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The 5-Week, Whole Body Single Kettlebell Workout

Build serious strength and improve overall conditioning with this five-week kettlebell workout courtesy of Pavel Tsatsouline.

The 5 Week, 1 Kettlebell Warrior Workout

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  • Goal

    Build Strength and Conditioning

  • Skill level

    Intermediate

  • Duration

    5 Weeks

  • Days per week

    5

  • Type

    Strength Training

  • Goal

    Build Strength and Conditioning

  • Skill level

    Intermediate

  • Duration

    5 Weeks

  • Days per week

    5

  • Type

    Strength Training

It’s the very definition of simplicity. Of course, simple doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with easy. Benching 500 pounds is a simple concept. So is running a marathon. But accomplishing either is also extraordinarily difficult. Likewise, just because Pavel Tsatsouline’s five-week training program requires only two exercises a day using a single kettlebell doesn’t mean you won’t be cursing him every step of the way. There’s a lot of work here, but if you stick with it you’ll come out a stronger and leaner man on the other side. Tsatsouline, the author of Kettlebell: Simple & Sinister, is a former Soviet special forces instructor and currently a subject matter expert to elite U.S. military and law enforcement special ops units. He cites Russian professor Victor Selouyanov’s research with Russian national sports teams as inspiration for designing the plan you see here.

“When the Russians measured wrestlers’ blood right after competition, they discovered the losers were more acidic than the winners,” says Tsatsouline. “Instead of focusing on training to tolerate acidity better, Selouyanov decided to avoid acidity altogether and developed a methodology for growing mitochondria, aerobic power plants in the muscle cells, in fast-twitch muscle fibers.”

This method trains you to minimize the formation of lactic acid and dispose of it easily. So how do you build mitochondira? Tsatsouline says you need a high workload (you’ll be lifting six days a week) paired with long rest periods. As for the fact that this plan incorporates only a kettlebell and a pullup bar, Tsatsouline is steadfast in his belief that no training implement can rival the kettlebell. If barbells and dumbbells make up the majority of your training, you’re about to get a serious shock to your system. Try the following for five weeks, and watch your strength soar.

Directions

Kettlebell Swings
Whenever you see swings in this program, you’ll be doing seven reps per minute for the prescribed number of sets. Seven swings will take about 10 seconds; rest for the remainder of the time.

Kettlebell Presses and Pullups
Set a timer to beep every 8min.  When it beeps, start your press set.  Clean a 6-8RM kettlebell once and press it 5 times with your left.  Drop, switch hands, clean with your right, and do your 5 presses. Without setting the kettlebell down, keep switching hands and counting down the reps: 5-4-3-2-1.  This was one set. 

Walk around for a couple of minutes, and do the pullups in the same descending rep ladder of 5-4-3-2-1. When the timer beeps, hit your presses again.

 

The Plan

  • Goal

    Build Strength and Conditioning

  • Skill level

    Intermediate

  • Duration

    5 Weeks

  • Days per week

    5

  • Type

    Strength Training

Week 1
  • Day 1

    Workout A

    30 min.

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

    Kettlebell Goblet Squat: Focus on sitting back with your hips and opening your knees to achieve depth. Russian Kettlebell Swing: Stand behind the kettlebell with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and slightly turned out. Sit back and grip the handle with both hands. Keep your lower back arched and “hike” the kettlebell back between your legs. Explosively snap your hips open. Let the kettlebell float momentarily at chest level before smoothly guiding it back for another rep.

  • Day 2

    Workout B

    30 min

    2

    No

    Workout B

    Single-Arm KB Press Tense your body, crush the handle of the bell, and drive it straight up to a full lockout. Weighted Pullup Hang a kettlebell or weight plate from a dip belt and get to work. On every day but the final day of the program, your pullup “sets” will be long, descending ladders. (See workout boxes.)

  • Day 3

    Workout A

    30 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

  • Day 4

    Workout B

    30 min.

    2

    Yes

    Workout B

  • Day 5

    Workout A

    30 min.

    2

    No

    Workout A

    KB Swing Sets: 16

  • Day 6

    Workout B

    30 min

    2

    No

    Workout B

  • Day 7

    Rest

Week 2
  • Day 1

    Workout A

    30 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

  • Day 2

    Workout B

    30 min.

    2

    Yes

    Workout B

  • Day 3

    Workout A

    30 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

  • Day 4

    Workout B

    30 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout B

  • Day 5

    Workout A

    30 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

  • Day 6

    Workout B

    30 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout B

  • Day 7

    Rest

Week 3
  • Day 1

    Workout A

    30 min.

    2

    No

    Workout A

  • Day 2

    Workout B

    30 min

    1

    No

    Workout B

  • Day 3

    Workout A

    30 min

    2

    No

    Workout A

  • Day 4

    Workout B

    30 min

    2

    No

    Workout B

  • Day 5

    Workout A

    30-40 min.

    2

    No

    Workout A

  • Day 6

    Workout B

    30 min.

    2

    No

    Workout B

  • Day 7

    Rest

Week 4
  • Day 1

    Workout A

    30 min

    2

    No

    Workout A

  • Day 2

    Workout B

    30 min.

    2

    No

    Workout B

  • Day 3

    Workout A

    30-40 min.

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

  • Day 4

    Workout B

    30 min.

    2

    Yes

    Workout B

  • Day 5

    Workout A

    30-40 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

  • Day 6

    Workout B

    30 min.

    2

    No

    Workout B

  • Day 7

    Rest

Week 5
  • Day 1

    Workout A

    30 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

  • Day 2

    Workout B

    30 min.

    2

    Yes

    Workout B

  • Day 3

    Workout A

    30 min

    2

    Yes

    Workout A

  • Day 4

    Workout B

    20 min

    2

    No

    Workout B

  • Day 5

    KB TEST DAY

    --

    5

    No

    KB TEST DAY

    See how many reps you can do for each exercise (except the goblet squat) using the same weight you've been using throughout the plan.

  • Day 6

    CONDITIONING TEST DAY

    --

    --

    No

    CONDITIONING TEST DAY

    Do any conditioning workout you’ve done in the past such as a CrossFit WOD or an uphill run. You’ll be impressed with the results.This kettlebell workout plan will increase your strength and cardiovascular endurance without the typical work to ratio seen in high intensity interval training.

  • Day 7

    Rest