Check out this guest post from Travis Stoetzel.
Back before I had my gym I can remember the good ol’ days of rolling around in my Jeep, AKA my “mobile garage gym” and cranking out some of the best workouts ever.
I didn’t need a gym. Just some open space, my sandbags, kettlebells, and of course my own body.
Using these three training tools is how I first started out training back before I had my own gym.
Even though I have my own gym now, it doesn’t keep me from blending these three training methods together.
When it comes to training with my bodyweight, kettlebells and sandbags, there’s a lot of different ways you can set up your training sessions.
What I’m going to go over are some of the main keys to focus in on that will allow you to use these three powerful training methods together for the best possible results.
Key #1 – Power Focus
When it comes to power, kettlebells and sandbags are great tools to use and bodyweight is obviously one of the BEST tools for power training.
For power focus, you want to key in on FAST and explosive movements. I’ve always kept power training in at the beginning of a training session for when I’m fresh. The main thing you want to keep in mind for when you train for power is that you want to be able to move as fast as possible. If you move slowly, it won’t be very effective for power training.
Some of my favorite movements that focus in on power training I list below under each training tool:
Kettlebells – Cleans, snatches, swing variations, push presses, jerks,
Sandbags – Power cleans, sandbag shouldering, push presses
Bodyweight – ALL jump variations (tall box jumps, bounds, skips, broad jumps, single leg hops, skater jumps), short sprints, plyo push ups
If you can’t tell, all of these different movements are FAST movements and require explosive power. These are only a small bit, but are my favorite “go-to” movements to help train for power.
Key #2 – Strength Focus
When it comes to strength, you want to focus more on strict movements.
You still want to “lift fast” meaning when you’re going through the concentric part of the movement you want to accelerate through the movement. In simple terms, if you’re pushing, push FAST and lower the weight under control. If you’re doing a pull, pull as fast as possible then lower the weight back down under control.
I never focus in on lifting weight slow or going through movements slow. Your mind should always be keyed in on moving what ever it is you’re lifting FAST. This will have carry over to both strength and power.
In addition to moving fast through your movements, obviously you’ll want to be lifting heavier amounts of weight or if you’re doing bodyweight, you’ll want to increase the amount of difficulty for the movement in order for it to present a challenge to your body.
For strength, some of my favorite go to movements are:
Kettlebells – single arm and double arms overhead press variations, bent row variations, heavy carries (farmer, rack walk, overhead walk), weighted pistols and double kettlebell front squats, double kettlebell front rack lunges, single leg/ double kettlebell RDL’s,
Sandbags – shouldered squats, zercher squats, overhead presses, side to side overhead press, shouldered Bulgarian split squats, zercher lunges, bent sandbag rows, heavy sandbag zercher carry / walks
Bodyweight – all variations of push ups, recline rows, pull ups, rope climbs, squats, lunges, single leg squats, handstand push ups, strict muscle ups… The movement variations are pretty much never ending when it comes to bodyweight training.
What’s important to note when it comes to bodyweight strength training movements is that it will be different for everyone.
For example, if a person is a beginner, regular push ups would be considered a pretty strict strength movement for them vs. a person that may be super advanced that can do 100 push ups in a row, it wouldn’t be much of a strength movement for them. For the advanced person, a single arm push ups would then may be considered as a strength movement.
When it comes down to bodyweight training, it all depends on your fitness level. The main thing to focus in on if your trying to build more strength with bodyweight is to continually progress the level of difficulty for the movement. Again, using push ups as an example, once you get good at regular push ups, start doing a more advanced variation to keep your strength levels improving.
Key #3 – Conditioning
The last piece of the puzzle is conditioning, which is where the fun part comes in.
What I like to preach most when it comes to conditioning is to always be “pushing the pace”. Even if our focus is on power or strength, I’m not a huge fan of long rest periods. Lots of books say that you need to rest at least 1-3 min between different types of movements, but in my mind, that’s way to long.
Even if we’re training for strength, I always have my athletes pushing the pace. I say to rest just as much as you need to in order to be the most effective in the movements being done, but don’t over do it. Beginners will have to rest more vs. more experienced lifters.
The only true exception I have for set rest periods is when we’re training for pure max strength, power, or speed. When we train for those, you’ve got to be fresh in order to go 100%.
When you consistently push the pace within your workouts, you’ll improve your conditioning to a much greater level at a faster rate all without even focusing in on it 100%.
Now, in addition to pushing the pace through your workouts, there’s also a number of different types of conditioning protocols I like to implement within my training sessions such as:
- Timed Intervals – With these, what you do is have timed work periods where you perform what ever movement or exercise you’re doing for maximum effort then rest for a set amount of time and repeat. My favorite is the popular Tabata Interval Protocol which is set up as 20 secs of 100% effort w/ 10 secs rest. You repeat x 8 rounds. You can do this with one single movement or choose to do it with a bunch of different movements.
- AMRAP Sets – This means “As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible” – this is a great method used to get in a lot of density and volume of movements within a specific amount of time. My favorite type of AMRAP is a short 6 min AMRAP where you might do 5 x push ups, 5 x pull ups, 5 x Kb swings, and 5 x sandbag power cleans. You’d repeat that for 6 mins getting in as many reps and round of those movements as possible. You’d rest only when need be.
- Movement Circuits – For these it’s easy, just pick a series of movements, typically 3-5 and do them back to back to back with very short to no rest in between movements. After completing the full circuit, you can then rest for a longer set amount of time.
- Timed Challenges – For these, just pick a set of movements and reps for each one and get the work done in as short amount of time as possible. A perfect example would be – 20 x bodyweight squats + 20 x sandbag cleans + 20 x kettlebell swings for time. Go!
- Complexes – These are one of my favorite methods of all! What you do for these is pick typically 3-5 different movements with either a sandbag or kettlebell and link them together. These can get brutal. One of my favorite ones of all time was this: With DOUBLE Kettlebells – do 5 reps of each – clean, push press, front squat, bent row, front rack walking lunges. That will tear you up good! The goal is to hold onto the KB’s for the WHOLE complex. Not only will you build up a solid amount of conditioning, you’ll also build up a solid amount of mental toughness because complexes are NOT easy. They will put you to the test and that’s why complexes are one of my favorite ways to condition.
Here’s an example Sandbag Complex:
Now, those are only a handful of the different types of methods I like to use for conditioning. It’s really limitless to what you can do to push your conditioning to the next level.
So, now that I’ve gone over the basic keys of power, strength and conditioning with these three powerful tools, I wanted to share with you a full workout that’s taken from my Bags, Bell, and Bodyweight Program –>
1A) Snatch 5 x 5/arm
2A) HSPU or Wall Walks 4 x sub
2B) Bent KB 1arm Rows 4 x 8 OR Bent SB Rows 4 x 8
3A) KB 1 Leg RDL 3 x 8/leg OR SB RDL 3 x 15
3B) Inch worms 3 x 5 total
4A) SB OR KB Complex 3 rounds x 5 movements x 8 reps each
***choose either to use a moderately loaded sandbag or a set of kettlebells
b) Front Squat
c) Overhead Press
d) Drop Lunge
e) Front Carry to Failure
The above workout was taken from Day 3 of Phase 2 of Bags, Bells, and Bodyweight.
Looking at the break down of the workout from above, as you may see, 1A is a POWER based movement. This is placed at the start so you can focus on being as explosive as possible.
2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B are all STRENGTH based movements.
To end things out, you’ll see there’s a nice little complex waiting for you. After the complex is done, you’ll be done (literally) 😉
So, if you look at the overall layout, it goes POWER, STRENGTH, then CONDITIONING. That’s one of the best and most efficient ways to set up your training sessions for best overall results all while blending together kettlebells, sandbags, and your own bodyweight.
And if that workout form above wasn’t enough, here’s a few more videos of some other sample workouts taken from Bags, Bells, and Bodyweight that blend those training methods together well.
These are BRUTAL, but effective!
Feel free to steal those workouts and use them for yourself.
It’s sure to get you Strong. Jacked. And Athletic!
Travis Stoetzel is a highly unconventional hardcore strength and conditioning specialist who focuses on serious athletes and trainees, helping them improve their overall performance levels and physique. He specializes in training athletes and non-athletes alike specifically ranging from type aggressive sports such as wrestling, MMA, and football to military personnel and weekend warriors. Travis does this with a unique blend training methods including Strongman, kettlebells, bodyweight / gymnastics, Olympic lifting, sandbags, and dumbbells. He owns a small hardcore gym in Omaha, Nebraska, called the Forged Athlete, where he helps athletes and serious trainees alike accomplish their performance and physique enhancement goals. For more information on Travis, visit his personal blog at www.travisstoetzel.com or grab his FREE Lean and Mean Blueprint here.