Don’t listen to what the gym rats say, if you have a collection of kettlebells, you can use them to build a strong and muscular physique.
Yes kettlebells lend themselves to ballistic movements and are mostly thought of as a metabolic fat loss conditioning tool, but to your muscles they are just weights. And any type of weight or resistance can be used to get bigger/stronger.
So if you don’t have access to a gym but you do have a collection of bells, work this program hard for the next 3 months and I guarantee you’ll add inches of thick dense muscle all over your body.
Lets take a look at the program.
Rotate these two workouts over Monday/Wednesday/Friday.
Double Clean and press 10×3
This needs to be heavy, use bells that are around your 7RM, because you will be adding a rep each workout until you reach 10 sets of 6 reps. When you can do that, go to the next size bells up and start over back at 10 sets of 3. If you can’t do 10 sets first time, that’s ok, stay with 3’s until you can do all 10 sets. Follow that principle throughout the program. Build your sets, then increase reps, then increase weight. Take more rest when it gets hard, anywhere between 3-5 minutes between sets.
Double front squat 10×3
Same principle as above, use heavy bells, around your 7-8RM is about right, and aim to eventually work up to 10 sets of 6. Its ok to repeat workouts, for example, if you find you are up against a wall really quick, (maybe you chose bells that were too heavy) repeat the workout 2 or 3 times before increasing reps or sets. Work on your technique, use tension and breathing for all your reps and focus on quality not quantity.
Single bell row 5×8-12
For the row, you are going to work on a slow negative (returning the weight to the floor) work with the heaviest weight you can manage with good form for 5 sets of 8 rep. As the weeks go by, you will slowly increase the reps to 12, whilst still working on a slow negative. Only when you have completely mastered the weight for 5 sets of 12 with a slow negative will you increase it.
(caveat) – If you have access to a pull up bar, you can work the chin/pull up using the same set/rep protocol as the press and squat.
Single bell push press 5×8
Clean a heavy bell to the rack, keep your heels on the floor, partially squat and then drive the weight up over head to the lockout. Lower slowly and under control for a 3 count before the next rep. Rest between each side as necessary. Control is the name of the game, never let a weight own you. When you can complete 5 sets of 8 reps in this manner, increase the weight. If you struggle with a heavier weight, lower the reps to 5 and build up to 8.
Bulgarian split squat 4×8-12
A classic leg builder used by champion Olympic weight lifters, this exercise can be brutally tough, and that’s why its in this program. No one ever got really big and strong without getting outside of their comfort zone. Hold a kettlebell in each hand, maintain an upright posture and use full depth, your back knee should kiss the deck. Increase weight when you can do 4 sets of 12. Start over with sets to 6-8 reps.
Double swing 5×5-10
The program would not be complete if we didn’t have some heavy glut and hamstring activation. Go heavy and increase reps from 5 to 10 before increasing the load.
- Start with weights that you can comfortably handle, your tendons and ligaments don’t adapt as fast as the muscles, so starting this program too heavy could be a recipe for disaster with the amount of repetitions you have to complete.
- Too build muscle, you HAVE to be in a calorie surplus. Period. Eat a varied diet of meat, fish, beans, vegetables, potatoes, rice and pasta, include dairy if you can tolerate it. If you crap twice per day, you are definitely eating enough.
- Don’t be in a rush, it takes time to build real strength and size. Enjoy the process, put the focus on quality of movement and work on your technique. A weight is easy to move if you have good technique.
This program will work extremely well for a beginner or anyone who is just getting back into a strength and size program. Eventually you will need something a little bit more fancy with back off weeks, and deloads etc. Having said that, you can build those into this program with a bit of common sense. If you feel progress is slowing, reduce weights or volume by 50% for one week and start over a little bit lighter the next.
If you have any questions about this program, you can comment below, contact me through the website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.