If you have been around the iron game long enough, you have probably heard of super sets and giant sets which are popular amongst the bodybuilding crowd. Simply put, a super set is 2 exercises performed one after another without rest and a giant set is typically 3 or more lifts. One might perform a bench press and then immediately knock out a set of pull-ups. Squats, leg extensions and leg curls are a popular form of giant sets.
The same type of approach can be applied to kettlebell lifting although the terms super set and giant set aren’t typically used. Instead, I have heard the terms flow drill or complexes used. I like to use the term kettlebell complexes because it seems to roll of the tongue better. What you call them is irrelevant.
I don’t perform kettlebell complexes if I am training for pure power and overall strength. If you want to be able to press heavy, then press heavy and limit reps to 5. Standard stuff. Where I use complexes is in my conditioning or for strength endurance and I like to keep the lifts within the same genre. Meaning, I usually group explosive type lifts like swings and snatches together and grind type lifts like the bent press and the military press together. I will occasionally mix and match but not often.
Here is what a complex might look like.
- Figure 8 to a hold
- Bent Press
- Military Press
- Bottoms up Press
For complex 1, I would perform the predesignated number of reps for the swing on the right side and then switch hands and do the same for the left side. Switch hands again and perform snatches on the right side, then the left then back to the right side and then left for the figure 8 to a hold. Complex 2 would be done in a similar manner. The only exception is that the reps would necessarily be higher form complex 1 then complex 2. Another option would be to perform all three lifts on the right side before switching to the left. If you really won’t to smoke your grip, that’s definitely the way to go.
Another consideration is what weight to use. Naturally you would want to scale it back a bit from what you would normally be using to perform any one of the lifts singularly. You may even need to concede to the weakest lifts weight choice. For instance, I usually perform kettlebell snatches with a heck of a lot more weight then I do when performing a figure 8 to a hold. If you goal is conditioning, you would naturally want to use less weight then if you were training for power.
Also, the kettlebell doesn’t touch the ground until the entire complex is complete. That’s part of the fun. And, each time you complete the exercises, count it as one round. How many rounds you do is entirely up to you.
Complex 1 and 2 are just examples for you to use to get started. There is really no limit to what you can do with kettlebell complexes if you have a particularly evil mind when it comes to punishing yourself in the gym. I have performed up to 7 different lifts using 2 kettlebells in the past and was exhausted after only 1 round.
One thing I often do is start the complex with a get up. I would perform a get up on the right side, perform the complex and then perform a reverse get up on the left side so the complex begins and ends on the ground. Again, let your imagination take over and enjoy.
Before entering into a fitness routine, especially one that incorporates exercises with a kettlebell, be sure to consult with your physician or medical professional to be sure you are healthy enough to begin a strength and conditioning regimen. Be sure to learn the proper way to perform each lift and complete each exercises in strict form employing a spotter when applicable. In other words, if you hurt yourself, it’s your fault.