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Kettlebell Push/Pull Split Importance

kettlebell push pull split

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You need to be breaking down your workout splits into three separate categories. Those categories are push, pull, and legs. Working out has always been seen as a complicated thing (or maybe intimidating) to a lot of people. Make it stupid simple. This article is all about kettlebell workouts. Here is how you can set yourself up for success with a proper way to do your kettlebell push-pull split exercises through the week.

kettlebell push pull split

Why it is Important to Break Workouts into Push/Pull Splits

Splits are great in order to work out all the muscles properly every week. The push-pull split (PPL split) is one of the best workout regiments for several reasons. A major one is that it works out muscle groups that are related to each other – activated by either pushing or pulling, while the legs get their own day. 

Their movements are intertwined with each other so it’s best to work them out on the same day. In this way, you get the optimal recovery time for them as well. Otherwise, you can risk working out a muscle that’s already sore on a different day, not allowing it to rest. 

Sure, the push-pull split isn’t perfect. There are smaller muscle groups that need more emphasis on them to grow with a variety of exercises to really hit them. Some pulling exercises need to be done on your push day as well. 

However, because the split only encompasses three days, you can repeat it to work out your muscles twice a week. This is recommended for optimal muscle growth. On top of that, you also get a more balanced physique as the muscle groups get equal attention from you. 

upper body, strength,

Strength and Hypertrophy (What is it and Why it’s Important)

If you’re new to the gym and are looking for advice on how to make progress, you’ll come across many terms. Two of the most overused ones are strength and hypertrophy – they’re also two of the most important ones as they shape your lifting habits. 

kettlebell push pull split


Working out for strength means that you hit the gym with the goal of becoming stronger. It means that you lift as heavy as you can and try to max out your stats. It means that once you’re able to work with a certain weight, you move on to the next one. Powerlifters do this. 

Basically, the body’s nervous system is given the daunting task of utilizing all the muscle fibers that it can in order to lift whatever you have in front of you. Strength training is vital if you’re an athlete as it can enhance your performance in whichever sport you play. 

kettlebell push pull split


Meanwhile, working out with hypertrophy in mind means that you’re lifting to get bigger. This is what bodybuilders do as they work with medial weights, but do so in a higher volume – more sets, and more reps. The results take a longer while to show than they would for strength training. 

Hypertrophy gets you bigger muscles which do look great and give you a jacked look. However, they might not be the best fit for every type of sport out there as they can slow you down where you may need to be explosive. 

Strength vs Hypertrophy

While these two training mindsets lead to different results, they do share common ground as well. Strength training helps your body develop endurance and the ability to lift for longer, which increases your muscle size. 

Similarly, hypertrophy training gets you bigger muscles, and more strength as a result. This is why you see legendary bodybuilders like Ronnie Coleman be able to perform compound movements with hundreds of pounds of weights stacked up on them. 

Resistance training is required in both cases and so is the implementation of multi-joint exercises. The differences lie in variables such as the number of reps and sets, the intensity of the workouts, the rest period, etc. 

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Can you build Build Muscles with Kettlebell workouts?

Yes, you can. Kettlebells are great in this regard due to their versatility and ability to target various groups of muscles, all at once. When you use kettlebells for high intensity workouts and maintain a proper diet, you can build muscle mass. 

Kettlebell workouts are very helpful if you want to build lean muscle – especially if you want to target the posterior chain. The cool side effects will include explosive strength and conditioning, plus a great posture. The key to achieving all of this is consistency though. 

How to Progress for Hypertrophy

The philosophy behind hypertrophy is not that complicated. You need to engage in what’s known as progressive overload. This means that you should start out with a weight and increase the number of reps that you can perform over time – applies to free weights and machines.

Then you should increase the weight and repeat the process. During this time, you need to ensure that you’re getting plenty of rest – each muscle should be allowed to recover for at least 48 hours until you hit it again. Try to train each muscle group at least two times a week. 

It is recommended that you train each muscle group in 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps each. As far as the intensity is concerned, it is recommended to work out in such a way that you’re able to tire out the muscles in this rep range and achieve failure. The intensity here is moderate.  

kettlebells, workout

For progression, you can either increase the weight or the number of reps during every workout. Once you feel like you’re not making gains, you can either lower the weight and work back up. Or, you could reduce the frequency of the training per week or reduce the number of sets. 

Some say that you should rest at least 30 seconds between sets. Others say that the rest period should be at least 60 seconds, up to 90 seconds. Outside the gym, you need to eat a protein-rich diet that provides the body with the resources that it needs to build muscle

lift heavy, kettlebell push pull split

How to Progress for Strength

For the sole goal of becoming a strongman, it is recommended that you increase the weight so that you perform fewer reps (around 1-5 reps per set). The number of sets recommended is 4-5. However, the rest period is longer at about 3-5 minutes between sets. 

This is because of the higher level of intensity that’s required for strength training. The higher intensity means that you work out in lower rep ranges as you get fatigued earlier. The greater rest period means that you’re able to fully recover for the next high-intensity set. 

You can progress in multiple ways here by increasing the number of sets, the rep range, or the weight. Progression is done much faster here as compared to hypertrophy training as you need to overload the body without disturbing the form too much for intensity. 

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How heavy kettlebells should you lift?

There’s no definitive answer here as experts recommend 10-20 lbs for women. Meanwhile, men are recommended to start with 20-45 lbs. This is as kettlebells tend to work many muscles unlike dumbbells which allow you to perform isolation movements. 

This means that light kettlebells won’t do as they won’t challenge your body at all and you shouldn’t underestimate the weight of a kettlebell if you’re a heavy lifter. Some say that you should go around 5-15 lbs lighter when picking a kettlebell than you would on a dumbbell. 

If you feel that the recommended starting weights are a lot for you, you’re probably doing the wrong exercises. Once you feel like you’re crushing your kettlebell workouts you can progress by moving up to a kettlebell that’s around 18 pounds heavier. 

How is Kettlebell Training Different from Barbells and Dumbbells?

Kettlebell training can be used for the same purposes as barbells and dumbbells. However, there are some distinct advantages that each free weight has over each other. Barbells and dumbbells are better for building up strength and muscle. 

Meanwhile, kettlebell training – which can also be used to build up explosive and practical strength – are better for flexibility, endurance, conditioning, and cardio. You need just one kettlebell to unlock a variety of exercises with higher range of motion. 

kettlebell push pull split

Increasing Total-Body Strength and Mobility

In order to do this, it is imperative that you get stronger while also building up your flexibility. For the former, you can opt for multi-joint barbell compound exercises that target several muscles at a time. For the latter, kettlebell training is recommended along with lots of stretching. 

What Are Considered Pushing Exercises? What About Pulling Exercises?

In order to use pushing and pulling movements to work out your whole body, you should have a gist of what they are.

Push Exercises

As indicated by their name, pushing exercises are the ones that require you to perform pushing workouts with your weights. These usually target the chest, the triceps and shoulders. Shoulder and bench presses, push-ups, tricep push-downs and extensions are examples.

There are various forms of the kettlebell push press, aka the kettlebell overhead press that can be done with one or two kettlebells that you can incorporate here. You can also do kettlebell push ups, side kettlebell swings, kettlebell floor and half-sitting presses, etc.

Pull Exercises

Meanwhile pulling exercises require you to pull on the weight against gravity. They focus on the back and the lats, the biceps and forearms. The pull workouts include bent over rows, pullups, bicep curls, lat pulldowns, etc.  The kettlebell exercise options here include rows, pullovers, halos, etc.

Know this for a Complete Workout

While these exercises attack the aforementioned muscle groups, you should know that there are some anomalies. For example, the real and side delts are a part of the shoulder but are targeted with pulling workouts. Meanwhile, one of the best exercises for the lats is the pushdown. 

When it comes to the legs, you’ll find pulling and pushing exercises. The squats require pushing while the deadlift and hamstring curl require you to pull. In fact, the deadlift even hits the upper body as it targets the traps and the back.

Improving Movement Patterns and Asymmetries

There are several types of movement patterns out there and there are specific ones that are required by athletes of different sports. To improve these, the athletes are recommended a bunch of exercises that improve these patterns. 

Meanwhile, asymmetries can be improved by exercises that focus on the muscles that cause them. Plus, it is important to perform exercises with proper form and technique in order to prevent them in the first place. 

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  • Cameron Allen

    Cameron is the Founder of Grapplers Graveyard. He is an athlete, a life-long learner, and a combat sports enthusiast. His goal is to build websites that help people become smarter, healthier, and happier.

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