If you stop into Chicago Primal Gym, a hidden gem in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, you’ll likely find co-owner Grant Anderson swinging kettlebells around at any hour of the day.
I took one of CPG’s programmed classes, having no idea what I was getting into, and ended up walking out of the place feeling strong, accomplished and totally badass. That’s because it’s Anderson’s philosophy that kettlebell training has the “unbelievable ability to transform the way people view traditional fitness, because kettlebells aren’t just a strength or just an endurance tool,” he’ll tell you.
Grant says, “You can use the kettlebell for more traditional strength exercises such as squats, presses, and get-ups. In that same workout, you can add an endurance component by performing swings and snatches. The versatility of the kettlebell is unmatched by dumbbells and barbells.”
Take a class at CPG and you’ll become acquainted with all types of gym equipment, but you’ll see quickly why the kettlebell is the star of the show. In my 7 am class, the finisher included a kettlebell snatch complex and a series of core movements and double unders (basically, jump rope hell) which I’ll never forget.
But if you can’t make it into Chicago Primal Gym or don’t live in Chicago, you can still tackle one of Anderson’s workouts right here. All you need is 1-2 sets of kettlebells, preferably a heavier one you can swing and a lighter one you can work on your Turkish Get-up skills with.
When Anderson programs, he does so with two ideas in mind: the most fit individuals never get sick of the basics, and strength makes everything better.
Grab your bells, carve out 30 minutes in your calendar, and let’s get to work.
Here are the moves in your 30-minute kettlebell workout:
- Two-hand kettlebell swing: 10 reps
- Turkish Get-up: One rep, right side
- Two-hand Kettlebell Swing: 10 reps
- Turkish Get-up: One rep, left side
- Goblet squat: 5 reps
- Farmer carry: 50 feet
Here’s how the workout will go:
You’ll go through all the movements above, taking 15-30 seconds of rest between each exercise. At the end of one round (which consists of one time through the two-hand kettlebell swing reps, right side Turkish Get-up, back to two-hand kettlebell swing reps, left side Turkish Getup, goblet squats and 50 feet farmer carry), rest for 1-2 minutes.
Complete five total rounds. If you need more rest, feel free to take it. Anderson wants you to remember this workout is simple, but it is by no means easy.
Here’s the breakdown of the kettlebell exercises in your workout:
Two-hand kettlebell swing:
Step back from the bell about 1-2 feet, take an exhale and feel your abs tighten. Feel your shoulders lock down your back. and hinge your hips back, with your sternum and eyes pointing out at the ground 5 feet in front of you.
Reach and grab the bell, tipping it back to you keep your shoulders pulled away from your ears. Sharply inhale in through your nose as you hike the bell back between your legs, keeping it high above your knees, Sharply exhale out your mouth as you stand quickly, driving your feet into the ground and bracing your body in a “vertical plank.”
Let the bell float out in front of you to about chest height, keeping your body braced, but your neck and face relaxed. As the bell returns back down, sharply inhale and hinge your hips back, keeping the bell high above the knees. Repeat the swing motion.
The get-up is a sequence of movements designed to work your entire body from start to finish. You’ll start on your back with one bell up, and the same side knee bent. Drive off the bent-knee leg and “roll up” to your elbow.
Transition from your elbow to your hand, stabilize the hand on the ground, lift your hips, and sweep your knee back into a “hand, knee, foot” position. From there you’ll come off your hand and step into a half-kneeling position, once stable in the half-kneeling position you’ll create tension and stand straight up. You’ll then reverse those steps until you finish in a similar position to where you started.
This video demos a Turkish get-up so you can get a better understanding of the entire sequence.
Hold your kettlebell at your chest. Brace your core, start to bend your knees, push your hips down and back, and take your elbows to the inside of your knees. You should feel like you are squatting “in between your legs” not on top of them. Drive through your legs and return to the top position with glutes, quads, and abs braced.
Anderson assures this is the easiest of all four. Grab two bells, making sure you bend down safely to pick them up (lifting with your legs, not your back). Keep them off your hips, and walk with the best posture you can hold. Loaded carries become what Anderson calls at the gym “a moving plank”. Make sure to brace your core the entire carry
(Disclaimer: This workout is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor is it a replacement for seeking medical treatment or professional nutrition advice. Do not start any nutrition or physical activity program without first consulting your physician. The exercises in this workout are technically demanding and are best executed when taught the correct technique, especially any type of kettlebell swing. Seek out a professional swinger if you have any doubts about your kettlebell technique)