Squeezing Every Drop Of Success Out Of Your Only Kettlebell

So, you’ve only got one kettlebell and you’re worried that it might not be enough to help you achieve your goals?

Don’t worry about it – there’s a ton you can do to get yourself in phenomenal shape.

Here’s an example –

Just the other day I was working with my friend Chad, who only had one kettlebell. He had been doing the following exercises on his own – 2 Hand Swings, Clean and Press, and Get Ups.

(Chad is a recent kettlebell “convert.”)

He was really enjoying his results and told me how different he felt from doing his kettlebell workouts compared to traditional gym workouts. He said his body felt more “put together” and that it felt more like one piece, as opposed to pieces, like when he used to go to the gym. (Seems I’ve heard that some place before…)

I had also mentioned to him that his wife looked great and asked if she had been doing just yoga or if she was still
doing the kettlebell workouts I had set her up on about six months ago.

He replied that she was doing the kettlebell workouts and not only did she look great, but she was seeing muscle tone in her arms and stomach that  she hadn’t seen before. But even more importantly to her, after having “thick” legs all her life, she was now watching her legs trim up!

What kind of kettlebell workouts had she been doing to get these type of life-changing results?

Very simple ones with just one kettlebell. Swings, Get Ups, Cleans, and Presses.

Results On The Cheap…

So if  you’re in a position right now where one kettlebell is all you’re going to have for awhile, here are some ideas to help you squeeze as much as possible out of it.

Here’s what I did with Chad that you can do too that will really help you out if you only have one kettlebell  –

  • Increase the number of reps per set. For example, instead of doing 10 reps, do 15.
  • Decrease the rest between sets. Instead of resting 60 seconds, rest 45 seconds. Or even 30.
  • Add a new exercise. For Chad, we added the Front Squat.
  • Combine different exercises to form new combinations. Instead of just doing the Clean and Press,  add a Squat into the combination.
  • Change the sequencing of current exercise combinations. And instead of doing your Clean and Press, do all your Cleans first followed by your Presses.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to get more out of your kettlebell workouts if you have just one kettlebell.

The “secret” really is to make your current kettlebell feel so light, that deep inside you know there isn’t anything you can’t do with it. At that point you are definitely ready for the next sized kettlebell.

But Is It Enough For Fat Loss?

It can be if you just take the time to set up your program.

Here’s what I suggest you do –

  • Increase your reps on ballistic exercises like Swings
  • Learn more advanced exercises like the Snatch, Push Press, and Jerk
  • Flip your work:rest ratios upside down – work more, way more – rest less, way less
  • Use complexes and chains and put sequences together that make your heart feel like it’s going jump out of your chest

(If you don’t have or don’t want to take the time to put one together, that’s ok – fortunately, I put one together for you. I designed it so you could take your only kettlebell and make the exercises more challenging, more demanding, and therefore stimulating more fat loss over the course of time.

It only takes 45 minutes 3 days a week and some people have lost over 25lbs using it. Check it out here…)

But What About Muscle Gain?

Sure, one kettlebell can get it done no matter what your goal, assuming it’s heavy enough to start with. For example, someone like myself would struggle to pack on muscle, let alone strength with the wrong sized kettlebell – like a 25lbs-er. For my wife on the other hand, it would probably be the appropriate size.

But let’s say you had a 35lbs-er and it was just getting too darn light for you.

What do you do?

Well, you could do what I showed Chad how to do. (See above).

You could also do the following –

  • Decrease your leverage or base of support – press from half kneeling or tall kneeling
  • Bottom’s Up work – Presses, Cleans, etc.
  • Complexes, chains, and other combination work.

Ultimately, whether you want to get stronger, get leaner, or grow more muscle, you can make the most out of your “only” kettlebell. Use the contents of this post as ideas for your program design.

You are really only limited by your creativity.

Just make sure you have a method for tracking your progress so you can measure your results.

7 comments… add one
  • Omar Antoine Jan 11, 2011 @ 11:25

    Wow I was just thinking about this as I was doing kettlebell burn 2.0. I have a 40lb kettlebell and as I was doing some staggered stance rows I was thinking if this kettlebell will countinue to benefit me in the coming phases. So kettlebell burn 2.0 is structured so I can still countinue to build more muscle with the same kettlebell? Or should I buy a heavier one or alter my reps?

    • GEOFFN Jan 12, 2011 @ 9:49

      Omar – technically, no. “Burn 2.0” is designed to allow you to use one kettlebell to strip off fat, not necessarily build muscle. You’ll build some, but that’s not the main goal.

  • ralph Jan 11, 2011 @ 15:36

    great article!!-on some weekends i only have one 53 bell so i do swings on the minute or your complex i got from your free e-book -5 cleans-5 presses 5 squats then switch hands-again great article!! 60 year old ralph

    • GEOFFN Jan 12, 2011 @ 9:43

      Excellent, Ralph! Sometimes it’s just about getting something done.

  • Ben Edwards Jan 18, 2011 @ 1:46

    Really enjoyed the article! I’m finally getting a few more kettlebells but I only have singles of each weight so I’ve resorted to doing some of the things you mentioned. But now you’ve given me more ideas.

  • Jim D. Jan 18, 2011 @ 10:07

    Yes, I’m starting with a 15 to learn the moves, and will receive a 25 anyday now. I will buy an even heavier one pretty shortly for certain exercies like the staggered stance row. I think it’s only the intervals that will keep me using the lighter weights for awhile. Not bad for an ex-couch potato. I was amazed at the effects after only two days of learning the basic moves. I can’t stop slapping my own a**. lol
    The people with only one can always go for mimicing that guy who does 2000 swings at once! 😀

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:11

      Nice and easy does it Jim. Keep taking your time. No rush…

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