Periodization for GS, Part 11 (Traditional Strength Mesocycles for Kettlebell Sport)

In this post I outline some traditional four week mesocycle programs and offer a GS modified version. Each has their own pros and cons, but they can all be used effectively if implemented at the right time within the context of someone’s individual needs and goals. Often I hear of people getting burned out by using only one method of training. Below I’ve offered various methods with examples of reps then sets (let’s assume the intensity is higher as the reps get lower).

Traditional strength training (Simple) GS modified
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Linear 1

(increasing intensity)

10×3 9×3 8×3 7×3 60 reps 60 reps + 2 kg 60 reps + 4 kg 60 reps + 6 kg
Linear 2


8×3 9×3 10×3 11×3 60 reps 65 reps 70 reps 75 reps
Undulating* 15×3 3×5 10×4 7×5 20kg/100 reps 32kg/40 reps 24kg/80 reps 28kg/50 reps
5×5 5×6 3×5 3×7 24kg/80 reps 24kg/100 reps 28kg/60 reps 28kg/80 reps
Wave-like inter session 12×3 10×3 6×4 10×3… 20kg/100 reps 22kg/80 reps 24kg/60 reps 22kg/100 reps…
Wave-like Intra session 12—10-8 10-8-6 8-6-4 5-3-1 20kg/60 reps

22kg/40 reps

24kg/20 reps

22kg/40 reps

24kg/20 reps
26kg/20 reps

22kg/60 reps

24kg/40 reps
26kg/20 reps

24kg/60 reps

26kg/40 reps
28kg/20 reps

Contrast training 4×4 + 15x 2 4×5 + 15x 3 3×3 + 20x 2 3×3 + 20x 3 32 kg x 30 rep + 16 kg x 100 32 kg x 40 rep + 16 kg x 100 32 kg x 40 rep + 16 kg x 120 36 kg x 20 rep + 16 kg x 120

*Commonly undulating session to session is termed daily undulating, whilst undulating around the weeks is referred to as weekly undulating.

The main reason to outline these traditional methods is to promote a different way of thinking for GS programming. If you think about the principles of such a program, you can get a lot out of each of these methods.

Each of these methods offers a different pathway of progressive overload. Within the traditional resistance training methods you can change or overload one or more of the training variables such as intensity, tempo, density and volume. Within GS, intensity is an interesting variable because we can increase the load to increase the intensity (traditional strength overload), but we can also play with the metabolic intensity (traditional endurance overload). The tempo or speed of the GS movements is pretty well set (not 100%, but we will leave it for now), so to increase intensity we can increase the RPM (metabolic) or increase the load or weight of the kettlebell(s). The equation for volume or tonnage is kg x reps. Therefore adding reps with the same load or increasing load with the same reps are good examples of overloading tonnage. Density is just volume/time so an easy way to increase density is just to reduce the rest periods of the same workout or perform more reps within the same time period.

Another few ways I like to use these methods are:

Linear (load) – constantly moving up bells, (density) same volume reducing rest periods, (volume) add additional reps/sets (total tonnage), (metabolic) increase in RPM.

Accumulation/Intensification – overload volume (tonnage) / overload metabolic or load

           – Accumulation/Densification – overload volume (tonnage) / same tonnage shorter rest

Contrast training – heavy weight or fast RPM, plus light (drop sets)

Daily undulating – Monday 32s, Wednesday 24s, Friday 28s kg (long sets or intervals)

Wave-like Intra session (load)– ascending/ladder drop set (40 kg – 8 reps, 36 kg 10 reps, 32 kg 12 reps etc)

Wave-like Intra session (metabolic) – same load set 1 max RPM, set 2 fast RPM, set 3 medium RPM, set 4 slow RPM.
I hope that gives you some nice programming ideas. You can also combine methods or vertically integrate (within the same mesocycle) or horizontally integrate (sequencing them in blocks). I’ve outlined this in one of my previous posts. As linear progression can get very hard quickly I’ve found it particularly useful for beginners, or if you run the same session fortnightly or monthly. Simply put, my personal favourite is to combine or vertically integrate daily undulating with accumulation/intensification. So if I have three sessions per week – one using 32s, one using 24s and one using 28s – I overload volume for 1-2 weeks, then the RPM or load in the following weeks and repeat. Additionally, I throw in a deload of 1-2 weeks in every 4-12 weeks as needed.


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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