Kettlebell Pentathlon Training Guide

The kettlebell pentathlon is a very strategic event in comparison to traditional Girevoy Sport. 5 lifts, performed for 6 minutes each over a 50-minute time frame with a choice of up to 5 different weights to keep you company on the platform. The scope for variation is what makes it interesting to me. There are lots of different permutations that can be tried. Factor in a maximum rep count for each exercise and the solution to finding what works for you can be even more daunting.

I always recommend that people should shoot for the higher rep count as opposed to going heavy and coming up short reps wise. Just to re-cap, maximums are as follows

  • Cleans 120 reps (20 RPM)
  • Long cycle press 60 reps (10 RPM
  • Jerks 120 reps (20 RPM)
  • Half snatch 108 reps (18 RPM)
  • Push press 120 reps (20 RPM)

These are deemed realistic numbers that may well be achievable with good form. They are by and large realistic providing a Fixometer is not used.

With so many variations, just how do you go about preparing for such an event?  I can only speak from my own personal experience here. I have competed in 10 pentathlons over the last 4 years and have a personal best score of 1620 points with a Fixometer and 1760 without. Both of these were scored at a competiton.  I have also prepared other athletes for pentathlons, all of which have had success.

Heres a 4-week cycle of a program I have used for training towards a pentathlon.

As you can see, I rotate the 5 exercises round. Green is one cycle and orange is another. This way, the order is always mixed up and it keeps things interesting as well as benefitting overall strength development. Just cycle through the 5 exercises starting with cleans on day one and then start with LCP on day two and jerks on day 3 and so on.

Light to moderate cardio every other day with the option of a day off on Thursday and Sunday.

This of course needs to be progressive so on the second cycle (weeks 5-8) I will increase the minutes to 7, 6, 5 as opposed to 6, 5, 4 and then on the final 4 weeks I would do 8, 7, 6.

Weights wise, I wouldn’t deviate too much from my intended competition weight, probably keeping with one full weight of my comp weight (no more than 4 kg above)

I would test every month to see how I was progressing.  Sometimes this test would be a two thirds pent so would be 4 minutes work and 3 minutes 20 seconds rest. This is a fairly good predictor of your overall performance if you were to calculate your reps for the remaining two minutes.

You should be aiming to get as near as possible to the max RPM limit for each lift. If you’re way short, then reduce your weight.

Like any program, you shouldn’t be a slave to it. Feeling tired, then ease up a little. Feeling strong, then go for a heavier session with fewer reps. It’s not an exact science and has way more variables than traditional GS.

Alongside this, of course, you will need to add in some GPP (General Physical Preparation) This should only be about 20-30 minutes and you should be looking to get your training done within the hour (not including mobility and stretching) GPP could take the form of squats, jump squats, pulling and pushing motions in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Just mix it up and keep things interesting.

Always try and keep the reps even per side unless you have a weaker side that needs strengthening up. Do not favour your strong side, do the opposite!

Obviously, if you are hitting the maximum rep count per minute then you will need to up the weight. It is perfectly fine to increase in 2 kg increments especially on LCP.

If you follow some kind of structure, whether it be this or something else, you will definitely benefit on the day of the competition. Being prepared is everything, leave nothing to chance and you give yourself the best possible opportunity to put in a good performance.