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Kettlebells and Time Travel - Regaining Time and Escalating Energy

August 9, 2010 07:02 AM

From time in memorial, people have been fascinated with time travel and the manipulation of time, from H.G. Wells' classic, The Time Machine, to Star Wars and "light speed." We value the ability to save, change, or travel through time. The ability to do so is always equated to productivity - the ability to increase output and decrease time expenditure.

The exception to this fascination seems to be exercise. We have this false notion that workouts must be a specified period of time otherwise they're "no good." Workouts have to last at least twenty minutes, preferably an hour. Usually the longer the better. Length usually equals productivity.

The reality is, the opposite is true. And the beauty of the kettlebell, is that it literally frees the user, should he or she so choose, from the construct of time.

Before I lose you in a science fiction novel, let me explain.

With properly constructed kettlebell workouts, you can simultaneously increase your strength, improve your flexibility, and increase your conditioning levels. These are things that the rest of the fitness industry separates out into specific pieces. Using RKC Hardstyle principles (Hardstyle = systematic methodology for reverse engineering strength and power), you can have your cake and eat it too.

Knowing how to do this allows you to free your time from long boring workouts and from searching for the "right routines." It actually gives you more energy by not only freeing up emotional and psychological space for other more important activities, but also by hacking into your own nervous system and supercharging the amount of energy your body already produces.

That being said, how do you actually do that?

Here are three mechanisms that will help you reclaim your time and give you more energy to do the things you love to do apart from working out.

Faster Results, Less Time.

1. Supersets
2. Circuits
3. Compound Sequences
  1. Supersets. Supersets are simply alternating one exercise with another without rest. You determine the rest periods after the superset. The less rest there is the more demanding the workout.

    An example would be the following:

    A1. Clean and Press x 5L, 5R
    A2. Goblet Squat x 10

    Rest 60s. Repeat for 5 total sets. Do this for as many exercises as you want.

  2. Circuits. Circuits are a series of exercises that are performed in a circular fashion, meaning after one set of an exercise is performed, then another exercise is performed, and so on until you return to the first exercise. This allows the greatest amount of rest before each exercise is repeated again.

    An example would be the following:

    "RKC Six" Circuit

    A1. Swings x10, rest 30s
    A2. Get Up x 1L, 1R, rest 30s
    A3. Goblet Squat x 5, rest 30s
    A4. Clean and Press x5, rest 30s
    A5. Snatch x10L, 10R, rest 30s

    Repeat circuit 5 times.

    Of course you would determine the rest periods.

  3. Compound Sequences. Compound Sequences are performing a series of multi-joint exercises ("compound" exercises like the Snatch) in a pre-determined sequence without putting the kettlebell down. Derivatives of these are Complexes and Chains.

    A Complex is a series of compound exercises performed sequentially with the same weight and without rest. All the reps for one exercise are completed before moving on to the next exercise in the sequence.

    An example of a Complex is:

    1 Hand Swing x5
    Clean x5
    Press x5
    Snatch x5

    Perform with both hands and then rest 90 seconds. Repeat for a total of 5 sets.

    A Chain is a series of compound exercises performed sequentially in which each exercise is performed once before the sequence is started again. Each time the sequence is performed is considered one repetition.

    An example of a Chain is:

    (1 Hand Swing + Clean + Press + Snatch) x5

    Perform with both hands and then rest 90 seconds. Repeat for a total of 5 sets.
"I am your density." - George McFly, Back to the Future

Speaking of time travel and saving time, why not put a pre-determined and specific time limit on your workouts?

Use the concept of "density training" combined with the time saving mechanisms above can really free you from boring conventional workouts. Density is a way of measuring work in a pre-determined time frame. (Strength Coach, Charles Staley, popularized this form of training with his "Escalating Density Training.")
Using our superset example,

A1. Clean and Press x 5L, 5R
A2. Goblet Squat x 10

Rest 60s. Repeat for 5 total sets.

We could simply remove the predetermined rest periods and predetermined sets and let our pre-determined time frame dictate how much work we can do.

So instead of resting 60 seconds after A2 and performing 5 sets, we could just perform as many sets as we want in 10 minutes, resting as needed. Then we could measure our progress not by increasing the load of the kettlebell, but rather, by performing more sets in the same 10 minute time period. (Again, you determine your time frame according to your needs.)

The cool thing about density training is that you can actually measure your progress from one workout to another. One more rep equals more work performed in the same time period. Do more work - achieve more results.


How do you implement this information?

  1. Decide upon the minimum amount of time you have to workout each week and divide that by three. Only afford 60 minutes per week? Great - that's three 20-minute workouts.

  2. Pick the days you'll exercise and schedule your allotted amount of time to train.

  3. Next, decide what you want to accomplish first and foremost. Lose fat? Build muscle? It doesn't really matter as long as it's your goal.

  4. Select your time-saving mechanism - supersets, circuits, or compound sequencing.

  5. Select your exercises. These should be pertinent to your goal. Want to get stronger - Choose grinds. Want to burn off some fat - it's a good idea to include ballistics. Just want to get in phenomenal shape - include both.

  6. Select your reps. For strength, choose lower reps. For fat loss, medium to higher reps.

  7. Get going!
Warp Up - I Mean, Wrap Up...

Now you no longer have to worry about the when and how of working out. Use the time-saving mechanisms in this article, will get you moving faster than you imagined. When you implement these, you will find that you have freed up your time, reduced mental anxiety about working out, freed up emotional energy, and created a plan to recapture your time and increase your energy.

Geoff Neupert, Master RKC, CSCS, has worked in the fitness industry since 1993 as a personal trainer, college strength and conditioning coach, and personal training business owner. He is a former weightlifting national qualifier and state champion. He has logged over 19,217 hours of one-on-one personal training and counting and has been training both his clients and himself with kettlebells since January 2002. For more great strength information, check out his blog, or