19 Jun The 5 Pillars of Kettlebell Training

Kettlebell Bottoms up pressIf you haven’t discovered kettlebells, you’re missing out.

I know everyone won’t be as passionate about kettlebells as I am and that’s ok.

But, my hope is that many more people will discover one of the most powerful training tools out there.

Kettlebells are simply training tools, just like barbells, dumbbells, or any other resistance training implement.

These are all examples of  different exercise modalities. Each is effective, without a doubt.

Kettlebells are unique though.  If I had to pick one modality to use, the kettlebell would be it because of the all-in-one simplicity.

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or even advanced, there are 5 pillars of progression in kettlebell training.

I call this the 5 C’s of kettlebell training (you’ll see what I mean).

Pillar 1:  Commitment.

Before anything else, it all starts with commitment.

The first thing is to commit to this type of training from the beginning.

Don’t dabble.

Do what most people do which is say “I’ll try it.”

Instead, commit to learning the skills when you start and stay with it, even if it’s tough for you to learn in the beginning.

If you do this, I can virtually guarantee incredible results will follow.  If you ‘dabble in it, you’re not going to get the benefits you should.

A perfect example is to learn how to perform a kettlebell swing the right way when you start.  Take the time to get this exercise right.

I know this exercise seems very simple, but it’s actually not.  When you learn how to do this the correct way, your results may be shocking.

Commit to learning kettlebells the right way from the start and you’ll get the results you want.

Pillar 2:  Competence.

After you commit yourself to learning and giving your body a chance to learn how to move better with a kettlebell, you’ll establish a baseline of competence.

This is only a starting point though(see the later pillars).

Competence comes from proper learning and lots of practice, that’s it.

If you haven’t had a good coach and you don’t practice the exercises a lot, you won’t get competence you need.

Why is a baseline of competence so important?

So you train safe and get the most from your training.  You want results?  Be competent with the exercises.

The first thing you want to be competent at is performing a good, strong kettlebell swing, which is the foundation for kettlebell training.

Get a good baseline with the swing and you have a strong foundation for the other exercises that are built on the swing (the clean, the snatch, the high pull, are all examples).

Pillar 3: Confidence.

After you have a baseline competence with your kettlebell with the fundamental exericses like the swing, turkish get up, and goblet squat, you’ll feel more confident.

I’m not just talking about feeling like your able to perform these exercises safely.

I’m talking about a feeling of power in your body.

Power with who you are.

Kettlebell exercises are either grinds or ballistics.

Grinds are slow, deliberate, powerful exercises like a turkish get up, military press, or goblet squat.

Ballistics are fast, explosive exercises like swings, cleans, and snatches.

Both types are very effective, but nothing is quite like the feeling of a ballistic.


If you want feel powerful and feel confident with the way you move, learn how to perform these exercises.

Not only for the benefits, but for the confidence and power you’ll have with your body.

Trust me, it’s something special.

When you swing or snatch a kettebell, it almost instantaneously elevates your confidence (until the overwhelming fatigue sets in. wink, wink.)

Pillar 4: Challenge.

You could say that the challenge comes in at the beginning and that’s certainly true.

But, in this pillar system, once you have your core foundation of training, you’re always ready for the next challenge.

You really can’t ever plateau with kettlebell training.  There’s too many ways to challenge yourself.

New exercises, heavier weights, higher volume of training, new skill sets (bottoms up work), new exercise progressions (double kettlebells), new ways to train (kettlebell ladders), etc, etc.

If you can’t find a new challenge with kettlebells, please go back to pillar 2.

One of the best things about kettlebells is the constant challenge the training offers.

Want a specific example of a challenge I’m talking about?

The “snatch test” is a perfect example.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with what that is, it would be snatching a 24kg kettlebell for 100 reps in 5 minutes or less. *Note: the weight is dependent on whether your a male or female and based on age.  For me, it’s with a 24kg kettlebell.

Not matter what, the snatch test is always a challenge and never a ‘walk in the park.’

Another example is doing double kettlebell work.

Double kettlebells is double the challenge.  That takes things up to a whole new level.

Kettlebells is always a challenge, which makes it fun, rewarding, and progressive.

Pillar 5: Continuous.

This is the best part and a major pillar of authentic kettlebell training.

No matter how good you get, no matter how many courses or certifications you get, no matter how many workshops you teach or participate in, you will never stop learning.

You will always have continuous learning and the opportunity for progression, no matter what level you’re at.

If you’ve committed to yourself (pillar 1) then you will likely reach this 5th and final pillar.

Again, one of the most fulfilling things in kettlebell training is the constant learning about how your body moves and performs.

Continuous learning, continuous progression, continuous challenge.

I’ve hear people say that they get “bored” with exercise.

To me, you could never get bored with kettlebells because of the continuous learning and skill progression with this type of training.

For example, there are some higher level exercises I’m working on right now that are really challenging for me (the SOTS press and heavy clean and jerks).

I’m still trying to gain a sound competence with these exercises while being greatly challenged.

Again, the progression and the learning never ends.

One thing you learn in kettlebells is to be humble.

The training can humble you and and there’s ALWAYS new things to learn and ways to improve your training.

In summary, the 5 pillars are:

  • Commitment
  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Challenge
  • Continuous

Remember, the first pillar is commitment.  If you haven’t discovered kettlebells yet, make the commitment to yourself and move through and discover these 5 pillars.

If you enjoyed the “5 pillars” concept, please share it.

Train smart, train safe, get results.

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