Some things, like what goes on in my dog’s mind, is a mystery to me. I’m not sure how one minute he can be the most well-behaved dog and the next, he’s barking his head off. He has apparently, lots of anxieties. I’ve watched “Dog Whisperer” and even tried to implement some of his techniques – but I don’t get it. For example, how is it that he has walked by the same trash cans on the same road every Thursday for the last 8 years and he still gets freaked out? I don’t know. And honestly, I just don’t have the time and energy anymore to figure it – or him out.

Kettlebell workout programming seems to be like that for a lot of people.

So I thought I’d “de-mystify” it – since strength training program design is something I DO understand.

Yesterday, I touched on making your kettlebell workouts easier by focusing on simplifying them.

Today, I want to expand that concept and give you further clarity.

If you take a look at recent kettlebell workouts they all have one major thing in common –


Very important concept.

For example, Enter the Kettlebell, is a program that is designed to take you from absolute novice with a kettlebell to an intermediate kettlebell user. That’s it’s focus. In order to do so, Pavel focuses on strength as the primary motor ability to get you there. So it’s a strength focused entry point to the kettlebell training world.

Kettlebell Muscle, like the name suggests, is focused on the building of muscle using kettlebells.

Return of the Kettlebell, is also focused on building muscle.

Kettlebell Burn is focused on maximizing fat loss.

You get the point.

So each focus must be matched with your goal.

And that brings me to important point #2 –

You must have A GOAL.

That’s the most important thing about your kettlebell training – your goal. The more specific and focused it is, the more likely you are to achieve it.

So with that in mind – let’s get down to the nuts and bolts.

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

I keep running into this quote – which must mean it’s important.

As I have travelled through the world of strength and conditioning and fitness, the trend is to make things more and more complicated. Now, we have 10-20 minutes of “movement prep” before we can even start working out/training. And workouts have to have key components in them – like focusing on the development of all biomotor abilities. I’m talking of course about mainstream fitness. The beauty of the RKC and it’s programming methodology is it’s simplicity. The kettlebell allows you to work on all those things simultaneously.

So, here’s how your kettlebell workouts should look –

  1. Take 5-10 minutes to loosen up the “tight parts” – hips, neck, shoulders. Joint mobility drills are pretty good for this. Depending on your personality, you may find stretching is better. (Did he just say “stretching”? I thought he hated stretching… He’s so contradictory – I just don’t know…)
  2. Pick one exercise to focus on – and it should be based on or around your main goal.
  3. If you have enough time, pick 1-2 more exercises to work on based on your main goal.
  4. Cool down for 5-10 minute the same way you warmed-up – get rid of the tight spots. Joint mobility, fast and loose drills, stretching. Whatever best suits your personality.

An example…

Yesterday, I used Pressing the 48kg in one hand 10 times as a goal. I decided that I should focus on the Tall Kneeling Press as my main exercise. So using that as my main goal (strength focused) here’s how I would apply the template I just wrote about –

  1. Warm up – 5-10 minutes. Joint mobility – neck, hips, shoulders – my tight spots.
  2. Tall Kneeling Presses. Sets of 5 until form breaks down. No more than 40 reps per side.
  3. Direct abdominal work – Janda Sit-ups. Sets of 3-5.
  4. Cool down. 5 minutes.

Now what about sets, reps, rest and all that jazz?

The following parameters are generally agreed upon and are great starting points –

Strength: Low reps, multiple sets. 1-5 reps, 3-10 sets.
Conditioning: Incomplete rest. Higher reps. 10-40 reps for kettlebell ballistics.
Fat Loss: Combinations of low rep strength exercises and high rep ballistic exercises.

But how many exactly?

That depends. That’s why I put ranges up. Honestly, I’m a big, big fan of the density style training. It allows for all skill, strength, and conditioning levels to do the “same” workout or same program, but at each person’s own pace.

That means, instead of everyone doing 5 sets of 5 (which is a great loading parameter) you would do sets of 5 – as many as comfortable/possible in a given time period.

There are other ways to make this type of training even better, but that’s beyond the scope of this particular article.

What About You?

Take a look at what you’re currently doing. Are you reaching your goals? Is the program you’re using congruent with your goals? Are you doing your own programming?

There are of course lots of things to think about when designing your kettlebell programs. But if you keep these basics in mind, you’ll be all set.

Next time, we’ll look at how to make continual progress.

Until then, feel free to post your comments and any questions you might have.


best workout design, kettlebell, kettlebell exercises, kettlebell workouts, Kettlebells, workouts

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  1. at 60,i have had great progress on your KB muscle two times a week and the middle day doing pttp for strenght.i’m figuring i’m preserving muscle with cardio and making small strenght gains

  2. Geoff, you referred to Janda sit-ups. When Pavel demonstrated them, he provided the resistance against which to curl by using a towel or strap. Do you have a means of doing the Janda wothout a partner?

  3. To Jill Craig,
    Get a in yoru door way pull up bar, set it on the ground, dig in with your heels engaging your hammys as hard as you can… Janda sit up. Works well for me anyway.

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