Strength: noun. the ability to overcome.

The Easiest Way to Make Progress With Kettlebells

by GEOFFN on January 19

As you may know, we just got back from our last vacation “together.” The boy is due in April and we thought we’d get away. We stayed at this place called “The Alexandra Resort and Spa.” Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?

(I tried to upload some pics – but I’m still having issues with my server…)

But you know what? It wasn’t really “fancy” in the traditional sense. Certainly not like Versailles, the former palace of French kings.

Nope – it had clean lines, not too many frills, just simple and elegant.

Kind of like how our kettlebell workouts should be.

But looking around, it seems we’ve gotten lost over the years. We’ve taken seemingly simple exercises like the Get Up and complicated them beyond recognition all for the sake of “movement”.

(I’m all for clean movement, but let’s remember to get the basics down first before we go deeper down the rabbit hole…)

It’s like I tell my clients, many of whom struggle to get workouts in on the days I don’t see them – some movement is better than no movement. Everything is scalable. On one end we have no movement, and on the other end we have movement, defined by your goal.

But so many times we get distracted by the wrong movements or too many movements. And that leads many times to failure – failure to progress – failure to see the results we’re looking for.


Because there are too many ingredients in the recipe to measure.

So, what’s the solution?

Simplify – it’s the easiest way I know of to make progress with your kettlebell workouts.

Like I alluded to yesterday – why do 3 exercises when one will suffice? What is it that you hope to gain by doing the extras?

Why workout for an hour when 30 minutes will get the job done? Again, what is it you hope to accomplish?

More is only more when it’s money in the bank (except for periods of inflation and hyperinflation).

Our bodies only have limited capacities to produce energy. And ultimately, isn’t that why we work out – to have more energy? To feel better about ourselves and the way we look?

And actually, if I were to simplify that even further, I would say the ONLY REAL and TRUE reason we work out is to feel better about ourselves – whether our goal is to look better with our clothes off or to compete in a sport. Ultimately, we do those things because by doing them, we seek to feel better about ourselves. And in doing them we have convinced ourselves that we feel better. And that’s what’s important – that we do feel better.

But, when we overly-complicate things – put too many irons in the fire, too many ingredients in the stew, we start to feel a loss of control because there are more things to manage – not only in whatever specific area we’re talking about, but in the rest of our lives as well.

More often than not this causes doubt, confusion, and uncertainty, and decreases our overall sense of well-being. It literally robs us of our energy. This holds true for our work environment, our home life, our debts and bills, and even our workouts. The more you have to manage, the more energy you will expend. And the more likely something is to break or go wrong or fail to live up to your expectations.

So, it makes good sense then, that since we’ve chosen a simple tool – the kettlebell, that our workouts should reflect that simplicity. Not only will we relieve the mental burden of trying to do too many things at one time, but we’ll also find that progress is easier to manage, measure, and see.

Here then, are five (one for each finger on your hand) simple steps to make rapid progress with your kettlebell workouts.

The 5 Step Simple Success Formula

1. Determine your goal.
2. Determine where you are now in relation to that goal (measure).
3. Determine what is necessary to achieve that goal – your strengths and your limitations.
4. Seek to maintain your strengths while removing your limitations.
5. Measure your progress in relation to your goal over a set period of time.

Here’s an example – let’s say I want to be able to Press the 48kg for 10 reps in one hand. Following the steps, here’s how they’d look:

1. Goal – Press 48kg x 10 with one hand.
2. Current ability – Press 48kg x 2 with one hand, 40kg x 10 with one hand.
3. Limitations – here’s the tricky part – you have to be pretty accurate on this or you could end up wasting a lot of time – ability to stay tight and generate stability from which to Press
4. Actions – Press for maintenance and work on exercises that force me to stay tight – maintain stability – can be one and the same – Tall Kneeling Presses for example.
5. Plan a specialized training cycle for 30 days with Tall Kneeling Press as centerpiece and re-measure Pressing ability at end of 30 days.

Now, you’re probably wondering how I know if this would work. I don’t – not for sure. But I have a relative certainty it will based on two things – 1) my knowledge of the human body and it’s adaptation, and 2) my training history.

What if you don’t have “expertise” in those two areas? Don’t worry I’ll be posting in the near future on how you can overcome those perceived obstacles.

In the meantime, if you’re designing your own kettlebell workouts or trying to modify one or more professionally designed kettlebell programs (you know who you are!), pause for a minute. I strongly encourage you to use the aforementioned 5 steps.

What if you have more than one goal?

What if you want a Big Press, to drop 10lbs of fat, and increase your SSST numbers?


Prioritize your goals. Yes, there is a scientifically backed sequence in which to do them for faster results, but ultimately if one burns more inside of you to accomplish, go for that one first. Once you achieve that one, use the momentum from that accomplishment to achieve the next one and so on.

But still use the 5-Step Simple Success Formula I gave you above for those goals.

Keep your eyes open for more blog posts about making your kettlebell workouts more successful. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts and comments – feel free to post them below.

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