Let’s Double Up – Workout? OR Wipe Out!

by Marianne  - November 28, 2010

Hello all,

The last workout I did was, I thought, a great success – if I do say so myself 🙂 Mixing strength training in to a workout is a good way to spread it out over a week. Not having set times for these exercises is very important as we tend to rush to get more reps rather than focusing on performing the exercises to our best ability and without injury. Mixing the “style” between strength, cardio (interval) and cardio (set time) was a great way to keep you thinking throughout the workout too, remembering what was next. Also the killer Tabata at the end was a great finisher.

Today I have been thinking about spicing things up again and using a slightly different method or style to keep the body guessing. Instead of having 6 exercises and doing the usual interval and rounds, I’m using a coupling style, in which 2 exercises are performed in intervals for 6 minutes, like sets, then you move on to the next couplet of exercises and repeat.

When designing something like this, each exercise is chosen almost like an opposite to the other. So think about the parts of the body you are wanting to exercise and, then remember to BALANCE it out. I like to write out a draft of my workout and then I move things about to try and get the best balance and ensure the exercises are set out in the best sequence so as not to fatigue smaller muscles too soon and provide the most calorie consuming design. Use your knowledge of each exercise and which body parts it works the most. For the 2nd exercise, work opposite muscle groups. Divide the body up into “front and back”, “right and left” “upper and lower” and remember that the body can also twist. Pick exercises that focus on a particular plane of the body, but work many muscles in that plane. If you get this right, with both exercises in the couplet exercising across these planes, you have a potential for the ultimate FULL BODY blast 🙂

The Workout

I think I have achieved a good, balanced mix of exercises across the 4 couplets. Set your Gymboss Interval Timer for 6 cycles of 20 seconds recovery and 40 seconds effort. This short interval sequence can be repeated for each couplet, with a longer rest in between if needed. This is not strength training, so you can choose weights that will allow you to push out more reps, but be challenging at the same time. For example, I know I can push press a 20kg Kettlebell for maybe 4 reps, but as this workout requires I double push press for 40 seconds, and for 3 rounds, I will be thinking about using my two 12kg or two 14kg Kettlebells. Always try and match the weight you use to the type of workout you are doing. Each type of workout require exercises to be performed at different speeds etc. For this workout you should be aiming for maximum reps. I was using a medium weight throughout.

As normal I have provided a “key” to describe the main focus or each exercise, whether it is cardio (c), resistance (r), strength (s), plyometric (p), stability (st) or a core activating exercise (cae). My reps per exercise (shown in brackets) can be used as a guide to how many you should aim for, with the appropriate weight.

The couplets are as follows:

  1. Goblet Squat with Diagonal Raises (12kg) (r,st,cae) (12,12,10)
  2. Two-handed KB Swing (20kg) (c,r,cae) (25,24,26)
  1. Burpees (with push ups) (c,s,r,p,cae) (15,14,11 1/2)
  2. KB Renegade Rows (14kg) (s,r,cae and st depending on weight) (15,16,13)
  1. Double KB Push Press (2 x 12kg) (r,c,cae, and a little p) (13 with 14kgs, 16,14)
  2. Evil Jumps (sorry everyone) (c,p,cae) (11,12,10)
  1. KB Alternating Swing (16kg) (c,r,cae) (25,24,24)
  2. KB Vertical Swing Burpee (16kg) (c,r,cae) (11, 9 1/2, 9)

Overall I found this workout more intense than expected.  I think this was due to the extra rest in between each couplet. With energy recharged I put MORE effort into the next couplet. Added to that the type of exercises used, each couplet was more or less full body, making the energy expenditure greater to start with. This = more intense workout 🙂

I hope to hear your views and feedback on both the workout.

Talk soon



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  1. Hi Marianne!
    I discovered your website several days ago whilst searching the web for some innovative kettlebell exercises to spice up my own workouts; and I must say, I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of the content of this site!
    I tried this workout yesterday. My verdict: top marks! Great for a conditioning workout, I love the couplet idea, and the variety and balance between opposing exercises. My legs are sore today however!:)
    I had to modify the renegade row as I badly timed my trip to the gym to coincide with a kettlebell class. They stole the wide base kettlebells and I was left with the other non-wide base variety, which of course, did not work well for that particular exercise! I also don’t own a GymBoss Timer (didn’t think my stopwatch would be appropriate to use whilst performing the exercises) so I estimated the 40 sec effort period by following your indication of reps to aim for in that time.
    Thanks again Marianne – you’re my new fitness role model!

    1. Ruth thank you for your comment and for visiting my site. I am glad you have found my workouts useful and I hope you can use them to effectively spice up your training 🙂

      I look forward to hearing your opinion on other workouts that you try.


  2. Hi Marrianne,
    Just thought I’d drop you a line to say this was a tough workout. I was one big ball of sweat afterwards, but I think that’s how it should be for a healthier life. I did stop and walk around a couple of times during this workout to bring my heart rate down a little only to have it shoot back up.After all the years of working out, I learned to go at my pace and still push myself the whole time. I really like the pause on the gymboss so I can pick up when I’m ready to go again. Thanks again for going that extra mile to make sure were know what to do and how to do it.

    1. I appreciate the “line” Jim, I like to hear what people think, and whether people are getting enough info and ideas.

      Glad you enjoyed this workout, it was a lot harder than I expected.


  3. Hi Marianne,
    I’ll try this workout tomorrow,looks like fun. Hey great news, I was finally able to do the KB rows. Being that I don’t yet have the wide based kettlebells I positioned the kettlebells against a wall put myself into position and rowed. Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!! I was so happy. I knew it wasn’t the weight,it was the thought of the kettlebell tipping over and my landing on my face etc.that prevented me from doing the renegade. I used the 12kg kettelbells. So…. now I’m going to order the wide based kettlebells and I’m on my way to bigger and better workouts.
    What a great feeling. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I like your new workout room, the orange wall is fine. Besides I’m watching you and your form the wall is just there. No distraction here. Good luck min your new home. Wish you and Andrew well.
    Thanks again.

    1. Happy days Minnie, sounds like you’re making real progress!! Well done, seriously!! 😀 😀 😀

      Glad you don’t mind the wall lol, it kinda warms the room up a bit.

      You must let me know what you think of the wider KBs when you get them.


  4. Wow, you are fantastic Marianne! Your plans sound great! I really, really appreciate your free workouts and any advice that you give. I love and appreciate that this is free, but I realize that it does take you a lot of time. So hopefully one day this site will be able to generate money for you.

    I’m super excited for your tutorials, because that is just what I’ve been looking for.

    1. Thanks Roxanne, I appreciate the support. It does take up time, but it’s enjoyable too (otherwise I wouldn’t do it). But it’s frustrating when you want to do more, but time won’t allow it. I will have a new workout and the first tutorial up over the next couple of days. The tutorials will start with the most common exercises I use in my kettlebell workouts. Then I will develop it from there.

      I hope that you find them helpful.


  5. Hi again Marianne
    I will try this workout tonight and will let you know how I did.
    I will have to change the evil jumps, because my calfs are killing me from Saturdays Cardio workout, running uphill plus skipping rope.

    I am looking forward to this workout and also I will be getting another kettlebell this week (8KG ) I am definitely getting results from the kettlebells.


  6. Hi Marianne,

    This looks like an awesome workout! I’m going to try it out in a little while(with a couple of mods though, I don’t have two of the same kbs weights and I’m nowhere as strong as you!)

    I came across Suzanne’s videos before, but I found it a bit hard to watch as the camera was all over the place and mainly landed in a certain place!!

    But I’m actually a web developer and I’d be more than happy to add a forum to your site for free. I love the fact that you spend so much of your free time giving advice and I love your idea of creating goal orientated plans. Can’t wait for them…..very cool 🙂

    1. Wow, Sarajane, thank you for your kind offer! Is it complicated to set up? I don’t want to give you too much extra work? I send you an email with more details 🙂

      Thank you again

      1. The fact you have a wordpress site makes it very easy! It’s no problem at all.

        I tried your workout last night, my god!! It was tough, I didn’t get nearly the amount of reps you got but that is definitely something to work towards!! I really enjoyed it though. With all this snow in Dublin it is really awkward to get to the gym and cycle anywhere so I’ll be doing my workouts at home for the next while!! I definitely need more KBs (I only have a 12kg and 8kg).

        Thanks again for the great workout 🙂

  7. Hi Marianne,

    thanks for this workout.

    The idea you explained in the text above is an excellent one: it would be extremely useful for a lot of people and it would definitely contribute to making this site a “really special and different fitness blog”.

    Personally, I would love it!

    Also, it would be helpful if you could sometimes manage to film the sorts of workouts you do at the gym: not every time, of course, but once in a while so as to see in detail – for example -the thing you explained in your reply to Luv2tobfit.

    When you say that kettlebells are great for conditioning, just what do you mean? What do you mean by “conditioning”? I apologize if this question is very naive, but I sometimes find it hard to understand some fitness terms and the dictionary doesn’t help that much.

    Thanks for everything.


    1. Thanks Bianca,

      I was thinking of doing another gym-based video to show you all what I mean 🙂 So that is another work in progress, if I can get Andrew roped in to being cameraman again LOL!

      Conditioning workouts are those that don’t focus on one specific type of training. So, they are not just strength workouts, they involve strength, resistance, plyometrics, cardio and core – basically what my “mix N match” and most of the Kettlebells workouts offer. They provide an “all round” approach to fitness. Don’t worry about the questions, I am happy to answer any to the best of my ability (sometimes with Andrew’s help of course 😉 ).


  8. Hi Marianne,
    Thank you so much for all the great workouts. I have been working out for years however, I am new to kettlebells. I have been practicing alot and hoping to get better. My question is are these workouts you post enough or should I still be supplementing these workouts with some regular strength training at the gym? I used to train with back/biceps/ chest/triceps/ shoulders and then legs one day and for over a year now I have stopped this kind of training. To be honest with you I was doing alot of zuzana’s workouts but found that I have lost alot of muscle and just look skinny. My mom is always telling me I am too skinny. Then I found your website and I love the variety of your workouts. I am also a mother of a 2 1/2 year old so my time is limited. lol Could you share what your daily week of workouts might look like and how do you split your training when at the gym? I am just finding it difficult to put a program together. If you have time to get back to me that would be great. No rush! I understand how busy you are and I appreciate all the free advice and workouts you share with us each day! Thanks!


    1. Thanks for your question. I am not surprised that you have lost muscle doing Zuzana’s workouts, as that is exactly what has happened to Zuzana, doing Zuzana’s workouts. She actually gives very poor advice, and it bother me 🙁 Before you start, you might need to re-evaluate your calories intake too, as this has a large part to play in anyone losing muscle too. Chronic under-eating will force your body to burn fat AND muscle. If you trick your body into not recognising the calorie deficit, by cycling between high, medium and low calorie days or Intermittent Fasting (creating a deficit over an intire week, rather than every day), you will see more favorable, long term results that can be maintained. You will still keep your muscle and burn fat.

      Right now that the “diet” part is done, the training part is next. I understand that being a mother will take up a lot of time, so home workouts are going to work for you best, but with regard to gym training, I would still try and go once a week. Do your barbell, heavy training during this time, but focus on heavy squats, deadlifts, bulgarian squats, tricep dips (off the proper dip station), and pull ups. Dips and pull ups are great compound strength exercises that will work the triceps/chest and biceps/back, and you don’t need to do that many to see the results. Use the extra time to work on your legs and glutes, as these are the areas that benefit more from heavy weights. This is what I TRY to do each week. My workouts are probably not enough for someone who used to train heavy in the gym. The KBs are excellent for conditioning, but they are best used in combination with other training. KBs are great for mixing in cardio and resistance, so you can get your cardio, so you probably don’t need to waste too much time on the cardio machines.

      My typical week is 3 workouts for the site (aim for), 1 – 3 KB Classes (depending on work), 1 heavy gym day, and if I am really good 1 medium gym day – with extra cardio. Bare in mind though that I tend to eat A LOT, so my training does not reflect the norm, and is a lot of training. In the last 3 – 4 weeks my training as suffered, as I got a little lazy, so I need to either eat a little less, or train more again, to maintain the way I look and feel.

      If people have started noticing that you are too skinny, listen to them and look at your diet. Are you eating like Zuzana does? What are your training goals? Fat loss? muscle gain? Strength? Sounds like to start with you may want to focus on gaining some muscle back, and strength then, depending on how you feel about yourself, fat loss can be focused on. In my experience, when working on strength and muscle gain, fat loss should take a back seat – maintanence is more likely.

      Anyway, I hope this helps you. To sum up – Overall KBs will help you gain back a little strength, but heavier weights are usually needed and more calories 🙂 KBs are excellent conditioning tools.


    2. Thank you Marianne for taking the time to get back to me. You really have cleared up alot of my questions. I will definitely start back up with my lifting workouts at the gym. I miss the weights. Thanks again for all the great workouts! You look amazing!


      1. Good luck Lori 🙂

        BTW, Bianca was asking me to post what I do in the gym as a video – so I will be planning a trip to the gym, with Andrew along as cameraman, to film a heavy session.

        Get lifting girl 😀

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