VO2 max kettlebell workout

How to Rock the VO2 MAX Kettlebell Workout

The VO2 MAX workout is a killer, but if you are willing to do it regularly, your endurance will improve like nothing else. Body fat will drop off at accelerated rate, and even though this workout is only 40 minutes, it is possible to do it too often (it’s tough).

Ilearned this protocol from Kenneth Jay, the author of the book “Viking Warrior Conditioning,” and I have done it regularly ever since. I have learned a few tips and tricks that will help you to make this protocol survivable, and something that you can add to your arsenal of challenging workouts.

The beauty of this workout is that you already know how to do ALL the exercises—there’s only ONE!

The Exercise

The Snatch—that’s it! But wait! You most likely have never ever snatched like this before. You will learn that the beauty (and the burden) of it is not the movement or even the weight, it’s the TIMING that will make all the difference.

Less than one percent of all kettlebell trainers have even attempted this level of heart and lung hammering that only the truly brave who are willing to leave their ego at the door can master.

What You’ll Need

VO2 max kettlebell workout
This is what you will need to make this brief, brutal workout work for you:

  • Light Kettlebell | Men-16kg, Ladies-8-10kg.
  • Timer | Gymboss or a phone app, as long as it enables you to time BOTH work and rest periods. The timer is CRUCIAL, you simply cannot do it without one.
  • Gloves | I detest wearing gloves to train with, but torn palms are possible without gloves. Fingerless gloves are preferable. I only use gloves for the VO2Max.
  • Portable Fan | Unless you live in Siberia, you’re going to want a fan handy.
  • Towel & Water | You’re going to be sweating quite a bit; stay hydrated and grab a towel.

The VO2 MAX Kettlebell Workout

Start by setting your timer/interval app to beep every 15 seconds.

With the kettlebell in front of you, at the first beep, start snatching with your left hand for 15 seconds. If you are like 99% of the planet, you will get 7 or 8 reps. Some will get 9 reps, but that isn’t important.

What is important is that you get the same number of reps for both hands on EVERY set. Your set lasts 15 seconds, then 15 seconds of rest. Now, the right hand for 7 or 8 reps and then rest 15 seconds. Switch back to the left hand. You keep this up for the pre-selected workout length.

I promise you that if you can get these numbers on your first try then you are a phenomenon. Start with the goal of 40 total sets, 20 on the left and 20 on the right. Slowly add sets as your wind and mental toughness improve.

Originally, this protocol was designed to go for 40 minutes: a total of 80 sets (40 left/40 right).

I went for a year doing it three times a week and at least for me, it was a bit too much. Twice a week works very well with my other training and teaching scheduled commitments.

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Use W.A.R. W.A.R. means “within arm’s reach.” The fan should be in front of you within arm’s reach. The towel and the water MUST be very close to you—not even a single step to reach them, you won’t have time for that.

Really, for the duration of this workout there is no need to even move your feet from your snatch position.

Wear as little clothing as you are comfortable with because whatever you are wearing will be totally drenched with sweat at the end of the training session. You may choose to stand on a towel as the ground will also be drenched.

You might think that I am joking, but I can assure you, you are stepping into deep water filled with sharks with this workout.


VO2 max kettlebell workout
I can assure you that even if this is done only ONCE a week, you will soon notice great changes in your stamina, and your body fat levels will drop rapidly.

If you choose to try this in a commercial gym, let the owner know in advance that you will clean up the sweat. Make sure to find an area where you won’t be disturbed or questioned as to why your bell goes off every 15 seconds.

You will soon see that nobody else trains this way and it may be puzzling to them, but ignore them–you are teaching your system to recuperate in only 15 seconds, and you are on the fast track to great results.

I am Mr. Maceman and most of my training is with a Mace, but I still do the VO2MAX every Monday. If you live in Southern California, I would be happy to put you through it with me. Don’t expect me to talk much, I’ll only have 15 seconds to wipe sweat with a towel, and sip some water and then pick up that bell as I hear that beep!

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Rik is an Orange County based trainer who specializes in older warriors. His DVD, Kettlebell Basics, is available from http://www.budovideos.com. Rik Brown can be contacted at his site, MrMaceman.com

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