July 4, 2022

Heal Me Healthy

The Trusted Source For Health

An exclusive guide for all levels

9 min read

Kettlebell exercises are a no-brainer for strength training, but if you’re not quite sure where to start, a complete kettlebell workout plan could be what you need. For this 14-day challenge, Sweat trainer Cass Olholm will guide you through three 15-minute ‘AMRAP’ kettlebell workouts (one full body, one lower body and one upper body) to suit all levels of fitness.

‘AMRAP means ‘As Many Rounds As Possible’, so it’s totally up to you to choose the amount of reps you perform, according to where you are on your fitness journey,’ Cass explains.

Maybe you’re just starting out? Fewer reps will serve you better while you find your fitness feet. Already a keen kettlebell’er? You’re probably confident enough to do more reps, but remember to focus on form.

Why a kettlebell over, say, dumbbells? ‘Kettlebells can be used to engage the entire body as there are a variety of kettlebell exercises that target multiple major muscle groups,’ Cass says. ‘Also, unlike a dumbbell, the weight of a kettlebell is unevenly distributed – the handle is much lighter than the ‘bell’. Because of this, movements become a little more challenging in that they require further utilisation of the core and stabilising muscles during movement.’

Weight-wise, Cass advises a kettlebell of 6-8kg, but, as with the number of reps you do, she advises that you can make the call on whether you go for more or less. The workouts should be challenging, but not so hard that you can’t complete them. Here’s everything you need to know.

Your 14-day kettlebell workout plan schedule

Your 14-day plan with Cass Olholm is comprised of three workouts:

  • 15-min full body kettlebell AMRAP workout
  • 15-min lower body kettlebell AMRAP workout
  • 15-min upper body kettlebell AMRAP workout

        Each workout is an AMRAP style, meaning you’ll do As Many Reps As Possible in a set amount of time. They each include a warm-up and cool-down, and last just 10-15 minutes each.

        You’ll do all three of these workouts once through per week, along with three days on which you can choose between low intensity cardio, yoga, a recovery session or HIIT, and one complete rest day.

        Low intensity cardio means a 20-30 minute walk, run, bike ride or swim (all at a level that you can sustain the same pace from start to finish), yoga should last for 20-30 minutes, HIIT should be a 20-minute sesh following a 40 second on, 20 second off format, and a recovery session will include foam rolling or stretching. We’ll go into these in more detail below.

        BONUS: Once you’ve nailed this plan, bag yourself 3 months of Sweat access for free. Just visit get.sweat.com/womenshealthukxcassoholm/ before 30 June 2022, and sign up if you’re not already a member.

        Save or screenshot this timetable to help you keep track of what you should be doing and when.

        As mentioned, each workout follows an AMRAP format, so that you can adapt the intensity according to your fitness level – just do as many or as little reps as suits you. Ideally, towards the end of the second week, you’ll feel confident and knowledgable enough on the technique you need to do more. There are a few other factors you can adjust according to how much of a challenge you want, too. Take note.

        How to make the workouts more accessible

          • Use lighter weights. Cass’s general advice is 6-8kg per kettlebell, but you know your body (and its strength) better than anyone. If you need to go lighter, do it.
          • Go slower. As each workout is an AMRAP workout, there are no set reps for you to target, and no harm in going slower and doing less if it means your technique and form is better and you’ll enjoy the exercises more.
          • Give yourself more rest. You’ll see a timer on each workout video, and if you need more rest, always finish 10-15 seconds before Cass will end each exercise.
          • Do fewer laps per circuit. Cass goes through each circuit three times, but stick to one or two if it means you’ll be able to keep on top of technique, and fully enjoy the workouts,.

                How to make the workouts tougher

                • Do more laps in each circuit. Cass runs through each circuit three times, but so long as you’ve got your form nailed, go for another.
                • Reduce rest time at the end of each lap. Cass gives 30 seconds of rest after each circuit, but feel free to go for longer while she transitions to the next exercise – just make sure you keep your eye on her demo of the next move and listen out for form cues.
                • Increase your weight for each exercise. Cass advises a kettlebell of 6-8kg, but if you know you could do more without compromising on technique, go for it.

                  Prefer to watch workouts via YouTube? Each session will be available on the Women’s Health channel.

                      Workout 1: 15-min full body kettlebell workout

                      The circuit will begin with a lower body burn, before switching to your arms and shoulders, then to your core. Get it.

                      The formula:

                      2-min warm up, 12-min circuit, 2-min cool down.

                      Warm up:

                      • Inchworm + push-up – 6 reps
                      • Lunge + twist – 12 reps

                        Circuit:

                        • Kettlebell swing – 60 secs
                        • Single-arm thruster – 60 secs
                        • Single-arm front rack reverse lunge – 60 secs
                        • Oblique crunch – 60 secs
                        • Rest – 30 secs

                                Repeat 3 times.

                                Cool down:

                                • Shoulder stretch – 40 secs
                                • Quad stretch – 40 secs

                                        Workout 2: 15-min lower body kettlebell workout

                                        From your hamstrings to your hips, glutes, quads and calves, this one’s one of the most well-rounded lower body kettlebell workouts we ever did see.

                                        The formula:

                                        2-min warm up, 12-min circuit, 2-min cool down.

                                        Warm up:

                                        • Squat with rotation – 12 reps
                                        • Inchworm + wide mountain climber – 6 reps

                                          Circuit:

                                          • Kettlebell swing – 60 secs
                                          • Goblet reverse lunge – 60 secs
                                          • Goblet squat – 60 secs
                                          • Straight-leg deadlift – 60 secs
                                          • Rest – 30 secs

                                                  Repeat 3 times through.

                                                  Cool down:

                                                  • Glute stretch: 40 secs (20 secs each side)
                                                  • Quad stretch: 40 secs (20 secs each side)

                                                        Workout 3: 15-min upper body kettlebell workout

                                                        Your delts, lats, biceps and triceps will all get through their paces with this one. You’ll kill it.

                                                        The formula: 2-min warm up, 12-min circuit, 2-min cool down.

                                                        Warm up:

                                                        • Inchworm + push-up – 6 reps
                                                        • Shoulder rotations – 24 reps

                                                          Circuit:

                                                          • Alternating halo – 60 secs
                                                          • Single-arm bent over row – 60 secs
                                                          • Single-arm push press – 60 secs
                                                          • Oblique crunch – 60 secs
                                                          • Rest – 30 secs

                                                                  Repeat 3 times through.

                                                                  Cool down:

                                                                  • Lat stretch – 40 secs (20 secs each side)
                                                                  • Shoulder stretch – 40 secs (20 secs each side)

                                                                          What is low intensity cardio?

                                                                          On three days of each week, Cass gives 20-30 mins of low intensity cardio, also known as LISS, as an option (alongside yoga or recovery). It stands for low-intensity steady-state exercise, and Cass suggests walking, running, cycling or swimming.

                                                                          The idea with LISS is that you can sustain the same pace from the start to finish of each session. You’ll probably be slightly out of breath by the end of each session, but you won’t be pouring in sweat, nor should you feel the need to slow down too much (think maintenance level). Which kind should you go for? As always, it’s totally up to you – do what you enjoy. Check out our full LISS guide to get all your FAQs answered.

                                                                          What is recovery?

                                                                          If LISS and yoga aren’t for you, Cass gives ‘recovery’ sessions as an alternative (you can also opt for these over the final workout of each week, if you’re all out of energy). This’ll involve foam rolling or stretching to ‘release tension in sore muscles’. Here’s exactly what you should do.

                                                                          Foam rolling

                                                                          • Foam roll each muscle group for 1-2 minutes
                                                                          • Aim for a 10-minute foam rolling session at one time – no longer

                                                                                Stretching

                                                                                • Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds
                                                                                • Aim for 10 minutes total

                                                                                      You can check out our guide on more ideas for active recovery, as well as the best online yoga workouts to try at home, and the best yoga studios in London.

                                                                                      Do I need any equipment?

                                                                                      ‘All you’ll need is one kettlebell,’ Cass explains. She recommends a weight of 6-8kg, but as we’ve said, it’s your call if you want to go heavier or lighter (if you have various weights available, you can also switch these up according to each workout if your upper or lower body is stronger, for example), so long as your form is on point.

                                                                                      How to track your progress

                                                                                      Noting your progress throughout Cass’s kettlebell workout plan could help motivate you. Here’s the metrics she recommends.

                                                                                      • ‘Count the number of reps you are completing in a given time. This tracks your improvements in efficiency.’
                                                                                      • ‘Can you complete the same amount of reps but with a heavier weight? This tracks your improvements in strength.’
                                                                                      • ‘Measure your heart rate recovery (HRR) at the end of each circuit. Check it immediately after you stop exercising, then check it again one minute later and note how much it has come down. This tracks your improvements in your fitness level.’
                                                                                      • ‘Try filming your exercises to assess movement quality. This provides a quick feedback loop for improving the quality of your exercises which can lead to improvements in strength, speed and fitness.’

                                                                                        What do I do after the 14-day workout plan with Cass Olholm is over?

                                                                                        First things first, congrats for getting this far! The whole point of the plan is to cement some sustainable habits, so now that you’ve completed it, it’s time to consider which parts you can continue with. If you can maintain the same amount of workouts every week, great, but maybe it’s just the one you can do, or maybe you could do all three workouts, but only run through each circuit once to make them shorter. Or perhaps you want to implement a short kettlebell strength series at the end of another workout you like doing – HIIT, for example. By completing the plan, you’ll know how to lift a kettlebell safely, confidently and effectively, and all the tips you’ve picked up along the way are there for you to take with you.

                                                                                        Can I do the workouts if I’m pregnant or have just had a baby?

                                                                                        This plan wasn’t designed with mums-to-be or new mums in mind. If you are pre or postnatal, we’d suggest finding a routine that has these needs in mind. You’ll also need to have a GP, midwife or healthcare professional confirm that you’re fit to exercise before you dive in. For more advice, read about the 11 dos and don’ts of prenatal workouts.

                                                                                        Get the Sweat app for free

                                                                                        As a bonus, Cass and Sweat are offering WH readers 1-month of free access to all of Sweat’s workouts, plus 25% off monthly subscriptions. Here’s how to nab yours.

                                                                                        1. Visit get.sweat.com/womenshealthukxcassoholm/
                                                                                        2. Sign up with your email address.
                                                                                        3. Download the app, and sign in with the account you just created.
                                                                                        4. Enter the code WOMENSHEALTHXCASS.

                                                                                              NB: you’ll need to enter your card details – you won’t be immediately charged, but your subscription will automatically renew to the monthly membership price of £14.99 if you don’t cancel before the end of your 1-month trial, and if you haven’t entered the code (which will get you 25% off).

                                                                                              * The code can only be redeemed via the Sweat website and only between 1 June 2022 1:31pm GMT – 30 June 2022 1:29pm GMT.

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