A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes

Laurence Clemente

Coach

Kettlebells

I often get asked what the best form of general physical preparedness (GPP) for kettlebell sport is. Most people would like a quick “silver bullet” solution and get frustrated by my answer: it depends.

 

The truth is, the variables of exercise selection, intensity, and duration are many. Each athlete is a unique and beautifully complex individual. There isn’t a golden programme that will sort everything out for everyone, and this holds true in kettlebell sport as much as any other discipline.

 

 

GPP training doesn’t just improve a kettlebell sport athlete’s lifting: it keeps

GPP training keeps a kettlebell sport athlete healthy, injury-free, and away from boredom.

 

The first thing I’d stress is no amount of GPP will make you a better lifter if you do not spend the lion’s share of your training on your kettlebell sport lifts. If you are short on time or low on energy, your focus will have to be on your specific work, and if GPP can’t be done that day - so be it.

 

The aim of this article is to enable you to make the correct choices when undertaking your own GPP programme for kettlebell sport. I have included a template to navigate this side of your training fairly independently here – but don’t forget it isn’t tailored specifically for you and as such, might not suit your personal training needs. I have, however, included some coaching points to help you personalise it for yourself as much as possible.

 

Why GPP Matters

GPP training doesn’t just improve your lifting: it will keep you healthy, injury-free, and away from boredom. We compete in a cyclic power endurance sport, and although the competitive lifts cover the basic pushing and pulling patterns of the human body in a relatively balanced way, millions of repetitions of the same three movements will be performed over your career. This can lead to overuse injuries and mental staleness. You need GPP to stave off these physical imbalances and keep the mind fresh.

 

"If you’re serious about competing, you will need much greater focus and precision when choosing how to approach your assistance work."

Personally, I like to keep my choice of exercises varied, with movement patterns that are missing from the competitive lifts like rotational and single legwork. I tend not to work on pure strength development in GPP workouts as they should be completed straight after kettlebell sport-specific training. If you want to develop your overall strength, set a period of time aside during the year to do so as pre-season training, far away from the competitive period.

 

Generally, I favour exercises that counteract the main lifts, like pull-ups to balance all the overhead work, and wheel rollouts to extend the spine. For extra cardio, I include running sessions for a strong aerobic base and to get people outdoors. You will see examples of all of these exercises in the programme given here.

 

Questions to Consider Before Starting

Before we dive in, there are a few questions I ask any athlete who approaches me for help with their GPP. Consider them carefully before starting.

 

  • What is your current level in the sport? If you are a beginner, you would do best to use your allotted GPP time for practicing technique drills to improve the efficiency of your lifts. More advanced athletes, on the other hand, should look to incorporate some variety in their training to become more athletically well-rounded.
  • What is your current aim in the sport? If you’re a recreational athlete, then GPP can be extremely varied, with no need for a particularly strict and specific schedule. Conversely, if you’re serious about competing and looking to take your game to a professional level, you will need much greater focus and precision when choosing how to approach your assistance work.
  • How old are you and do you have any injury history? Age, with all due respect to veteran lifters, is not just a number. It will likely affect recovery and dictate how fast or slow you’ll be able to make progress. Likewise, injury history will affect exercise selection and intensity in your programming.
  • What do you do for a living? How are your stress levels? Very few people in the West (if any) can afford to be full time kettlebell sport athletes. If you’re working a desk job for eight hours a day you will have postural issues to consider when selecting exercises. If you’re a builder hitting the gym after a 12-hour hard labour shift, you might not be able to tolerate a huge amount of volume in that session. Stress levels will also affect performance and recovery, so it’s crucial to monitor all of these things regularly.

 

By answering all of these questions, you can begin to navigate your training down a path uniquely suitable for you. As always, if you are interested in kettlebell sport, make sure you find a reputable coach to help you with technique, programming, equipment, and recovery strategies. And if you have any questions about this programme in particular, be it exercise definition, execution, or anything else, feel free to contact me. I am more than happy to help.

 

It’s time to get started. I hope you will find this useful in implementing your own GPP programme for kettlebell sport.

 

Continue to the 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport

Age will affect recovery and dictate how fast or slow you’ll be able to go.

Be mindful of your age and injury history when implementing any GPP programme.

 

The programme is based on three gym-based workouts, with two running sessions per week. It assumes access to equipment found in a reasonably well kitted-out box or gym. All the exercises in this programme are intended to be carried out after kettlebell sport-specific training in the same session, with a 5-7 minute break between each. The running workouts are intended for non-lifting days. Rest days should be spent stretching, mobilising, and relaxing as much as possible.

 

Note that I have not included any warm up routine or a cooldown/stretching routine, but for the sake of completing these workouts safely and successfully, please don’t forget to warm up and cool down thoroughly. If nothing else, I recommend spending at least a minute after each session hanging from a pull up bar. This helps to decompress your spine after the kettlebell work.

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 1, Monday

Repeat circuit 3 times, 30-60 seconds rest between exercises

 

  • Barbell split squat x 8 reps each leg
  • Pull up x 8 reps
  • Barbell hip thrust x 8 reps
  • Close grip bench press x 8 reps
  • Plank variation x 60 seconds

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 1, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 1, Wednesday

AMRAP 15 mins

 

  • Thruster x 10 reps
  • Ball slam x 10 reps
  • Shuttle run x 30 metres

 

After the AMRAP:

  • Side plank 60 seconds each side

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 1, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 1, Friday

  • Light snatch set 5 mins on each arm, one hand switch only
  • Plank variation 2 x 60 seconds with 1 min recovery between sets

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 1, Saturday

  • 30-40 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 1, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 2, Monday

Repeat exercises cluster x 6 times, 30-60 seconds rest between exercises

 

  • Jump lunges x 30 seconds
  • Press-ups on kettlebells x 30 seconds
  • Renegade row x 30 seconds
  • Double swing (1 kettlebell in each hand) x 30 seconds

 

After the clusters:

  • Side plank 60 seconds each side

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 2, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 2, Wednesday

Repeat circuit 3 times, 30-60 seconds rest between exercises

 

  • Barbell split squat x 8 reps each leg
  • Pull up x 8 reps
  • Romanian deadlift x 8 reps
  • Close grip bench press x 8 reps
  • Plank variation x 60 seconds

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 2, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 2, Friday

  • Farmers walk x 1 min (kettlebells at competition weight or above) /rest 1 min x 3 rounds
  • Overhead holds x 1 min (kettlebells 2 to 4 kg lighter than competition weight) /rest 1 min x 3 rounds
  • Side plank 60 seconds each side

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 2, Saturday

  • 30-40 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 2, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 3, Monday

  • Farmers holds x 2 mins (use as heavy kettlebells as possible) /2 mins rest x 2 rounds
  • 1 arm overhead half squat x 1 min each arm (kettlebell 2 to 4 kg lighter than competition weight, squat no deeper than parallel) /2 mins rest x 2 rounds
  • Side plank x 60 seconds each side

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 3, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 3, Wednesday

These are 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest intervals. Complete 8 rounds of the first exercise, rest 60 seconds then move to the next exercise working down the list. Keep intensity as high as possible.

 

  • Jump lunges
  • Push press (light dumbbells)
  • Tyre hits with sledgehammer or ball slam
  • Burpees

 

After the intervals:

  • Plank 2 x 60 seconds – 60 seconds recovery between sets

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 3, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 3, Friday

 Repeat circuit 3 times, 30-60 seconds rest between exercises

 

  • Barbell split squat x 8 reps each leg
  • Pull up x 8 reps
  • Barbell hip thrust x 8 reps
  • Close grip bench press x 8 reps
  • Plank variation x 60 seconds

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 3, Saturday

  • 30-40 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 3, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 4, Monday

Complete 2 rounds

 

  • Press up on kettlebells x 1 min
  • Jump rope x 1 min
  • Alternating Lunges x 1 min (bodyweight only or light weights)
  • Jump rope x 1 min
  • Renegade row x 1 min
  • Jump rope x 1 min

 

Finish workout with:

  • Side plank 60 seconds each side

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 4,Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 4,Wednesday

Repeat circuit 2 times, 30-60 seconds rest between exercises

 

  • Barbell split squat x 8 reps each leg
  • Pull up x 8 reps
  • Romanian deadlift x 8 reps
  • Close grip bench press x 8 reps
  • Plank variation x 60 seconds

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 4,Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 4,Friday

  • Light gloved snatch set (use a cotton glove) 5 mins on each arm, one hand switch only
  • Side plank 60 seconds each side

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 4,Saturday

  • 30-40 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 4,Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

Continue to Weeks 5-8 in the Programme

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 5, Monday

Repeat circuit 3 times, 30-45 seconds rest between exercises

 

  • Reverse lunges x 12 reps each leg
  • Lat-pulldown/Pull up (band assisted if needed) x 12 reps
  • Barbell hip thrust x 12 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell bench press x 12 reps each arm
  • Hanging leg raises x 12 reps

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 5, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 5, Wednesday

AMRAP 20 min 

 

  • Thruster x 10 reps
  • Ball slam x 10 reps
  • Shuttle run x 30 metres

 

After the AMRAP:

  • Seated Russian twist 3 x 60 seconds – 60 seconds rest between sets

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 5, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 5, Friday

Repeat circuit 3 times 60 seconds rest between circuits

 

  • Farmers walk x 1 min (use as heavy kettlebells as possible)
  • Overhead half squat x 1 min (kettlebell 2 to 4 kg lighter than competition weight, squat no deeper than parallel)
  • Zercher sandbag carry x 1 min

 

After the circuit:

  • Barbell roll out 3 x 12 reps – 1 min recovery between sets

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 5, Saturday

  • 30-40 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 5, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 6, Monday

  • Repeat circuit 3 times, 30-45 seconds rest between exercises
  • Single leg deadlift x 12 reps each leg
  • Lat-pulldown/Pull up (band assisted if needed) x 12 reps
  • Back squat x 12 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell bench press x 12 reps each arm
  • Hanging leg raises x 12 reps

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 6, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 6, Wednesday

Double kettlebell complex (each exercise must flow directly into the following one) x 6 rounds with 60 seconds rest between rounds

 

  • Double kettlebell swing x 30 seconds
  • Double kettlebell snatch x 30 seconds
  • Alternate overhead press x 30 seconds
  • Back squat (kettlebell on shoulders) x 30 seconds

 

After the complex:

  • Barbell roll out 3 x 12 – 1 min recovery between sets

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 6, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 6, Friday

  • Light snatch set 5 mins on each arm, one hand switch only
  • Seated Russian twist 3 x 60 seconds – 60 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 6, Saturday

  • 30-40 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 6, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 7, Monday

Repeat circuit 3 times with 60 seconds rest between circuits

 

  • Farmers walk x 1 min (use as heavy kettlebells as possible)
  • Overhead half squat x 1 min (kettlebell 2 to 4 kg lighter than competition weight, squat no deeper than parallel)
  • Zercher sandbag carry x 1min

 

After the circuit:

  • Barbell rollout 3 x 12 reps – 60 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 7, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 7, Wednesday

20 seconds work/10 seconds rest intervals. Complete 8 rounds of first exercise, rest 30 seconds then move to the next exercise working down the list. Keep intensity as high as possible.

 

  • Jump lunges
  • Push press (light dumbbells)
  • Tyre hits with sledgehammer or ball slam
  • Burpees

 

After the intervals:

  • Seated Russian twist 3 x 60 seconds – 60 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 7, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 7, Friday

Repeat circuit 3 times, 30-45 seconds rest between exercises

 

  • Reverse lunges x 12 reps each leg
  • Lat-pulldown/Pull up (band assisted if needed) x 12 reps
  • Barbell hip thrust x 12 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell bench press x 12 reps each arm
  • Hanging leg-raises x 12 reps

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 7, Saturday

  • 30-40 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 7, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 8, Monday

Repeat circuit 2 times with 30-45 seconds rest between exercises

 

  • Single leg deadlift x 12 reps each leg
  • Lat-pulldown/Pull up (band assisted if needed) x 12 reps
  • Back squat x 12 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell bench press x 12 reps each arm
  • Hanging leg-raises x 12 reps

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 8, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 8, Wednesday

2 rounds of:

 

  • Press up on kettlebells x 1 min
  • Jump rope x 1 min
  • Alternating lunges x 1 min (bodyweight only or light weights)
  • Jump rope x 1 min
  • High pull (light kettlebell) x 1 min
  • Jump rope x 1 min

 

After the workout:

  • Seated Russian twist 3 x 60 seconds – 60 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 8, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 8, Friday

  • Light gloved snatch set (use a cotton glove) 5 mins on each arm, one hand switch only
  • Barbell roll out 3 x 12 reps – 60 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 8, Saturday

  • 30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 8, Sunday

  • Rest

 

Continue to Weeks 9-12 in the Programme

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 9, Monday

AMRAP 20 mins

 

  • Press-up, burpee, pull-up combo x 5 reps
  • Farmers walk x 60 metres

 

After AMRAP:

  • Barbell roll out 3 x 15 reps – 60 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 9, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 9, Wednesday

  • Half jump squat (squat to just above parallel with a weight that is 12kg heavier than your total competition weight) 3 x 20 reps – 90 seconds rest between sets
  • Overhead hold (as heavy a kettlebell as possible) 5 x 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest
  • Renegade row 5 x 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest
  • Landmine Russian twist 3 x 20 reps – 30 seconds rest between sets

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 9, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 9, Friday

Repeat circuit 3 times, 60 seconds rest between circuits

 

  • Walking lunges x 30 reps
  • Double kettlebell snatch x 15 reps
  • Narrow grip Romanian deadlift x 15 reps (hold barbell with hands separated by a thumbs breadth)
  • Landmine press x 15 reps each arm
  • Hanging leg raises x 15 reps

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 9, Saturday

  • 30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 9, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 10, Monday

  • Double kettlebell swing (as heavy a kettlebell as possible) 3 x 20 reps – 90 seconds rest between sets
  • Overhead squat (as heavy kettlebells as possible) 3 x 20 reps with 60 seconds rest
  • Renegade row 5 x 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest
  • Landmine Russian twist 3 x 20 reps – 30 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 10, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 10, Wednesday

Repeat circuit 3 times, 60 seconds rest between circuits

 

  • Walking lunges x 30 reps
  • Double kettlebell snatch x 15 reps
  • Narrow grip Romanian deadlift x 15 reps (hold barbell with hands separated by a thumbs breadth)
  • Landmine press x 15 reps each arm
  • Hanging leg raises x 15 reps

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 10, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 10, Friday

Double kettlebell complex (each exercise must flow directly into the following one) x 6 rounds with 45 seconds rest between rounds

 

  • Double kettlebell swing x 30 seconds
  • Double kettlebell snatch x 30 seconds
  • Alternate overhead press x 30 seconds
  • Back squat (kettlebell on shoulders) x 30 seconds

 

After the complex:

  • Barbell roll out 3 x 15 reps – 60 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 10, Saturday

  • 30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 10, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 11, Monday

Repeat circuit 3 times, 60 seconds rest between circuits

 

  • Walking lunges x 30 reps
  • Double kettlebell snatch x 15 reps
  • Narrow grip Romanian deadlift x 15 reps (hold barbell with hands separated by a thumbs breadth)
  • Landmine press x 15 reps each arm
  • Hanging leg raises x 15 reps

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 11, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 11, Wednesday

  • Half jump squat (squat to just above parallel, weight that is 12kg heavier than your total competition weight) 2 x 25 reps – 90 second rest between sets
  • Overhead hold (as heavy a kettlebell as possible) 3 x 60 seconds with 60 seconds rest
  • Renegade row 5 x 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest
  • Landmine Russian twist 3 x 20 reps – 30 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 11, Thursday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 11, Friday

  • Light snatch set, 5 mins on each arm, one hand switch only
  • Barbell roll out 3 x 15 reps – 60 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 11, Saturday

  • 30 minute steady state run, easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 11, Sunday

  • Rest

 

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 12, Monday

  • Double kettlebell swing (as heavy kettlebells as possible) 3 x 25 reps – 90 seconds rest between sets
  • Overhead squat (as heavy kettlebells as possible) 3 x 20 reps with 60 seconds rest
  • Renegade row 5 x 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest
  • Landmine Russian twist 3 x 20 reps – 30 seconds rest between

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 12, Tuesday

  • 20-30 minute steady state run, very easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 12, Wednesday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 12, Thursday

  • 20 minute steady state run, very easy pace

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 12, Friday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 12, Saturday

  • Rest

 

A 12-Week GPP Programme for Kettlebell Sport Athletes: Week 12, Sunday

  • Competition

 

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Photos courtesy of Andrew Bellamy.

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