Toughen Up! Kettlebell and Body Weight Workout

by Marianne  - October 10, 2011

Hey everyone,

This is the workout I did on Friday morning and it is a killer! I have been working since then so I haven’t had a chance to upload it until now.

Lately I have been trying to think of more exciting ways to design my workouts to prevent me getting bored with “rounds”, so I quite enjoyed the way I designed this one!

As most of you know I try to train heavy in the gym 1 or 2 days a week and then I do these workouts 2 or 3 times per week to supplement my training; so I am using my home workouts for my conditioning/cardio training right now. However, it is possible to build strength with these types of workouts too, especially if you are a beginner or have recently changed to this sort of training.  In addition to building strength and stability, you stand to burn more calories from Kettlebell training.  Besides, they are just plain fun!

The Workout

As an extension to my warm up, I added in 3 sets of Turkish Get Ups x 2 reps each side progressing from 14kg to 20kg. In the video I show part of my final set.

For the main workout there are 3 sections of 5 exercises. Setting my Gymboss Interval Timer for 10 cycles of 15 seconds recovery and 45 seconds effort, I performed 2 rounds of each section before moving on to the next section. Feel free to do more if you wish.

In between each section, I performed pull ups.

My reps per exercise and weights used are in brackets below:

Section 1

  1. Goblet Squat (20kg) (17, 14)
  2. Two-Sumo Squat Jump + Burpee (11, 9.5)
  3. Single Arm KB Row (right) (16kg) (15, 14)
  4. Single Arm KB Row (left) (16kg) (15, 15)
  5. Two-Handed KB Swing (20kg) (31, 31)

Pull Up x 3 🙁 poop!

Section 2

  1. Double KB Alternating Reverse Lunge (or if you only have 1 KB, do Goblet hold reverse lunges) (2 x 16kg) (14, 10)
  2. Dynamic Squat with Diagonal Touch Down (32, 30)
  3. KB Push Press (right) (14kg) (13, 12)
  4. KB Push Press (left) (14kg) (14, 12)
  5. KB Alternating Swing (20kg) (25, 24)

Pull Ups x 3

Section 3

  1. Vertical Swing Burpee (20kg) (11, 10)
  2. Bench Jump Overs (96ish, 90 something)
  3. Stand-Kneel-Stand (right) (16kg) (15.5, 13.5)
  4. Stand-Kneel-Stand (left) (16kg) (16, 14.5)
  5. Heavier Two-Handed KB Swing (24kg) (27, 27)

No more pull ups left in me! Found them a real challenge for some reason when I did this workout. Some days you do better at things than others, so it’s just the way it goes! Maybe I was just tired from Monday’s mental pull ups and the thicker bar was a challenge as always.

Hope you all enjoy this workout and the design. Have fun!




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  1. Hi Marianne!

    This post just came up in my newsfeed on Facebook – just at the right time for me – I was looking for a good challenge for Tuesday when I have a bit more time in the gym with a good selection of KB’s to choose from – my normal gym only has a few so I have to adapt but I’m really looking forward to giving this a shot…

    As I said in my last post, I was getting near to having lost 5 stone but I have been on holiday and I’m nowhere near as close now!! But cracking on with it and not dwelling on the fact that the numbers have crept up, I enjoyed the eating and drinking on holiday – your recent posts have been so inspiring about just getting on with it… so that is what I am doing!
    Today is my second ESE – giving this method a go for a couple of months, see how I go with it – so far it seems OK – mind over matter…

    Watch this space!

    As ever – a big thank you Marianne for keeping us all inspired and busy with great work outs!

    (I have a feeling my best friend who is coming with me to the gym on Tuesday might not say the same thing – I think it will be that she hates me and you in equal measures! pahhhh… go hard or go home 😉 )

    1. Haha! Your poor friend 😉 The ESE and IF is definitely mind over matter at the start, until you train your mind not to “need” breakfast – these are learned habits. If it works for you, then *high five!* 😀

  2. Pingback: Kettlebell Training Info
  3. ok so I did this workout today and LOVED it! my post today was dedicated to kettlebell training, I shared your workout, your blog and how much I love it (complete with links to your site!) I hope you don’t mind!!

  4. awesome full body workout! THis i sthe type of conditioning that those who are able should incorporate ino their weekly routine…no doubt! I may do this tomorrow! 🙂 since getting into kettle bells and LOVING how versitile they are for me and for my clients, I am LOVING the workouts you post! keep up the great work!

    1. After I corresponded with you last, I purchased some heavier kettlebells. I made it through both rounds of section 1 and 2 but then totally tanked in the first round of section three. Maybe over-confident, now humble. I’m going to try it again with slightly lesser weight and see how I fare.

      1. It’s hard going Kim, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Even set yourself the goal of doing one round of each section with the heavier bell, then the lighter one when you need it. There is no shame in downing the weight – I do it all the time when I am tanked and my form suffers. It’s easy to become over-confident and too proud to regress a little. But it’s worth it 🙂

  5. Hi Marianne,
    Great routine ! Loved it. The stand to kneel
    are still a favorite. Killer exercise. I watch how effortless it is (at least it seems that way )
    for you on the way up. Your quads and glutes are strong. Although I’ve been at this for a year +
    it’s still not easy. Actually in my opinion it shouldn’t be, otherwise where’s the challenge? But, in comparison to last years workouts I’m so much better. I’d like to add to the last bloggers comments about her reasons for working out. I’m not a spring chicken at 52 but, I’ll do my damnedest to keep up. I pride myself on being a strong woman, a healthy woman and a woman free of any kind of medication. I work out so that I can continue to be this way. Exercise does keep you young and full of energy. I can’t relate to that no energy feeling. So once you have the bug, you’ll always have it. The norm, stays on the couch. We are different. So if you continue on this path you will have found the fountain of youth.
    Thanks again,
    Ps- your young and pretty. Stay out of the sun. I’ve met two women who look
    10-15 years younger than they actually are. Their secret ? Never , ever sunbathed.
    I was stunned. Just had to mention this. I think it’s so important . 

    1. Thanks for your energy Minnie! You really do ROCK! And I am glad the bug is likely to stay with me now 🙂

      I must remember to stay out of the sun 🙁 even though I love it! Don’t want to look like an old dried up leather boot when I am 40!

  6. Hi Marianne
    I always look forward to reading your posts. Your workouts are amazing and challenging, just what we women need. I’m in my 50’s and have trained with weights since I was 19 on & off, but in the last year have returned with new enthusiasm and vitality, and more confidence to lift heavier. I think this is partly due to watching your videos. Reading your earlier post about body image and your own journey, I think we can all relate in some way at some stage. When I was younger I trained to look good, these days I view exercise and working out more as my insurance policy to good health not only for today, but for my future as an elderly person. The added bonus is that it helps me to look as good as I can without the need for surgery or other invasive procedures. Thanks Marianne.

    1. What a compliment! I am so glad that you enjoy reading my posts and that you have found your groove again 🙂

      I love that you are still so motivated and inspired to train. This gives me hope that it never goes away, once you catch the “bug” 😉

  7. OK.. just watching that video made me breathless. BUT I did it anyway! I met my husband at the gym yesterday and we worked hard at this one. My husband is strong but when you throw this sort of workout at him, he cries like a baby. haha.. (ok, maybe he doesn’t really cry..but he looks like he could. lol). We both end up in a pile of sweat, tired but feeling energized at the same time. Funny how that is (for me anyway). Those bench jump overs-you are a machine with those! I will have to work up to doing that continually for 45sec. Love the added diag touchdown with the dynamic squats too. I really enjoyed this one! I think it might be a weekly one for me!
    THANKS Marianne for all your hard work, dedication and inspiration!
    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Your poor hubby! LOL – hope you told him to Toughen Up 😉

      Glad you had fun and I love how you two train together 😀

      Thank You for the great feedback!

      1. I’m a big fan of protein and fiber supplements. I drink a strawberry Special K protein shake right after workouts to feed the muscles and take a teaspoon of fiber in a glass of orange juice twice a day for weight control. Both real cheap.

        HaHa, I’m a macho guy and this workout kicked my butt!

  8. my, i’m not looking foward to trying this, well i am, but i’m not. i won’t be doing pullups, and i won’t be using weight for the stand kneel stands. i can’t believe what you can get through.. you are amazing, jotting this down tonight, then previewing again before i actually do it.. My son was laughing at me tonight when i was doing one of the older workouts, because i was panting like a dog haha

  9. marianne
    I love your blog and workouts!!! amazing stuff…WOMEN MUST LIFT! yes yes yes!!! your workouts are so easy to follow and share some great tips!

  10. Hi Marianne. Great post and workout!

    I would love to know your thoughts on building muscle at home.
    Since I have 2 small children (3 and 9 mos) I find it impossible to get a workout in unless it is 20 min. I do a lot of 50/10 workouts and go, go, go for 20 min because it is all I can fit in!
    I have had luck with push ups, handstand push ups, pull ups and presses with building some upper body strength and muscle, but not so much for my legs. My heaviest KB is 20KG so I am assuming I should probably incorporate more one legged type of exercises?
    Not sure – thought I would ask!
    You are GREAT.

    1. Hey Gina, you can either do single leg stuff or even double up with the 20kg and another KB – then you are adding to it. Still mix bilateral and single leg stuff, also vary your stance to hit different parts of the legs more. Really focus on the eccentric (lowering phase) of exercises too as this will put the muscle under tension for longer which will help it grow. Mix this with some explosive exercises for the legs and you will see more muscle strength, power and growth.

      You will have more muscle on your legs than you think. As women our leg muscle is usually disguised under fat – but I too am wanting to build up my legs. Squats, lunges, stiff-leg deadlifts, swings etc will help 😀

  11. Forgive the grammatical errors (you’re instead of your). It’s late here in CA! I really should get off this computer.

  12. Wow, that’s a tough workout (mind you, I haven’t tried it but just watching you makes me shake with dread!). You’re strength and endurance are amazing.

    How long did it take you to complete the workout? Also, do you workout every other day? I often wonder how you recover from these workouts because they seem brutal (in a good way)!

    1. Thanks Alexandra. How often I train actually is different each week. Working shifts makes training every other day impossible, and nights make me tired a lot. So I just listen to how I am feeling “that day”. Sometimes I train a few days in a row, other weeks there are 3 days between. I aim for 2 gym sessions and 2 or 3 KB workouts for the site, but that is just a goal and often I fall short of my plan due to work or other commitments. I love my training, but I also love other things so it’s hard to stick to a rigid plan – hence I don’t have one 😉 LOL

      I go with the flow 🙂 Which has it’s down points too, as I would love to be more disciplined with my training goals.

  13. Hi Marianne,
    I was just wondering if you could give an example a typical gym workout you do for strength. You are definitely an inspiration!
    Thank you,

    1. Shasta I am getting this question a lot lately LOL!! I guess because I keep mentioning the barbell training people naturally want to know more 🙂 The annoying thing is I have to be a little sneaky with the camera in the gym, because we are not allowed to use them. However I will ask for special permission to film my 2 of my typical training sessions in the next while and hope it illustrates better.

      I can tell you that on one day I do super-sets of Back Squats and Glute-Bridges, until I am near or at my 1RM. Then I will do BB Good Mornings and/or 45 degree hyper extensions to strengthen my lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Then I love to do another super-set of pull ups and dips, usually 3 or 4 sets or what ever I can manage. I might, the very odd time do skull-crushers, bent over rows, lateral raises if the cages are takena or I am waiting on a platform. I also love single arm cable pull-downs for triceps.

      On another day I will do super-sets of Sumo-Deadlifts and Front-Loaded Reverse Lunges. And the same upper body stuff again. I really don’t do many different things as I like to keep it simple so I can get in and out of the gym asap! Occassionally, if I am really tired I will go and only do squats, or only do Deadlifts (sometimes sumo, sometimes conventional) and it usually depends on my mood and motivation.

      I don’t know if my approach is considered right or wrong, but i really don’t care LOL – because it is working for me 🙂 I love super-sets because you feel totally badass – NO MEN in the gym could super-set heavy deadlifts or squats with anything, or they’d blow up! Or at least, most guys in my gym … not that I’m competitive or anything 😉 hehe!

      I will ask the manager the next time I am in if I can film my training for my blog and see what he says. If not, there is another gym I know that might let me, but it’s further away.

      Hope this helps for now. Please remember though that this is what I do and it works for me as I have a couple of years of doing these lifts now and feel confident to do them myself. If you do not have the experience, then I would ask a good trainer to show you and spot you until you get more competent etc. Make sure the trainer knows you want to train for strength and not “tone” – tell him/her about this site and the other BBs – just so they know exactly what your goals are 🙂

      1. That was an awesome answer to my question! Thank you for taking the time and being so thoughtful. I look forward to seeing you at work in the gym…if they allow it! Take care

  14. Hi Marianne,
    I’m a big fan of your workouts –thank you so much for continuing to post new routines and articles. I have a question for you – as I admire your strength and body. Do you have any recommendations on a whey protein powder? I’m in the States curious if you could recommend a powder that is avail here….
    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Emily, thanks for the question 🙂 I actually don’t take any protein supplements, so I know little about what the best US makes are. Maybe someone else could step in and help with this one? Sorry I couldn’t help you more with this.


      1. Bi Pro protein packets or tubs is what I recommend… they are 20gm packets… whey protein, flavorless so you can mix with any drink (juice, sports drink, water, etc).

    2. Hi Marianne,
      I have been following your website for a while now and love your workouts! You mention that you train heavy 1-2 days a week. I was wondering what your workout looks like? Or if you know a good website with heavy weight barbell workouts for women? I am having a hard time finding info about it online. I really like how you and the beautiful badasses were training but can’t find good workout programs like that. Thanks!

      1. Hey Amanda, I just kind of answered your question to Shasta about what I do on my heavy training days, and I hope to have a section on the site VERY soon showing you all what I do! So be patient for that 🙂 In the mean time my friend and fellow BB Nia Shanks has just written a post on her current training with videos, if you want to check it out. I will also have a look for more resources for Barbell training and post them on a “useful links” post.

        Does your gym have any good strength trainers? The problem is that most trainers don’t know how to properly train people for real strength! And when it comes to women, they automatically assume you mean “tone” so they keep the weights too light and there is little progression in a programme!

        I will get together with some of my friends and we will maybe put together a series of programmes for you all to follow for your different goals. I have been wanting to do this for a while, but felt I did not have the experience to do it justice. Now that I know more and I have great friends who want to share knowledge, I feel we could put our heads together and come up with great ideas! It may take a while, but hopefully I will have something for you soon 🙂

        1. Thanks for the info, I do not belong to a gym. I kind of have my own gym at my house, I have a barbell that goes up to 100 pounds. Im sure that is not nearly heavy enough weight for strength training though compared to what you probably use.

          1. Please remember that it’s not about what I do, it’s all about your own progression. I cannot deadlift 330lbs like Nia or squat 200lbs like Alli, but I have improved on my own numbers and more importantly, my form and inner confidence – which is what it is all about. Everyone’s strength is relative to them! Please never feel your own strength is inadequate. Something I too struggle to remind myself of when I see other girls doing more than me. But then I look back and see how far I have come!

            Amanda, your strength is yours – cherish every moment and use others merely as inspiration 🙂

          2. I have another quick question, when lifting for strength ( low reps/heavy weight) does that burn calories like lifting for hypertrophy does? I know when lifting for strenght you really don’t add bulk (which is what I don’t want since I have enough muscle already) does that muscle still burn more calories since you are not “adding more muscle” to your body? Hope that wasn’t to confusing LOL

          3. It is confusing, and the honest answer is I don’t know for sure, but I would make a guess that since strength and hypertrophy training have their overlaps, it will be impossible too prevent putting on muscle size by that alone. Size will be down to calorie input too. In terms of calories burned, I guess that all depends on a) how much muscle you have already b) how intensely you train. Lifting heavy will deplete your muscles of their energy stores so this will increase your metabolism as the body will restore these. Also I guess you are keeping the muscles “switched on” by your training, so you will stand to continue to burn more calories at rest anyway. During the training, I am not sure.

            Strength training doesn’t always keep your muscles from growing. They also become more dense.

            I think I am confusing myself now LOL! I know, with all my strength training, I can get away with eating MORE because my body composition never really changes much when I do.

            Maybe this is a question for someone else. So I will try and find a better answer for you :/

    3. Hi Marianne,
      I too am an RN (Boston, MA) and work nights…..3 12 hour shifts per week. And I know how hard it is to find the energy and time to workout. But I have to say that since finding your web site, I do look forward to your workouts! I’m glad you mentioned Nia Shanks web site- I’m following her strengh workout and then using your workouts for my metabolic/cardio. If I can fit in 2 strength and 2 or 3 cardio workouts a week I’m doing great.

      So I know how it feels to wake up after working nights and not want to do anything – its so hard! But you are such an inspiration! Thank you! And I’m glad you have a donate button 🙂

      1. Thanks Jenny! I’m glad I am not the only one who struggles with the shifts and training. Need to get motivated today LOL! I can’t train after I sleep during the day – I am a zombie for about 3 hours after I get up. Do you ever train straight after work?

    4. NO way! I go straight to bed (after shower) – and if I’m not working the next night- I set my alarm for 5 hours sleep. get up , coffee straight away with something to eat. Then I’ll take my dog out for an hour walk/hike and then go to the gym- by ~ 5 or 6pm. Unfortunately, its a busy time and I’m more irritable(post nights) and with all the people there I just want to tell them all to leave so I can train in peace. HAHA!
      I did want to ask you a question though. I was reading your posts from a year ago when you mapped out what you were eating every day…your calories were only ~ 1400. That just seemed to low to me, even if your trying to lose fat. I’m 64inches/130# and I can’t imagine going lower than 1800kcal. Are you still being that careful?

      1. NOT AT ALL!! Back then I was so stupid and my ONLY goal was to be lean/thin! Besides, sticking to that calorie intake was pure torture! That’s why I am so happy now with my training and my eating because I basically eat what I want and how much I want and still stay the same composition because of my strength and conditioning training 😀

        I don’t count my calories anymore but, if I were to hazard a guess (given I used to know every calorie count) I’d say I eat 2000kcal at least per day and more at the weekends! I love food and life too much to restrict myself in this way ever again. Besides, it only brought out this horrible OCD behaviour and guilt cycle that made me feel fat if I went over my 1400 or what ever!

        I get irritated too, which is why I train in the morning when it’s quieter. Then I can get up and focus on the blog and my big feed 😀

        That post from way back just shows how far I have come in terms of realistic and meaningful goals!

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