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Kettlebell Sport Programming Guidelines

For any sport or training goal, there are numerous methodologies on how to program to reach a desired result. Just Google any type of sport or training and you will get tons of videos and articles telling you what program is best. However, for Kettlebell Sport in particular, it can be hard to find good programming information on the internet (or anywhere, really).

I am not going to tell you exactly what my personal kettlebell program looks like. What I’m doing isn’t necessarily what you should be doing, and vice versa. There is no ONE PROGRAM that will work for everyone, especially at higher levels of training and competition.

However, there are particular guidelines that can be used to create simple templates that will work for most beginner and intermediate Kettlebell Sport lifters, which I will share below. 

Types of training sets

  • Interval training: Heavier weight and/or faster pace than competition weight and pace, i.e. 1 minute on, 1 minute off x 7-10 sets; 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off x 4-6 sets; 1.5 minute on, 1 minute off x 7-10 sets.
  • Repetition training: Competition weight or slightly heavier for several shorter sets at competition pace or slightly faster, i.e. 6 minutes x 2 sets of snatch, 4 minutes x 3 sets of double bell lifts.
  • Test or long set training: Competition weight or slightly lighter for one long test set or long set to challenge endurance, i.e. 5-10 minute maximum effort set of any lift, 12-20 minute snatch set with 1 switch, 10-14 minute swing-snatch set.

Frequency of training

  • Single events: In my opinion, you don’t need more than 3-4 days of training per week, no matter what level you’re at. If you are training for one discipline only (i.e. long cycle), 3 days a week is plenty, and you can split the trainings into one interval day, one repetition day, and one test set day.
  • Multiple events: If you are training for multiple events, 3-4 days will give you adequate practice. Train all events on 3 days, or split them up over 4 days. The split of interval, repetition, and test set days will vary depending on your goals and experience in the sport.
  • Leave adequate time for recovery: With the amount of volume required in Kettlebell Sport, your body is going to need days off and/or active recovery days to stay healthy and able to tackle training days with enough energy. Listen to your body – if it hurts, it’s sending you a message.

Protocol for increasing kettlebell weight

  • Make sure you have the endurance for 10 minutes with a particular weight (you can go 10 minutes with only one switch  for single bell lifts or without setting the bells down for double bell lifts) before you move up to the next competition weight.
  • Increase your speed for 10 minutes with the same kettlebell weight, until you hit a number that is “proficient”. There are certain baseline numbers for the different kettlebell weights that I personally think you should hit (i.e. 200 snatches in 10 minutes with one bell, 70-80 long cycle reps in 10 minutes with two bells, 100-120 jerks with two bells, etc.).
  •  Only when you have truly mastered the kettlebell weight you are training with (exemplifying the endurance and speed requirements listed above), should you attempt to heavily train or compete with the next kettlebell weight up. This will ensure not only better success at the next weight but also prevent injury from not allowing enough time for the tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles to adapt to the high volume of Kettlebell Sport training.

Accessory work

  • Work on your weaknesses. Think about what gets tired during a 10 minute set. If your legs aren’t strong enough, add in squats and deadlifts. If your grip tires easily, do grip training. If you need more speed and power, work on explosive movements. If the rack or overhead position tires you out, do static holds.
  • Don’t forget about stretching and mobility. If you are not flexible in a certain position, you will not be strong there. Take the time to focus on stretching and mobility work every single day. The stretches will vary based on the individual, but most people can always use work on their thoracic spine, shoulders, hips, and hamstrings.
  • Stability is key. If you are extremely flexible, spend time working on stability instead of flexibility. Stability work for the core and overhead position especially will be beneficial for all sport athletes. Anti-rotational core exercises, static holds, unilateral work, and movements that challenge balance are examples of stability training.
  • Balance your program. Repetitive movements can cause the body to get strong and flexible in particular positions but weak and/or inflexible in others. Kettlebell lifting can cause internally rotated shoulders, hunching of the upper back, wrist/elbow/shoulder overuse, etc. Be sure to add in exercises that oppose the repetitive motions of the sport.

The best way for YOU to achieve your goals is to work with a coach knows you, your skill level, your fitness level, your body type, and is willing to work with you to fit the training program to your life. I’m currently accepting a limited number of new Kettlebell Sport students for my online coaching program. Please email info@kbfitbritt.com to apply.

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6 thoughts on “Kettlebell Sport Programming Guidelines”

  1. Great stuff as usual! Love the…when to progress…too often we want to go to heavy too soon with KBs.

    1. Thank you Simon! Our ego always wants us to go heavier, but in my opinion if someone masters the technique and does lots of perfect reps at a lighter weight, that’s more impressive anyway (more skill required). :)

  2. Brilliant article Brittanyvs. I have learnt from the past that progressing too fast almost invariably leads to injury. I will heed your advice re when to move up a weight before using heavier bells for LC. Cheers!

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