Do you have any thoughts on which exercises are best to begin with and then progress I.e single arm overhead to double arm overhead?
Also, from a physique standpoint, can you build a strong, athletic look optimally by only using kettlebells but just tailoring your approach? [/quote]
For overhead work the progression would be:
- Single arm KB press
- Alternating KB press (one KB in each hand, press one after the other) holding the “non-pressing KB” down
- Alternating KB press holding the “non-pressing KB” extended (finished press position)
- Double KB press
- Single arm KB Savickas press (press while on your knees)
- Alternating KB Savickas press “NP KB” down
- Alternating KB Savickas press “NP KB” extended
- Double KB Savickas press
- Single-arm KB Sots press (press from the full squat position)
- Alternating KB Sots press (down)
- Alternating KB Sots press (extended)
- Double KB Sots press
For your second question… I do not have “one” approach. So you can’t tailor “my” approach. And certainly I would not apply what I do with barbell with KBs. But you can build a good physique with only KBs for sure.
That overhead press progression alone can make you build massive shoulders… I mean, if you can reach step 12 with the 32kg KBs you are a beast! I would say that doing a double KB Sots press with 32kg KBs would be equivalent to doing a strict standing military press with about 245-255lbs.
For chest the various variations of the KB bench press can be used: single arm on a bench, single arm floor press, single arm incline press, single arm decline press, double bench, double floor, double incline, double decline, alternating bench press, alternating floor press, alternating incline press, alternating decline press. While the 32kg KBs are not that much of an overload, because of the offset center of mass I would estimate that a bench press with both KBs is roughly equivalent to bench pressing 195-215lbs… obviously if you can bench press 275-315+ for reps, it wont give you much of an overload, but if you can get 6-12 reps with 215lbs or less, you can train for size with the KB bench press.
I really like KB swings… even though they have to be done for higher reps, I find them great to build the posterior chain, traps and delts. I personally do 15-20 KB swings between every set of strength work right now.
For legs the best option would be single leg work since they are easier to overload holding 1 or 2 kettlebells. So split squats, Bulgarian split squats, lunges, walking lunges, backward lunges are good options. The KB front squat can also be quite challenging and if done after your single leg work, you can probably overload your legs with it.
For back you can do KB rows (but you’ll probably need higher reps because of the weight), but really, I’d go with chin-ups and pull-ups. You can also do KB high pulls (single arm or double). You can do shrugs too, but since the KBs are fairly “light” I suggest holding each repetition for 3 seconds in the peak contracted position, which is better for traps anyway.
Since the KBs might be light for high pulls you could superset shrugs followed by high pulls.
You can easily hit biceps since curls with the KBs work great, even better than DBs from my experience.
Then you have the cleans and snatches which will give you that athletic look.
So yeah, you can make it work.