Iron Core Kettlebell Express

Sarah Lurie
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Kettlebell, Total Body Workouts

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Note: this is also called Kettlebells the Iron Core Way: Volume 3

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This approximately 18-min. kettlebell strength and conditioning workout for those who want standard kettlebell workouts, specifically the so-called “hard style,” rather than the kettlebell lite / fusion style; in other words, you’re working with 8 kg rather than 8 lbs.
After an introduction from Sarah (2 min.), during which the background exercisers are shown warming up with some dynamic stretches, your warm-up (2 min., followed by a 30-sec. rest) consists of 3-4 Turkish get-ups (TGUs) on each side. The main body of the workout (15.5 min.) consists of the following circuit: clean & squat / 2-armed swings (5 on one side, 10 swings, 5 on the other side, 10 swings); clean & press / alternating swings (5 on one side, 10 swings, 5 on the other side, 10 swings); and clean, squat, & press / single-arm swings & single-arm rows (5 combo moves, 10 swings, and 6 rows on one side, then repeat whole thing on other side). This circuit is done twice. After each exercise you’ll take a 30-sec. break, and after each full circuit you’ll take a 60-sec. break. If you still have more in the tank, Sarah recommends that you “rewind the DVD” and do another circuit or two.
There is no cool-down or stretch.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate exercisers on up who are comfortable with kettlebell basics. As Sarah says, you only need to have done Kettlebell the Iron Core Way Vol. 1 and/or the freebie basics DVD she made that came with Iron Core kettlebells – or any introductory kettlebell DVD and/or live class.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced exerciser who’s working up to a fully intermediate level of kettlebells. I’m comfortable with the basics but am not able to go too heavy or for too long, nor am I comfortable with some of the trickier moves. I found this rather basic, yet with the appropriate weights it was sufficiently challenging for me, especially on a day when I didn’t have a lot of time and energy.

Class: 1 man and 1 woman join Sarah, who instructs live as she does the exercises, although she coaches the TGUs. All do the same exercises in the same way at roughly the same pace.

Music: instrumental rock-type stuff. I tuned out it very quickly.

Set: Sarah’s Iron Core gym (interior space with yellow walls and kettlebells lined up along the floor plus giant photos of Sarah doing kettlebell moves on the back wall).

Production: clear picture and sound, with Sarah’s voice much louder than the music (fine by me, since it’s repetitive and bland). I don’t remember any distracting or seriously unhelpful camera angles.

Equipment: This is designed to be done with one kettlebell, but I appreciated being able to move between the appropriate weight for me for each exercise (I used my 15 lb. for the warm-up, then 20, 25, or 35 lbs. during the workout, depending upon the move). This is easy to do because Sarah sets down the kettlebell for a few seconds in between each exercise.
As with any kettlebell work you’ll want to have flat-soled shoes (not cross-trainers or even running shoes), go barefoot, or wear something like the Vibram Five Fingers.

Space Requirements: You’ll need enough room to lie down, to swing without worrying about hitting something, and to hold the kettlebell overhead. Definitely clear out those kids, pets, significant others, and other valuables, though.

DVD Notes: Your main menu options are Start Workout and Start Mike Lucas Story (the weight loss journey of the male background exerciser here – very inspiring). The workout is chaptered by exercise, so if you want to skip or repeat a round you can do that. However, the rests are not chaptered separately, so if you don’t need or want them you’ll have to come up with your own active recovery moves to fill in that time.

Comments: Kettlebell training is efficient; you don’t need to work out for an hour every time out to get the full benefits. For some people that seems like crazy talk, but I’m all for it. Still, under 20 min. is pretty short, but by the time you add in a little more of a warm-up and add on your own stretch / joint mobility work / foam rolling you’re easily at 30-45 min.

If you like the combination moves here, you should also check out Iron Core Bootcamp and Iron Core Warrior (especially if you can get it on the Iron Core Kettlebell 4-pack, where it will cost you a fraction of the MSRP). If you were disappointed in the breaks between exercises here but otherwise kind of like the format, pick up Bootcamp and Warrior, which do longer rounds of exercises with no putting the kettlebell down, even for a second, between exercises and no rest until the longer circuits are over.

I wouldn’t say this is a must-have workout, especially if you pay the full retail price ($19.99), but it is handy to have on hand for days when you’re short on time. Obviously you could do all of this on your own, and I suspect most hard core kettlebell enthusiasts would prefer to do so, but sometimes, especially when I’m rushed, I can’t spare the extra time and brain cells to set up my own circuit and would rather follow along to something already laid out, so this fits that bill.

Instructor Comments:
Sarah is an RKC-certified instructor, so she knows her stuff, and most of her cues and instruction are about form.
Because you’re mostly going for time Sarah doesn’t count reps, although she’ll sometimes tell you one more or 15 more seconds. One thing I’ve found confusing is that after she’s given some form tips and encouragement, she’ll often say, “We have X exercise coming up,” so I’ll get prepared to switch, but we still have several more reps to do of the current exercise. I suspect once I’m more familiar with the workout I’ll know better when she’s actually switching sides or exercises.
I like Sarah all right as an instructor. She’s down to business, without any side chatter. She has a hint of a sing-songy way of talking and a young-sounding voice (I sympathize, because it wasn’t until I was almost 30 that telemarketers stopped asking me to hand the phone to my parents), but she’s a little less teachery-sounding here than in Volumes 1 and 2, mainly because she’s dropped most of the staged “You’re doing a great job, but remember to power from the hips, [insert background exerciser’s name here]” type of comments.
Sarah cues for her right and left, so she does not mirror cue.