3 steps to losing fat using your kettlebell(s)

3 steps to losing fat using your kettlebell(s)

In my most recent reader survey, “losing fat” “losing weight” was one of the top 5 topics people indicated was “the #1 thing they needed the most help with.”

So, first things first:

Here’s a nutrition template for you that will strip off body fat while using your KBs.

It’s not sexy.

But it works.

Meal 1 – Breakfast: Protein shake – 50 grams of protein (2 scoops, usually)

Meal 2 – Lunch: Protein shake – 50 grams of protein (2 scoops, usually)

Meal 3 – Dinner: Solid meal – meat / chicken / fish + rice / potato / pasta + veggies

There. Do that. Without complaint.


Now, on to the matter at hand: Your KB workouts.

Before I share this with you, let me tell you how I “discovered” these 3 steps.

When I was 23, I was stuck between weight classes in my sport of choice – Olympic lifting.

I didn’t want to give any strength away, so I decided to compete in the 91kg category instead of the 99kg category.

Some of the Rutgers Wrestlers had hired a local chiropractor, Dr. Tom Billela, to help them with their nutrition – an area of specialty for him, with great success. 

So, I did the same.

Dr. Tom had just won the New Jersey NPC Light Heavyweight Bodybuilding Championship, so he knew about losing fat and preserving muscle.


I’d only given him 3 weeks to work with, and I told him outright I wasn’t going to do “cardio” because it would interfere with my power output.

He agreed to help me, but made no promises, because I wasn’t willing to fully embrace his methods.

I reverse engineered a “Bulgarian weightlifting-inspired” bodybuilding program, and re-applied it to my lifts:

Low reps, high sets – limited rests.

Lots of Pulls – Snatch and Clean, lots of Front Squats and Overhead work: Push Presses and Jerks.

The results?

I dropped from 210lbs and 10% body fat, to 200lbs and 3.3% body fat.

Dr. Tom’s jaw practically hit the floor. 

He’d never seen anything like it – and neither had I!


(Sorry, I don’t have ‘picture proof’ – this was 1996 – pre-digital camera, pre-cellphone…)

And that’s the methodology from which I developed my “fat loss programming.”

So, here’s how YOU apply that same methodology: 

STEP 1: Lift heavy (for you)

Here’s why –

“Heavy” lifting uses more energy because it uses your fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Conveniently, they’re the same muscle fibers you need to grow when you want to “build muscle.”

So now you’re killing two birds with one stone. 

Or feeding two birds with the same piece of bread if you prefer a kinder, gentler metaphor.

This is where the kettlebell grinds come in: Presses, Squats, Get Ups, and others…

STEP 2: Lift Explosively

Explosive lifting – the KB ballistics (Swings, Snatches, Cleans, Push Presses, Jerks) uses more energy than “slow lifts.”

This is why the KB ballistics make you breathe hard – especially when you really learn how to “dial up” your power and put as much effort into every rep as possible.

They also use those fast-twitch muscle fibers that the “heavy for you” lifts do.

So, you’re hitting those fibers from “both barrels” so-to-speak.

Again, using stored energy – calories – for fuel.

STEP 3: Manage Fatigue

This is where my philosophy / methodology really differs from the mainstream.

Most KB workouts have you “suffer” through high rep sets or “flows” or “circuits” where you’re sucking wind, mouth-breathing like a vacuum cleaner.

I reject that approach for several reasons:

[1]  Fatigue decreases force production

So now you can’t put as much effort into each and every rep, and you’re more likely than not doing “junk reps” – reps that aren’t helpful

[2]  Fatigue alters exercise technique

Which means two things – 

1- You’re not getting any stronger in that lift – because now it’s a different lift.

For example: Turning a Military Press into a Side Press

2- You’re opening the door to an injury

As you lose the ability to produce force through the “right” ranges of motion, you compensate through “wrong” ranges of motion, exposing joints and muscles to undue wear and tear.

[3] Fatigue increases stress hormones

As you become more tired during your workout, your body releases more adrenaline and cortisol to keep you going. 

The bigger this release, the longer it takes you to recover between workouts. 

And if you’re already under a lot of stress those stress hormones – like cortisol – are already high. So we don’t want to push them higher.

These 3 steps – or TENETS if you will…

Are why you see me recommend such low reps in most of my programming.

And why I only (usually) recommend higher reps (which are usually just medium reps) after you’ve done a bunch of work with the lower reps.

If you stick to these 3 Tenets, you WILL lose – get rid of – body fat.

Just like there are many different types of cake, which all use similar ingredients, which is what makes them “cakes” (and not pies)…

There are many different “recipes” using these 3 tenets, and they all produce different types of “cakes.”

For example:

Kettlebell Burn 2.0 uses a wide variety of exercises – Cleans, Presses, Goblet Squats, TGUs and their variations, Swings, Snatches, Single Leg Deadlifts, and Rows… 3 days a week, for 45 minutes each session. https://go.chasingstrength.com/kettlebell-burn/ 

Kettlebell Burn EXTREME! is the “double kettlebell version” of my barbell program that I used way back in 1996 and it’s designed to strip body fat off you like paint thinner on an antique dresser… 6 days a week, 20-25 minutes each session. https://salutis.kartra.com/page/D9h108 

‘THE GIANT’ is a minimalist program using “just” the Clean + Press, and is especially good for guys who have knee problems and can’t squat like they used to. It’s 3 days a week, 20-30 minutes per training session, and is shockingly effective for “recomposition” – simultaneously burning fat, building muscle, and getting stronger. https://salutis.kartra.com/page/oWP219 

Kettlebell MAXIMORUM is the “ultimate” kettlebell recomposition “strength & conditioning” program which “incidentally” strips off body fat in the process of becoming “stronger” and “better conditioned.” It’s 4 days a week, 20-30 minutes per training session. https://go.chasingstrength.com/kettlebell-maximorum-e/ 

To name but four.

Of course, you can design your own programs too. 

But unlike cakes, it’ll take you longer to see the results and evaluate if they’re any good or not.

Hope this helps you out.

Stay Strong,


P.S. I do have other “fat loss” programs that “violate” these tenets. Or appear to do so. But that’s because in most cases, they’re really only for relatively advanced individuals with higher levels of kettlebell skill or conditioning, or both.

It’s like that old saying… “You have to know the rules of the game before you can break them.” ;-]

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