Yesterday I tried an experiment with my kettlebell workout I’d meant to try for months, maybe years, and it worked.
My fitness instructor friend taught me a set of exercises for a full body workout using only a few kettlebells. I started doing it a few years ago. I like the results so I’ve done it since. For a couple years, I’ve done it every fourth day.
It includes three lower-body exercises (swing, dead lift, and squat), two push exercises (bench press, military press), two pull exercises (one arm row, curl), and a full-body exercise (Turkish get up). I would do three sets of each before moving to the next.
They work out most of my body for a comprehensive workout. I’m happy with the workout.
I did it in the order he suggested, which is the order I listed.
I did it in the order listed above. It involved a lot of standing around, especially between exercise that worked similar muscle groups, like between the dead lift and squat.
This iteration took between 1.5 and 2 hours.
I reordered the order of the exercises to keep from working a muscle group twice in a row. For example, I’d have to wait to recover after dead lifts to do a squat.
The new order was three sets each of swing, bench, one-arm row, dead lift, military press, squat, curl, and Turkish get-up.
This iteration took between 1.0 and 1.5 hours. As far as I can tell, it produced the same results in less time.
My big experiment yesterday was to do the cycle of exercises doing one set each, then repeat the whole cycle twice. I could lift non-stop without over taxing any part.
Since no exercise preceded another working the same exhausted body part, I didn’t have to wait between sets.
It’s possible this way lets my body rest too long between sets, lowering its effectiveness, but it also keeps my pulse up the whole time, making it feel like a cardiorespiratory workout too.
The whole workout took under an hour, maybe 45 minutes.
I felt I benefited in every way—the same workout in a fraction the time.
EDIT (October 24): Today was my next kettle bell workout. I did it as above and finished in just over 45 minutes, including pauses for a few texts and to attend the vegetable stew I started in the pressure cooker before starting. Doing it this way kept my heart rate up the whole time, which feels like an added benefit.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees