Tag Archives: kettlebell

Nice Snatch

The kettlebell snatch is one of my favourite movements.
While there are many subtle tweaks you can apply in your form they all stem from two styles of snatch with a kettlebell:
1 – Hard Style
2 – Sport Style
The first is meant to generate more ‘power’ and make you stronger overall while still getting a good solid amount of volume in and increasing your work capacity.
The second is all about efficiency of movement so that you can get the most reps in a given time period (typically 10min in the snatch section of the Biathlon, only one hand change is allowed).
You might want to know which is better.
The classic answer is this; it depends on the goal.
While this is indeed the case it’s a cop out answer for people who don’t want to state a preference. Over the years I’ve done both many times and these days I lean towards doing the sport variation more.
Why you ask?
Because it feels more comfortable with the sport bells.
When I grab my cast iron ones I will often opt for the hard style snatch as the handles and dimensions are more forgiving for it.
Here are the two in action side by side:
Notice how the sport style on the left emphasises fluidity and pacing which the hard style is more about oomph.
Both are good, both have pros & cons, you simply have to decide which is better for you and your goal.
Snatching works well in many ways.
– Ladders: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 both arms
– Time Blocks 5-20min
– Intervals 30/30-60rest
– Straight Sets 10×20 per arm
– Pacing per min: 60 seconds for 15 reps L/R x10min
The options are endless.
Snatches work best when largely focused on density in training.
One things both can agree is that there will be a great benefit to your shoulder health, strength, conditioning, body composition and overall athleticism when this glorious movement is added to your training.
Hitting some snatch work 2-3 times per week will truly be a massive benefit.

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One move to rule them all

The kettlebell snatch, what a great move.
Do you know if there was only time and space enough to do one movement several times a week this would be a high contender.
Here is why:
– Epic cardiovascular hit
– A true test of mental fortitude
– Power, Strength, Endurance & Muscle is the consequence
– Nothing in the posterior chain gets missed
– Posture, core and grip strength are built
– It’s fun, plus you can get in some quality work in sub 5min
What is not to like about a movement that can do all of that in such a short space of time.
You will also find that depending on the style of technique used it can affect the results you get, commonly you will find two main styles.
The first will yield slightly more strength, the second more CV due to it being a movement of efficiency.
Personally I’d advise you utilise both.
If you have never done this before than I would suggest you hire a coach to teach you, someone from StrongFirst (or RKC) or an active Kettlebell Sport competitor would be my recommendations for a high quality of instructor.
For the sake of thought theory, let us say that you’re going to do the above movement because you life dictates that all you can do for a period of time, say 50 days straight.
Yes, I said 50 days straight.
How can you train everyday and not tear up your hands or injure yourself?
That’s easy, you wave the volume of each session along with the length and you may also do well to see each day as a practice rather than a ‘workout’ because people seem to link the latter word with killing themselves; this is not conducive to long term progress.
Here is how you can structure a short cycle of days that repeat.
Day 1 – Long Session, 45min, light bell, aim for 200+ reps
Day 2 – Short Intense practice – 5min, AMRAP
Day 3 – 30min session, heavy kettlebell ladders 1-2-3-4-5
Day 4 – Short Intense practice – 10min, AMRAP
Day 5 – 20min Session – medium weight/volume (tech work)
Also, don’t be afraid to have a session that consists of singles and perhaps doesn’t go beyond 25 reps each arm, it’s okay, technical sessions such as that allow a great amount of recovery while still keeping your body in the groove.
You don’t have to kill yourself each time you go in the gym, maybe once or twice a week going hell for leather is good, any more might not be conducive to long term health of performance.
Essentially you auto-regulate the training and go by feel.
Can you periodise it, yep, that will take some planning though and while that is my person approach some people don’t have the inclination to do such things. As such you’d do well to have a training diary and simply track what you’re doing.
Follow a Heavy-Light-Medium-LIght-Repeat approach.
Try the above for 50days, trust me, it will be worth it.

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An Odd Lift for epic results.

The Bent Press.
Have you heard of it?
Here is a quick video to show you.
The world record in the bent press is 371 lbs by Arthur Saxon, but there were unofficial reports of him bent pressing 409.5 lbs.
This movement requires not only strength, it also requires mobility/flexibility, as strong core, coordination and skill to master.
Once you nail this movement you’ll find it does wonders not only for your lifting numbers and overall strength, it’s great for shoulder health too.
A solid way to program this is to use the ‘Ladder Sets’ sequence as described by Pavel Tsatsouline in his book ‘Enter the Kettlebell’.
^^ I would buy or download this book for more detailed info on what I will outline below.
There are of course other methods, however this one works especially well.
Here is what to do –
Start off doing 1-2-3 (that’s one rep each arm, then two, then three before resting) for three total rounds.
Next session add a 4th round while keeping the reps at 1-2-3 and sticking with the same weight you used.
Next session add a 5th round, this is as high as it goes for rounds, still use 1-2-3 for now.
After you’ve started doing 5 rounds start aiming to build up to doing 1-2-3-4×5, then 1-2-3-4-5×5 – when you can do 1-5×5 with good form and plenty left in the tank it’s time to increase the weight and start back at 1-2-3×3 or even 1-2×3 if you take a large jump in weight.
^^ I’d do this movement with kettlebells and take half pood jumps (8kg increases).
Add this to your training and rep the rewards of strength, mobility and above all else, challenge.

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Swing for the win!

I love a good old kettlebell swing, don’t you?
It hits the majority of your muscles in your posterior chain, improves your core bracing, your grip strength, firms up your glutes and strips fat like there’s no tomorrow.
Yep, swings are great
The 10,000 swing 4 week program
Have you ever done it?
I first learnt of this from reading the fine writings of Dan John, his work/writing worth looking up if you haven’t already done so.
Here is how it works:
– 500 swings a day (50-30-20 x5 rounds)
– feel free to add in one strength movement of 3-5 reps in-between each set of swings (50 swing – 3-5 presses, 30 swings – 3-5 presses etc)
– perform this 5 days per week
Simple enough, right?
While it may indeed be simple it’s far from easy as it requires a rather large amount of both physical and mental fortitude to stick at.
If you saw it through to the end you’d find you stripped fat, added a nice amount of lean muscle and and built a cast iron grip.
The mistake many people make with this is using a kettlebell that is way too heavy from the start, this leads to things getting difficult very quickly.
My advice would be for ladies to grab a 12kg kettlebell and for the gents to start with a 16kg, even if that isn’t anywhere near what you currently swing, I know some ladies that are chucking around a 32kg for sets of 15-20 solid swings, however it;s not a good idea to go in that heavy, trust me, you’ll thank me by week 2.
Depending on your experience level you could scale this protocol, which personally I’d advise, and start off with say 5000 total swings (this means 25-15-10 x5 rounds, 5 days per week).
You may even want to start off at 2500 swings in month one (125 swings 5 days per week).
Then 5000 in month 2 (250 swings per day, 5 days per week).
On to 7500 in month 3 (375 swings per day, 5 days per week).
Finally go for 10,000 in month 4 (500 swings per day, 5 days a week), it’s entirely up to you.
^^ I’d aim to keep the set up of:
X swings- 3/5 strength- X swings – 3/5 strength – X swings -3/5 strength -rest, repeat 5 times
You’ll just need to break down how many swings that will be each set in the 2500/7500 months.
Pick a kettlebell that you can handle, and build ups o that 10,000 target. If you choose to do it over the 4 months, you’ll have something to stick to, just make sure you change up the strength movement to add in some variety.
I’d suggest the following movement patterns:
– Pushing (press, bench, dip etc)
– Pulling (chin, row, high pull etc)
– Squat (FS, SQ, Lunge etc)
– Loaded carry (bear hug variation)
Deadlifting in this time might not be advised, however it’s your choice if you want to do it or not.
If you’ve found yourself a little lost then this might be the protocol you need, you can always feel free to crack straight on with the 10,000 swings from the start, just being with a much lighter bell and perhaps work up to your standard shining weight over the next 3-6 months.
*It’d be worth taking a few days off perhaps at the end of each block of 10,000, no sense in crippling yourself just so that you start each month on the 1st.
Give it a go and enjoy,

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Torch Fat in 20.

If you find yourself stuck for time here is a 20min workout that will hit most of the major muscle groups in the body, improve your CV and also bring down your body fat levels. The idea is to aim to do more in the same amount of time, thus increasing the volume, intensity and destiny of your workouts along with your work capacity.

These workouts can be done daily, all you need do is alternate the two pull body lifts day to day. Use one or two kettlebells for the main lifts. 

Workout A:

– Kettlebell Swing
– Clean & Press (or Jerk)

Workout B:

– Kettlebell Swing
– Snatch

*A note: If you are a complete beginner you can do a simple workout of kettlebell swings as the main 10min workout with goblet squats, press ups and rows as the warm up until you learn/master the skills of the C/J & S.

The sets and reps will be very simple as the workouts will be based on time. After a general warm up of 5min this leaves you 15min to workout being split in to a 10min solid block of work then 5min warm down.

5min – Warm Up – Swings
10min – Clean & Press/Jerk or Snatch
5min – Warm Down – Swings

You warm up and warm down swings will all be crisp reps, so 5,10,20 or however many feel crisp, strong and snappy.

Perform your reps in the two key exercises (C/J or S) and when you need to rest of you find your form/speed slowing down you place the kettlebells down and rest as needed. The more advanced you get you will find you can rest in the rack position in the C/J and the overhead lockout in the Snatch.

This workout looks easy enough on paper, however a word to the wise… It isn’t. Remember to vary the loads as needed, wave through heavy days, medium days and light days, don’t attempt to use the same weight everyday as this can cause not only excessive fatigue but damage to your hands and potential injury.

In the early stages I would structure it as follows:

Monday – Heavy
Tuesday – Light
Wednesday – Medium
Thursday – Light
Friday – Heavy
Saturday – Light
Sunday – Medium

So you have a light day after a heavy or medium day. The more advanced you get you can have more medium days.

The idea of this workout is to build cumulative volume over the week, that is what will help you strip fat, build lean muscle and increase your overall fitness.


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10 Min Challenge

I have written various posts about getting in quality workouts in a short space of time, I have recently been asked to devise a workout that can be done in as little as 10min upon waking up.

Before you read on there is are a couple of investments you will ned to make:

– Buy a set of 3 or 6 Kettlebells (12,16,20 for woman & 16,20,24 for men) or Buy an adjustable pair of dumbbells.
– A stop watch or Gym Boss timer
– Skipping Rope

These will cost perhaps around £100 depending on where you look, but they will be worth the investment.

The format of the workout is simple, you will only be required to use one or two kettlebells. 2 will make for greater results in the future, but build yourself up to them, there’s no point in killing yourself.

Here is how it works:

Exercises Choices – Pick 1,2,3,4 or how every many you want, you may also add in some of your own favourite exercises if I haven’t listed them.

Push Press
Sots Press
Bent Over Row
Renegade Row
High Pull
Pull Over
Get Up

Workout Choices – Pick one of the following modalities and repeat for 10min.

– 1 rep increasing ladder. Start at one of each exercise then add 1 rep the second time through, it will look like this 1,2,3,4,5 etc. Go until you fail to hit your target reps then start again at 1 and repeat until 10min is up.

– Simple Circuit. Perform one exercise for 1 min then skip for 1 min.

– 1 Lift a Day. Pick a lift and do as many reps as you can in 10 min, simple.

Those three simple protocols will help you build strength, lean muscle and burn fat all in 10 min just after you wake up.

I recommend doing these workouts fasted (not having eaten anything).



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