T Nation

What Do You Think Of Kettlebells?


I am a somewhat older martial artist (have practice all kinds off martial arts since the age off 15, I am now 51).
Since a few years I dont compete anymore an I try to train street fight realistic, so I want to be in as good shape as I can.
When I train with heavy weights (and on a certain point you have to go realy heavy otherwise you dont get stronger) I get most off the time back problems or something like that.
So I was thinking that maybay training with kettlebells could be a good idea.
Now I have twe kettlebells (20 kilo and 24 kilo) and I have started with ETK from Pavel.
But I want to do more with these things.
They say you can build a lott off strengt and endurance witht these things.
And most off the time I read when you train at home with a barbell and dumbells you cant get so strong because they bench that you have cant take that weight (or yourself because I dotn have a spotter).

I have read much to about Crossfit to and was thinking to incoperate these WOD's into my routine.
Most off them are short and when you scale them first they are nice to do. Everyday a diferente workout.

Because off my work, famlly and off ourse my martial arts training I dont have hours a day to train the so-called supplementary training.

Ny advice?


some people live an die by kettle bells, i personally am not a fan, same deal with crossfit. cross fit is almost more cardio than anything else. im sure they are beneficial to your body i just think there are better ways to train.


They're a tool, no more, no less. Good if you use them right, bad if you use them wrong, it's got a purpose but it ain't gonna fix everything or make you superman.

It's like asking what I think of a power drill.


Depends in what you are using them for for strength purposes the way the kettlebell world make's it out is a load of bullshit there's a reason why a barbell has not gone out of fashion because it fucking works. Unlike kettlebells which have only come to be within fashion the last couple of years just because a few celebs use them now there the rage. IF you are going to use them for conditioning and core work thats a different story they are a great tool kettlebell swings is one of best core workouts you can do.




Okay, thanks guys for reacting. But do you guys maybay have examples of what kind ff workouts will be working better? Keeping in mind that I dont have hours a day spend training and the fact that I am not a competitor but still want to look strong and athletic and off course it has to supplement my Jeet Kune Do.
Any help will be appriciated :slightly_smiling:


if you want to get stronger - train with barbells. if you are hurting your back you're doing it wrong. crossfit is cardio designed to fuck you up, KBs are good for cardio, but you aint going to get strong with a 25kg KB


Okay, thanks caveman101,
but I dont want to do a bodybuilder routine because I dont am a bodybuilder.
So I dont want to train 1 hour a day or a split routine wereby you have to train 4 times a week.
Do you know a good solid routine that build up some serious strength for martial artist?
Because when I search I always find these complex routines that are menat for people who want to look like a bodybuilder (even if they say the dont).
Off course I want to look trained (atlethic) and be strong but it have to help me with my martial arts to.


I think you are being shortsighted.

I can understand not doing a split routine because of time constraints, but saying that you can't get strong at home or can't do this or can't do that is bullshit.

If your back really hurts, and it's not because you're doing the exercises wrong - which I'm curious about - then avoid what hurts your back.

You're not going to get strong without using heavy weights. If you don't want to use heavy weights, it doesn't matter if you do a bodyweight circuit or kettlebells or curl water bottles- you ain't gonna get strong.

My suggestion would be to stop being a pussy, get a copy of 5/3/1, make it fit into your schedule, and get to work. You can incorporate kettlebells into 5/3/1 easily as well for assistance exercises.

Crossfit is for pussies and does not make you "strong" - it will make you mediocre at many things and is the direct opposite of "Sport specific." If you're getting your conditioning from MA, which I assume you are, you'd be better off following one strict program and getting much stronger on your main lifts.

I can only talk from my experiences, but this is what has worked for me boxing three to four days a week (sometimes more) and lifting twice weekly.


Thanks Fightinirish26, that was just what I needed :slightly_smiling:
Today I was reading true all the stuff that I have and was just reading 5/3/1 and was thinking: man, this was a great programm, It build up the weights nicely and you can measure your strength.
So I think you are right, I can build up some serious strength with that routine. So Will follow your advice and stick to that routine. And yes, I think I build my endurance anought true sparring and hitting and kicking the bag.
Have one question if you dont mind, you say that you train 2 times a week the 5/3/1. Do you follow the routine that uses only one main lift per exercise? So one day focus on the deadlift, the other on squat etc?
And what are your supplementary exerises? I like the one with the bodyweight stuff.
When I first did this routine I did two main exercises per workout and some assistence because I thought that this would be better to do all the main lifts once a week.
And no, I didnt get my back problem when training. It was just that I picked something light from the floor and then, pats, I felt it snapp.
But I was thinking that this was the result off heavy training, but then again, once or two time a year it happens. Maybay its not so bad idea to make the back stronger.

Thanks again, realy appriciated that you have helped me out. For me it was realy a problem because you read so much diffferent routines, exercises etc. But its true, I just have to start with this one and I am sure I will get stronger, I just must stopp looking to all these other routines because that brings me nothing.

Take care


If you read too much, you can easily get inundated with information about lifting, and much of it is conflicting because one coach has this gimmick and the other has his, whatever.

It's part of the reason I like 5/3/1 - very simple and allows you to incorporate a lot into the supplementary training. Typically I have to cut mine back, because doing four exercises 5x10 leaves me too beat up to box.

This is my training log, you can see what I do regularly on here:


Generally, I stick with doing one main exercise and its supplemental work on a given day, which draws the program out to twice its current length of four weeks. However, I also don't take deload weeks with lifting, because of this.

So I'll do military press on monday, the associated supplement work, Deadlift on Tuesday, the associated supplement work, and then hit rows the following Monday, and squats the following Tuesday.

Doing two main lifts in one session is too much with the amount of time I spend boxing. Keep in mind - and Wendler has said this - that if you're a fighter, weightlifting is literally GPP. It's a supplement. That's it.

Focusing too much on lifting will detract from your ability to perform in the ring (or dojo) when it comes time for class/sparring/padwork whatever.

The good thing about 5/3/1 is that you'll keep making progress, even though it will be markedly slower, on two days a week. And you'll be able to accurately guage it as well. I really can't speak highly enough of this program, it is probably, aside from Dan John's OLAD, the best program I've ever done.


Yes, kettlebells are excellent tools for martial arts training, so is crossfit.

Olympic lifting programs are excellent for martial arts strength. Try a full body routine 2x weekly along with your kettlebells and crossfit.


Thanks again Fightinirish26,

I have read some off your post and I understand what you mean by training to much.
Monday I will start with the 5/3/1, cant hardley wait :slightly_smiling:
And HoustonGuy, thats just the problem, you say 2 full-body routines with kettlebells and Crossfit is way to much.
I dont know how your martial arts training looks like but when I am finished I am totally soaked in sweet and exhausted.
There is no way that I can do that 3 times a week and then doiing 2 full body routines, crossfit and kettlebells.
Keep in mind to that I am training for realstic fighting so I dont have weight problems or something like that.
I think when you are strong and have good techniques and endurance you can do the job in a streetfight if it is a normal situation.
You cant do it all, you cant do the WOD's true the letter, training with kettlebells, then 2 full body routines and a full-time fysical job. If so you have to things sloppy and not 100% I think.
But thanks for reacting.


you will enjoy 5/3/1 while mixing it with MA, it's one of the best programs out there.


A physical job would make it tough, you are right. Two olympic routines with kettlebell work added in, plus crossfit and MA training shouldn't be to difficult a routine. But if it does require too much energy, the 5/3/1 program is very effective too.


I agree, you can get strong using anything, trx, barbell, kb, db, whatever the fuck ever.

there is no holy grail of specific weights that automatically make you a better martial artist or an athlete in general.


Hello HoustonGuy,

Yes, but maybay I think to complicated. Since I am very curious about how people train I was wondering how you will structure such a workout with the Olympic routines with kettlebell worked in + plus Crossfit.
Can you maybay a example off how such a week will look like and what kind off exercises, sets and reps you do and how long these workouts take?


The core spirit of strength training is progression.

Kettlebells have a fixed weight. Mimicking weight-resistance progress with increasingly harder exercises like gymnastics sometimes do is kinda missing the point.
They seem to be a fine conditioning tool, however.

If you already do bodyweight pushups, chins, interval runs, expect little from kettlebells.


So 2 times a week 5/3/1, sprints (several times a week) and mma training would be a much beter choiche?
Is it possble to combine 5/3/1 or the sprint in one workout with mma training?


If I was you, I'd see what I could handle first.

It took me a long time - about six months - to build up to working out six days a week. I had to tone it back a couple times because I think I was genuinely overtraining and taking on overuse injuries.

Start with 5/3/1 and MMA, and work sprints in when you feel that you can. My two cents, at least.