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How To Structure A Kettlebell Workout For Size And Strength!

One of the keys to designing an effective kettlebell program is to keep things simple. Learn more here and get some sample training programs that are sure to get you the size and strength you are looking for.

By: Mike Mahler

I get tons of emails from kettlebell trainees on how to structure kettlebell workouts for getting bigger and stronger. Many trainees make the mistake of doing too many exercises; apply improper use of volume; and use flawed training frequency. Training frustration is soon to follow with the inevitable lack of progress from not having a clear target.

When designing a program, you must consider that you can only be good at so many things. Thus, one of the keys to designing an effective program for strength and size is to keep things simple and focus on doing a few things well. Moreover, your balanced development is critical as is proper exercise selection. Let's get into some key ingredients for maximizing a kettlebell program for size and strength.

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Exercises

The first you need to do is focus on are exercises that provide the most bang for you buck. I like to break down a full-body workout into five categories. Pick one pressing exercise, one pulling exercise, one exercise for the quads, one for the hamstrings, and one core exercise.

    To View Our Kettlebell Exercise Database, Click Here.

This ensures that the entire body is getting a workout and prevents trainees from focusing too much on one area. For example, men like to focus on the upper body and women like to focus on the lower body. To avoid imbalances and being mistaken for a California bodybuilder, focus on working the entire body and pick one exercise per category.

Lets discuss each category.


1. Pressing:


2. Pulling:

    Pulling exercises are a necessity to ensure balanced development for the upper body. Moreover there is a synergy between pulling and pressing muscles. The better you get at pulling, the stronger your pressing will be and vice versa. Here are some excellent pulling exercises for you to choose from:


3. Quads:

    To avoid looking like a California bodybuilder you need to work on the legs. Even if you do not care about leg development; if you care about upper body development you need a strong foundation. I have had online clients that blast through pressing plateaus by increasing leg strength. You body is only as strong as you weakest link.

    Build a strong foundation with the following exercises:

    • Double Front Squat
    • Double Lunge
    • Double Lunge
      Click Image To Enlarge.
      Double Lunge.

    • Suitcase Squat
    • Suitcase Squat Suitcase Squat
      Click Image To Enlarge.
      Suitcase Squat.

    • Double Front Box Squat
    • Double Front Box Squat Double Front Box Squat
      Click Image To Enlarge.
      Double Front Box Squat.


4. Hamstrings:

    The next critical area is the back of your legs. You need to balance the quad development from the squats with some hamstring exercises. In addition, if you are an athlete, you need strong hamstrings for explosive strength and speed. Choose from the following:



    Full Body Attack. Learn More.


5. Core:

    The last important area to cover is the midsection. The midsection is the hook that connects the lower body to the upper body and if your core is weak so is your entire body and you will not be as strong as you could be with a well-developed powerful midsection. Choose from the following list:


Program Design

Now that we have all of the bases covered. Let's go over program design options. If your main goal is to get bigger and stronger then split your workouts into upper body and lower body and workout each area two times per week. Here is a sample program:


Monday: (Upper Body Focus)

  • A-1: Double Clean and Press 5x5
  • A-2: Double Bent Over Row 5x5
  • Do A-1 and A-2 back to back. In other words, do a set of A-1, wait a minute and then do a set of A-2, wait a minute and so forth. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 5x5 on both exercises. When you can do 5x5, add another set and do 6x5. Your long-term goal is to do 10x5.

    print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Monday.


Tuesday: (Lower Body Focus)

  • A-1: Double Front Squat 5x5
  • A-2: Double Swing 5x5
  • Do A-1 and A-2 back to back. In other words, do a set of A-1, wait a minute and then do a set of A-2, wait a minute and so forth. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 5x5 on both exercises. When you can do 5x5, add another set and do 6x5. Your long-term goal is to do 10x5.

    Take a one-minute break and then do:

  • Turkish Get-up 2x5 l,r (left and right with one-minute breaks)
  • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Tuesday.


Thursday: (Upper Body Focus)

  • A-1: Double Floor Press 5x5
  • A-2: Pull-up with a kettlebell 5x5
  • Do A-1 and A-2 back to back. In other words, do a set of A-1, wait a minute and then do a set of A-2, wait a minute and so forth. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 5x5 on both exercises. When you can do 5x5, add another set and do 6x5. Your long-term goal is to do 10x5.

    print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Thursday.


Friday: (Lower Body Focus)

  • A-1: Double Front Lunge 5x5 each leg
  • A-2: Double Snatch 5x5
  • Do A-1 and A-2 back to back. In other words, do a set of A-1, wait a minute and then do a set of A-2, wait a minute and so forth. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 5x5 on both exercises. When you can do 5x5, add another set and do 6x5. Your long-term goal is to do 10x5.

    Take a 1-minute break and then do:

  • Double Windmill 2x5 l,r (left and right with 1-minute breaks)
  • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Friday.

RELATED POLL
Have You Ever Trained With A Kettlebell?

Yes, I Love Them!
Yes, But Not My Thing.
Not Yet, But Planning To Try Them!
No, I've Never Seen Them At The Gym...
No, Not Interested.


Time Constraint Programs

Now if you are under some time constraints and only have time for two workouts per week then try doing two full-body workouts per week. This is also a great program for people that require more rest days for adequate recovery.

Here is a sample program:


Monday:

  • A-1: Double Floor Press 3x5
  • A-2: Pull-up with a kettlebell 3x5
  • Do A-1 and A-2 back to back. In other words, do a set of A-1, wait a minute and then do a set of A-2, wait a minute and so forth. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 3x5 on both exercises. Your long-term goal is to work up to 6x5 per exercise.

    Take a one-minute break and then move on to:

  • B-1: Double Front Squat 3x6
  • B-2: Double Swing 3x6
  • Do A-1 and A-2 back-to-back. In other words, do a set of A-1, wait a minute and then do a set of A-2, wait a minute and so forth. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 3x6 on both exercises. When you can do 3x6, add another set and do 4x6. Your long-term goal is to do 6x6 per exercise.

    Take a 1-minute break and then do:

  • Double Windmill 2x5 l,r (left and right with one-minute breaks)
  • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Time Constraint Monday.


Thursday:

  • A-1: Double Clean and Military Press 3x5
  • A-2: Renegade Row 3x5 l,r (left and right)
  • Do A-1 and A-2 back-to-back. In other words, do a set of A-1, wait a minute and then do a set of A-2, wait a minute and so forth. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 3x5 on both exercises. Your long-term goal is to work up to 6x5 per exercise.

    Take a one-minute break and then move on to:

  • B-1: Double Front Lunge 3x6
  • B-2: Double Snatch 3x6
  • Do A-1 and A-2 back-to-back. In other words, do a set of A-1, wait a minute and then do a set of A-2, wait a minute and so forth. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 3x6 on both exercises. When you can do 3x6, add another set and do 4x6. Your long-term goal is to do 6x6 per exercise.

    Take a one-minute break and then do:

  • Turkish Get-up 2x5 l,r (left and right with one-minute breaks)
  • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Time Constraint Thursday


Summary

To summarize, the keys to building an effective kettlebell program for size and strength is to focus on compound exercises and balanced development.

    To View The Most Recent Kettlebell Articles, Click Here.

Make sure to cover the five major categories for balanced development and organize a program in such a way that all of the bases are covered with the appropriate amount of training days, volume and intensity.

RELATED PRODUCT
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The Kettlebell Solution For Size And Strength! This DVD will show you how to get much stronger with kettlebells and build a muscular physique as well.

[ Click here to learn more. ]

Related Articles:
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Building Size And Strength With Kettlebells.

About The Author

    Mike Mahler is a Senior Kettlebell Instructor and strength coach based in Los Angeles, CA. He is the author of the DVD, The Kettlebell Solution For Size And Strength and has a new DVD that will be released soon called The Kettlebell Solution For Speed And Explosive Strength. For more info on Mike's products, workshops, and program design services, go to www.mikemahler.com.

How To Structure A Kettlebell Workout For Size And Strength!
mahler25@yahoo.com

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Kolbe

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Kolbe

Awesome article! The parts on balance are so important. It is really easy to start focusing on your favorite exercises, get out of balance and mess yourself up. Having a good trainer to keep an eye on you really helps with that as well...

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Nov 30, 2011 9:27am | report
 
Wasilisa

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Wasilisa

I don't understand: " Continu'e in this fashion until you have completed 3x5 on both exercises. Your long-term goal is to work up to 6x5 per exercise." - what is 3x5 and 6x5? Is it 3 sets by 5 reps? and 6 sets by 5 reps?
Thank you

Feb 11, 2012 4:42am | report
 
nickforgues13

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nickforgues13

yes exactly! :D

Mar 12, 2012 9:35pm | report
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