Test Your Mettle – Extreme Kettlebell Conditioning Circuit!

by Marianne  - June 26, 2011

Hi everyone,

This is one heck of a challenge and will test you to the core! It didn’t help that it was so hot today, so the sweat was lashing off me, but I motored through, because that’s is my mettle! Is it yours?

This workout is a KILLER, So prepare yourself for both a physical and mental challenge to get through it!

Some of the design and exercises included have been inspired by Rachel Guy’s conditioning workouts she posted on Facebook lately which looked mighty tough. So if you are wanting a strong and conditioned physique, this is a great workout to include in your weekly arsenal of training – a great variety-day workout!

I am so fired up today it’s unreal!

Yesterday, I was a little hungover from a night out with the girls and I still dragged myself to the gym for a heavy training session. Boy am I glad I did…

  • Improved my Deadlift form (conventional DL) and managed a 1 rep max of 100kg with perfect form (Andrew very kindly gave me feedback) – did not feel any pulling in my lower back AT ALL, and I have no tightness today πŸ˜€
  • Then, I did a great run of front squats, ending on a 3 full reps with 55kg, which is an improvement from last week. I am loving the front squat!
  • Improved my chin ups back to 7 and my dips back to 12 πŸ™‚
  • Finally, for the first time, I did weighted glute bridges (far easier than I ever thought btw), I actually started way too light and, it was Andrew (who was still nearby) who advised me I could start at 60kg – he was right! My glutes are way stronger now than I thought and, after a few warm-up reps, I had the form right.Β  Final set of these got me to 90kg x 5 strong (hip hyper-extension) reps. I mentioned on Facebook, that my glutes were so pumped after this, they looked like a shelf LOL!!

Moving on from my great training yesterday, I also booked my flights to USA and, a two day IKFF Workshop (in Dublin) with Steve Cotter himself! Very excited. The workshops will cover Steve Cotter’s Body Weight Methods and Kettlebell Lifting. So I hope to learn from the best and let it be reflected in my workouts here, to improve the quality for all of you πŸ˜€

There are so many great teachers and researchers out there and I see myself being like a messenger to bring all of the best bits to our home workouts.Β  Even without much equipment, you can become extremely skilled at the proper mechanics in many exercises and get the results you want.

The Workout

Inspired by Rachel Guy’s “That Dark Place” – the title alone kind of sets the mood, haha – so funny, yet not :-/

The workout is based on both Intervals and set reps. There are 3 sections of interval training and then the dreaded bridging exercises, which are set reps. Set your Gymboss Interval Timer for 6 cycles of 15 seconds rest and 45 seconds effort and perform 2 rounds of each interval section before moving on to 1 set of the bridging exercises:

My reps and weights are noted below.

Interval Section 1

  1. Thruster (right) (16kg – 15, 13 )
  2. Thruster (left) (16kg – 14, 13 )
  3. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing (20kg – 31, 29 )

Bridging Combo

  • Pull Ups (not max) – I only did 3 reps, due to yesterday’s pull ups, I felt fatigued.
  • Explosive Jump-Ups x 10 reps
  • Double KB Farmers Walk x 2 circuits (with 2 x 24kg) of my garden (if you don’t have the space outside, you can still do a circuit inside, or even up carry one KB up and down the stairs for time)

Interval Section 2

  1. Vertical Swing Burpee (20kg – 8.5, 8 )
  2. Renegade Rows ( 2 x 16kg – 16, 15 )
  3. Side to Side Step Ups ( 46, 44 )

Bridging Combo (as before)

Interval Section 3

  1. KB Kneel to Stand (lead with right side) (no idea what these are actually called) (16kg – 17, 14 )
  2. KB Kneel to Stand (lead with left side) (16kg – 17, 14)
  3. Burpees (eek! 13, 11)

Bridging Combo (as before)

Now, hate me forever πŸ˜‰

What a challenge! Test YOUR Mettle …




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  1. In the spirit of going back through some of the past great workouts… and wanting something to beat me to a pulp… I did this today Dec 28th, 2011. My hip is getting better, finally, so this was actually pretty good… even the dread stand/kneel/stands!!! I am going to visit some friends who have a tiny house, so no kettlebells until after the new year. (I hope they have a little floor space, otherwise my workouts will be in the snow!

    So thank you Marianne for a great year of workouts! You have kept us all going with your drive and inspiration. All the best in the New Year!

    oh… HR +1.25 sweat +1.5 face red sweatier than most workouts!

    ~ Gillian

  2. Loved the workout! I made my husband do this with me this time. We ended up in a pile of sweat, which is awesome! I love that. It’s apparent that I need to work on my grip. I couldn’t keep a strong enough grip on the 30# db walking around our yard two times. I feel so wimpy. lol. I am loving the stand-kneel-stands however! (not so much burpees, but those are better than mountain climbers in my book). Thanks for your continued inspiration!

    1. Haha Penny, I hear ya on the mountain climbers – I hate them with a passion!! Love the stand-kneel-stands toooooo πŸ˜€ The farmers walk is the exercise for you then, to improve your grip, so don’t worry if it’s weak now – it will get stronger πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the feedback!

  3. hi Marianne. I just started your workouts, and they make me nice and sweaty. I like that you do bodyweight and kettlebell workouts. Great! I was just wondering where you got your maryjane-esque shoes. They’re cute, and look really comfy.

    1. Hi Carolyne, I am so glad that you are enjoying my mix n match workouts – I love the variety too πŸ™‚

      My footware are called Vibram FiveFingers and are great for any fitness workouts. The online store do a whole range of styles. Just watch out for fakes. IN the UK they retail for around Β£100, so if you see a pair for really cheap, they are likely fakes.

      I love mine and would never wear shoes again πŸ˜€

  4. Hi Marianne,i tried this workout at the weekend,my opinion,its a real killer,although i had to substitute kb’s for db’s,not many kb’s in the gym i use,although the first set i did was the time you used 45 secs effort 15 secs rest,sets 2 & 3 iam ashamed to say i went to 30/30,how oyu managed 45/15 for the entire workout is awesome,you rock girl,lol i also love the 300 rep kb workout,thats my fave. :o)

  5. Wow, this workout rocked my world today. After the last set of interval burpees while laying in a puddle of my own sweat, one of the roving trainers at my gym stopped and asked me if I was “ok” or if I needed help (as in medical assistance). I must of looked pretty bad. My gym layout wasn’t conducive to the farmer’s walk, so I substituted walking lunges with a pre-set 90lb barbell — that was probably a mistake! HA

    Here are the numbers:

    Interval Section 1
    Thruster (left) (40lb – 16, 13 )
    Thruster (right ) (40lb – 17, 14 )
    Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing (50lb – 28, 27 )

    Interval Section 2
    Vertical Swing Burpee (50lb – 11, 10 )
    Renegade Rows ( 2 x 50lb – 17, 16 )
    Side to Side Step Ups (42, 44)

    Interval Section 3
    KB Kneel to Stand (lead with right side) (40lb – 8, 9)
    KB Kneel to Stand (lead with left side) (40lb – 8, 9)
    Burpees with push-up (10, 8)

    I was so disappointed with my kneel-to-stand numbers that I did another set of 10 on each side (untimed) after the last bridging combo. I think I need to work on my form or something. I/We now have an exercise we can hate more than the snatch! πŸ™‚

    Thanks Marianne — Enjoy your travels to Germany.


  6. First things first, congrats on making the badass list! You rock and definitley deserve to make the top of the list:) Loved this workout, could be my all time favorite! It was so warm & muggy at my house when I did this last night the sweat was lashing off me but I pushed through it.

    Thrusters (12kg) 14, 13
    Other side 14,13
    2H swing 16kgx 29, (20kg) 26

    Vertical swing burpee (16kg) 8,7
    Renegade rows (2x25lb DB) 16,18
    Side to side steps 60,60

    Kneel to stand (12kg) 12,11 these were tough!but a keeper:)
    Other side 12, 11
    Burpees 10,10

    Bridge all rounds
    Chin upx3
    Explosive jumps x 10 (had fun with these)
    Farmers Walk 16+20KG up and down the driveway 2 times (funny looks from the neighbours)

    Thanks for a great workout. Have a great time on your trip & travel safe!

    1. THANKS Rashelle! Wow, you did a great job! I agree about the Stand-Kneel-Stand’s (their official name, as per Rachel Guy) – they may make several repeat appearances πŸ˜€

      I can’t wait to go away, but I will be keeping you all updated on my way about, provided I have a camera and internet access, I will be about in my online spirit πŸ˜‰

  7. I loved this workout, very different – highly explosive. I tried really hard to keep my knees in alignment during the knee-ups as the tendency was for them to round rather than through. The jump ups were great, although combining them with burpees as the end was a little harsh, don’t you think? I could not have handled much of a tabata at the end as I was dead tired. I will second the call for some TGU’s on the next episode and maybe some glute-work, like that’s not programmed in already, lol? Whilst the grass is looking really neat, a strimmer on that section by the path would keep my OCD at bay!

    1. Dam it Adam, there’s just no pleasing you πŸ˜‰ I didn’t have a strimmer, so the kitchen scissors got ultilised for that haha! And I’m not kidding!

      Yes, I am just getting my design-brain on now to come up with a killer workout to keep you all going!

  8. Hi Marianne,
    Well, this workout really did test my mettle. I was fine for the first two triplets, but the combo with the kneel to stands nearly killed me. I was so knackered I was struggling to count to 10 in the last lot of explosive jumps! Anyway, I’m proud I got through it as this truly is one hell of a badass workout. My reps:

    Thrusters (16kg) 17, 17
    Other side 16,16
    2H swing (20kg) 29, 29

    Vertical swing burpee (16kg) 10,10
    Renegade rows (2 12kgs) 16,16
    Side to side steps 62,60

    Kneel to stand (16kg) 13,11
    Other side 12, 12
    Burpees 13, 12

    I did the bridging combo like you did except I subbed the farmers walk for 1 min of step ups (this was to save embarrassment as I did the workout at my gym and I think it might have attracted some funny looks – LOL)

    All in all, top stuff. More badass workouts please πŸ™‚

    1. Great numbers Emma, as always! You are totally Badass – you should’ve given those people something to talk about. Set a new trend for farmers walks … next time you go in get them all following you in a line πŸ˜‰

      More workouts on the way, will be hard to top this one. Will try and get a great one up before I go to Munich, on Thursday!! Been so hard to get time this week with work, gym and the usual “life” stuff! Ha

      Request duely noted though.


  9. I did this workout last night (6-27) I changed the side to side step ups and did mountain climbers also the last three exercises I did not do an interval.

    Interval Section 1

    Thruster (right) (12kg – did not count )
    Thruster (left) (12kg – did not count)
    Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing (20kg – 16kg did not count)

    Bridging Combo

    Pull Ups (not max) – 3 reps
    jump lunges 15 reps
    Double KB Farmers Walk x 2 circuits (with 2 x 16kg) in my apartment it was challenging since the place is so tiny.

    Interval Section 2

    Vertical Swing Burpee (16kg –12kg no count )
    Renegade Rows ( 2 x 16kg – no count this was tough )
    mountain climbers ( no count max effort )

    Bridging Combo

    Interval Section 3

    KB Kneel to Stand (lead with right side) (no idea what these are actually called) (16kg – 2 reps 12kg 5 reps )
    KB Kneel to Stand (lead with left side) (16kg – 2 reps 12kg 5 reps)I think I could do more of these, but it was a new exercise and I really wanted to do it right. good one.
    Burpees ( 10, 10)

    Bridging Combo (as before)

    I think all the running and sailing I did last week has really helped me with my endurance. for me the thruster was the hardest exercise. the pull ups I am still working on them. This was tough but it didn’t kill me.

    1. Mental note : in order to “kill” Mickela, we need more crazy cardio … I knew I should’ve added a Tabata! πŸ˜‰

      Glad you enjoyed it all the same πŸ˜€

      1. Ha Ha I did a lot of serious running when I was away sailing. 5 to 7 miles every day. plus 6 hours a day on the water sailing, so the cardio is gonna have to be out of this world to kill me.
        can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  10. haha ye totally with you on the secret code! i had a look on their site and it said multiple intervals which i thought meant that you could have different intervals in one workout.. so yes i think i’ll get that one. thanks!

  11. Hi, Haven’t left a comment in ages! great workout! also wanted to ask about your gymboss.. i remember awhile ago you said something about the max being better then the regular and i couldn’t remember what you said! i want to get a new one.. i’ve had mine for over a year now and i just don’t want it dying on me before i’ve got backup!!
    so why is the max so great? before i order a new one i just want some feedback from someone who has used both. or anyone else for that matter who feels like putting in their two cents πŸ™‚
    thanks , amy

    1. Hi Amy. The Gymboss Max allows you to programme more things, like multiple intervals, store them, and say you had a workout where you needed one set of exercise to be 15/45 , but the next 1min /30 seconds you can set this up in one routine!! It also has navigation buttons and a menu of choices, instead of a serect code of button combinations to get the right mode/function LOL.

      I like it better because it’s easier to set up and has a nicer beep lol, but the original is still fine.

      Gillian also has one.

      Take a look at the site and see the list of new functions on the MAX.


    1. Hey I also LIke that move. practice for the TGU with a heavy bell. loving the workouts lately. you also inspire me to hit the gym and lift heavy.

      1. Yay! You go girl – that’ll help you reach your strength goals, if you have more scope for progressive overload which, for me, happens in the gym. KBs help too, but I do love the barbell too.

  12. Wow!! Marianne, this looks really intense!
    I just finished my workout, but already feel the urge to try this one πŸ™‚

    Just need to think of what to do in place of the pull ups (no pull up bar). Any suggestions?

    PS: By the end of July I finally will get my new Pro Grade KBs πŸ™‚ Can’t wait!!!

    1. It WAS intense, but the best workout I have ever done! The pull ups could be swapped for inverted rows, or just bent over rows. It won’t work the muscles in exactly the same way, but any pulling/rowing exercise is better than none.

      So exciting, getting new KBs! I want a new one too! Having new stuff is always motivating, isn’t it πŸ˜€

      1. Okay, so this workout is for sure TO DO! But I probably will wait until I get my new KBs, so I can vary weights. As for the pull ups, I think I will go with inverted rows as I like these πŸ™‚

        Yeah, having something new (even the outfit) for workouts is always good. Are you planning to expand your KB collection? πŸ˜‰ You already have a pretty good one.


        1. Yeah, new outfits are the best for motivation too!! πŸ˜€

          I want a 28kg and a 32kg to progress my TGU – want to be at half body weight with that (some day). I also want to add more heavy swings in, so 28kg is ideal. 24kg still challenging, but want to have short bursts of intense heavy swings to build up more power. Just thinking ahead Ali to where I want to be πŸ™‚ The 12kg I have and now the 14kgs are being used less and less. It’s funny, I used to think you could only measure progression by when you increase the weights, but now I see that progression can also be measured by using the lighter weights less πŸ™‚

          1. Yes, I see what you mean. I am just moving to 12Kg and aiming to get 16Kg for X-mas this year πŸ™‚

            I move up in weights kinda slowly, cause prefer to work on my form. Started filming my workouts using the build-in camera on my laptop and Oh G… lots and lots of work on the form! Sometimes I modify your workouts to set reps to practice the form and thinking of doing set reps bridging combos or something like that to speed up the form building process.

  13. wow this looks intense, your workouts seem to be getting harder and harder… a good and a bad thing (for me) lol!! Must say Marianne I have never seen anyone with glutes like yours, they look so strong and firm, I’m quite jealous lol! must be great to have a totally rock hard behind!!

    I shall look forward ( I think) to this workout!lol


    1. Yeah, I am upping the game a bit here, but for selfish reasons – need to be extra Badass for my trip to the States πŸ˜‰ It’s good for us all though, so long as we know how to modify and regress exercises when required, there is no harm in increasing the overall challenge πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the compliment re “the shelf” haha! They’re firm, not rock hard … still got a little womanly jiggle in my booty and I wish it to stay πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ haha!

      Let me know what you think of this workout when you try it πŸ˜€

      Good to hear from you again, hope you are well?

      1. I think the ‘shelf’ looks class, would like to get me one of those lol so credit where its due πŸ™‚ You’re also looking a lot more ‘cut’ aswell, the extra strength training is really paying off!

        So jealous you’re hitting the U S of A, wish I was going, never been to America but would kill to go! Take lots of pics/videos to keep us posted, I’m excited for you!

        I’m good just working away πŸ™ and trying to get back into my weight training again. This looks extremely tough but I’m determined to give it a go! you always feel better when you challenge yourself and succeed… even if I am near dead at the end of my efforts lol!!!

        1. Thanks, it funny how, when I stop trying to get leaner, I get leaner!!

          I sure will keep you all posted, camera and laptop are coming with so I can post updates and new workouts (hopefully) while I’m there πŸ˜€

          Challenge an amazing boost to morale and overall drive I think. Keep with it and you will reap the rewards. Starting back into it is the hardest step, once there – it’s all good!

          1. Well that is just proof that you have to lift heavy in order to get cut. You are looking strong and lean. I am surely and slowly building strength and stamina.

    2. OMG – I’m looking forward to attempting this in 2 weeks time during my kbell class! Thank goodness for breaks before the next kettlebell classes start.

      P.S. On the positive side, my dragon boat team mate loves your workout the minute I forwarded your email workouts to her. Her exact words “Marianne has many kick ass circuits”

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