I Trained with Kettlebells for 30 Days

As gyms have been closed and I’m sort of hesitant to go to the gym, I wanted to do some sort of exercise-related 30-day challenge.

I just so happen to have won a kettlebell training book a few months ago, going over the benefits, uses, versatility, and all the different exercises you can do with kettlebells. Couple this with me being a personal trainer and having just bought a kettlebell training course for my own knowledge and experience to train others. I found a few videos on YouTube for kettlebell workouts and exercises and it looks really fun and useful and sparked the idea of turning it into a challenge.

I haven’t been in a good exercise routine recently as I find myself losing motivation doing bodyweight exercises at home, so I thought a kettlebell challenge and workout every day would work very nicely!

So on 9 February 2022 I started a 30-day kettlebell challenge, with the goal to do some sort of workout every day and learn the fundamentals of kettlebell exercises and movement patterns. Reading my kettlebell book, Steve Cotter recommends that males with strength training experience should start with a 16kg kettlebell – so I ordered a really cool cast-iron kettlebell from Rogue (here is the one I bought and it’s amazing )

BEFORE THE CHALLENGE

I do expect my strength to increase with regular training and becoming more familiar with the movements. One exercise that I can measure is how many reps of the single arm bottoms-up shoulder press I can do. This is very challenging with a 16kg kettlebell for me, but I can get a few reps in and hopefully will see an improvement over 30 days.

I can also measure a decent estimate of body weight, body fat percentage, and muscle mass with my scales.

Starting Measures – 9 February 2022

Single arm bottoms-up press: Right (3), Left (4) – it was quite difficult to hold in position and also press.
Weight: 96.3kg
Muscle Mass: 66.5kg
Body Fat:
26.3kg

Starting Strength Test with the 16kg Kettlebell

Testing my strength starting the challenge – strict bottoms up KB press

Those are my starting points for this challenge and I’m interested to see if there are any improvements. I definitely feel with more training and familiarity with the kettlebells, I’ll be able to do many more than that.

Let’s begin!

Day 1 – 9 February 2022

COMRADES!
Before reading on further, check out this awesome video of one of the legends of the kettlebell world, Pavel Tsatsouline. He goes over a lot of different exercises and correct techniques:

One thing I’ve read about Kettlebells a lot is the importance of learning the proper technique and movement patterns. This involves performing a higher amount of sets per exercise, with reps well within your range of going to failure. Pavel discusses the original training routines of the Russians and how they would only perform 3-5 reps of an exercise they could easily do 10 with, and doing it consistently every day. Steve Cotter has example workouts performing 10 sets of 10 reps.

To start off this challenge, I created an easy workout with a few of the basic exercises. This included:
• Kettlebell (KB) deadlifts
• KB swings
• KB goblet squats
• Push ups
• KB push press
• Bicycle crunches
My partner joined in with me on this one and we performed each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by a 15 second rest. We did 3 rounds and it took 15 minutes to complete.

So simple, but really effective! I’m going to have a lot of fun with this challenge!

Day 2 – 10 February 2022

No soreness from yesterday’s session which is great! And I’m keen to do more!

Day 3 – 11 February 2022

Did my own workout today, I am really enjoying the kettlebell swings and having fun during the workout with new movements and strength patters.

It also really gets me breathing hard and pushes my heart rate to the max.

Day 4 – 12 February 2022

I’ve been doing a lot of circuit workouts, 30 seconds on each exercise, with 5-10 second rest. Usually somewhere between 6-7 exercises per round. I’ve been finding that by the third round I always start to get a sweat on, no matter how slow or controlled I go. It’s really good, workouts are currently only 15ish minutes per day.

Day 5 – 13 February 2022

The kettlebell is feeling more stable in the hand, but need to work on a bit more strength based movements to get past the mid-way point of the rep.

2 Major movevements for the Kettlebells are the snatch and the clean.

Snatch:

Clean:

Day 6 – 14 February 2022

I have my booster shot later today so managed to squeeze in a workout in the morning. Arm felt fine for the rest of the day.

Day 7 – 15 February 2022

I thought my arm would have hurt more, but for the workout I ended up just doing either only right handed movements, or movements not involving the shoulder muscle, so swings, deadlifts, squats were really good.

Day 8 – 16 February 2022

Really getting into the groove now. Doing workouts usually in the morning before work.

Only felt slight soreness after one harder workout, and by doing some specific core exercises, but overall I’m feeling very good.

Day 9 – 18 February 2022

Another day, another workout. Circuit workout today, 3 rounds of various exercises to hit whole body, including bodyweight movements like push ups, crunches, etc.

Day 10 – 19 February 2022

Pretty much the usual. Lot’s of different workout ideas and plans. I’ll probably do the same rough workouts each day and change up the length of exercises or amount of sets.

Day 21 – 27 February 2022
I tested my single arm bottoms up press with kettlebells and turns out actually got 9 with the right arm and then 7.5 with left which is a really good improvement from my initial 3 and 2, and then my also day five test as well so feeling really good about the progress I’ve made so far and all the workouts

I’m really enjoying a really fun definitely get me hot and sweaty and feels like I’m really pushing myself and it’s also just super fun doing the kettlebell movements like the swings and the deadlifts and also the clean and snatch movements feel really good to practice as well. Really enjoying it so far day 21 keen to push it a bit further for the next 10 days or make them slightly longer than I have been doing.

Day 22 – 28 February 2022
While doing my Fundamentals of Kettlebell course, I stumbled across Girevoy – which is a sport for kettlebells. I found this insane video of a guy doing 238 non-stop snatches with a 32kg kettlebell.

I’ve been doing these with my 16kg, and even doing 10 reps is a challenge. 32kg is insane!!!

Day 23 – 1 March 2022

After doing some of the movements outlined in the course and practicing technique, today I woke up and had bruises on the tops of my forearms – probably just from a lot of cleans and snatches. My technique is quite good an it’s getting better, but I must have done the same movement a lot yesterday and it’s caused some soreness.

But this will definitely improve with time. More training, more impact in the same area over time will help to strengthen the area, similar to kickboxers kicking baseball bats.

Day 24 – 2 March 2022

Soreness is gone from the bruised areas on the forearms, bruises are slowly going away as well.

I didn’t get around to doing the workout in the morning or mid day, and a few things were on in the afternoons, but we still managed to get a workout in at night when we didn’t feel like it. Complete win. Felt good after it and glad we pushed through it.

Day 25 – 3 March 2022

Another day, another workout!

For the first time I noticed a bit of bruising on my forearms – most probably due to doing a snatch movement and cleans while not having a very good position at the top:

Day 26 – 4 March 2022

Got a quick workout in today before work.

Day 27 – 7 March 2022

For 5 and 6 March, I didn’t end up getting a workout in… because I think I’ve been bitten by a white-tip spider and my ankle was swollen and quite painful to stand on… So I just chose to rest on those days.

But on Monday I was feeling good and got a workout in. This time I focused on 3 sets of 45 seconds for 6 different movements (KB deadlift, KB swing, KB clean, KB clean and press, push ups, and KB pullover).

This was a nice change from my usual circuit workout, and the clean and clean and press are feeling very comfortable now.

Day 28 – 8 March 2022

For the workout, I worked on more shoulder exercises rather than lower body. There are 2 days left of this challenge and I want to make sure my strict bottoms-up press record beats my day 1 and subsequent tests. Hopefully this day of upper body will help towards my day 30 test in a few days.

This workout included a lot of cleans, clean and press, clean and jerk, jerks, and some snatches.

Day 30 – 10 March 2022

That’s the 30 days done!

In terms of measurements and body composition compared to day 1:

Day 1:

Single arm bottoms-up press: Right (3), Left (4)
Weight: 96.3kg
Muscle Mass: 66.5kg
Body Fat:
26.3kg

Day 30:

Single arm bottoms-up press: Right (10), Left (7)
Weight: 93.4kg
Muscle Mass: 67.7kg
Body Fat:
22.2kg

It’s crazy to see the difference after just 30 days of working out with kettlebells!

My strength with the single arm bottoms-up press improved quite a lot, and I think this was mostly due to being able to better stabilise and control the kettlebell in that position, then it was all shoulder and tricep work for the presses. My strength overall must have also increased.

My body measurements had an awesome change! less weight, more muscle, and less body fat. Win win win!

Day 30 results and summary!

I had a lot of fun doing this challenge!


Have you tried working out with kettlebells before? If not then I’d highly suggest trying it out – great for home workouts.

The book I have suggest 8kg for women and 12kg for men – but up to you!

Let me know what you thought was most interesting about this challenge!

Until next time, challenge yourself!

Nathan

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