Keep a Kettlebell At Your Desk: The Four Alarm Kettlebell Program


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When do you work out? Anyone who exercises consistently has an answer to this question. The people who build sustainable health and fitness aren’t the ones bebopping into exercise classes on random evenings, and convenient long weekends. These people have a plan. Ask them when they work out and they’ll tell you:

When do you work out? Anyone who exercises consistently has an answer to this question. The people who build sustainable health and fitness aren’t the ones bebopping into exercise classes on random evenings, and convenient long weekends. These people have a plan. Ask them when they work out and they’ll tell you:

  • “First thing in the morning before the family is up.”
  • “On my way to work. I shower and get ready for work at the gym.”
  • “On my lunch break.”
  • “Right after work, before I get home.”

Those who struggle to consistently exercise usually will cite being too busy as the reason. It stands to reason. Even if you are doing a very efficient 30 minute or less HIIT routine, the time getting ready to go to the gym, driving to the gym, locking up your valuables, and making small talk will usually accumulate to well over an hour. But you can fit in exercise so much more efficiently if you ditch the gym and split your workouts into a few short blocks throughout your day. We are humans after all. Like all animals, we’re made to move more than just once a day.

Woman doing kettlebell snatch
Srdjan Randjelovic/Shutterstock

I’ve advocated this approach in my five-alarm and four-alarm workout articles, but these plans both assume that exercises must be equipment-free if you are going to fluidly fit them into the openings of your day. Bodyweight exercise is great, but options become even more fun and diverse if you master the kettlebell. This simple tool offers unparalleled effectiveness. If you keep a kettlebell by your desk, you could make tremendous strides towards any fitness goals. In fact, spreading exercise out over a few quick kettlebell-centered blocks may be an even more effective way to train than the standard all-at-once approach

As I argued in Learn the Kettlebell to Unlock Freedom, the kettlebell is the most effective, efficient, and portable tool in fitness. It tones, stokes endurance, enhances mobility, and builds functional strength and power. Its unique design brings a powerful training effect and allows for the fun of continuous skill improvement. Of course, it is still a great tool for those simple, easy meat and potatoes exercises.

Making Your Plan

Once you master the kettlebell (I recommend my Complete Kettlebell Program), the only things left to figure out are:

What three or four times of day work best?

  • First thing in the morning, prior to lunch, before heading home
  • Just find a fourth time or settle at three times
  • Set phone alarms or some other predictable cues to trigger the exercise. Consistent action is based on habit and the science of growing willpower. For more help with this, see my free ebook, The Essential Guide to Self-Mastery.

How do you plan on storing your kettlebell at work?

  • Under your desk?
  • In the car?

What work clothes are easiest to exercise in?

  • Look up work clothes you can exercise in for your gender. There are tons of women’s options. Men, it is getting better, too. Thank goodness for stretchy golf pants.

How can you reduce the self-consciousness associated with being the weirdo who works out?

  • You can close the blinds if you have an office. You could step outside or identify a rarely utilized space. Or, you could just not care. You are awesome, after all.

What kettlebell workouts can you do and how will you structure your plan?

  • There are tons of options. Once you’ve mastered the basics, try mixing and matching the following six to ten-minute blocks.

Kettlebell Exercise Block 1 Options

Each block should begin with this very quick kettlebell warm-up:

  • 5 per side Kettlebell Halos
  • Kettlebell Squat Pry Series
  • 3 per side 1-leg Kettlebell RDL
  • 5 Push-Ups

This block is, ideally, done first thing in the morning. Because this is prior to getting dressed for work, you have the opportunity to get a little dirtier. I recommend taking this opportunity to do Turkish get-ups (TGU), the king of all exercises.

Options include:

  • Set a timer for six to eight minutes and continuously alternate between right and left hand TGU
  • 3 rounds of 1 right-hand and 1-left hand TGU with 10 per side kettlebell rows

Kettlebell Exercise Block 2, 3, and 4 Options

Option 1

3 rounds of:

  • 5 per side Kettlebell 1-leg RDL Rows
  • 3 per side Kettlebell Snatch or Kettlebell Strict Press

Option 2

  • Six to eight minutes of two hand kettlebell swing intervals. Start at 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest and work towards less rest.

Option 3

  • Six to ten minutes of constant suitcase carries.

It is well documented that outdoor breaks boost energy and work productivity. Head outside and do this single-arm farmer’s walk variation. Just pack your shoulder down and back and grip the bell tightly. Walk. When your grip loosens switch hands. Continue in this manner until you are out of time.

Option 4

  • Six to ten minutes of single-arm kettlebell swings — 10 left, rest, 10 right, rest, repeat until time elapses.

Option 5: The Gauntlet

  • 15 per side 1-arm Kettlebell Clean, Reverse Lunge, Press (alternate hands after one rep of all three exercises.)
  • 20-30 Two-Hand Bent-Over Rows

Option 6

Five to ten minute AMRAP:

  • 10 Kettlebell Goblet Squats
  • 5 Push-Ups

Option 7

Two-Exercise Tabata:

  • Choose any two kettlebell exercises to alternate between and do eight rounds of 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest.

Kettlebell Fitness Is Good for You

There are many other options, but these exercise blocks should be more than enough to get started. Any day that included three or four of these options would be an extremely active, healthy day. That is the benefit of learning the kettlebell — the most portable, powerful tool in fitness. It is a skill that unlocks a lifetime of fun fitness.

Featured Image: Srdjan Randjelovic/Shutterstock

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