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Kettlebells are the best way to crank out a quick and effective workout for optimal strength training. No longer do you have to enlist every piece of iron in the gym, blast your entire body for two hours, and then collapse on the mat in a heap of exhaustion and lactic acid.
When efficiency is the name of the game, ask a marine for advice. In this case, we asked Oliver Quinn for one of his favorite quick-hitting workouts. He’s a former Royal Marine who’s now an Austin, TX-based strength coach and StrongFirst Team Leader specializing in kettlebell, barbell, and bodyweight training. His feats of strength include: a 200-pound kettlebell clean, a 150-pound kettlebell pistol squat, and 150-pound kettlebell press. So yeah, Quinn knows how to get you strong, lean, and jacked with nothing more than a kettlebell.
“The Moving Target Kettlebell Complex is a huge favorite of mine that I learned at StrongFirst,” he says. “It’s just cleans, presses, and squats.” But don’t let the simplicity fool you—the workout is designed to kick your ass.
As you move through the complex, the reps and intensity vary for each move, explains Quinn. “Two exercises stay easy as one gets more intense, letting you really focus on the target exercise for that round.” While the rep counts vary, they stay firmly in the strength range. And, as an added bonus, you’ll get in a solid conditioning and abdominal session, too. (All of the pressing, cleaning, and squatting will mean you need to keep your abs tight.)
Perhaps the best part of Quinn’s workout is that it doesn’t take all day—or even half an hour. If you double up the kettlebells, placing one in each hand, he says that you can easily fit two rounds into 10 minutes, or even three if you really push it.
“A good start for the average male is a pair of 16 kilogram (or 36-pound) kettlebells,” says Quinn. And if you can get through the workout with 20 to 24kg (45 and 54 pound) bells, pat yourself on the back—you’re officially strong.
With just three basic lifts, the Moving Target Kettlebell Complex will build muscle and increase strength. “Do this every other day, three times per week, or whenever you can fit it in,” says Quinn. Perform each round three times through, resting as little as possible.
Perform exercises in order, starting with two cleans, one press, and one squat, then three cleans, one press, and one squat, and so on. Finish one round before beginning the next. Between rounds, put the bells down and rest for one minute. Perform the full circuit two to three times.