One way or another, you’ve gone from never using kettlebells to realizing just how intensely effective yet fun they are. Maybe Mr. Nestie’s a gym rat and found them first. Or maybe it’s you who gets the credit for attending a free mini-clinic to become the first in your household to discover the swing and the Turkish getup. Now you need to figure out how to incorporate them into your workout plans. If you want, you can spend a solid majority of the week slinging these cannonball-shaped weights.
Three to Four Days a Week
Asked what she recommends, Lorna Kleidman, designer of the KettleX program, which blends cardio and strength, advises: “Generally three to four days per week, alternating between two or three different weights: one day lighter, subsequent days heavier.” The New York City-based Kleidman recommends that you challenge yourself on your kettlebells days: “As you get stronger and the bells feel lighter, perform more sets, work on balance or take shorter rest periods.”
In her book “Kettlebells for Women: Workouts for Your Strong, Sculpted and Sexy Body,” Lauren Brooks, who trains clients in Southern California, also advises three to four days a week of kettlebell -- KB in trainer parlance -- training. If you are a beginner, for example, she suggests on Week 1 that you perform KB workouts on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with a rest day Saturday and light biking or yoga on Tuesday and Thursday. In subsequent weeks, you continue with either three or four KB workout days, even as you progress from beginner to intermediate and advanced levels.
Or Up to Six Days
If you’re feeling ready to tackle KBs in a big way, you can follow KB guru Pavel Tsatsouline’s different drummer, which calls for six days a week with a good old kettlebell in your hands. Tsatsoulines philosophy as expressed in From Russia With Tough Love: Pavel's Kettlebell Workout for a Femme Fatale runs counter to non-Russian belief in the need for 48 hours of complete rest for worked muscle groups to allow muscle fibers to repair themselves. For beginners, he does call for partial rest by following tough workouts with a focus on box squats with easier days. For more advanced “femme fatales,” he advises six days of workouts, including military presses, overhead squats and one-armed squats on three days and Turkish getups and rolling situps on three alternate days.
Trainers everywhere counsel that you customize your KBs schedule to your individual preferences and, above all, to listen to your body. Tsatsouline notes that if a routine asks for three sets and you don’t feel well, cut back your sets or reps. If your knee aches, “see a doctor instead of doing squats,” he writes. Cut back on your training no matter what your schedule calls for if you feel run down -- and crank it up if you are breezing through your workouts, he concludes.
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.