Many people who train are fixated on barbells, dumbbells, and machines, and for good reason. They are very effective. That doesn’t mean they are the only tools of the trade that can help you. You know those kettlebells that sit in the corner of your gym or in the aerobics room? Perhaps you even have one in your home that you bought because you wanted something extra to work out with. The value this weight can bring is underrated, even in recent years.
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About the Kettlebell
Even though the popularity have been increasing in the last couple of decades, the kettlebell has been around for a couple of centuries. Instead of the weight being around your hands like a dumbbell, the kettlebell is shaped differently. The weight is below the handle. That handle can be held at the top or on the sides, which are also known as the “horns”. That means you can use this weight as a single arm tool to work each side on its own, or you can lift it with both arms and move more efficiently.
Between the kettlebell and your own body, you can train the entire body very effectively in a short amount of time. As a matter of fact, this four week workout program can help you shed some excess weight and help improve your endurance regardless of your level of experience.
This program is designed for you to perform it with only your body and one kettlebell. If you have more options within your workout space, feel free to make changes to include what you have. If you have multiple kettlebells that are different in weight, then choose the weight you use based on the exercise you’re doing. If not, then you can be assured that this routine will be enough to make you feel like you did a serious session without compromise.
Who is This For?
This workout can benefit everybody, but the focus is on those lifters that have limited space and equipment to train with. If you can’t get to the gym or you are limited to a small room to train in, then this could help you make the most out of your situation.
You can do this program any way that your personal schedule allows, but beginners could break this workout down is doing it in a one day on, one day off, split. So, it may look like the split below.
- Day 1 – Upper Body
- Day 2 – Off
- Day 3 – Lower Body
- Day 4 – Off
- Day 5 – Full Body
- Day 6 – Off
- Day 7 – Start Over
Of course, your off days don’t have to be complete rest days. You can go for a walk or perform another method of light exercise if you’re able to.
If you’re a more advanced trainer and are looking for a more intense challenge, then you could perform all three workouts in a row before taking a day off. So your split may look like this. Notice in the middle of the split that lower body is before the upper body. This is so each part of your body gets a full day off. A strategy like this can help promote balance and adequate rest.
- Day 1 – Upper Body
- Day 2 – Lower Body
- Day 3 – Full Body
- Day 4 – Off
- Day 5 – Lower Body
- Day 6 – Upper Body
- Day 7 – Full Body
- Day 8 – Off
- Day 9 – Start Over
About the Exercises
The exercises here should be straight forward. You either use the handle of the kettlebell or hold the weight by the horns for exercises like pullovers or goblet squats. Refer to the exercise section here on M&S if you need further guidance.
Upper Body Day
This session is going to focus on everything above the waist. You’ll start with the upper back followed by the chest and shoulders. Finally, you’ll pump up your arms before calling it a day. Rest for 60 seconds between each set.
Upper Body Workout
|One Arm Row||3||20*|
|One Arm Reverse Fly||3||20*|
|Single Arm Kettlebell Fly||3||20*|
|Single Arm Lateral Raise||3||20*|
|Overhead Kettlebell Extension||2||20|
* Reps per side
Lower Body and Abs Day
Now we shift our attention to the lower body and midsection. You’ll notice the first two exercises have an extra set. The muscles in the thighs are larger so they can withstand the extra work. It will be tempting to speed through the sets as the workout progresses. Don’t do it. As much as it may burn while you’re doing it, the extra attention to detail will be well worth it.
Lower Body and Abs Workout
|Single Arm Kettlebell Deadlift||4||20|
|Walking Lunge +||3||10*|
|Standing Calf Raise||4||25|
|Weighted Twisting Sit Up||3||10*|
* Reps per side
+ Hold the kettlebell at your chest instead of at your side. If you need to, use your bodyweight only.
Full Body Day
So this one needs a little explanation. No, you won’t be expected to perform 100 straight reps with these exercises. You will perform as many as you can before reaching failure. You then rest for 10-15 seconds and continue where you left off. So if you reach failure at rep 30, start again at 31. This can be considered a very long rest-pause set. Don’t break it down into smaller groups like 10 sets of 10, either. Push yourself to get as many as you can before stopping.
It could take you five or even ten rest-pauses by the time you hit the 100 rep mark. All that matters is that you get there. When you finish, rest for 90 seconds before starting the next exercise. By the time you finish this workout, you will have completed 500 total reps.
Full Body Workout
|Push Up||1||100||90 seconds|
|Kettlebell Pullover||1||100||90 seconds|
|Squat Jump||1||100||90 seconds|
|Kettlebell Swing||1||100||90 seconds|
|Standing Kettlebell Twist||1||100*||90 seconds|
* This is similar to the barbell exercise, except you hold the kettlebell at your chest
How to Progress Further
So you made it through the first four weeks and feel like you need to step up the challenges. That’s great. You can do that in a variety of ways.
Slower Reps – Set a goal of doing each rep for five seconds. One second up, one second to hold the weight, and three seconds for a negative. This will add to your training time, but it will be well worth it.
Add Weight – If you have access to heavier kettlebells, or if you have an adjustable one, then try to perform the workouts again with the heavier options.
Rest Less – Take five seconds off of your rest time and see if you can perform the workout with the same intensity and effectiveness. You may not notice a change in the beginning, but you might by the time you near the finish line.
You may find after using this program for four weeks that kettlebells have helped you improve in other ways. You may see gains in muscularity or strength increases in other exercises you normally do. You could also use a routine like this to breathe new life into an otherwise stale program. However you see it helping you, make the most of it and you will see the benefits both in the short and long runs.