18 Minute Kettlebell Workout | Conditioning Circuit

by Marianne  - January 30, 2012

Hi everyone,

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend 🙂 Now, into a new training week, here is a great conditioning workout to give you a boost.

Before I explain the workout, I want to draw your attention to some fun strength challenges that  are circulating around Facebook and other fitness blogs.

I first noticed a Front Squat Challenge between JC Deen and Jen Sinkler on Survival of the Fittest‘s Facebook Page and was in awe at the serious reps people were getting. The challenge was to do MAX reps with your Bodyweight on the barbell! eek! I had flashbacks to my Front Squat disaster when Sam had to rescue me from my 60kg Front Squat – so I will have to try it again to take part in these challenges – this time WITH a spotter!  Following on from the Front Squat Challenege,  there is now a weekly Survival of the Fittest Challenge, and you can check out the schedule HERE.  I don’t know if I will do all of the challenges, but I will try some for the fun-factor anyway.

At the same time, Bret Contreras has come up with a 1 hour super challenge called “The Sexy Challenge” which is a test of full body strength (and endurance).  Basically you have 1 hour to complete 1 set (max reps) of 5 different exercises. Click on the link to find out more. This won’t be a challenge for beginners, but it will certainly give you something to work for, as I am sure this Challenge will become a yearly event.  I will be giving it a shot later on in the week – let’s see how sexy I really am (lol). I know I will do well in the hip dominant exercises and maybe even the chin-ups, but I need to be very careful about the training I do before hand, and the order I do the exercises in if I want to do my best (and beat Mr BC).

Anyone who wants to try it, feel free to leave your results on the appropriate pages +/- videos.

Good luck, be safe and have fun!

Today’s Workout

Simply, 3 rounds of 6 exercises today.  Set your Gymboss Interval Timer for 18 cycles of the traditional 15 seconds recovery and 45 seconds high effort. Now, if this interval pattern is too easy for you now, then increase the intensity by adding more time to your effort period or add some more weight (like I did). I wanted to keep the workout to 18 minutes, so I just used heavier KBs. If that’s not an option for you, then adapt the intensity in your own way. NOTE:  Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be adding in some endurance swings with the 24kg KB in preparation for the Survival of the Fittest’s Swing test 🙂

Okay, now complete 3 rounds of the following 6 exercises. My reps per exercise are recorded along with the weight used:

  1. Vertical Swing Burpee (20kg) (11.5, 11.5, 12)
  2. Bent Over Alternating Row (20kg) (14, 13, 13)
  3. Super Plank Climber (11, 10, 8 )
  4. Stand-Kneel-Stand (right) (20kg) (14, 13, 13)
  5. Stand-Kneel-Stand (left) (20kg) (14, 14, 13)
  6. Two-Handed KB Swing (20kg on first round, then ^ to 24kg) (33, 30, 31)

Loved this “wee” workout! Hope you’ll give it a try too.  I am also looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the Strength Challenges?

Maybe we should come up with a Conditioning Challenge??

Anyway, that’s it for today.




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  1. finished this workout I used my 16kg and my 12kg Kettlebell. I did not do the stand kneel things I actually don’t like them at so I did the one leg deadliest with 2 12kg.
    I don’t count on these intervals, I notice that I start to focus too much on numbers and my form goes south.
    this workout was intense.
    It’s funny I did a workout the other day (see forum) which had a lot of skipping and my heart rate was up less than this workout. maybe it’s because I was rocking in my new sports bra. ha ha!

  2. This was Tuesday’s workout — your workouts are always a challenge.
    1st order of the day was negative handstand pushups — just lowering to a pillow — with the gaol of finally getting a full pushup on my own. I managed 3 sets of 6 before I figured I better not hit my head. Then…
    vertical swing burpee 14 Kg 11.5, 11, 11
    bent over alt row 16 Kg 19, 17, 17
    super plank climber 11,11, 12
    SKS Right 10 Kg 13,13,1 4
    SKS Left 10Kg 13,13, 13 these are getting a little easier finally!
    2 hand swing 20 Kg 27, 28, 28

    HR 1.75 sweat 1 face: red

    I wasn’t feeling good to start, but this got my mind off other things. Its amazing how much better I feel after working out, and all my problems seem just a little less beastly afterwards!

    I like the variations on this theme of a simple challenging cardiovascular workout. Thanks as always!

    ~ Gillian

  3. Back to it after a few days off due to work and, to be honest, I felt good having had a short break. I think I did OK on the first three exercises but I was way behind you on the swings and kneel to stands – I think that will come on with strength training hopefully.

    Thanks for another awesome workout! 🙂

  4. I did this one and it took me 21 minutes.
    1 12-13-13
    2 30-30-24
    3 11-10-9
    4 R 15-13-14
    5 L 14-12-11
    6 30-33-33
    I used my 10 pounds KB. I really love it

    1. What intervals did you use? It was funny, I looked at your comment and laughed at how “Irish” it was that you could complete an 18min workout in 21mins 😉 But obviously you changed the times up 😛

  5. Thanks for posting, did this last night and it was fantastic. I made a little boo boo during the vertical swing and sprained my forearm a bit but stretched it out and even though it’s sore I’m still good. I love your workouts, can’t wait to do some more. 🙂

  6. I WANTED TO DO THIS SEXY CHALLENGE, but it seemed like a joke for me to do it, simply because it requires you to use your max body weight on the moves, such as the dl, squats and other moves. I am not near using what i weight for poundage. I’m assuming i weigh about 140 maybe 135. I have not weighed myself probably in 6 months or more.. i am assuming when it says max reps it would be at the heavist weight you could do. and how does it take you an hour? uggg help me

    1. Tempest, Do not do this challenge if you are not able to use this weight, or attempt it at a lower weight for FUN. The “max reps” refers to the MAX REPS you can do with your own Body Weight on the Bar. For me that is about 57-60kg (need to weight myself for it and hope that I am 57, not 60 :/ ). Then you have to have all 5 exercises completed WITHIN 1 hour. It probably takes a lot less than this, but If you’re smart, you will use the whole hour and get good recovery between each exercise.

      Just sit this one out and use it as a goal for next year. It is perfectly reasonable to aim to have BW on the bar by next year, especially on your RDLs and Hip Thrusts. Even the Front Squat.

      Just don’t injure yourself doing this challenge when you are not ready. Put half BW on the bar and practice the exercises 🙂

    2. great advice Marianne I am looking at it as one of my goals for this year, and it is still exciting.I think I can deadliest my own weight and maybe the thrusts, but the other problem, so it is something to practice towards.

  7. Hi Marianne

    I haven’t much time for commenting these days, but I’m still doing your workouts religiously, even if I have to sub some moves. I did finally get two 9kg KB for home use though. Sadly, 9kg was the heaviest weight my sports shop sold, so for more intensity I will still need the gym’s KB.

    I have a question. When I try your stance for bent over rows, for some reason my back is never happy for long. What’s a good substitute ?

    As always, a big thank you for all you do for us.

    xx Sarah

    1. Oh dear 🙁 Have you tried the single arm row? That way your back is more supported. I would get the same thing if my hips weren’t back enough. This ensure you are taking the weight through the hips and legs more than the low back 🙂

  8. Just want to start by saying thank you for all your killer workouts-I so look forward to them! Today was supposed to be a rest day for me but because i hit the chocolates pretty hard during the day, i wanted to get in a quick yet effective workout…..insert this workout !! Quick yes but yet extremely challenging!!! Thanks again and please keep doing what you do 🙂

    (Greetings form canada) 🙂

  9. Marianne, great use of the super plank climber…this is a great little exercise that packs a big punch. For the first two exercises, why not pair them together into the man makers exercise, and shave off few bit of time? Either way, good workout.


  10. Lights out between 2:39-2:54. 🙂

    I’m getting many great ideas from you to my own classes. People really want to feel like they have been working out and you do some serious workouts!! Many beginners tend to buy too small kettlebells and it’s hard to make them sweat with their tiny 4 kg (seriously!) “kettlebells”… So I’m adding these burpees and stuff…

    Thank you, Marianne, and keep up the good work! 🙂

    -Hanna from Finland

    1. I know 🙁 It’s my editing software does that from time to time … very annoying!

      Glad you are getting your classes trying things like this. And I know, people just want to stay with the light weights. You should hide all the 4kg KBs next week and tell them they were sold as paper-weights 😉

    2. I have to respond to this – I’ve been that puny kettlebell user for the past couple of years. My husband bought me a 16 kg kb a couple Christmases ago that has been gathering dust while I tell myself, “someday.” I’ve been doing your workouts for the past week and today I picked up the 16 kg to do #2, 4, 5 and 6 in your conditioning workout. I think it helps me to see you using massive weights instead of saving your energy and using smaller weights so you can talk through the video. It challenged me to the bigger kb and I can’t wait to move up to the heavier one.

      Thanks for all you do! I bought my Gymboss through your link and put it to use this morning.

      Renee in California

      1. Well done Renee 😀 Sometimes we just need to believe we can do it! You will see such a difference in your strength and conditioning because of the heavier challenge!

        Thank you for buying you Gymboss via my link 🙂

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