Beat the C**p outta THIS! Home Kettlebell Workout

by Marianne  - December 17, 2010

Hi everyone,

This whole week hasn’t exactly gone to plan. After Monday’s workout, this is the first day I have been able to do anything! Although last night I went to one of Andrew’s classes, it was still pretty tough 🙁 My quads are angry with me, but I am FIGHTING fit today!  And I am back to work tonight after 2 weeks off on holiday, so I needed to make this a good one 🙂

In total this workout is about 30 minutes, the main section is 24 minutes, but there’s a wee surprise at the end for you to practice – a challenge as I introduce you to Kettlebell Bear (tutorial to follow)! And no this is not a nickname for me in a bad mood 😉

As per usual, because Kettlebell (and my) workouts contain all elements of training, I have indicated in brackets, both my reps per exercise, and whether the exercise has elements of cardio (c), strength (s), resistance (r), stability (st), plyometrics (p) or is a core activating exercise (cae). You will see that many of the exercises have overlaping benefits, which is the beauty of Kettlebell workouts.

There are 3 rounds of 8 exercises, all using Kettlebells.  If you have one, set your Gymboss Interval Timer for 24 cycles of 15 seconds recovery and 45 effort. Or, if you prefer, you can set the timer for 8 cycles at a time to allow a slightly longer recovery period between rounds, but this is up to you. The 8 exercises are:

  1. Kettlebell Deadlift to Squat Thrust (s,r,cae,c) (9,8,8 )
  2. Kettlebell Bent Over Row (s,r,cae) (14,14,12)
  3. Kettlebell Passing Reverse Lunge (right) (r,st,c,cae) (19,17,17)
  4. Kettlebell Passing Reverse Lunge (left) (r,st,c,cae) (18,17,16)
  5. Kettlebell Renegade Row with Push Up (2 rows and 1 push up = 1 rep) (s,r,cae) (9,7,5)
  6. Kettlebell Push Press (right) (s,r,p,st,cae,c) (15,13,12)
  7. Kettlebell Push Press (left) (s,r,p,st,cae,c) (14,12,11)
  8. Kettlebell Alternating Swing (c,r,cae) (26,27,25)

For the first section I used my 16kg (yellows), and 20kg (grey) Kettlebells. The blues for the Bear are 12kg, I was playing it safe for the new exercise 🙂

If you’re faint-hearted, look away now as I introduce THE BEAR! The Kettlebell Bear is a combination of exercises all put together to make one rep of the Bear.  I saw this exercise performed by Tommy from Optimal Life Fitness. He adapted this exercise from the original “Bear” which is a Barbell Strength and Conditioning Complex. One rep of the Kettlebell Bear is:

  • Double Dead Clean
  • Double Front Squat to Press
  • Double Back Squat to Press (tough)
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlift
  • Double Bent Over Row

I tried this with two 16kg kettlebells, but the back squat was really hard on my shoulders, so I had to drop to my 12kg. I intend to build up to the 16’s of course.  If you only have one kettlebell, you can still give this a go, but do half a rep on one side, then swap. Just be careful that the single sided back squat doesn’t knock you off balance. I will be posting a tutorial for the bear soon.

For me, the back squat with kettlebells doesn’t really work, the position of the kettlebell makes it very awkward, so be careful. Also I didn’t like the order of the last 2 exercises, I think it would work a little smoother if the Row came before the Stiff-leg Deadlift, but that’s just my humble opinion 🙂

Anyway, play around with this exercise and try and complete 5 reps, taking 20-30 seconds recovery between each rep, this will get your heart rate going and it is a full body complex, so an excellent challenge 😀 Enjoy!!

As always I welcome feedback and comments.




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  1. Greetings again from cold New York. I forgot to write this workout out before going home. My home computer is dead and I have been relying on the one here at work.
    I didn’t quite get to do this insane workout, but improvised using 8 exercises and adding the ones I remembered from this workout.
    kb swing (12kg) 27-25-22

    kb passing reverse lunge l (12KG) 18 (8kg) 20-12

    kb passing reverse lunge r (8kg) 12-20-18

    double Kb front squat 2 (8KG) 5-4-3

    vertical swing (8KG)16 (12KG) 5-6

    kb push press I was alternating (8KG) 7-7 3-2 2-2

    kb walking lunge 2 (12KG) 10 (8KG) 10- 8

    burpee without push up 10-6-5

    kb renegade row with push up (12KG) 3-2-2 (really tough)

    I did this workout after taking cat the 12KG kettlebell home, that was my warm up I counted 5 flights of subway stairs, plus 4 flights to get in my flat.
    Then I did 200 skips as fast as possible, took a short break and jumped into the above workout.

    Marianne you are right about doing cardio at the end of a KB workout. I was really having a hard time, but pushed through.

    In terms of the bear, I want to try it but really want to first get my form with the basic kettlebell moves.

    I am still at the place where I have to concentrate a lot on my form.
    I have a few calluses on my hands 🙂


    1. Great workout. Yeah calluses are a side-effect, but they’ll toughen you up 😉 LOL I am posting a new Bear soon, a safer one (in my opinion), so keep any eye out. But you are wise to wait until you are comfortable with the basics first.


  2. I made it to the gym today and completed the workout! The gym was deserted due to the snow so I had all the space and kettlebells I could wish for! Lovely.
    I used mainly 16kg for the 1st section (12kg for the renegade rows and push presses – one day I’ll manage 16kg… Need to work on arms, my elbows have been broken in the past therefore these are my weak areas), also wasn’t feeling alternating swings so changed to 2 handed KB swings at 20kg.
    As for the bear, I played it REALLY safe with 8kg. Even so, think I’ll need to practice that one – pressing from the back squat position just didn’t seem right! And the final two exercises just aren’t in the right order to flow smoothly! In future I will be doing row, then romanian deadlift.
    Looking forward to the next installment!

    1. Hey Ruth, sounds like you’re really making progress 😀 Great stuff!!

      The Bear back squat to press is very awkward, and I agree about the order of the last 2 exercises too. So, in my tutorial I will teach a safer version, the Myomy Kettlebell Bear 😀


      ps New workout will be up tomorrow

  3. I am trying this workout tonight with my new 12kg (if I can stand it) kettlebells and my new gymboss timer.
    I am a bit worried about the bear, the squat seems a bit challenging, but I will try and if it isn’t comfortable, I will change it to something else.
    I haven’t worked out since last Wednesday, so I am looking forward to an ass kicking, will post my numbers later.

  4. My plan tonight was to get to the gym and blast out this awesome workout (I think all of your workouts are great; I don’t try all of them but this particular one took my fancy), however my training has been scuppered by heavy snow in Cardiff (and the rest of the UK, it appears). Public transport in the area has ceased to a minimum, thus I braved the 3-4 mile trek home from work. Now home, I am certainly NOT going out again and especially not to the gym. Hiking in the snow is a good enough substitute anyway….?!
    I know I’m not commenting on the right thread, but to echo posts pertaining to “Body Rock exposed” I would like to thank you most sincerely for expressing your very valued opinion on this questionable ‘online fitness movement’. As someone with an eating disordered past, I can only liken BR to a Pro-Ana website – which if anyone does not know is a site in which anorexia is encouraged: Starvation tips and unhealthy exercise regimes are shared, and a community spirit of ‘Ana followers’ is fostered – ‘we are the righteous who do not eat’. Does this sound familiar? Of course, I am not insinuating for one moment that BR IS pro-anorexia, I am merely stating parallels that I feel are apparent between the two.
    Though I believe myself to be recovered from the illness, it never fully leaves you. Sites such as BR can be tempting to follow – after all, they guarantee everything you could ever want – obey our rules and you WILL look like Zuzana! Thin is always beautiful, remember this mantra. (sic).
    Thank you Marianne for your dedication to helping to pull myself and many others out of this destructive fallacy. Thank you for reminding us what is reality and for providing your credible fitness advice.
    Take care, Ruth.
    p.s. Is it snowing in Ireland too?

    1. I can really see the similarities there, you are right. It will be interesting to see how it all ends up. In the mean time, all I can do is continue doing what I’m doing.

      The snow here is mental! Last night was the coldest in Irish history, and tonight feels even worse!

      Hope you get your workout done eventually 🙂 Keep warm

  5. (I just tried to post this and it wouldn’t load, so I hope this doesn’t show up twice.)

    Not my best effort — I did not feel strong and I was fussing with weights. (I only have one each size on KBs but a I do have double DBs.) The DBs I picked were too light, but I did not have the time to change them.

    I did Pushups first, and I was unhappy with them — I need to change my approach to accomplish the goal of 100 reps. Then I did Pull-ups, which were better. Then…

    Deadlift > squat thrust (12KG & 10KG KBs) x 9; 20LB DBs x 10; x 10 too light
    Bent Row 12KG KB x 12; 20lb DBs x 17; x 17 too light
    KB Passing lunge 10 KG R 18;15;15 L 18;14;15
    Renegade row to pushup 20LB DB 6 1/2, 6, 6 (How does Marianne do so many of these???)
    Push Press 10KG KB R 10, 15 (max effort), 10 (whimped out)
    L 10 assisted, 12 max effort, 10 — last 2 assisted (weak shoulder)
    Alt Swing 12KG KB 25, 25, 24

    I am disappointed with myself….

    the Bear — I LOVED THIS!!! (except for the rear squat presses)
    12 KG KB — did singles not doubles, 5 rounds each side. I finished feeling really strong.

    Boy I am so glad the bear with in this routine… I got to redeem myself. It was nice to lift a heavier weight for one rep and accomplish it! I like this idea, and I would like to add it to more routines.

    I strained something in my right hip/butt area with a heavy DL about a month ago. Its been hurting at night, so I have not been sleeping well. The first round above and the area was really hurting again and I was worried. With time it seemed to ease, and the deadlifts seemed to help! For now, the pain is gone, so I will cross my fingers to see how long that lasts. Maybe a few stiff legged BW DL before bed?

    OK, I’m done complaining… Marianne, you actually made me glad I slogged through this and I feel better! Thanks!

    ~ Gillian

    1. Don’t beat yourself up Gillian, we all have our off days. Glad you liked the Bear. Did you find the back squat awkward too? Just wondering, what do you mean when you assist a push press?

      In my renegade rows to pushups, I start really fast – love the rows, so I am good at that one – plus I think I’m lucky because I have really strong triceps for those close push ups, which helps too 🙂 Though I am nowhere near the 100 mark, and my pullups are stuck around 5 – I need to work more on those 😀 All in good time LOL

      Your dedication is very inspiring btw.

      I hope your hip feels better soon :/ Sorry you’re having trouble sleeping. Maybe this is why today was tough.


      1. Yes, the back squat was strange – mostly I felt I was pushing from a weak position. With a barbell, you keep both arms and shoulders aligned, so it is easier to stay in one plane. With KBs or DBs, there are more variables and you work more peripheral muscles to keep the weights in line. I am sure the exercise is more beneficial with KBs because of that, but I would need to go down in weight and work on form to feel ‘safe’ about it. .

        On any single arm press, if I need help getting the bell up, I will try my best first and then take my other hand and just push on the bottom of the bell to get it to the top position. Then I resist the weight down, so I am getting the negative work. Obviously you can’t do that with double presses unless you have a spotter to help out.

        I used to be about equal in strength on both sides, but years ago, longer ago than you are old, I am afraid to say! Since then I strained one shoulder and it is only just getting normal again. What I found amazing was that I could do a nice clean press (from the squat) with the heavier weight for one rep. The squat gave me just enough added momentum to get the weight up, and then I could resist it down.

        I was so happy because I realized I could actually break through a plateau in strength this way! We all go through them, but it is still frustrating, so this made me feel much better about what I was doing.

        I hope other people here find the same thing!

        ~ Gillian

  6. Sorry for bombarding you with coments, just wondering where does the name for bear complex comes from, do you know? I’m such a nerd 🙂

  7. Hi Marianne, I really enjoyed this workout, did the bear complex with a barbell if it wasn’t for a press from back squat I’m sure could use heavier weight then 25 kg. Today was so tough for me because my dear boyfriend decided to bake chocolate cake when I was doing this workout. It is so hard to concentrate when you can smell something delicious from the kitchen 🙂 . Thanks for another good opportunity to sweat. Oh, the extreme leg burn was really something

  8. Hi Marianne,
    Can’t wait to do this Bear workout !!!!
    I’m familiar with the barbell bear workout.
    On days when I’d be pressed for time I would do this workout.
    Loved it. I’m so excited. I’ll let you know how I do .
    Minnie :0)

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