I received a great question over email yesterday about how someone, who has access to the gym and won’t give up their conventional weight training, can incorporate kettlebell training into their routine.
So instead of just answering the question outright, I’ll show you how I’ve constructed my winter training programs (because that’s when I use "conventional" weight training).
This type of program can be considered a weight training/KB training hybrid that I’ve found is incredibly effective and something that I use both on myself and on my clients.
In fact, I have one client on a program designed using this template who’s put on almost 20lbs of muscle (and he’s 45!) and has become freakishly strong in comparison to where he was at when we started.
First, here’s a look into my 3-days-per-week barbell/KB hybrid program that I just finished in April…
Day 1 – Monday
1) Box Jumps (3 x 5)
2) Squat (3 x 3-5)
3a) Chin-Ups (3 x AMRAP)
3b) Pistol (3 x AMRAP)
4) 2-Arm KB Swings x 100 (in as few sets as possible)
Day 2 – Wednesday
1) Med Ball Slams (3 x 5)
2) Military Press (3 x 5-8)
3a) KB Rows (3 x AMRAP using either a 32kg or 36kg KB)
3b) Dips (3 x AMRAP)
3) KB Snatch (AMRAP in 5-8 minutes)
Day 3 – Friday
1) Power Clean (3 x 3-5)
2) Deadlift (3 x 3-5)
3a) TGUs (3 x 5)
3b) GHRs (3 x AMRAP)
4) Bodyweight Circuit, Burpees, Tabata or KB Swings
First, I’ll always start off with foam rolling and then static stretching my hip flexors, quads, hamstrings and pecs.
Then I’ll do some glute & abdominal activation exercises like band walks and various planks & bridges, followed by a thorough dynamic warm-up.
Then to start off the workout I’ll do something explosive (to fire up my CNS) and help with power production. I’ve been obsessed with my vertical jump since highschool (in my volleyball playing days the highest they measured me was 38"), so on my squat day I’ll start off doing some type of plyometric – box jumps, depth jumps or hurdle jumps. On my dead lift day I’ll do either power cleans or hang cleans.
****One note on plyos – and I’m teaching this to my 12 year old daughter right now – LEARN HOW TO LAND FIRST. The majority of injuries to athletes occur during some kind of awkward landing (and usually on one leg), so if you’re going to do plyometrics or any type of jump training, make sure you know how to land – both on 2 legs and on one. Also, if you’re new to training, focus on getting STRONG before you even attempt plyometrics. If you look at the power equation (FORCE x Acceleration), then getting stronger will naturally increase your power output. I found this out in highschool when my volleyball coach just made me squat without doing any plyos. I went from barely touching the rim to standing underneath it and jumping up and hanging on it.*****
Then, I’d go to my major lift for strength usually working up to 3-5 reps of as much weight as I can handle. For my upper body strength day I’ll do military presses. I’ve renounced the bench press as my major upper body because
1) it doesn’t help me in any way in my life (I have never had an experience in my life where I’ve been lying down and have had to life something off my chest) and
2) I’ve got a bad right shoulder that gets put into awkward positions when I bench so I’ve just focused on doing push-ups for my horizontal pressing exercises.
Then I’ll follow with a combination of KB exercises and bodyweight exercises for assistance. This is where I’ll start to get creative. I’ll use rings, blast straps, maybe a stability ball for hamstring curls or ab exercises. When it comes to assistance work I’ll do whatever I feel like for that day (for the most part) but still try to challenge myself.
And finally, I’ll finish the workout doing some type of high-rep KB finisher or bodyweight circuit. Again, creativity reigns supreme with this, although I have a tendency to be boring with this part and just stick to KB swings or snatches (by "bread & butter" finishers).
Some Important Notes:
-make sure you record everything (from your major lifts to the finisher and everything in between)
-you have to record your workouts because you need to know where you were and where you currently are (that means break records each and every time out)
-on 3 of your off days do something active for at least 30 minutes – play pick-up basketball, take the dog for a walk, go for a bike ride, snowboarding or skiing, yoga
-take ONE FULL DAY OFF for recovery
-make sure that you’re eating real food
-get 8-9 hours of sleep
-manage your stress levels by doing some deep breathing or meditation
If I could, I’d train like this year round. The only problem is that I can’t stand being inside when the weather’s great so I’ll opt for Kettlebell & Bodyweight Training outside for 5-6 months out of the year.
So, until October rolls around I’ll be working on my tan, while lifting Kettlebells.