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One Kettlebell Workout 2 Ways: For Strength OR Fat Loss

I recently shared five basic movements I recommend for kettlebell beginners (but of course, they’re great for everyone): hip hinge, deadlift, swing, turkish get-up, and goblet squat. If you’ve been practicing these movements and feel comfortable with them, it’s time to put them into a workout!

For a well-rounded workout, I suggest including two more upper body movements which we’ve covered here at Girls Gone Strong before: a push and a pull. You may already be familiar with these skills, and they don’t necessarily require kettlebells. You can use dumbbells, resistance bands, a barbell, or even your own bodyweight in some instances. Some examples of a push include a push-up (or a push-up variation appropriate for your current ability level), overhead press, floor press, or bench press. Some examples of a pull include bent over row, lat pull-down, inverted row, or pull-up. It’s also a good idea to review safe handling of kettlebells.

Before You Get Started

Take a few minutes to warm up and prepare your body for movement. Doing so can help reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance. You can either do some light reps of the exercises you’ll be performing in the workout, or try this 10-minute dynamic warm-up from GGS Co-Founder Molly Galbraith.

Once you’re ready to start, choose one of the two versions of the program, based on your goals. If you’re relatively new to training with kettlebells, start lighter and focus on your technique before increasing the load. This 4-minute video further explains the workout set-up and kettlebell selection:

Keep these two things in mind as you get started:

  1. While kettlebells are a great training tool for fat loss and overall physique improvement, please remember that you cannot “out train” a poor diet. If you know your eating habits could use some improvement, work on that as well in order to reach your goals.
  2. “Strength” is relative. We all have different starting points. To focus on strength gains you need to train differently than you would for purely physique-oriented goals.

The Workout

For Strength Gains

Use this program to train two to three days per week. Perform “heavy” sets of 1 to 5 reps, with longer rests (3 to 5 minutes) between sets.

What is “heavy” weight? Like strength, “heavy” is also relative. Make sure the weight you use is heavy to you and challenges you at the prescribed number of repetitions. If you can complete 8 to 10 repetitions with your chosen weight, it is not heavy enough for this program. Aim for a weight that allows you to complete 1 to 5 reps (depending on the exercise) but not much more than that.

Equipment Needed: Two or more kettlebells
Recommended starting weight: Beginner— 18 to 25 pounds; Intermediate—25 to 40 pounds; Advanced—40+ pounds.

If you’re a beginner, choose one kettlebell from the Beginner category and one from one of the other two categories. For example: 18 pounds and 35 pounds, or 25 pounds and 53 pounds.

NOTE: In this program, “Intermediate” or “Advanced” refers to people who have some lifting experience or are strong enough to work safely with heavier weight. Again, strength is relative, and these weights are just a suggestion. Use weight that is relative to your strength and ability.

1a. TGU or Heavy ½ TGU 1/1 x 3 (3 sets consisting of 1 rep per side)*

2a. Deadlift x 3-5
2b. Push-up (or push-up variation based on your ability level) x 5
Rest as needed (3 to 5 minutes) and repeat for a total of four supersets

3a. Goblet Squat x 5
3b. Row x 5/5 or pull-ups
Rest as needed ( 3 to 5 minutes) and repeat for a total of four supersets

Finisher: Heavy swings for 10 sets of 5 reps with a fairly heavy load (see the video at the bottom of the article for details on how to perform the finisher).

*Remember to work on the TGU using just your bodyweight first, before adding weight to this movement.

For Fat Loss

Using the same program, but modifying the volume and density to address your goal, you will train four to five days per week, performing lighter sets of 8 to 10 reps with shorter rests (30 to 90 seconds) between sets. The result is that you will be doing more work in a shorter amount of time, and burning more calories.

As mentioned earlier, the weight you use is relative to you and should challenge you at the prescribed number of repetitions. Choose a weight for this program that allows you to complete 8 to 10 reps, and that really make you work to get the last couple of reps in each set.

A sane, sustainable, and efficient approach

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training will help you achieve maximum results, whether you’re new to strength training, or a veteran in the weight room.

Equipment Needed: One kettlebell
Recommended Starting Weight: Beginner—18 to 25 pounds; Intermediate—25 to 35 pounds; Advanced—40+ pounds

1a. TGU 3/3 x 3 (three sets consisting of three reps per side)*

2a. Goblet Squat x 10
2b. Row x 10/10
Short rest and repeat for a total of three sets

3a. Deadlift x 10
3b. Push-up (or push-up variation based on your ability level) x 10
Short rest and repeat for a total of three sets

Finisher: 10 to 15 minutes of light swings, performed in intervals. 30 seconds of work / 30 seconds of rest (see the video at the bottom of the article for details on how to perform the finisher).

*Remember to work on the TGU using just your bodyweight first, before adding weight to this movement.

3 Training Variables To Think About When Programming

Intensity — This is the weight or progression used, for example: how heavy you’re going or how much effort you’re exerting. The heavier the load, or the more effort you’re putting into the movement, the higher the intensity.

Density — This is how much work you’re doing, and how much time it takes you to complete the work. Can you complete the same amount of work (with good form) in less time than the last workout, or complete one more set (with good form) in the same amount of time as the last workout? This is a great way to test your progress.

Volume — This is the total work performed in reps and sets, or in total tonnage (weight). For example, if you did 10 sets of 10 kettlebell swings with a 50 lb. kettlebell, your volume would be 100 swings (10×10) and your tonnage would be 100 swings x 50 lbs. = 5,000 lbs., because swinging a 50 lb. KB 100 times, means you moved 5,000 lbs. total.

Track Your Progress And Be Consistent

The best way to see improvements is to follow your program for four to twelve weeks while tracking your workouts and progress each week, and making adjustments as you go. Tracking your progress (using a notebook, a spreadsheet, an app on your phone—whatever works for you), will tell you if what you’re doing is moving you toward your goals. When you’re only relying on the mirror for feedback, you’re not going to get the full picture.

Improvements in strength can come relatively quickly—especially if you’re a beginner—while, physical changes can take a little longer. For physique-based goals, you’re likely to see better progress if you’re paying closer attention to your nutrition in conjunction with your training program.

Be consistent and don’t change too many variables at the same time, or too often. Otherwise, how will you know what’s working best for you?

Stay focused on your plan and your goals! If you are feeling extra strong on a particular day, use that day as a test day. If you test a new weight or add reps or a set, congrats on your new PR! Adjust your program to train according to the new PR so that you can continue to make progress.

Remember that all of us are Beginners at some point. Start slowly and patiently while practicing and building solid form, and you will reap all the great benefits the kettlebell has to offer! If you feel that you could use some more guidance getting started with strength training, we can help!

At Girls Gone Strong, we want you to feel confident knowing that what you’re doing to look good, feel good, and feel healthy and strong are not only based on tested, reliable, and safe information from trustworthy sources, but that it is also effective and efficient. That’s why we developed our flagship training system, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training.

We’ve cut through all that noise and the BS with a sane, sustainable, and efficient approach that will help you achieve maximum results, whether you’re brand new to strength training, or a veteran in the weight room.

With four different 16-week programs—that’s 64 weeks of training—you get over a year’s worth of workouts, including progressions to ensure that you continue making progress. You’ll also get a training manual, exercise glossary, progress tracker, a bonus conditioning manual, plus a video library with over 70 high-definition videos breaking down each exercise, step by step.

We believe fitness should enhance your life instead of become your life. If you exercise in a way that you actually enjoy, staying fit and strong won’t ever feel like a drag. You’ll look forward to it for years to come.

If you want an entire training system that will help you look and feel your best, The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training is for you!

Click to learn more and get started today!

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About Mehmood Esmail

Mehmood Esmail
Hi, I am Mehmood Esmail, there have been severe health issues in my family, like cancer, heart attacks, stroke, kidney stones, IBS, etc. Where we live, in Africa, health facilities are basic. Thus it becomes imperative that we hnow what is happenining to us and how to look after ourselves, and where possible, how to prevent serious illnesses.

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