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Kettlebell Complex Training

Kettlebells – Another Tool in the Toolbox

Figure 1. Kettlebells. Image Source1

Previously here at CasePerformance, I, Arnav Sarkar, was given the opportunity to share my training experiences and background via interview. In it, I shared with you that my new found training passion involves that of the kettlebell and the sport of Girevoy. (If you're not familiar with the sport of Girevoy, you can read up on it in this article). There are many great benefits that one can receive from kettlebell training, even if their sport of choice is not Girevoy. For instance, exercises like the renegade row, greatly challenges the back, core and shoulders. Although the renegade row is a great exercise, it's barely scratching the surface of what can be done with this training tool. Thus, today I'd like to share with you a training complex that involves multiple kettlebell exercises.

Oh Sweet Kettlebell Complex Action!

For those who know me, their is one thing they'll tell you…I am a huge fan of kettlebell complexes! [I refer you to the sidebox discussion if you're not familiar with complexes.] Sure, barbell and dumbbell complexes are great, but quite often, shoulder and grip endurance becomes a limiting factor. Thus, the trainee has to stop due to fatiguing those muscles prior to hitting his/her bigger muscle groups like the leg, back, etc, hard enough to elicit a true training response (ie – working the muscle hard enough to increase strength, power, endurance, growth). With kettlebells, if you have decent shoulder flexibility and technique, you can work nonstop for minutes. In fact, in most kettlebell competition, lifters continue doing one exercise like the snatch or clean and jerk, for 10 minutes nonstop, without putting the bells down even once. And that is done with decent weights like 32 kgs/70lbs for men, and 24 kgs/53 lbs for women!

For the rest of us, who are not looking to compete but are looking for a tough and results oriented workout, mixing multiple exercises involving kettlebells to form a complex is a great training idea. Your complex can be based on completing a set number of reps, or done for time, whichever you prefer. Examples are always helpful, so let me share this simple, yet very effective kettlebell complex with you:

Kettlebell Complex

  • 1 hand swings- 6 reps left —>
  • 1 hand clean-6 reps left —>
  • 1 hand press or push press-6 reps left —>
  • Squats-6 reps left —>

(switch kettlebell to opposite hand)

  • 1 hand swings- 6 reps right —>
  • 1 hand clean-6 reps right —>
  • 1 hand press or push press-6 reps right
  • Squats-6 reps right —> Rest

Rest Intervals & Sets

Take a rest for about 30-90 seconds, and then repeat for another 2-4 rounds.

A Video: Worth 1000 Words

EDITOR'S NOTE: Depending on the web browser you use, the screen may be "black" for the first couple of seconds before it goes into a clear image. If you're unable to get the video to work, I refer you to the direct Youtube page where Arnav has also kindly shared it.

In case you’re not familiar with what the exercises of this kettlebell complex should look like, I refer you to the above video; A special thanks goes out to Ram, Keshav and Jaya, 3 of the individuals that I work with, who are shown completing this kettlebell complex. There are a few things that I’d like to point out in regards to their form while completing the exercise. First, notice how these three breathe in a continuous, rhythmic manner, and do not hold their breath. This type of constant breathing allows you to work for longer by letting you stay relatively more relaxed. Next, notice the good backswing that they get during the swings and cleans. This backswings helps to create a good momentum that allows you to lift heavier weights for longer. If you are dropping the bell straight down, then your swings will be more like squats, and you will not last very long. Lastly, as with any squatting motion, the knees should never buckle in when going down or coming up.

Incorporating Kettlebell Complexes Into Your Routine

"So when to do this complex?" I know that’s the question you’re likely asking yourself right now. To answer your question, you can either do it after your heavy strength training with a medium weight bell as a finisher, or you can do it on your off days with a lighter bell for a recovery workout. Once you've developed your kettlebell skills (ie – good form, etc), then you can even do this as a workout by itself with a heavy enough bell.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is rather simple here – grab a kettlebell and get to work!


1 Pfc. Sarah Anderson. Kettlebells sit on a table in the Physical Therapy Department of the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital. The kettlebells are a good tool to act as weights when working out injured muscles and joints. 4 August 2010 This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. Image accessed on May 27, 2013 from:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USMC-100804-M-3909A-317.jpg

Click Here to find out "Why we do, what we do."

Written on May 27, 2013 by arnav sarkar
Last Updated: October 27, 2013

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Arnav Sarkar is a strength and fitness trainer based in India. His philosophy revolves around simplifying training and nutrition to get the best possible results. You can learn more about him by visiting him at Sarkartraining.