Upper-Body Kettlebell Interval Workout

Upper-Body Kettlebell Interval WorkoutMy last upper body workout using kettlebells was a big hit, and I got a reader request for another one so she could switch it up. Ask and you shall receive…eventually (my turnaround time with workout requests is glacial, I know).

I would consider this workout to be a little more advanced than the first upper body kettlebell routine I blogged because you’re doing dynamic movements with heavier weights (the high-pull swings and high-pull to plank rows in particular). Form will be important for injury prevention with those, so if you’re newer to working out or kettlebells, start with a lighter weight—lighter than you think you need, trust me. Practice the exercises with little-to-no weight before upping it.

Granted, I am a whiney baby when it comes to upper body workouts, but OH MAN this one killed me…

Upper Body Kettlebell Interval Workout

Equipment I Used:

Set an interval timer for 21 rounds of 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest. You’ll go through the following circuit of exercises three times. As you’ll notice, you work the right side completely before moving onto the left: three exercises on the right, a two-hand exercises, then the starting three exercises on the left.

Upper-Body Kettlebell Interval Workout

  • High Pull Swing RIGHT: The best way to understand this swing is to watch this YouTube video demo (@2:40). It’s essentially a basic one-arm swing, but at the top of the swing, you pull your elbow back and slightly up and then lightly punch the bell back forward towards the top of the swing arch. To break it down: Start holding the bell in your right hand, feet shoulder-width apart with a soft bend in the knees. Swing the bell back between your legs, thumb-first, leaning forward with a straight back and bending the knees a little deeper. As you explosively swing the bell forward and up, thrust the hips powerfully forward, rotating your hand so that knuckles face forward, bringing the bell up to chest-to-face height as you bend the elbow, pulling it back behind your body at a slight upward angel. Push the bell back out front, straightening the elbow, and swing it back down, rotating the bell so that your thumb leads the way.
  • Clean ‘n Press RIGHT:Start standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell in one hand, arm straight, bell hanging in front of your body. Bend knees into a half squat, and bring the kettlebell from a straight-arm hanging position to being closely held by the center of your chest with arm bent, fingers facing up. It’s a smooth movement, pulling the bell straight up and flipping your grip around the handle from an overhand grip to underhand (it will be cradled in the crook of your thumb and index finger at the end). Use your legs to help you achieve the clean: push up from your feet, straightening your legs for added power as you pull the bell up, and landing softly back into that half-squat as you catch the bell in its new hand position. From there, straighten legs as you stand up and extend your hand and the bell skyward. Reverse the moves to bring yourself back to starting position. Try to keep the kettlebell towards the center of your body throughout this move. When done correctly, this isn’t just an upper-body workout, but great for your core.
  • High Pull to Plank Row RIGHT: This exercise is almost like an upper-body burpee. Start standing tall will the kettlebell placed a little in front of you on the floor to your right. Squat down, placing hands on the floor (next to the bell) and jump your feet back into a plank position. From there, holding a plank and trying not to rotate your hips, grab the kettlebell with your right hand and row it off the ground, pulling your elbow straight up towards the ceiling and slowly returning it back down. Resting the bell back on the floor, jump both feet back up towards your hands, shifting your weight into your heels so that you’re squatting next to the bell. From here, it’s time for the high pull. Grab the kettlebell with your right hand and power up to a standing position using your legs. As you do, pull the kettlebell striahgt up by your armpit, leading with the elbow. Bring the kettlebell back down to the ground softly, and as you do, place your hands on the ground next to it and jump back into your next plank, starting from the beginning.
  • Serve the Platter to Front Raise: You’ll do one serve the platter and then one front raise, flipping your grip at the bottom of each movement to transition to the next. Start holding a kettlebell in each hand at hip height, palms facing up. From there, reach your hands up and out in front of you to shoulder height. Careful not to the shrug the shoulders as you do this. Keep a soft bend in the elbow at the top, and then slowly return the bells back to hip height. Smoothly flip the bells so that your palms are now facing down gripping the top of the handles. From here, raise your hands straight up in front of you to shoulder height, keeping just a soft bend in the elbows (don’t lock your arms straight). Slowly return down to starting position, transitioning back to serve the platter.
  • High Pull Swing LEFT
  • Clean ‘n Press LEFT
  • High Pull to Plank Row LEFT

Upper-Body Kettlebell Interval Workout

WEARING | top: c/o Lucy // leggings: c/o Forever21 // sneakers: Nike

The tank I’m wearing in today’s workout is another gift from lucy (you might remember the leggings I wore a few weeks ago, also from them). Isn’t the back of this top adorable?? It’s their Perfect Core Halter (retail at $65), and cute back detailing aside, is also comfortable and functional. And the built-in bra is supportive enough that I can run/jump/cartwheel/play on trampolines without feeling like I need a sports bra underneath. :)

Alright that’s all for me today—enjoy this kettlebell killer! You all seem to love upper body workouts (personally my least favorite haha), so hopefully this will be a perfect addition to your weekly workout routine.


15-Minute AMRAP Workout (30-Day Sweat Challenge)

15-Minute AMRAP Workout with hand weightsI’m teaming up with Sweaty Betty for today’s workout! SB is challenging you to amp up your fitness and nutrition this month by following along with their series of online workouts, recipes and mindfulness mini challenges and goals. I’m honored to have been asked to host today’s challenge, and in true P&I fashion, we’re doing a quick-but-intense workout.

Grab a set of 5-15lb dumbbells (or just use your bodyweight) and set aside 15 minutes of your day to try this bad boy out. Also be sure to follow Sweaty Betty on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram this month to catch all the other challenges (#SB30daysweat), and check out their Get Fit 4 Free page. I think a lot of people want to hit the “reset” button in September after a summer of traveling, celebrating, weddings, and BBQs, so SB’s 30-Day Sweat Challenge couldn’t have come at a better time.

15-Minute AMRAP Workout Challenge

Equipment I Used:

  • Two 8-lb dumbbells (optional—you can do this with just your bodyweight!)

Set a timer (or watch the clock) for 15 minutes. AMRAP stands for As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible, so your goal is to get through the following exercises as many times as you can before the timer goes off. Keep track of how many rounds you do, and then revisit the workout in a couple weeks or months and try to beat your time. It’s a great way to push yourself and track progress!

15-Minute AMRAP Workout with hand weights

  • 10 Burpee Jump Squats with Rows: This move is based on the traditional burpee. Holding dumbbells at your shoulders, feet hip-width apart, do three jump squats. On the last one, place your dumbbells on the ground in front of you and jump back into a plank position. Do a row with each arm, pulling your elbow straight up towards the ceiling. Jump your feet back up towards your hands, coming upright into squat position. That’s one rep. You’ll then start right back up with the jump squats. 3 jump squats + 1 plank row each arm = 1 rep.
  • 20 Leg Scissor Sit Ups: Start laying down on your back, a dumbbell held overhead. Engage your core, pressing your low back firmly into the ground and lifting your feet off the ground a couple inches. Try not to let the legs rest on the ground the entire time—make those abs work! From this starting position, do one toe touch with the weight to each foot: Scissor your legs, bringing one straight up, perpendicular to the ground, as you bring the weight up to meet it, crunching your abs and lifting your shoulder blades off the ground. Lower your torso back down as you switch legs (keeping them straight!) and repeat to the other toe. Finish by doing one slow situp, trying to keep your feet hovering off the ground as you bring the weight in front of you and lift your torso up and then slowly back down. That’s one rep. Your legs are going to want to lift up as you sit-up—fight it as best you can, trying to keep them hovering a couple inches to a foot off the ground. 1 leg scissor toe touch each foot + 1 slow sit up = 1 rep.
  • 10 (each leg) Curtsey Lunges to Side Lift: Start standing with feet hip distance apart, holding the weight at your chest. Step one foot behind the other, reaching out as far as you can while squatting down on the base leg (like a curtsey). As you come out of the lunge, kick the back foot up and out to the side, weight centered over the base leg. Bring it down and right back into the curtsey lunge.

15-Minute AMRAP Workout with hand weights

WEARING | leggings: c/o Sweaty Betty // tank: Lululemon // sneakers: Puma

The leggings I’m wearing in this workout are actually a pair of Sweaty Bettys that I turned inside-out (as you can tell by the label on my butt haha). They’re clearly not meant to be worn like this (here’s what they look like the right way), but I love the contrast seams, and, as an added bonus, it allows me to wear them twice as long before washing them. It’s a lazy girl’s dream.

How many rounds/reps of this workout can you get through in 15 minutes?


What’s Currently in My Gym Bag

What's in my gym bagDisclosure: This #AwesomelyActive post was sponsored by Tampax® Pearl® Active™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR, all opinions are my own.

Don’t worry, male readers, this post may be sponsored by a tampon company, but it doesn’t involve intricate period details or require you to go buy a box of them for your girlfriend. :) On a side note, why do most guys find that so embarrassing?? It’s not like the cashier is going to think they’re for you…

Anyway, while I don’t go to a traditional gym, I’m always running around between different studios (to both teach and take classes), and keep a bag with the essentials in it ready to go. Since I don’t have an office job and pretty much wear gym clothes 24/7, I only carry around a small bag and don’t have to worry about showering or packing a change of clothes. What’s inside changes with the season and my fitness routine, but if I were to dump out my gym bag right now, here’s what you’d see:

Spin Shoes | About a year ago, I bought a pair of spin/indoor cycling shoes, and it was the best purchase ever. They’re made with hard soles and clip into the pedals on the bike (versus strapping your sneakers into a pedal cage), and if you take indoor cycling classes frequently, they’re totally worth the purchase. 

Tampax® Pearl® Active™ | You’d think that by age 26, I’d have mastered this whole period thing, but I still manage to be surprised by it every month. Most gyms and fitness studios will have tampons in the bathroom, but I just feel better knowing I have a few on me. I love this tweet from Chrissy Teigen on the topic (she is hilarious to follow on Twitter, FYI):

I’ve always preferred Tampax® Pearl® because the applicator is so much more comfortable than cardboard, and Tampax® Pearl® Active™ is great because it has a SlenderFit™ applicator that’s 20% slimmer. And I never worry about them while working out because of the absorbent Backup Braid™ and FormFit™ protection (the way they expand)—no leaks!


Grippy Studio Socks | Although I prefer to take Lagree Fitness classes barefoot, I typically wear grippy socks while teaching. That way I can demonstrate moves on the machines, and have something on while I’m walking around the wood floors during class.

Interval Timer | For the Tone ‘n Torch class I teach once a week at Btone (half Lagree Fitness, half HIIT), I frequently use an interval timer. Because I have a couple, I now just leave one in my gym bag at all times so I don’t risk forgetting it. 

Headphones | Not only do I NEED music if I’m going to go for a run, but now that I teach spin, which is so heavily dependant on the playlist, I like to constantly be listening to and searching for new tunes—walking to and from class, while I write, running errands, etc.

Pen & Paper | All the workouts I post to P&I start as little scribbles on a piece of paper. I’ll write down an idea for a workout (maybe I’m bored sitting on the T or do a killer exercise combo in a class that I want to remember to recreate), and then try it out next time I feel like working out at home. When I’m done, I’ll jot down little notes, maybe make a couple adjustments to things I didn’t like, and then save the piece of paper for when I’m ready to shoot and write up a blog post for it.

I also like having a pen & paper around for when I hear a song I like for spin class—I’ll jot down the name and something like “hill song—heavy 8ct jumps with seated push during the chorus” so I can remember to go back to it. Basically, I have scraps of paper littering my gym bag, apartment, car—everything.

Hair Ties & Head Bands | I’m sure this one isn’t surprising—so necessary when you have long hair! Nothing is worse than getting to the gym and realizing you don’t have a hair tie with you. I’ve resorted to rubber bands and even a shoelace one time to try and keep the mane in place and it’s no fun.

Water Bottle | Plastic water bottles are, like, so 1995. Invest in a quality, BPA-free water bottle and you’ll get years of life out of it while doing your small part to reduce waste. I’ve had the one pictured since college!

Wow, I can’t believe I got through an entire post sponsored by Tampax® Pearl® Active™ without quoting Mean Girls (you know the quote I’m referring to). Teaming up with them was a no-brainer—I already had this exact tampon in my gym bag before they sent me a box!—and Tampax® was a pleasure to work with. Just had to end with that because they were beyond accommodating through the rough few weeks I had at the end of August, and it was so appreciated.

You can follow this awesome company on Facebook and Twitter.

Now your turn: What’s currently in your gym bag?