Balanced Kettlebell workout

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dpilot83
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Post by dpilot83 »

I'm new to kettlebell training and haven't exercised much in the past outside of some jogging from time to time. I now have two over-priced kettlebells (different weights) and an expensive DVD set and I'm drawing a line in the sand as far as spending money on exercise equipment. The DVD I chose was the Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting by Steve Cotter.
My knowledge base is limited but the DVD set seems to be very comprehensive in terms of different kettlebell lifts and the things you need to watch out for so you don't hurt yourself. It does not recommend any sort of program though. It only describes lifts. I would like to know what lifts to focus on if the kettlebell will be my only means of exercise. I would like to focus on no more than five different lifts if it is possible to do this and still have a well rounded program. I would rather be good at the things I do rather than mediocre at 50 different things.
I've read around on the internet a lot trying to find a good program. It seems like everyone has a different idea. I'm coming here for advice because it seems like there are a lot of practical people that frequent this site. Any suggestions? Thanks.


Surio
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Post by Surio »

Warning: Shameless self-plug ahead :-/ (Sorry about that!)

Hello dpilot83,
If you haven't done much fitness training other than the occassional jog as you write, then I would certainly suggest that you start with bodyweight exercises to get yourself some functional strength before lunging with those kell-bells ;-)... Bodyweight exercises comprises of the much scoffed Hindu squats, burpees, etc. , among other things. Jacob writes about functional strength vs. "Beach boobs" (sorry if that sounds corny..) in some posts... Too lazy to search them. You can manage that.
Plug-warning: I recently posted some links to (imho, excellent) bodyweight exercises that look easy buy are fiendish when you try them. The post is here. Go on, give them all a shot.
The crossfit videos on Kettlebells that I find on Youtube and the programmes they suggest seems OK to me (*), but I've held off buying and using them until I am good at bodyweight exercises... And in my own experience, it definitely takes more work than we think it takes, to get good at bodyweight fitness/strength. ;-)
(*) Jacob is really the one who can comment on them with more gravity.
HTH,

Surio.

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dpilot83
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Post by dpilot83 »

Thanks for the suggestions. I should have mentioned that I feel like my work helps maintain at least a little bit of the "functional strength" you were talking about. I am a farmer and like Jacob mentions in some of his blog posts (I've been lurking a few years) there are quite a few farm activities that would be good substitutes for some exercises. I am not unfamiliar with stacking bags of corn seed, turning wrenches on cars, trucks and tractors and various other physical activities that occur on a day to day basis on the farm. However, The reality is that farming today is much less labor intensive than it was even 20 years ago and I want something to supplement my outdoor activities.
I don't know how to describe my level of fitness right now I guess. I am not uncomfortable walking around with two 50 pound bags of seed on my shoulder. I am not challenged by loading 48 of those bags into the planter several times a day. However, I believe both of those activities are really not very challenging compared to what could be achieved with a good workout and I would really like to still be capable of doing what I can do now 30 years from now. That's just not going to happen unless I start a fitness program and keep it up.


Surio
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Post by Surio »

Ha Ha,

LOL dpilot83, I wish you said those points first and saved me from myself :-). If you are not an office-dweeb (like I was) and lead a semi-active outdoors lifestyle, then perhaps your point on moving to those Kell-Bells seem OK. (If you've chcked out Crossfit's routines on video, you may straight away start with some simple ones?)
But there's a lot you can still add to your fitness programme by incorporating bodyweight exercises to the routine. They are definitely not as easy as they appear and provide more workout than people assume. They can be quite strenuous too.
Just try doing any or all of the following in a stretch

1. 50-75 squats/10 one-legged squats or more at a stretch

2. 25-40 burpees

3. 20-30 chin-ups

4. 35-50 pushups (to up ante,keep hands close together and near face)


and you will know what I am talking about. My earlier point still stands. Bodyweight exercises are really great and make you aware how many areas can be further improved.
Best,

Surio.

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jacob
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Post by jacob »

I favor boring and intense workouts. I essentially do the density training (as outlined in the book or this post) for either single snatches or double clean and jerk.
With clubbells, I do density training with swipes.
For strength, either presses or the two hands anyhow (given that you have different weights). Strength, I'd do in a 5x5 or 3x3 without timing depending on how strong ;-)


ffj
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Post by ffj »

Try Craigslist for a copy of P90X. I've seen them go as low as 20.00. You can incorporate your kettleballs in the workouts, most of the exercises rely on your bodyweight. This program works even if you only do it half-ass. Good luck.


eric
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Post by eric »

Check out dragondoor.com and read some of the articles on kettlebells. That should give you a good start.
Also, Enter the Kettlebell is a somewhat pricey book but is worth checking out if you can. Basic protocol includes only a few exercises: deadlifts, halos, turkish get-ups, clean & press, and swings. If you can master those different exercises you'll be well on your way. There are some good youtube videos of these lifts.
KB's are rad because of their simplicity. You can modify workouts to your particular needs. I followed a pretty rigid C&P + weighted pull-up progression last spring, in addition to a ridiculous amount of swinging. Felt so fit and really helped my climbing. . .
Good luck.


dpilot83
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Post by dpilot83 »

@Jacob: I like boring and intense as well. I had read the post you referred to before but I think I must have skimmed over the details at the end a bit. What you recommend makes good sense. I think for now I may just focus on the two handed swing only. Maybe for a week or two. I will add more later. Do you have a specific warm up routine you do before starting to swing?
@Eric: After I started this post I started reading on dragondoor and you're right, there is a lot of good information there. They will probably be my number one resource if I have questions in the future. I wish I had bought their DVD/Book set for $60 instead of the DVD set by Steve Cotter for $100. Oh well. I think between the visuals on Steve's CD and the information on the dragondoor site I should be able to have a safe and effective program eventually.


jacob
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Post by jacob »

No, real men don't warm up :)
(Instead they complain about their aches and pains the day after.)
The Cotter set is pretty good. He explains things very well compared to many of the "me-too" KB DVDs.


veganprimate
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Post by veganprimate »

What's the lure of kettlebells? I'd never heard of them until recently, and now they are everywhere. Are they superior to dumbbells and if so, why?


Kevin M
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Post by Kevin M »

I've been doing bodyweight exercises 2-3x/week - squats, push ups, crunches along with jumping jacks - while hunting on Craigslist for a cheap set of weights or kettlebells. I had good success with high intensity weight training previously, so I'd like to try it again.


jerry
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Post by jerry »

I bought my first kettlebell from Dragondoor in 2001 and have been doing the following 16 to 20 minute routine 6 days per week since then.
4 minutes at 8rpm clean and press/side press

12 minutes 12 30 to 40 second swing intervals depending on weight.

Weights vary from 24kg to 32kg per KB.
1 day per week I do a moderate paced 10 to 20 minute set of snatches with 20kg or 24kg.
Since I retired in November, I have also started taking long walks.
I based this program on a KB version of Pavel's minimalist Power to the People deadlift / side press workout only KB version emphasizes strength endurance vs max strength.
My resting heart rate is usually in the mid 40's.

I took my blood pressure a few hours ago and it was 101 / 61 which is not bad for a 57 year old man with no medicine. Kettlebells really deliver incredible results athough I believe vegan diet also helps BP significantly.


Surio
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Post by Surio »

@veganprimate,

Kettlebells become an interesting addition once you become proficient in bodyweight exercises.
It is also needed IFF your requirement demands it. What I mean by that is this: If all you are looking for is flexibility, suppleness and just enough fitness to run after a bus and carry grocery bags around (or seed bags as in dpilot's case), a combination of yoga and bodyweight exercises should be more than sufficient.
An additional level of strength and fitness is tacked on to this fitness level through judicious use of kettlebells. A critical plus point of the Kettlebells are they are very good in developing "functional" strength over say, a pair of dumbbells. Sure, when someone curls dumbbells, they develop 'wow' biceps, but in the "real world", you don't "curl your way out of trouble", if you know what I mean! :-P
HTH,

Surio.

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veganprimate
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Post by veganprimate »

Well, do you have to do bicep curls with dumbbells? Is it not possible to just hold the dumbbell and do other moves, like with a kettlebell? And conversely, couldn't you do a bicep curl with a kettlebell?
What I don't get is that if we're talking about a weight with a handle to hold it, can't you just hold a dumbbell and do whatever with it?
If someone has a set of free weights, is there any advantage to them spending the money to buy kettlebells? Do they actually do something that dumbbells don't do?


Surio
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Post by Surio »

Short answer:

The physics of the trajectories made by the routines that were devised for each instrument are very different. And this in turn targets specific muscle areas. Which is why some instruments are recommended for functional strength over others.
A shorter answer (though not how it would appear :-) ):

I said it before as well. There is no need to invest in one. Bodyweight exercies are sufficient for a general level of fitness. If you need some ideas to start, Check out the vidoes from here. I do most of those exercises indoors with no problems.


Bakari
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Post by Bakari »

The balanced weight of a barbell or dumbbell means you don't have to stabilize it as much, so it doesn't translate as well to real world application.

Grocery bags, suitcases, etc. don't have handles conveniently placed in the exact center.

Kettlebells will also work your grip strength much more than dumbbells.
Another good option for functional strength is lifting sandbags.

Or people :)


jerry
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Post by jerry »

What I have found is that KBs make you strong the same way that manual labor makes you strong. It toughens you in a way that bodyweight exercises typically do not. It also gives you a much more intense cardio workout than typical bodyweight routines.
I am not saying that you can't get most of the same effects with BW exercises but you need to do more than most people mean when they say BW. Most people think pushups, situps, , and knee bends as opposed to hill sprints, rope climbing , 1 arm pushups, pullups, etc. It is also hard to build lower back / hip strength with BW only exercises.
KBs can do it all while being easier for out of shape or weak people (light starter KB) and test the limits of human strength endurance through kettlebell sport for people who are after that sort of thing. You get all of the benefits with almost no equipment and you can do it indoors or outdoors in a fairly small space.


Shandi76
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Post by Shandi76 »

I went to a free Kettlebell workshop last weekend and was very impressed with them and am now considering purchasing one or two. Does anyone have a recommended brand or supplier for them? I'm in the UK so would need ones I could purchase in this country.
Also, any recommendations on what weight(s) of kettlebell to get? I was using an 8Kg one at the workshop (the heaviest they had) which seemed a bit on the light side for some of the exercises but pretty heavy for the upper body exercises. I'm currently reading 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris who recommends women start out with 16Kg kettlebells, which doesn't strike me as overly realistic or safe.


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