I want to share a little secret with you.
You don’t have to do a ton of reps with your kettlebell
to get really lean.
Or to even pass a 5 minute snatch test.
(Unless it’s one of those mongo 10 minute beasts, then
we use a different strategy…)
In fact, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot if
In fact, it’s the #1 Mistake I see most people who use
Too many reps.
Don’t believe me?
I’ll PROVE it to you.
When I got my RKC back in 2005, our Snatch Test
was a rep based test, with no time limit.
It was based on kettlebell sport so there was only
I was in the heaviest weight category and we had to do
74 reps with a 24kg. Doesn’t sound so bad compared
to today’s 100 reps until you factor in your grip.
We were only allowed to switch hands once – not
multiple times like we are today.
This is actually a BIG deal.
Now you might think I trained using timed sets or using
percentages of the 74 reps for multiple sets.
You could certainly do that, but I used a different rationale –
One which made passing the test a piece of cake.
Which leads us to –
NO BS PERPETUAL SUCCESS PRINCIPLE #5
Train For Strength FIRST.
This gets lost on many people – ESPECIALLY those
who are trying to lose fat.
Let’s also not forget the Snatch Test too.
Speaking of – here’s what I did for my Snatch Test:
I rationalized that I didn’t want to do a ton of reps and that
volume is volume is volume.
So I calculated the volume in kilos that I would need to
do for the 24kg test.
Then, knowing I wanted to boost my overall strength and
grip strength, calculated how I would train with the 32kg
to make the 24kg feel easy.
So the maximum number of reps I would need to do with
the 32kg was 56.
I rationalized that once I worked up to 3×15 with the 32
that the 24kg would be a piece of cake.
So that was my target.
And when I got to the RKC, I crushed the test.
It was no problem at all.
Now here’s what else I had been doing too:
Before I decided to go to the RKC, I had been doing
multiple sets of lower rep Snatches with the 40kg, pushing
the total volume up.
Sets of 3-5.
By doing this, and then the 32kg for the higher reps, the
24kg just felt like a toy.
Because the more force you can produce, the easier
the lighter weights become, regardless of how many
reps you do.
When you train heavy, the light weights just go up easier.
Let’s break it down even more by your goal:
1. Training for fat loss.
The stronger you are, the more work you can do. And
the more work you do, the more calories you will burn.
And the more calories you burn, the more fat you lose.
Except everyone is stuck on doing one bazillion Swings.
Which is fine, but eventually, your body gets used to
the bazillion Swings – so you better have another
mechanism in place so your body doesn’t adapt and
the Swing becomes useless –
i.e.: Your body becomes SO efficient at Swings that the
only way it WILL burn fat is if you actually do a bazillion
2. Training for conditioning.
There’s a lot of argument about what the “best” way to
do this is.
My experience over the last 20+ years still tells me it’s
getting really strong first, then “converting” that strength
into your specific endurance.
Here’s a perfect example:
You want to make that 24kg feel light for your Snatch Test?
(Of course you do.)
Train explosively using as much weight as possible –
That would mean doing heavy double Swings.
Take a pair of 48s for a ride doing sets of 10 – as many
as possible in an allotted time period – then go back
and try not to throw that itty bitty 24kg through the roof
when you snatch it.
Of course there are some “steps” in there that can and
will make the transition even easier, but you get the
3 Ways To Train For Strength
There are 3 main ways to measure your progress when
training for strength – especially when using KBs –
because they are fixed weights.
This is usually thought of in terms of adding weight to
And this is great if you’ve got a ton of KBs, you can just go
up a bell size or two.
But it’s not the best way, imho, to train for strength using
This is the total amount of weight moved.
We looked at this briefly when I showed you those Snatch
Do more volume in each training session, and you’re
If you snatched the 24kg for a total of 70 reps in last week’s
training session, that’s 1680kg moved.
When you can do 80 reps, then you’ve moved 1920kg.
That’s a 240kg increase.
This is arguably one of, if not my favorite method for getting
stronger using KBs.
Density is measuring how much work you can do in a
specific time frame.
It’s truly an apples to apples measurement.
Here’s why that’s important to you:
Getting back to our snatch numbers in the volume example
it’s true that you did lift more weight – 1920kg v. 1680kg
but would you truly be stronger if the 1680kg took you 10
minutes to complete and the 1920kg took you 12?
Hard to say with 100% certainty.
But what if you put a time limit on the work?
What if you only allowed yourself to snatch for 10 minutes?
And then you went from 70 to 80 Snatches with the 24kg
in the same 10 minutes?
You’d truly be getting stronger.
More work in the same amount of time.
Of course, that’s just one way to fiddle with density.
There’s LOTS more we can and should say about
why you should train for strength first – but hopefully
you get my point.
So, if you’re just doing your WOD and chasing “pukie” –
You’re really doing yourself a disservice.
Train for strength first and watch everything else literally
That reminds me – you may be wondering – what is the
ABSOLUTE BEST way to train for strength using your
You know, to really amp up your progress – especially
since a new year is almost here?
Don’t worry, we’ll cover that later on this week.