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101 Kettlebell Workouts: 30 Under 30 Workout # 26 - Your Ladder for Press Power

Updated on October 9, 2014

Climbing the Ladder

The Workout is called simply enough, "# 26."

It is taken from an ebook called "101 Kettlebell Workouts" compiled and written by David Whitley, Senior RKC Instructor.

RKC stands for "Russian Kettlebell Challenge." The Russian Kettlebell Challenge was started by Pavel Tsatsouline and it has resurrected this simple and beautiful strength training tool. The Russian Kettlebell.

With Pavel comes what seems to be an infinite supply of knowledge about strength.

Pavel will tell you that the best way to train for strength is by training heavy with a good amount of volume all the while staying fresh. Kind of a Catch 22, but not really.

One of the ways to train heavy and fresh is with ladders. Ladders are ideal for most exercises as a way to build muscular strength and endurance. Ladders will also find you being as strong as you look too.

I first read about Ladders in a magazine called Muscle Media back in the day. Ladders have also made their way into a few of Pavel's book. Most notably, "Beyond Bodybuilding" and "Enter The Kettlebell."

But just what is a Ladder anyway? Glad you asked!

Let's use Workout 26 from "101 Kettlebell Workouts" as an example. Here in will be a perfect routine for a strong upper body.

Find a kettlebell you can One Arm Clean and Press for 5 to 8 reps. Then with your weaker arm, perform one repetition. Switch arms and do one repetition. Then go do a Pull Up. That was the first rung of this ladder. Now return to the kettlebell and do two repetitions per side and immediately follow that up with two Pull Ups. Second Rung. Now go for 3 repetitions all around. That was rung number 3. Now take a break.

That is one Ladder. If you were using a 53 pound kettlebell that means you performed 12 total repetitions with both hands. 12 x 53 = 636 pounds lifted. That's some volume for only one set/ladder.

After your break, go do it again, and again. In fact, while you're at it, let's do it 5 times. That's 5 Ladders, 60 repetitions and 3180 pounds Cleaned and Pressed in a single session.

If you can complete this load and volume and are ready for the next level, my thoughts and high recommendation would be to get yourself a copy of "Enter the Kettlebell" and progress accordingly.

How Can Ladders Help With Other Drills?

You can pretty much plug the Ladder into any drill that you want to improve on or use to gain strength.

If you're looking to increase your push up or pull up numbers, Ladders are fantastic.

If you're training with a partner, Ladders make for a nice friendly and fun little competition. Pick an exercise... Bench Press. Sure, why not? You do one rep at 85% of your max. Your partner does the same. Now you both do 2. Then 3. Go until you can't get another rung higher in good form. Then reduce the weight to 80% of your max and start over.

Struggling with the Squat? Ladders will help with your form. Remember, train fresh!

The possibilities here are endless. What can you come up with?

What About Rest Periods?

It depends on what you're training for.

Brute Strength: Take as much time as you need. Train as fresh as possible. 5 to 10 minutes between rungs and ladders.

Strength Endurance/Fat Loss: Use a more moderate weight and get the work done with as little rest as you can manage between rungs with good solid technique. Rest between ladders only as long as it takes to catch your breath.

Muscle Mass: Keep the rest around 60 seconds for the rungs and no more than 2 minutes between ladders.

Regardless of the time spent working or resting, ALWAYS maintain perfect form and solid technique. Never attempt a repetition you're not sure of. Train for longevity. As David Whitley so eloquently puts it, "Push yourself, but don't be stupid."

The Rest of 26 and Chuck Liddell

Number 26 wraps up with a drill called the Reverse Lunge. Stand up straight holding a single kettlebell in your right hand. Step back with your right leg and lunge. At the bottom, pass the kettlebell under your left leg to your left hand and then stand back up. The kettlebell is now in your left hand. Now step back and lunge with your left leg and pass back to the right. Repeat and don't fall over...

For me, this turned into a 3 Stooges scene real quick. I'm not well practiced in the lunge, I'm coordinated, but apparently not when it comes to stepping back and lunging. All I could think of was this is how Chuck Liddell must have felt after his first rehearsal on "Dancing with the Stars."

Clearly, I have some movement patterns that need correcting and it would appear that I could use a little practice where this is concerned. Needless to say, I was left feeling a little awkward. So I hereby declare that I will incorporate the Reverse Lunge into my warm ups and conquer this chink in the armor...

Reverse Lunge

How Did You Fair?

See results

Wrapping it up...

Workout 26 is great for strength and coordination. It will be a session to use for practicing on your strength more than just "working out."

Try the Ladder. It's a simple as can be way to improve and develop your strength.


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