The “Revolver” Kettlebell Program | StrongFirst
The Old West's revolver had six rotating chambers each containing a ballistic round of instant karma. The legendary six-barrel revolver or Colt Single Action Army, was the handgun of choice for many pistols in the American Wild West. Whether it was bandits, outlaws or lawyers, everyone relied on the six-shooter and the speed of the […]

The Old West's revolver had six rotating chambers each containing a ballistic round of instant karma. The legendary six-barrel revolver or Colt Single Action Army, was the handgun of choice for many pistols in the American Wild West. Whether it was bandits, outlaws or lawyers, everyone relied on the six-shooter and the speed of the draw to survive.

The Revolver is also an apt name for the following kettlebell program which includes six movements performed in a spinning and random nature. To be completely poetic, the Revolver would ideally only consist of ballistic drill selections, but I threw in a few grinds for good measure, after all even Wyatt Earp had to reload every now and then.

The balls

Each exercise or "bullet" will be assigned a number and a workload as follows:

  1. Double Clean and Jerks (5 reps, every minute to the minute)
  2. Get-ups (continuous alternation between the right hand and the left hand)
  3. Double Front Squats (5 reps, I will / you go in style *)
  4. Crush Press Sit Ups ** (3 reps, I go / you go in style)
  5. Snatches (10 on the right, fast and loose for 30 seconds, then 10 on the left)
  6. Swings (20 reps, fast and loose for 30 seconds)

* "I'm leaving / you're leaving" refers to training with a partner. While you are working your partner rests and recovers, as soon as you are done you rest while your partner is working. This equates to part work and part remain. If you are training on your own, just imagine you have a partner and rest for as long as you think it would take your virtual partner to complete their set.

** This exercise may be unfamiliar to you, please see the accompanying video.

The player

Another Wild West character who often found himself on the wrong side of the six-shooter was the pro gamer. He will show his face during our workout, as we will be using a pair of dice to determine how much time we spend on each move.

Example: throw a pair of sixes (boxcars) and you will do twelve minutes of No.1 bullet (double clean and shake). Once you are done shaking, re-roll the dice to determine how much time you will spend doing tricks. Go through the six balls this way.


What caliber?

The .45 caliber is the best known in the Old West. While respecting the theme of the gunslinger, we will limit our working session to 45 minutes. Warm up as desired, then start the stopwatch. Some days you may run out of time and some days you will finish very early. If you are lucky enough to roll all snake eyes (double 1s) each time, you will complete the entire session in twelve minutes. It's OK (corral)!

Which cylinder?

This is where things get really crazy. Your tee shot will rotate with each practice session.

The order of the exercises changes or rotates with each session. Each mixture will be of a unique hardness. If you are short on time before completing a given session, go ahead and follow the order of subsequent sessions. Don't start where you left off. Example: in the first session you got very high numbers and finished with move number four. When you start session two, start with bullet two, not five.

What size of bell?

the Revolver The program was written so that most strong people would use pull test size bells. However, this is a very demanding program and you may want to start a size lighter. Don't feel like you have to be "the stranger with the big iron on his hip."

For even more variety ...

Once you run the routine as outlined above and want even more mileage and variety, you can determine the order of the exercises by rolling a dice at the start of the session. For example, if you roll a 5, your order will be 5-6-1-2-3-4. If the next session you get a three, your order will be 3-4-5-6-1-2 and so on.

Spin the revolver!

Like the Colt Single Action Army revolver, it has proven itself.

“I'm not aiming with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten his father's face.
I aim with my eye.
I don't shoot with my hand; the one who shoots with his hand has forgotten his father's face.
I shoot with my mind.
I don't kill with my gun; whoever kills with his weapon has forgotten his father's face.
I kill with my heart.

―Stephen King, the gunslinger

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Jon engum

Jon Engum is an SFG Master Instructor and a Certified 7th Grandmaster Dan Kukkiwon. Engum is the author of Flexible Steel, Creator, Head Instructor of the Flexible Steel System, Owner of Engum's Academy, Engum's Taekwondo Association, Jon Engum's Extreme Training, and is Vice President of the Minnesota Taekwondo Association. He has presented and lectured on several continents and teaches workshops, courses and instructor certifications around the world.


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Coming up with your perfect bodybuilding workout program and diet to match can seem like quite the process. You have to plan how many days a week you’re going to workout, what exercises you will include in your program, how long your rest periods will be, how many reps you should perform for each exercise, and on and on it goes.

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