Kettlebells are Ringing – Strength and Cardio Home Workout

by Marianne  - December 22, 2010

Hi everyone,

After being out Christmas shopping in the FREEZING weather here, I felt bad about not having a new workout done today, so I did this one last night. I’m not used to doing my workouts so late, so it was really hard to get motivated for this one but, as it turned out, I had a lot of fun and a great challenge.

Time is tight today, so I’ll get right down to it. The first section is Strength Based and is all Kettlebells, there are 2 rounds of 8 exercises, which have set reps. For this section, because it is strength based, the reps are lower. I set the reps because it’s generally a good idea to have a longer recovery between exercises and sets when training for strength (at least 1 minute). If, however, the only weights you have available are medium or are too light to train for strength then at the bottom of the page I have written ways to adapt it for resistance (toning) instead. For this section I just timed it out of interest.

The second section is all cardio, and mostly body weight. You will need some sort of stable step or platform to do one of the exercises. If you don’t have one, you can substitute with either reverse lunge kick ups (first round right, second round left), or jumping jacks, anything that will raise the heart rate high. The set up is 2 rounds of 4 exercises. Set your Gymboss Interval Timer for 8 cycles of 30 seconds recovery (remember this benefits your effort period), and 1 minute consistent effort. Please note, you are aiming to be able to work continuously for the minute effort, reaching failure as near to the beep as you can. This means it’s generally a good idea to have a longer recovery. This lets the heart rate have a chance to recover and the energy system to recharge. If you can recover quicker, play around with the times. I felt 30 seconds was a good amount for me.

The exercises and reps for the first section are:

  1. Double Kettlebell Clean into Double Front Squat (or split it half left and right, if you have 1 KB) x 6 reps (2 x 16kg)
  2. Double KB Push Press (or split) x 6 reps (using 2x 16kg)
  3. Bent Over KB Row (round 1 I used 2 x 16kg, round 2 I used 1 x 20kg and alternated the rows) x 12 reps total
  4. KB Sumo Deadlift x 12 reps (using 2 x 24kg)
  5. Reverse Passing Lunge (right) x 12 reps (using 20kg)
  6. Reverse Passing Lunge (left) x 12 reps (20kg)
  7. KB Kneeling Press (right) x 6 reps (16kg)
  8. KB Kneeling Press (left) x 6 reps (16kg)

My time for this section was 24 min 33 secs. Tough section. Next the cardio section, and my reps per exercise:

  1. Mountain Climbers (100,88)
  2. Side to Side Step-Ups (58,50)
  3. Two-Handed KB Swings (38,35)
  4. 2 Sumo Jump Burpee with Push Up (14,11) (very tough)

Right, for those who don’t have a heavy enough KB to make it a strength workout then either, change it to an interval-based section with 15 seconds rest and 45 seconds effort and aim for max reps (maintaining form), increase the reps for all exercises to 15 – 20 and remove the clean from the first exercise, making it front squats only. Alternatively, set the reps for between 10 – 15 and perform each rep slowly (3 or 4 count up and down), this will make the weight feel heavier.

I hope you all find this workout as tough and challenging as I did, you will love the cardio section! Soon I will be posting tutorials on the Military Press and Push Press, to help you with these exercises. I am also working on my version of the Kettlebell Bear and Tutorial. Busy busy busy!!

Can’t guarantee a new workout until after Christmas (as I’m working from tonight until Christmas morning), but the tutorial will be up over the coming days (as I have filmed them already).

The Christmas Message will be up soon too, so watch out for that.

Cheers for now everyone.



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Santa Baby Home Workout - Kettlebells and Body Weight

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  1. Nice Santa hat!

    ..dug this out of your back catalogue. I went lighter and pumped three rounds rather than two. It was the cardio section that did for me. The swings left me wearing my lungs on the outside. Looks like the last KB session before my back operation (Tues). I will be ducking out for a few weeks until my wound has fully healed – then it will be back to the bells with a vengence.

    In the meantime, may the force be with you 🙂


  2. Hi Marianne,

    Well, I just got myself a 70lb kettlebell for Christmas. First off, I’m reasonably fit (6’1 200lb), but I don’t regularly work out. I’d like to lose a little belly fat though and kettlebell seems like a good multi-purpose low-cost equipment option.

    Onto my question: I noticed that many of your exercises use 2 KBs (burpees, etc.). What would be a good substitute for these types of exercises? Also, is there a beginner’s workout that you recommend, or should I start slowly with this routine (maybe fewer reps)?.

    BTW I love your down to earth attitude! It’s refreshing for an exercise website!

    1. Nice work Tom. I have been trying ALL DAY to upload my latest workout to Youtube with no success. AND it happens to be a beginner’s Kettlebell workout, all with one KB 🙂 I hope I will have more luck tomorrow.

      Having one KB is no problem, in my exercise tutorials I will give options for using one and two kettlebells to get the same benefit from a certain exercise.

      Otherwise I would recommend using a lighter weight and not rushing. Maybe set the reps to 12-15 for Kettlebell exercises until your technique has improved, then move on to working for max reps in a time interval. Quality over quantity 😀


  3. Wow, another great workout! I did this on Friday morning. I was ill in the night and I was reluctant to do much, so I eased into it…

    I lifted the heaviest weights I had but limited to the 6 (or 12) reps. I did not give myself the 1 minute rest between unrelated body parts, so I think that affected my performance. I see this kind of workout as the way to increase strength, which is really what I want right now. It all went well, except for the last lift of the 2nd round — the kneeling press on the left. I had to go down in weight, and even then, I couldn’t do it without aide. (I really need to work on my left side — I’ve been reading from many sources that muscle imbalances are the primary source of injury, so I DO really need to work on this!!!)

    Then the cardio — so well timed, it was great. Just about the time you think you can’t do any more, the timer goes off!

    Its a good thing I did this workout, since I started my splurging on Friday and I don’t know what excuses I will find over the weekend to just sit and veg out.

    Take Care everyone!

    ~ Gillian

  4. Hi again to everyone. yesterday was a rest day for me. I really thought I would be sore in a bad way, but just realized I am slightly sore especially my shoulders and arms, my back feels fine.

    I was going through my workout journal from 2010, I recorded 230 workouts this year, those exclude sailing, I think this has been the most active year for me since I was a kid.

    I hope to even take it to a higher level in 2011. working out has given me a much better attitude towards life and also has helped me to stay positive.
    I hope to continue sharing my goals with you guys, I can’t wait until the forum is up.
    I wish everyone a very happy Christmas enjoy enjoy enjoy!


  5. Don’t know if i can come and visite the site tomorrow with all the christmas preparation and work, so even if early i wish you a very very merry christmas!!!:)
    And Merry Christmas to everybody hope you have a good one!!!


  6. hi Marianne. I tried gripping the kettlebells your way and it does make it a bit easier to clean.
    Last nights workout was tough. I am just at the beginning stages with the kettlebells, but I am enjoying the learning process.
    I did the entire first part exactly as you show, it took 26:05
    I used the 2 8kilo for numbers1,2,7,8 and the rest I used the 12 kilo. the second round on nukmber 5,6 I used the 20kilo and didd 6 rounds.
    I have minimal bruising.
    the interval, here is my score:
    I skipped rope for this one 118,92 I beat my skipping record on the first round.
    27 using 12kilo 23 using 12 kilo and 3 with the 20 kilo
    yikes those sumo burpees are evil 6,5

    this was a really challenging workout for me. at first I thought the 30 sec break was too much but after the 3rd round I was greatful.

    1. Nice work! It’s sounds like you’re really building up strength, and you are getting into the Kettlebells rightly 😀 Great stuff. Yes I too was glad of the 30 second rest, though it did seem a lot shorter :/ LOL


  7. Nice hat! nice work. I will try this tonight, even though I am craving some crazy cardio and I am a little sore from last nights workout. I will have to change the step up a bit, I don’t think it is safe to to those on the chair I have.

    I have a question regarding the kettlebells when first gripping them (to pick up from the ground) to do a clean, Should hands face each other, or opposite each other, or does it matter?
    I see that Steve Cotter does it both ways.

    I will try and see what feels best this evening, but I really hate to adopt bad habits with exercise. I am, I guess a bit O.C.D when it comes to form.

    1. Thanks Mickela, this hat is fixed to my head all day Christmas LOL

      I always grip the KBs palms facing outwards, so the thumbs are closest to you on the inner corner of the KB handle. I hope this answers your question.

      Enjoy the workout 🙂

  8. M you are too funny with the Santa hat. I love your workouts so much. You are so much more down to earth in comparison to other people out there on the net. So Kudos to you on being realistic, caring and thorough in your approach. Please keep up the good work and know you are helping people out there with your balanced approach. I have gotten my husband pretty well hooked on kbells using a few of your workouts. So thank you for the inspiration and motivation.

    BTW, I plan on eating well this weekend 😉 LOL

  9. Marianne, this is a very “basic” question, but please don’t worry about answering it now if you are very busy with work and Christmas etc.

    The super-basic question is: what helps you tone and what helps you build muscle? What is the real difference between toning and building muscle?


    1. Hi Bianca, sorry for late reply.

      The difference between toning and building muscle (muscular hypertrophy) is reps and, the weight used. There can be a much more technical answer with % of your one rep max bla bla, but essentially the heavier the weight = less reps possible = more of the muscle fibres are used and torn – when more are repaired, the more muscle you are left with after. In comparison, and in terms of muscles fibres, toning exercises only scratch the surface.

      Were possible (as females) it is better to train with heavier weights, aiming for between 6 – 12 reps – so you shouldn’t be able to do any more than 12 reps, if you can, the weight is too light for this goal. Toning, would be more like 15-18 reps, but honestly, if you want great shape and strength – train heavy. High reps are good for cardio workouts, or training for muscular endurance, but you will also be able to burn more fat, the more muscle mass you carry. Remember that tempo is a factor here too, so that can be used to increase the difficulty. Obviously, play about with the weights and reps, mixing it up and give your body a guessing game. That day I did my extreme leg burn, I used body weight first (higher reps), then I added weight thae second round (reps were still higher) but then I was hitting the legs again with another style (plyometrics) my muscles were sore the whole week! So it’s good to change things up, even for a day 🙂 Anyway I’m waffling now …

      Women can get away with training heavy as we get great results, we recover quicker between sets and between days, we can train at a more intense level than males (generally) and we can cope better with full body training (males tend to focus on upper / lower / front / back of the body). In Andrew’s experience, his female clients often out-do their male counterparts – Bret Contreas agrees with this. These are only generalisations, I know their are always exceptions to every rule 🙂

      Hope this helps Bianca. The problem with kettlebells training alone, is that if you want to do real heavy lifting, you need a barbell and plates. I am luck to have heavy KBs at home, but even I need to go to the gym (plus I love the feeling of lifting nearly twice my body weight), I can’t do this at home! This is why KB training is see more as conditioning, because it contains elements of strength training, but it is not possible to do it all. But you still get great results, especially if you know how to make the most of what you have available. This is what I hope to achieve here, especially when the forum is up.

      Better run, cheers B

  10. Hi Marianne,

    first of all, I am so glad that you have finally filmed your Santa Hat’s fashion haul! Lol.

    Great work-out by the way, thanks.



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