Kettlebell How many reps?

Kettlebells, how many reps, and how many days?

As a business that runs online kettlebell communities with over 200,000 people combined, we often get the following kettlebell-related questions and this article will provide an answer. For those just interested in a quick generic answer to the question, go here. For those that want to fully understand the answer, keep reading

“How many kettlebell squats are good in a day? How many reps?”

Or other beginner kettlebell questions like:

“I’m a beginner and I just bought 2 Bowflex kettlebells. I can do 2 arm swings, 1 arm swing, cleans, and snatches. Would you recommend doing 1 session of the exercises (300 reps for each swing, and 100 cleans + snatches) in a day or 3 separate sessions per day, doing 100 each swings, plus 30+ reps of cleans and snatches? Which would give me the best results? Weight wise right now I am comfortable with 20 lbs to work on the technique, but that will increase over time.”

The answer to this question can be found below, but let’s address the choice of kettlebell and make sure that you’re working with a proper kettlebell, as a Bowflex really should not be classed as a kettlebell (you’ll thank us later). Next, the choice of weight is not suitable for ballistic exercises like the swing, clean, and snatch. Ballistic exercises need some weight behind them, and without going into more complex details, a good start would be around the 16 kg/35 lbs mark for males.

The Answer to the Question How Many Reps, Rounds, or Days?

  • How many repetitions of kettlebell exercise [fill in the blanks]?
  • How many rounds of workout [fill in the blanks]?
  • How much weight for exercise [fill in the blanks]?
  • How many days of workout [fill in the blanks]?
  • What kettlebell exercise is best for [fill in the blanks]?

It really doesn’t matter whether the questions are, how many reps, how many rounds, how much weight, or how many days for squats, swings, snatches, or other whatever kettlebell exercises as the answer remains the same.

The answer is that there is no fixed (written in stone) set amount of reps, rounds, weight, or days for kettlebell workouts or any other resistance training program that just magically works or is safe for everyone. There are a lot of variables that come into play if you want to stay safe while working out. But for those that seek a quick answer, it is:

Do as many reps, rounds, and days as recovery allows!

Taco Fleur

Let’s address the other variables that come into play to decide what number of repetitions, rounds, or days of working out are suitable:

  1. Form and technique
  2. Goals
  3. Current physical state
  4. Other work done

Kettlebell Form and Technique

There is nothing more important than first focusing on the correct kettlebell form and technique. This is the biggest mistake beginners make entering the kettlebell world, not giving the kettlebell the respect it deserves and thinking it will just bow to your will. It will not, and it will result in injuries.

Kettlebell Goals

After correct form and technique, there is nothing more important than identifying your goals and knowing how to work toward those. Without that, you are in the category of working out for generic fitness. Not that that’s bad, it’s not, but it could result in just working out for cardio all the time, it could result in working out for strength all the time, it could result in overtraining, etc.

The key is to identify your training goals, know what exercises work toward those goals, pick several of those exercises, and work on the form and technique for those exercises first. Your program could be something along the lines of 90% form and technique for the first week and 10% working out. The next week you reduce the amount you spend on form and technique and increase the time you work out, for example, 75% form and technique and 25% working out. Week 3 could be along the lines of 50% form and technique and 50% working out.

Some of the goals one can work toward with kettlebells but are not limited to, are:

For cardiovascular goals there are different ways to work, you can work on endurance by working with high reps, not putting the weight down, and working in the blue-to-green zone. You can work with short burst low reps high-intensity intervals and work in the orange-to-red zone.

For muscular endurance, you work up to high reps and try to work on the same side when working with one kettlebell and then switch before failure, always working on increasing that point.

For mental toughness, you work on all aspects of training that make you uncomfortable, and you aim to be able to withstand that without giving in to the inner voice that wants to quit. For example by red zone training, HIIT, heavy sessions, endurance workouts, and so on.

For flexibility, you want to include exercises that improve the range of motion.

For strength, maximal strength requires you to work with one rep max, and whatever else you do should work to increase your ability to move more weight.

For power, you work to increase strength and speed. Moving heavier weights faster. There is also explosive power which works on increasing the speed at the start of the movement.

For stability, you work on controlling the movement which is done by removing unwanted movements in the body. Stability is when you press overhead, during that press nothing moved but the intended joints. Once overhead, that weight stays in place without moving all over. Reference: Core stability, and joint stability.

For coordination, you work on improving the harmonious functioning of muscles or groups of muscles in the execution of movements. The right timing to hinge. The right timing to switch hands. Improve hand-eye coordination. Etcetera.

Each and every goal has a different number of reps and rounds.

When you design your program based on your goals and keep form and technique a priority, you will reach your goals sooner and will be able to stay injury-free. The alternative is that you will enter the vicious cycle that most beginners enter.

  1. Work out hard
  2. Keep working out
  3. Ignoring aches and pains
  4. Pain increases and lingers
  5. Pain turns into chronic pain and injury
  6. Out of action
  7. Do nothing for a long time
  8. All healed up
  9. Start at step one again

Current Physical State

Once you know your goals and know how many reps and rounds to do, then you still need to know how many days a week you should train. This will be determined by your current physical state and will always be based on how you recover. The less conditioned you are the longer it takes to recover. The more work or heavier work you do in one session, the longer it will take to recover. If form and technique are lacking then the risk of becoming injured doubles or triples.

One thing often overlooked or neglected is grip. The legs might be able to do 300 swings, as the leg muscles are big and often used, but the muscles used for grip are often not conditioned for endurance. One also needs to consider that when doing swings, the legs and grip muscles are used, and if then doing other exercises like around the world, halos, etc., the legs won’t be prime movers, but the grip is still used for each of those exercises.

Other Work Done

Once you have everything so far covered to a T, then you need to take into account what other work you’re doing. If your program is designed to take full advantage of all the time you have available, but outside of that time you are going to the gym, or working a physically laborious job, then you run the risk of overtraining.

A kettlebell motivational video.

The 100% Correct Answer

One could say that the above answer is still vague as it doesn’t list the info that most people are looking for, which is everything listed, the number of reps to complete, the number of rounds, the rest time, and the exact number of days to work out. What is explained is the reason that a correct answer requires personal information, goals, and also requires a lot of time invested from both parties.

If you post in a public kettlebell group, you could get an answer based on the little information you provided. But who are you getting the answer from, what do they know about you other than what you provided in the question? Nothing. Furthermore, are they biased in regards to what they believe you should be doing?

Is it possible to get an answer in a public group? Sure, there are community members and kettlebell trainers who have some spare time and are willing to invest their time, but it requires time on your behalf to provide the information required to provide the correct answer. It requires a lot of time, more time than just writing one paragraph, unfortunately, this is the cold hard truth.

There are several ways to get all the information that you’re looking for:

Note: A pre-made kettlebell program can’t work for you unless it includes information on how to adjust that routine/program to suit your current condition. It comes down to you understanding how to adjust it or hiring a coach/trainer to ask you questions and adjust it for you. There is no cookie-cutter program that is suitable for everyone and works, it simply doesn’t exist.

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