preview for Killer 5-Minute Total-Body Kettlebell Descending Ladder Workout | Men’s Health Muscle

TO MAKE YOUR workout worth your time, whether you have five minutes or five hours to spare, you need one thing: effort.

That’s the key to this five-minute, double kettlebell session designed by trainer Mickey Brueckner, founder of Annex Sports Performance. Complexity is not the order of the day here—instead, you’ll need all-out effort for the whole period in order to see the type of results you want.

The four-exercise series uses a novel structure to pile up the reps. You’ll start the workout performing a high number of reps for each movement (in this case, 10), taking no rest in between. The next round begins immediately after finishing the last exercise—but you’ll take away two reps from the total. You’ll continue progressing down the the ladder for each subsequent round until you finish through (or the clock hits zero). If you finish all the reps from 10, you’ll wind up performing 120 total.

You’ll need a timer and a pair of medium-weight kettlebells to do the workout. The exercises hit your whole body. There are challenging compound movements (squats and push presses) that ratchet up the intensity at the start of each round paired with unilateral movements (reverse lunges and seesaw rows) that narrow the focus of the work while still challenging you to finish strong.

The Kettlebell Descending Ladder Workout

Start the timer for five minutes. Perform each exercise for 10 reps with little to no rest in between. Immediately progress to the next movement, this time performing 8 reps for each exercise. Continue “down the ladder” for each round, performing two fewer reps. If you beat the clock, begin working back “up the ladder,” starting with a round of two reps for each exercise, adding another two reps for each round you complete until the time is done.

Kettlebell Front Rack Squat

a man lifting weights

Men’s Health

How to Do It:

  • Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes facing slightly out. Hold the kettlebells in the rack position at chest height.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades to create mid-back tension and brace your core to keep the load from throwing you off balance.
  • Push your butt back, then bend your knees to descend down into the squat. Lower down to a depth just below parallel or to what’s comfortable give your mobility.
  • Push off the floor and squeeze your glutes to stand back up.

Kettlebell Push Press

a person working out in a gym

Men’s Health

How to Do It:

  • Stand holding the kettlebells at shoulder height in the rack position. Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes to create tension.
  • Dip slightly by bending your knees, maintaining core tension, then drive through your heels and extend your hips to stand straight up and punch the weights overhead, using the momentum created to help power the movement.
  • Lower the weights back down under control to the starting position.

Alternating Reverse Lunge

a man working out on a gym floor

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How to Do It:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebells at your sides. Squeeze your glutes and shoulder blades, keeping your gaze neutral at a point straight ahead of you.
  • Step one leg back and slightly out, landing with your toe first. Touch your knee to the floor, but avoid slamming knee into the ground. Keep your chest in an upright position, bending your knees to form right angles with both of your legs.
  • Drive off the ground with your front foot and step your rear leg forward into the starting position. Keep your torso in a solid upright position by squeezing your core to stay balanced.

Alternating Seesaw Bent-Over Row

a person lifting weights

Men’s Health

How to Do It:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding the kettlebells in each hand. Slightly bend your knees, push your butt back, then lower your torso to get into a bent-over position. Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and core to create tension and reinforce proper posture.
  • Row one weight up to your chest, rotating your chest and shoulder to slightly open up your torso to that side. Keep your head in a neutral position, looking at the floor.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, cycling between arms.

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