Fit in Ten

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

Got 10 minutes and one kettlebell? Then you’ve got time for girevoy — one of the most effective strength-and-cardio workouts around.

A half-dozen fit, determined-looking women, each holding a 53-pound kettlebell in one hand, stand side by side under the watchful eye of a panel of judges. In one powerful motion, each athlete swings her kettlebell from knee to shoulder height, pauses, explosively presses it overhead, and lowers it back to the starting position.

Then, without resting or putting the weight down, she does it again. And again. For 10 minutes. Then the men go, holding a 70-pound kettlebell in each hand.

Welcome to girevoy (GEAR-uh-voy), or kettlebell sport: a grueling test of strength, stamina and all-around toughness that began in Russia in 1948 as a spin-off from training methods originally used to get Russian soldiers into battle-ready condition in a hurry.

In recent years, girevoy-style training has picked up steam among both male and female fitness enthusiasts, not just at formal competitions, but also at regular gyms. And their results have been impressive. “If you’re trying to look better, feel better and move better, there’s no faster way than kettlebells,” says David Whitley, a Master Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) instructor in Nashville, Tenn.

“Girevoy training builds strength and endurance at the same time, so it doesn’t make you big and bulky, but rather lean and athletic,” says Maya Garcia, cofounder of Ice Chamber, a San Francisco Bay Area training facility, and a nine-time gold medalist in girevoy. “Plus, the workouts require very little time, space or equipment.”

The focus of this workout is to improve “work capacity,” or the ability to generate force within a set time period. As in competition, you’ll be pitted against the clock, trying to squeeze as many good-form reps as possible into a limited time frame. Even if you have to rest during the set, you’re still on the clock until time runs out.

This approach not only creates an intense cardio challenge, but also gives you a clear benchmark to beat the next time you do the workout: If you did 40 reps in six minutes today, for example, shoot for 45 next time.

Throw this workout into your routine in lieu of a full-body strength or cardio session, and expect to feel and see some pretty major changes in short order.

The Girevoy Workout

The Warm-Up

The warm-up is structured to gradually prepare you for an all-out six- to 10-minute effort in the clean and jerk, one of girevoy’s competitive lifts. During the warm-up, focus on precise movements.

Down-Dog, Up-Dog

  • Assume a pushup position on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart, creating a straight line between your heels and the top of  your head (not pictured).
  • Keeping your legs and arms straight and back flat, raise your hips as high as possible in the air, driving your heels and your chest toward the floor. Pause and take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Bend your elbows and swoop your head and chest forward and down toward the floor.
  • Slowly straighten your arms, moving your hips close to the floor, and arch your upper back. Draw your shoulders down and away from your ears and pause again.
  • Reverse the movement, returning to the hips-high posture. That’s one rep.

Perform: Two or three sets of eight slow, controlled reps.

Incline Pushups

  • Stand facing an exercise bench, a barbell in a sturdy rack, or other elevated surface.
  • Place your hands on the bench, slightly wider than shoulder width, and step back, trying to create a straight line between your heels and the top of your head.
  • Keeping your back in its natural arch, your body in a straight line, and your elbows into your sides, inhale and lower your chest until it touches the bench, squeezing your shoulder blades at the bottom of the movement.
  • Exhale as you slowly reverse the movement, pushing off the bench and returning to the starting position.

Perform: Two or three sets of eight slow, controlled reps.

Kettlebell Press

  • Assume an athletic stance, holding the kettlebell in your left hand, and bring the kettlebell to chest level.
  • Keeping your left elbow tucked into your side, smoothly press the kettlebell overhead, finishing the movement with your left hand positioned directly over your left shoulder.
  • Reverse the movement, lowering the kettlebell under control to shoulder height, and repeat.

Perform: One minute per side.

The Workout

One-Arm Long Cycle Clean and Jerk

Here’s your shot at girevoy glory! This workout is a tough-and-technical six- to 10-minute challenge. Try not to put the kettlebell down for the full time period, and work up to switching hands just once — at the halfway mark — during the workout.

 One set, six to 10 minutes long, changing hands as frequently as once every minute, working up to just one hand-switch total.

The Setup:

  • Assume a shoulder-width stance, feet parallel.
  • Bending from the hips, reach forward with your left hand, taking an overhand grip on a kettlebell on the floor in front of you.

The Back-Swing:

  • Keeping your lower back in its natural arch and your eyes looking straight ahead, exhale and swing the kettlebell all the way back between your legs.


The Forward Swing:

  • Forcefully drive your hips forward, simultaneously swinging the kettlebell forward and up, allowing your left arm to bend — palm down, elbow in tight — as the kettlebell rises in front of you.


The Catch/Rack:

  • As the kettlebell reaches chest height, quickly turn your left hand into the thumb-up position so that the kettlebell rotates to the outside of your left upper arm and forearm.  This is called the rack position.


The Dip:

  • With the kettlebell still in the rack position, dip your body down slightly, as if preparing to jump.

The Overhead Catch:

  • As the kettlebell rises, straighten your legs slightly, but then quickly rebend your legs into a quarter- to a half-squat position and lock out your left arm above your head.

The Finish:

  • With the kettlebell still overhead, straighten your legs under control, rising into a full standing position.
  • Lower the bell under control, first to the rack position, and then back to the starting position. Repeat.

Pick Your Bell

Your goal in this workout is to work vigorously from the beginning to the end of each set. Once you can complete the work period with picture-perfect form (even if you’re huffing and puffing at the end), feel free to choose a heavier weight your next time out.

Most beginners are stronger in the clean than the jerk, so choose your weights appropriately. Use a lighter weight while warming up. Then, during the workout, go heavier and push your limits: In elite competition, female competitors use a 53-pound kettlebell, and men use two 70-pounders — one in each hand!

Andrew Heffernan is a contributing editor at Experience Life

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more, to sign up for Experience Life newsletters, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


For Dr. Frank Lipman, health is more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Dr. Lipman is a widely recognized trailblazer and leader in functional and integrative medicine, and he is a New York Times best-selling author of five books, How To Be Well, The New Health Rules, 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat, Revive and Total Renewal.

After his initial medical training in his native South Africa, Dr. Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. He became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled his interest in non-Western healing modalities.

In 1984, Dr. Lipman immigrated to the United States, where he became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, he became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine to treat people suffering from heroin and crack addiction. Seeing the way these patients responded so positively to acupuncture made him even more aware of the potential of implementing non- Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing. As a medical student, he was taught to focus on the disease rather than the patient, and now as a doctor he found himself treating symptoms rather than the root causes of illness. Frustrated by the constraints of his training, and the limitations in helping his patients regain true health, he began a journey of discovery to search for the path to meaningful long-term health and wellness.

He began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. Dr. Lipman founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in 1992, where he combines the best of Western medicine and cutting edge nutritional science with age-old healing techniques from the East. As his patient chef Seamus Mullen told The New York Times, "If antibiotics are right, he'll try it. If it's an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things."

In addition to his practice, Dr. Lipman is the creator of Be Well, an expanding lifestyle wellness brand he founded in 2010 to help people create, sustain and lead healthier lives.