This session is quite dense – which, in training terms, is a good thing. That’s because, in the gym, density refers to doing a lot of work in a short space of time. And in this instance your aim is to do as many rounds of the following full-body kettlebell workout as you can in 20 minutes.
“Density blocks are a good way to keep the heart rate high while working at a pace that will ensure the maintenance of good technique,” says Olli Foxley, formerly of of W10 Performance (opens in new tab) – the man you can curse in the minutes following the workout because you’re so tired… and the man you can praise after a few weeks of incorporating it into your training because you’ve shrunk your waistline. “This will test you aerobically as well as pushing you mentally. If you’re performing this week after week, track how many rounds you get through and try to increase that number each time you perform the session.”
Since all you need is one kettlebell, it’s a great session if your gym is very busy, or if you own a kettlebell, a home workout. No kettlebell? No problem, our round-up of the best kettlebells will help you find the right one for you. And once it’s delivered there’s a world of kettlebell exercises and kettlebell workouts to explore.
Stand tall with your chest up and your abs fully engaged. Hold a kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest, and squat down with your back straight and chest up. Descend until your elbows touch the insides of your knees, then put your weight on your heels as you stand back up.
Foxley says: “Goblet squats are a great option for the legs when doing conditioning because they create a lot of tension, are technically not that demanding and will elevate the heart rate because of the position of the weight.”
2 Goblet carry
Start in the top position of the goblet squat, with your chest up, abs fully engaged and elbows locked in position to keep the kettlebell stable. Walk forwards with quick but controlled steps for the full distance, keeping your torso upright throughout.
Foxley says: “The carries work well to keep the heart rate elevated with a low-skill movement that makes them accessible to anyone. The goblet carry will hit the abs and biceps towards the end of the session – try to walk as tall as possible and avoid leaning back.”
Swing the kettlebell between your legs with both hands, then pop your hips forwards to drive it up to head height, keeping your arms relaxed. Let the kettlebell swing back into the next rep – you don’t need to bend your knees much.
Foxley says: “The swing will work your grip, hamstrings and glutes as well as work on developing a good ‘hip hinge’, which is one of the foundations for all-round fitness and movement.
4 Suitcase carry
Distance 10m each side
Stand tall with your chest up and abs fully engaged, holding the kettlebell in one hand by your side. Put your other arm out to the side parallel to the floor for balance. Walk tall with fast but controlled steps for the distance, then switch arms and walk back to the start.
Foxley says: “Suitcase carries are brilliant for the obliques. Try to keep the kettlebell away from the body and resist leaning to the side.”
Reps 5 each side
Start in the rack position with the kettlebell in one hand at shoulder height and your elbow tucked in to your side for support. Drop into a quarter squat, then stand back up and use the momentum to press the bell directly overhead. Lower it back to the start and go straight into the next rep. After five reps, swap hands.
Foxley says: “The push press is a great full-body test of power and stability,”
Distance 10m each side
Start in the top position of the push press with your arm locked out and your free arm out to one side parallel to the floor for balance. Keep your torso upright and your abs fully engaged to keep the kettlebell in a stable position above your head. Walk the distance in fast but controlled steps.
Foxley says: “The overhead carry is great for shoulder stability and working the midsection.”
Joe Warner worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach, from 2008 to 2013, then returned as editor of Men’s Fitness UK from 2016 to 2019.
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