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Raising The Dead is an AMRAP-style kettlebell challenge where each exercise has the kettlebell start in the dead position for every rep. Lasting only 10 days with 6 timed rounds per day, you’ll test your endurance and strength as the allotted time increases each day. This challenge requires only one kettlebell and features a couple of options for scoring and progressing.

Kettlebell Challenge Overview

  • All reps begin in the dead position
  • Duration is 10 days
    • 6 rounds, 1 minute each on day 1
    • Every following day add 10 seconds to each round
  • Perform AMRAP of one of the following exercises per round per side:
    • Dead Snatch
    • Dead Clean & Strict Press Combo
    • Plank (Renegade) Dead Row OR Bent Over Dead Row
  • Choose any order to complete exercises

I’ve designed Raising The Dead with the hope of it being one of the most inclusive kettlebell challenges ever. The exercises include some of the most fundamental moves suitable for beginners and experienced lifters. Still, proper form and technique are required as you’ll need all the energy you can muster. Therefore, it’s a good idea to brush up on the following exercises if you really want to succeed in the challenge.

Featured Exercises

As mentioned in the introduction, you’ll be lifting the kettlebell from its lowest possible point. That being the dead position which refers to the on floor or ground. The trade-off is that you’ll have some rest time at the expense of burning more energy by lowering yourself further than say a hanging or swinging motion.

These are the exercises:

  • Dead Snatch
  • Dead Clean & Strict Press Combo
  • Plank (Renegade) Dead Row OR Bent Over Dead Row

Dead Snatch

A Dead Snatch and Burpee Workout 😯

The dead snatch might just be the most intense of all the kettlebell exercises listed. While not the hardest, in my opinion, it requires explosive power for every rep. Going from the dead position to lockout so quickly and rapidly takes its toll on the body. As such, you may either choose to perform half-snatches (drop into rack first) or full snatch (dropping all the way to the floor). Prioritize rest over speed and vice versa and even incorporate a squat under if you wish!

Dead Clean & Strict Press Combo

When it comes to pairing kettlebell exercises, the clean & press makes for an awesome workout all by itself. In the case of the dead clean & strict press you’re alternating your power generation. Lower body for the clean and upper body for the press. There are some options for strict presses to choose from including front or side. However, no jerks or pushes are allowed.

Several days ago I posted detailed information on the dead clean which includes an awesome slow-motion example. If you missed it, go here to read the post.

Plank (Renegade) Dead Row OR Bent Over Dead Row

Single Kettlebell Plank Row (Not Dead)

The plank row or renegade row is what I suspect will be the most difficult for participants in this kettlebell challenge. That’s why I added the bent over dead row as an alternative depending on your scoring method. For the plank row, you may use one kettlebell with your other hand planted on the floor. It’s up to you where to place your free hand for support whether that’s off to the side or more center of mass.

Alternatively, those of you with competition kettlebells can use one as an anchor instead of a free hand. The important thing is to keep your body as straight as possible in the plank position. This is a difficult exercise so if your butt is slightly in the air, that’s okay. I’m allowing for some wiggle room, so you may twist your torso a little during the row too. Just make sure that every rep has your rowing hand reach your midsection and then the kettlebell lowered completely to the floor.

I realize that not everyone has the ability to perform plank rows, especially in a timed set. So as a last-minute addition I’ve added the bent over dead row. Again, you’ll want the rowing hand to reach your midsection. Now if you plan on using a heavy kettlebell, opting to do the bent-over dead row may make more sense too. It’s probably unrealistic to expect individuals to lift 20+ kg bells in plank over a long set.

Bent Over Dead Row With Heavy Kettlebell

Challenge Format

The rules are really quite simple. Although, there’s plenty of freedom in regards to how to approach this challenge. First, let’s cover the basics of what’s required before going over the various options available.

Challenge length: 10 days
Number of rounds: 6 each day
Round time: Day 1 – 1:00, Day 2 – 1:10, Day 3 – 1:20, …, Day 10 – 2:30
Total time: Day 1 – 6:00, Day 2 – 7:00, Day 3 – 8:00, …, Day 10 – 15:00
Limitations: 1 exercise with NO switching sides per round
Weight: Your choice but you must stick with it the entire challenge – 12 kg. (25 lbs.) recommended

On the first day of the challenge, you’re doing 6 rounds lasting 1 minute each for a total of 6 minutes. Each day you’ll add an additional 10 seconds to every round bringing that total up to another full minute for that day. So what started as a 6-minute workout will end in a 15-minute grind on the final day. Keep that in mind!

You may only perform one exercise on one side of your body for a specific round. Do your best to perform as many quality reps within that time limit. Rest as necessary or required.

Planning Your Strategy

Workout Plan

Here is where things get interesting. You may decide what order to perform these exercises as you see fit. This will allow you to get creative or play to your strengths & weaknesses.

Example format including left and right side:

  • 1st Round – Dead Snatch RS
  • 2nd Round – Plank Row LS
  • 3rd Round – Dead Clean & Strict Press LS
  • 4th Round – Dead Snatch LS
  • 5th Round – Plank Row RS
  • 6th Round – Dead Clean & Strict Press RS

Personally, I would start with the plank row on my right side (my weak arm) while I’m fresh. Would it then make sense for the next round to be a plank row on my left side? Possibly. Although, since my free hand supported my weight during plank neither arm would get any rest until round 3.

Another thing to consider is how choosing which order of exercises performed sequentially might affect scoring. So if you really want to push yourself keep reading as I’ll go over those details.

Scoring System & Bonus Goals

There are two ways in which you can score yourself depending on a few factors. Appropriately named simple and advanced, choosing one over the other doesn’t necessarily correlate to your skill level. Although, there are a lot more calculations involved in the advanced method.

Simple Method

The first day of the challenge will serve as your baseline. All you need to do is track the number of reps for each round. In this method, you may use the plank row exercise or substitute it for the bent over dead row. However, only one may be chosen throughout the entire challenge.

Your goal is to simply perform 2 additional reps in every round each day. This is reasonable given the extra 10 seconds added each day. Aim for an increased total of 12 reps per day. As tempting as it may be, it’s important not to rush through the first day as you’ll need to keep that pace over the long haul.

Advanced Method

Calculating

The advanced method of scoring takes your total rep count and factors in certain bonus achievements reached for the day. Due to the way it is structured, the bent over dead row may NOT be used as a substitute.

These are the bonus goals to strive for each day:

  • Kettlebell Weight – balances scoring for cardio or strength preference
    • 12 kg. (25 lbs.) or lighter: no bonus
    • 14 kg. (30 lbs.): +7.5%
    • 16 kg. (35 lbs.): +15%
    • 18 kg. (40 lbs.): +22.5%
    • 20 kg. (45 lbs) or heavier: +30%
  • Sticking to One Side – use one arm for as many consecutive rounds as possible
    • Complete 2 sets of exercises on one side consecutively: +10%
    • Complete 3 sets of exercises on one side consecutively: +25%
    • Bonus awarded exclusively. Completing 3 sets does not entitle you to the 2 set 10% bonus.
  • Remain in Plank – applies to plank row sets and allows for reps to be paused
    • Do not break plank position on either side: +15%

So there are 3 different bonus goals with a whole lot of percentages. All of the percentages earned are added together and then multiplied by the total rep count for the day. For better understanding, let’s take a look at yet another example.

Advanced Scoring Example

Let’s say “Tom” does 150 total reps with a 16 kg. kettlebell (15%), completes the 3 sets consecutively on one side (25%), and remains in plank (15%). All the bonuses are met for a total of 55%. Take that 55% x 150 = (82.5) and add it back into the total rep count (150) for a score of 232.5. Rounding to the nearest whole number would make his score 233 for the day.

As each day passes these bonus goals become more difficult to reach. A typical strategy might involve balancing the additional possible bonus awards against completing more reps. Perhaps you forgo a certain bonus in favor of a faster pace resulting in a higher score anyway? Such as alternating between bursts of reps in plank and then resting your knees on the ground rather than pausing in plank.

For some reference, I’ll offer my experience when testing this challenge at the day 7 (2-minute round) mark. I used a 12 kg. kettlebell and was able to hold plank position on both sides and do 3 sets of each exercise on each side. The results? I was sweating buckets and gassed! It was necessary for me to stop rowing in plank multiple times just so I could maintain form.

Kettlebell Challenge Resources & Tips

The most important thing to remember is that this is a challenge and not a competition. Don’t worry about what anyone else’s score or reps are. Make sure the kettlebell rests on the floor after every rep and you’re not rushing.

For keeping track of time, a simple fitness app or program should suffice. You only need to program one fixed time duration repeated by 6 rounds. I’m partial to Flex Timer which does that and much more. I would definitely suggest keeping your timer placed low to the ground or floor where you can see it during plank rows.

Professional Instruction, Weekly Workouts & More

The Caveman Inner Circle is truly the best place to learn the correct positioning and movements for kettlebell exercises. Members from across the world and of all ages get motivation and support from each other in pursuit of their fitness goals. I believe it to be one of the best online workout groups on the internet! For more details on what’s included and what to expect click here.

I’ll leave you with this final video that Cavemantraining created going over the challenge exercises (except the strict press) in great detail. This is the level of instruction you can expect from the kettlebell workouts that are in the Caveman Inner Circle library. A big thanks to Taco Fleur for putting this surprise video together!

Raising The Dead Exercise Details

Group Kettlebell Challenge Information

Calculating

While this challenge is meant for anyone to do individually at any time, many kettlebell enthusiasts are participating as a group. Members of various kettlebell Facebook groups will be posting videos of themselves daily throughout the challenge. That start date is Monday, August 30th and will conclude Wednesday, September 8th.

Based on the number of people who’ve said yes to joining the challenge, I’ll be excited to see which method of scoring that people opt for and their plan of attack. Even if you’re unable or unwilling to post videos, all are welcome to submit their scores.

Suggested Scoring Format for Posting

For simple scoring, it’s just a matter of counting the reps for each set and then providing the total number at the end.

Day 1 @ 12kg
Dead Snatch: 22 (L), 20 (R)
Dead Clean & Strict Press: 18 (L), 15 (R)
Plank Row: 20 (L), 19 (R)
Total Reps: 114

Using a similar same example, only a couple of extra lines are necessary for the advanced scoring system.

Day 1 @ 14kg
Dead Snatch: 22 (L), 20 (R)
Dead Clean & Strict Press: 18 (L), 15 (R)
Plank Row: 20 (L), 19 (R)
Total Reps: 114
Bonuses: Weight (7.5%), 2 Sets One-Sided (10%), Plank (15%)
Score: 151

I’m looking forward to seeing people participate and watching their progress. If you have any questions, go ahead and leave a comment below and I’d be happy to answer them.

Ryan Faucher

I'm a web designer and kettlebell enthusiast on a quest to lose fat, build muscles and live a healthier lifestyle. I truly believe that exercising with kettlebells in conjunction with dieting is the most effective and efficient way to reach this goal. If you have the will and motivation, there is no reason you can't do the same.
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