How Often Should You Train With Kettlebells?

kettlebell workouts

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About 13 years ago when I worked in a corporate fitness facility I used to wake up every morning at 5am, pour some egg whites (from a carton) into one of those plastic egg-cooker-thingies, microwave my egg whites and then put them in a pita with some tomatoes and wrap them up for breakfast.

I would leave the house, even on the coldest winter day, walk to the bus stop and get on the express bus that would take me to the subway station so that I could get to work for 6:00am before my first client so that I could get my cardio in.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I would hop on the treadmill and do interval training – 1 minute on at 12mph (the highest speed the treadmill would go) and 1 minute OFF walking.

Tuesday and Thursday I would “do” the elliptical machine for an hour.

Then, around mid-day, I would take a 2 hour break so that I could get my weight workout in. This was usually a bodypart split – chest and tricieps on Monday, legs on Tuesday, back & biceps on Wednesday, abs (and only abs) on Thursday and arms on Friday.

Then I would down a whey protein shake.

I would do this everyday for the good part of 2 years.

And when I look back at that program – the microwaved egg-whites, the getting up at 5am for cardio workouts, the “2-a-days” that I was pulling everyday for 2 years straight, the bodypart splits – I think to myself…

“Look at all that time that I wasted.”

The truth is, I didn’t know any better. I was 22 years old, fresh out of college, with a 1 year old at home with my soon-to-be wife (we didn’t get married until a year later), and bodybuilding style training was all I knew.

I read magazines like Muscle Media and figured that if I trained everyday, I could be in that magazine.

After 2 years, I was tired and burnt out. I thought I was creating great lifestyle habits by exercising hard twice per day and doing long bouts of cardio.

And now looking back, I had it all wrong.

Back then I wanted to be BIG and RIPPED and couldn’t figure out why I still weighed 150lbs.

Today, things are different.

I weigh 170lbs, I have a 30″ waist, I still wake up at 5am but instead I’m in front of a computer writing to you about my life experience and I eat whatever I want including THE WHOLE EGG (not just the whites anymore).

And the biggest change is that I only train hard 3 days per week for about 35-40 minutes per session.

=>Here’s a great 3-day-per week Kettlebell Fat Loss Program

kettlebell workoutsOh yeah, and I don’t do the bodypart split thing, I ONLY USE KETTLEBELLS.

So when I get asked the question, “HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TRAIN WITH KETTLEBELLS FOR WEIGHT LOSS?”, my answer is usually…

AS FEW TIMES AS YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH AND STILL LOOK GOOD.

It has nothing to do with how often you train with kettlebells as it does with HOW you train with them.

I’ve experimented with training 4, 5 even 6 days per week with kettlebells, but the fact of the matter is that it isn’t healthy to do an intense training session everyday of the week. You’ll fry your neurological system, you’ll limit your immune system and if you couple that with the stresses of everyday life, you’ll end up sick and halting your progress anyway.

If you’re new to kettlebells, then it may serve you well to train hard 3 days per week and then PRACTICE some of the movements/exercises on your off days, but by no means does that mean pushing yourself to the limit everyday.

And if you’re looking to lose weight, I can guarantee that you’ll get excellent results by being meticulous with your diet EVERYDAY as opposed to training with KETTLEBELLS EVERYDAY.

So with that being said, I’ll give you 2 separate schedules for training below. The first one is the schedule that I am currently on…

Monday – OFF (meditation and maybe a set of chin-ups)
Tuesday – Double Kettlebell Session, full body, medium volume and chin-ups on rings & pistol practice
Wednesday – OFF (meditation for 30 minutes)
Thursday – Double Kettlebell Session, mainly upper body, light volume and pull-ups & pistol practice
Friday – OFF (meditation for 30 minutes)
Saturday – OFF
Sunday – Double Kettlebell Session, full body, heavy volume

If you absolutely must train everyday (for you keeners out there), then this would be what I suggest…

Monday – Medium intensity kettlebell training
Tuesday – Practice KB Clean & Press (low volume, 5 sets of 3 submaximal sets with 2-4 minutes rest between sets)
Wednesday – Low intensity kettlebell training
Thursday – Practice Get-Ups (low volume, 5 sets of 1 or 2 per side with 2-4 minutes rest between sets)
Friday – High Intensity kettlebell training
Saturday – Bodyweight training ONLY (chin-ups, dips, pistols, mobility work)
Sunday – COMPLETELY OFF

So there are 2 different outlooks on how to train when using kettlebells.

Because of my limited time these days – 2 businesses, 5 kids, personal training clients, coaching commitments, a wife that I’d like to talk to everyday, etc – I opted for the 3 days per week option where the intensity is high and I play with the volume.

=>Build Muscle & Burn Fat with this 3-day-per-week Kettlebell Program

But if you have the time and want to train everyday, then Option #2 is a vialble solution.

Just remember, if you’re trying to lose weight, THEN IT’S YOUR DIET THAT YOU MUST FOCUS ON EVERYDAY, not your training.

Chris Lopez, RKC
Author, The TT Kettlebell Revolution

17 Comments

  • Reply January 17, 2012

    Carrie Millen

    I agree, as I am reluctantly taking today off after 2 intensive heavy lifting and interval training (including kettlebells) My mind tells me to take a day of rest but I still feel that twinge of guilt for doing it. PS….20″ waist???

  • Reply January 17, 2012

    Paul

    Chris, January 2011 I made a commitment to stop smoking and never set foot in a gym again, so took up Kettlebells. It was the best year for a long time, so this January I’ve thrown TRX into the mixer. Seemed like good synergy with KB’s and also the fact that the two communities cross over was helpful. Early days, but really enjoying the variation and the gym is still a distant memory.

    What’s your view on TRX?

    • Reply January 17, 2012

      Chris Lopez, RKC

      Hey Paul, I’m really proud of the commitment you made to your health! Keep it up!

      I love the TRX. I’m a huge fan of suspension training and many years ago before the TRX came out I would get my clients to use Blast Straps. I think it does compliment kettlebell training and think that the 2 go hand in hand especially when you’ve renounced the gym and only train at home.

      That said, just wait to see what I have in store for next week!
      Chris

  • Reply January 17, 2012

    Alan Clarke

    Am working out hard 5/6 days a week with KB got flu recently so maybe time to revisit things…. Thanks for the words of wisdom …

  • Reply January 17, 2012

    Terry Jenkins

    What a concept! Work smarter not harder, and pursue an all-over healthy lifestyle.

  • Reply January 17, 2012

    Terry

    No worry I won’t attempt every day. I have COPD and have to take things easy to some point. It is important that I keep moving so I push myself but not to the extreme.
    Would be great if you came up with a plan that I can do at home. Chest muscles are important to keep the lungs breathing easier. Anxious for winter to be finished and get the kayak on the lake.

    • Reply January 19, 2012

      Chris Lopez, RKC

      Hi Terry,

      My program is meant to be done only at home! Click on the “Get The Workouts” link above to check them out.

      Chris

  • Reply January 17, 2012

    Michelle

    This is great guidance as I have about 30lbs of fat to lose and really need a schedule. Should I incorporate any interval sprinting or anything other than kettlebell to burn fat faster
    I have a goal of June 1st

    • Reply January 19, 2012

      Chris Lopez, RKC

      Hi Michelle

      You can add interval training into your routine, but I think that’s only necessary closer to June. I think it’s more important to make sure your diet is under control. Nutrition is FAR more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss.

      Chris

  • Reply January 17, 2012

    Joseph DeMateo

    Hey there. I love the tenor of these posts. I began working out in my mid 40s, and perhaps got carried away as I was approaching 50. Too many aches and pains, including a resurfaced hip, and arthritic knees and shoulders, that got over worked from boot camp classes, martial arts training and weight lifting. Trying to find the right balance now and it is nice to hear what you folks, especially Chris, are saying. BTW – I love kayaking and for my 50th b-day, I was given a gift certificate to go buy one – so I cannot wait for this NY winter to end!

  • Reply January 19, 2012

    Elana

    You mention your wifes journey to lose her building up baby fat – I am a mom of 4, ages 7-10months, run my own business and stay home with my kids from early afternoon, I have you TT with KBs but wanted a change/simplify – can you tell me what your wife did – diet/KB schedule and moves? I eat healthy already but need a majorly effective and short/simple routine -focus on abdominal muscles and overall fat loss (I need to lose about 10LBS but really need stomach muscles).
    Thanks!

    • Reply January 19, 2012

      Chris Lopez, RKC

      Hi Elana,

      To keep things concise, my wife works out with kettlebells 3 times per week for 20-30 minutes per session. Her diet is low in refined carbs and she eats mainly protein, fruits, vegetables and lots of healthy fat. The workout she uses is the TT KB Revolution v2.0 because all she has time for is 3 days per week of exercise. She’s been making a hard effort to get to bed before 10pm and has been waking at 6am everyday. Because we homeschool, she also makes sure that she and the kids get some type of outdoor activity – a hike, playing in the playground or a walk around the neighborhood – everyday.

      I hope that helps.

      Chris

  • Reply January 21, 2012

    Elana

    thank you!

  • Reply January 21, 2012

    Elana

    I have TT KB downloaded in 2009 – is version 2 newer? if I bought the first one can I download an update?

    • Reply January 21, 2012

      Chris Lopez, RKC

      Hi Elana

      Yes, version 2 is newer. You should have received the update when it came out. If you didn’t get it, please email kettlebellworkouts@gmail.com and ask my assistant Heidi to send you the newer version.

      Thank you,
      Chris

  • [...] How Often Should You Train With Kettlebells? – Kettlebell Mixing Heavy Lifting – I’ve experimented with training 4, 5 even 6 days per week with kettlebells, but the fact of the matter is that it isn’t healthy to do an intense training session everyday of the week. You’ll fry your neurological system, you’ll limit your immune system and if you couple that with the stresses of everyday life, you’ll end up sick and halting your progress anyway. [...]

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