extended arm/hand

Step 6:  Lower to elbow, gently rolling to starting position.

  • The ascent to the standing position is essentially the “concentric” portion of the exercise, muscles activating to move from one step to the next.
  •  The descent back to the floor is made up of a series of “eccentric” steps, as the goal is to control each step, lowering back to the lying position softly.  

The traditional variation is loaded with benefits, but there are ample opportunities to tweak the Turkish Get Up and create a new training experience.  

I’m a big believer in discipline.  It should be the foundation of any fitness regimen.  That being said, if you’re bored out of your mind, it’s time to play around other variations.  

Adjusting the speed, adding or removing load, adding or removing steps to make it easier or more complex, using different training tools (or no training tools), volume, duration, etc.   

Here are 3 Turkish Get Up Variations that will inject a fresh challenge to your next workout…


#1 Turkish Get Up + Squat Ascent/Descent

“Build the deadlift, maintain the squat”.

Ever heard this?  Well, you can both maintain and build the squat pattern with this unique variation.  

The traditional Turkish Get Up generally uses a lunge variation to move from the tall kneeling position to standing, also from standing back to kneeling on the way back down.  

This variation uses a squat to stand up and get back down, with subtle tweaks in technique.  

Small changes can change a lot about an exercise.  Sorting out how to maneuver the feet underneath the body can take some practice, so again, start with no weight or lightweight.   

Dropping into the squat on the way back down is a little more forgiving.  Once you’re low enough to touch the hand to the floor, support yourself between the arm and the opposite side leg.  Slide the foot out in front, lower back to the floor.  

It took me a while to warm up to the squat as the stand up/sit down pattern.  With a little practice it’s improved my movement capacity quite a bit. Exposing the body to progressively new and challenging patterns is great for expanding movement capacity.

Beware:  User must have sufficient shoulder/thoracic mobility and squat pattern grooved for this.  Balance a shoe on top of the palm of the hand or fist, or use light weight to start.  Take a video of your attempts. 


#2 Turkish Get Up + Press at Every Step

Adding a press at each step of the Turkish Get Up makes the exercise very taxing for the upper body.  

Pressing in uncommon body positions is also quite humbling.  Many people will find pressing early on in the exercise, posted on the elbow and hand, to be a new and challenge experience.  Start with lighter weight.  Don’t go for broke right away.

Overhead pressing from the half kneeling and standing position will be far more familiar for most people.  

Assuming you press at every step as I did in the video, there will be a total of 11 presses.  

That’s a lot of upper body work. 

Considering the volume, lighter weight should be used, along with decreasing the reps. 

2 reps on each side equates to 44 presses.  Arms will be rubber if overdone. 

If I’m using this variation, I’ll do 2-3 reps on each side of the “Press at Every Step”, and move on to more loaded variations.  Keep the weight on the lighter side here.

Tip:  Use a weight that you’re able to press in the weakest position, as this will dictate the load you’re able to use.  


#3 Turkish Get Up + Clean – Squat – Press

Adding a clean, squat and a press can create a broad training effect. 

Perform the usual steps getting up to the standard position.  Once standing, lower the weight down to the front rack position, execute a single rep of a clean, squat and press.  Descend back to the bottom.  

Simple, right? 

Tip:  Make sure you’ve got experience practicing cleans before trying this variation.


Reps, Sets and Time for Turkish Get Ups

Suggestions for reps, sets and time will vary greatly from person to person. 


Mostly due to fitness level and experience with the Turkish Get Up.  

I used to read articles and think, “Just tell me what to do!”

But the reality is we’re all a little different, so it’s important to do what you can do, not necessarily what I can do or anyone else.  

In general, start with lower volume (reps and sets) and progress from there. 

Keep the focus on QUALITY.

I’ve been practicing Turkish Get Ups for 10 years.  My body is acclimated to the stress, working long duration sets and heavier weights.  


Start with 1 quality rep on each side, alternating sides.  Using 1 repetition (instead of doing 2-3 reps in a row) gives you the best chance to move with quality, before the fatigue creeps in and starts breaking down your body position, etc.

Eventually, if you’re looking to support the weight for longer durations on the same arm, you can execute 2 reps on each side before changing sides. 

Doing this will challenge shoulder endurance.  It’s a nice strategy to improve shoulder endurance, just not where a person should start if new to the Turkish Get Up.

Turkish Get Ups using progressively heavier weights should always be practiced for 1 rep per side.  I’m rigid about this.  Treat it the same way as any other strength based exercise (deadlifts, squats, etc).  

In general, as the weights go up, the reps go down.  And vice versa.  


The combination of reps and sets gives you volume.  Don’t over do it.  Fitness is a long-term game, not a one and done WOD of the day.  Play the long game.  

That being said, start with anywhere from 3-8 sets in a workout.  If performing 1 rep per side for 6 sets, that’s a grand total of 12 Turkish Get Ups.  

Doesn’t sound like much, but consider that a Turkish Get Up is a very long, drawn out exercise.  It’s not a 1 second time under tension type deal.  It’s 10-15 seconds, maybe even longer if you’re working a slow tempo.  


Time is my preferred method for practicing Turkish Get Ups.

Set the timer and work until the timer goes off.  Keeping a steady work tempo, I don’t have to count repetitions.  Instead, the focus is on the movement, body position, breathing, tension, tempo, etc.  

The important stuff.

How long can you go?

In the past, I’ve set a timer for as long as 25 minutes and started the work.  Yes, 25 minutes.  It’s not a world record, but it’s a long time to be grinding out Turkish Get Ups continuously with minimal rest. 

During this time period, I will generally warm up with a light kettlebell (24kg/28kg) and bounce around with using a 32kg kettlebell and 40kg kettlebell.  I take brief rest periods to wipe away the sweat, drink some water and change the music track.  

For most people, I’d suggest beginning with 5-8 minutes using the timer method.  Don’t overdo it.  

Quality over quantity.

Tomorrow is another day to train, play the long game with fitness.


Closing It Out…

The Turkish Get Up is one of my top picks for building total body performance.   

Joint stability and mobility, core strength, lower body strength, breath work, tension and relaxation techniques are all benefits associated with Turkish Get Ups. There’s a potent cardio training effect when worked for extended periods.

The number of Turkish Get Up variations are virtually limitless.  I shared three.  I could have listed fifty more.  

Slip a press in here and there, clean the kettlebell at the top, squat, swing, row, etc. Adding exercises, tweaking movement tempo, weight used are just a few of the small adjustments that can be made. 

Variations are only limited by creativity.  To be safe, consideration should be given to  fitness level, knowledge and experience. 

Finding time to train can be difficult.  Life, career, kids, social activities all require time.  It’s tough to balance it all.  Having a 4 month old daughter (as I write this) I know first hand how quickly the time to play around in the gym get’s whittled down.

When you find yourself short on workout time, leverage a quality session of Turkish Get Ups.  10-12 minutes of continuous Turkish Get Ups is a highly effective, total body workout.  

Mix it up, alternate how you get up, tempo, speed, add exercises to the reps, etc.  

*** Remember, start with lighter weight, lower reps to groove technique and build strength and work capacity.  

Give each of these variations a try and let me know what you think.

*** M(EAUX)TION is active the following social media platforms…

  YouTube (longer exercise demos)

  Instagram (daily training, flow, exercises, workouts, life etc)

  Facebook (fitness news, research, science, brain training, nutrition, etc)



Cheers to you,


(Work)out| Lizard Crawl + Kettlebell Carries + Walking Lunges + Crab Walk

Motion, Workouts


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Lizard Crawl to Kettlebells


Fusing body weight locomotion movements with traditional strength and conditioning exercises can create a hybrid workout experience. can breathe new life into a stale training regimen.  

When training gets stale, mix it up to breathe new life into your regimen.  

Basic linear lifting can get extremely monotonous.  Instead of skipping the workout, toss in different exercises to give you new motivation.  

What exercises are you avoiding or leaving out of your program?  Everyone has some.  It is impossible to do it all, all of the time.  My YouTube channel has hundreds of exercise demos, only 4-10 exercises can make the cut for a workout on any given day.  That leaves hundreds more sitting on the sidelines.  

Many people forget about the value of carrying heavy objects.  Carry those objects in as many different positions as possible (overhead, at your side, chest height, bear hug, etc).  Do it all.  

Locomotion drills are also a relatively new platform for building fitness most people haven’t explored.   If you haven’t, you must.  

This training session includes both.  

Today’s workout includes the following exercises:

  • Lizard Crawling (“traveling forms” in Animal Flow)
  • Suitcase-style Kettlebell Carries 
  • Overhead Kettlebell Carries
  • Kettlebell Walking Lunges
  • Reverse Crab Walks (“traveling forms” in Animal Flow)

*** For all of the kettlebell exercises, feel free to use dumbbells instead.  Any object with a handle and some challenging weight will do.

What you’ll need:

  •  1 heavy kettlebell
  •  2 kettlebells of matching weight
  •  15 yards of walking space

The Structure of the Workout

  1.  Start by lizard crawling 15 yards the location of the kettlebells.
  2.  Clean the heavy kettlebell up to chest height and position overhead.  Walk down and back with the overhead carry.
  3.  Clean the same kettlebell overhead with the opposite arm.  Walk down and back with the overhead carry.
  4.  Suitcase carry the same heavy kettlebell down and back with both arms.
  5.  Pick up the matching kettlebells and lunge walk the same 15-yard distance, down and back.
  6. Reverse crab walk to the initial start position.
  7. Repeat the process, beginning with lizard crawling once again.

Workout Video Demo

Workout Notes

This workout can be executed for rounds or time, whichever you prefer.

If you were going to work this for rounds, I suggest starting with 3-4 rounds and crushing those rounds.  The idea is to work hard and work smart.  Working smart is awareness of fatigue and body position.  When your movement turns sloppy, you’re done.  

Of course, more rounds can be added if you can handle it.  

If you’re hammering this workout for 8-10 rounds, you need to increase the difficulty of all of the exercises.  Lizard crawl for 20-25 yards, increase the weight of all of the kettlebell carries and the walking lunges.  More is not always better.

If working for a target amount of time, I suggest capping this at 20 minutes.  The video demo above shows roughly 8 minutes worth of execution.  

Use the lizard crawl and overhead kettlebell carry as indicators of when you need intra-workout rest periods or when you need to pull the plug on the session altogether.  Don’t be afraid to rest.  There is zero shame in it.  Your body can only fight fatigue for so long before the movements get sloppy.  Take the rest, towel off, get back to work.  

The overhead carry is an amazing shoulder stability/vertical core exercise, but it is also an exercise that deserves respect.  DO NOT FORCE THE OVERHEAD CARRY FATIGUE IS EATING YOU UP AND TECHNIQUE IS DROWNING.  

This particular day, I worked this exact medley for 15 minutes, wiped down the sweat avalanche and transitioned into another medley of completely different exercises.  

Combining both medleys, I accumulated 30 minutes worth of continuous quality work.  

If you don’t have access to kettlebells, don’t worry about it.  Weight is weight.  Use dumbbells, a sandbag or any other tool that has a handle.  


Give this workout a shot and let me know how it went…



Turkish Get-Ups: “Press at Every Step” Variation

Kettlebell Training

Turkish Get-Ups (TGU’s) are one of the great kettlebell exercises.   Nevermind kettlebell exercises, they are one of the great movement training drills we’ve got.

When I am asked, “What are the best exercises I should be doing?”

Turkish Get-Ups are always a part of my answer.

This is a heavy question to ask and even heavier to answer.  Responses will differ depending who you’re asking but generally speaking, there is too much movement value, low risk and high reward with Turkish Get-Ups to leave it out.

Few other exercises provide the total body training effect of Turkish Get-Ups.  

Like any exercise, TGU’s have an infinite amount of variations, add-ons, and programming option (sets, reps, time, weight, etc).  Practicing variations is a nice way to introduce a movement challenge and avoid the onset of boredom.

Make no mistake, keeping training fresh is important across the long-term.

One of those variations is the “press at every step”.

This TGU variation involves performing five presses in the following positions:

  1.  Lying position.
  2.  Elbow support.
  3.  Hand support.
  4.  Half-keeling.
  5.  Standing.

Press #1:  Lying Position

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This is the only true horizontal press of the five listed.  “Horizontal”, meaning you’re pressing from the back of the body to the front of the body (anterior to posterior then back to anterior again), similar to the mechanics of a traditional bench press.  Lower the weight down until the elbow makes light contact with the ground, pause, press back up.

Press #2: Elbow Support

FullSizeRenderPressing from the elbow support position will be a new experience for a lot of people.  Expect this to feel unnatural and use cautionary judgment with weight here.  The trajectory of the kettlebell is slightly different than any traditional pressing exercise. 

Press #3:  Hand Support


This body position will likely be the most awkward press of them all.  Remain rigid from waist to shoulder.  Naturally, your body is going to want to crease or your ribs are going to flail.  Avoid letting either happen.  Stay rigid and press! 

Press #4:  Half-kneeling

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Training in the half-kneeling narrow stance position is a natural core blaster and can reveal side-to-side differences in symmetry.  You might be steady with the left knee up, but hardly maintain the position with the right knee up.

Turkish Get-Ups aside, half-kneeling pressing is a natural overhead pressing progression into the standing press.

Press #5:  Standing

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Finally, standing at last.  In the world of “functional training”, this is as functional as it gets.  Pressing objects overhead is a common task in life.  Unfortunately, most of the objects pressed overhead in life aren’t evenly weighted with nice handles.

Here is a video of a full “Press at Every Step” Turkish Get-Up…


Whether you’re craving a movement challenge or simply a new variation of a timeless exercise, give this one a shot.  Be prepared for sore shoulders and core in the days that follow.  Five presses inside of each TGU repetition accumulates a lot of work for the upper extremities.  

For more great kettlebell exercise variations, I recommend two resources.  The first is a landmark book from the modern day Godfather of kettlebell training, Pavel Psatsouline.  There isn’t a kettlebell professional who hasn’t read Pavel’s ongoing work with kettlebell training.  

The second resource is a full training system from Chris Lopez designed to improve body composition using kettlebells, more specifically fat loss.  Kettlebells are unique in their ability to burn fat when used systematically.  Chris has published a number of kettlebell training programs focused on how to  “lean out” using kettlebells for quite some time.   

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Most importantly, let me know how you made out with this TGU variation…




Can You Swing it? High Repetition Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell Training

The kettlebell swing is a fascinating exercise.

It’s hard to think up another exercise that delivers so many benefits in one shot.  

The next best thing are probably deadlifts or thrusters.

Multiple birds are killed with one stone, that stone being the kettlebell swing.

Despite what magazines and news media will tout, there really isn’t just one exercise that a person should base an entire workout program around.  It’s not fair to the exercise and it’s not fair to you, the trainee. Although, there are some programs that revolve around the kettlebell swing.  

One that comes to mind is: The Swing!

If you’re a beginner that needs to develop the basics of bodyweight strength and conditioning, then exercises like push-ups, squats, crawling, pull-ups and chin-ups is where you should spend your time.  

Movement20XX may be a bodyweight oriented program to consider.  

Bodyweight exercise will transition you into kettlebell swings with a sound foundation of strength and conditioning. 

Now, if you have a handle on all of those movements, experience with lifting weight and you’re looking for a refreshing movement to throw into the mix, kettlebell swings are for you.  

Kettlebell swings have been a staple exercise in my workouts for the past 7+ years.  

The impact on my performance and body composition was immediate.  

From my own experience, kettlebell swings have been magic.

I haven’t found a tool (the kettlebell) or an exercise (the swing) that can maintain or build lean muscle in a comparable way.  

Swings stripped fat off of my body while building functional strength and cardiovascular conditioning I didn’t previously have.  

Swinging kettlebells has improved my running, particularly power I’m able to generate from the hip extension.  

Kettlebell swings are a total body activity.  Few muscles are working during a set of swings.  

Swinging kettlebells has also improved my work capacity, or my conditioning.  

A few years ago, I rarely swung my 28kg bell beyond the 15-20 rep mark.  In reflection, that was both stupid and smart on my part.

Many so-called experts were throwing out cautionary tales of that high rep swings were pointless, or potentially dangerous.  

I bought into it.  Foolishly.  

Until I read a book from Bud Jefferies where he described how he burned loads of fat from his body (without losing much strength) using high rep kettlebell swing workouts.  

Since that time, I have explored the higher rep ranges of swings myself and had great success.  

—> Here is a short list of my observations and findings during that time<—

1)  High rep kettlebell swings will expose any weaknesses in your grip endurance and make your forearms burn like crazy.

2)  Building off of #1, you may find that the limiting factor to higher rep swinging is in fact… your grip and your ability to hold on to the kettlebell.

3)  Soft tissue work on the forearms using a lacrosse ball, trigger point therapy ball or something similar is crucial to avoid the development of range of motion restrictions in your wrists.

4)  You’ll get lean quick… “quick” as in a matter of 3+ sessions you’ll notice drastic increases in your metabolism, hunger and visual changes in the mirror (think 2-3 weeks time for visual change).

5)  You’ll need to use a foam roller (or other soft tissue tool) to smash and iron out your low and mid back.  The eccentric and concentric stress placed on muscles (not the spine) is aggressive when swinging for high reps multiple days per week.  You’ll feel soreness after the early sessions and stiff over time if you don’t take time to roll and massage your back.

6)  Hip power, and the ability to repeated produce athletic-like hip extension increases dramatically in time.  This is ideal for success in any athletic endeavor.

7)  Work capacity increases significantly, and has great carry over other athletic activities.

8)  10-20 minute swing workouts are enough to provide a MED (minimum effective dose) response and initiate noticeable fat loss while retaining lean muscle.

9)  There is potential for overuse and injury if adequate rest, recovery and repair tactics are not employed.

These are just observations.  

I’m not here to broadcast kettlebell swings as the end all be all.  Too many swings can be bad if you’re reckless with your approach. 

Structuring a workout, you’ve got several options.  

First, I would consider “high rep swings” to be any quantity over 100+ in a single training session.  If you’ve never swung a kettlebell before and consider yourself a beginner,  40-50 swings might be considered high rep for your experience level.  If you’re advanced, 200+ might your ticket.  It just depends on your conditioning level and familiarity with swinging.

A classic benchmark swing workout for beginners and intermediate alike would be:

Baseline Kettlebell Swing Workout

(100 reps total)

A workout like this is deceptively challenging.  

The rest periods can make it feel like you’re hardly working, yet in the later rounds,  the fatigue snowballs and each swing is a grind.  

By the numbers, in 10 minutes you’ve completed 100 swings.  

If you’ve chosen an appropriate weight for a workout like this, 24kg for men and a 16kg/20kg for women are good starting points, there’s no doubt you’ll be feeling this workout in the days after. 

This type of workout uses a traditional work:rest model.  

Rest is plentiful enough to avoid sloppy swings for the duration of the workout, even after heart rate begins to climb and muscle fatigue sets in.  

Speaking of a heart rate monitor, if you want to be more precise with the length of your work and rest periods, a heart rate monitor can be used to track recovery heart rates which will initiate the next set of swings.  

Commonly I’ve used 130 bpm as the trigger for the next set of swings.  When you see 130 on the watch, you’re swinging.

I’ve toyed around with many other workout structures, some good and some bad.  I discuss some of those in this article right here.

Workout design options for high-rep kettlebell swings are endless.

It’s important to swing heavier bells if you want to maximize the training effect of each workout.  

Especially with 2-handed swings.  A lot of people make the mistake of swinging kettlebell that aren’t heavy enough to challenge their hip hinge pattern.  

The hips are the most powerful set of muscles in the body, so sizing up your bell is advised.  

As great as swings are, your body adapts to the training stress extremely fast.  What once felt like a heavy kettlebell to swing will soon feel easy.  

Adding more volume to your swing workouts is not always the right choice.  At some point, you’re wasting your time by swinging 500 reps every workout.  

Instead, swing 100 reps with a kettlebell two sizes heavier and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.  

It’s basic progression, the same kind of progression that you would use with more traditional strength training or cardiovascular training.

Swinging heavier kettlebells naturally demand more hip snap to move the weight through the arc of motion.  

Lighter kettlebells can influence a person to lift the kettlebell instead of hiking, hinging and snapping it through.  We want hip snap, not lifting.  

If we’re going to lift, we will deadlift. Kettlebell swings are a ballistic movement, snap those hips!

After increasing the weight of your kettlebell, expect to decrease the reps, which makes logical sense doesn’t it?  

If you add 75lbs to your barbell back squat, you’re probably not going to hit the same number of reps as you did before adding that weight.  Same for swings.  

For example, if you can swing a 24kg bell for 50 consecutive (“unbroken” if you’re a familiar with Cross-Fit lingo) reps no problem and you bump up to a 28kg/32kg bell for an added challenge, don’t be surprised if you can hardly manage 30 reps.  

Grip may fail you before your hip extension will.

So, after all of that rambling… should you work high repetition kettlebell swings into your fitness?

Well I will say this:  I’m a fan of high repetition kettlebell swings.  

If you can “swing it” (pun completely intended), they are fantastic.  Both from an body appearance (fat loss + lean muscle retention) and sports performance standpoint, kettlebell swings deliver.  

There are advantages and disadvantages (as there are with everything in life), but at the end of the day, kettlebell swings are well worth the time investment to learn and practice.

If you swing consistently and eat properly… you’ll lean out, fast.

It wouldn’t feel right ending an article implying kettlebell swings are the answer all of body transformation.  

Swings are a valuable exercise to help initiate fat loss and lean muscle gain, but nutrition is the grandaddy of body transformation.  

You won’t be able to out swing a poor diet.  

If there was any #truth in this post, it is this:  

You can exponentially increase the visual impact (fat loss, lean muscle gain, “the shrink wrapping effect”) of your swing workouts if you include effective eating habits.

Even an ounce of nutritional effort, coupled with smart exercise, will result in fat loss.  

Proper pre-workout nutrition will give you the energy needed to crush your workouts.  

Post-workout nutrition will help re-fuel and repair the body afterward, setting the stage for nutrient partitioning and readying the body for the next workout.

I know for a fact most people don’t know where to start with nutrition.  It’s overwhelming.  I’m confident these statements will resonate with many readers, because I was once the confused/overwhelmed guy.  I had no friggin clue where to start with nutrition.

One important tip is this: your nutrition doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s nutrition.

Why? Because they aren’t you!  

What worked for them might not work for you, and the moment you presume that it will, as soon as it doesn’t, you’ll be crushed.  

If there was only one way to eat, there would only be one nutrition book on Amazon.




Cheers to high rep kettlebell swings!


Perfecting the 20 Minute Workout: Kettlebell Complex and Stationary Bike Sprints for Aggressive Fat Loss

Quick Tips

After a short breather from the blog, I’m back!  Ha, it feels good to be pecking at the keyboard again.

Hockey season has officially arrived, and my evenings are now that much busier.

The reception to my continuous posting of sample workouts has been awesome.  The feedback from readers has been amazing, so thank you for that.  I appreciate the personal emails and words of encouragement!

If you haven’t already, check out my Pinterest page, where I have begun compiling my visual versions of each of the workouts. I make them with PowerPoint, which can be time consuming and lacks visual creativity, but it can be incredibly helpful to not only read what I am talking about, but SEE it also.  You’re bound to find something on the Pinterest page that fits  you situation.  Find it and scale it to your abilities and you’ll be just fine.

As of late, I have been interested in progressing my staple kettlebell complex.

It’s the same kettlebell complex that I used for 90 days (yes, 90 days) successfully.  Of course I tweaked a few variables along the way (rest periods, reps, sets, etc), but for the most part, the complex was fairly unaltered from it’s original form.  Click the link above to find out more about that little self-experiment.

Since progression is the king of building human performance and has a great byproduct that rides along with it called FAT LOSS, I decided that I would make some simple adjustments to my staple complex-style workout.

The original complex looked like this:

Original Kettlebell Complex

My goal was to keep the workout under 20 minutes while increasing the physical demands of the work being done in that time frame.  Anything beyond 20 minutes, and I have noticed a couple of things personally…

1)  I end up going through the motions to fill the work time.


2)  I have over-worked myself and have nothing left to give for the coming day’s workouts.

You’ll know when you’re suffering from #1.  You’ll hit 30 minutes of training time and you’ll feel like you need another 30 minutes of work just to get something out of the workout, or you’ll dog your rep cadence or technique just to fill time.  The work performed loses its quality and therefore loses its effectiveness.

Most of the time, the remedy to #1 is to shorten rest periods (or incorporating no rest periods) or progressing the exercises you’re using via weight.  Simply adding weight (in small and manageable doses) to incorporate some added stress to your training session will make a 30 minute training session seem unachievable.  But this is a good thing because keeping the work highly concentrated and strict to a 20-25 minute timeframe will pay off.

Higher quality work in shorter time.

#2 on the other hand, is a serious problem more so because it affects the future.  Since losing weight in the form of fat, replacing it with useful muscle and boosting performance is all about analyzing the past, digging in during the present while looking ahead to the future… draining your battery so much that you cannot manage a workout for 2-3 days can actually work against you.

Remember, any body endeavor that you embark on takes time.  Why?  Because it’s a process.  Once you come to grips with the fact that nothing is going to change overnight, or with just one workout, you can rest your mind and keep your training sustainable.

You’ve got to be able to train, rest/recover, train over and over again.

Nobody gets rich overnight, it takes time and diligence to build wealth.  The body follows similar rules.  The accumulating results of smaller focused training efforts will deliver.  Be patient and stay the course.  You’ll be fine.

The workout…

20 Minute Kettlebell Complex

Biking.  First and foremost, notice the addition of the Schwinn Airdyne sprint at the end of the round.  Maybe I should refer to it as an “effort” versus a “sprint”, since it’s a sub-maximal 1 minute ride.  I consider myself to be a conditioned individual, so my aim was keep my pace above 80rpm.  In the first few rounds, this was easy, but I knew it wouldn’t remain that way.  By the 4th and 5th round, it’s a bitch to maintain this pace.

I chose the stationary bike as the finisher at the end of each of the rounds for a reason.

Biking is a low impact activity and requires ZERO thought.  Just push the pedals at the pace that I’ve recommended and you’re golden.  The last thing anyone needs to be doing late in a circuit, complex or work-set (when you’re sucking wind) is skill work of any kind.  Injuries lurk in this realm.

Biking is the perfect blend of low impact, low skill, high metabolic demand.  Especially considering the total system weight of the complex up to that point.

Fatigue.  Secondly, I discovered that the ascending rest period tactic was perfect.  Right from my initial testing with this kind of rest period strategy, it was perfect.  Rarely does that happen when you draw up a workout.  Something usually misses or doesn’t flow once you’re in the belly of the beast, but having the rest periods increase in length as the rounds passed was right on the money.

Ascending Rest Periods

As the fatigue escalates, so does the amount of rest.  I found that the extra 5 seconds added to each round helped tremendously with my fatigue management during each round.

You’ll find that 75 seconds seems long in the beginning, yet by the 3rd and 4th round, 85 seconds and 90 seconds passes ridiculously fast.  During your rest period, focus energy on breathing.  Inhale aggressively through your nostrils, pushing the oxygen deep into the floor of your stomach, holding for a fraction of a second, then exhaling through your mouth.  Breathe deep into your belly, not your chest and neck.  

Nasal breathing for recovery is getting some headlines as of late, but this is an advanced tactic that takes courage (to be honest).  That’s not to say it cannot be practiced and successfully integrated into your training, just simply that’s its advanced and probably unnecessary for most people if you like to prioritize.

It sounds funny to say that breathing takes courage, but until you attempt to breathe with your mouth locked shut at 80-85% of your max heart rate, you may not understand.  It’s not a comforting sensation feeling like the air isn’t coming, which is similar to what a person experiences during an asthma attack.

Metabolic style training of any kind is designed to stress the muscles and cardiovascular system in a balanced fashion, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of exercise technique.  Just to be clear and piss pound that dead horse once more… poor exercise technique while under load is the world’s greatest recipe for INJURY during a workout.

The additional seconds of rest made a world of difference.

As I always recommend, scale the workout for yourself.  Start with longer rest in the earlier rounds, use less weight or bike for 30-45 seconds at a lower RPM instead of 1 min at >80 rpm.

Explore and tweak it as you go.  You can expect each “round + rest” to last 4+ minutes, with the later rounds lasting longer because of the increased rest.

You could say that I over-analyzed this workout, but my theory is that if you know what to expect during a tough training session, almost like you’ve been there before, you’ll be prepared to handle the stress.  A lot of people fear the unknown and higher ranges of physical work, so removing that fear may provide some encouragement to attack the workout with a newfound confidence.

Don’t be afraid to take breaks if you need them intra-round…

… and lastly…

… kick some ass.

Cheers to adjusting the simple variables to increase the impact of a workout!


(PS:  Nutrition is the ultimate accelerator of fat loss and fuel to improve performance… read this article and check out Precision Nutrition’s awesome products)

Hang In There… The Kettlebell Clean is a Great Exercise and an Acquired Taste

Quick Tips

The kettlebell clean is an acquired taste, for sure.

It reminds me of a craft beer drinkers first sips of an I.P.A. or a Double I.P.A.  Do you remember the bitter beer face commercials?

One quick search on the old Dragon Door article library or the new StrongFirst forum, and people will praise the hell out of this move, but I am here to warn you up front, you might not enjoy this exercise at first.

It’s an acquired taste.

Both from a technique standpoint and a “Why the hell would I choose this exercise over kettlebell swing variations, kettlebell snatches, weighted jump squats or even barbell cleans”?… standpoint.

For quite some time, I wasn’t exactly sure what significant purpose kettlebell cleans served.

At that time, the kettlebell clean seemed more like a sweet little method to move the kettlebell from the floor up to the rack position, and not much more than that.

Photo credit:  FitBomb

Photo credit: FitBomb

In case you’re not familiar, the rack position describes a static posture where the bell rests for a given amount of time (split second or for multiple seconds) against the chest with elbow tucked tightly to the side.

Also, at that time, my timing was way off with the kettlebell clean.  I was mostly pulling the bell up from between my legs using my upper extremities, and flipping it over the top of my knuckles.  Obviously, the upper body does have some involvement in most kettlebell training, but one of the main principles of any ballistic kettlebell movement is hip snap.  I have always viewed “hip snap” as the slang terminology for aggressive/powerful extension of the hips.

Kettlebell drills like swings, snatches and cleans all thrive off of aggressive hip extension, or hip snap to catapult the bell through its trajectory/range of motion.

[Improving your ability to aggressively extend your hips is incredible for sport performance and fat loss.  The research on the influence that kettlebell swings has on body fat elimination has been growing rather consistently in recent months.  Anyone that has spent any time working out with kettlebells in a dedicated manner will no doubt give the nod to kettlebell training (specifically swings, cleans, snatches) and its dramatic effect on fat loss.  Almost to the point of zero dietary intervention.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pursue higher standards of eating… because you should.]  

Ok, back to kettlebell cleans.  Originally, I didn’t like them.  I just didn’t see the value.  Swings (moving the bell to about sternum height) provided a noticeably large training stimulus that mimicked an explosive deadlift and kettlebell snatches (moving the kettlebell overhead) worked very similar to dumbbell snatches, which are amazing for building uni-lateral explosive power.

But kettlebell cleans seemed like the red-headed step child (forgive my joke if this offends anyone).  I kept asking myself,  “What are they good for?”

I never felt like I was achieving anything while practicing the kettlebell clean.  The hip snap didn’t feel like it was present, and quite frankly, it didn’t seem like it really needed to be present in order to execute the clean.  So then what?

Again, as I stated early in this post, the clean (to me) felt like an efficient method to transport the kettlebell vertically to the rack position so that I could set up for other exercises like:  squats, overhead pressing or carries.

Eventually, I made the decision to work on my clean technique in a diligent manner.  I also spent some time combing over the forums and articles from trusted resources for to increase my understanding of what the kettlebell clean is and why it was important.

Here’s a messy synopsis of what I found…

From a basic observation, I thought of the kettlebell clean as a variation of the swing, and still do.  Obviously the motion is different, but hiking the kettlebell through the legs, moving forward into an arcing pattern is very similar to that of the kettlebell swing.  However this arching pattern is interrupted as the hand/arm pulls the bell much tighter to the anterior (front) aspect of the body than the arc of the kettlebell swing.  Some people will refer to this as “taming the arc”.

You can read more about “taming the arc” from this excerpt:

Kettlebell Taming the Arc

Once the bell begins its ascent vertically to the chest, this is where most people will get lost, as I did.

Why?  Because in the time that it takes to blink your eyes, the bell needs to transition from a prone (hand over the top) grip to a neutral grip (palm toward the midline of the body) with the kettlebell nestled partially against the forearm and chest, at armpit height.  The entire sequence happens really quickly.

The most common mistake here is “flipping” the bell.  Technically, it’s incorrect yes, but the bigger mistake is that flipping the bell over the hand is essentially beating yourself with the greatest mass of the kettlebell.  Kettlebells are constructed of dense cast iron so… it hurts.  Once the bell flips over the hand, the only object to stop its motion is your body, and this can be painful.  If you’ve played contact sports, the sensation of the bell impacting your body will be eerily similar to the impact of another human hitting you.

So what is supposed to happen?

Around waist height, the bell begins to turn over and rotate.  It’s a combination of both.  The only way to successfully accomplish this, is to relax your grip and allow the kettlebell to turn over/rotate around your forearm.  I said RELAX, NOT LET GO.  Your hand position changes on the bell, without your hand ever leaving the bell.  I use the terminology turn over/rotate because I feel this is the best description of what happens to the kettlebell as it transitions into the rack position hand position changes on the bell, without your hand ever leaving the bell.

This “relaxed” grip was uncomfortable for me at first.  It didn’t feel natural to loosen a grip and relax while dynamically swinging a 53lb piece of cast iron.  I am sure that you might feel the same way when you give this movement a go.  It can be unsettling for the first few reps.  Make sure that your hands are dry and free of any grease.

Chalking your hands is a great technique for improving hand/grip integrity kettlebell training, although chalking can be messy for you house over time.  Check out this Metolius Eco Ball chalk bag that really helps to save yourself the hassle of cleaning up chalk mess.

But, like anything other new stimulus or skill, consistent practice will move your  technique of the clean from completely foreign to second nature.

Filming my kettlebell clean (which I encourage you to do always) revealed that I wasn’t initiating my turn over/rotation of the bell soon enough.  I was attempting to mimic the barbell clean, where the hands and elbows (and body) move under the vertical moving barbell above waist level.

Again, if you attempt to “flip” the kettelbell above waist level you’re going to get some tough love from the bell in the form of a shot to the chest/shoulder.  As long as you don’t hurt yourself, this type of feedback is probably a good thing, as there will be no question that your timing is off.

The kettlebell should park itself into the rack position rather peacefully.

The kettllebell clean is a “steering strength” movement that requires adequate attention for successful completion.

You might start out despising it like I did and end up loving it as I do now.

A series of simple tips that can help you out:

  • In the beginning feel free to learn using a lighter bell.  This is important.
  • Quickly move into a heavier kettlebell that demands some  hip snap to make the bell move.  Otherwise, you may find yourself “muscling” the bell as I was.
  • Work the single arm kettlebell clean until you feel you are proficient with technique at heavier weights.  Forget about “work capacity” training while you are learning, learn it first, don’t get ahead of yourself.
  • Once you’re moving a heavier kettlebell (32kg men/24kg women), consider transitioning into the double kettlebell clean, which will require attention to be paid to both arms and an increase in hip snap to move the bells to the rack position.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

On a positive note, if decide to dedicate some time and practice into learning the kettlebell clean, you’re going to find great carryover to all of your other lifts also (kettlebell swings, presses, etc).  The move requires timing and coordination, but improving both will boost your performance and your results in the race to lose fat.

The clean is nothing that I thought it was and everything that I thought that it wasn’t.  I have been pleasantly surprised and challenged by its technique and it’s purpose inside of a balanced strength and conditioning program.  I highly suggest that you work it for yourself and see how it benefits you.



Cheers to kettlebell cleans babies!


It’s Just a Kettlebell Workout: Adjusting a Brutally Effective Kettlebell Complex

Quick Tips

I added a few new elements to what I like to call a staple kettlebell complex that seemed to fit the bill just right.

The original kettlebell complex was structured like this:

Kettlebell Complex Training

First let me say that if you have the physical know-how and ability to train like this, you won’t regret it.  If you’re short on time, its pure gold.  If you’re looking to lose fat, its pure gold.  There is so much happening in a condensed total body work capacity-style training session like this, it’s definitely going to create a large training effect.

And that is what you should be after… A large training effect while keeping safety in the front of your mind.

So, as much as I love the above training session, it was time to re-organize some things.

Boredom in training sucks.  I aim to avoid this without straying too far toward the radical.

Using the above kettlebell complex, my rest periods had decreased to nearly 40 seconds in between complex rounds, and my total number of complex rounds had increased to 6.  I felt as though I was spinning my tires.  Would adding another round or decreasing the rest periods  the 40 second mark really provide any benefit?  I really had to ask myself what there was to gain from adding more, or resting less.

My options seemed to be: increase the loading or change the stimulus.

I chose to change the stimulus and see what happens.

My first experience with the modifications was promising.  Here is how it looked:

kettlebell complex training

Alternating the double kettlebell swing and the double kettlebell cleans added significant work time to the beginning of the complex.  I should clarify that “significant time” is really only 15-20 extra seconds, but when the entire complex round clocks out at 2min11sec total, 15-20 seconds of extra work begins to look a lot more challenging.

Other areas of the complex that seemed to increase the working time were the overhead presses.

Exploding out of the last rep of  squats, I immediately transitioned into a double overhead press.  Upon bringing the kettlebells back to the rack position, I then pressed the right hand bell up and back down, followed by the left hand bell up and back down.  Pressing a single kettlebell while holding the other in the rack position is draining, but this is what I was aiming for.

Lastly, the implementation of the alternating reverse lunges added working time to the entire work set.  In the original kettlebell complex, sumo-style deadlifts were used.  The cadence of a sumo-style deadlift is commonly much quicker than alternating between reverse lunges.  The training stimulus is also altered by changing the movement pattern.  I quickly found out how much I had deprived myself of lunge work.

As far as rest periods go, I suspect that 45-60sec of incomplete rest will remain adequate to receive the training effect that I am after (lean, conditioning, maintenance of strength qualities).

I refer to the rest periods as incomplete anytime my heart rate doesn’t recover to 130 beats per minute.

In the later rounds of the workout, my work periods begin higher and higher heart rates.

My goal is to be a perfectly golden marshmallow.

If you’re proficient with kettlebell training, give this workout a shot.  You may have to adjust some things to suit your abilities, scale up or scale down, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results you’ll get from training like this.

At the very least, it’s a different angle on working out.




Cheers to shifting the complex to create a new training effect!