My favorite weight loss and conditioning workouts use kettlebells. This is because there isn’t a more convenient, efficient, and safe way to burn so many calories during and after your workout. All you need is a single kettlebell, 15-20 minutes, and a little room to get in a better workout than you can at the gym.
In this article I’ll teach you one of the best workouts for losing weight fast. They’re called kettlebell ladders and are a cool twist on traditional strength training.
Kettlebell Ladders For Weight Loss
Ladders have been used by strength coaches for years to increase a workouts intensity and get athletes into shape fast. Basically speaking, instead of doing the same number of reps for every set, i.e. 3 sets of 10, you either add or subtract a rep for every subsequent set until you reach your target number of reps.
One of the most common ways to perform ladders is to subtract a rep from every set you do until you reach zero. You can also reverse the order, starting at 1 and adding a rep until you reach a target number of reps.
If this is a little confusing don’t worry. Below are my 3 favorite kettlebell ladder workouts which illustrate how to perform them properly. Give then a try and you’ll quickly see how effective they are for burning off excess body fat and getting you into shape fast!
1. Superset Ladders
This is the most common form of ladder workout. Learning to do them is pretty easy. The way they’re done is by pairing together 2 exercises like squats and kettlebell swings and performing one after the other without resting. As you progress from the 1st to the 2nd sets you will do 1 less repetition. This process is repeated for every set until you reach 0.
After performing this ladder you can rest for 2-3 minutes and repeat the process again. You can also reverse the order, starting with 1 rep and adding a rep with each set. Make it your goal to reach 10 reps.
See the workout below for a more detailed explanation.
When choosing a weight to use, select one that you can easily perform for 2-3 sets of 10 reps. This will ensure your workout is intense but not so hard that it can’t be completed or done safely.
Ladder Superset With Kettlebells – Kettlebell Swings & Front Squats
Kettlebell Swing 8 reps – followed by – Kettlebell Front Squats 8 reps
Kettlebell Swing 7 reps – followed by – Kettlebell Front Squats 7 reps
Kettlebell Swing 6 reps – followed by – Kettlebell Front Squats 6 reps
Kettlebell Swing 5 reps – followed by – Kettlebell Front Squats 5 reps
Kettlebell Swing 4 reps – followed by – Kettlebell Front Squats 4 reps
Kettlebell Swing 3 reps – followed by – Kettlebell Front Squats 3 reps
Kettlebell Swing 2 reps – followed by – Kettlebell Front Squats – 2 reps
Kettlebell Swing 1 reps – followed by – Kettlebell Front Squats – 1 reps
Single Exercise Ladder
This workout is performed in the same way as the workout above except you only perform 1 exercise at a time. This is done by using 3-4 kettlebells of increasing weight. Keep the increases between 5-15 lbs. per kettlebell. I personally use 35, 50, and 70 lb. kettlebells.
Once you have chosen which weights to use, the ladder is done by doing 1 set with each. You’ll countdown by doing 1 less rep at every subsequent set until you reach 0.
My favorite way to perform this ladder is with kettlebell swings. Here’s an example of how it’s done with 25, 35, and 50 pound kettlebells.
Set 1 – 5 reps each with a 50, 35, and 25 lb. kettlebell
Set 2 – 4 reps each with a 50, 35, and 25 lb. kettlebell
Set 3 – 3 reps each with a 50, 35, and 25 lb. kettlebell
Set 4 – 2 reps each with a 50, 35, and 25 lb. kettlebell
Set 5 – 1 reps each with a 50, 35, and 25 lb. kettlebell
Here you do 2 kettlebell exercises with no rest just like you’re performing a superset ladder. The difference is that instead of doing the same number of reps with each exercise you ‘climb down’ the ladder with one while ‘climbing up’ with the other. More simply put, you will be subtracting a rep from every set for one exercise while you start at 1 and add a rep with every set you do of the other.
The ladder ends when you reach 0 reps on the exercise that you did while climbing down the ladder.
Here’s an uneven ladder workout for you to give a try.
Kettlebell Shoulder Press 8 reps – followed by – 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing 1 rep
Kettlebell Shoulder Press 7 reps – followed by – 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing 2 reps
Kettlebell Shoulder Press 6 reps – followed by – 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing 3 reps
Kettlebell Shoulder Press 5 reps – followed by – 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing 4 reps
Kettlebell Shoulder Press 4 reps – followed by – 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing 5 reps
Kettlebell Shoulder Press 3 reps – followed by – 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing 6 reps
Kettlebell Shoulder Press 2 reps – followed by – 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing 7 reps
Kettlebell Shoulder Press 1 reps – followed by – 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing 8 reps
Kettlebell Ladder Workout FAQ
1. When and how often can I perform ladder workouts?
I recommend first doing ladders as their own workout. This way you can put 100% effort into every set and rep. They’re so demanding that you shouldn’t be able to do much else anyway.
You can perform ladders as often as you like. Just be careful to not do them so often that you aren’t able to recover and put 100% into your other workouts. Start with 2-3 workouts a week and increase the amount you do until you’re performing them 5-6 days a week. Once you’re really fit try doing a couple of sets of Farmers Walks after doing a ladder workout for added intensity.
2. When do I rest and how much is allowed?
You don’t rest until you have reached your target number of reps, which is usually 0 when you are climbing down the ladder and a predetermined number when you’re climbing or counting up.
If you’re doing more than 1 ladder, simply rest until you’ve caught your breath and then start over. The fitter you are, the less rest you’ll require.
3. How many reps should I start with to begin my ladder workout?
I recommend not going higher than 10 reps for a given ladder. This ensures you can use a weight that’s heavy enough to get in a great workout while training at a high enough intensity to ensure that you burn as many calories as possible.
4. Which kettlebell exercises are the best to use?
You’ll want to perform exercises that train as many large muscle groups (i.e. back, chest, legs, shoulders) per rep. Some of the best are kettlebell snatches, swings, squats, and push presses.
Check out my article ‘The Best Total Body Exercises’ for more examples.
You now know one of the best types of workouts for quickly burning hundreds of calories and getting into great shape. Give them a try and let me know what you think by posting your experience with kettlebell ladders in the comments section below.
If you’d like a complete workout program that uses ladders and other high intensity techniques to help you lose 15 or more pounds of fat in 28 days I recommend you try our Fat Hackers plan. For less than the cost of one workout with a trainer you’ll get a 4 week program that gives you every set, rep, and exercise you need to achieve the body you desire. Fat Hackers also contains a complete fat loss diet that doesn’t involve counting calories, starving yourself, or completely eliminating your favorite foods.