The kettlebell: much feared and with good reason. Well, sort of.
Introduced to the West by a pretty heavy Russian Spetznaz dude (Pavel Tsatsouline) and a whimsical, but ferociously strong, American guy who is older enough to be a grandpa but can still do one-handed pull-ups (Steve Maxwell) – so the story goes – the iron ball and handle is actually the perfect accoutrement for anyone wanting a super-quick, super-intense workout.
In short, this piece of kit was made for Super Fit Dads (and Mums).
In fact, there is nothing it can’t do. Want to build muscle and torch fat in 15-20 minutes? Sure, the kettlebell can help you with that.
Want to build strength endurance and character simultaneously? No worries, your trusty KB has got your back.
Want to have more sex?
Well, actually, you can work up a decent head of steam in a 10 minute partner workout between putting the baby to bed and waiting for dinner to cook with a single kettlebell (you do single-arm stuff whilst she does double). The remaining time can be spent on “active recovery.”
The permutations for a workout are infinite but detailed below are 5 of my go-to kettlebell workouts for when time is short but I want to work hard.
1. 15 swings / 10 goblet squats x 10 rounds (1 min rest between rounds)
Dan John talks about this as a warm-up. I actually like it as a devious little finisher but I get what he’s talking about. It’s also brilliant for crowbar-ing in between naps, feeds, trips the the bedroom (or wherever you keep your KB). This will take 20 minutes but can be abridged. 150 swings will rev up your posterior chain and the 100 GS will open up your hips in a way they will thank you for.
2. 7 single-arm swings L/R (Left then Right), 7 single-arm snatches L/R, 7 burpees x 7 rounds
I can credit myself with coming up with this one on the fly, although afterwards I wished I hadn’t. Start this with a light-ish weight because picking up a heavy ‘bell after burpees is no fun at all. Should take around 11-15 minutes.
3. 2-3-5-10 single-arm shoulder presses (reps are for each arm, switch between sets) x 3 rounds
As with most things Dan John says, this one is super simple and just makes good sense. Gives a really good pump in the shoulder, it can be done in blocks of 2/3 minutes so is great for when you’re sent outside or to the bedroom to do a “chore”. Remember to lock in your core and your glutes.
4. 100 single-arm snatches for time (change arms as often as you like)
An approximation of the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) (which only allows one change of hands in 100 reps and a 5 minute time cap), this gives a little more respite but is still fiendishly tough. Start as light as 12kg and build from there.
5. 40 secs on / 20 secs off for 10, 15 or 20 minutes
[exercises selected from: body pass-arounds clockwise / anti-clockwise, halos clockwise / anti-clockwise, good mornings, deadlift, double-arm swings, goblet squat, single-arm swing L/R, windmills L/R, single-arm cleans L/R, single-arm press L/R, snatch L/R, turkish get-up L/R]
Loosely based around some Steve Maxwell, stuff this 20 minute all-rounder will hit everything and can easily be broken down into smaller chunks throughout the day. You’ll be wearing a decent sheen by the end of it but, in the unlikely event it’s too easy, you can skip the rest periods and do each exercise for the full minute before moving onto the next exercise.
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