I recently started a 6 week kettlebell conditioning program that will enable me to snatch a 24kg/52.8 lb kettlebell 200 times in 10 minutes. I tested myself before I started the workout for a baseline and did 150 in 10 minutes with a 25kg/55lb. bell. I quit with 15 seconds left and probably had about 160 in the tank. I found the program on www.mbodystrength.com and decided to give it whirl.
The program involves a lot of shoulder stability, leg and conditioning exercises to achieve the goal. You only snatch one time a week and focus on the form. Even if you can’t do 200 snatches, after 6 weeks you will be in top-notch condition with a lot more horsepower in the motor.
You workout 6 days a weeks, 4 days with kettlebells, one day of sprints and one day of jumping rope for 20 minutes. On Mondays and Saturday you do legs, which involves 5 sets x 10 of double squats, with 30 seconds rest between sets, 5 sets of 15-20 alternating one hand swings w/ 30 seconds rest, 4 sets of overhead reverse lunges x 10 with 45-60 seconds rest, 4 sets of double cleans x 15, 4 sets of 1 minute plank holds with 30 seconds rest and 4 sets of 20 knee raises.
Tuesday is sprinting day. You sprint for 15 seconds rest as long as you need, continue for 25 minutes. Add 1 sprint each workout
Wednesday is a kettlebell day. You start with 10 sets of heavy 1 handed swings 15-20 with 30 seconds rest, followed by 4 sets of handstand holds for 30 seconds to 1 minute. I don’t have a pull up bar so I do double rows with the 70′s. 50 reps, time how long it takes and try to reduce it. Follow this up with 4 sets of 25 situps with 30 seconds rest, 2 sets of hand walkouts to pushup for 90 seconds and finish with 2 straight minutes of burpees.
Thursday is jump rope day. You jump rope for 20 minutes. Stop the clock as necessary and rest
Friday is an upper body day. 5 sets x 10 military presses, 1 minute rest. Snatch (finally, isn’t that what we’re here for?) 5 sets of 10, 10 rest 30-45 seconds. 3 sets of double rows maxing out, 1 minute rest. 3 sets of clapping explosive pushups to max, 1 minute rest, and soaped up swings, set the clock for 2.5 minutes and swing. Repeat 2-5 times.
Currently I’ve done 14 of the 36 workouts. I have some restrictions in that instead of pullups and chinups, I’m doing double rows. One day with double 70′s and on the max day I’m using 55′s. The first week was BRUTAL and not from the kettlebells. My legs ACHED from sprints. I had soreness in my hips, glutes and groin muscles that I didn’t know existed. I would get out of my car so stiff, I would limp into the office. One night I went to bed with both magnesium oil and Ben-Gay lathered on my legs. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer, I highly recommend it. If you want to read about the benefits go to mikemahler.com. And get ready for some crazy REM dreams. Then after the jump rope session, my calves ached for 3 days.
The kettlebell workouts are real heart pumping sweat inducers, but due to the short rest time between sets are only 45-50 minutes long. The leg workout is a gut check. For squats I am using double 55′s all the way to the floor. After 5 sets of 10, my legs are a little shaky and I’m huffing and puffing but not to the point of discomfort. I rest 3 minutes and do the alternating swings. I’ve added a rep each week and now am up to 17. What makes this exercise difficult is the concentration needed to catch the bell in mid-air when you are fatigued. I broke a finger last year catching a bell, so I am cautious. I’ve only dropped it once so far. For this exercise I’m using a 55. My debate is to move up to a 62 lb. bell and drop the reps back to 15 or up the reps to 18. This is followed by overhead reverse lunges. What you do is hold a bell straight overhead with your left hand, step back with your right foot. do a set of 10 repeat holding it over your head with your right hand. Rest 45 seconds to a minute between sets. I’m down to 50 seconds and use a 55 lb. bell. Keeping your balance is the key. After 4 sets my legs are pretty fatigued. This brings us to, in my opinion the toughest of all the exercises in this workout. The Double 55 Clean. 4 sets 45 seconds rest. Marcus at mbodystrength suggests 15 reps, I finally moved from 10 to 11 this week. It’s a real smoker from a conditioning standpoint as well as a GREAT bicep builder. Thank God this misery ends after 5 minutes. 4 rounds of planks (tough) and 4 rounds of knee ups and you feel you have accomplished something.
I have done 3 sprint days and am growing to like them now that the soreness from the first week is gone. I drive to the track at Milford High School, (Howie Long 1975) and do 100 yard dashes. Week 1 was 15, Week 2 was 16 and today I did 17. I alternate my rest between walking after one sprint and lightly jogging after the next one. This is a nice variety day for me for a number of reasons. 1. I have zero wheels so for me it’s funny. I feel like I’m flying but in reality I’m not. 2. Sprinting is GREAT for you. It raises your human growth hormone and puts you in great shape. Ever see a fat sprinter? Neither have I. 3. I like the leg pump you get after 2 or 3 of them. 4. The workout is under 1/2 hour and you feel fresh when you’re done.
Session 2 of kettlebells consists of heavy one arm swings 15-20 with 30 seconds rest between sets. 10 sets. I use a 70 for this. It really taxes your grip, wind and hamstrings. I’m upping the reps to 17 tomorrow. Did 320 swings in about 13 minutes. It’s no joke and you’re a puddle of sweat less than 15 minutes into the workout. Next you do the handstand to hold for 3 sets, 30-60 second holds. I need assistance getting into the position, but I found holding in the position, not to be so bad. Your wrists get a little sore, but your shoulders feel good when you’re done. I’ve worked up to 45 seconds and going to shoot for a minute tomorrow. 50 Double Rows with 70′s are next on the docket. Again, no pull-up bar. Doing them in good form takes about 10 minutes. 100 situps in 4 sets of 25, is what it is. The handwalkout to pushup is good for shoulder stability and the hamstrings. 2:00 of burpees will test your mettle. By the time you’re finished, your heart is pounding through your chest.
Jump rope day is on Thursday’s. I go into my garage and skip rope for a total of 20 minutes. This is a new skill for me. I count jumps. My record is 108, and my cadence is jump rope, jump, jump rope. I can finish this in about 25 minutes. I don’t need a lot of rest, just enough for my lower calves to loosen up. From a wind perspective, it’s a nice change of pace. In my second week, I didn’t have any soreness.
Friday is session 3 of kettlebells. Upper body day. You start off with double military press, 5 sets. I can do 1 set x 10 w/ the 55′s but not 5 with 1 minute rest. The sets have been about 5-7 reps. (I’m also doing a grease the groove program w/ the 55′s to improve the press. My max for double 70′s is 4). After that is the snatch workout. 5 sets of 10, 10 w/ 30-45 seconds rest. This is not a problem for me. I’m reducing the rest by 5 seconds each week. The issue here is you’re already fatigued by the presses, so you’re not flying through the snatches and you’re forced to focus on form. The next exercise, the chinups are replaced by double 55 rows 3 sets of max. I do 12, 10 and 8. Then explosive pushups with a hand clap at the top. Another exercise I’ve never done so I’ve worked up to 3 sets of 12, aiming for 15 this week. Finally the soaped up swings. Set the timer for 2.5 minutes and using a 55 do as many swings as I can. It’s supposed to really reinforce the grip. Instead of soap, I don’t use chalk or a towel and let the sweat make the bell completely slippery. I do 10 L, 10 R 10 two hand swings, rest 10 seconds, repeat, rest 10 and do 6, 6, 6. After the 2nd round my grip is starting to get shot and I have bare down to get through the third round of 2.5 minutes. I hope to up that to 4 rounds.
All in all it’s a great conditioning program. Am I going to be able to do 200 reps in 10 minutes after 6 weeks? Probably more like 175-180, but moving in the right direction. I can feel my conditioning really improving. I feel my biggest weakness will be my left grip. The ironic thing is I’m left-handed! I’ll conquer this by the end of the year and will only have to press 1/2 my weight accomplish the Rite of Passage.