I’m a firm believer in mastering the basic skills and attributes before diving into advanced unconventional stuff. One cannot hope to build a solid building on a shaky foundation. If you want serious results with kettlebells, you must dedicate a fair amount of time to basic kettlebell lifts, as well as mobility and bodyweight training.
This is part two of a series on kettlebell and bodyweight training. Part one can be found here. The following is for those you have mastered the basics and are ready to get more advanced.
Unconventional Kettlebell Workouts
Once you have a solid handle on the basics and can consistently produce Intermediate/Advanced General Physical Preparedness numbers on your testing days, you now have earned the right to branch out into more technical unconventional level of training.
Such advancement will be sitting strong on a concrete foundation of basic skills. Unconventional Kettlebell training will result in the following benefits for a dedicated practitioner:
- Greatly improved neuro-muscular coordination.
- Greatly improved “strength-mobility,” or in other words, improved mobility with strength throughout the entire range of motion.
- Greatly improved “Beyond the Range Strength,” or in other words, the surplus of mobility and strength beyond the normal range of motion for a specific activity, which translates to better ability to bounce right back to the optimum range without damage to the body, like in a case when things do not go as planned during a real life performance (that happens all the time and therefore it is very wise to invest your time into that type of development).
- Better carryover to sport-specific and activity-specific skills.
- Provide new stimulations for the neuro-muscular system to burst through training stalemates and promote further growth.
- Promote training excitement and aid in training motivation.
Please keep in mind that this table is approximate and does not take into account the athlete’s age, possible orthopedic issues, etc. It is meant to be used as a general guideline and a live person and his/ her health should be always more important than some numbers on a paper. With that said, it gives you a ballpark that can help you to estimate your basic kettlebell fitness levels.
|Swing||Slingshot||Introduces a rotational element to the hip snap making it a great specific exercise for moves like shoveling, uppercuts, shovel hooks, clinch pummeling and other functional movement patterns.|
|Uppercut Flip||Superb for hand-eye coordination.
Develops great hip power in conjunction with rotation, which is great for many sport, martial arts and life movements
|Clean & Jerk||Rotational Split Clean & Rotational Split Press (aka Greg’s Clean & Press)||Enhances rotational strength, multi-plane power generation, rooting and shock absorption skills.
Tremendous leg and total body conditioner.
Great carry over to sports, martial arts and life activities.
|Split Palm Clean & Split Palm Push Press||Greatly enhances timing, confidence, coordination, leg strength and shock absorbing skills.
Tremendous carry over to sports, martial arts and tactical activities.
|Snatch||Split Snatch||Incredible total body and leg conditioning exercise.|
|Press||Split Sots Press||Incredible total body strength exercise.|
|Squat||360 Squat Shin Roll||Seamlessly blends advanced levels of core and leg strength, mobility of lower extremities, ground engagement and tactical movement skills.
Bulletproofs the lower body against injuries.
Greatly enhances agility and change of direction related skills.
|Turkish Get Up||Systems Get Up||Builds superb ground engagement and disengagement skills.
Blends high levels of total body mobility, strength and coordination in one exercise.
Tremendous total body multi-plane strength exercise.
Huge carryover to martial arts, tactical and sport applications.
Kettlebells are superb tools for many things, including, but not limited to:
- Total body anaerobic conditioning.
- Teaching proper shock absorption and power transfer skills.
- Grip training.
- Heart and lungs training.
- Great choices among Hinging, Rotational, Pressing, and Squatting movement patterns.
- Core, leg, and shoulder strength development.
- Great development of stabilizers.
- Body composition (fat loss/muscle gain) training.
- Tendon and ligament conditioning.
- Mimicking sports-specific drills.
However, kettlebells drills are severely limited in the Upper Body Pulling and Flexing movement patterns. Yes, there are a few cool kettlebell drills such as Renegade Rows, Overhead Sit Ups, and a few others that target that movement, but nothing stands close to even the most basic gymnastic suspension movements, such as Pull Ups, Tuck Levers, L-Sits, Pike Leg Raises, and others, and with gymnastic movements the train does not stop there; those basic moves are just the beginning!
So, just like I feel strongly about working hard on your mobility skills and attributes while kettlebell training, I feel the same way about bodyweight training; it is a great complement to kettlebell practice that balances everything out and produces a nice overall athlete. This trinity of mobility, bodyweight, and kettlebell training modalities is at the heart of my Compound Conditioning Training Method.
Sample Workout Mixing Kettlebell & Bodyweight Exercises
This strength & condition practice schedule could be adjusted to meet your goals, rate of recovery, and other factors. Intensity, Volume, Rest, Frequency, and other variables could be bumped up or decreased.
Either way, make sure to sprinkle in lighter, more technical practices and even weeks where you drop the intensity and/or the volume to give the body some rest. Some days, given that you are healthy, give it a test and go close to all-out to establish new heights.
Before you get started, be sure to review the exercise demonstration video found below.
A1: Kettlebell Split Sots Press – 3-5 rounds x 1-3 reps (each side)
A2: Bodyweight Rotational Ice Cream Makers – 3-5 rounds x 1-3 reps (each side)
Notes: Heavy, alternating Challenging high difficulty / high tension variation, Perform 3-5 supersets with 2 min rest in between each set and each superset
A1: Kettlebell Uppercut Flip x 10-15 rounds x 20 seconds on/10 seconds off
Notes: Medium weight
A1: Total Body General Mobility Routine
Notes: 15-45 minutes/ 1-2 minutes each x 2-5 circuits total
A1: BW Muscle Up – 2 – 5 reps x 3-5 rounds
A2: Kettlebell 360 Squat Shin Roll – 1-2 reps x 3-5 rounds (each side)
A3: Kettlebell Split Snatch – 15 seconds on/10 seconds off x 5-15 rounds (each side)
Notes: High difficulty variation / heavy on muscle ups and 360 shin squat roll. medium weight on split snatch
A1: Copy Day 2
A1: Kettlebell Systems Get Up – 1-2 reps each side for 20 minutes
A2: Bodyweight Rotational Muscle Up – 1-2 reps each side for 10-15 minutes
A3: Kettlebell Greg’s Clean & Press – 1-5 reps x 2-5 ladders
Notes: medium to heavy weight on all movements.
A1: Copy Day 2
Over time, try to increase your quality of movement, work up to heavier weights in Kettlebell Grinding exercises, work up to higher power output in Kettlebell Ballistic exercises by raising the velocity/reps/weight per unit of time (set of intervals), and work up to higher skill Bodyweight exercises.
Be smart and focus on solid technique at all times, that is why I call it practice and not a workout. Do not just work yourself out; grow technically first and foremost, but do not forget to condition that skill as well. Just make sure that there is something to condition first before going into overdrive. Use what is appropriate for your progression to get it right. The best thing, of course, would be to seek out an experienced coach.