16 Kettlebell Workouts to Test Your Fitness and Mental Strength

Time to challenge yourself.

Kettlebell Workouts for Time are a great way to build muscle, conditioning and strength endurance for CrossFit.


Kettlebells have been used as a dynamic tool to develop strength and endurance for centuries. Some suggest that they date back to Ancient Greece, however, the first concrete evidence pins the kettlebell to the beginning of the 18th century, wherein 1704, the word ‘Girya’ (meaning kettlebell), was first published in the Russian dictionary.

At that time, the kettlebell was used as a counter-weight in markets to measure grains and other goods; vendors started swinging and lifting these kettlebells to show their strength and quickly recognised both the health and strength benefits related to this activity.

Kettlebells in North America and the UK were fairly non-existent in the later parts of the 20th century. In 1998, Pavel Tsatouline, considered the “modern king of kettlebells”, wrote an article discussing kettlebells in a popular American magazine for strength athletes; the article was extremely well received.

As a result, he was approached by a kettlebell manufacturer willing to produce kettlebells for him, providing that he agreed to teach people how to use them. This resulted in the first kettlebell certification programme and the subsequent worldwide explosion of kettlebell training. The rest as they say… is history!


Why: The kettlebell swing is an old-school movement that’s still used due to its efficacy and simplicity. It works your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and erectors), power, and balance. It’s a great movement to teach beginners what hip and knee extension is.

Set-Up: Start with your feet at a shoulder-width stance—or slightly wider. Hold the kettlebell handle with both hands, overhanded, between your legs.

Execution: Descend your hips back and down, but keep your hips above your knees. Maintain your lumbar curve. Keep your knees in line with your toes. Extend your hips and knees rapidly to launch the kettlebell overhead. Keep your heels down until your hips and legs extend. Keep your arms straight. To get the kettlebell fully overhead (required for the “American Kettlebell Swing” used most in CrossFit), use your arms to pull the kettlebell over the middle of your feet. To begin the next rep, sit your hips back into a partial squat and bring the kettlebell back through your legs. (If the WOD requires “Russian Kettlebell Swings,” stop the Kettlebell at eye level instead of going overhead.)

Points of Performance: To get a “good rep,” ensure the following:
– At the top of the swing: The kettlebell fully inverts (bell over the handle) and is cantered over the feet (or at eye level for a Russian swing) with the hips/knees fully extended and the arms straight.
– At the bottom of the swing: The bell passes behind the heels.

Pro-Tip: To speed up your swing, when the kettlebell gets overhead, actively push the bell back down to the starting position. Each swing will be a bit faster, and your heart rate a bit higher, than if gravity alone brings the kettlebell back down.

Kettlebell Workouts for Time


For Time
2 minute Elbow Plank (in silence)
13 Burpees
18 Kettlebell Swings (50/35 lb)
31 Push-Ups
53 Goblet Squats (50/35 lb)
53 Burpees
31 Kettlebell Swings (50/35 lb)
18 Push-Ups
13 Goblet Squats (50/35 lb)
2 minute Wall Sit (in silence)
With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. For the plank and wall sit, accumulate 2-minutes total of each (count time while in the hold only).

Score is the time on the clock when the two-minute Wall Sit is completed.

Kettlebell-exercisesSource: Photos courtesy of CrossFit Inc


3 Rounds For Time
400 meter Run
21 Kettlebell Swings (1.5/1 pood)
12 Pull-Ups
With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the 3 rounds of work in the order written.

Score is the time it takes to complete 3 rounds.

Good Times for “Helen”
– Beginner: 15-17 minutes
– Intermediate: 11-14 minutes
– Advanced: 9-10 minutes
– Elite: <8 minutes

Tips and Strategy

“The first goal in Helen is to push for unbroken sets on the work inside the gym. In order to do so, we are looking at pacing the runs to ensure we can accomplish these numbers in big, consistent chunks across all three rounds. Just like on “Nancy”, we would rather slow down the runs a touch if that allows you to hold onto the bell and pull-up bar. If we have the movements on the inside of the gym unbroken without a doubt, it’s the opposite approach – it’s a question of how hard can we push the running. For athletes with previous scores, doing the math for what split they need to hold across the three rounds will help them feel out if they are on track when they leave the building after round one.” – Ben Bergeron

Kettlebell Workouts for Time – Intended Stimulus

Helen is meant to feel fast and light. The volume on this workout is relatively low, so the movements should be unbroken. If you have to rest for long periods of time or break the Pull-Up/Kettlebell Swings into more than 2 sets, you’ll lose the intended intensity. Scale as needed to achieve a fast pace throughout the WOD.

Kettlebell Workouts for Time – Scaling

This benchmark workout is an all out sprint. The swings and pull-ups should be easy enough that you are still able to push the pace on the runs. Intermediate athletes can complete this as prescribed.

Beginner Option
3 Rounds for Time:
200 meter Run
15 Kettlebell Swings (1/.75 pood)
9 Jumping Pull-Ups


6 Rounds for Time
100 meter Run
5 Burpees
10 Kettlebell Swings (53/35 lb)
15 Deadlifts (95/65 lb)
20 Back Squats (95/65 lb)


For Time
200 meter Run
22 Snatches (95/65 lb)
22 Pull-Ups
22 Medicine Ball Cleans (20/14 lb)
22 Elbow Plank to Push-Ups
22 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
22 Deadlifts (95/65 lb)
22 Air Squats
22 Overhead Walking Lunges (45/25 lb plate)
22 Box Jumps (24/20 in)
22 Power Cleans (95/65 lb)
2×20 second Bar Hang
22 calorie Row
22 Handstand Push-Ups
22 Back Squats (95/65 lb)
22 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
22 Bar Facing Burpees
22 Thrusters (95/65 lb)
22 Jerks (95/65 lb)
2 Rope Climbs
22 Overhead Squats (96/65 lb)
22 Kettlebell Swings (1.5/1 pood)

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