24 Nov How to Combine Barbells and Kettlebells into Your Training (Workout Examples)
This is something I’m asked about a lot.
Here’s how you do this to get the most out of these two amazing tools.
Barbells and kettlebells are essentially what I call the “Power Tools.”
What I mean is that they are two of the most powerful training tools we have and the possibilities with each of them is endless.
How you ultimately use the tools depends on your goals.
So, the first thing you need to do is decide exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve.
Are you chasing strength, hypertrophy, fat loss, general conditioning, or athleticism?
(It’s also important to consider the type of strength: explosive, maximum, speed-strength, strength-endurance, general strength, etc.).
Maybe you’re training for an athletic event or preparing for a kettlebell or barbell certification?
Defining your top goals and the reasons your training will dictate how you use the tools, it’s that simple.
Once you have your goals defined, pick a program or apply common “principles” to match your goals.
I’ll give you a couple examples of programming principles for different goals.
EXAMPLE #1: STRENGTH
Let’s say your top goal is strength.
Well, there are many strength programs out there to choose from, although you may need to tweak the program a bit to add the kettlebell component.
Here’s an example of a typical training session I’ve used when focusing on increasing maximum strength.
- BARBELL DEADLIFTS, (warm up sets, as necessary) then 2 sets of 5 with 80-85% 1RM
- BARBELL STANDING PRESS (1-2 warm up sets) then 2 sets of 5
- BARBELL BACK SQUAT (2-3 warm up sets) then 2 sets of 5, with 80% 1RM
- KETTLEBELL TURKISH GET UP with “moderate” weight, 2-3 reps per side
- KETTLEBELL SWINGS 3 sets of 20-30 reps with a heavy kettlebell
- (And, maybe ‘ab wheel’ to conclude training session for 2-3 sets of 10).
This is just an example.
As you can see, the barbell work is the focus in the beginning and the kettlebell work is additive and complementary to this.
There are many variables that change here (reps, sets, intensity), but the principles of training for the goal of strength are my focus.
I may add some “conditioning” at the end of the session – as I’ve done here.
But keep the goal the goal.
Here’s another example for a different goal.
EXAMPLE #2: FAT LOSS/CONDITIONING
Let’s say your goal is fat loss and conditioning.
Different goal and different training approach here.
Here’s what this training session might look like:
- BARBELL DEADLIFT (70-80% 1RM) 3 sets of 5, nice and ‘easy’ to work on full body strength and to Practice Proper Technique (PPT)
- TURKISH GET UPS 5-8 minutes of continuous get ups alternating each side with moderate weight kettlebell
- KETTLEBELL CLEAN AND PRESS 5 reps, moderate size kettlebell, 3-5 rounds, approximately 30 seconds rest between rounds. (My preference is double kettlebells.)
- KETTLEBELL SWINGS one hand swings performing 10/10 for 100 reps, 2-3 rounds with moderate size kettlebell
- KETTLEBELL GOBLET SQUATS, Tabata protocol (20 seconds work/10 seconds rest) for 8 rounds (4 minutes) OR 3-5 rounds of 10 reps with minimal rest between rounds
- (And, possibly a loaded carry for distance to finish).
You can see by this example, the kettlebell is emphasized and the rep schemes are much different than example #1.
The barbell is included, of course, but I may just use a deadlift in the session (and maybe a squat in another session) to maintain barbell strength work and continue to always include technical skill development.
But, the focus is much different.
It’s more conditioning and metabolic training as opposed to increasing raw strength.
Again, keep the goal the goal.
There are many, many examples of training sessions like this that I have done.
And, another example would be for muscle building, but I’ll save that for a future article.
I’ll probably post some other training samples with barbells and kettlebells.
It seems like the question of “how to use kettlebells and barbells” is a big question and people want to know the best ways to integrate the two.
But, the answer depends on the goal.
Again, there are many ways to approach this and this is only a small sample of the effectiveness of combining these two training tools.
Either of these will open your mind to the possibilities and keep you focused on the fundamentals.
If you have questions, let me know.
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