Adapting Bodybuilding Training Methods for Kettlebell Performance

In this article, we will cover how to adapt conventional bodybuilding methods to improve GS performance. The methods of configuring training sets that we will cover: pre-fatigue sets, posted fatigue sets/drop sets (regular and mechanical) and rest-pause or cluster sets. Please bear in mind that this article is only scratching the surface of these training methods and combinations. Presented below are a few examples of when they could be useful using predominantly specific GS exercises, of course, you can use any combination of the event/special/specific/general exercises with GS exercises to get a similar effect.
Pre-fatigue superset:
The classic pre-fatigue for snatch is jerk because of biathlon competition. However, here is an example of using a pause snatch to build up to performing a 10 minute set. If you regularly perform a 6 or 8 minute snatch set – you can increase your time under tension by performing a minute or two minutes of pause snatches before you perform 3 minutes of regular snatches per side. By doing this, you are performing the desired time under tension (10 minutes) – making the set more specific and hopefully with better transference to the competition. Side note, I’ve found this to improve peoples competition reliability, I might write a post on this.
Drop sets & post-fatigue superset:
It’s straightforward to perform a classic drop set in kettlebell sport. Simply change your kettlebell to use a lighter kettlebell and continue to perform the same exercise. Another useful approach is a mechanical drop, where you will change the exercise to make it easier while still stimulating the muscle group. For example, you could change snatches to cleans or swings once you start to get fatigued. This will allow you to get a little bit of extra stimulation, which may enable you to improve your overall grip strength endurance. This would also be considered a post fatigue set.
Rest pause or cluster sets:
Day to day our preparedness for training changes, so you may wish to adapt your training accordingly.
One of the best methods I found to auto-regulate training is to use a rest-pause approach during a set once you’re training to get to a specific rating of perceived exertion (or if you can’t hold the RPM). You could make this work by performing an open-ended set with the goal of performing 12 minutes volume at a specific pace. Meaning, you might stop your set once you get to a rating of perceived exertion of an 8/10. One day this might be 6 minutes, another day it might be 8 minutes. Once you hit 8/10 RPE, drop the kettlebells and rest for 30 seconds, then continue as many times as you need to until you reach your desired volume. A rest of just 30 seconds allows you to recover a significant amount of chemical energy (but not fully recover).
The goal with this type of training is that despite having a few bad days, over time the general trend is an improvement. However, don’t worry if you have a bad day now and then. This is a brief take on how I have adapted bodybuilding methods to improve GS performance. If you’d like some more information, please feel free to contact me.


My name is James Ross, I’m a qualified personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach and sports scientist. I am a founder and coach at The Richmond Gym in Melbourne and started the website

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