It was a long weekend up here in Canada, so we took the kids to the beach on Sunday to watch the sunset. It was beautiful.
On the 3 hour drive home, I got to spend a lot of time thinking – since everyone was asleep. And one of the thoughts that came into mind was how I could train with kettlebells everyday, but make it incredibly simple. Not having to worry about intensity or measuring volume or anything like that.
I've always been an advocate of taking one FULL DAY OFF where you don't do anything other than rest and recharge, so that leaves 6 days of training.
And with 6 days and 6 foundational kettlebell exercises, you've got yourself a program.
The major advantage of having to do only one kettlebell exercise per day is the FOCUS element. You can concentrate fully on what needs to be done, how tight your form is and how to master every aspect of that exercise.
Remember, it's about PRACTICE and not TRAINING.
The only thing that I would add is some upper back/ pulling work for posture and because I'm a HUGE proponent of training the back for both performance and aesthetics.
You've got to remember that kettlebell exercises can be divided into both BALLISTIC and GRINDING exercises – ballistic being explosive and grinding being more "strength" based.
So if we assume that we'd be training from Monday to Saturday and taking Sunday OFF, I would split my routine up like this…
Monday – Military Press & a Rowing variation
I'm a big fan of combining overhead pressing with rows. I think that the 2 movements compliment each other very well and I personally have gone pain-free in my shoulders for 4 years now thanks to doing lots of rows. For rowing exercises I like doing bodyweight rows on rings, but my favourite rows right now are Kroc Rows. This involves taking my 36kg kettlebell and doing as many reps as I possibly can in one set. This works my grip, my biceps, and my upper back like nothing else. Check out the video below and watch Matt Kroc (the originator, I suppose) do a set of 25 with a 225lb dumbbell…
For the Military Press, depending on how heavy of kettlebells you have access to, I would aim for multiple sets of 5 reps per arm. For the rows, I would do sets of 10-12 in between each set of Military Presses and then once you've done all your supersets, I'd rest and do 1 all out set of Krocs with as much weight as you can handle. Remember, especially with the Kroc Rows, your goal would be to beat your previous number in the next workout.
Tuesday – Swing
The swing is a great "break" (and I use that term lightly) from the rigors of doing some like Kroc Rows. True that the swing is a grip intensive exercise – but what kettlebell exercise isn't? – but swinging on your 2nd day and as your first ballistic day is great for 2 reasons…
1. It will get a lot of blood into the potentially sore and tired muscles you worked yesterday – your upper back and shoulders and
2. It will allow you to really dial in your technique and prepare for the more technically demanding ballistic exercises to come – the clean and snatch. Getting that hip snap and rooting is critical in cleaning and snatching your kettlebell with proper form and it's best to clean that up and get it in-tune sooner than later.
I like doing swings for lots of reps, so I would aim to try to do 100 in a few sets as possible. Once you master that – ie. once you can do 100 without stopping – start adding reps in increments of 10-15 per workout.
Tuesday will be a short, but intense, workout.
Wednesday – Get Up
The Get Up is probably the most technically demanding of all kettlebell exercises and it's the one that works your entire body the hardest. That's why it isn't paired up with any other exercise. It can also get very cardio intensive if you do enough of them and you use a challenging weight.
The Get Up is the one exercise that I am adamant that you PRACTICE. Really focus on doing each rep and element of the exercise perfectly and with control and you'll get a great workout.
I would just alternate singles of the get up and do as many as I can within a specific time period – say 20 or 30 minutes.
Thursday – Clean
I love this exercise, especially with double Kettlebells. There's no better kettlebell exercise for total athletic development than double KB cleans.
My personal clean workout is simple…
Double 24kg KBs. 50 Cleans in a Row. No Stopping. Wash, rinse, repeat.
My goal is to get to 100 straight.
Friday – Squat & Chin-Up
Squatting is the most primal of any exercise out there and depending on your technique and how much KB weight you have access to, you can do them for high reps.
I, however, prefer to use squatting as a mobility exercise when I do them "Goblet" style and really focus on "prying" my hips open at the bottom of the movement. I'll do 5 reps making sure that I'm getting nice and low and that my chest stays high and my back stays straight.
In contrast, I like to do lots of chin-ups. Being able to do 20 almost-dead-hang chin-ups is like wearing a badge of honor and I pride myself on being able to do that.
For chin-ups I like to keep things pretty simple as well…40 reps in as few sets as possible, NEVER going to fatigue in any of the sets.
Saturday – Snatch
Saturday is the day that I like to get a little crazy and just go all out. I do this because I know it's the last day of the training week and because I know that I get rewarded with a day off the next day.
These days I'm doing VO2 Max training with my 16kg kettlebell. But in the past, I've gone back and have attempted to do the RKC snatch test with the 24kg and have done sets of triples with the 32 and 36kg.
I'll get creative on "Snatch" day and make sure that I track my progress.
So based on the 6 Foundational Kettlebell Exercises, that's how I would program if I was to train everyday.
Would you do anything different? Leave a comment and let me know!
Chris Lopez, RKC