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The 22 Minute Single Kettlebell Warrior Workout

The 22 Minute Single Kettlebell Warrior Workout

By Steve Maxwell, MS


I have made it my profession to help modern warriors learn how to train themselves anywhere, with little or no equipment, because to keep the body strong, responsive and resilient is to feed the warrior spirit. One of my favorite training modalities is the Russian Kettlebell, because it is, by design, just a lump of iron with a handle, with the potential to become the instrument of strength or endurance, according to my command.

The following workout is my favorite this month, for general strength-endurance and fat burning. All you need is one kettlebell, 22 minutes and a warrior spirit.

If you have been following this series, you will see that only the Squatting Around Body Pass is new. I am using the most common versions of exercises that you already know. It is how I arrange the exercises that will tax your energy systems. I alternate lower body movements with upper body movements, and static movements with dynamic movements. My advise is to select a kettlebell that is lighter than you think you need, the first time you perform this workout. I promise you that by the end of the workout you will be happy that you did, because after you begin the circuit, you are not permitted to set the kettlebell down or stop moving until you have completed the entire workout.

Minutes 1 and 2:
Around the Body Pass. This is my first exercise for every kettlebell workout. It is a beautiful opening move, and helps prepare my mind as much as my muscles for the coming real work.

One minute in a clockwise direction, and then one minute counter-clockwise.

Minutes 3 and 4:
Halos. I'm showing a slightly different version of this exercise. Holding the kettlebell by the ball, handle downward, move the kettlebell in a slanted orbit, the back of the orbit is at head level and the front of the orbit is at chest level. Inhale and open the chest while the kettlebell is behind your head.

One minute in a clockwise direction, and then one minute counter-clockwise.

Minutes 5 and 6:
Figure 8s. Keeping your back flat, and the weight on your heels, pass the kettlebell through your legs in a figure 8 pattern. This will open your groin and adductors.

One minute in one direction, and then one minute in the opposite direction

Minute 7:
Good Morning Stretch. Time to stretch the lower back and hamstrings. Cradle the kettlebell close to your chest with folded arms. Bend over with a straight back until you feel the stretch reflex of your hamstrings. Then bend your knees slightly, round your back, drop your head, and roll up slowly. Finish each repetition by lifting your chest

One minute.

Now, you've completed the warmup. It is time to begin the body of the workout.

Minute 8:
Windmill, left arm. The Windmill is great movement, working the core and upper body, while developing hamstring strength and flexibility. Whenever I include this exercise, I put it close to the beginning of the workout, because it is the most technically difficult movement, and therefore has the highest risk of injury. Remember to point your feet away from the kettlebell and to keep looking at the kettlebell.

One minute, left arm only

Minute 9:
Squatting Around Body Pass. Feet shoulder-width apart, knees forward. Squat, as though you were sitting on a chair and perform the Around Body Pass, except when you pass the kettlbell behind you, it is passing under your thighs. This exercise works your lower back, hips and thighs statically, while your arms are engaged in moving the kettlebell.

One minute

Minute 10:
Windmill, right arm. Of course you have to work both sides.

One minute

Minute 11:
Squatting Around Body Pass. Your thighs may be complaining a bit at this point.

One minute.

Minute 12:
Single Arm Swings, left arm. Now we're getting to the real work.

One minute.

Minute 13:
Turkish Get-Ups, left arm. Don't put that kettlbell down, hold on to it. Lay yourself down and perform Turkish Get-Ups with your left arm. Keep your eye on the kettlebell.

One minute.

Minute 14:
Single Arm Swings, right arm. Keep your back flat and concentrate on that hip-thrust.

One minute

Minute 15:
Turkish Get-Ups, right arm. It probably feels good to lay down at this point, but don't stop. These 4 minutes are actually the most difficult ones, and the centerpiece of the workout. The alternation of Single Arm Swings and Turkish Get-Ups is actually good news and bad news. The good news is that after the Swings, you get to lie down and perform a slower exercise. The bad news is that your blood is moving from one end of your body to the other, and there's a level change. Both of these factors will tax all of your energy systems.

One minute.

Minute 16:
Side Lunge. Back to hip, thigh, and lower back work, with emphasis on the groin. Hold the kettlebell in front of you and keep your chest forward. Your lower body is working dynamically and your upper body is working statically.

One minute.

Minutes 17 and 18:
Snatch. Still working the lower body dynamically, with more emphasis on the core and shoulders.

One minute with the left arm, then one minute with the right.

Minutes 19 and 20.
Clean and Press This is not as much rest as you think, all of the blood is now racing to the upper body to fuel your traps, shoulders and triceps. There is an order here, the Swing is more difficult than the Snatch, and the Snatch is more difficult than the Clean and Press. Still, you may need to use your legs to help drive the kettlebell up.

One minute with the left arm and one minute with the right.

Just two minutes to go, but they're going to be two very tough minutes. During these last two minutes, think about the last two minutes of a martial arts match. You're tired, but the other guy has to be just as tired. Reach down inside and pull out everything you have left for these last two sets.

Minute 21:
Swing-Catch-Squat: Perform a Swing. At the top of the arc, release the kettlebell, and grab it by the ball. Pull it in to your chest and perform a squat. After completing the squat, give the bell a slight toss, and then re-grip it by the handle to swing it again. The entire body is involved in this movement, which also provides some excellent grip work.

Minute 22.
Deck Squats. Grip your kettlebell by the horns and perform your last set of total body, torment. If you're really good, you can re-grip your kettlebell by the horns after your last toss of the kettlebell after your final squat of the Swing-Catch-Squats. Squat again, but move into a set of deck squats for your last minute of exercise. Breathe.

You only need to go around this circuit once. It is aerobic, because you are steadily active for more than 20 minutes, with brief spurts of anaerobic activity. Pace yourself. Measure your improvement by the number of reps you are able to perform during the minute. To graduate to the next kettlebell weight will drastically reduce the number of reps you can perform in each minute.