8 Week Kettlebell Long Cycle Training Program

For 2014, I decided to revise one of my most popular blog posts, since the original program was designed for a 5 min competition. This program is designed for newcomers to kettlebell sport as it presents a simple structure to training.

8 week kettlebell Long Cycle training Program PDF

If you’re really new and struggle with holding the rack with 2 kettlebells, understand that you have to develop flexibility and technique before you can achieve good results in this discipline. It might be a good idea to use some weeks working on technique doing 1 arm Long cycle instead. Remember to not rush the tempo, separate the 2 movements and observe good fixation and lockouts.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “8 Week Kettlebell Long Cycle Training Program

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  5. Greetings! On the ladders you list, 30″ is 30 seconds, then 60″ is 60 seconds, correct? And you should shoot for using competition weight bells after a breaking in period, right? I just want to be sure I’m using the program correctly – Thanks!

    • Hi William, you’re absolutely right on both count.
      Optimally, you’d have about 3 months training with competition weight before stepping up to the platform, after a period where you built up endurance and technique with lower weights.

  6. Hi Thierry,
    I’m new to the world of kettlebells, and am excited to use the program that you’ve laid out. I only have one kettlebell at the moment, so I was hoping to use the snatch variant of the program. With that said, I wanted to ask about a few details:

    1. The snatch variation calls for switching hands halfway through the sets. What should I do when there are an odd number of sets like in weeks 5-9 for session 1?

    2. For the assistance strength training exercises, I’m not yet sure if I’ll have access to barbell equipment for squats and deadlifts and the like since I recently moved. My new apartment has a small fitness center which would be convenient for me to do my sessions in, but it only has dumbbells up to 50 lbs. It also has a cable machine with which you can supposedly do squats, bench presses, etc., but I’m not sure if the quality of those exercises would be compromised (any thoughts on cable machines). My question is are there any ways I can get creative and do some other assistance strength training which will provide enough resistance without the need for a barbell?

    3. If I do need to find another place to do the assistance strength training exercises – a place with barbell equipment – is it at all possible to split up the sessions and do those exercises separate from the kettlebell work and still maintain the efficacy of the program (I’m assuming that parts 1-4 should all be performed in one workout session)?

    Thanks for any help and advice you can provide. I’m looking forward to starting the program!

    Take care,
    Eric

    • Hi Eric,
      with this program I’d recommend doubling up the times, so you’re doing sets for each side. I have had good feedback so far.
      You can split up your sessions, so that you do your main KB work and assistance work morning and afternoon for example. That’s no problem.
      About the exercises for assistance, make a sandbag and maybe do lunges instead of squats, clean and push press instead of bench, 1 arm row… Nothing is written in stone. Just try to hit the same muscle groups with a high rep focus on some days and lower reps on others.

      I am sorry but I do not have time to provide more explanations…
      All the best!

  7. Hi again Thierry!

    The program is going great so far. Could you clarify what the third week’s third session looks like (the ‘test’)? Just as a reminder, I’ve been using your program to train snatch. I also have just 1 kettlebell, so I wouldn’t be able to do a 50% RM set. Would you be able to offer an alternative?

    Thanks!
    Eric

  8. Sure. You try to do a 5 minute test and see if you can go the time. Record how many reps you got. rest 5 min. Then do 1 set at at half of what you did in your first set. 1 or 2 KB doesn’t matter.
    If you’re doing snatch, are you doing the recommended minutes on each side?
    so it would mean 5 minutes per side (or maximum reps), rest 5 min, and then a set of 2½ minute per side (or half the reps you did).
    But of course it is a first test, so do not stress if you can’t last the time. But use a light enough weigh and pace yourself nice and easy.
    Good luck!

    • I have been doing the full number of sets on both sides with the snatch (for instance, in session 1 of week 3, I did 12 full sets on both the left and right. Thanks for the clarification about the test set!

  9. Hi Thierry,

    I used to do some kettlebell workouts with one KB only (including one arm long cycle) but I would like to try 2 Know. I have downloaded your Pdf file about Long cycle but I am concerned about my back during double rack position, I always learned that you shoul keep my back straight all the time and that even small curve can be cause of injury, How is looks like in Double Rack? I know that weight is resting on your hips and there should be no steress on you back ( except weight of your upper body? and unussual curve of your back?) is that position not compromising good posture?

    Kind regards,

    Marek.

    • Hi Marek,
      there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it is true that for some people the double GS rack could be a problem… I know the double rack looks strange, but it is a very safe position. You just have to develop the mobility to bring both elbows to the crest of the iliac (hip bone)
      Every bone structure is then stacked, and it removes stress from the back. Lack of technique moving into and out of the rack can be an issue, so it is best to try to find a coach that can help you.
      I am not a big fan of the discipline double jerk, were you stay in the rack for 10 min, but the long cycle is great.
      In the end it all comes down to having the right mobility before attempting the lift, just like it applies to squats, deadlifts and so on.
      All the best with training!

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  11. Chris van Jaarsveld

    Hi Thierry,
    How I wish we had a trainer of your caliber here in South Africa!
    Quick question: How would one go about tweaking this program for a regular 10’00″ GS competition? Could I just double the times you’ve set out in the ladders whilst keeping the assistance and GPP work the same?

    I’m competing in the 1st ever GS competition in South Africa in April and I’d like to try and post a decent number in the long cycle with the 24kg KBs.

    Your blog is great and I’m learning more from it than I have in all the overpriced trainer certifications and seminars that I have attend in the last four years!

    • Hi Chris, when is your competition?
      because if you have time, I’d run the program once, to build up a base and develop technique, then move to another template I have developped.
      It worked well for a friend of mine. He trained only with 2x20kg, not the best technique in the world, and competed with 2x24kg. He managed to last about 8-9 minutes and get nearly 50 reps, @76kg BW. Now, with good technique, and possibility to train with 2x24kg, you’d do well ;-)

      • Chris van Jaarsveld

        Hi Thierry,
        The competition is supposedly in April, although a specific date still needs to be communicated. GS is really in it’s infancy over here as most trainers have been opting for the novelty approach to kettlebell training over the last 4-5 years, but it’s slowly changing…

        Training for 9 weeks from now with this basic template will leave me with plenty of time to start on a more a advanced program in preparation for April.

        By the way, if I can save up enough money for a trip to Copenhagen next year October, would I be allowed to enter the Danish Championship as a guest, just for the experience?

      • It’d be great to have you as a guest, Chris ;-) We’re also looking at arranging a friendly comp, probably 1-2 June. Stay in touch!

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