6 Kettlebell and Bodyweight Conditioning Drills/Finishers
by Dave Randolph
creator of Spartan Warrior Challenge and 101 Conditioning Circuits
Here are some conditioning drills/finishers I use with both private and group clients. They can all be tweaked based on the level of your clients. For example, if your client can’t or shouldn’t do a kettlebell snatch you could sub in a 1 handed high pull, a 1 handed swing, or even a clean. If they can’t bear crawl they can crawl on their knees. If the bear crawl isn’t challenging enough they might do a spiderman crawl instead.
The first finisher is a superset of 2 handed high pulls in ladder format paired with a crawling variation. Depending on your space you may want to adjust the distance of the crawl
KB BW Ladder Crawl Finisher
1a) 2 hand high pull (or 2h swing) 10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 (2h high pull video link)
The 2 handed high pull will be done for 10 reps followed by the crawl, then 9 reps and crawl, until you reach 1 rep and a crawl. This should take about 12 minutes.
Make sure they are swinging the bell and pulling through the upper back, then pushing the bell back out. Some people bend their elbows to bring the bell to the forehead; it is not the same thing.
You can take it up another notch by increasing the weight on the high pull as you go down in reps
This one requires one, maybe two pair of bells. One pair for the alternating cleans and maybe another pair for the see saw floor press. Both exercises are challenging to the coordination and endurance. Typically you will have to go light on the see saw floor press in order to last for the full 30s
30:15 KB Conditioning Drill
1b) Alternating Floor Press (Video)
1c) Hand 2 Hand swing (Video)
Perform the alternating clean (either variation) for 30 seconds, rest for 15 seconds.
Get on the floor grab two bells and press one up. From their brig it down and at the same time press the other one up like pistons or rapid punching. Make sure the back of the arms touch the floor each time
Then move to the Hand 2 Hand (H2H) Swing. This is simply a 1 handed swing switching at the top. Make sure the elbow is bent slightly so the bell will go up rather than away from you when you make the hand switch
Rest 30 seconds and repeat. You may increase the rest to 30s if 15s isn’t enough.
Do a total of 4 sets
The next one is a flow (see this article on flows/complexes). In a flow you move seamlessly fro one movement to the next with no rest. If your clients have shoulder issues or otherwise shouldn’t be going overhead, don’t have them do this one. There will be a bell overhead throughout the entire flow.
Keep it light!
1a) Snatch R–>Windmill R–> Overhead Squat R (Snatch Windmill Overhead Squat)
1b) Snatch L–>Windmill L–>Overhead Squat L
1x R 1x L 10 times total
Do 1 snatch on the right. Keep the bell overhead and do a windmill. When you come out of the windmill go into an overhead squat. Do a H2H swing to swing side and repeat on the left. Keep alternating arms after each overhead squat. Shoot for 20 total reps, 10 per side.
The next one works 3 lunge patterns, lateral, forward and reverse. If your client’s can’t control their position on any of these lunges without weight they should not attempt this finisher with the cleans. They may try it holding a bell in the rack position or bodyweight only. Adding the clean makes it much more difficult to control the lunge.
KB Lunge & Clean Matrix –Video
1a) Lateral Lunge + Hang Clean–> Forward Lunge + Hang Clean (opposite leg from the bell stepping)–>Reverse Lunge + Hang Clean (Same side stepping back as the bell) 10x
Switch the bell to the other side & repeat 10x
This can also be done with a hang snatch instead of a hang clean
Start by holding a bell in rack position on the right side. Step to the right, push back into the hip and at the same time drop the bell until the arms is straight (no jerking or the arm!). Return to standing and clean the bell as you come up.
Step forward with the LEFT foot and dump the bell. Re-clean the bell as you return to standing
Step backward with the RIGHT leg and dump the bell. Re-clean it as you return to standing.
Do this sequence 10 times then switch side and repeat moving to the left lateral lunge and dump the bell. Clean it while returning to standing.
Step forward with the RIGHT leg and dump the bell. Clean it as you return to standing
Step backward with the LEFT leg and dump the bell. Clean it as you return to standing
Pay attention to body alignment and the mechanics of the clean.
This one looks like a breeze, but walking swings are pretty challenging. Don’t go too heavy!
Walking Swing & Crawl
1a) 2 hand walking swing Forward 30-40 ft (Forward Walking Swing)
1b) 2h walking swing backward 30-40ft (Backwards Walking Swing)
1c) bear crawl forward 30-40ft
1d) bear crawl lateral left 20-30ft
1e) bear crawl lateral right 20-30ft
1f) bear crawl backward 30-40ft
Rest 1-2m, repeat for 5 sets
Distance depends on how much space you have and the level of conditioning your clients have
Do a 2 hand swing. When the bell is at the top (shoulder level) take one step forward with each leg maintaining the distance between the feet. Don’t use your arms to hold the bell up! It should hang momentarily. By the time you have stepped it should be starting to drop. Finish it like any other swing: push the hips back and keep the bell high between the legs.
Pop the hips, swing the bell back up & step again.
The backward walking swing is the same, just step back with each foot instead of forwards.
You will do the forward walking swing for 30-40 ft depending on your space and endurance. At the end, immediately go into the backwards walking swing until you’ve returned to your start point.
Go to the floor and do a bear or baby crawl in a big square. Move 20-30ft forward, to the left, backwards, and to the right.
Rest 1 to 2 minutes and repeat for 5 sets
Add these to the end of a strength workout or as a quick conditioning session when you or your clients are short on time
Dave Randolph is Author of many workout books including programs for Fitness Pros
101 Conditioning Circuits:30 Minute Done-For-You Conditioning Circuits For Fitness Pros
and Sparatan Warrior Challenge for Men– Rebrandable 6 Week Challenge for Fit Pros