Simplest Method to Building Strength and Muscle – Part 2

If you missed Part 1 – I encourage you to catch up on it HERE

Over the years I have accumulated loads of knowledge on different training methods. And I can confidently say that practically all are effective to some degree, if you stick to the plan. But I have always come back to a few methods, due to the simplicity of their nature and the power that they pack! We’ll address the first of these today!

1. Complexes!

Choosing a weight, then performing a string of exercises, that are designed to be completed in sequence with a single piece of equipment and no rest until the predesignated point.

This is not a new concept, but this is where kettlebells really shine over any and all other implements. 


Well first, because there is a fluidity, a flow that is discovered very quickly with kettlebell training. Take the Clean and Jerk for example. With a barbell it takes an extremely proficient athlete to perform high reps of the clean and jerk without bruised clavicles and achy wrists and elbows. With kettlebells this flow happens almost naturally.

(It should also be noted that there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that high repetitions of the Barbell Clean & Jerk actually degrade the wrist and weaken grip strength).

Secondly, due to the nature of where the kettlebells sit with some of our stronger patterns (squats and cleans) they can level the strength “playing field”. Complexes are more effective if all exercises are, at least somewhat, similarly challenging. This is difficult to accomplish with barbells as loading the bar to a load that is challenging for your clean or front squat would likely make pressing out of the question.

Dan John’s Armor Building Complex:

1 Double Kettlebell Clean

3 Double Kettlebell Presses

2 Double Kettlebell Front Squats

Dan has said that he and his athletes would bang away at this complex in groups of 3 to 5 – the time under tension for this type of work is absolutely staggering!

I have played with the numbers over the years, moving around the 1, 2, and 3 in order to focus more or less on a movement pattern. A favorite that we love to hate is to put 20 minutes on a clock, and accumulate work with 3 Cleans, 2 Presses, and 1 Front Squat in groups of 3. Builds strength and size in the upper back and shoulders, while improving endurance and turning your metabolism into a nuclear reactor!

“Oh, That’s My Core!”

3 Cycles

5:00 work – 1:00 rest

2/side Renegade Rows

2 Cleans

2 Snatches (w/ a Press Return)

4 Front Squats

Kind of out of order because in the next installment is where I’ll talk about the method that you actually would see more frequently if you were a Penance Athlete.

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