Kettlebell Workouts – The Forgotten Key to Success

When I was younger I used to train “all out” – “full throttle” – and all those other cliches. I thought that the harder I worked in each and every workout (which is what I called them then) the faster I would get the results I wanted.

And it worked – for a little while.

See, I was under the illusion, or delusion, that you had to train not only hard, but heavy every single workout, otherwise, it was a waste of time. It was almost a form of HIT brainwashing.

You may be training that way too, or have done so in the past.

It’s very common. In fact, I recently saw a comment on one of the Dragon Door forum about day 1 of Kettlebell Muscle being easy. The individual was worried about it.

It’s ok to have “light” and “easy” training sessions. In fact, not only is it ok, at this point in life, I’d argue that its downright necessary to have in order to continue to make the progress you want to make. And, on top of that, I would argue that you will see faster progress if you DON’T lift hard and heavy all the time.

The forgotten key to success with your kettlebell training, and strength training in general, is to wave your loads.

Mix up your training intensities or volumes or densities – however you’re currently measuring them – with heavy/hard and medium/moderate and light/easy training sessions.

In fact, I’d argue that the “average” joe only needs to go hard/heavy once per week, depending on the training schedule. Any more than that and recovery will start to suffer. (Twice a week is probably ok if you’re using an upper/lower split.)

Recovery, after all, is the determining factor in adaptation. Stimulation without recovery fails to produce adaptation.

So, take a look at your workouts/training. If you’re going hard/heavy all the time, you might just be a “thrill-seeker” instead of someone who’s serious about making results. Or you might be confused about how to best achieve the results you desire. Either is ok as long as you recognize where you are and who you are. If you want faster, longer lasting results (sounds like a commercial for something), remember to wave your loads.

Feel free to leave your comments, ideas, and experiences that you’ve had below.

11 comments… add one
  • Alberto Feb 17, 2011 @ 9:27

    closing in to 49, I find it necessary to ‘wave the loads’ as you put it, and feel extremely invigorated and strong after a ‘light’ workout, being it bodyweight or lighter kettlebells (for me, that’s 20 and 24). I certainly want to keep improving and see if someday I’ll bring a 48 over my head, but I’m not in a hurry, and certainly do not want to injure myself badly on the way, just to see my work and life suffer from it, and definitely my training regimen. keep the posts coming, great work, and all the very best with the third family member coming soon into your lives!

    • GEOFFN Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:15

      Alberto – slow and steady will win that race. You’ll eventually get that 48kg up over your head.

  • Russ Moon Feb 17, 2011 @ 9:41

    I said to myself today “It is okay not to lift, do some ab work, but remember it is not how much you can do it is how much you can recover/adapt.”

    Pushing is part of my DNA, but I am changing to include dual 16kg work derived from KM as a form of restorative calisthenics that makes you stronger, leaner while increasing my bodies ability to endure strength.

    Learned all this from you and enroute to a similar result in Feb. that I had in Jan.

    • GEOFFN Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:14

      Russ – yup turn that “pushing” in other directions with other foci – recovery being one of them. When was the last time someone said “Hey – I’m really going to focus on my recovery.”? Haven’t heard that in awhile…

  • Scott Iardella Feb 17, 2011 @ 10:11

    Hey Geoff, you are right on with waving your sessions, or intensity. I mean, it’s impossible to have every workout be the highest intensity workout, it’s just not possible. That’s not to say you are lazy or just “go through the motions” with your other workouts, but the reality is, if you have one high intensity, all out workout per week, you’ve done well. This is actually something Dan John writes about in his book, “Never Let Go.” It’s great that you point this out and thanks for a very valuable reminder on the reality of training! And, this is another reason why you’re book “Kettlebell Muscle” is so extremely effective!
    Best Regards, Scott Iardella MPT, CSCS, CISSN, RKC

    • GEOFFN Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:13

      Scott – yeah, but many people fail to realize that and then set themselves up for failure because they fail to plan appropriately or accordingly. Thanks for the “props” on the book, too.

  • Kees T Feb 18, 2011 @ 8:04

    Geoff,
    Good advice. I work with groups on their running programs and schedule in days off: “It’s during the rest days that the adaptations to endurance or strength take place”. We incorporate two 15 minute KB (swings, TGU, Clean and press) along with Overhead Squats, Deadlifts, planks, etc., to balance out the one-sided nature of running and triathlon training, reduce injuries, and make them strong for latter part of the marathon or tri events. They love the sessions, it’s limited in time so they are out of there in short order, but benefits are terrific.

    • GEOFFN Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:11

      Kees, Looks like you’re doing a great job with your runners. They’re lucky to have your expertise at their disposal.

  • Eric Moss RKC Feb 18, 2011 @ 19:47

    waving the load always makes more sense to me then changing the exercises or trying to constantly break records

    • GEOFFN Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:10

      Good points, Eric. I think a lot of the value of training is in the process, not just the outcome. Waving the loads helps with that.

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