The Workout: Russian Kettlebell Challenge

My goal as a fitness enthusiast is to enhance my life through physical fitness and to ensure that I am able to live a long and healthy life. Functionality is my main goal. I want to be able to move and to enjoy all of the facets of life. Finding a program that is effective, fun and easy to keep up with is very important as well. I have gone through several adaptations of my fitness regime; from running, pull ups and pushups as a Marine; to cycling everywhere as a bicycle commuter; to hitting the gym hard and using kettlebells. While I have maintained a satisfactory level of fitness throughout my life I must admit that I have not been working out much at all lately. In fact with all of the changes in life recently, my workouts have gone to the wayside. So, today I will share with you my plan in order to regain my fitness. I am intending to focus on building strength versus building muscle hypertrophy (more on this later).

This is how I intend to do it.

I am going to focus on the Enter The Kettlebell program. Starting with the program minimum and then focusing on the Rite of Passage. The first month will consist of only warmups, swings and getups. Enter the kettlebell is a fantastic resource for starting a kettlebell regime. I will be using a single 24Kg (53lb) kettlebell (typically you start at 16kg (35lb) and I will be following the program as set forth in this PDF:

Click to access AOS%20-%20Enter%20The%20Kettlebell%20Workbook.pdf

updated link thanks to staffaction: I appreciate it –

This will allow me to chart my progress as I go in an organized fashion.

I am very excited about this program. It is simple and brutal. The fittest I have ever felt was when I was working out hard with kettlebells. Up to now I have not followed this program specifically. I intend to focus on my form and to build a very solid base for the continuation of kettlebell training down the line. My goals are to press half of my bodyweight in a strict military press and to complete 200 snatches in 10 min with a 24Kg (53lb) Kettlebell. If I can accomplish this in six months I will be very happy.

If you have any interest in kettlebell training I would suggest that you go to the dragon door website.

They have a lot of information on the site and sell some of the best kettlebells that I have ever seen. “Enter the kettlebell” is a must if you intend to start training on your own without an instructor. I intend to consult a RKC instructor as I learn. I own two kettlebells and they will always be a part of my fitness routine, as well as free weights which I will rotate in throughout the year.

I am currently a paltry 156 pounds. My typical weight is around 165 and I’d like to get to a very fit 170-175.

After the Rite of Passage I am going to move onto the program laid out in “Return of the Kettlebell” (Pavel Tsatsouline), as well as “The Purposeful Primitive” (Marty Gallagher) and “Power to the People” (Pavel Tsatsouline). I’m going to rotate these programs throughout the year. Approx 6 months focusing on kettlebells and 6 months focusing on free weights.

I’ll be posting my results regularly with each program.

How are you keeping fit? I’d love to hear about your progress and ideas as well.


9 responses to “The Workout: Russian Kettlebell Challenge

  1. your first link is broken. Here is a good link for the workbook:

    How did it go for you?

  2. That’s great! I’m just now getting into kettlebells. Took a class and now I’m ready to go. I’m feeling a bit lost when it comes to programming though. “How do I know what to do on each particular day, etc.? ”

    I think I came across your blog via a “russian kettlebell challenge ” google search. I’m enjoying browsing your recent posts.

    • Thanks. It’s been awhile since I’ve done the challenge myself. Off the top of my head I think it was Russian ladders. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 reps of clean and press in sets of 3, 4, or 5. Then do pull ups on the same ladder. At the end do swings using dice to determine the time frame.

      There are medium, light and heavy days in thy order. The amount of sets makes the difference. So… Monday would be 4 sets of Russian ladders of both presses and pull-ups. That would total 60 reps per side and 60 pull-ups. Then you would do roll the dice and do swings for that amount of time. I typically do 20 swings per minute. I set a timer and at the start of each minute I do my swings. Then I rest for the duration.

      Wednesday day would be 3 sets of ladders for the clean and press and pull-ups. Once again roll the dice for the swings.

      Friday would be a heavy day of 5 sets and swings.

      If you need more help I can type something up for you that is more clear. Also, enter the kettlebell is a great book.

      Good luck with everything.

      • Staffaction

        sounds shockingly simple…which I like. But am I reading it correctly? …. This regimen has only: cleans, presses, pullups, and swings?

        A ladder would be 1 rep of each item, followed by 2 reps of each item, then 3 etc. correct?

        How is rest incorporated into the work out? after each set and how long?

        Thanks so much!

      • Yep. Shockingly simple is correct. And yes you are reading it correctly. I typically tried to push through the ladders without rest then rested between the presses and the pull-ups. By the end of it I’d end up taking more time between the reps of 4 and 5. Pretty much I rested enough to get through the set but tried to keep it moving. They do make a point of Succeeding always though. Do not attempt a press that you aren’t convinced that you will be able to do. If you hit a set of 5 and can only do 4 so be it. Do four and move on. The heavy days could take 45 min to an hour to get through depending on how quickly I pushed through. It’s a great workout really. Good luck.

      • Also, I do the clean and press as one exercise. So you’d reclean each time you press

  3. Thank you so much! this is great!

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