3 Unconventional Kettlebell Conditioning Exercises
To fully gain that stop-go-recover quality of your muscles you must add in some type of strength endurance training, one that pushes your heart rate and generates muscle fatigue. These three kettlebell conditioning exercises will push you to your physical limit.
Kettlebell conditioning is one of those types of training you either usually enjoy and perform often or avoid like the shopping malls during the holidays; however as an athlete this type of training is a necessity. Long runs, Sunday bike rides and lap swimming can build a foundation for increased cardiovascular output and muscular endurance, however, to fully gain that stop-go-recover quality of your muscles you must add in some type of strength endurance training, one that pushes your heart rate and generates muscle fatigue.
Kettlebell conditioning is not difficult to perform; in fact, athletes are mostly limited by their mental ability to get into this type of training. You can simply skip rope as fast as you can for 30 seconds, rest for 15- 30 seconds and repeat for 10 rounds and that is a great form of conditioning; but are you willing to do this two times a week after your workout? Chances are you most likely will not get mentally excited about doing it and your performance effort will be submaximal.
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I like to say that training is not too difficult and many times one is solely limited by their imaginations. I am here to help kick start your conditioning training or give you a fresh set of exercises to get you back on the conditioning train once again. Below I have described some of my ͞go to unconventional kettlebell conditioning exercises to not only help maximize your conditioning but make you more athletic in the process.
#1: Kettlebell Thruster
A Thruster in the strength and Kettlebell conditioning world is simply a squat to overhead press. I like this movement not only because it is a full body movement but it also teaches your body to transfer energy from your legs, through the core and ultimately the upper body. So many athletic movements require the ability to transfer power through the legs and out through the upper body.
The double Kettlebell version of the thruster is as tough as you can get; it adds a greater emphasis on core stability and on the cardiovascular system with the weight of the kettlebells resting on the chest which make your breathing more labored. To perform the double kettlebell thruster, rack two kettlebells up by the chest. Start with the squat, keep your chest up, eyes forward and break at the hips and sit into the squat.
When you get a stretch in the hips and leg muscles, squeeze your glutes, drive your feet through the floor and stand up strong until the hips are underneath you. As the energy from the squat makes its way upward through the hips and core use it to allow your lats stabilize your shoulder and actually assist in pressing the kettlebells strongly overhead. Bring the kettlebells back to the rack position and begin your next repetition.
#2: Kettlebell Burpee
Another full-body favorite, the Kettlebell Burpee, focuses on leg and core strength, dynamic movement and stability and it easily ramps up the heart rate to fortify your conditioning.
To perform the kettlebell burpee: set two kettlebells just outside your feet. Grab the handles and shoot both legs back behind you and end up in a low push up (sprawl) position. Perform your push up and at the top pull your feet back together between the kettlebells; you should now be in a deadlift position. Deadlift the kettlebells up then set them down and repeat the sprawl.
#3: Kettlebell Figure 8 Swings
Any type of kettlebell swing enhances your conditioning game; however we are looking for something more unconventional here so enter the Figure 8 Swing. This variation of the swing increases your core strength and rotational power not to mention getting the cardiovascular effect kettlebell swings are famous for.
To perform this swing you need to be proficient with the 1-arm kettlebell swing. Swing it through the legs in a backswing and with the free hand grab it behind the legs and swing it around and back in front of the body making sure you use your hips and fully extend them. At the top of the swing direct it into the backswing and repeat with the other hand.
I have found that I am most successful with this exercise the more that I hinge at the hip and allow for a greater backswing.
Remember the beauty of these movements is that they train the qualities needed for the MMA athlete in a short amount of time and can be done in conjunction with all of your other training. Below is a simple example of how to put it into a strength circuit.
Kettlebell Conditioning Circuit
This is a short, intense Kettlebell conditioning circuit guaranteed to get your heart rate up. Each exercise should be done for 30-40 seconds and rest 15-20 seconds in-between.
Double Kettlebell Thruster 30-40s
Kettlebell Burpee 30-40s
Kettlebell Figure 8 Swings 30-40s
Perform this whole circuit two to three times with a three minute rest between rounds. These circuits are great to add at the end of your training session once a week or as a stand-alone workout when you are short on time or just have the need to gas yourself out.
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