Attack of the Kettlebells: Using Kettlebells for Power, Conditioning & Toughness


More and more I am using Kettlebells and even subbing them in place of barbells. I'm 35 years young in a few weeks, and chasing the heavy barbell lifts seems to make me feel more beat up than healthy.

The body goes through hell after 20 + years of lifting, especially if the first 10 years of info came from FLEX magazine. I am in this for the long run, longevity and health are the priority.

Here's the finisher to my Zercher squat workout, some fast and aggressive kettlebell conditioning for the lower body, check the vid and enjoy....

Double Kettlebell Finisher:

  • Outside the Legs Swings
  • Cleans


  • Goblet Forward Lunges
  • Swings

Try the above finisher for 3 - 5 rounds depending on your experience level.

Rep ranges can be 5 - 10 reps per exercise.

This is excellent for combat athletes.

You'll definitely be seeing more Kettlebell workouts as I'm going leave the barbells behind for a bit once again and focus on healing up some minor aches and pains, if not attended to, can become MAJOR aches and pains.

The older I get, the more often I like to take a break from the heavy barbell work, perhaps every 2 - 3 months, I go into a mini training cycle of bells and bodyweight.

As a father of two awesome kids, I wanna make sure I can ALWAYS play with them without pain or discomfort. I was just about ready to sign up for a powerlifting meet in December but it looks like I'm gonna have to pass.

When in doubt, bells and bodyweight. Don't let the simplicity fool you, this is serious work!

Question for You: Are you using kettlebells, fat bells or bodyweight or doing anything in particular to help keep yourself healthy as you get older? Please drop a comment and let us ALL know. Looking forward!

Live The Code 365,


Recommended Resources

Kettlebells for Combat Video Course

The Kettlebell Bodyweight Hybrid Course

24 Responses

  1. Yo Zach!

    As I get older and all my old wrestling and bouncing injuries come back to haunt me, I’m learning how to train smarter and smarter.

    The thing that has helped me the most is to mix in bodyweight/gymnastic training in place of my assistance exercises.

    So I’ll lead off with squats, bench, dead, whatever, but then hit the handstand pushups, pullups, body rows etc to finish the job.

    My joints are thanking me, my conditioning is higher, and the ladies are digging that I’ve lost my powerlifting gut!

    Peace out, bruddah!

    ~ Luke

  2. Man been using kettlebells off and on for nearly a yr now and I can agree zach I am slowly replacig BB work for the KB. I trying out Scott Sonnons Spetnaz KB training at the moment loving it.


  3. Mike Guardiola says:


    You always have your priorities right on man. Being able to play with the kids is a must. I have a two month old, and staying healthy, strong, flexible and mobile for late night changings and feedings is a must. I bang out a ton of bodyweight work and hit the SB’s and KB’s in small short bursts. I always feel ready for action. haha!


  4. Mike Guardiola says:

    Sorry, forgot to mention I’m 37. It’s just a number.

  5. I do both … 1 set may be bodyweight movements and the following kettlebell … i feel that can increase my conditioning. plus it gets me through to my goal (more fitdad) quicker (in my opinion) gotta love the contact martial arts! combine that with swings and getups.

  6. Good stuff as usual! I’m starting to add kettlebell to my training.

  7. I love kettlebell and bodyweight exercises, but also rely a lot on strength bands. I am 37 and have struggled with a couple nagging injuries. I am able to work bands really hard while not exacerbating injuries. I have also been able to continue to train heavy working around a shoulder injury with weighted dips instead of benching and a back injury using trapbar and sumo deadlifts. I will admit that I heal faster with a break from heavy iron, but it is hard mentally if I do not have an acute injury that forces a break. I am doing a little better with this as I age. Huge props for role modeling perspective and common sense. If I only had some when I was younger! Hope all the young bucks are listening and learning from your example!

  8. I’m still playing sports at 40 – rugby and wrestling. (I also have two kids, third on the way) Bodyweight training and using KBs and other basic movements are all apart of my recovery from training and games/tournaments. My “gym” is my garage now- probably the best place to train I’ve ever had.

    I’m doing a fun 5k run today, too. Anything to keep myself thinking ahead; two kids

  9. Jeffery emerson says:

    From one Beast to another, keep tearing it up. I use kettle bells about four times a week along with my body weight exercises. I feel that I get a deeper workout as it requires me to engage my entire body.

    Also, for the people that do not have a membership to Zach’s site. Do so there is a ton of usefully information on there. Keep blasting brother and enjoy your weekend.

  10. Thanks Zach, perfect timing. I’m going to my IKFF CKT today with Ken Blackburn. Nothing like eating some breakfast while watching Zach Evrn-Esh Kick ass..


  11. I’ve found as I’ve gotten older (I’m 44) that the more variety that I have in my training the better my overall training goes and the better my body feels. I’m no longer squatting or deadlifting over 500 lbs, but my joints feel a whole lot better. Plus it helps me keep up with my kids. Just the other day my almost 5 yo son asked to “exercise with me”. Not sure what his idea of exercise was, I asked him what he wanted to do. His response “Dad I want to flip tires with you”.

  12. Jeff Goddard says:

    I use Kettle bells a minimum of twice a week, in addition to body weight (Convict Conditioning) and barbells (mainly dead lifts and bench press). In fact, I just did a tough Kettle bell workout this morning. Keep up the good work!

  13. I combine KB’s with BWE and at 41 (approaching 42) I feel better than ever. For me they work perfectly together. And same as you, having a 10 month old son I need to be painfree and be able to run after him the whole time (haha).

  14. Kettlbell, bodyweight, heavy lifts, odd objects, “le Parkour”… I do them all. 😉

  15. Big Chris says:

    At 35 I retired from competitive fighting. After 32 years of constant kicks, punches, throws, locks… it was time to give the body a break.

    Since hitting my 40’s I’ve put a lot more attention to my diet. NO MORE processed foods, grains, tubers, legumes, dairy, etc… LOTS of veggies, free range beef, pastured pork, free range chicken/turkey, wild fish, free range O3 eggs and fruit.

    Training means longer warmups with PVC rolling, kbell complexes and dynamic stretching. No more “stupid heavy” training. I now train with moderate weights and greater intesification.

    No more flat out sprints. Hill sprints and sleds are safer for the old hamstrings.

    I’ve always done a lot of stretching, massage, Thumper, etc…

  16. Hey Zach…

    Heheheh… always done some…

    But doing more now because I don’t want my own ass kicked any worse than it already will be when I come down for the USC Cert in Dec!


  17. I am now 35. I have always been active but only recently (last 2 years) started lifting for strength. I have to work around all the damage I did to myself when I was young(er) (via skateboarding, snowboarding and “parkour” befor it had a name). One thing I believe is over looked is rest and recovery even to the point of taking time off (yes I said it). Recently I got sick and did virtually nothing for 2 month. Then one day I felt better and said today I am going to the gym. Wondering how much strength I lost I immediately wanted to know my max squat and deadlift. This completely breaks the rule of starting out slow but I don’t think I have a slow gear (but I would not recommend what I did either haha). I managed to add 5lb to my old squat PR and 20lb to my old Deadlift PF (this is one reason for keeping a journal). Maybe I was just super siked up, don’t know, but I did it. Two day later I tested my bench press and only came up 5 lb short on my old PR. Two things I learned (at least about myself); it takes a while to loose the strength/ muscle you have earned from you time in the gym and rest and time off can actually improve your strength and general fitness. Coming into the gym fresh after some time off is great. It renews my passion and drive. I feel recover and ready to take on the world.

    Zach you are definitely one of my go to guys and now I am turning others onto your training. I have learned a lot from you like leave nothing out of your training, rather do everything (hybrid, crossfit, strength, conditioning, gymnastics, bodyweight, strongman, powerlifting, etc.; it all has its place). THANKS man.

    Unfortunately I do not own a KB. Hoping to get my first at CHRISTmas.


  18. At 36, I spend the same time stretching as I do lifting. I treat flexibility work as a separate workout. I believe that this is the key to undo all the damage from 28 years of lifting and a lifetime of sport.

  19. Zach,
    At 47 & previously a fitness trainer for 25 years, I have evolved my training to mix all sorts of modalities similar to what you do. It is not the age thing it is the CUMULATIVE damage thing that needs to be undone ( I too got tips from BB rags in my early years 🙁 ). Like Noah commented I spend 15-20 minutes daily plus throw in a few extra stretches throughout the day. I mainly use the gravity poses from Yoga Body Naturals, I feel that those have been the most beneficial stretches I have come across in my research. I try to go heavy once a week & mix some higher reps on the other two strength days & this doesn’t even count my 3 conditioning days. Still going strong & continuing to get results. That is what it is all about, physical, mental & spiritual.

  20. Terry Harris - New Zealand says:

    Hi Zach
    Another great post .Have been using kettlebells for about 18 months now .Mix them up with sand bags battling ropes tyre and sledge hammers .but really like to use kettlebells and “Convict Conditioning ” a very good body weight book .
    I am 53 have been training since i was 18 .Another great book to get is “Grey Hair and Black Iron by Brooks Kubik great advice and training tips for the long term mature lifting warriors.
    to you all out there
    Train hard
    Train strong
    For all your days
    Terry from New Zealand

  21. Hey Zach,
    I can completely relate. I too have garage gym decked out and train 3 times per week religiously. Kettlebells and bodyweight excercises mostly. I have an Olympic bar for deadlifts and a squat rack. I have a 10kg vest and an old weight belt with 15kg to add to dips and pull ups etc.

    I am 39 and have found I needed to change things up to not be living in pain. I moved to a 4 week cycle rest, light, medium and heavy. The rest isn’t really a rest but I do just bodyweight and excercises that Are harder and I can’t lift as much weight, like bottom up press etc. The cycles allow me To make sure I still better my last heavy week each cycle by a rep or 2. It’s slow and pragmatic, but seems to work for me and continue to progress my strength. It helps me psychologically to know that I can give that bit extra and have some lighter weeks to compensate.

    I also found that mobility stuff has helped a lot too. I have been doing Scott sonnons intuflow for about 5 months and z-health for couple of weeks (to see how they compared). I find starting my day that way makes a big difference.


  22. What timing! I have been following Zach for a couple of years now – doing a mix of bodyweight, odd objects and still traditional lifts. Last Friday I tore my pec benching. Light weight, slow, controlled, low reps just so I won’t hurt myself. Oops – too late. First degree only, so only out about 4 weeks or so.
    But this way of training rules!

  23. Hey Zach:

    I am sorry but I find myself chuckling. First let me say that I have been following you on your site for a couple of years and that I smile when I hear your Jersey self getting on our cases (I lived on the East Coast for a couple of years and enjoy the attitude).

    So, why am I chuckling? I am a beast wannabe. I train 3 to 6 days a week when I can; a mix of body weight and plates, run, bike and ski. Thing is, in the last 3 years I have been stronger than I have since my mid-twenties. I want to get stronger, not for now, but for when I am in my 80’s and 90’s. My goal is to die strong. I find I am always getting better–better at movement, better with weight. And it takes more concentration. It has meant being smarter about how I train. I chuckle because at almost 55, I am still working at getting stronger. For me, it never is going to stop. Age is not the issue; to keep moving well is. But maybe that’s my age.

    That’s why I like your attitude. I hope I get to meet you in person someday.

    Be well,

  24. Zach: for me it’s not so much about being old in terms of age (I’m only 23). But I spent 4 years of my life as a pretty severely undersized division 3 college lineman (at a maximum of 255 lbs, the lineman I was blocking were typically 35 to 50 pounds larger than me), which translated to a lot of minor injuries to my knees, ankles, back, and neck turning into more serious issues (particularly my neck and knees).

    For me it’s about finding a balance. I love ripping into some barbells every now and again, but most of my strength work comes from body weight exercises, kettlebell work, the occasional odd object/car pushing, and the physical act of grappling (BJJ).

    Also, like you, I have a much more holistic health centered approach. Whereas I used to live by the motto that bigger is better, I am now trying to make smarter choices in terms of strength, flexibility, and nutrition.

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