Eric and Juan Leija of Onnit fame share a creative kettlebell EMOM workout that features 4 sets of moves repeated for 6 rounds. That’s 24 minutes of high-intensity kettlebell training! The exercises include staples such as swings, presses, snatches & high pulls. It may sound complicated but it is easy to follow and makes for a fun but challenging workout.
As you’ll see in Juan’s Instagram post below, the first slide includes snippets of all of the moves. Subsequent slides go into further details regarding specific exercises. Watching him and Eric perform synchronously is a thing of beauty. There’s lots of footwork and swinging of the bells timed perfectly together. Take a look!
Breaking Down This Kettlebell Workout
I can’t say for certain, but it looks like they are both using their standard weight of 24 kg. (53 lbs.). Anyone looking to do this workout should use their standard weight too. For me, that’s 16 kg. Being an EMOM format, it’s important that you get the reps in quickly each minute. You’ll need all the time you can get for rest before the next set begins.
Exercises Featured in this Workout
- Staggered Swings – alternate reps for each arm (20 total / 10 per arm)
- Press & Split Press – alternate reps per combo (6 total / 3 per arm)
- High Pull & Snatch – perform 3 combos on one side then switch arms and complete 3 more combos
- Drop Lunge – alternate knees touching the ground every rep (20 total / 10 per leg)
The above 4 sets of exercises count as 1 round. A round will last 4 minutes and then simply start the round over again 6 times. That’ll get you to the 24-minute mark. Of course, you’re free to cap the number of rounds to whatever you want. So if you just want a quick 12-minute kettlebell workout then perform 3 rounds total.
The Instagram post clearly shows the movements necessary to do all of the exercises. However, there are a few unique twists to traditional exercises that deserve mentioning. Keep reading for a short overview of each set and my thoughts on these movements.
It’s interesting that the Leija brothers are doing staggered swings instead of regular alternating swings. Notice how the leg on the same side of the swinging arm moves back a few steps during the drop. Usually, both legs remain planted during 1-handed alternating swings. As subtle as the staggered movement is, I don’t recall ever seeing any other instructor doing this.
This is a clever way of keeping the feet moving without compromising stability. It’s not a large gap between the position of each leg as the kettlebell passes through. Although, that small movement adds up to over 20 reps x 6 rounds. Certainly beneficial to those muscles in your lower body.
Press & Split Press
Watch closely as the two brothers do the first press with legs with each foot in line with the other. It appears that Eric is doing a push press where the knees dip before rising again as the bell is pressed overhead. In contrast, we see Juan do more of a strict press which involves the legs and knees remaining fixed. He does do an ever-so-tiny dip, but I’d still classify it as strict.
Once the kettlebell is lowered to the rack position, the split press move is performed. This is another move I’ve yet come across before. If we’re getting technical, this press (with the leg moving backward) looks more like a jerk motion. I see more of a bump and dip movement which is common in kettlebell competitions and excellent for preserving strength.
High Pull & Snatch
Due to the quickness of both the high pull and snatch exercises, it makes sense as to why they don’t alternate arms every rep. I’m used to seeing more of an elbow strike where the arm is pulled back at peak height during the high pull. It looks to me that it is more of a disconnected one-arm swing which is perfectly fine as well. Really, it’s up to interpretation and I’m sure differs between various instructors.
As far as the snatch, it’s definitely of the half-snatch variety. This is evidenced by the kettlebell being lowered to rack position and then fully dropped to begin the high pull again. A full snatch on the other hand has the kettlebell drop completely without rest. That’s much more taxing on the body but does provide a little extra time for the EMOM rest portion.
Unfortunately, this is the only exercise without a dedicated slide. You can still see it performed towards the end of the first general overview slide. Both Eric and Juan hold the kettlebells upside down at chest level. From there, it’s up and down movements in repeition where the feet are aligned when upright. Going down, the feet are swapped every rep in regards to back and forward placement.
Traditionally, a lunge is either forward or backward with one foot remaining planted. Here, it looks like one foot is moved somewhat towards the front while the other is dropped much further backward allowing the knee to touch the floor. Doing it this way might require a little extra balance but is by no means incorrect.