Happy Thursday to you,
I hope you are well?
Today’s newsletter is all about choosing the correct kettlebell exercises for your goals.
When we see workouts online or in magazines we always need to ask:
“What is the purpose of the workout?” and “Does that fit in with my goals?”
For example, most workouts within Men’s Health or Women’s Fitness are for people with a perfect bill of health and zero movement discrepancies.
I know this because I’ve written for both magazines 🙂
I can honestly say that I’ve never used any of these magazine workouts either for myself or with any of my clients because they are just not realistic.
So with that said let’s dig a bit deeper into making smarter exercise choices…
Choosing the right exercises
Exercise and workout programming is a huge topic and one that cannot be comprehensively covered within this short newsletter.
But allow me to try and simplify things for you as much as I can by breaking down exercises into 4 steps:
STEP 1: Movement patterns
Work with your body and keep everything balanced by using the 5 movements patterns:
- Hip Hinge (eg. Deadlift)
- Knee Bend (eg. Squat or Lunge)
- Push (eg. Push up or Press)
- Pull (eg. Row or Pull up)
- Core (eg. Get Ups)
STEP 2: Multi-directional
Don’t exercise like a robot only forwards and backwards exposure yourself to other movements to improve your mobility and prevent injuries.
- Sagittal Plane (Forwards and Backwards)
- Frontal Plane (Side to Side)
- Transverse Plane (Rotational)
STEP 3: Mass production
Exercises can be divided into how dynamic the movement is and how that impacts the overall mass of the weight.
- Static (eg. goblet squat)
- Dynamic (eg. swing)
STEP 4: Complexity
The more involvement and thinking that an exercise requires the more impact it has on both recovery and also programming.
- Complex (eg. single leg deadlift)
- Simple (eg. one arm deadlift)
Putting it all together
Now, when you look at the 52 kettlebell exercises on my website you can see how they fall into each of the above categories.
Here’s how to use them:
- Beginners should be thinking about choosing 1 exercise from each of the 5 movement patterns.
- With time those exercises should include all 3 of the multi-directions but this does not have to happen immediately.
- Beginners should start with static exercises and slow progress into more dynamic ones as ligaments and soft tissue strengthens
- Complex exercises should be saved for those more advanced or added at the beginning of workouts as practice.
Reaching YOUR goals
Let’s look at a few goals as see how these principles apply:
- Fat Loss – maximise muscle exposure by using all 5 movement patterns and keep things as dynamic as possible to increase cardio
- Muscle – overload individual movement patterns and use more static/grind based exercises to increase time under tension
- Sports – focus on the movement patterns used by your sport and emphasis the directional movements too, usually in a dynamic way
On top of these 4 main principles you will also need to adjust reps, sets and tempo depending again on your goals.
I’m going to leave it there for now as that is probably a lot to digest but there are a few examples coming up.
Here’s a 10 minute workout that demonstrates the principles used above:
- Slingshot (warm up)
- Halo (warm up, transverse)
- Single leg deadlift (complex, sagittal plane)
- Windmill (complex, core, static)
- Swing one arm (dynamic, deadlift)
- Clean and Press (deadlift, push)
- Side Lunge (frontal plane)
- Thruster (dynamic, knee bend)
- Regular Row (pulling)
- Reverse Lunge and Press (knee bend)
Each exercise is performed for 60 seconds or 30 seconds on each side.
I’ve added a few of the principles to each exercise just to give you an idea of the structure.
A workout like this would be targeted towards those that were at an intermediate level looking to improve their movement skills, lose some fat and add some condition.
You can make this workout easier or more difficult by altering the exercises slightly as I show in the blog post below:
Learn more and watch the videos? 10 minute kettlebell workout
Following on, this weeks question may also help to highlight a few points:
Q. “I thought I might share a workout with you that I have enjoyed over the last week with my clients. Thoughts?”
- Curtsey lunge
- Reverse lunge
- Forward lunge
A. My first thoughts are, this workout includes a lot of lunges. All the lunges are very similar so it will overload that particular movement heavily. Great for building muscle but I don’t think this is the intension. What are the goals?
I’ll be honest I don’t like the curtsey lunge, it creates a lot of torque at the knee joint which some will get away with but not the older generation. I’d swap this out for a swing (as the clean is included they should be able to swing too).
Next, the reverse lunge and forward lunge are very similar so I’d either change one to a side lunge to get some lateral movement in or swap it out for a row.
I may also experiment with combining the clean with the press or squat with the press and adding in another exercise, perhaps the sit and press.
I hope this helps.
P.S. Don’t want to design your own workouts, see my latest programs here