All three of us are breathing hard, sweating profusely, and sneaking glances at the clock counting down the seconds. We’re halfway through the third and final set of a new kettlebell training session and we’re all feeling the effort and exertion. Looking up at the stunning blue skies over the mammoth Aiguille du Midi, our objective for tomorrow, encourages me to dig a little deeper, push a little harder, and not give up.
This is my third attempt at creating a kettlebell class and I think this is a keeper.
Disclaimer – I’m a keen amateur, not a fitness professional
I am neither a trained fitness instructor nor personal trainer and anything I write on structuring training, kettlebell movements, and strength training in general is based on my personal experience training with Fitter London and Flux Fluid Motion. Please seek professional guidance if you’re just starting out and, if you’re a fitness professional and want to feedback into my efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A basic, full-body conditioning kettlebells session
I have had a few weeks off after recovering from my London to Brighton run as well as a kettlebell competition with Flux Motion and so wanted to come back into regular training with general conditioning sessions.
The aim of a conditioning session is to give your full body a workout, get the heart rate up, and get a good sweat on. The great thing about kettlebells is that the core movements are excellent full body exercises. Joining me for the session was Sophie and Gabo, Gabo is new to kettlebells and so I wanted to cover the basic movements and get him feeling comfortable swinging ‘bells.
I’m a big fan of station work as it keeps the training interesting, not letting you sit too long on any one exercise. This involves setting up several stations, each consisting of a superset exercise – two exercises performed back to back.
Before you start, you need to warm up. Properly.
Warming up for kettlebells
I’ve trained with a number of instructors now and have found a routine that works really well. The key objectives of the warm up is to mobilise all your joints properly, get the blood pumping to your muscles and tendons, and get your heart rate up.
Your shoulders are one of the key joints in kettlebell swings and so I like to start there. When I first started with Fitter London I was surprised by how long we would rotate our arms, warming up our shoulders – much longer than I would do on my own and far longer than other places I trained. I have adopted their approach rotating first forward, then back for at least a minute and until you feel your shoulders are starting to get tired.
Following this, I open up the hips and continue with the arms with some body weight swings – this is performing the basic kettlebell swing movement but with no weights. After a minute here, I then add a rotation at the top, twisting left and right, which warms up the lower back and spine.
Your legs a key to a lot of kettlebell work so I normally continue with back to back body weight squats and press ups – 10 squats paired with 5 press ups, three or four times over gets the heart rate up.
I like to add some burpees about now too as, though always a tough one, they really are a superb exercise.
Hopefully, I’m pretty warm by now.
My full-body kettlebell circuit
I opted for 3 stations, one for each of us, each consisting of a superset. We stayed at each station for 4 minutes with 1 minute rest. 3 laps would total 45 minutes exercise.
- 2 Hand Swing, 20 reps
- Press Ups, 10 reps
I went for a 20 kg kettlebell which felt easy on the first round but by the third I was tiring.
- Military Press, 10 reps left arm, 10 reps right arm
- Bear crawls, forward 10m, backwards 10m, twice
I started on a 16kg kettlebell for the first round but, after aggravating a shoulder injury at the pentathlon a few weeks ago, I dropped down to 12kg for rounds two and three.
- Goblet Squats, 10 reps
- Russian Twist, 10 reps each side
Again, I started heavy and opted for the 20kg weight for the goblet squats then 16kg for the russian twists. I think the weight on the russian twists was too heavy as, although I could complete the reps, it changed the movement. Maybe lower reps with heavy weights would be better but next time I’ll go lighter and up the tempo.
Three rounds of the three stations later we were all pretty tired.
No session is complete without some final, dedicated core work. Nothing beats a good plank blotz and so we opted for 3 rounds of one minute planks, each of us taking it in turns to count.
Gabo went last and his uber climbing abs meant he tortured us with the slowest 60 seconds I’ve had in a while.
The session in review
I was really happy with this session. It felt balanced, the supersets felt like they worked well, and I was getting tired at about the right time in the sets. I’m going to keep this one on file as I think it might become a regular.
What are your thoughts?