The Best and Simplest One Kettlebell Workout

by Max Shank on May 27, 2015

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Max Shank Single Kettlebell Workout

With the following single kettlebell workout, you can work on all your strength movements in one session with 2-6 sets of 3-8 reps. Each movement provides an adequate amount of rest for the next item in the superset. The finisher, which consists of swings and planks or pushups is a great way to add some cardiovascular work as well as some extra core/arm training.

Superset the exercises below for 2-6 rounds:

Press (up to 80% effort)
Row (up to 80% effort)
Squat (front squat or goblet squat)

Then perform kettlebell swings and planks (or pushups) for 2-5 sets

Together, this workout covers all the main strength movement categories:
Upper Push (press and/or pushups)
Upper Pull (rows)
Lower Push (squats)
Lower Pull (swings)

Part of the reason that programs generally work well is that they provide workouts which are already designed for you. If you struggle to think of what you should do at the gym, you’re less likely to do as much work–or any at all! It’s very helpful to at least have a go-to workout in your collection.

Another great thing about the workout listed above is that you’ll probably want to do more reps of rows than presses anyway. This often happens because  most of us can row with more weight than we can press. In other words, you’ll likely press the same kettlebell 5 times and then row it for 8-10 reps with the same weight (which will put both exercises at 80% of your effort). That’s a good thing!

Finally, this takes very little time–I was recently able to do 3 rounds of each part in about 12 minutes.

It’s so simple that it almost seems too silly to work, but it does–and it covers all of your bases regardless of which kettlebell you use. For example, if you choose a kettlebell that you can press once, the workout might look like this:

Press x 1
Row x 5
Squat x 6
Or whatever rep range is within your 80% effort.

It’s beautifully simple, and it can really remove some potential barriers to training consistently–you can do a version of this workout anywhere in a very short amount of time.

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Master RKC Instructor Max Shank is the owner of Ambition Athletics in Encintas, California. He is very active in martial arts, competes in the Highland Games, and promotes a holistic approach to overall fitness. For more information about Max please visit www.ambitionathletics.com.
Max Shank is also the author of Master the Kettlebell, now available in ebook and paperback format.
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  • Nick Lynch

    Noice!

  • The beauty of simplicity! I´ll give it a try! Thanks, Max 🙂

  • LOVE stuff like this, Max! 🙂 So practical and effective — my clients who just 1-2 kettlebells at home will go nuts!! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Benjamin Dumbrell

    Yo max, awesome article, I love my bodyweight stuff but I gotta admit you make a good case for kettle bells. Also I saw a video on YouTube yesterday a
    Of you doing a one arm handstand pushup, a few people say it was just a rewind so it looked like you were pushing up and I was wondering if you could clear that up for me? Thanks man.

    • Max Shank

      Benjamin,
      I was able to do a 1/2 rep, but definitely not a full one–if it was a full rep it was definitely done in rewind–I have yet to see a person pull off a strict one arm handstand pushup but I would love to see one!

  • Yronwood

    You could do the same thing with a barbell–power press, bent row, and front squat or Zercher squat.
    Or, with either kettlebell or barbell, replace the rows and presses with power clean+ power press, so that’s only 3 exercises.
    Or you could do the same thing with bodyweight–dips/pushups/dands (one arm pushups if you’re at that level), pullups or body rows, and one-legged squats or high repetition squats, baitaks perhaps.

    One thing that always get left out of these recipes is the calves. You can do one-legged calf raises with bodyweight or a kettlebell, and it’s equivalent to doing two-legged ones with a fairly heavy barbell.

    The advantage to this is convenience and time efficiency. The biggest drawback is that you don’t get to choose the exact best combination of weight and reps for each exercise; you may find yourself forced to do low reps and heavy weight with the press, higher reps and light weight with the other exercises.

    • Max Shank

      You are correct–without a doubt. However, for the reasons above, if you have just the one bell, this is a good way to go.
      I like hill sprints for calves 🙂

  • Max Shank

    I might also add to this that if you can sub out Bottom Up Press for the standard press that this workout above will be even better!

    • Thomas Hager

      But then you’ll have to choose a lighter bell for sure, which brings you in trouble with the other two excercises, because there it’ll be too light, right?

      And what about the question of Jason, where he asked which rest-time between the supersets would be good?

  • Jason

    In a superset do you rest for about one minute after the 3 exercises ?

  • John050

    This sounds great especially for people like myself who are short on time. But three questions, first does 1 set mean both sides or does one set mean one side? Second do you do the swings/pushups/planks after each superset or after all the supersets? Finally, is it essentially exercise 4 of the superset or do you take a short break after the first 3 and then move onto the final exercise? Thanks!

  • Pingback: Kettlebell Swings: Back Balm for the Sedentary [Seminarian] – Joshua P Steele()

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