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Mixing in the Kettlebell Swing for Super Human Training – Part 2

March 4, 2008 06:01 PM

Read Part I

It appears from the response that we received in the first of this series of articles that many of you are excited by the idea of joining the club of those heavily muscled and fearless brethren who dare to go above and beyond what's normal.

You know everyone wants to joint that club, but most people just aren't willing to pay the price to get in. Many of those who might pay the price don't know how to go about training themselves to be more than human. To carry more muscle and stamina and energy than normal people think you have the right to. We introduced you to mixing the kettlebell swing into the rest of your training and from the reports we've gotten there are tons of new muscle and fierce ability being built.

Now are you ready to go where only the real mad-men go? Maybe you've taken the first step by following the routines in the first article. Your conditioning is higher than ever, your strength is tremendous and it lasts longer than a 75 hour "Will & Grace" punishment marathon, but the sheer brutality of some of the programs lying ahead is unparalleled, however so are the results.

The programs in the first article were all directed toward using max strength mixed with the kettlebell swing. In essence a very heavy interval mixed with a conditioning interval. This time we're going to move to the second level of strength, which is repetition strength. This is also very similar to high level sprint or strongman even training. The kind of conditioning you get from heavy sets of ten to 20 reps or from an event that goes all out for 60 seconds or more. Personally I think the most productive training here is done with the strongman implements, because many of them duplicate the "general" nature of the kettlebell swing. We will represent specific muscle work through normal barbell training mixed with the swing and strongman movements in the programs below.

The advantage for the athlete and the warrior of many of the strongman movements is that they allow you to get very good at applying your strength in a non-linear fashion and build a ton of muscle at the same time. A great deal of them are whole body movements meaning the stress is very spread out which drives your conditioning to a whole new level. It also may cause you to hallucinate from the pain, but nobody said this was going to be easy.

You see this moves into a whole new territory of conditioning for most of us. Most conditioning work is just very light high-rep or aerobic movements. But when you move into something that taxes everything at a high strength level for an extended period of time and mix it with a conditioner as brutal as the kettlebell, well then you've just gone to a very bad, bad place. You may need psychotherapy after this training.

On the lighter side of things this might be an opportunity to alternatively butch-up or punish irreparably some of your bodybuilder friends. This is a workout that I talked about in Twisted Conditioning II and while I don't espouse most bodybuilding workouts or theory, mixing your average bodybuilders workout set for set with kettlebell swings, it will go a long way to building functional muscle and taking them to a level of conditioning that's way out of the league of their average training. A word of warning here, you had better start kind of slow with some of these, because attacking them full blast the first time out might be asking for soreness that puts you in bed for a week. However, once you get used to them you'll be able to smoke pretty much anybody you know in both strength and endurance.

Without further ado here are some of the programs. As with the program before I always like to get at least 100 swings so sets of 10 to 25 will probably be about where you're operating depending on the type of routine that you use. It will also be dependant on high a percentage of your maximum exertion you're working at. Something you want to keep track of here is the time factor. Force yourself to hit that swing immediately after the rep exercise of your program.

Control the rest periods between as tightly as you can. If you go all out obviously you're going to have to get a little more rest between the next round. So you may want to start with sub-maximal rep work until you get used to this kind of training or alternate lighter days with all out days so that you can continually up the pace of your workout. This will be particularly great for strongman competitors as it will help you drive your conditioning for your events into all new territory and keep working the all important "hip snap" muscles.


Single Exercise Reps and the Kettlebell Swing

For this program pick a single exercise that allows you to either cover the appropriate distance or time or the appropriate number of reps, say 5-15. Mix that immediately with ten to 25 kettlebell swings and repeat for five to ten rounds resting only as is absolutely necessary between rounds.

There is a great deal of variety that can be expressed within this routine to focus on whatever particular exercise or body part you want. You could use a version of the "bear" workout from Pavel's Power to the People! Ten sets of five of squat, presses or rows mixing each with 10-25 reps of the swing, moving as fast as possible. Or if you want to get really nasty move into something that works whole body like the tire flip. 10 rounds of 5 reps of that mixed with 20 kettlebell swings will cause you to have visions. The same will work well for sled drags, yoke walks, farmers walk, etc.


Multiple Exercises Reps and the Kettlebell Swing

In this routine you will take either one implement that allows you to do multiple exercises for the right rep range or several implements that allow you to get one or two sets per exercise and mix them with the kettlebell swing. If you use one implement it's best that it either fits your purposes or is easily changeable to add or subtract weight between rounds so that you don't have to rest too long while you're resetting. For instance a dumbbell rack that you can simply grab the appropriate pair or single dumbbell from. If you use a barbell put the plates you'll need immediately at hand so you don' t have to walk to get them. If you use one implement keeping the same weight all the time it's entirely appropriate to raise and lower the reps for whatever is appropriate for your strength as you switch exercises.

Here are some examples:

One heavy dumbbell. Perform each of these exercises for whatever reps you can get, both right and left handed and then do 10 to 25 kettlebell swings between exercises. The one arm press, one arm bench press, one arm row, one arm upright row/high pull, windmill and the suitcase or single leg deadlift.

A heavy field stone. Perform one set of each of these exercises for whatever reps you can get and mix it with 10 to 25 kettlebell swings. Overhead press, shoulder, deadlift/load, bent over row, bear hug squat and carry or run as far as you can.

Heavy barbell. The old York courses used a set up that picked ten to twelve barbell exercises. Each done with just a barbell for five to 15 reps. Here's one where you want to have the weights pre-sorted and laying next to your bar so you can change them with as little rest as possible. Or you may use a couple of different barbell stations if you have access so that you don't have to change the weight, you simply reload it and warm up. Mix each exercise with 10 to 25 reps of the kettlebell swing. You might do snatches, cleans, presses, high pulls, bent rows, stiff legged deadlifts, squats, floor or bench presses, hack squats, and snatch grip deadlifts.


Multiple Exercises and Implements Mixed with Kettlebell Swing

Here is where you let freedom, imagination, opportunity and insanity run wild. This is really a workout for whatever you choose to use or improvise mixed with the kettlebell swing to drive the conditioning over the edge. Here are a few ways this might play out:

Strongman Implements - One set with each implement mixed with the kettlebell swing and gone through as quickly as possible. Yoke walk, stone lift, odd object press, farmer's walk, loading drill all mixed with kettlebell swing. Repeat as desired.

Mixed Implements ? For this you might do barbell squats, dumbbell presses, rows on a seated cable machine with a rope handle, sled dragging or a loading drill and double snatches with a pair of kettlebells. Same MO, mix each set with the swing, move as fast as possible.

Double or More Implements ? For this you will again use what is at hand and you might use a combination strongman event such as farmers walk 20 yards down, then sled drag 20 yards back, then 25 kettlebell swings. Or you can again mix it with whatever you happen to have at hand. Barbell presses for five to ten reps, Farmers walks for 25-50 yards and 25 reps kettlebell swing, repeat five times or as is survivable.

Well, there you have it, friends. The keys to the gate of the valley of the shadow of death. Enjoy!

Bud Jeffries is a professional performing strongman and former WNPF World Powerlifting Champion, World Record Holder, competitor in strongman competition, No-Holds Barred fighting, and more. He is the author of five books and eleven training videos including two brand new books, Super Strength & Endurance For Martial Arts, Twisted Conditioning II ? Advancing Concepts in Super Strength and Endurance Training. Also just released is the first in a new series of "Secrets of My Strength" entitled, Partial Movements for Super Human Strength DVD and workbook. Look for more information or products at