3 MAJOR Kettlebell Mistakes

I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but kettlebells are just a tool.

Nothing more, nothing less.

They are not the “Second Coming”.

They will not solve all your fat loss, muscle building, hormonal, financial or marital problems.

You can buy as many kettlebells as you like, but unless you understand how to use them and you accept the fact that getting to where you want to be – as far as you physique goals are concerned – is going to be a difficult and uncomfortable journey, you are not going to be very happy with your progress (or lack thereof).

You must be willing to get out of your comfort zone.

You must be willing to accept that losing fat and changing your habits is going to be difficult and challenging.

You must be willing to work hard.

This is just one of the most common mistakes that I hear about kettlebell training these days.  Here are 3 more…

Mistake #1 – Kettlebells are NOT “The Magic Bullet”

Probably the biggest issue that I’ve noticed is that people see using kettlebells as their “magic bullet” and fail to understand that diet & lifestyle both play MAJOR ROLES – possibly more than the training effect – in the fat loss equation.

If we break things down into percentages with average training session taking 45 minutes, 3 times per week, then we’ve got a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes of TOTAL training time.

There are 168 hours in a week, so training only accounts for 1.3% of the total time that you have in a week!

Therefore, the question that EVERYONE needs to ask themselves if they are trying to lose fat, gain muscle or look better is “What am I doing in the other 165.75 hours (or 97.75% of the time remaining) in my week to help with my results?”

I call this “The Rule of 165”.

Training isn’t the be all and end all of looking great. There are so many more factors involved.

Losing fat is NOT EASY – although, the equation to do it is SIMPLE – so once someone recognizes that it is about more than training, then they’ll be in the right mindset to achieve all they can from any good kettlebell program.

Mistake #2: Movement doesn't matter, just get in a good a$$ kickin' workout

A lot of what we teach as RKCs is the ability for our clients to move correctly and efficiently. This is the one thing that I often see neglected by trainers who start out with fat loss clients.

Correct movement is the foundation for ANY training program and something that needs to be addressed FIRST ABOVE ALL ELSE prior to anyone using any type of program – be it strength, hypertrophy, fat loss, whatever.

Without correct functionality and correct movement patterns, without cleaning up form and technique in your foundational kettlebell lifts and movements, clients will end up injured and/or not achieving anywhere close to their potential.

This is why the CK-FMS is part of the RKC family.  The relationship between movement and being in incredible shape is undeniable.

Movement is the FOUNDATION of your house (your body).  If you build your foundation with cracks in the concrete, no matter how nice your house looks, it will not be stable and will eventually fall apart.

Mistake #3: Weaklings can lose fat as efficiently as those who are strong

After movement, the next issue that people don’t understand is that they need to gain/achieve an appreciable level of strength. This is something that was hammered home for me by the likes of Pavel, Geoff Neupert & Dan John especially.

I think Sr RKC Dan John had the best analogy when he said (and I’m paraphrasing) that strength is much like a glass that you are trying to fill. The stronger you are, the bigger your glass is and therefore the more you can put into it – ie. the easier it will be to achieve your goals if you have a certain level of strength.

So pound for pound, if you’re not very strong (if you’re working with a shot glass), you won’t get as great results as the individual whose got a goblet the size of the beast, if you know what I mean.

I guess the take home is that having a certain level of strength should be something that everyone should be gunning for – from housewives to 80 year old grandfathers.

That doesn’t mean that you have to train for strength prior to everything else. Strength elements can be built into fat loss programs and into programs that build muscle, but they should never be without.

You should always be trying to get stronger.

Maybe not Powerlifter strong, but strong enough that you can do a set of 5 chin-ups or 5 pistols.

Remember both of those exercises require no equipment whatsoever.


I apologize if what I've said above is something that you don't want to hear.

I apologize if I ever gave you the impression that getting in shape – especially if you're one who's been out of shape for years – is going to be an easy journey.

But then again…

[testimonial1_arial author=”Theodore Roosevelt”]“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to WORK HARD at WORK WORTH DOING”[/testimonial1_arial]

…and your health, well being and body are worth it.

Chris Lopez, RKC


  • Reply October 19, 2011

    Graham (Heswall, UK)


    You’re absolutely spot on with what you say. There never will be a “magic bullet” or whatever for any type of conditioning, be it strength training, fat loss or cardio. Everyone is individual and therefore everyone will find that different training techniques work better for them than others. Putting the effort into reaching your goals however, is absolutely paramount.

    I’ve been the quintessential yo-yo dieter over many years now and although I’ve never tried any “fad” diets (preferring to eat healthy, balanced carb/protein/fat meals instead), I’ve never trained correctly and made it part of my lifestyle. My aim was always “I want to lose x-pounds” and once I did, I had no other goal. I’d achieved what I’d set out to to and never really knew where to go from there. Looking back, because of whatever type of training I was doing (badminton, soccer, circuits, weights), I had never looked beyond just losing the weight. I still carried more body fat than I really wanted to, but never looked deep enough into what I needed to do next to lose that fat but increase my muscle size and density to maintain my body size. However, in the past 5 months my attitude has changed and so has my focus. I’ve gone from 266lbs to 202lbs using a combination of dumb-bell circuits, kettlebell circuits and interspersing own-weight sets into the cicuits. Throw in a bit of badminton for extra cardio and my physique is changing for the better. Also, with some whey supplements and a much healthier and nutritionally balanced daily diet in general, I fit into clothes now that once fit me when I was 20lbs lighter at just over 180lbs. My muscle size and density has obviously increased but I still have excess fat to lose, although it is visbly less than it has been after previous diets.

    Kettlebells have played a big role in helping me to focus my training. They have helped me to strengthen my core to a greater level than ever before. Also, I change my circuits every couple of weeks to challenge my body that little bit more and use a range of kettlebell weights to do this. My training sessions last about 45 mins and I’ve been keeping rest periods to a relative minimum to aid my fat loss.

    The main difference between now and previously is that although I had a weight in mind to reach when I started this current weight loss programme, I have now amended that and will continue adapting my training programme to help me torch the remaining excess fat, whilst trying to maintain my current size. The weight has now become secondary to fitness, physique and health and will be just a guide rather than the be-all-end-all. Then the hard work really begins, maintaining my physique rather than saying “Great, I’ve done that now, let’s eat a pizza every day with two bottles of wine!!” like I’ve done in the past. Although a treat every so often is manageable I think.

    It’ll be tough, I am under no illusions, but I’ve seen great results so far and long may that contuinue. Kettlebells have helped me to achieve where I am now and I hope they will help to take me to where I want to be. But as you said, they are not the magic bullet and may not work as well for some as for others, especially if you don’t put the effort in.



    • Reply October 21, 2011

      Chris Lopez, RKC

      Hi Graham

      Great insight and thank you for sharing your story.

      With you losing well over 60lbs it goes to show others that it isn’t so much about how much you weigh, but the weight in which you start to feel healthy and strong again.

      Keep doing what you’re doing, my friend. And if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to let me know.


  • Reply October 20, 2011

    Valarie Walton


    What a great article!

  • Reply October 21, 2011

    Graham (Heswall, UK)

    Cheers Chris. Much appreciated. G

  • Reply October 24, 2011


    I have a question for you, Chris – I was surprised to see that you have a KB Training for Women workout in your program. Is this for those women who are scared to train like men? Or do you train women a little differently? I’m relatively experienced in weight training and have recently discovered kettlebells. I like the idea of combining TT and KBs. Do you recommend one program over the other for women?

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