Erik’s Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebells Part 5: Training Routines and Other Resources

This part includes a few resources for training routines and quick recommendations for protecting your arms and hands.

  • Part 1 is a short rant on why kettlebells are efficient training tools, especially for busy people.
  • Part 2 has my thoughts on picking a starting weight and recommendations for buying kettlebells.
  • Part 3 collects a list of helpful videos for basic exercises.
  • Part 4 has a list of helpful videos for slightly more advanced exercises. 
  • Part 5 includes a few resources for training routines and quick recommendations for protecting your arms and hands.

As a disclaimer, I am not a doctor, trainer, fitness expert, or person of any particular talent. I’m just a dude trying to stay healthy. If you have concerns about injury or safety, consult an expert. A real expert, not that Instagram fitness “model” you’ve been stalking.

Training Routines

After you’ve familiarized yourself with the basic exercises and have gotten comfortable with executing them with proper form, you probably want to start planning a training program or training routines.

The magic of kettlebells is that they’re incredibly versatile. You can find training routines and programs to improve your strength, conditioning, or mobility, and you can target the parts of your body that you want to improve the most. If you’re pressed for time or mental space and just want something to get you sweating, you can easily string together 4-5 exercises and proudly call it a work-out.

If you’re uncreative, as I am, and want someone to plan your routines for you, there are tons of resources online. I’ve collected a few that I’ve found useful below. I also included a few tips on protecting your arms and your hands. 

Onnit Academy

One of my favorite resources has become Onnit Academy. Onnit’s knowledge base offers 20-30 minute routines consisting of a handful of exercises. They have options tailored for strength, conditioning, and muscle growth, so you can pick based on your goals.

The Extreme Kettlebell Cardio Workout

There’s a wealth of instructional DVDs available. I’ve tried “The Extreme Kettlebell Cardio Workout” by Keith Weber. I got the DVD along with my first kettlebell and found it to be great for losing fat. It’s a bunch of exercises strung together into routines, which you can string together as a monster workout if you feel like punishing yourself (it took me more than a year to be able to pull off all of the routines in one session). The “Swing Workout” below is probably a good routine for beginners.

I would suggest "Extreme Kettlebell Cardio Workout 2: Exceed Your Limits" and "Extreme Kettlebell Cardio workout 3", along with "The Extreme Kettlebell Cardio Workout: Awaken the Athlete Within". Each of these videos is considered "extreme", therefore it is best to work your way up to them. However, they are great for improving in strength.

Pavel Tsatsouline’s Books

Pavel Tsatsouline is a famous strength and conditioning effort, and for good reason. His methods are highly effective, and his presentation is accessible. Tsatsouline was one of the early proponents of the kettlebell in the U.S. and has written several books on kettlebell training.

Simple and Sinister, outlines a training program consisting of nothing but swings and turkish get-ups, which are great for conditioning and strength. The program is highly structured and highly quantifiable, so you can easily track your progress, which feels nice in the early days of training.

If you have the time and energy to set up a training regimen of your own, Simple and Sinister is also a solid read on structuring your own training programs.

Enter the Kettlebell is a more comprehensive guide to training with kettlebells, covering forms for more exercises and various other training programs. Enter the Kettlebell and Simple and Sinister have a significant amounts of overlapping material, but I’ve read both and have found interesting nuggets of information in each.

Other Equipment: Protecting Yourself from Yourself

You should be able to train with kettlebells without incurring significant injury or damage. But what you should be able do and what you actually can do are often worlds apart, so you might need some protective gear in the early days of training as you beef up your form. 

Arm Guards

Unless you have perfect form, you’re going to bang up your forearms doing cleans and snatches (you’ll see when you get there). A hard smack from a heavy kettlebell is a great way to punish yourself into better form, but while you practice, it’s probably worth finding some protection to reduce the damage you inflict on yourself. 

Fortunately, arm guards are inexpensive. If you’re unfamiliar with them, arm guards are essentially sweat bands with hard plastic strips inside of them to help dissipate impact. You can pick some up on Amazon for $20.

Hand Recovery

After a few training sessions, you’ll start to develop some nice calluses on your hands. Some amount of callus is good to protect your skin, but you don’t want them to get too thick. Thick calluses can get pinched by the kettlebell handle, which is painful enough when going through large amounts of reps. If not taken care of, calluses can tear. A torn callus is not pretty (they bleed), and will force you to put a break on any training while it heals.

If your calluses start to bug you, soak your hands in soapy water and file the calluses down with pumice stone or a file. If you’ve never worked construction, Corn Huskers lotion is great for smoothing and toughening-up hard working hands.

Other Resources and Feedback

These posts are meant to be a quick entry point for friends and aren’t meant to be comprehensive, so if you’re left with any questions, there are tons of other resources for kettlebells online.

See, the good thing about the Internet is that there is a ton of information available. But the bad thing about the Internet is that there is a ton of information available.

I mentioned these throughout the posts, but if you want more resources, the following people or companies have helpful information available online or in books: Onnit, Rogue Fitness, Steve Cotter, Pavel Tsatsouline, My Mad Methods, Keith Weber