Summer is right around the corner which also means TV shows are wrapping up their seasons. Some shows are actually ending entirely. Such was the case with one of TV’s most cherished franchises, Game of Thrones. In an ode to this show, I’ve titled this workout Game of Bells. While some die-hard fans will rewatch the show in the years to come, most of us will move on to the next greatest thing. Unfortunately, there is just too much content and too little time to endure repeat viewings.
The in with the new and out with the old doesn’t just apply to entertainment. Kettlebells for instance, typically get replaced as people progress through their training and goals. There is nothing wrong with that. After all, you want to keep challenging yourself as you build muscle or lose weight. In my case, I’ve worked my way up to using a 35 lb. kettlebell which I finally feel acclimated to. Before that, I used a 25 lb. kettlebell. Prior to that, my starting weight kettlebell was 15 lbs.
Even though at this time I’ve had several kettlebells at my disposal, I’ve naturally stuck with my current weight and haven’t touched the others in quite some time. That is until now. I wanted a workout that incorporates all 3 of these kettlebells while still providing a challenge. Surprisingly, I believe I’ve accomplished just that.
A Kettlebell Workout That Goes From Cardio To Strength
The idea is to start using the lighter (15 lb.) kettlebell and perform a high amount of reps. Then, move on to the middle-sized weight with a lower rep count. Finally, the last part of the workout features the heaviest kettlebell with an even lower rep count. It’s all about balancing reps with the appropriate weight. I’ll tell you, even though the 15 lb. kettlebell feels insignificant in my hand, once I start approaching the end of that high rep count – I’m feeling it!
My favorite kettlebell exercise is the swing. So it was an easy decision to stick to just one kettlebell exercise for this entire workout, the one-arm swing. Below, I’ve listed the details for each of the 3 sections of the workout.
3-Stage Kettlebell Progressive Workout Breakdown
- Stage 1: 15 lb. kettlebell, 75 reps each arm
- Stage 2: 25 lb. kettlebell, 50 reps each arm
- Stage 3: 35 lb. kettlebell, 25 reps each arm
Adding up all of these reps gets you to that magical total of 300. Many of you have probably heard or even done Pat Flynn’s 300 Kettlebell Swing Challenge. There’s been a lot of praise stating that doing this challenge each day has led to rapid fat loss. While I haven’t done it myself, as I understand, it’s recommended that a certain amount of sets should be performed to reach 300. You don’t want to attempt trying all 300 at once. I know I certainly couldn’t handle that.
This progressive gauntlet that I’ve created is meant to be done in one session. It took roughly 7 and a half minutes for me to complete. Doing it 1 arm at a time allows the other arm to rest briefly. Other than that, the only other rest period is the few seconds it takes to switch to the next kettlebell. My goal was to design a workout that keeps you active and respects your time. Personally, I’d much rather get my workout done all at once. Since it is so short, you can combine it with another 10-minute workout to get close to the 20 minutes a day that I think is optimal for performing kettlebell workouts.
Video Demonstration of This Workout
Here I am performing this workout exactly as described. I’ve sped up each stage by approximately 4x, 2x, and 1.5x respectively. This effectively creates a 60-second video for each phase. I just wanted to show the progression without having you watch for the full 7+ minutes (that’d be boring!).
Due to the compression of the video from Instagram, it’s hard to see clearly the fatigue I experienced towards the end. However, if you look closely, you should notice the shine on my face due to the sweat forming at the last stage. I was tired, but not so much that I felt gassed.
The Reason I Started Lighter Instead of Heavier
When I first thought of this workout, I initially tried it in reverse order. That being, 35 lb. – 25 reps per arm, 25 lb. – 50 reps per arm, 15 lb. – 75 reps per arm. That would make sense, right? Get the heaviest kettlebell out of the way first. Upon doing it this way, I could only get so far as midway through the final stage. My arms felt like rubber. If you want to try it this way, go for it. However, I think it is more difficult for a few reasons.
- Energy Expenditure: It’s deceiving but by starting with the heaviest kettlebell, the greatest amount of effort is required. Your arms will be that much more tired at each stage. By the time you get to the lightest kettlebell that high rep count will wear you down unlike if you were starting fresh.
- Pyschological: The longer you’re working out, the more tired you’ll be. That’s a fact. So what’s easier – counting up or counting down as you progress through the workout? I found it a lot less difficult to push towards the finish line with those final 25 reps per arm.
- Priming Your Body: The initial several reps might feel a little too easy. However, activating those muscles with a lighter kettlebell first will help them to prepare for the heavier kettlebells ahead. You’ll be progressing from a cardio and endurance workout to strength.
If This Workout Is Too Easy or Too Difficult
The solution is simple. Play around with rep counts and weight sizes. I do think that going with your current kettlebell size and then using bells that are 10 and 20 pounds lighter should suffice. Although, you can always tweak the rep amount to suit your needs depending on how challenging it is.
Since I’m probably one of the few kettlebell bloggers who describe weight units with the imperial over the metric system (pounds vs. kilograms), you may choose to scale differently. Perhaps try a kettlebell set consisting of 16, 12, and 8 kg. There’s really no right or wrong answer. I don’t think gender plays that much of a role as there are a lot of women who can make my 35 lb. kettlebell look like a paperweight. It’s all a matter of finding out what works for you.
If you’ve tried this workout, please comment below! I’d love to get some feedback and learn about your experience. Happy swinging!