Kettlebells and Spartan Race Training

I’m going to be blunt and say a lot of trainers talk a lot of sh$t when it comes to trying to get you to buy their services. No matter the product they’ll tell you that their product will help you achieve your goal – no matter how diverse it may be.

My biggest pet peeve when it comes to lying trainers these days are the whoppers they tell you regarding physical training and endurance events. Firstly, if they haven’t run a a decent marathon, how do they know what it takes to get you over the line in one? I see so many recommendations to work on strength, or that strength is the mother quality, etc., and while it is an important factor of training people there are times when you need to push people in a direction that focuses on helping the client achieve their goal. There comes a point in preparation for an event where long term goals of overall health and wellness need to be put aside and the focus needs to be on event preparation. That means that normally broad training that encompasses many facets of fitness, needs to become singularly focused and narrow. Hey, no one ever said that performance was healthy, or even balanced. For an event like a marathon or an Ironman your entire focus needs to be on endurance and being as fast as possible. Anything else during your event preparation is just a waste of time and energy – trying to set deadlift records during this kind of training just isn’t going to work. Similarly, if you’re training for a power lifting competition deciding to run an hour three times per week is just going to hold you back. It’s all about making sure the training fits the goals – every session you should be asking “Does this move me closer to my goals or further away?”

But what about when your goal is one that is incredibly non-specific, like military recruit training, special forces selection or an event like Spartan Race? Any trainer worth their weight in protein bars will start with the obvious – a needs analysis. Believe it or not, these three are all the same. Even though the military choices are multi-day events you still actually need to train for them in the same way you would for a Spartan Race. Let’s look at similarities:

  • They all include running.
  • They all include the ability to move your body for lengths of time – requiring strength endurance over maximal strength.
  • They all require a tough mindset.
  • They require a body that is resilient, robust and able to perform a variety of movements from running to burpees to crawling to climbing.

What we’re looking for when we’re training for our military/ Spartan Race plan is something that covers many bases. We’re not going to use a Vibro Plate or any other gadget that has no great payoff. We want AK-47 results and we want strength, strength endurance, suppleness, resilience and fitness. We need the kettlebell and we need RKC trainers.

The kettelbell allows many things at once – we can work on strength endurance via high rep ballistics with exercises like snatches and clean and jerks. We can work grip strength needed for climbing obstacles with the same exercises and with the addition of heavy farmers walks too. We can strengthen the lower back with exercises like swings and the other hip driven ballistics like cleans and snatches – McGill has done studies on the tonic effect that swings have on the lower back and as anyone who has run distance will tell you that is a crucial area to bullet proof so you can get the miles in. We can also work on shoulder stability which is crucial in protecting shoulders from damage in the event of a fall from obstacles. This can be done with exercises like the get up, press and snatch. Finally, the kettlebell can work in seamlessly with body weight exercises like pull-ups, rope climbing, push ups or burpees. And even better – often you’ll only need one or two kettlebells to get all your training in.

Don’t get carried away with all the strength training and body weight work you’ll be doing. Priority one is still running. You need to be fit and fast and that takes time to develop. If you’re like me and on the wrong side of forty with no real history of running you’re going to need to start  slowly. Running at forty is really different to when you were in high school so take your time. Something like the run/ walk plan in here works really well (and ignore the barefoot part and just use the same plan for normal running).

Secondly, the target needs to be strength endurance, so learn to like high reps. It seems like we’ve gone so far away from sets of ten in the fitness world that people get out of breath if you ask them to do more then five reps. When I hear ridiculous comments like “Anything over three is cardio” I just have to shake my head and wonder how many years it’ll be before that person has a heart attack or develops diabetes. Here’s a sample workout:

Warm up –

10mins Primal Move

Run 1km

Strength –

Ring dips + pull ups for 5 sets of 10 each (use weight as needed).

Single leg deadlifts x 5/5 + Get Ups x 3/3. 5 rounds

Strength endurance –

Snatch/ burpee ladder

Kettlebell snatch x 5/5 + 5 burpees + run 400m

Kettlebell snatch x 10/10 + 10 burpees + run 400m

Kettlebell snatch x 15/15 + 15 burpees + run 400m

Continue adding 5 reps to both snatches and burpees and complete as many rounds as possible in 20mins.

Cool down –

Row 1km + run 1km

If you’re looking for the best in Spartan Race training in Melbourne you need a Spartan Group X trainer. You also need an RKC kettlebell trainer. has both – aren’t you lucky?