7 Ways to Accomplish More with the Same Reps and Sets

The typical solution to making an exercise or given weight harder is to do more reps, run farther, workout longer, etc. The problem with this approach is that there comes a point where you can only spend so much time training per day, and the ‘more is better’ approach eventually leads to running out of time and or overtraining/injury.

There is an elegant solution that requires far less time while providing a higher return for your investment.

Just yesterday I was introducing a new student, Melissa, to the hardstyle kettlebell swing.

By the end of her first hour of instruction Melissa’s technique looked good enough to allow her to perform a  challenge where I asked her to complete as many swings as possible in two-minute in sets of 10 reps at a time.  Melissa crushed and accomplished 50 safe and powerful swing for a total 2,376 pounds in 2-minutes.

2,376 pounds of kettlebell swings
in just two minutes…
on day one!

When I showed her the numbers she was impressed at how much work she had accomplished.

Here’s the math:

2 sets of 10 with the 24kg kettlebell and 3 sets of 10 with the 20kg kettlebell.
(24kg x 10 x 2 sets = 480kg) + (20kg x 10 x 3 sets = 600kg ) = 1080kg

SOME NOTES: It is important to note that
– these are kettlebell swings that were performed by someone who was completely new to the swing.
– Thorough screening and assessment to determine which movements, techniques and weights were appropriate for the individual.
– The subject also received an hour of expert kettlebell instruction on the swing and all reps were performed under strict supervision.

Then I showed her John’s numbers from earlier the same day. 

John snatched the 32kg kettlebell overhead for 126 reps which equals 8,870.4 lbs in under 5-minutes of actual work.  So, of course by using a heavier bell John accomplish more work, but what this doesn’t take into consideration is how much further John’s bell was traveling and how fast the bell was being accelerated due to his skill level, which as you will see makes a big difference.
Then I told her about what I consider the coolest part about the hardstyle swing and hardstyle training in general which is as your skill improves it is possible to get an even greater training effect with the exact same weight and reps. This happens in several ways as your strength and skill improve….

7 Ways Hardstyle Training Helps You Accomplish More With the Same Reps and Sets

    You will learn to produce more force per rep by increasing the bell’s acceleration during not only the upswing, but during the hike or down-swing as well. Research by Senior SFG Brandon Hetzler has shown that experienced kettlebell lifters can accelerated the kettlebell 5x faster than gravity resulting in the need to reverse the direction of a  bell that momentarily feels 5x heavier, this of course requires more force and power to produced. To take Melissa’s example above, as her skill in the swing improves she has the potential to make her 2,376lbs of work feel like 11,880lbs.
    You will learn technical subtleties that allow you incorporate more muscle into each rep.
    What most people don’t understand is that you can improve strength by simply learning to contract your muscles harder. This is a skill that you can learn through specific drills. Once learned you will be able to continually achieve stronger muscular contractions per rep.
    If you’ve ever been impressed by the lethal quickness and loud “snap” of a martial artist’s strikes then you understand the effect of learning to quickly contract & relax. This too is a skill which can be learn through specific drills and mastered with mindful practice.
    You will learn advanced variation of the swing such as the one-arm swing that present an even greater challenge in terms of core stability and force greater muscular contraction.
    First off, beginners are taught to safely use a larger range of motion than most people are willing to use. Secondly, you will eventually progress to more advanced techniques such as snatching the kettlebell overhead which covers nearly twice the distance as the swing and results in more work per rep because … science: Work = Force x Distance.
    All of this combined will lead to greater metabolic hit (more calories burned).

As opposed to other forms of exercise like jogging where as your skill improves covering the same distance become easier and yields less results in terms of strength, endurance and so on… as your skill improves in the kettlebell swing we teach you how to increase the force, acceleration, power, amount of muscle used, generating stronger and more rapid muscular contractions, and eventually cover advanced technique variations which when combined result in a far greater training effect per rep with a given weight.
This is only possible with the kind of expert instruction focusing on quality over quantity.

This is meant by “The Courage to Do Less”.


“My entire outlook of ‘working out’ is forever changed thanks to you. In the past I used to focus on light weight exercises with high # of reps…. (A couple 5lb dumbbells would suffice, I didn’t want to “bulk up”!)….How many lunges can I do in 30-secs, or how many push-ups, squats, etc. I didn’t focus on proper form or the weight I was holding, and that’s exactly how I injured myself, trying to beat my # from the last round. Now because of you, I workout smarter. I choose exercise/weight appropriate KBs, and focus on say 5 perfect squats…or 8 perfect deadlifts. I focus on form and the weight in my hand(s), not #’ of reps.” – Jenni


About the Author:
John Scott Stevens is has been a certified Kettlebell instructor since 2008 teaching small group and personal training in Omaha Nebraska and a Licensed Provider of StrongFirst’s One-Day Kettlebell User Course

Contact us today to schedule your consultation, introductory lesson or One-Day User Course.



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