This Four-Move Kettlebell Session Slows Things Down To Speed Up Your Strength Gains

Three people in a line perform a squat holding a kettlebells by their chests
(Image credit: Patrick Heagney iStock / Getty Images Plus)

We’re all guilty of rushing through reps sometimes, but what if we told you that slowing down in the gym could help you accelerate your progress?

Tempo training, where you slow down or speed up a part of a lift, can be used to achieve a multitude of benefits, from building strength to improving your positional awareness. 

This kettlebell workout from Luxe Fitness Club personal trainer Meg Pickup uses tempo training to turbocharge your strength gains. Pickup’s four-move workout has you spending three to four seconds on the eccentric (or lowering) part of each lift, pausing briefly at the bottom of the rep, and completing the concentric (upwards) phase at a normal speed. 

“Eccentric lifting encourages more control over each movement, which results in more strength gains compared with other types of training,” says Pickup.

If you’re at the gym you can use two kettlebells for the first two exercises, but you can also complete it using just one kettlebell, which makes it a great option for a home workout. It’s a session you can keep coming back to if you choose the adjustable dumbbell from our selection of the best kettlebells

You’ll be completing between five and eight reps of each kettlebell exercise, so find a kettlebell weight that is challenging but manageable for this number of reps.

1 Romanian deadlift

Woman performs deadlift with kettlebell

(Image credit: Justin Lambert / Getty Images)

Sets 3 Reps 8 Tempo 4sec eccentric Rest 30sec

Stand holding the kettlebell in both hands with your palms facing you. Roll your shoulders back and down, and keep them engaged in this position. Keeping your chin tucked, push your hips back to lower the kettlebell, keeping it close to your legs. Lower slowly for the count of four, allowing your knees to bend slightly near the bottom of the movement. Pause briefly at the bottom of the rep, then return to standing.

2 Goblet squat

Woman performs goblet squat with a kettlebell

(Image credit: Fly View Productions / Getty Images)

Sets 3 Reps 8 Tempo 4sec eccentric Rest 60sec

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keeping your head up and your gaze forwards, push your hips back and bend your knees as if you were sitting down, keeping your  knees directly over your toes. Lower slowly for a count of four seconds, ideally until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Briefly pause at the bottom, then drive through your heels to stand.

3 Single-arm kettlebell row

Man performs single-arm row with kettlebell

(Image credit: EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER / Getty Images)

Sets 3 Reps 5 each side Tempo 3sec eccentric Rest 60sec

In a split stance, hinge forwards from your hips and rest one hand on a table or chair, holding a kettlebell in the other hand. Pull the kettlebell from the floor to your hip. Lower the weight to the floor over a count of three seconds. Do all the reps on one side, then switch sides.

4 Single-arm kettlebell press

Man performs single-arm press with kettlebell

(Image credit: Viktoria Korobova / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Sets 2 Reps 5 each side Tempo 3sec eccentric Rest 60sec

Hold the kettlebell by your shoulder with your palm facing forwards and the kettlebell resting on the back of your forearm. Keeping your knees soft and your core engaged, punch the kettlebell straight up and fully extend your arm. Lower the weight to the starting position over a count of three seconds. Do all the reps on one side, then switch sides.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.