Upper Body Blast | Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout and Tabata

Hey everyone,

Yesterday I put together a workout to train my upper body more specifically and I discovered that even though I am getting stronger in many exercises, I have got weaker in some too.

It’s a very difficult task to ensure that you remain strong in everything and I don’t even think it’s necessary that we are. I think what matters is that we are happy and confident about our ability to progress in anything we try and the weight you lift is not the only mark of success.

For example, in this workout I was doing KB Military Presses with 16kg and only managed 6 reps on my right and 4 on my left. About 8 months ago, I was able to do 12 reps with the same weight and was even able to manage a few reps with 20kg. However, 8 months ago I was not Deadlifting 100 odd kg with better form or doing Weighted Glute Bridges of over twice my bodyweight, or barbell squats etc. Therefore I am 100% confident that, should I decide to focus more on this great exercise for a few weeks, my numbers will soar! Even though during the workout I was initially disappointed in my performance, I soon realised that I have become good at so many other things.

It’s the same as most things really, if you stop practicing it, you will lose some strength in that movement. Just 5 weeks ago in the USA, I was struggling to Squat 55kg with good form, yet now I am managing 55kg to a below parallel box with great form in comparison and have managed 60kg without the box to parallel x 4 good reps – All because I am practicing squats 1-2 times per week!

Everything seems to work in cycles. Certain exercises become “flavour of the month” and you work hard to perfect it – then a while down the road your focus moves to something else. I actually think this helps keep things fresh without fleeting from one programme/exercise to the next. Become good at something first and then either progress that exercise, introduce a completely new one, or a different variation. Rather than try something for a week and stop, it’s better to get the most out of that exercise before rotating it with something else.

Because of what I have learned during this workout, I will be aiming to include KB Military Presses (doubles, singles, seated, half kneeling etc) in to my “programme” along with the Barbell Overhead Presses in the gym. I think by having this slight variation in the same exercise, it will improve my overall strength AND stability!

Anyway, those were just a few thoughts I was having about “progress” and how sometimes I get frustrated because I am not good at everything all the time. What I need to remember is that it is in me to be good at ANYTHING I PUT THE WORK INTO. Except maybe the Snatch 🙁 LOL!!

The Workout

There are 3 rounds of 7 exercises, mixing Kettlebell and BodyWeight strength exercises with set reps and set times. Then finishing with a killer Tabata.  For the timed exercises I set my Gymboss Interval Timer for 45 seconds. I have provided a rep range for the other exercises as a guide. This will vary depending on the weight you have have available.

As usual, my reps and weights are in brackets.

  1. Kettlebell Halos x 15 reps each direction (14kg, then 16kg)
  2. Pull Ups x sub max (5, 2×2, 3) (tired from pull up maxes the other day)
  3. KB Military Press (right) x 8 – 12 (14kg, then 16kg) (10, 6, then 4 & 5 negatives)
  4. KB Military Press (left) x 8 – 12 (14kg, then 16kg) (10 eventually, 3 & 5negs, 3 & 5negs)
  5. Kettlebell Bent Over Ballistic Row x 45 secs (14kg then 16kg) (28, 21, 18)
  6. Push Ups on Kettlebells x 8 – 12 full reps (12, 10, 10 )
  7. KB Vertical Swing x 45 secs (20kg) (17, 15, 14)


Set your Gymboss Interval Timer for 8 cycles of 10 seconds rest and 20 seconds MAX effort. Complete 4 rounds of the following 2 exercises:

  1. Heavy Two-Handed KB Swing (24kg) (13, 12, 12, 12)
  2. Jump Rope (max reps, if you don’t trip up)

Don’t ask me why, but upper body strength is something that is very empowering or even Badass to train!

Talk to you all again soon.


  • September 20, 2011

Leave a Reply 34 comments