Use Kettlebell Complexes For Warming Up And Station Work

January 14, 2018


A strength and conditioning coach, especially one in a team setting where time is very limited, has to be very careful about where to spend his or her athlete’s time. There are a lot of good tools out there that are great supplements in a private performance facility but may not be includable in a team environment due to the size of the team working out and the time limits. Kettlebells are one of those tools that can be difficult to fit in when you combine working with a large group with limited time. With that in mind, this article is going to try to cover some ways in which kettlebells can be used in this type of setting.t


Before I get too far into this, let me cover some principles:

  • Kettlebells should be a supplemental exercise. I love the flexibility of this tool, but I still think that barbells need to be the foundation of an athletic strength and conditioning program.
  • If kettlebells are a supplemental exercise, then we don’t need to approach their usage like we’d approach squats or deadlifts. In other words, we don’t have to worry about pushing the envelope in terms of the weight lifted with these exercises. By keeping this in perspective, it’s going to free up how and why we use them.
  • Kettlebells still offer a lot of benefits if they are used as part of the warm-up or as a station while a big group of athletes is using a piece of equipment. For example: athlete A squats, athletes B and C spot, and athlete D is performing kettlebells.
  • Kettlebells offer a great deal of benefit in terms of balance, flexibility, mobility, athleticism, and core development even if done with lighter weights.
  • I’m in favor of getting the most work, with the highest return, out of an athlete’s limited training time. With that in mind, this blog is going to describe three kettlebell complexes that athletes can do.


The ideas of complexes were marketed by Istvan Javorek. The idea is to perform a series of related exercises, one after the other. It’s a small circuit. It’s a very taxing way to train and allows for a lot of work to be done in a short period of time because the complex is nonstop. You can see his ideas at .


Here are the complexes I’m recommending in this blog:

  1. One-handed swing + clean + press
  2. One-handed swing + snatch + push jerk
  3. Two-handed swing + goblet squat + deadlift


One-handed swing + clean + press:

The idea is to perform five repetitions of each exercise without resting. So, begin with the kettlebell in the right hand. Perform five kettlebell swings. After the last swing, perform five kettlebell cleans with the right hand. Recall that the cleans start with a swing. After the last clean (when the kettlebell is on the shoulder/upper arm), perform five kettlebell presses. Then repeat this complex with the left hand. Do as many sets as are necessary.

One-handed swing


Kettlebell clean

One-handed swing + clean + push jerk:

Again, perform five repetitions of each exercise. Begin with the kettlebell in the right hand, performing one-handed swings. After the last swing, perform five kettlebell snatches with the right hand (again, these begin with a swing). After the last snatch, lower the kettlebell to the right shoulder and perform five push jerks. Then repeat this complex with the left hand. Do as many sets as are necessary.

Kettlebell snatch

Two-handed swing + goblet squat + deadlift:

Unlike the other two complexes, this one involves having two hands on the kettlebell for each exercise. That means that we can use heavier kettlebells on this complex. Begin with five two-handed swings. After the last swing, bring the kettlebell up to the chest and perform five goblet squats. After the last squat, lower the kettlebell to the ground, grip with both hands, then perform five deadlifts. Repeat this complex as many times as necessary.

Two-handed swing
Goblet squats
Kettlebell deadlifts

The complexes described would make a great part of a general warm-up (it’s more interesting than running or riding the stationary bike), or (as was mentioned before) a good supplemental exercise at a station.