DVD Review: “Extreme Strength! 12 Week Kettlebell Program” by Steve Cotter

Extreme Strength! is a great product for people interested in advancing their ability to move some kettlebells around, especially in the Olympic lifting exercises. It’s not for beginners, though.

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If you’re a kettlebell enthusiast you probably already know Steve Cotter. A long-time martial artist and founder of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, Steve has a lot of experience under his belt that he brings to his products. One such product is his Extreme Strength! 12 Week Kettlebell Program.

The program is comprised of four DVDs, designed to be followed along like a traditional fitness DVD. The first DVD covers an introduction to the workout, how to do the workout (for example, what to do if you can’t keep up), technique instruction for each of the exercises, and warm up and cool down sequences. The remaining three DVDs cover the 12-week program.

Now, as I mentioned, Steve includes what to do if you can’t keep up with the workouts – and it’s a good thing. At the age of 41 during taping, Steve is a beast and doesn’t appear to have lost a step. So be prepared to have a hard time keeping up unless you choose your weights well, which is a process he helps you through. This is largely a metcon type workout, meaning the workout features a series of weight lifting sets done in rapid succession to keep the heart rate elevated. Keeping the heart going throughout the workout is one of the cornerstones of this type of training, and although Steve regularly takes his pulse along with you, I’d recommend a heart rate monitor as well.

Speaking of equipment, you will need plenty of it to get the full experience of this DVD. Although Steve provides alternative exercises that make it possible to follow along with only kettlebells, the full workout includes a pull up and dip station, a Roman chair, some plyo boxes, a barbell with weights, and a squat rack (full or half). There is other equipment, like chalk and wristbands, that is recommended but not necessary.

That said, since the workout is directed at intermediate to advanced lifters, that basic equipment may well be in your set up already. And I need to emphasize that this isn’t great for beginners. Although Steve does a great job of covering exercise form, my recommendation to use this DVD at intermediate level or above has more to do with Steve’s pace and form. He’s a machine, and maintains excellent form throughout a type of work out that is notorious for causing form to break down. It may be difficult for beginners to use this product safely unless they use weights less than recommended and focus more on form as they go than on keeping pace.

The workout itself focuses on the primary Olympic style kettlebell lifts. The supplemental exercises, although a major component of the workout, are accessory to the main lifts being focused on, in true weightlifting style. I loved seeing him point out that too much variation in a workout is not a good thing. It’s awesome to see a legit coach doing away with this “muscle confusion” nonsense. You may also have noticed I said the workout requires a barbell and squat rack. Steve notes the limitations of kettlebells in the video and includes a few bar lifts for the development of strength and to ease transitions between kettlebells. In this way, the program is very well thought out.

As for Steve himself, I noticed a few more little things I’d like to point out that stood out to me. He is an experienced presenter, but his video presenting skills could use some polish. It’s a trivial matter on a workout DVD, and he is a very likable guy on video, but worth mentioning. That said, he gives the weights of the kettlebells in both pounds and kilos, which I liked. Sometimes it’s the details that make the difference between a good product and a great one.

Ultimately, I really liked this product, but it isn’t for everyone. Like I mentioned before, it’s worth looking at and modifying for beginners, but something else might suit you better. Also, although Steve includes strength development into the program, since this is aimed at experienced lifters, you aren’t likely to develop much in the way of top-end strength on a program like this.

Extreme Strength! is a great product for people interested in advancing their ability to move some kettlebells around, especially in the Olympic lifting exercises. Within that framework, the program will help maintain or slightly build your strength and work on your cardiovascular ability as well, so if you like a jack-of-all-trades style workout, then this one is a great one to check out.

“Extreme Strength! 12 Week Kettlebell Program” is available for $79.99 at IKFF.net.