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How many sets for the kettlebell? [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Feb 21, 2018 10:00:00 AM

How many kettlebell swings

How many sets for the kettlebell?

 
You will usually perform somewhere between five to ten sets of kettlebell swings depending on what you want to achieve. Strength calls for less at higher load, while cardio is biased towards more repetitions in less time with a lower load.
 

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The question lacks context

 
As so often in fitness the question lacks context as I do not know you personally and what you are trying to do. How many sets you use for the kettlebell highly depends on your goals, who you are and how much time you can spend on exercising. Regular readers of my blog will already know this, still, it never harms to repeat this, as this is often forgotten by athletes and trainers alike. 
 
For context, you need to consider your
 
Height
Weight
Age
Fitness level 
Experience with the kettlebell
 
as you are most likely putting this question out to the internet hoping for a proper answer it is very likely you are a beginner on the topic. More experienced strength enthusiasts usually have already some grasp on what works and what does not. To keep it simple the bigger, fitter, younger and more experienced you are, the more swings per set and the more sets you will generally do. For you, the exact opposite is most likely true. In the next few paragraphs, you will find rep and set schemes which have stood the test of time and a comment on them to help you make up your mind about what to do.
 

What is your goal

 
Based on what your goals in fitness are it will influence how you train and what repetition and set schemes you will pick. There three main areas in the industry that everyone pursues:
 
Looks
Performance
Health
 
If you are mainly about looks and want to build muscle your repetitions and sets will be biased towards a higher number of sets and repetitions at a lower intensity. If you want to lose weight, but not build a lot of muscle, you will go for even lighter weights for as many repetitions for time or interval training. Individuals who are interested in strength performance will usually go for a lower number of repetitions and sets at a higher load for a stimulus biased towards making the muscles stronger with moderate growth.
 

5x5

 
Five sets of five repetitions are the backbone of any advanced lifting program which is worth the paper that it is written on. In these scenarios, you will operate with comparative heavyweights with relatively low number of repetitions. This is a template which is more suited for experienced powerlifters when it comes to kettlebell training. IN most cases, you will not find kettlebells which are heavy enough in average gyms to performing this template with proper gains, while still staying true to the ballistic nature of the swing.
 

10x10

 
Ten by ten is the template prescribed by Kettlebell legend Pavel Tsatsoulin in his book simple and sinister. This is the number of sets and repetitions which will build muscle and cardiovascular strength while still maintaining perfect execution on each repetition. If you go higher than ten repetitions I usually find a break down of form easier in aggression or form depending on the client.
 

On the minute

 
In this template, you do 20 swings every minute on the minute. If you are done quicker than in a minute you got to rest until it starts again. Sounds simple enough, but try it. If you make fifteen minutes increase weight for next time and pat yourself on the back.
 

High-intensity interval training

 
This is little different from on the minute training as you go all balls out for 20 to 45 seconds with the same amount of rest between sets. It is similar but produces a different kind of stress. This type of training is often recommended to beginners, which it should not as the pressure of clock leads to poor execution at a beginners level.
 

Conclusion

 
It depends on your goals. If you want to lose weight go with the interval or on the minute training. If you want strength a 5x5 template is a good go to. The golden middle is the 10x10 template with super focus on perfect execution as described in simple and sinister, the book of Pavel Tsatsoulin.
 

Further reading

Topics: Lift stronger, Kettlebell