Close
Browse
FILTER BY CATEGORY
More Categories Less Categories
FILTER BY TYPE
SEARCH KEYWORD

BLOG

The 4 Most Effective Kettlebell Exercises for Conditioning

It should come as no surprise that kettlebell training is extremely efficient to help you reach your goals. Kettlebells are a highly versatile training tool allowing you to train full body and achieve massive strength, shed fat, and build stellar endurance.

In this article I’m going to focus on four kettlebell exercises I believe are the most beneficial for increasing your conditioning, and discuss where they best fit within your training program.

karne-tgu-whitebg-350x375Kettlebell exercises fall into two main categories: Grinds and Ballistics. Grinds are the slower movements requiring more tension, like the Turkish Get-Up, Deadlift, and Military Press. Ballistics are more explosive and powerful, like the Swing and the Snatch.

The Swing, the Push Press, the Snatch, and the Jerk. These four Ballistics are, without a doubt, the most effective kettlebell exercises you can use to improve conditioning.

If you’re a beginner, it’s usually best to start with the Swing and Push Press due to the increased learning curve for the Snatch and Jerk. In the video below, each of these is demonstrated as a single-arm exercise. To advance them, you can either increase the weight or do double bells. If you’re going double bells with the Snatch, pay close attention to that section of the video to ensure you’re performing them safely.

Swing

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your bell about a foot or so in front of you.
  2. Hinge at the hips and reach for your bell while keeping your shins mostly vertical.
  3. Grip the bell, keep your shoulder in the socket, and load your lat.
  4. Take a big breath in while hiking the bell.
  5. Stand with an explosive hip snap and a power breath. Allow the bell to float.
  6. Re-hike and repeat for each repetition.

Push Press

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your bell about a foot or so in front of you.
  2. Hinge at the hips and reach for your bell while keeping your shins mostly vertical.
  3. Grip the bell, keep your shoulder in the socket, and load your lat.
  4. Clean the bell to the rack position, keeping the forearm vertical at the top.
  5. Take a small knee dip and explosively drive back up to standing.
  6. Use the driving power to finish with the bell locked out in the overhead position.
  7. Reset at the rack position and then dip and drive for the next repetition.

Snatch

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your bell about a foot or so in front of you.
  2. Hinge at the hips and reach for your bell while keeping your shins mostly vertical.
  3. Grip the bell, keep your shoulder in the socket, and load your lat.
  4. Take a big breath in while hiking the bell.
  5. Stand with an explosive hip snap and a power breath similar to the swing, but pull the bell up as if you plan to elbow someone standing behind you, then punch your fist toward the ceiling.
  6. Use the hip power to finish with the bell locked out in the overhead position.
  7. Re-hike and repeat for each repetition.

Jerk

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your bell about a foot or so in front of you.
  2. Hinge at the hips and reach for your bell while keeping your shins mostly vertical.
  3. Grip the bell, keep your shoulder in the socket and load your lat.
  4. Clean the bell to the rack position, keeping the forearm vertical at the top.
  5. Take a small knee dip and explosively drive back up, similar to the push press. As the bells begins to float about eye level, drop back under the bell in a semi-squat with the bell locked out in the overhead position.
  6. Reset in the rack position and repeat for each repetition.
    * To perform long-cycle clean and Jerk, clean the bell at the start of each repetition.

 

 

If your main goal is to improve your conditioning you should program more ballistic exercises into your training week. However, depending on your other goals, you could break your training down further into other categories, for example: Strength, Strength Endurance, High Intensity/Fat Loss.

  • For Pure Strength programming you would use a fairly heavy load for lower repetitions and take longer rest periods.
  • Strength Endurance programming can be a moderate to heavy load built into a circuit or complex with little to no rest between each exercise and a longer rest at the end, repeating each circuit or complex for the desired sets.
  • High-Intensity/Fat Loss (Conditioning) programming can vary from a light load for long durations without rest, to moderate weight for varying work-to-rest ratios (for example: 2w:1r, etc.), to a heavy load for more of a sprint type of workout with a very short rest period between heavy, very explosive, low repetitions.

The bonus is that no matter which of these conditioning styles you choose to program, you will get stronger as a side effect.

The two most frequently asked questions:

1. “What size kettlebell should I use?”

The size of the bell you use will depend on your skill level and the ballistic exercise you select. Below are some general guidelines. I can’t stress this enough: I highly recommend learning from a certified kettlebell instructor if you have never used kettlebells before. Otherwise you increase the risk of injury and bruising of your forearms.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 11.23.00 AM

** For reference pertaining to this chart, my 11-year-old daughter (a future GGS!) push presses 12kg

2. “How should I add these exercises into my training program?”

As with the previous question, your program depends on what your goals are.

If your goal is purely conditioning, focus primarily on the four ballistic exercises discussed above, with minimal rest periods. You can also add them into circuits for longer durations of work-to-rest, three times per week or 10-30 minutes per day.

If your goal is to maintain your conditioning while focusing on specific strength goals, then I recommend that you begin your sessions with your heavy strength training while fresh. Perform these ballistics at the end of your workout as a short finisher. As finishers, these ballistics should not affect your strength training goals.

And if you’re struggling to reach your goals in the gym, let us help.

FREE Course –  5 SECRETS TO GET MORE RESULTS IN LESS TIME

Learn the most effective strategies for getting the exact results you want — without spending your life in the gym.

Our Girls Gone Strong Formula has helped thousands of women from all around the world get the results they’re looking for.

Click the button below to get your first free lesson.

Get My Free Lessons!

About The Author: Karen Smith

Karen Smith is a highly-respected trainer and coach specializing in kettlebell and bodyweight strength training. She is a StrongFirst SFG Master Instructor and Chief Bodyweight Instructor. Karen travels the world instructing and certifying individuals through StrongFirst, and works with clients online and in person. Learn more about Karen on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

SHARE