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.
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.
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