T Nation

Kettlebells w/o Hindering Strength


#1

I have been doing some studying, but just need some extra hints/opinions.

For various reasons, I'm adding two 20-45 min kettlebell sessions/week in my training after couple of months. I have used them a lot to support my MA-training some years back before I started lifting. I really like them and feel they improved my condition and core/shoulder/hip strength/stability. So, used with heavy barbell movements, they would form a great program.

But I'm doing this kind of stupid unofficial competition with my friends and should hit approx. 470 DL, 405 SQ, 300 BP, 225 P. Clean at the end of this year. I have about 40-70 lb to go depending on the movement. So the KB should be added without taking away the strength development.

Not sure what template/program will I use. My weightlifter friends says I could just do Hatch-routine to squat and bench with added cleans and without the extra 4x5 work for fs etc. Thought hey can handle much more volume than me (I'm currently working with this with using simple volume-progression until summer). I have also 5/3/1-split in my mind with added KB work. These things have now come to my mind:

  • I would do strength training 3 times and KB 2 times/week.
  • The KB would be done always after the strength workout, not on the off-days.
  • There would be NONE assistance done in the gym. KB workouts would be used as "finishers" (or whatever you could call them).
  • I may prioritize two lifts (ex. squat/bench), while just maintaining the other two (ex. clean and DL) for the period I would do the KB training twice a week (about 3 months period)

So, not asking any miracles nor ready programs, just opinions and advises.

PS. Just for the note - I tried doing one KB session per week last winter for 2 months, but the strength program I used weren't ideal for this and doing KB only once/week did not have the effects I was hoping for.


#2

I’ve not tried this specifically myself, but I can’t see how a 3-day-a-week strength program with 2 KB workouts added as finishing work is anything but fantastic. To be honest, if I could go back in time to when I was training for college football, that’s probably what I would do if I could do it all over again.

I see what your strength goals are. What are you seeking in terms of KB stuff?

I think one of the 5/3/1 templates with KB work tacked onto the end would be fine. Doesn’t Jim have some templates where you would do something like sled dragging, Prowler work, or sprints after the workouts? Couldn’t you just program the KB work there in place of the sled work?

As far as movements: I think you’d be best off to “set” your strength program (since that seems a priority) and then choose complimentary KB work thereafter. But what kind of KB exercises do you want to add? Swings are an obvious choice, and Dan John certainly believes that one can add a pretty high volume of KB swings to barbell work…which brings up another idea. Have you considered just doing his 10000 swing program, or a modified version of it? Perhaps twice a week, doing a workout structured like his 10000 swing program workouts, and then maybe a third workout with no KB work where you really push the barbell lifts?

Monday

10000 swings workout (strength movement: squat)

Wednesday

10000 swings workout (strength movement: bench)

Friday

Work up to 5RM deadlift or 3RM power clean (alternating weeks)
Volume work for squats (i.e. 5x5 at moderate weight)

I mean, you can be creative here and set up alternating weeks to make sure you hit BP, SQ, DL, and PC at least once each every two weeks. I’m just tossing an idea at you.


#3

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:
I’ve not tried this specifically myself, but I can’t see how a 3-day-a-week strength program with 2 KB workouts added as finishing work is anything but fantastic. To be honest, if I could go back in time to when I was training for college football, that’s probably what I would do if I could do it all over again.

I see what your strength goals are. What are you seeking in terms of KB stuff?

I think one of the 5/3/1 templates with KB work tacked onto the end would be fine. Doesn’t Jim have some templates where you would do something like sled dragging, Prowler work, or sprints after the workouts? Couldn’t you just program the KB work there in place of the sled work?

As far as movements: I think you’d be best off to “set” your strength program (since that seems a priority) and then choose complimentary KB work thereafter. But what kind of KB exercises do you want to add? Swings are an obvious choice, and Dan John certainly believes that one can add a pretty high volume of KB swings to barbell work…which brings up another idea. Have you considered just doing his 10000 swing program, or a modified version of it? Perhaps twice a week, doing a workout structured like his 10000 swing program workouts, and then maybe a third workout with no KB work where you really push the barbell lifts?

Monday

10000 swings workout (strength movement: squat)

Wednesday

10000 swings workout (strength movement: bench)

Friday

Work up to 5RM deadlift or 3RM power clean (alternating weeks)
Volume work for squats (i.e. 5x5 at moderate weight)

I mean, you can be creative here and set up alternating weeks to make sure you hit BP, SQ, DL, and PC at least once each every two weeks. I’m just tossing an idea at you.[/quote]

Thanks for the reply.

The idea is interesting, but there’s couple things:

10 000 swings is a brutal challenge, and puts huge stress to posterior chain. Implying DL’S, PC’S and 2x/week squatting would maybe be to much (or just being a pussy :P).

The bigger issue is, that I have my KB’s (from 16lb to about 70lb) at home and I’ll train them outside some hours after my strength training. So doing the challenge as it is, would be impossible.

About my KB-goals: main goal is to improve my conditioning (= doing 30 min workouts without dying), secondary goal is to use them as assistance (using them to strengthen my low back, abs, shoulders etc.).

So that being said, the movements would be the basic KB movements (Swings, presses, renegade rows, snatches, front squats, lunges) with some added chins, jumps and kb throwing (this is actually fun and effective, you just need some area where throwing them is allowed).

I haven’t thought any kind of programming for KB’s, just doing by the feel and fatique. (for ex. high rep swings and low rep FS after squat session in gym)
Do you think I should follow something (like 10 000?)

The idea of choosing the strength template first and then imply KB’s as assistance is a great idea. Nice to hear you think this as a valid choice, because I think so too. The fatigue thought must be taken seriously, because heavy kettlebell workouts can be really draining.


#4

[quote]Rattus wrote:
10 000 swings is a brutal challenge, and puts huge stress to posterior chain. Implying DL’S, PC’S and 2x/week squatting would maybe be to much (or just being a pussy :P).

The bigger issue is, that I have my KB’s (from 16lb to about 70lb) at home and I’ll train them outside some hours after my strength training. So doing the challenge as it is, would be impossible.
[/quote]

I’ve always found the 10,000 swing challenge to challenge my grip far more than my posterior chain, and have run it at the same time as my heavy lifting plenty of times with no adverse effects.

Having said that, if you feel it’s too much, consider looking into Simple and Sinister. It can easily be done at the same time as heavy lifting.


#5

Okay, since you both recommend the 10 000 I consider it as an option. Also, if I do it only twice a week, I should be able to handle it easily.

Something like this came to my mind, actually quite close to the option posted above:

D1 Heavy squat
10 000 swings (strength movement kb front squat or some other heavy kb movement)

D2 Heavy bench
10 000 swings (strength movement weighted chins or some heavy kb movement)

D3 Heavy DL/P. cleans (variate each week)
Secondary squat
Secondary bench


#6

[quote]Rattus wrote:
Okay, since you both recommend the 10 000 I consider it as an option. Also, if I do it only twice a week, I should be able to handle it easily.

Something like this came to my mind, actually quite close to the option posted above:

D1 Heavy squat
10 000 swings (strength movement kb front squat or some other heavy kb movement)

D2 Heavy bench
10 000 swings (strength movement weighted chins or some heavy kb movement)

D3 Heavy DL/P. cleans (variate each week)
Secondary squat
Secondary bench [/quote]

Can’t see any major issues with this. Try it and see how your recovery works. My input would be to make sure that your “2 day” rest is before your deadlift day, your grip will likely be fried after 10,000 swings with pull-ups.


#7

Sorry to Hijack:
What kinds of sets and reps will be best for the kettle-bell assistance moves?
Would it be best to do complexes like clean/press/1 arm swing/lunge/front squat?
Or to do the moves 1 at a time?
Single kettle-bell to challenge stability/symmetry and supplement the barbells, or 2 kettle-bells for power and strength to compliment the barbells?

Besides the swing, are there any “super-moves” regular gym goers should be doing?

Personally: Bottoms up kettle-bell presses helped me correct my high left shoulder. Kettle-bell sidebends are way more comfortable than dumbbells. Single kettle-bell lunges and single front squats with 1 'bell “racked” helped me identify imbalances and fix jacked up hips.

Throwing anything backwards and over your head is awesome. Weight Over Bar is one of the coolest strength events. To toss a kettle-bell around in the backyard is fun.


#8

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you do the full 10,000 swing challenge. I was offering the suggestion that you use the setup for the 10,000 swing challenge workouts, done twice a week instead of at the frequency of the full 10000 swing program. I think you got this, but I realized maybe I wasn’t clear enough. You’ll “only” be doing 1000 swings per week with the recommended setup, or 4000/month.

I still think your idea is OK but to be clear: it sounds like you want to do KB work just for the sake of doing KB work. If progressing on the big lifts is the priority, MAKE THAT THE PRIORITY. Kettlebell work absolutely can be added for conditioning if you structure your workouts sensibly, eat well, and sleep enough. But don’t sacrifice quality in your main PL workouts because you’re trying to save something for KB work later.

Set up your barbell program up the way you want it first, then find a place to put your two KB conditioning sessions AROUND them.


#9

Sure thing. This Is what my friend also said to me - not to prioritize KB at this point.

This what I’ll do: I would still structure the KB workouts similar to the challenge, starting even lighter (doing 250 swings and 24 other kb movement per workout) and increase the work IF it does not affect my gym performance.

I’ll choose the strength program more closely to the summer, let see first how much I gain with this current routine.

Thanks for the quality feedback.


#10

Just came here to say I changed my plans a little.

My summer is going to be quite shattered with schedules and I will travel all around. So my training schedules and training equipment will variate a lot. I’m going to try hit 2-3 gym days and 1-2 KB sessions per week. I’m going to prioritize my strength training as advised, and do KB as my fatigue allows.

Overall my training is going to have a lot of auto-regulation. So I have possibility hit lifts hard or easy them down if needed. I’m not going to program KB-sessions, just do them occasionally after lifting as assistance/finishers. I try do every week one harder/longer KB-session. After that I will take 2 days off.

I’m not going to write down all sets/reps for my training. Basically I’ll have two different days.

A) Squat, bench

B) Hang clean, DL/press

I’ll have two movements per session, other is done with low volume/high intensity and other movement with sub-maximal weights and moderate volume. I’ll try to change the days when I’ll do KB so they don’t affect always to same workouts.

My current progression is coming to an end with great results. It was quite rough ride and I’m happy to do something else for a while.