“The aim of these kettlebell circuits is to build strength and power,” says trainer Ashton Turner of London’s Evolve 353 gym. “This is a great workout for athletic development and it’s much less technical than trying to learn the Olympic lifts. The exercises chosen have a carryover into sporting movements such as running and jumping, and they build strength and power through the posterior chain (the muscles on the back of your body). All that means they’re great for combat sports, athletics, rugby and football.”
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How To Do It
You can either do both power circuits and the finisher or, if you’re short of time, just one of the power circuits and the finisher. When you’re doing the circuits, do one set and then move on to the next exercise. Record the time it takes you to complete the total number of circuits and aim to beat your time next time you attempt the workout – making sure your form is good.
Power Circuit 1
Do one set of each exercise in order. Rest for 60 seconds between circuits and complete eight circuits in total.
1A One-arm swing
Reps 8-12 each side
Set yourself with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and pull the kettlebell back between the legs to initiate the swing. Pull your shoulder blades together and brace your core. When you feel the stretch in your hamstrings engage your glutes and thrust your hips forwards to swing the kettlebell out in front of the body. Squeeze your glutes hard as the hips come through and bring the kettlebells up to shoulder height.
Turner says “This is a great exercise to build balance in your body. Swinging the kettlebell with one arm means you have to work hard through your core and obliques to stop your body from twisting.”
1B One-arm snatch
Reps 8-12 each side
Start with a one-arm swing, but as the kettlebell starts to come through your legs, shrug your shoulder backwards and up to keep the kettlebell close to your body. Raise your elbow to draw the kettlebell up and, as kettlebell and elbow reach the same height, rotate your arm under the weight and press up until the weight is aligned above your body.
Turner says ”The snatch is a fantastic exercise for power development because it takes you through triple extension and requires extra power to get the kettlebell above your head in one movement. It’s also great for improving shoulder strength and stability.”
1C Plank drag
Reps 16-24 each side
Start in a high plank with the kettlebell set to the outside of your body. Keep your hips tucked under and core braced and reach under your body with the opposite hand. Drag the kettlebell under your body without letting your hips twist. Repeat on the other side.
Turner says “In order to create power you need to have a stable and strong core. The plank drag is a great exercise to challenge anti-rotation – your ability to resist an external rotational force – and to learn how to control your core.”
Power Circuit 2
Do one set of each exercise in order. Rest for 60 seconds between circuits. Complete eight circuits in total.
2A Double kettlebell swing
Holding two kettlebells of the same weight, set yourself with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and pull the kettlebells back between your legs to initiate the swing. Pull your shoulder blades together and brace your core. When you feel the stretch in your hamstrings engage your glutes and thrust hips forwards to swing the kettlebell out in front of the body. Squeeze your glutes hard as the hips come through and bring the kettlebells up to shoulder height.
Turner says “Swinging with two kettlebells increases the weight, which means you increase both strength and power.”
2B Double clean and press
Start as if you’re doing a double swing but as you bring the kettlebells through, initiate a high pull and rotate arms to catch both kettlebells in the front rack position. Engage your core and glutes and, with a small bounce, explosively push kettlebells over head. Re-rack and repeat.
Turner says “This is fantastic for developing explosive power and overhead pressing strength.”
2C Renegade row
Set yourself in a high plank with hands on the kettlebells. Keep your feet a little wider than normal for better stability and engage your core and glutes. Row one arm up, keeping your elbow moving back towards your hips and pulling shoulder blades together. Support your weight with your opposite side of your body. Lower the weight and repeat on the other side. Keep your core tight to stop your hips rotating.
Turner says “This is a fantastic core and back exercise which will help to build stability in your core and therefore power. For a harder challenge bring your feet closer together.”
3 Two-arm swing
Do as many two-arm swings as you can in a minute, then rest for a minute. Record your score for the first minute and try to beat it in every subsequent minute. Ensure form doesn’t suffer at any point. Complete eight to ten rounds in total.
Ashton Turner is the co-founder of Evolve 353 gym in London. He has worked with clients across multiple training disciplines including kettlebells, Olympic lifting, strength and conditioning, and Pilates.