So, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there were only 3-4 different sizes of kettlebells. Ok, so we’re really talking between the years of 1999 and about 2005, but you get the picture. You could get a 16kg (36lbs, or one Pood), a 24kg (53lbs, or 1.5 Pood), a 32kg (71lbs or 2 Pood), and maybe a 40kg (89lbs, or 2.5 Pood).

Those are huge increases in weight! Now kettlebells can be found from 4kg (9lb) up to 48kg (106lb) in 2kg (4.5lb) increments, and go all the way up to over 200lbs! Now, it is a rare case that unless you are in an extremely well-outfitted gym, to have such a full spread. More often, you’ll have a couple, and then get some that are a good deal heavier than what you had before.

So how do you adapt to such a jump? How do you go from pressing a 24kg, to pressing a 32kg, if you don’t have anything in-between? Well, I have this little progression of what was suggested when options were limited, courtesy of Mark Reifkind, one of the original RKC Master Instructors. I added the alternating swing and get-up into the equation:

  • KB Deadlift
  • Two-hand Swing
  • Single-hand/Alternating Swing
  • Goblet Squat
  • Clean
  • Get-Up
  • Push-Press
  • Snatch
  • Press

Now, here’s the hardest part of the entire progression – you have to wait until you OWN a movement before you move on to the next. Now, how to define that will be different for each movement. You could start with using the following as a baseline:

  • KB Deadlift x 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Two-hand Swing x 10 sets of 10 reps done on the minute
  • Single-Hand/Alternating Swing x 10 sets of 5+5 or 10 Alternating done on the minute
  • Goblet Squat x 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Clean x 10 sets of 5+5 done on the minute
  • Get-Up x 5+5
  • Push-Press x 5 sets of 5+5
  • Snatch x 10 sets of 5+5, or 5 sets of 10+10, done on the minute
  • Press x 5 sets of 5+5

The other hard part, is that the timeline for every movement will be different. Some will come quickly, others will drag out like sand in an hourglass. So, the key is to be patient.

Now, another option for this progression, is what I’ve coined the “All the ‘bells Workout.” Basically, you get out up to 9 different sizes of kettlebells, and you run through the movements in a circuit, one set each, doing the reps prescribed. I managed 3 rounds the first time, doing every movement on the minute, and then resting a full minute between rounds. It wasn’t a workout that would necessarily work for hypertrophy or specifically-designed strength-building, but it made for a good “tonic” workout when I wanted to get in some quality movement and work on the form of each lift. It was also fun to have a giant pile of kettlebells all over the floor!

So the next time you get a brand-new heavier kettlebell and aren’t quite sure how to approach it, give this progression a try!

Tim Peterson, Chief FitRanX® Instructor