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Seven Kick-Ass Kettlebell Swing Workouts

Seven Kick-Ass Kettlebell Swing Workouts

Posted by Phil McDougall on 16th Oct 2020

Hey swingers, here are seven of my favorite and most revisited workouts of all time, that involve swings and other delicious ingredients. Irrelevant of ability or your training goal, some workouts just feel really good. The ingredients complement each other and the structure makes each flow really nicely. They’re all super simple and their progressive nature, when performed regularly, makes them addictive, too.

Over the years, I’ve extensively tested these (and numerous modifications thereof) on a great many clients as well as myself. They produce significant and noticeable positive training effects in many other athletic activities, exercises and general fitness. This happens because the ingredients are some of the highest value exercises that we have available.

Phil McDougall Kettlebell Rack

Standard targets: Achievable for most able-bodied everyday exercisers. Just remain consistent for a few months and keep adding volume from one session to the next.

Warrior targets: For those with a high existing level of strength and conditioning who want a tasty but achievable goal to work toward.

In the cases where I’ve mentioned specific weights instead of percentages of bodyweight, subtract 4kg if you’re particularly small. Subtract 4kg if you’re over 50. Subtract 8kg if both apply.

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Each of these workouts can be spliced into a weekly program for slightly different effects. To help you pick and choose relative to your training goal, I’ve labeled each of the workouts with the following:

GET RIPPED: The limiting factor in these workouts will be your general fitness level and cardiovascular capacity. I would recommend these if your goal is to trim up and improve your ability to recover under load.

GET STRONG: The limiting factor in these sessions will be your ability to stabilize and produce force (i.e. your strength). I recommend these if your goal is to make everything in your world feel lighter, to become unbreakable and more capable.

GET HENCH: The limiting factor in these sessions will be your muscle endurance or glycogen storage capacity. I recommend these if you want to get a pump on and grow some muscle. However, consider that these are swing workouts. Swings are a ballistic kettlebell exercise that do little for muscle growth on their own. But marry swings with high-volume grinds (such as push-ups, military presses or squats) and you have yourself a train ticket to Henchville.

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Pre-Workout Warm-Up

The pre-workout mobility is more important than the workout itself. Every training session should start with a thorough 15- to 20-minute joint lubrication and activation flow. This is the real gold! A well-structured movement flow primes your nervous system ready for unleashing hell and lubricates all of your major joints. Warm-up movement flows will help you train forever. They significantly reduce the risk of injury and are most effective when designed to target your individual movement needs and injury history. I’ll dive into these in another blog.

Phil McDougall Kettlebell Swing

Combat Conditioning (30 minutes, GET RIPPED)

Include in your program once or twice per week if you want to get ripped and improve your cardiovascular conditioning.

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Set interval timer to bleep every 03:00 x 10

TEN ROUNDS:

One-arm swings, 10/10

Leopard crawl, 10 fwd 10 back

Jump rope until the next bleep

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Standard target: Women, quarter bodyweight KB. Men, third bodyweight KB

Warrior target: Women, third bodyweight KB. Men, half bodyweight KB

Phil McDougall Leopard Crawl

Battle Ladders (30 minutes, GET HENCH)

Include in your program once per week if you want to get hench (What does that mean? To quote my dear grandmother, look it up).

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Complete SIX ladders as quickly as you can

One ladder:

5/5 one-arm swings, 5 push-ups

10/10 one-arm swings, 10 push-ups

15/15 one-arm swings, 15 push-ups

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Adjust KB weight and push-up variation to suit ability

If it takes less than 20 minutes, your KB isn’t heavy enough.

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Standard target: Women, 20kg KB and inclined push-ups. Men, 32kg KB and depth push-ups (hands on parallettes)

Warrior target: Women, 24kg KB and strict push-ups. Men, 40kg KB and declined (elevated feet) ring push-ups

Phil McDougall Depth Push-Up

Eternal Strength (25 minutes, GET STRONG AND RIPPED)

There is no greater combination than get-ups and swings. If your entire training regimen for the next 30 years involved this session 1–3 times per week and nothing else, all of your movement needs would be taken care of (assuming you also walked a lot, too). I can’t think of any current global or political issues that a combination of get-ups and swings would not solve.

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Part A: Get-ups

One get-up every 45 seconds for 15 minutes. Alternate arms after every rep. That’s 10 per arm. Add load if successful.

Part B: Swings

The Hardstyle swing test: 8–10 swings, every 30 seconds, 20 times. Park the KB and alternate arms after every set. 200 swings = graduation with that kettlebell. Next time add load and drop to 8 reps per set then build from there.

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Standard target: Women, quarter bodyweight KB. Men, third bodyweight KB.

Warrior target: Women, third bodyweight KB. Men, half bodyweight KB

Phil McDougall Get Up

Cardiac Arrest (15 minutes, GET RIPPED)

Include in your program once per week if you want to get ripped.

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Go every minute for 15 minutes. 10 two-arm swings, 1/3/5 goblet squats, 5/5 march-in-place (MIP):

10 swings, 1 goblet squat, 5/5 MIP

10 swings, 3 goblet squats, 5/5 MIP

10 swings, 5 goblet squats, 5/5 MIP

10 swings, 1 goblet squat, 5/5 MIP

10 swings, 3 goblet squats, 5/5 MIP

10 swings, 5 goblet squats, 5/5 MIP

…and so on.

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Standard target: Women, quarter bodyweight KB. Men, third bodyweight KB.

Warrior target: Women, third bodyweight KB. Men, half bodyweight KB.

Phil McDougall Goblet SquatPower of Greyskull (30 minutes, GET STRONG)

Include in your program once per week for raw strength and power.

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Every minute on the minute x 30

3-5 heavy one-arm swings, 1 one-arm-one-leg-push-up (OAOLPU) variation

So that’s…

15 ROUNDS:

3-5 left-handed swings, 1 left-handed OAOLPU variation

3-5 right-handed swings, 1 right-handed OAOLPU variation

Go every minute (30 minutes total)

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NOTES:

Swings: add load when 30 x 5 reps can be achieved

OAOLPU options: Chose whichever variation you can do for all 15 rounds. Make notes and improve from one session to the next.

Assisted inclined negatives (easiest)

Inclined negatives

Inclined full range

Assisted proper negatives

Proper negatives

Assisted proper (shown in image)

Proper (toughest)

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Standard target: Women, third bodyweight KB & inclined negative OAOLPUs. Men, half bodyweight KB and regular negative OAOLPUs.

Warrior target: Women, half bodyweight KB and regular negative OAOLPUs. 60% bodyweight KB and proper OAOLPUs.

Phil McDougall One Arm Push-Up

Colossus (20 minutes, GET STRONG)

Include in your program once per week if developing real-world applicable strength is important to you.

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SIX ROUNDS:

5-10 offset swings

5/5 march-in-place

5-10 offset swings (KBs switched)

Overhead & rack offset carry, walk for as far as possible

5/5 march-in-place

Overhead & rack offset carry (with KBs switched) walk back to start

Shake off the tension, go again

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NOTES:

When carrying, lighter KB goes overhead.

Standard target: Women, 20kg & 16kg. Men, 32kg & 24kg

Warrior target: Women, 28kg & 20kg. Men, 40kg & 32kg

Phil McDougall Overhead Rack Carry

Superhero Squat Ladders (25 minutes, GET RIPPED AND HENCH)

Include in your program once per week if you’d like to trim up and improve overall fitness while adding some useful strength and muscle at the same time.

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SIX ROUNDS:

5 offset swings, 1 offset squat, 5 depth push-ups, 20 seconds rest

5 offset swings, 3 offset squats, 5 depth push-ups, 20 seconds rest

5 offset swings, 5 offset squats, 5 depth push-ups, 2 minutes jump rope

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NOTES:

Switch KBs after each of the six entire rounds.

Keep the difference in weight between KBs to 8kg–12kg.

Go heavy. If/when you can complete all six rounds with the same KBs, next time add load and reduce squat reps (to 1, 1 and 2, say). Then build squat reps back up to 1, 3 and 5.

Cleaning the KBs to the rack position does not count as a swing rep.

Phil McDougall Offset Swing

If you enjoy any of these juicy workouts, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to tag me on the Gram. For those about to swing, I salute you!

Phil McDougall

IG: @phil.mcdougall

Website: www.philipmcdougall.com