Now that I’ve posted an introductory kettlebell training plan and a transition plan, it’s time to get to the kettlebell strength and conditioning program.
Because Ethical Responsibility; let me remind everyone that this is a general article to a general audience and may not apply to you specifically. This article also assumes that you will have done the recommended beginners program and practiced the Clean, Press, and Snatch before beginning this program. If only you knew a Regulated Health Professional (say, for instance, an RMT), who was also an online health and fitness coach? That might give you the one-on-one assistance you require?
Take responsibility for yourself, is, I guess, the point you should take away… Remember that no amount of education, even with direct hands on training, can take the place of your good judgment.
When it comes to safety; it’s your fault. If you hurt yourself it means you did too much, too soon, or too sloppy.
Pro Tip: Whenever possible, train barefoot (or minimalist shoes) and outside.
You may have increased the kettlebell weight since you started, but the kettlebell you use for this plan should be one that you can safely do five to eight clean and presses (that’s a clean in between each press).
You will need to understand two new training terms before we lay out the plan: The Ladder and the rung.
One Ladder consists of one to five rungs. Each rung represents an equal number of repetitions. The first rung is one rep, the second rung is two reps, the third rung is three reps, the fourth rung is four reps and the fifth rung is five reps. We always stop adding rungs at five. So you must do the first rung with each arm before the second rung and so on.
That means that for a ladder of one rung you will do one clean and press with each arm. However, a two rung ladder means that you do one rep with each arm and then two reps with each arm before putting the kettlebell back down.
This means that a ladder of one is one rep for each arm. A ladder of two is a total of three reps per arm. A ladder of three is six reps for each arm. A ladder of four is ten reps per arm, and a ladder of five is fifteen reps per arm.
Therefore by the time you get up to the maximum volume of five ladders of five rungs you’ll be doing seventy-five reps of clean and press with each arm! That’s the goal, we’re not starting there.
Here’s your strength and conditioning program:
You’ll be splitting the week into three primary training days, with up to two bonus (or variety) days. We’ll get to the variety days at a later time. For now, variety day means take it easy or do something fun and active.
Your primary exercise is the clean and press. This is the exercise you’ll be doing ladders of.
On your Heavy day you’ll start with three ladders of three rungs. Don’t go to failure! If forms slips, you’re done! You may find you can only do one ladder to three, and then do the next one to two and the last one to one. That’s ok. We’re building up. If you chose the correct weight, however, you should find that three ladders of three is a good place to stop.
After your final clean and press ladder, you’ll take a short rest, then you’ll do two to twelve minutes of swings, doing the maximum number that you can manage in the time. The time is random. Roll two dice (I usually just use an online random number generator), and do that many minutes, resting as much as you need to, but really go for it.
On your Medium day, you’ll do three ladders of one less rung than the heavy day, so the first medium day will start with three ladders of two. After that, you’ll do two to twelve minutes of swings at a moderate pace. Roll the dice and then do about 70-80% of what you think you could do in that many minutes if you were going all out.
On your easy day, you’ll do three ladders of two less rungs than your heavy day, so the first easy day will start with three ladders of one. Afterwards, you’ll do two to twelve minutes of Snatch. Your goal is to do 50-60% of what you think you could do in the allotted time if you were to go all out.
You can set the days to be Heavy then Medium then Easy, or Easy, Medium, Hard at your preference. I like my heaviest workout on the weekend, but it’s up to your personal preference. If you’re just dying to get started with some hard work, maybe you’ll want to start with a heavy day. If you want to ease in, start easy. Use your best judgment.
The next week, add an extra ladder to each day. The week after, add another. Once you’re at five ladders, it’s time to start increasing rungs. Add one rung each week until you’re up to three on your easy day, four on your medium day and five on your heavy day. If you can’t do the entire designated ladder, do what you can. Do not blindly follow the plan to failure and injury. If you find you added a rung and can’t do it with excellent form, take a note in your workout log (you DO keep a record, right?) and try again next time, and you can add the next rung when ready.
Finally, when you’ve reached five ladders of five rungs, maintaining form, it’s time to increase weight. I suggest jumping 4 kg (8.8 lbs). Take that heavier weight and drop the volume back to the beginning (ie: Heavy day is no longer five ladders of five, but is back to three ladders of three) and start building back up. True Confession: When I could do five ladders of five with the 20 kg I went to buy a 24 kg but they were all out. So I bought a 28 kg (after giving it a few practice swings, cleans, presses and snatches to confirm safety). It’s been quite difficult, but nothing tells your body to get stronger like a hefty increase in weight. 4 kg is a perfectly large boost, unless you are well-conditioned or you started out much too light.
In between ladders, it’s important to rest. Rest is an important variable to manipulate depending on your goals. For now, let’s start with thirty seconds to one minute of rest between sets on your easy day. As you start really pushing a heavy weight and are feeling the load, don’t be shy about taking three to five minutes. Trust the science of strength training. You’ll also get ample cardio and conditioning benefit from the high intensity bursts of doing your ladders, as well as from all the swings you’re going to be doing, so you don’t need to do extra cardio or anything else to trim the fat and get stronger.
In my next post, I’ll show you some things you can add to this program when you’re ready, as well as cover some things to do on your variety days and rest days.
Here are some videos to help you out.