10 Kettlebell Challenges That Test Your Fitness


Fitness challenges have become very popular in the last several years. Most consist of being able to do an exercise for a target number of reps or do a specific exercise or workout every day for 21-30 days . 

Doing either type of challenge is a great way to give yourself a kickstart to workout regularly, achieve a goal, and test your strength and fitness. The way they make training a bit of a game is a lot of fun too. 

I’ve done quite a few kettlebell challenges over the years. One I like to do is see how many days of consecutive kettlebell workouts I can string together. For a workout to count it has to be at least 8 sets of exercises. My record is 138 days. I’m working on beating it this year. 

Listed below are the 10 best kettlebell challenges that test your fitness in at least one way. I read through hundreds of articles to find them and create the best resource on this topic for you. 

Whether you want to build strength, endurance, or just test your mental toughness there’s one for you. Let me know when you accomplish any of them with your results. If you like I’ll add them to the article to help motivate others. 

goblet squat challenge

Kettlebell Goblet Squat Challenge

Here’s a test of your strength and endurance that’ll have your thighs and glutes feel like they’re on fire. Created by strength coach John Rusin, it’s a test of how many goblet squats you can do in one set. He uses it to measure your technique and to determine if you’re ready for other types of squats like back and front.

You can use it for that too. It can also be done as a challenge of your strength, endurance, and will. Few exercises are tougher and more beneficial for your mind and body than doing more than 15 reps of squats with a relatively heavy weight. This is one you can do with a single dumbbell or kettlebell. 

How to you do this challenge 

  • Use  a weight equal to ½ of your body weight. Since kettlebells make bigger jumps in weights than dumbbells choose what’s closest.
  • Then do as many goblet squats as you can, going all the way to parallel and keeping your form intact. This means no rounding your shoulders, leaning forward, etc.
  • There’s no pausing between reps either. Keep squatting up and down until you can’t do any more.

What’s a good result?

Being able to do 25 reps is considered a good number and Dr. Rusin thinks you should be able to do other types of squats. 

Getting Ready For The Goblet Squat Challenge

Before you give this a try, make sure you first get your goblet squat technique squared away. Next, I’d say work up to doing goblet squats with ½ your body weight for at least 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Once you can do this relatively comfortably give the challenge a try. 

10,000 kettlebell swing challenge

10,000 KB Swings In 30 Days (Or Less)

This challenge is a great test of your core and grip strength, endurance, and ability to stay focused while pushing yourself to the limit.

Like its name implies you’ll be doing 10,000 swings. In this case over the course of a month. This can be done many ways. I typically see people doing 500 swings a day, 5 days a week with 2 days off or around 333-ish swings a day every day for 30 days. 

You can also do it in less time if you’re up for the challenge. Here’s a guy that did it in 10 days.  My wife did this too, and then kept going until she hit 30,000 swings in a month. If you’re going to go for this too I recommend getting yourself and especially your hands prepared with lots of swing based workouts for a few weeks prior. If you don’t already have calluses built up it’ll shred your hands. 

You can do this challenge as a workout unto itself or as part of one where you also do other exercises into it to make it a complete total body workout. Here’s one by Dan John that does just that.

There’s lots of before and after write ups about this challenge online. Here’s some of the results guys and ladies who’ve done it experience.

  • Significantly increased grip strength
  • More strength in lifts like squats and deadlifts
  • Better endurance and recovery
  • Losing body fat and 2” or more of their waist

Since you’re doing the same exercise for as many sets as you need to hit 300+ swings per workout many people say they find it to be boring. I think that makes it a great challenge. 

Learning to push through tedious work to accomplish any goal is a part of life. Doing it here, when you’re also tired and feeling weak toward the end of a set will prepare you for successfully accomplishing other goals, whether their personal, professional, or something else.

Results From Guys And Girls Who’ve Done The 10,000 Swing Challenge

  • Sports psychologist Dr. Karla Steingraber did it in just 17 days with a 44 pound kettlebell. She says “When I completed January with 11,000 swings, I felt like Ihad accomplished something great. Not only that, after only a month I noticed muscle definition in my arms and back that had disappeared over the last few months of the pandemic.”
  • Derek Kearns gained muscle while getting leaner and stronger. He added 44 pounds to his max barbell back squat and 23 pounds to his bench press among other accomplishments.

The Best Way To Get Ready For The 10,000 Swing Challenge

You don’t have to be in world class shape to do this challenge. It’s a lot of swings but doable as long as you’re in decent shape. What you should make sure of is that your hands are ready for this many swings. 

This means doing some type of kettlebell swings whether it’s 1 handed, 2 handed, lateral, rotational, or any other type. Aim to do 3-5 sets at every workout for a few weeks to get yourself ready. 

If you find doing 300+ swings to be too much in one workout at first, split them up into 3 short workouts of 100 or so kettlebell swings. As you become more fit you can merge the workouts into one. 

“If High-Intensity cardio, fat loss, and toning are what you want, the 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge is worth it.”

abrotherabroad.com
kettlebellwalkchallenge
Photo Credit – Crossfit Madison

1 Mile KB Walk

Here’s a kettlebell challenge that I really like. I used to do something like it years ago, before I read about it online because it was a great way to get in a hard cardio workout that also boosted my strength-endurance. I didn’t even think about its other benefits which I discuss here.

Credit to the creation of this challenge goes to Mike Prevost who has a pHD in exercise science. Mike came to create the challenge as he was looking for a way for runners to get stronger to improve their technique and performance.

He found that unilateral exercises, which is a way of saying holding a weight on one side of our body do this really well. From there he developed the challenge of walking 1 mile holding a kettlebell by your side.

One thing, while the challenge is called a walk and walking with added weight is the best way to start you can also do it while running. You’ll actually have to if your goal is hit the times considered to be between good and great. 

How To Do This Challenge

Walk 1 mile on flat ground as fast as possible while carrying a kettlebell. You can switch hands throughout the walk. Just try not to set it down or take any breaks.

Men should carry a 53 lb (24 kg) kettlebell. Women a 35 lb (16 kg) kettlebell. Adjust with a lighter or heavier weight if necessary to make the challenge easier or harder. 

Here Are The Times To Aim For

  • 16 minutes – good
  • 12 minutes – better
  • 10 minutes or less – great!

Results of people that’ve completed this challenge.

  • Adam of triforles.com did his first 1 mile kettlebell walk in 15 minutes 44 seconds.
  • Challenge creator Dr. Provost has done the challenge in 8 minutes 15 seconds with a 24 lb kettlebell and 9 minutes 45 seconds with a 53 pounder!

How To Prepare For The 1 Mile Kettlebell Walk

The best thing you can do is practice the challenge itself. You can do it as part of your workout or by itself. 

Challenge yourself to both increase the weight you can carry, the distance you can go as well as being able to go from walking to running the mile. When you can run a mile with a kettlebell in hand you’ll know you’ve accomplished something cool. 

farmers walk challenge
Photo Credit – Crossfit Second Home Instagram

The Farmers Walk Challenge

Another challenge that has you carrying kettlebells is this one created by physical therapists Dave and Lindset Paczkowski. Instead of walking as fast as possible for a mile this one has you carrying much heavier weights for a shorter distance.

To do this challenge you’ll see if you can carry ½ your body weight for 400 meters. If you can’t lighten the load to one that you can carry this far. Then, repeat the challenge once or twice a week until you can. Once this weight is to light, you can increase the weight or distance you’re walking for an even greater challenge. 

When you’re able to complete this challenge you’ll be stronger from your traps to your toes. You’ll also find that your posture is better, your grip is like iron, and even your endurance during intense workouts is up. 

How To Prepare

Build your grip with swings, cleans, snatches, and you guessed it lots of farmer’s walks. Every workout, do a few sets as a warm-up or after you’re done lifting. You don’t have to go heavy every time. Maybe 1-2 times a week, max. Before you know it, you’ll be carrying more than ½ your body weight for 400 meters. 

Turkish getup challenge
Photo Credit : Crossfit Brave

The Simple & Sinister Kettlebell Challenge

Based on a workout designed by Pavel Tsatsouline, the man who helped repopularize kettlebells in the United States, this challenge is a test of your strength and endurance.

The goal of it is to do 2 exercises, the Turkish get up and 1 handed kettlebell swings with as heavy a weight as possible under timed conditions. 

Here’s the challenge.

  • 1 handed kettlebell swings – 100 swings in 5 minutes
  • Turkish get ups – 10 in 10 minutes

Don’t let this challenge’s simplicity fool you. Doing these exercises for reps under in 15 minutes is not easy. Especially if you want to make it onto the leaderboard on Pavel’s company website, Strongfirst.com.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to make that happen. Simple is considered a good performance. Sinister is what you need to lift to be elite.

  • Women
    • Simple Goal – 16 kg TGU, 24 kg swings
    • Sinister Goal – 24 kg TGU, 32 kg swings
  • Men
    • Simple Goal – 32 kg TGU, 32 kg swings
    • Sinister Goal – 48 kg TGU, 48 kg swings

Here’s a link to help you see how these exercises need to be done to meet the standards of this challenge. 

Getting Your Body And Mind Ready For Simple And Sinister

The best way to be ready for this challenge is to do the workout. In it, Pavel shows you the best ways to make progress towards the goal of being sinister at this workout. 

If you choose to do it on your own, practicing get ups and 1 armed swings 3 times a week is probably the next best way to go. Do each with heavy weights for lower reps, light weights for higher reps, and everything in between. 

Expert Quote

“To achieve the sinister goal, one must be truly obsessed. This goal takes time. A lot of time. Swinging a 48 kg bell 100 times takes incredible strength and stamina.” Hugo Cranswick

turkishgetupchallenge
Photo Credit: Jazz Gulati Instagram

30 Day Turkish Get Up Challenge 

Here’s a challenge that’ll help you get stronger and better at doing Turkish get ups in less than 30 days. 

To do it you’ll do some variation of the TGU every day for 21 days. At the end you can measure your progress by improvements in your technique, strength, and how many reps you’re able to complete. 

Created by trainer Lauren Brooks, she’s used it to work up to a 64 lb get up at a body weight of 116 lbs (add picture). That’s more than half of what she weighs! 

Lauren provides 6 different types of get ups for you to choose from as well as sets and reps to help you progress during the 21 day event. Whether you’ve never done a Turkish get up or do them all of the time, this challenge will make you better at them in 3 weeks. 

She practices what she preaches too. Lauren has done kettlebell get ups with 64 lbs at a body weight of 116 lbs.

Preparing Yourself For The 21 Day TGU Challenge

Since she takes you through the workout step by step, there’s not much you need to do to prepare. While it certainly helps, you don’t need to be able to do Turkish get ups to complete this challenge successfully. Just stick to doing something every day for 30 days and you’ll be successful. 

secret service snatch challenge
Photo Credit: Magnus ID Instagram

Secret Service Snatch Test

Do you want to see if you’re fit enough to be in the US Secret Service, the organization trusted with protecting the President and their family?

If so, this challenge is for you. It’s an AMRAP workout, where you’ll do as many 1 arm kettlebell snatches as possible in 10 minutes. You’re allowed to switch hands throughout. Just don’t stop snatching!

Guys doing the challenge need to use a 53 lb (24 kg) kettlebell. Ladies a 35 lb (16 kg) ‘bell. 

Here are the standards.

  • 100 – lame
  • 150 – getting better
  • 200 – good
  • 250 – whoa that’s really good
  • 275 – you’re awesome

If you aren’t used to doing high reps sets of kettlebell snatches I suggest doing lots of them to prepare yourself for this challenge. Not just for your strength and cardio but to toughen up your hands. Doing 100 or more reps of snatches is hard on your hands. Don’t let a torn callus ruin your results. Just do lots of snatches, swings, and cleans to toughen them up and you’ll be fine.

Watch This Husband And Wife Successfully Complete This Challenge

Here is a link to a video of Brian Myers and his wife completing the challenge, doing 200 swings in 10 minutes with a 53 and 40 lb kettlebell respectfully. They did it by alternating sets of 10 swings with each arm for 10 minutes. Pretty awesome!

If you’re looking to test your endurance, strength, and will, this challenge is for you. 

How To Prepare For The Secret Service Snatch Challenge

First, make sure your technique in the kettlebell snatch is dialed in. You’re going to be doing lots of reps while preparing and doing the event. You don’t want to risk an injury or failing the challenge because of poor technique. 

When it comes to training, you obviously want to do kettlebell snatches regularly. In addition to sets of 12-15 reps to build endurance I’d also recommend workouts where you use heavier weights for sets of 5 to build strength and lighter weights for sets of 2-3 for power. 

You’ll find that including exercises like farmers walks, waiters walks, front squats, swings, rows, and overhead presses are helpful too. You need strong legs, grip, and upper back to get through this challenge. Plus a lot of endurance. 

Clean And Press Challenge 

Many of the challenges on this list are tests of endurance and will. Strength is tested some but not as much. This one is a measure of strength first and foremost. Endurance and will come in 2nd and a distant 3rd place, respectively. 

What does it require of you? Well, in order for a guy to successfully complete this kettlebell challenge you must do a double kettlebell clean and press 12 times, using 79 (36 kg) kettlebells. Pretty gnarly huh? 

Mike Mahler adapted the challenge for ladies with them needing to do 10 reps using 35 lb (16 kg) kettlebells. 

The clean and press challenge was created by old time strongman Sig Klein. In the 1920s Sig was a celebrated strongman and bodybuilder, known for his feats of strength and physique. 

Here’s a link to a video of Maggie Gao completing the challenge with 35 pound kettlebells.

This is a great test for measuring strength in pretty much every muscle. Since it requires 12 reps to complete, your endurance under heavy weights and mindset are tested too. Without both, and a strong mind it’s not possible to complete. 

How To Prepare For This Challenge

The best way to prepare for this challenge is to do lots of clean and presses, starting with lighter weights. You should also do cleans, swings, front squats, overhead presses, and rows on a regular basis to prepare yourself for success. 

kettlebell clean challenge
Photo Credit: Kettlebell Saramone Instagram Account

The Kettlebell Clean Challenge

This is another test of your ability to train consistently. In this case you’ll be doing all sorts of kettlebell cleans every day, for 30 days. Whether you feel energetic or super tired, you need to stay on track and do it every day for success. That in and of itself can be quite the challenge with all that you have going on. 

Created by personal trainer Greg Brookes, its a 30 day series of 10 minute workouts where you’re doing different types of kettlebell cleans. If you’ve never done them before, they’re halfway between a 1 handed swing and 1 handed kettlebell snatch. 

Greg has you do 1 of 6 different kettlebell cleans at every workout. I really like this. Doing a similar but somewhat different type of clean every day keeps things from being boring, while improving your strength from all sorts of angles. 

Here’s a link to videos of each clean being done with proper technique in case you need to learn or brush up on your technique. 

You can do the kettlebell clean challenge with 1 or 2 kettlebells. If you’ve been training for a year or so I suggest doing it with 2 ‘bells. 

Preparing For The Kettlebell Clean Challenge

The first thing you want to do before embarking on this quest is to learn how to do each of the 6 kettlebell cleans that you’ll be doing. Make sure you’re able to do 8-10 reps of each, with both arms.

You can build additional strength and prepare by doing lots of 1 and 2 handed kettlebell swings, goblet squats, 1 kettlebell squats, 1 arm rows, and kettlebell halos. 

WomanKettlebellThruster
Photo Credit: Zhara Khimjipt Instagram

Kettlebell Thruster Challenge

Like the clean and press, thrusters hit just about all of the 600 muscles in your body. Since you’re doing a squat followed by an overhead press for every rep they tax your strength and cardio harder than any other exercise. Sets of 10-12 squats with a heavy weight are enough to make your legs and lungs burn. Add in overhead presses to make the exercise a thruster and your heart rate really goes up. 

Created by trainer and coach Jeff Grant, this challenge ran for 8 straight years until 2018. I’m not sure if stopped running it altogether or if he just hasn’t updated his website since then. I do know that we need to do this one ourselves to bring it back into the public eye.

Jeff’s thruster challenge lasts 30 days. Starting with 2 reps, you do thrusters every day, increasing the number of reps every workout. By day 30 you’ll be doing 56 reps of thrusters.

For this challenge you’ll use 2 kettlebells. Use a weight that you can do 2-3 thrusters with using good form.

This is another challenge that forces you to do something that’s physically and mentally hard to do every single day. Whether you feel motivated or not. These are fun to do to get yourself in the habit of working out and to get better and stronger at an exercise in very little time.

Preparing Yourself For This Challenge

The first thing you need to do is learn how to complete a kettlebell thruster. Since you’re starting with 2 reps and increasing them over time you shouldn’t need much additional preparation. Just make sure you can kettlebell front squats and overhead presses by themselves and together as thruster, with 1 and 2 kettlebells. 

Get Started On A Kettlebell Challenge Today

Kettlebell challenges are a great way to learn new exercises and push yourself to accomplishing a challenge goal. Having a short term goal to accomplish in 30 days or less is also a great way to stay consistent with your workouts. Especially on days that you’re not motivated. 

Curt Pedersen
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