How to Do Interval Training with Kettlebell Exercises

Last week I did a Facebook Question and Answer session with Chris Lopez, CTT, from:

Kettlebell training gives you an amazing metabolic resistance and conditioning workout, and will help you lose belly fat fast.

Here are a couple of the most common kettlebell questions I asked him.

1) “How do we replace traditional intervals with kettlebells?”

Answer from Chris Lopez, Certified Turbulence Trainer: “The truth is that using a kettlebell to replace your traditional sprint intervals will give a more intense workout.


Well, there are 2 main reasons….

1) Your posterior chain is more involved.  That means that your glutes, hamstrings, low back and traps – muscles that are often neglected if you’re doing your intervals on a stationary bike – are more involved when you use kettlebell swings and snatches.

2) Instead of using only your bodyweight to get your heart rate up, the kettlebell makes your body work harder to move the weight and stabilize your torso – working your abs a lot harder as well.

OK, so how then, do you replace your sprint intervals with kettlebells?

The simple answer is to use the most foundational of ballistic kettlebell exercises – the swing.  Do swings for a set amount of time and then set the kettlebell down and rest for a set time. When it comes to exercise form, remember that with the swing, you dominate the movement with your hips.

The most common mistake with swinging a kettlebell is mistaking the swing for a squat & front raise exercise. The correct kettlebell swing movement powers up your hamstrings and glutes so you “drive your hips through” as you swing the bell to chest height.

(Craig Ballantyne NOTE: Chris and I have done a few exercise form videos for over on his site at – enjoy)

Another option, if keeping time is a nuisance, is to swing for a set amount of reps.

When making the transition from traditional interval training to kettlebells, I suggest swinging your beginner size kettelbell for 30 reps prior to resting.

After 30 reps, set your KB down safely and walk around for 30-60 seconds before picking the bell up for another 30 reps. You can do that 4-8 times.

It’s that simple. Don’t mistake simple for EASY, however.  As I said above, performing ANY ballistic kettlebell exercise (swing, snatch or clean) with a challenging weight will skyrocket your heart rate in a hurry.

Craig Ballantyne: What weight should men and women start with when moving to kettlebell training?

Answer from Chris Lopez: Start with an 8kg or 12kg kettlbell for women, and a 12kg or 16kg kettlebell for men. (That means approximately 18-28 pounds for women and 28 to 35 pounds for men.)

Craig Ballantyne: Do you have any other kettlebell workouts to replace intervals?

Answer from Chris Lopez: The more complex answer, is to use a COMPLEX. Pick 3 to 5 kettlebell exercises and perform each exercise continuously for a prescribed number of reps.

For example, perform 5 reps each of a clean, front squat & military press and then immediately switch the bell to the other side and do the same WITH NO REST IN BETWEEN.  You’ve just performed 30 total reps using 3 different exercises.

Want more a challenge?

Try cleaning the kettlebell between each rep of the squat and then press. You’ve just added 10 extra reps per side and a ton of explosive posterior chain work that will increase your heart rate even more.

The advantage of using a KB Complex is the variety of movement.

Your body has to adjust to several different angles and an uneven distribution of weight that will be more challenging for your abs (if you perform the above circuit with only one kettlebell).

The take home message is that your interval training isn’t limited to traditional cardio devices. Kettlebells work even better. As long as you are working hard and challenging yourself, you can lose a lot of belly fat fast.

For more Kettlebell workouts from Chris Lopez, Certified Turbulence Trainer, visit his site here:


Burn the fat,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Certified Turbulence Trainer