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The Gunslinger Kettlebell Circuit

May 4, 2004 08:38 AM

The Gunslingers of the Old West felt confident going into a shoot-out knowing they had a pair of 45s on their belt. So too, will you feeling confident after training for a while on this combination circuit of weights and body-weight exercises. Instead of a pair of 45s with six bullets each, you will work hard for 45 seconds of every minute on six different pairs of exercises . This circuit can be repeated two or three times, with a short break between circuits.

  1. Clean & Jerks / Jumping Jacks
  2. Front Squats / Push-ups
  3. See-Saw Presses / Burpees
  4. Snatches / Lunges
  5. Front SQ to Push Press Combos / Shadow Boxing
  6. Overhead Squats / Mountain Climbers
The trick to designing your program is in pairing up your exercises. This will depend on your goals and abilities. In the example above, I paired up the C&J which taxes the entire body with Jumping Jacks, one of the less taxing BW exercises. My reason for doing this could be that I will need to "recover" a bit after the C&Js. BUT, if I wanted to really push myself, I could pair-up the C&Js with Burpees, especially the 6-count variety, which adds a push-up. I paired the Front Squat, which obviously taxes the legs the most, with the push-up for the upper-body emphasis. You get the picture. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses and create a circuit that taxes you accordingly.

My tool of choice is the kettlebell, but the program will work with barbells, dumbbells, even sand bags. One kettlebell or two can be used, with the weight depending on your goals. You could use two 35-pound KBs, or one 53- or 70-pounder. If you use one bell, just do your selected exercise for about 20 seconds with one hand, then switch over to the other hand to finish the set.

This program can also done with a partner, which should enhance your results. Having someone to compete with will drive you harder. You have 15 seconds to trade places and reposition yourselves for the next exercise. Another advantage is that the person doing the BW exercise generally has an easier (and safer) time watching the clock. If you don't have a clock or a watch nearby, just shoot for a set number of reps, and rest for a set number of breathes. The main point is to work hard two to three times longer than you rest. Even if you do have a clock, try to remember your numbers. They will help you gauge your progress as your conditioning improves.

Below is a list of exercise choices for each category. This is a basic list which will get you started, but obviously there are many more to choose from. Basic, whole-body exercises are the best. Experiment and vary the exercises and order from workout to workout.

  • Swing
  • Snatch
  • Clean & Jerk
  • Clean & Press
  • Front SQ
  • Overhead SQ
  • Deadlift (regular, sumo/, suitcase, One-Leg)
  • See-Saw Press
  • Push Press
  • Clean and Front SQ Combo
  • Clean, Press, and Overhead SQ Combo
  • Front SQ and Push Press Combo

  • Jumping Jack
  • Push-up (regular, on fists, on finger-tips, triangle)
  • Burpee (4 count and 6 count)
  • Squat (box squat style)
  • Mt. Climber
  • Lunge
  • Running-in-place
  • Shadow Boxing
  • Jumping Rope (simulated)
  • Dive Bomber Push-up
  • Hindu Squat
  • Hindu Push-up

Tom Corrigan is a Professional Firefighter with the Everett F.D. in Everett, WA. He is a Certified Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor, and owner of Blue Collar Fitness. He is currently working on a video/DVD for training firefighters how to use kettlebells, using them to simulate the unique tasks they do. His profile and contact information are available at the website, under 'Profiles and Instructors'.