Thoughts on Strength & Conditioning: Iron Core + Kettlebell Complexes

Yesterday, I hit the gym for what I thought was going to be a recuperation session. I had my last fight on april 14th, after which I basically took a week off in terms of training. So, instead of jumping right back into Wendler’s 5/3/1 training, I decided to do a „hotel room workout“. You know, that’s one of those workouts when you’re abroad and all you have access to is the hotel gym (which more often than not is in a pretty bad state). That’s when you try out new exercises and basically just do everything that doesn’t suit your current program.

Iron Core

For me, this was an opportunity to finally give Chad Waterbury’s Iron Core circuit a try. On paper (or rather, on screen), this stuff looked so easy. The circuit consists of four exercises:

  1.     Dying bug with wall push
  2.     Leg curl with stability
  3.     Stir the pot
  4.     Pallof press

I won’t bother giving a detailed description for those exercises here, just check out the original article. For me, doing the leg curl with stability was the hardest part by far. First, I couldn’t avoid the ball from rolling to the side again and again. Second, my knee flexors are really sore today – more so than I can remember them being for quite a while. Well, anyhow, I really believe that this circuit is a good thing. I’ll go and implement it as warmup for my further 5/3/1 sessions.

Kettlebell Complexes

Also, I’ve read an interressting article on kettlebell complexes in the hardstyle magazine, isuue summer 2010. In a nutshell, the author, Geoff Neupert suggests doing five double kettlebell swings, five double high pulls, five double military presses and five front squats, rest 120 seconds, repeat. Sounds simple, right? Simple maybe, but definately not easy, I can tell you that.

Now since I didn’t have the article with me I reconstructed the workout from what I remembered. I did cleans & presses instead of straight presses. The clean is king anyway, so I’m not willing to miss an opportunity to do it. The high pulls became bent over rows in my version. Finally, instead of taking a two minute break in between sets, I paused for 30 seconds.

After doing 4 rounds with two 20kg kettlebells, I actually had to take a full 2 minute break before jumping back into the final round. Each round took me approximately 50 seconds. Let’s make that a minute for the sake of simplicity. 5 rounds á 1 minute plus 4 breaks á 30 seconds gives a 7 minute workout. During those 7 minutes, 5x4x5=100 repetitions are performed. That’s a total training volume of 4 tons, with rougly 571kg being lifted per minute. Quite impressive, if you ask me. The author of the original article states that true physique changes can be achieved with those complexes in under 1 hour weekly. While I tend to agree, this would mean doing about 8 such sessions per week (8 * 7 = 56 minutes, just under one hour). If I was to do this routine each day, with two sessions each monday, I’d probably be in no condition to train in a martial arts. Those complexes are without any doubt a great way to train, especially if you’re tight on time. Still, going for an hour weekly might just be too much, even more so with shorter rest periods.

The rest of the workout

After going through the iron core circuit and the kettlebell complexes, I just did a lot of different things, for example cuban presses, kettlebell TGUs, barbell TGUs, tactical pullups, etc. Today, getting out of bed was a true challenge. Still, that’s no reason to complain – John Broz, a very successfull olympic weightlifting coach, put it this way:

„If you got a job as a garbage man and had to pick up heavy cans all day long, the first day would probably be very difficult, possibly almost impossible for some to complete. So what do you do, take three days off and possibly lose your job?

No, you’d take your sore, beaten self to work the next day. You’d mope around and be fatigued, much less energetic than the previous day, but you’d make yourself get through it. Then you’d get home, soak in the tub, take aspirin, etc. The next day would be even worse.

But eventually you’d be running down the street tossing cans around and joking with your coworkers. How did this happen? You forced your body to adapt to the job at hand! If you can’t‘ squat and lift heavy every day you’re not overtrained, you’re undertrained! Could a random person off the street come to the gym with you and do your exact workout? Probably not, because they’re undertrained. Same goes with most lifters when compared to elite athletes.“

Now it has to be said that most of Broz‘ athletes are rumored to be heavily juiced, so the above said doesn’t actually apply to non steroid users. Still, reading those lines is a neat motivation to get up and hit the gym again after a hard session.

Next up

On saturday, we’ll watch the videos of our fights at the WKF Austrian Open ’12. I don’t want to spoil this by putting the videos up before that. Beginning come sunday, however, I’ll put all the footage up here and comment on the fights.

So long,

take care

2 Kommentare zu „Thoughts on Strength & Conditioning: Iron Core + Kettlebell Complexes

  1. The fact is that this is a male dominated sport and it can be quite difficult to find things that are tailored to the female genre. Most of the information works great for men because they produce a ton of testosterone, but as women, we don't have that advantage. I'm going to show you some female abdominal exercise tips that can help you out.


  2. Hi there – thank you for your comment! Obviously, men and women are built differently. We carry more muscle and also produce more testosterone.

    Still, I believe you're wrong on the fact that there's exercise for men and (different) exercise for women. Read up on Zatsiorsky & Kraemer: It's a myth that men and women need to train differently. Every athlete needs to train like a human being, regardless of gender or race.

    The core's primary function is to stabilize the trunk and allow for optimal power transfer between the upper and lower body. Abdominal definition mostly comes down to a low body fat percentage. Hence, when it comes to aestethic abs, nothing beats heavy, compound lifts in combination with anaerobic intervals and some aerobic steady-state work.

    Please note that all of the above said is just my opinion – based on my research and my experience as both an athlete and a trainer, but still only an opinion. I'm open for a discussion on the topic, of course.

    Best regards,


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