Workout Finisher: Kettlebell Swings and Burpees

Motion

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.

Structure:

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. 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle 

Advertisements

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

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-10-35-21-am

*** 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.

 

KG

 

 

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

10 minute Workouts, Workout Finisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the details of this workout finisher…

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

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-7-05-25-am

What?! That’s it?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Know thyself.

 

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

 

Kyle