Programming the Big 3: Part 1

So we know that the Big 3 – Swings, Goblet Squats & Get Ups are the foundational movements to Kettlebell Training. Now, these can be put together for a stand alone program by themselves – which we’ll dive into in this series – or they can be (should be) integrated into any program. Regardless of how they fit into your fitness program, knowing how to put together a Big 3 Program will help you unlock the next level of fitness and get closer to your goals.

So without further delay, let’s dive into the first thing we need to consider when building our Big 3 Program.

The 3 Key Concepts for Effective Training

Continuity, Waving Loads & Specialized Variety


This is the long-term strategy to obtaining specific goals. In other words, creating a successful program entails a sense of strategy that progresses you from week to week and month to month.

The opposite of this would be the common case of jumping from program to program too quickly without a transition plan or real focus on maintaining a linear path to the goal – therefore limiting your progress while giving (if you’re lucky) short-term benefits.

Which is easy to do, since the initial gains made from beginning a new program can be mistaken as swift progress – as opposed to the consistent growth from a more long term program can be sensed as slow in comparison.

The idea of continuity not only exists with the program as a whole, but also with the exercise selection. The HKC Big 3, for example, should be a part of the overall continuity of exercise selection for your workouts.

Waving Loads

In order to avoid a boring, monotonous overload of the same ol’ thang every workout, “Waving the Load” is a concept that allows you to vary your training without compromising your goals or changing your exercise selection. In a nutshell, you want to adjust and vary certain parameters or variables to your program, such as – Intensity, Volume, Density.

  • Intensity refers to the amount of weight used during your workout as well as how you train to failure or in our case, the actual size of the kettlebell you use. 
  • Volume is the total amount of work performed during a workout. This is usually measured in pounds (or kilograms) lifted or the total number of reps for each set. 
  • Density represents your work-to-rest ratio and can be thought of as volume condensed with time. In other words, the amount of volume performed during a set amount of time. For example: 100 Swings in 5mins (or weight lifted per time).

So rather than just adjusting the weight, set, reps, etc. every workout, you can manipulate one variable at a time. The idea would be to wave the variables of choice up & down during the longevity of your program with almost a sense of randomness but with steady progress toward your goals.

This is different than just continuously adding weight to your exercises until you reach a point of failure or burnout. Instead, you alter the load just slightly so that you’re getting the most out of every workout, maintaining focus on your long-term/short-term goals and able to train pain/injury free.

Load Waving Options


  1. Low/Low: Instead of a rest day, this is great for active recovery and improvement of skills
  2. Medium/Medium: The majority of workouts fall here. Some-what challenging but without killing you.
  3. High/High: These will test your grit and lead to massive gains as part of planned cycle. They also require that you taper off a bit after so that you don’t lose those gains from a burnout.
  4. High/Low: Excellent for building up a foundation for steady gains.
  5. Low/High: If your goal is to push for a personal best, this is your option.

Specialized Variety

Anyone who is serious about fitness is serious about avoiding plateaus. There are two schools of thought (and some way smarter than I would consider them laws) that apply to this plateau avoidance:

  1. Biological Law of Accommodation: This law holds that the more an individual repeats a certain movement or exercise, the less effective it will be. (Think point of dimensioning returns.)
  2. Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands: The concept here is that the more you practice a particular movement or exercise, the better you get at it. (Think practice makes perfect.)

So with those 2 laws in mind, Specialized Variety incorporates exercises that are similar but hold slight variations in order to avoid a plateau. Waving the Load is one way to avoid the plateaus, but switching up the variations of movements is another way. We’ll dive deeper into how to apply all this to the HKC Big 3 in another post.

If you find this to be way to confusing, and just want a certified coach to handle all these minor details for you, head to the application link below to apply for the Stronghorn private coaching program. We do both in person private programs as well as completely digital programs.

Stronghorn Personal Coaching Application

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