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Mixing Russian Kettlebells and Weight Training for strength and fat loss

Posted Aug 24 2008 5:48pm

People are always asking me how to mix Russian Kettlebell workouts with weight training sessions. They understand that both have inherent benefits but often cannot figure out an intelligent way to mix the two types of exercise. For competitive lifters this can be even more confusing because they want every advantage they can get, but do some much training in the competitive lifts that hard accessory work can be tough to fit in.

Like anything, when you ask yourself a question you have to first ask yourself what the goal is. For the purpose of this post I will split the readers into to groups. The non-competition group (fitness, fat loss, aesthetic group) and the competitive lifter group (powerlifters, bodybuilders, strongman, Olympic lifters).

Mixing Kettlebell training and weight training for non-competitive trainees is simple. Make kettlebell training just as, if not more of a priority than weight training. Why? Simply because kettlebell training done right will elevate your metabolism and thereby burn fat much better than lifting weights and doing some cardio. Also, it will take less time (30 minutes at home with a kettlebell versus 1 hour plus in the gym hitting the weights and then the treadmill). Ultimately, the leaner you are the better you will look and kettlebells make you lean, period. Also, kettlebell training will strengthen the core and stretch out the hips and shoulders making it very therapeutic. For this group I would suggest 3-4 kettlebell sessions per week lasting about 45 minutes including warm-up. Training sessions should be extremely intense and compose of a lot of high repetition drills and circuits for maximum fat burning effect. Weight training sessions should be done 2-3 times per week focusing primarily on strength and some "beach work" as the fat burning work is being done with the kettlebell.

For competitive trainees, kettlebell training must take a back seat to more sport specific training such as the competitive lifts. You must develop your skill and power in the lifts first and foremost and use the kettlebell for GPP (general physical preparedness). Sport specific gym sessions should be done about 3-4 or even more times per week while kettlebell training should only be done about 2-3 times per week. Spend your energy on your lifts, focusing on building real power and getting them up. Use the kettlebell on off days to get a good sweat going, force blood and oxygen into the lower back and legs and really just to keep in shape. One of the hidden benefits of kettlebell training is that it will increase your explosiveness in the squat and Olympic lifts so don't be afraid to do lots of snatches with it. As a powerlifter, I use kettlebells to keep my fast and athletic. Powerlifting has a way of making me strong and slow as an ox!

You can mix kettlebell workouts with weight training workouts in one session too. This works for both athletes and non-athletes equally well. Use the kettlebell to warm-up, performing some light two handed swings and some snappy cleans and snatches to wake the body up. Then perform a good hard and heavy weight lifting session. After that, finish off with high rep kettlebell circuits to really melt the fat off the body! Workouts like this should only be performed every other day and are best for people who have trouble training on a daily basis.

Kettlebell training can be combined with weight training for great results, you just need to know what it is you are training for and then make sure your actions apply to your goals!

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