If you are looking for a kettlebell challenge then this combination of just two exercises could be just what you are looking for.
Over the last 5 years I’ve used this kettlebell challenge to help motivate and generate some amazing results for people all around the world.
With a little bit of determination and a will to succeed you too could reap the benefits of this simple 30 day kettlebell challenge.
30 Day Kettlebell Challenge Workout
You will be performing the same workout for the 30 days, you can take a days rest every 3rd day if you feel you need to.
There are only 2 exercises that you need to master and both produce huge full body results in the shortest amount of time.
You will gain strength, add muscle and lose fat by using over 600 muscles in each workout.
The best bit of all is that this kettlebell workout should only take between 10 – 20 minutes!
The Kettlebell Challenge Workout is simple:
- 20 x Two Handed Kettlebell Swings
- 10 x Push Ups
- 20 x Two Handed Kettlebell Swings
- 9 x Push Ups
- Complete 10 circuits reducing the Push Ups by 1 rep each round until you reach 0.
At the end of the workout you will have performed a total of 200 Swings and 55 Push Ups.
Time each workout so you can monitor your progress.
Just to recap: perform the kettlebell workout above every day for 30 days taking a day off every 3rd day if you feel sore or overtired.
The 2 Exercises Used in the Kettlebell Challenge
The kettlebell workout used for this kettlebell challenge is called the Perfect Pair and uses only 2 exercises:
Exercise #1 – Two Handed Kettlebell Swing
Watch a tutorial video on the two handed kettlebell swing below:
Exercise #2 – Push Ups
Watch a tutorial video on the push up below:
Get Incredible Results from this Kettlebell Challenge
Here are 9 reasons why this kettlebell challenge is so effective:
Research shows that the easier something is the more likely we are to repeat it and build a habit.
I know from experience that complicated workouts with too many exercises never get performed more than a few times.
30 days of just 1 or 2 exercises is more effective than only a few days of lots of exercises.
Plus all you need is one kettlebell and a few feet of space!
Learn more: Complete guide to buying kettlebells
2. 80/20 Rule
Pareto’s principle states that approximately 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes.
In other words when you look at all the possible exercises you can perform in a workout most results come from only a few chosen exercises.
The Kettlebell Swing has been proven to produce extraordinary fat loss results compared to almost all other exercises.
The kettlebell swing is our 20% that causes 80% of the effects.
3. Over 600 Muscles Activated
The Kettlebell Swing is very effective because it uses so many muscles with just one movement.
In fact the only muscles that don’t really get activated during the kettlebell swing are the chest muscles and these we attack with the Push Ups.
4. Afterburn or EPOC
Most cardio workouts stop burning calories not long after the workout is over.
This is not the case for this kettlebell workout.
We create such metabolic disturbance during our workout that you will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours after the workout.
This is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. So just as you are finishing burning calories from your last workout it’s time for the next!
In other words you will continue burning calories day after day after day!
5. Peripheral Heart Action
You will find this workout rapidly improves your heart and lung capacity.
One of the reasons for your dramatic improvements is due to blood shunting.
As you move between Kettlebell Swings and Push Ups your heart has to work hard to drive oxygen around your body.
Swings will shunt blood to the lower and back of your body and the Push Ups will shunt it to the front and upper body.
Related: How to perform low impact cardio
6. Interval Training
We all know by now that slow steady cardio is very ineffective for fat loss.
Short bursts of hard work followed by short rest periods has been proven time and time again to be more productive for fat loss.
Our Kettlebell Workout is an excellent form of interval training. Each swing set counts as one interval.
7. It’s Super Quick
You will be hard pushed to find a workout that is as quick and as effective for fat loss as this one.
Using so many muscles and combining the workout into an interval format makes this workout highly effective in only 10 – 20 minutes of training time.
8. Less Injury Potential
Yes you need to be able to swing a kettlebell correctly but once you have this mastered then this workout is great for anyone with tricky shoulders or knees.
Most shoulder injuries occur above horizontal when the shoulder is at its most vulnerable.
Both the Kettlebell Swing and Push Up keep the shoulder at horizontal and below.
Most vulnerable knees can handle the swing because the knee does not bend too much and weight is absorbed more through the buttocks and hamstrings.
9. Fun and Motivating
Although tough this is fun workout.
Ordering the workout with a repetition countdown element makes this workout more motivating.
Throw in a timer and you have a means to keep a record of your improvements.
5 Tips for the Kettlebell Challenge
1. Start Steady
Spend the first week just getting used to the workout.
For many people this will be a time of adjustment as your motor system gets used to the movements, your tendons and ligaments strengthen, and your cardiovascular system improves.
Spend this first week just getting through the workout as best you can, record your time but don’t be a slave to it.
2. Build a Workout Habit
Probably the most underestimated part about any exercise program is habit building.
It doesn’t take long to build a habit.
Ensure that you NEVER miss a session, even if you only perform 1 circuit of the workout, just make sure you do something.
Try to exercise at the same time each day if possible, this helps to solidify your habit.
I like to exercise first thing in the morning before I have time to think up excuses or life gets in the way.
3. The First Week is Always the Hardest
Getting through the first week should be your primary objective.
Forget about recording amazing times or beating yourself up, just get through the first week.
You will be amazed at how much better your workout will feel by the start of the 2nd week.
4. Increasing the Weight
The body is an incredible adapter to exercise.
During week 2 or 3 you may find that you are flying through the workout without too much trouble.
If you find that you are recording times of 10 minutes or below then you will need to increase the kettlebell weight or increase the Reps to 25.
Related: Complete guide to buying kettlebells
5. Keep Track of Your Push Ups
From personal experience I know that when I get tired my ability to remember how many Push Ups I need to perform can get a little fuzzy.
You may want to use a piece of paper so you can mark off after each round how many Push Ups you have performed.
Goal Setting & Progress for the Kettlebell Challenge
Building a regular exercise habit should always be your first goal.
It’s pointless going crazy for 1 week and then giving up.
However, once you have got through the first week you can start to challenge yourself a little more and start to make some serious progress.
As you know, progressive overload is the key to any fitness program and will ensure the results continue to keep rolling in.
Here are 2 techniques for improving your time and continuing your progress:
1. Time Your Rest Periods
Perform your 20 Swings and then your Push Ups immediately afterwards.
Next take a rest for 30 – 60 seconds.
Try to keep your rest the same for each round.
So perhaps for your next workout you try 60 seconds rest.
The workout after that 50 seconds and so on.
The ultimate goal is to reduce your rests down to the minimum of only a few seconds.
I use a Gymboss Interval Timer to make this process simple and motivating.
2. Go On the Minute
If your goal is to get under 10 minutes then you need to perform 20 Swings and your Push Ups every minute.
So set your interval timer for 1 minute intervals and then perform your swings and Push Ups and when the timer hits 60 seconds you start again.
This is tough for the first 3-4 intervals but after that you get more rest because the Push Ups take less time.
This is a perfect way to train because you gradually get more rest as the workout progresses.
If getting under 10 minutes is too difficult then go every 1:30 seconds for a total time of under 15 minutes.
Next progress to 1:20 for each interval and then you can try 1:10 etc.
3 Ways to Make the Kettlebell Challenge More Difficult
The ultimate goal (other than finishing the 30 days) is to complete the challenge in under 10 minutes.
If you find you are getting under 10 minutes for the workout then you have a few options to make the workout more difficult:
1. Increase The Kettlebell
I know this sounds obvious but if you are recording times of below 10 minute then the kettlebell is not challenging you enough.
It’s time to step up a gear and increase the kettlebell by 4kg to the next weight up.
2. Increase The Number of Reps
If you are getting under 10 minutes but do not have a heavier kettlebell then increasing the reps to 25 per round will certainly present more of a challenge for you.
If you manage 25 reps per round then that’s an additional 50 reps per workout or 200 for the week. That’s great progress!
3. Modify The Push Ups
You can also modify the Push Ups to present more of a challenge.
Changing each Push Up to an explosive Clap Push Up will not only challenge your strength but your cardio too!
Another option is to change the Push Ups to Burpees with a Push Up.
Kettlebell Challenge Frequently Asked Questions
What weight kettlebell should I use?
Choose a kettlebell you can comfortably swing with both hands for 30+ reps. I tend to use a 24kg or 28kg, my wife uses a 16kg, I have friends that use a 32kg. Some may use a 12kg.
I’m a beginner, is this workout OK for me?
Providing you are comfortable with kettlebell swings and your technique is good then yes the workout is great for you.
In fact, it’s a perfect way to master one of the most important and effective exercises.
Start with just 10 repetitions and work up to to 20 reps as you get stronger.
What if I can’t do 10 Push Ups?
Then shame on you! Only kidding, I know many people will struggle with 10 Push Ups.
You can make your push ups easier by raising your hands, so performing the exercise with your hands on a table or even lower on a sofa. If you can’t reach 10 then do as many as you can with perfect technique.
What if I can’t manage all 10 circuits?
No problem. Just perform as many rounds as you can.
With time you will find that your endurance will improve and you’ll complete the 10 rounds.
Do I need to warm up first?
Yes and if you are performing the workout first thing in the morning you will need to warm up for longer.
I recommend that you follow my mobility warm up routine here.
Also perform 10 yoga squats as demonstrated below:
Should I stretch afterwards?
Your nervous system will be so revved up after the workout that stretching immediately will not have as big an impact as you might expect.
Stretch later in the evening when your body is more responsive and relaxed.
Work on tight areas affected by the workout like the hip flexors and chest.
Watch a video on stretching the hip flexor muscles below:
Watch a video on stretching the chest muscles below:
Can I add in other exercises instead of the Push Ups?
Yes but you have to be careful what you use.
You need to be careful not to overload the same movement pattern as the swing.
Pull ups would be another great choice.
Do I need to do any specific ab/core work in addition?
Both the kettlebell swing and push up work the core very hard.
The top part of the kettlebell swing should be a stiff vertical plank with the abs tight.
The push up is a dynamic moving plank.
You could add a small core circuit at the end incorporting side planks and some rotational based core exercises but this is not necessary.
The 37 Core / Abs Workouts available here would be perfect for this.
Can I continue this challenge for more than 30 days?
The 30 day kettlebell challenge is a very demanding regime, not only physically but neurologically too.
You will need to take at least 1 week off after the 30 days in over to fully recover.
Although this kettlebell challenge is fun and very effective in the short term it is not a long term fitness solution.
In order to progress your physical strength and improve your condition you need to add more variety to your routine.
I would suggest one of my progressive workouts programs to progress your training following this challenge.
Share Your Workout Times
If you have questions or comments then please add them to the bottom of this page in the comments section.
I’d love to hear all about your progress.
To see more posts about full body workouts and advice, go here.
Feedback for the 30 Day Kettlebell Challenge below:
The challenge gave me the motivation to keep going (it was only 30 days) and I’ve always been a fan of the Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri workouts. (I started the challenge a week late because I didn’t think I’d be able to keep track of the counting – your email about using a gymboss timer got me to try it.)
Improvements, started off and couldn’t complete the pushups – ok completed them on my knees. By the second day of the second week, I was completing all of the pushups. Time I started off slow, 2 minutes on each round. Dropped to 1:54 the second week, 1:30 the third week, 1:27 the last part of the fourth week, and completed the last two days in 1:23.
Times surprised me. Rounds 10, 9, 8, and 7 usually were about the same. Rounds 6 and down were about 5 seconds faster. Also, since I was using a consistent time, I ended up adding pushups to the end, basically, the 3rd weed I finished with 3,3,3, the fourth week, 4, 4, 4, 4 and the last two with 5s.
~ Wade Feltman
“The most amazing thing about the challenge was how the body adapted; I went from 16 kg in 18:30 minutes the first round 4 weeks ago to 20 kg in 8:44 the last round. Another great thing about it was/is that it does not take any time at all; max 15 minutes in all to get a real good workout for the whole body.
The most challenging part was talking myself into going down to the basement four times a week knowing how tired I was going to be after and during the work out but mind over matter ………”
~ Lars Andersson
I really enjoyed the 30 day kettlebell challenge. I loved the fact that it’s so simple yet effective and after a day’s work I looked forward to it, just grab the kettlebell and work away. I only used a 12 kg kettlebell but I started adding burpees to the pushups to make it more challenging. My 14 year old son also joined me after a few days with his 7.5kg kettlebell and we never missed a day thereafter. He loved the discipline of the routine and that we could do it together.We got progressively better as time went on, from 11 mins to 8 mins. We were both weak at pushups but feel much stronger in the upper body now.We are definitely going to include this exercise routine as one of our routines going forward.
~ John Howard
With the 30 day KB challenge, I learned that I CAN do something about how out of shape I am!! It didn’t take long for me to see & feel results. As a somewhat beginner, this challenge was just the right thing for me. Thanks for the motivation & workout! Look forward to more suggestions & workouts from you!!
~ Mark Fournier
Thanks again for thinking up the challenge, really enjoyed it. The keys to doing it for me were the routine and also the working in a group together. Since it finished I’ve found plenty of reasons not to work out, but got round to it this morning!, did 10 sets of 25 swings with 10 push ups each time, as I finished on the challenge,-was shaking, weak and dazed and took a minute and a half longer to complete! Routine is the answer.After we finished my core was definitely tighter and I felt overall stronger, fitter and had more motivation for things generally. The best way I found for aches and pains was to work through them, maybe easing off a little. Enjoyed telling my friends what I was doing and how I was getting on! Looking out for the next challenge.PS, I’m 55, have done a weekly circuit class for the last 15 years and like to keep myself fit generally
~ Martin Maltby
Greatly improved upper body muscle tone, and I can REALLY feel my abs now. My biggest result was snapping me out of the post-holiday “blah’s” where I wasn’t working out much at all.
~ Tom DeAngelo
I had a great time completing the 30 day challenge! I see more definition in my upper legs and through out my back. My strength and cardio has improved as well! Unfortunately I didn’t lose much weight but I blame that on my fondness of beer! Lol
Abs tightened up. Body weight seemed to drop at a more accelerated rate, even with the short expenditure of time devoted to this program. Very catalytic! It has pushed me to explore some other ways to structure KB training.
~ Neil Moore
The main thing I learnt was that I can achieve more than I thought and had been holding back on increasing the weight of my kettlebells for some months in fear of injury. I have been using kettlebells and your app since about May last year but not really pushed myself on the weight aspect. I proved to myself that with the support and motivation I can do better and get some real results.
~ Vicky Frampton
I learned that short, 10 minute workouts can be wildly productive. I learned that I was woefully out of shape at the beginning, and these short, measured workouts can really show you what might have an effect on performance. For me, any alcohol intake at all, even 1 or 2 glasses of wine the night before was noticeable in how I felt during the workouts and to a lesser extent in my times. I think my biggest takeaway from this will be that there is literally never a day that I don’t have 10 minutes to spare. Awesome quick workout to throw in my repertoire.
~ Phil Richardson
Changes I noted have been more endurance, greater cardiovascular volume and muscle strength with a lot more tone. When I started I could not do more than 1 pushup. That has greatly increased since the challenge. My ROM has greatly increased and aches and pains of older age are reduced.
Although I didn’t get down to 10 minutes my best time was over 3 minutes better than my earlier times. And I moved up a weight with the bell. All these press ups have meant that I have stopped doing dips – my shoulder pains have nearly all gone. My warm up routine includes a lot of the things I do for running. As I have been doing this rigorously 4 times a week there has been lots of progress, eg my ankle flexibility is better and rope skipping is a lot slicker and quicker.
~ Brian Fiddian
Well I loved this challenge so I’m doing it for an extra week this week. Definitely feel my upper body has improved which is what I wanted, shoulders in particular. I too found the grip a problem for the last 2-3 rounds of swings but that still seems to be getting better. Happy with my results, on a 12kg bell I got well under 10mins doing 20 swings each time so I upped it to 25 every round for the last 2 weeks and I’m roughly around the 11 mins mark.
~ Maura Stephens
Not on Facebook Greg but I done the kettle bell challenge and fully enjoyed it although I found it difficult every time. I finished off on 20 k which was the heaviest in my Jim times went down form 17 minutes to just over 10. It’s obvious that my stamina has improvedand I feel my back is stronger. Grip was a minor problem but just nearing the end. Great to do something just for a month. I will do one of your apps in the meantime but I look forward to your next challenge.
~ Michael Fordyce
There were times during the challenge when I didn’t feel like training, but the idea of being part of a very large group motivated me to set aside time each evening and go for it. Overall, a brilliant challenge… Bring on the next one!!
~ Kieran Lynch
My results(to me) are phenomenal. I have seen all the advances in body shape and size that you have quoted above. I have also switched my thought process to actually loving and looking forward to my KB sessions instead of feeling I HAVE to do them. To put it in perspective, I spent years doing heavy physical work, then the last 14 years doing a far less physical job and trying to compensate with tiresome and lengthy, unstructured workout regimes of many types and with mixed success. I eat a relatively sensible and balanced diet(fresh stuff and no crap) and this hasn’t changed. Despite this, over the years I put on/lost weight etc. During this regime alone (without my usual cycling blah blah!), I have seen real physical progress and feel 20 instead of 40 years old!!! (ENERGISED!)
~ Les Maguire
I am amazed at how my cardio improved over the course of the challenge. I hadn’t monitored my heart rate at all during the challenge but took my heart rate during my normal routine which now alternates swings with a strength circuit… after a brief rest I fully thought it would be in the 120’s. I was shocked when it was in the 90 range. Yaaaaa!! I’m so healthy!
~ Christie Hite
My strength improved; I increased from 10lbs to 20 by wk 2, my time decreased from over 18 minutes to 11 by wk 3. Wk 2 was my most challenging week – I felt the most muscle pain and I pushed myself harder to get my time down. I also increased the weight during this week, which probably added to the difficulty.
The kettle bells have been a god send for me as have knee injury, so running etc is off the menu. The swings did not hurt the injured knee at all. I was really surprised at how my Cardio fitness improved over the challenge. Started with 20kg in 15 mins absolutely stuffed dry reaching with fatigue. Finished up on 28kg in 10 mins. Still stuffed but recovering quickly and feeling fantastic. Dropped 3 kg in body weight as well.
~ Neil Maclean
I increased my muscle mass, body strength and the challenge helped me in my weight loss program. The biggest challenge for me was to be able to use the 10 kg which I had only used to do lunges and squats. I had always kept to 6 – 8 kg previously and even going down to 4 kg for single arm exercises. I may now consider buying a 12 kg kb.
~ Pat Stiff
My husband, Gord aged 71, took and the challenge from start to finish using a 20 lb kettlebell and starting with modified push-ups. His first time was 19.51 and his last time was 10.56 and no longer on modified push-ups.
This week someone commented that my back got more defined and tapered. Other than your workout my routine didn’t change so I definitely think it had to do with swinging all those kb!! I also had less and less rest time by the end so my endurance improved! Thanks again for a fun challenging month!
~ Sari Dulman
Results – a sense of achievement; can actually feel some muscle in my abs and pecs plus can see some formation in my biceps. Thanks to you Greg and my fellow athletes
Really enjoying this and thank you so much as it’s quick, easy and very effective and I look forward to more of your challenges.
~ Wayne Grove
My muscle endurance has increased. My waistline has decreased. My core strength has increased. The increase in the explosiveness I now have in doing other types of exercise such as my training in martial arts is definitely noticeable. I am currently training for my black belt test which is in April which is going to be brutal, and this has given me a great lift in my training.
~ Vince Trujillo
My strength improved in arms and shoulders. I feel like my cardiovascular endurance increased. I bumped up to a slightly heavier kettlebell. My lower thighs tightened along with my waist. Some days are definitely harder than others, usually after having two days off was worse.
~ Dorothy Gibson
Greg I loved the KB challenge. I progressed from 11 minutes on an 8kg to 9 minutes on a 14kg. I learnt not to be scared to push myself, my fitness level improved considerably so much so that I had no aches and pains on the increased weight. My abs are firmer with less of a belly hang and I can honestly say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and plan to have a week off then start on the 12kg and continue the challenge aiming to get to a 16 by the end of the 30 days.
~ Louise Clarkson
Although My diet hasn’t changed to much during this challenge well if anything I’m eating too many “treats” daily (normally I have a good balanced diet without too many sweet treats) I can see (and so can my husband) great changes in my body shape, my shoulders and arms are more defined, my tummy is showing shape and my “love handles” have shrunk .. I can also see shape in the top of my legs which I love (I love running and it does nothing to shape my legs like the kettle bells have).
~ Mel Roberts
Once again thank you for this awesome challenge !!! My strength and stamina show major improvement, and my students ask me: “What have you been doing? Your back looks awesome!!”