Workout #5: Kettlebell Domination

Yesterday was one of those days where my legs just refused to cooperate in the gym.  Weights that are normally easy seemed tough (read: impossible), and I wasn’t able to do front squats because they made my shoulder feel a little finicky.  I don’t know if it was the stressful day in the office on Friday (i.e., a mental limitation) or the Crash-and-Burn run (i.e., a physical limitation), but I just didn’t feel on top of my game.  While there is a large part of me that hates admitting moments like this, I was reminded that they are an important part of training and help you discover when to take a day off to recover.

In any event, I still got in some solid leg work and am looking forward to getting a second go at this basic set-up next week.  I switched the format from last week’s 5-10-20 repetitions (which I had done for 3 Saturdays in a row with slight variations) to a new format: 3 moves, 5 sets, 5 slow reps.  I had planned on doing front squats but switched to leg press to give my shoulder a break.  (Ugh!)  I then moved on to one of my favorite explosive set variations.

The workout was:

(1) 5 sets, 5 reps/leg of barbell lunges, with 45 sec rest between sets.  I used 155 lbs for the first 4 sets, and 165 for the last set.  Your back knee should almost touch the ground at the bottom of each rep.  My back could have been a little straighter over my hips, which is why photographing for this blog is great for me too.  Seeing your form in a mirror or in photos can help you identify room for improvement.   I will focus on being more upright next time around.

IMG_1762 IMG_1774 IMG_1776

(2) 5 sets, 5 reps of Bent Leg Deadlifts, with 45 seconds rest between sets.  I went with 135 lbs because my grip was feeling a bit off, and it ended up being a perfect weight for the way my legs were feeling yesterday. Ignore the nicely manicured fingernails that made it into the photos. 😉



(3) 5 sets, 5 reps of leg press, same weight as last week  — eight 45lb plates on the machine.  Every leg press machine is different, so feel what weight works for you on the machine at your gym.  I wanted to throw an extra 25 lb plate on each side, but there was just no way yesterday!  I was discouraged, but I went ahead with the lighter weight for 5 sets.

(4) Explosive set: 50-40-30-20-10 reps for time of box jumps, kettlebell swings (16kg) and wall balls (12 lbs) (all pictured below).  This means you do 50 jumps, 50 swings, 50 wall balls, then immediately move into 40 jumps, 40 swings, 40 wall balls, etc., etc. … If you’re feeling less advanced, you can easily drop down to 25-20-15-10-5 until you get a hang of the moves and are more feeling more comfortable.  There is no official “rest” until you finish, but you can take short breaks as necessary to get through the workout.

I am addicted to this format – it is brutal, but takes a relatively short amount of time (aim for around 15-20 minutes if you’re trying it for the first time but feeling advanced.)  It hits the whole body, but really targets the glutes.

(a) Box Jumps



Try to land softly with weight in the heels and legs parallel.

(b) Russian Swings (an American swing is similar but involves swinging the weight overhead instead of just to shoulder level).


Swings should start and end with a lot of power, so focus on keeping weight in the heels and pushing the weight forward with your glutes and hips, rather than your arms.

(c) Wall Balls




Wall balls are basically a squat and throw motion.  Stand about an arm’s length away from the wall.  Aim for a spot on a wall about 10 ft off the ground, and again use your hips and glutes for extra power as you throw the ball up.


I got a real laugh this week because Gregg Cook walked by and made a well-intentioned comment to me that I should graduate up from the baby box for box jumps.  As he said to me afterward, he would never make this kind of comment to a stranger – he knows I love to push myself and was offering words he knew would be encouraging to me.  My friend who was joining for the workout was unaware that I knew Gregg, and she was not pleased with what she perceived to be a snarky comment from a random Equinox member.  In between heavy breathing and a few kettlebell swings, she managed to get out “Keep it moving, camo shorts.”  Yet another week where bringing a friend lightened my normally uber-focused and laugh-free mood and got a smile on my face for even the most demanding of workouts.  🙂


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