My Come-Back Workout! Home Kettlebell Workouts

by Marianne  - August 13, 2012

Hi everyone,

It pleases me to no end to say “I’M BACK!”.  Thank you all so much for all your kind words of support and endless patience over the past few weeks.  It really does mean a lot to me 🙂

In the lead up to this new workout I was limited to doing a few basic lower body exercises and mobility work to really “free up” my ankles, hips and lower back that had become tight from years of paying them little attention outside of loading them up and jumping a lot! Out of everything I have done over the last few months, three recent additions have made the biggest difference:

  1. Hip Mobility
  2. Introducing spinal mobility work (moving the spine in all its intended directions)
  3. Foam Rolling: calves, quads, IT Band, hips, glutes, and my whole back.

I have been so focused on “protecting” my lower back by keeping it rigidly neutral ALL THE TIME, in the same plane of movement, that there is no give in it when I have to move suddenly and/or awkwardly (which I often do in work).  By back extends, but poorly flexes (both anterior and lateral flexion).  Perhaps my SI Joint has had to pick up the slack?? Who knows, but I think that most of us could do with remembering that, while spinal STABILITY is very important during many activities, the design of the spine suggests it was meant to move, and move in more than 2 directions.  Like everything, you must not load these movements until you have achieved good range of movement.  Otherwise you will risk injury.  You will notice that I perform 2 new exercises in today’s workout.  I caution you to take the advice I offer at the end of the video, and use body weight first.

Another small thing I want to talk about now is something else that caused more stress while I was “off training” than I am happy to admit …. I worried about getting fat more than I have for a long time 🙁  I can tell by how I look on camera and how my clothes fit now that I have gained a little weight.  I struggle with adjusting my calories to suit my activity levels, and I tend to be an emotional eater – not a good combo when you’re less active and depressed about it LOL! Anyway, I have spent quite a long time “preaching” that by focusing on performance goals, aesthetic goals become less important … hmm, until you are out of action with an injury! Yes, I worried about losing strength, but if I’m honest, I worried more about my body fat and my cellulite than how many pull ups I could still do.  Luckily, I resisted the temptation to weigh myself, or that could have made things even uglier, as I dove further into self-pity!

That being said, now that I am back in full swing, I am not going on some fat loss journey (this breeds the fat loss mentality quicker than rabbits on caffine). I worried that my obsession to be lean had come back, and that I would go to extremes with my training and eating to undo the PERCEIVED fat gain. Thankfully, my rational mind has returned and I am simply doing what I was doing (training to reach strength and performance goals) with the PEACE OF MIND that fat loss will be a SIDE EFFECT.  What I did learn from the past is that having fat loss as your only goal/main (for me) makes it encompass your thoughts, and your actions become irrational: Like you start doing loads of cardio again, start depriving yourself of the foods you love, cutting carbs (things that you haven’t done in years) … all because you panic that what you did before might not work.

Now I know (in my 30 years wise 😉 ) that I had found what works for me. Strength Training + Intermittent Fasting + relaxed attitude = Best body for Marianne 🙂  This combo worked for me before, so why not again. I now know how important the training is and how, if I am inactive again, I MUST adjust my eating temporarily if I want to look the same.

Fellow Girls Gone Strong Co-Found Jen Comas Keck wrote a great article last week on a similar topic. I highly recommend you read it if you have a tendency to panic at the slight hint that things aren’t working. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout.

ANYWAY – with all of that off my chest, let’s get back to business!

The Workout

There are 4 Triplets in today’s workout.  I set the reps and used my Gymboss Interval Timer for some exercises that I set for 40 seconds. I performed 2 rounds of each Triplet before moving on. Of course feel free to adjust the reps, times and rounds to suit yourselves, but this was enough for me today!

Triplet 1

  1. 1.5 Rep Double KB Front Squats x 5 – 7 reps (I used 2x14kg)
  2. Burpees x 40 seconds
  3. Side Bends x 12 – 15 reps each side (I used 6kg, but started a few weeks back with body weight only)

Triplet 2

  1. 1.5 Rep Single Arm Row (Right and Left) x 5-7 reps (I used 16kg)
  2. Dynamic Squats x 40 seconds
  3. RKC Plank x 40 seconds (legs together method)

Triplet 3

  1. *Russian Hockey Deadlift (aka Rotational Deadlift) x 20 total reps (I used 16kg)
  2. Double KB Military Press x 5 – 7 reps (I used 2x14kg)
  3. Hanging Knee Raises x 12 – 15 reps (purpose to work on unloaded lumbar flexion)

*David Dellanave wrote this very interesting article on different lifts such as the Rotational Deadlift and I will be writing more about my experiences in relation to the improvement in my SI Joint issues.

Triplet 4

  1. Pull Ups x 5 – 7 reps (only managing 5 of these)
  2. Two-Handed KB Swing x 40 seconds (I used 20kg)
  3. Side to Side Bench Jump Overs x 40 Seconds (trying to avoid single leg exercises, plus this is a great core workout!)

Well folks, that is it for today. I felt great after this workout, and I was so happy to have the lovely weather with it.  Hope you all enjoy it too!

See you soon!



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  1. Marianne,

    I adore your workouts!! I’d like to know if you have any substitution ideas for pull-ups and hanging knee raises. I do these workouts mainly at home and don’t have a place where I can put a pull-up bar outside, and I’m concerned with damaging door frames since I rent. I have done assisted pull-ups using an assist band, but those were usually done on bars outside. I really hate not being able to try one of your workouts because I don’t have the equipment. Thanks!

  2. Hi, and thanks for the video and good advice. Could you possibly show some of the mobility work in a video? It could be very useful to actually see it. Thanks again!

  3. Hi Marianne! I am so glad you are back and doing well! We all missed you — no one can create workouts like you do!

    I SO Loved this workout! I spent/wasted two months doing lots of intense cardio, which resulted in me gaining weight and losing strength! Urgh. Screw that! So I am back to what I know works… so much for anything called ‘insanity’ unless it includes kettlebells.

    I really liked the alternation between strength and cardio on this series — this really challenges the body and gets a lot accomplished in a short time. Two rounds of each triplet was just perfect!

    I liked the new exercises — they made sense and were easy to follow, so the learning curve was short. Boy those 1.5 reps cranked up the challenge!

    What a comeback — with a bang!

    ~ Gillian

  4. Welcome Back Marianne! You’ve been mentionin the foam rolling alot more and I am curious what you do with the roller. Would you be willing to make up a video on your foam rolling routine(s) as well as the hip mobilities? I’ve been debating about buying a roam roller.

    You still look GREAT to me Marianne! I understand the mentality of it all as I struggle with that too. I’m an emotional eater too and have a huge lack of will power when it comes to eating the sassy stuff! I’ve been out of commission for over a week with kidney stones and my bum shoulder(still)..and it’s really wearing on me..mentally!

    Tomorrow I start again..slowly and cautiously.

    Take Care and Best of everything to you!

  5. Ciao Marianne.
    I read your post. I liked a lot the thing you have said about yourself and feelings.
    that’s why i like you so much: U know how to be always “human”.
    You share with us your deep inside thoughts, your fears and troubles. THAT’S WHY I know you can achieve all your goals and go over your troubles.
    You are strong and sensible at same time, about yourself sometimes too hard.
    But you come back always stronger, as the other girl say in a post regression is some time a progress.
    Now you know better your limit and you passed over it! This mean you are not weak, you are stong enough to survive and learn from your mistakes and troubles. As the song says “… we are only humans, made to make mistakes…”.
    Only who make nothing never makes mistakes or has problems:-)
    …and about how you look after this weeks…if i can speak freely and frankly…when I saw your picture in this page I said:
    ” wow, How can this girl look always nicer every post she publishes???” You look great and even more muscle mass…the fat is just in your mind, believe me!!!

    Respect to you, Master Kane ( wow, sounds great, don’t you agree???)


  6. So good to see you back and working out. I have back issues and decided to give your workout a try last night. I viewed your video, read all of the information and links you provided to make sure I would be performing the exercises correctly. I LOVED IT!! Talk about dripping with sweat!

    The RDL is just fantastic, the static hold of 40 seconds for the RKC plank had me trembling as it was the longest I have held the plank. The Dynamic Squats killed me but hurt so good. I need to chime in as I have been experiencing back pain for the past few days and your “Come Back” workout is perfect timing. The day after my back feels fine and my body is feeling the effects of a great workout.

    I agree on performing RDL with lighter weight or no weight and practicing the movement before going heavy. Thanks so much for providing so much information to us and thank you David for your input.

    1. This is great to hear Maria, glad you felt the positive effects 🙂 I guess like any exercise, you will get injured if you aren’t aware of what you are doing, and why.

      Thank you for leaving your feedback 😀

  7. love the russian hockey deadlift and I am enjoying the discussion regarding it being bad for the back. I am constantly making those movements on the (sailboat) race course with loaded lines, and have never experienced any problems or serious pain in my lower back. great workout Marianne, and I am glad you are back with some new moves to share with us.

    1. Absolutely Mickela, you would know how awkwardly we must twist and bend under force. If we never train that movement, THEN the shear will cause harm! I think this is just something folks will have to get used to seeing without freaking out. We have been told for years to keep a neutral spine at ALL cost. While this is important for the exercises that require it, I see only good things from improving spinal movement, and then strengthening that movement.

      Awesome! 🙂

  8. Great comeback, Marianne. It is great to see you so happy. You’ did really well with stepping back. I know it is difficult to slow yourself down and take time for the body. A little weight is ok, especially with a mindset like yours.

    1. Thanks Melly; it was a struggle at times to actually take things easy (especially on days I felt better), but I’m glad I learned these things about myself. It also helps me understand how others would feel in the same boat!

  9. Marianne,
    So glad you are back, doing better and making videos! Interesting new exercises. I read the above comments. hmmm. I think I will try them and see if my back improves as well 🙂 Have a great week!


  10. well now after reading these coments, i’m wondering if this hockey deadlift is a good thing or not….. dang it.

    1. Tempest, I will have more on this topic, so stay tuned and don’t panic. The spine was made to bend. Any loading can potentially cause harm, yet we still do with swings, deadlifts and squats. It’s about learning how things move and respecting that. I appreciate Juan’s caution, but I am basing the inclusion of this exercise on the advice from David Dellanave, who wrote this article on awkward lifting. I have asked him to chime in on this thread, so we can hear the other side of the coin from someone other than me 🙂

      1. i was wondering what size of kettlebell you are using for that hockey deadlift. also that move is cut off a bit. can you tell me do you move that bell to each side, before you put it back down in the center?

        1. The video isn’t cut off, I show the whole move, and explain at the end that you pick it up from once side, stand up straight, then set it down on the other. Stand up without the weight and then reach back down and repeat. You don’t place the weight back down in the middle for this lift. Just side to side, but you reset in between. Hope that makes sense. Check out the video link I provided by clicking on the exercise’s name in the workout break down. You’ll see ddv (David) performing it there.

          1. well heck something must have been wrong with my puter, typical. ok now that you explained it, it helps, thanks a bunch.

  11. Marianne,

    You have such a wonderful blog. Just a note on the Russian Hockey DL, it’s bad for the back as it generates massive shear forces on the spine.
    I have a kinesiology degree, and starting MSc in biomechanics this Sep.


    1. Hi Juan,

      Thanks for your comment. How does the Hockey DL compare to the RDL, Conventional DL, Sumo and Jefferson DLs when it comes to shear forces? And under controlled training of that movement, would it not protect the spine from any sudden movements in that direction? I can just imagine the awkward positions in which people are forced to bend and lift, when sagittal plane is just not possible. Is it not a good idea to be strong in all directions? I’m only hazarding a guess, because my common sense tells me “yes”, but then I am open to being proven wrong.

      I’m interested to hear your take on this 🙂

      1. Hi Juan,

        I will comment because I am the one who suggested that Marianne test the Rotational Deadlift to help her with her back pain.

        First I’d like to address your comment that it is “bad for the back” and “generates shear forces”.

        1) It is demonstrably not bad for Marianne’s back, as it has helped take her out of pain.

        2) Properly performed, the rotational deadlift involves rotation of the spine along the lumbar and thoracic. When rotated, the spinal muscles generate compressive forces to stabilize and lock the spine in place. As a kinesiologist, I would expect that you would know that rotation is an articulation of the spine. We can’t say it is none, but the shear force applied is no more than any other deadlift variation, and certainly no more than is applied to the spine in everyday life picking up objects. Marianne is working with 15% of her deadlift max, so I think it’s probably well within her limits. It is certainly not accurate to say that 16kg generates massive anything relative to a strong and fit woman like Marianne.

        Finally, I’d like to address the reasoning behind why these particular lifts have helped Marianne. A few months ago I privately sent her an article that I haven’t published but wrote on resolving SI/back pain that included side bends and rotational deadlifts.

        Marianne, like many others, has lost function in her spine through something she has done repeatedly in her movement history. I would hazard a guess that she has lost lumbar flexion and extension. (I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out a reasoning why.) The easy and effective way to restore that function is to move where she currently can, which is lateral flexion (side bend) and rotation (rotational deadlift).

        Not to beat a dead horse, but if this movement took Marianne out of pain, it may be bad for someone else’s back, but to say it’s “bad for the back” is simply wrong.

    2. It’s certainly comparable to other variations of DL, but rotation will increase the forces acting on the spine. If we examine the anatomy of the lumbar spine, there are no muscles that has a line of pull and moment arm that enable it to generate substantial twisting torque. Twisting torque is therefore generated by co-contraction of most muscles in the lower back. Co-contraction means increased loads.
      You definitely have a controlled movement, which minimizes the injury risk.
      Although, as you said, it’s important to be strong in all directions, reducing injury risk might be more important (think how athletes train)debatable statement. They are not necessarily safe, but they still do what they do in order to optimize their performance and reach their goals.

      ddv, are all stabilizing exercises safe, especially for individuals with previous injuries?!
      Maybe I was wrong when I said “massive” forces but rotation certainly increases the load on the spine.

      1. No movement is universally safe for everyone.

        Each person should test an exercise for themselves and determine whether or not it is right for them based on their bodies’ feedback.

        I am not debating reducing injury risk. These movements have taken Marianne out of pain. Not prevented pain. Eliminated pain. To be clear, FOR HER SPECIFICALLY. As such, I think you should re-examine your assumptions and understanding of how the body functions.

    3. I don’t know what’s your “background”.

      When a certain movement has been shown in numerous research articles to be harder on the spine, why would you bother to try it yourself to figure out that it’s not as safe as people think/believe?!

      My assumptions and understanding of human movement and exercise are based on what science tells us, so I don’t see way I should “re-examine” these if the answers are clear.

      Injury doesn’t occur if you twist once with light weight. It occurs if it’s done repeatedly with light weight or if it’s done with super heavy weight, you might get injured with that single time. You might be familiar with injury mechanisms. If not, it might be worth your time to do some research to learn more about the topic.

  12. Try power yoga! If you find an athletically challenging yoga class, I bet you’d love it.
    I have one near me where we do push ups, planks, side planks, lunges, back ends, hip openers and spinal rotational work. It saves me!
    But you look fantastic and it is so great to have you back. I missed you!

  13. Hi Marianne,

    welcome back! It’s very nice to see you again.

    Great workout and interesting new exercises. I would also love to see a video where you show the hip mobility and spinal mobility exercises that you are doing. I think it would be very useful for a lot of people.


  14. Great to see you back. You don’t look an ounce over perfect to me
    😉 I’ve just completed my third IF Fast day, unlike the first two, this one had me hallucinating BigMac’s around late afternoon.

    Do you work-out on fast days? I have been thus far and today I did a pretty heavy jerk/snatch set followed by a desert of 150 bodyweight squats. Today wasn’t fun. I’ve just eaten and now I feel a bit sicky.

    Any IF tips very welcome.


    1. Adam, I always train fasted. But normally I train about 11am, and eat after a 16-18 hour fast, about 2pm or 3pm. Occasionally, I will fast 22+ hours and have a mega meal!

      I have never felt sicky. Though I know for some, it’s best to ease into the fasting, rather than go full pelt in to loads of fasts in a row. I am so used to it now, I don’t notice any side effects. It just takes a bit of time to get over not eating breakfast. I think that is the hardest obstacle to overcome.

      How would you feel about a facebook Q&A on fasting? Or diet stuff? Anyone who is interested in Q&A’s then make sure you like my Page

  15. Yahoo! So glad your back! You look fabulous!!!
    You should note that half the workout is carrying all the equipment outside and then back inside when your tired at the
    Good job!!

  16. You are so inspiring! And you look terrific as usual 🙂 Kudos to you for not weighing! Such a struggle for me on a day to day basis –the whole fat loss mentality. I also keep debating on working out strictly for fat loss, etc, but the truth is I want to be strong more than anything and well conditioned when it all comes down to it. Thanks Marianne for being honest and being YOU.

    1. Not weighing really did save my sanity. I know from the past that if I do weigh, and I’m heavier than 60kg, I kind of have a minor breakdown. Even though I know better, it still has that affect on me. My advice, is stop it LOL! Just stop doing that to yourself.

      You’re welcome Emily 🙂

    1. Hey, thanks!

      The RKC Plank is basically a Plank with way more tension. Check this tutorial out and see what you need to do. It only needs to be held for a short length of time, in comparison to the normal plank. More bang for one’s buck 😉

  17. what a come back! this is one butt kickin workout! love it. Ive never heard of rotational deadlifts. Id love to give it a shot. Is that and example of some of the spinal work you were referring to? (I ask because Ive had similar issues with APT and am always looking for ways to improve my hips) Id also be interested in hearing what types of hip mobility work you have been doing. I have a few that I do but again, always cool to learn new stuff.

    I also really appreciate you honesty about how you mentally dealt with taking time off. Im telling ya, Ive totally been there and still struggle with it! Ive come to realize that you have to trust your body more. And also wanted to mention that you look absolutely fantastic!! A trainer once told me that sometimes regression is progression. I remind myself of that sometimes when I need to scale back. But I can totally relate with how you feel and I really appreciate you taking the time to open up and discuss it.

    Have a great day!

    1. Aw Chrysta, thank you for your lovely words as always! You are a delight to hear from; always so upbeat and full of grace 🙂

      Yeah, the rotational DL and the side bends are intended to help with my lateral spinal flexion to “free up” that movement. I am very strong in the Sagittal Plane of movement (exercises such as: squats, conventional deadlifts, swings, lunges etc), yet weaker in Frontal Plane of movement (side flexions: side bends, jefferson deadlift and those rotational DLs). I could also be better in rotation, but right now these annoy my SIJ. One correction at a time 🙂

      I’d love to talk about this more. I will gather my thoughts and get back to you all 🙂

      1. Hi Marianne,

        I came across your vid clips searching Kettel bell training on Youtube. I have checked out www, and must commend you on your work, i think you Rock ! Well done.

        Take Care,
        Paul ( South Africa )

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