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The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge by Dan John
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The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge

A Fundamental Guide To Training For Strength And Power

By Dan John

eBook, 158 pages

Foreword by Mark Fisher

Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge Workout App

Look Inside The Book

Dan John is one of the premier strength coaches on the planet. I was thrilled to see him focus a book on the fundamental aspects of kettlebell training, the HKC. The kettlebell swing, goblet squat, and Turkish get-up represent movements that have been a foundation of my own strength programming for both my patients in the clinic, and fitness clients in the gym. I have seen profound changes in health and performance using Hardstyle kettlebell methods, from the fire fighter recovering from a low back injury, to training partners at my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy.

Dan breaks down the core Hardstyle kettlebell movements like no one else. I thought I had a firm grasp of the technique, programming, and application of the swing, get-up, and goblet squat until I read this amazing book. He truly goes a mile deep on the subject with no fluff, and filled in the missing pieces for me that I didn’t even know I had. This is an absolute must read for any coach or trainer looking to incorporate kettlebells into their clients’ training. The HKC is also a great starting point for the average person wanting to start strength training but who is lost in the internet sea of (mis)information overload.

I give Dan John’s The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge my highest recommendation, absolutely essential reading for the coach or trainee.”— Chris Hardy, D.O. MPH CSCS, Physician and Strength Coach, author of Strong Medicine

“Dan John has put into words so succinct and with laser precision, the absolute value and meaning of Hardstyle kettlebell training. The fact that this comes from such a renowned strength coach gives it a weight that is impossible to ignore. This book should be in every kettlebell lifter’s library. Even if you have been using or teaching kettlebells for years, there is something in there for you.”—Andrea Du Cane, Master RKC, author The Ageless Body

Also available in paperback format

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The HKC—A Magical Method for Mastering Your Body

"If you’re serious about strength training, you study Dan John. If you’re serious about kettlebells, you study Hardstyle. The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge gives you both. What more could you want?"—Pat Flynn, author of Paleo Workouts For Dummies

"Coaches with Dan John's breadth of experience and knowledge are few and far between. Even rarer is one who can articulate their ideas so clearly, and in such an entertaining manner. Dan has an uncanny ability to draw parallels between seemingly unrelated topics and put difficult concepts into words we can all understand.

Mr. John's incredible combination of world-class teaching skills and phenomenal writing talent make The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge an essential read for any fitness trainer or serious student of strength.

My primary training modality isn't even kettlebells—it's calisthenics—but this book still gave me ideas and insights I could immediately put to use."—Al Kavadlo, PCC Lead Instructor, co-author of Get Strong

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge Goblet Squat Heartbeat

"I love everything about The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge. In addition to the best writing I’ve ever seen on the swing, the goblet squat and the get-up, Dan John treats his readers to multiple discussions of larger concepts, time-tested wisdom, and realistic coaching tips.

Dan John has the gift of taking extremely complex concepts and making them simple. So much of this book left me nodding my head. The information contained within these pages is indispensable, yet easily approachable. Truly, the author’s humor, wisdom and personal anecdotes make The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge a fantastic read!"—Danny Kavadlo, author of Strength Rules, co-author of Get Strong

"Dan John has created, with The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge, the definitive book on not only kettlebell training but common sense training with any tool. Dan has taken the tools of the HKC (the Swing, Goblet Squat and Get Up) and (finally) given them their due! While many will discount these humble tools, they are missing the powerful benefits that deeply exploring them will being the athlete. From execution to programming, Dan has covered all the bases with this book. If you are an RKC, and HKC, or even a kettlebell neophyte you will benefit from the information in this book... and if you know someone who is using kettlebells then do them a HUGE favor and get them a copy of this book. They will thank you..."—Michael A. Krivka, Sr.; Master RKC, Training Director - CrossFit Koncepts and Martial Arts Koncepts

"Much like the HKC itself, Dan John’s HKC book drills down to the absolute essentials of kettlebell strength and conditioning. Ultra-practical, the HKC book includes all the necessities, how to use them, plus how to create programs for nearly any fitness level or athletic need.

While some may think that the three exercises of the HKC, the swing, get-up, and goblet squat can’t possibly be enough, after 7 years as an RKC, and 6 as an RKC-II, Dan John’s HKC book has inspired me to simplify my training, and that of my clients—with great results. The "basics" are so important to Hardstyle kettlebell training, and this book doesn’t just make that case, it shows you exactly how to implement these crucial basics. I would recommend this book for kettlebell instructors and enthusiasts at all levels."—Adrienne Harvey, Senior PCC, RKC-II, CK-FMS

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing

"This book is an example of why Dan John has become one of the great trainers of our time. It is full of immediately applicable kettlebell drills for any fitness level. His mastery of the system is expressed with a simplistic calm. Like a patient mentor, he takes time for the details to get things right. Hardstyle Kettlebell Training will earn you a lasting strength, resilient joints and a hard physique. This book offers many programming options to keep the progress coming."—Robert A. Miller, Senior RKC Instructor

"In everything I have ever read from Dan John, from his books, his blogs, or even a Facebook post, Dan has a unique ability to simplify training concepts, tactical approaches, and exercise procedures. This new book follows the same simplistic formula. Dan John is taking the HKC, which in itself is a simple introduction into learning the kettlebell and has dissected the 3 exercises that can be applied to a high-powered athlete, senior adult, young person just starting out, or to the everyday exercise freak that walks into your gym. I love this book. It's easy to follow, and Dan John tells great stories to make his points. I can't wait to pass along this knowledge."—Beth Andrews, Senior RKC

"From the very beginning, I was blown away by the information in The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge. Dan John has a gift. He writes for the general public and his books and articles are always enjoyable.

I have been certified as an RKC since 2009 and have been a Senior RKC for a couple of years. I’ve been to many RKC certifications as both a participant and a team leader. Like Dan mentions in this book, I always learn something new. I learn new drills to bring to my clients to help them get better. I learn again how important my own practice is to make me a better trainer.

In his new book, Dan goes way beyond anything I’ve learned so far. This book is packed with tips, cues and exercises that I have never used with myself or my clients. Programming using just the HKC knowledge in combination with the many other exercises and drills that Dan teaches in this book is enough to give a new Kettlebell instructor an arsenal of tools to get their clients to their goals.

I am excited to take the knowledge to my clients. The book not only will help me to become a better Kettlebell instructor, but it will also help me improve as a coach to my Special Olympic powerlifters.

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge is not only great for Kettlebell instructors, it’s a comprehensive guide for coaching other sports, working with regular clients and doing your own training."—Laurel Blackburn, Senior RKC and owner of Tallahassee Kettlebells, Boot Camp Fitness and Training and The Tallahassee Strength Club

"Two words: love it! In a nutshell: everything a beginner (and advanced) kettlebell trainee needs in simple, clear, easy reading and instructions

Why? Dan John does an amazing job breaking down the simplest parts every one of the HKC Three! Dan gives out pointers, ideas, drills, programs and loads of his own insights on how to work with the HKC Three—and how to progress and mix them into your regular training." —Amnon Darsa, Owner SMART Krav-Maga, Master RKC

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge Get-Up to Elbow

"Dan John has put into words so succinct and with laser precision, the absolute value and meaning of Hardstyle Kettlebell training. The fact that this comes from such a renowned strength coach gives it a weight that is impossible to ignore.

I began my kettlebell journey at the very beginning, when the RKC included windmills and the Get-up was "keep your shoulder packed and elbow locked and just get up".

Of course, we started with the swing, and did goblet squats before double front squats, but our eyes were on what we perceived was the big goal: snatches, presses and double front squats.

We rushed through the Get-up, and the end goal was windmills, snatches and bent presses. Get-ups were just there to prepare us to move on to the Tsar of kettlebell lifts—the snatch!

How refreshing to have Dan come along and make a case for the basics. Not the glamorous lifts, but the meat and potatoes of kettlebell training. From the beginning of the HKC, he spoke of his belief that this was all that was truly needed to train anyone from an elite athlete to your grandmother.

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge is his homage to the HKC. The depth of knowledge and information shows his love and commitment to this system of training. And the best part is that Dan brings in his wealth of experience and knowledge that only adds to it in the best possible way.

Coming from a Pilates, yoga, dance and martial arts background, I love how he brings in many of the core exercises that have been popular for years in "ladies" fitness studios, like all the glute and butt exercises, including using bands and hip bridges.

He points out how it’s easy to get men to do chest and arms lifts and ladies to work their abs, butt and work on flexibility. But we all need to "train our weaknesses".

If you are new to kettlebell training, this is the book for you to get started. It covers much of the HKC training, you can consider it the next best thing to working with a certified RKC/HCK instructor.

It goes into great detail on the principles behind each movement, how to do it and very importantly—why. I believe the more information a person has the better they are to take their health, fitness and training into their own hands.

Dan adds variations on some of the basics, and adds other foundational exercises like Kettlebell Carries and Marching-in-Place that should be included in all training programs. He includes other tools like suspension training and barbells for variety and modifications.

Lastly, and this is HUGE for people just getting started, he offers lots of programming examples, from using only the swing/squat to adding more advanced lifts. His programming covers the principles of training (that is covered in the HKC, RKC, RKCII manuals) but also, lays out easy to follow and modify workouts.

This book should be in every kettlebell lifter’s library. Even if you have been using or teaching kettlebells for years, there is something in there for you."—Andrea Du Cane, Master RKC, author The Ageless Body

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge Potato Sack Kettlebell Squat


What Is The HKC?

The secret to elite performance is knowing how to apply the right amount of relaxation and tension at the right time. Teaching how to meld tension and relaxation is the cornerstone of the HKC method.

So, the magical HKC Three (Swing, Goblet Squat and Get-up) gives you the complete formula for mastering the fundamentals so you too can perform at your highest potential.

Those of us who can still pop up, leap into the fray and bound into the office do better in life, living and everything else. The HKC program gives you the tools and know-how you need to keep popping...

How Dan John added 70ft to his javelin throw after implementing one new kettlebell drill from the HKC protocols.

The 3 inter-related types of "stone" training: Anaconda strength (internal pressure, body squeezing), armor building (withstand contact) and Arrow (deliver from coiled power).

The single best abs exercise in the world...

Loaded carries: why they excel for anaconda strength and arrow training.

Bodyweight Rolling

Why The HKC?

Why the HKC drills work as the perfect solution for fat loss, the elderly, or for elite athletes and contact occupations when on the road.

How the HKC delivers what you need in stretching, flexibility, rotary stability and basic movements.

The three essential keys to weight lifting.

The Hip Displacement Continuum

The 3 basics of proper training
The ideal number of reps for each exercise to maintain quality.
The minimum effective dose of swings per day.

Why the HKC Three movements alone can challenge strength, power, endurance, mobility and flexibility.

Why swings and goblet squats are the two most powerful movements a human can do.

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge, Kettlebell Goblet Squat

The Four Knots

Gluteal Amnesia

Firm, rounded powerful glutes signal that you are healthy, young, vibrant and virile. Discover how the Swing and the Goblet Squat are all you need for magnificent glutes.

Dan’s basic Buns workout.
The pure kettlebell glute challenge.

Four Square: The Non-Ballistic Hinges
Kettlebell Deadlift From a Box
The Waiter Bow
The RDL Hinge
The Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing
The Original Butt Blaster 5000—one of the best for discovering, awakening and empowering the glutes.

Why Swings are one of the best overall fat burning athletic builders
The 10 keys to mastery of the Swing.

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge Vertical Bird DogThe Goblet Squat
Why squats can do more for total muscle mass and overall body strength than all the other lifts combined.
Why the Goblet Squat is the single best lifting method of all time.

The Get-up
Otto Arco’s secret to all-around body strength, body power and body composition.

How the Get-up teaches the ability to remain stiff and tense through movement.
Optimal rep sets for the Get-up.
How to master the Get-Up.

Why the Naked Get-up is called the "poor man’s chiropractor".
Perfecting the Get-up with rolling
Improving shoulder stability
How Loaded Carries teach integrity under load and movement.
The Vertical Bird Dog
How the Vertical Bird Dog with kettlebell helps activate the core and whole family of stabilizers.


Density Training
More work in less time—what’s best?

Specialized Variety
How inefficient exercise helps drive fat loss through stressing the fat reserves—and why you need to do more of what you are less good at.

Specialized variety double kettlebell swings

The 4 main rules for effective programming.

Classical Conditioning

Program A Simple Strength
Program B Cardio Hit Workout
Program C Tonic Recharge Workout
Program D Bi-Monthly Tabata
Program E The Mobility Workout

Progression and Regression—Adjusting the Weight

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge Special Get-up Drill

General Principles for the Rest of Us

The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge Overhead Kettlebell CarryLessons from Elite Athletes

The 5 principles for supporting our general training
From General to Specific: One-Kettlebell Workouts
The minimum effective dose for each exercise
A routine that will provide fitness, longevity, health and performance.
5 Favorite Workout Options
What to Do for the First 20 Days After the HKC.

The Program Minimum

Why Certify?

Read Reviews For: The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge (eBook)
9.63 out of 10 (16 reviews)
Rated 10/10 Incredibly informative AND useful!
By Brendan Sills / San Antonio, TX, USA

Dan John is one those people that I continually use as a resource. I have learned a tremendous amount from his publications and refer others to his works whenever I have the opportunity. His latest book "The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge" is one of his most 'information dense' works yet. Every page is filled with useful information with a healthy dose of Dan John humor as well. I consider myself fairly advanced when it comes to kettlebell technique and teaching kettlebell technique and I was still able to glean a tremendous amount of actionable information from this resource. You won't find better value for your money than this!

Rated 10/10 9.9/10 - In my Top 5 S&C Book of all-time
By Bruno U. / Laval, Quebec, Canada

9.9/10 - A must buy, a must read, a must apply and a must re-read and again and again !!!
Everything you need to know is in this book ! The only thing I would add, is more Horizontal Rows !!! This book is absolutely in my Top 5 S&C Books of all-time with : Pavel's Enter the Kettlebell, Pat Flynn's Paleo Workout, Paul Wade's Convict Conditioning and Max Shank's Ultimate Athleticism !

Rated 10/10 Strength without injury
By Jon Sommervold / Sioux Falls, SD, United States

Initially, I needed to not get hurt. I'm 53. I've broken everything. Multiple orthopedic procedures up to and including total knee replacement. I had to start very slowly, but the program allowed for that. Great improvements in functional strength, flexibility, aesthetic, mindset and presence. Thank you for the opportunity to chisel away the old shell and release my body's potential.

Rated 10/10 Dan John brings Kettlebells to the masses!
By Richard Hart / Norwich, Norfolk, UK

If you are familiar with any of the writings of Dan John, you will know that this latest masterpiece is very well written and incredibly easy to follow.

It has just the right amount of detail, and enough photographs to ensure that you are doing a move correctly, and if not, how to go about fixing your form.

This is one of those "go-to books" that are hard to put down, I can't recommend it enough. All I can say is buy it, you won't be disappointed.

Rated 10/10 Typical Dan John AWESOME!!!
By Bill Kociaba / Hollywood, Fl., USA

I have had the good fortune to be able to pick the brain of Dan John for the past few years and never have walked away from a conversation(or one of his books for that matter)without learning something new. I was prepairing to take the HKC when this book came out so purchasing it was a no brainer. In typical Dan John form he outlines the most important points of Kettlebell training. When I say typical Dan I mean clearly, simply and in an entertaining and engaging manner that keeps your attention even if you think you already knew what he is saying.Dan is the kind of writer (teacher) we all wish we had in high school. The guy who teaches you a great deal without you realizing it until you start applying it Another winner for the coach of all coaches. GREAT JOB (as usual) DAN!!!.

Rated 10/10 Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge, well worth it.
By Jim McTiernan / Napa, VA, USA

Had to get the e-book. I may be about half way thru and in my opinion it is excellent.
I just recently passed the RKC and I find that the information is a great reinforcement of what I knew, but maybe don't think about. I heard a lot of new ideas that I wouldn't have thought on my own. One example is using a combination of the Waiters Walk,
Rack Walk, and Suitcase Walk. Tried it yesterday. Loved it. It is another way to do carries. Love the Buns and Guns. Vertical Bird Dog, never thought about it. There are more. I find some of the information changes my mind set about training sessions. Always interested in hearing how someone with the experience of Dan John looks at training. Can't wait to digest the rest of the book.
The information in the book can only help me help others train.

Rated 10/10 Focuses You on the Fundamentals
By Mike Bosch / Mount Pleasant, SC, USA

This book is excellent because it breaks down the moves into fundamental steps to challenge the person to be disciplined in learning. I live an area with no kettlebell gyms or classes so I have attempted to teach myself. Dan's book has exponentially increased my knowledge very quickly and brought my weaknesses to the forefront. This book will identify your weaknesses and give you a path forward to eliminating them and getting stronger. It is a worthwhile investment!

Rated 10/10 Excellent resource
By Phillip Boyd / Saint Louis, MO, USA

I've been a fan of Dan John's writing for over a decade. This latest book is no less impressive and insightful as the other books by Dan. I have changed the way I program my workouts as a result of reading this book and it has been impactful. Basically, everything is a periphery to swings for me. The focus on swings has even helped strengthen my posterior chain in ways that I did not expect such as helping me overcome a troubling Achilles issue. I've also been able to hold a back bend for longer than I ever could before. This will be an excellent addition to your tool box and I wouldn't hesitate to purchase this immediately.

Rated 10/10 All in the timing
By Craig H / Westwood, CA - California, United States

It's all in the timing. If this book had come out 5 or 10 years ago I could have saved money, time and energy bypassing mounds of information which left me no where. I have long believed in a whole-body method of training and this book has provided the method and details to support my training.

Rated 9/10 A Must Read for Everyone !!!
By Bruno U. / Laval, Quebec, Canada

One of the best coach out there writing about THE best bang for your buck implement there is for all-around strength & conditioning : The Kettlebell !

Enough said .

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