You know that big ole stack of fitness magazines that are collecting dust in your living room? And inside those magazines, you know those dozens of dog-eared workouts that looked totally awesome at the time but never made their way into your actual workout routine? Yeah, well, I’m sick of that. So I decided that every-other-Tuesday, I’m going to test one of those workouts and share my review with you guys. Sound like fun? Let’s do it!
- The Workout: Killer Kettlebell Workout from Shape Magazine
- Type of Workout: Strength and cardio circuit
- Muscle Groups Worked: Full-body
- Equipment Required: Kettlebells, yoga mat or soft surface
- The Nitty-Gritty: Six kettlebell moves are done for a certain rep or time each. The whole circuit is then repeated for a total of 12 moves. This 15 minutes worth of activity is supposed to work all your muscle groups, give you a hefty cardio workout and burn around 300 calories.
I headed to the gym and did this workout on a morning when I was particularly crunched for time. My “usual” gym routine can take upwards of 90 minutes from warm-up to cool-down and I just didn’t have that kind of time. The pull of getting a full body cardio and strength workout in just a few minutes definitely sucked me in.
At the gym, I set myself up with an open area and three kettlebells (15, 20 and 25 pounds) and, after a 5 minute walking warmup, cycled through the moves in the order given. I was skeptical about the “torch 300 calories in 15 minutes” headline, but by the time I finished the first set of the first move, I knew I was definitely on track to hit a hefty calorie burn.
- Calories Burned: 362 calories*
- Total Time: 42 minutes*
- Next Day Soreness: 3/5 (0=no soreness, 5=holy crap nuggets, I can’t walk)
- Speed, speed, speed. While I couldn’t quite power through the moves in the 15 minutes advertised, I did get through them all in about 30 minutes and felt like I got a really great strength and cardio workout. I do think I’ll get faster at them as I learn the circuit by heart and don’t need to consult a guide.
- Full body strength and cardio. I’m a big fan of splitting up muscle groups and focusing on strength and cardio separately, but some days just don’t allow for that kind of committment and I think this workout is a great option for when that happens. My heart was racing, I was sweating and the next morning, almost all my major muscle groups were sore.
- Adaptability to different fitness levels. The great thing about kettlebells? They come in different weights. Just starting out, you can use a 5-pounder. If you’re more advanced, try a 20+ pounder.
- Combo of modern and traditional. I loved that these moves weren’t “typical” kettlebell moves, but didn’t 100% depart from the traditional moves either. It was a nice combo of both. I especially loved the Spider Drags. Big fan!
- Not a targeted workout. This con is also a pro. Each move gives you just a brief touch on the surface of each of the major muscle groups. If you want to get into some serious weight training, you’ll need to expand beyond just this routine.
- Ketllebells are still scarce. Not everyone has access to kettlebells and these moves would be very difficult to do with other equipment.
- Risk of injury. Like most workout equipment, when used improperly, kettlebells can cause serious (and not so serious) injury. If you have any questions about how to perform a move, consult with a personal trainer or kettlebell expert.
- The burpees. Burpees always suck, but they especially suck when you add a kettlebell to them.
- No guidance on weight. Kettlebells are funny little things. When you are swing and using momentum, you need a heavier weight than when you are doing just strict lifting. I would have liked to see the workout give more suggestions on how to figure out what weight is right for you. All they said about weight was to use one kettlebell, 5-15 pounds depending on your level. I used a variety of weights and my lowest was 15 pounds.
The Final Word
I was really impressed with this workout. From the “outside” it doesn’t appear like much—just 6 moves–but when put together back-to-back, with a heavy set of kettlebells, it was a good solid workout. It doesn’t replace heavy training of the major muscle groups or cardio-only exercise. But it is a great quick option when I’m running low on time. I’ll be adding this one to my repertoire.