If you’ve finally been convinced by a friend or a trainer at the gym to hoist a kettlebell, you may fall unexpectedly in love with this homely item that looks like a cannonball with a handle. It makes you stronger and fitter, minute by minute providing you a burn equivalent to running a 6-minute mile. When the time comes to fill in your fitness calendar with a monthly plan for kettlebells, you can set up an organized path to see results.
Types of Exercises
Almost everyone starts off with the kettlebell swing, a foundational exercise that cultivates power in the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. After that, you may end up trying the Turkish get-up, as well as rows, cleans and presses, or any of dozens of variations. California-based kettlebell instructor Mike Mahler recommends that you pick five exercises, one each for the quads, the hamstrings and the core, as well as a pressing and a pulling exercise.
Two or Four Days a Week
To fill in your monthly workout plan, you have a number of options for the frequency of your workout. If you mainly want to get stronger, Mahler recommends working out four days a week throughout the month, focusing on the upper body on, for example, Monday and Thursday, and the lower body on Tuesday and Friday. You can perform five sets of five clean and presses, double bent-over rows, double front squats or double swings, or similar exercises to achieve your goals. If you have less time or need more rest between workouts, schedule two full-body workouts a week instead, for example, on Mondays and Thursdays.
Six Days a Week
If you are up for six days a week of kettlebells, you can follow the advice of kettlebells guru Pavel Tsatsouline, in his book “From Russia With Tough Love: Pavel's Kettlebell Workout for a Femme Fatale.” For example, in his first week of basic training, Tsatsouline recommends two sets of box squats -- as many as you can perform with perfect form -- for six days running, followed by a day of rest. You add sets and increase the squat depth in Weeks 2 to 4. In your second month, you continue with six days a week of advanced training. Each day features a form of the kettlebell press, with Turkish get-ups and squats on alternating days.
Tweaking Your Plan
Whatever monthly plan you choose -- you can also do three days a week, of course, especially of total-body work -- create a road map that notes its essentials. Sarah Lurie recommends in “Kettlebells for Dummies” that you list the days you plan to work out, the time of day, where you will work out, how many days per week you will work out and for how long. Every four to six weeks, revise your monthly plan to include new exercises and a more challenging routine.
- American Council on Exercise: Kettlebells: Twice the Results in Half the Time?
- BodyBuilding.com: How to Structure a Kettlebell Workout for Size and Strength
- From Russia With Tough Love: Pavel's Kettlebell Workout for a Femme Fatale; Pavel Tsatsouline
- Self: Kettlebell Workout: A Stronger, Sleeker You!
- Kettlebells For Dummies; Sarah Lurie
- Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images