Nov 13, 2023

Combining Powerlifting and Kettlebell Sport Triathlon

Combining Powerlifting and Kettlebell Sport Triathlon


Do you ever get bored just training three lifts?

The key to success for many lifting sports is consistency. In Australia, I’ve seen many promising kettlebell sport lifters reach rank 1 level and then move on to other sports, due to burning out.

Again consistency is essential. However, that doesn’t mean that you always have to train the lifts in your sport exclusively.  Sometimes progressing slower in the short term will result in greater long-term success! Lifting sports thrive on periodisation and delayed gratification/ transformation (i.e. peaking for competition), and in contrast to team sports you can consistently train all year round without an ‘off season’.

If you exclusively focus on squatting, benching and deadlift or kettlebell jerk, snatch and long cycle, but feel like you are getting a little bit burnt out? If so, you might like to integrate some different exercises into the mix! The key to long-term success in many pursuits in the gym is consistent long-term training. However, sometimes changing the focus of your training for a month or two will allow you to get back your focus with renewed vigour and lead to better long-term outcomes.

Series overview

This is part 1 of a series of blogs, which will cover the integration of kettlebell sport with other strength or endurance pursuits, given that both sports focus on three exercises.
This blog covers combining powerlifting and kettlebell sport,  future blogs will cover combining kettlebell sport with:1) running, 2)  bodybuilding and 3)  hardstyle kettlebell training. I hope you enjoy part one.


This blog aims to give someone with a powerlifting or strength training background insight into integrating kettlebell sport training with their strength training (or vice versa (shock and horror that people may need a mental break from GS).

Two main applications of this program are: 1) the lifter could be shifting the focus to kettlebell sport and using this program as a bridge, or 2)  the lifted could be looking to build their work capacity away from the competition using kettlebell sport to increase their work capacity.

Notes: I’ve used the triathlon kettlebell sport template to spread the load across different movement patterns and given insight into each lift. Snatch or long-cycle focus programs can also be implemented with less volume and could have a smaller impact on powerlifting performance.  I’ll go over these approaches that’ll a date.

Program Overview

The program involves three full-body sessions. Within each session, there is a kettlebell sport and powerlifting exercise focus.  I typically contrast the movement patterns between these two sports. For example, day 1 contrasts barbell back squats and kettlebell snatches, essentially pairing contrasting repetition schemes similar to max effort and repetitious efforts common in powerlifting. Bike on trusting these different efforts, different physiological adaptations will of arise,  we are hoping to maintain strength levels whilst building work capacity and kettlebell sports performance.  This program assumes a degree of competency within the kettlebell sport lifts if this is not the case just allocating 10 to 15 minutes before a powerlifting session to work on technique should result in improved performance.

Level 1 Program Example

Day 1:

  1. Powerlifting exercise: Squat: 3 sets x 8 reps, 1-3 RIR
  2. Kettlebell exercise: Snatch 30s left, 30s right, rest 30s x 4-6 rounds (competition weight or above)
  3. Accessory lifts, 1-3 sets of 6-12 reps of Hip extension, Dips, and Calf raise
  4. Cardio, Exercise Bike: 30s max effort with 2-3 minutes 1-4 sets

Day 2:

  1. Powerlifting exercise: Bench press: 3 sets x 8 reps, 1-3 RIR
  2. Kettlebell exercise: Long cycle 30s on, rest 30s x 4-6 rounds (competition weight or above)
  3. Accessory lifts, 1-3 sets of 6-12 reps of One arm swing, Hang on the bar, and Farmers walk
  4. Cardio, Sled drag: 30s max effort with 2-3 minutes 1-4 sets

Day 3:

  1. Powerlifting exercise: Deadlift: 3 sets x 8 reps, 1-3 RIR
  2. Kettlebell exercise: Jerk 30s on, rest 30s x 4-6 rounds (competition weight or above)
  3. Accessory lifts, 1-3 sets of 6-12 reps of Bent over rows, Chin-ups or facepulls, and Resisted elbow supination/pronation
  4. Cardio, Exercise Bike: 30s max effort with 2-3 minutes 1-4 sets

Program Template

Session  Movement patternsPowerlifting exercise*Kettlebell exercise*Accessory lifts# OneSquat & snatch

Heavy Squat, light hip hinge (snatch)

SquatSnatch 3a) Hip extension

3b) Dips

3c) Calf raise


Cardio: bike or drags

TwoPush and pull

Heavy bench, light push/pull (long cycle)

Bench pressLong cycle3a) Bent over rows

3b) Hang on the bar

3c) Farmers walk


Cardio: bike or drags

ThreeHeavy hip hinge, light pushDeadliftJerk3a) One arm swing

3b) Chin-ups or facepulls

3c) Resisted elbow supination/pronation


Cardio: bike or drags

Training variables:
*Refer to levels 1-6  outline below,
# perform 1-3 sets of 6-12 reps,
cardio: bike 30s max effort with 2-3 minutes 1-4 sets

Program training loads

Training loads (using your old powerlifting program for context)

For a powerlifter if you’ve found your old program successful. If you’d like to keep part of it in your program we can use this to our advantage.

As mentioned previously, the goal is to maintain strength levels, as such we should use a similar scheme to what you’ve done previously with reduce volume. I typically recommend starting at about 50% volume with the same intensity and increasing volume as tolerated. Typically I wouldn’t recommend over 80% previous training volume. Final note, if previously you would work up to a single maximum set, you might like to work up to a single 90-95% set instead. This is the main time I recommended reducing intensity over volume.

Training loads (Simple approach)

If you’ve been focusing on kettlebell sport or sick of your old powerlifting program I would recommend this simple approach.

Simple program overview

Level 1: 3 sets x 8 reps, Level 2: 3 sets x 7 reps, Level 3: 3 sets x 6 reps, Level 4: 3 sets x 5 reps, Level 5: 3 sets x 4 reps, Level 6: 3 sets x 3 reps

As you reduce repetitions, proportionately increase weight, roughly 1-3 reps in reserve.

If in doubt, keep it simple and start with 3 sets of 8 reps, using a linear periodization model, so each week incrementally increase the load and reduce reps by 1.  you can use appropriate percentages alternatively, feel free to perform 3 sets of 8 multiple times till you find a load that’s a good challenge leaving 1-3 reps repetitions in reserve. On the last set, if you can perform the weekly goal repetitions or extra repetitions with good form, you may use that as a criterion to increase the intensity.

Kettlebell sport training loads

This program is designed to increase your work capacity with the addition of kettlebell sport if you’re looking to go back to a powerlifting focus,  alternatively, prepare your body for greater volumes of kettlebell sport training.  With this in mind, I would recommend initially start with less than 10 minutes of volume per training set (if you want to build up to kettlebell sport competition of 10 minutes or greater you can work on that in the next block of training).

Typically, I recommend starting with roughly 6 minutes of training for the kettlebell sport focus lifts. Here is a interval  progression scheme I would recommend following:


Level 1: 30s left, 30s right, rest 30s x 4-6 rounds

Level 2: 60s left, 60s right, rest 30s x 2-3 rounds

Level 3: 120s left, 120s right

Level 4: 30s left, 30s right x 5-6 rounds

Level 5: 120-180s left, 120-180s right, build up to performing 180s each hand

Level 6: increase total reps for 180s left and right

Progress to the next level once you get through the max rounds with good form.

Jerk & long cycle

Level 1: 30s on, 30s off x 4-6 rounds

Level 2: 45s on, 15s off x 4-6 rounds

Level 3: 60s on, 30s off x 4-6 rounds

Level 4: 120s on, 45s off 2-3 rounds

Level 5: 180-360s first effort, then 60s on, 60s off after first set, until you hit 360s (6 minutes) total. Build to 360s (6 minutes) in one set.

Level 6: Aim to increase total reps for in 6 minutes

Progress to the next level once you get through the max rounds with good form.

Progress notes:

Please note the above is mainly focused on progressing density (volume/time),  you may reach a level that you feel more comfortable with and wish to increase the number of rounds,  for example, you might get to level three and look to build to 8 rounds instead of progressing to level four. This wouldn’t increase density, but rather total training volume.

It’s important to note that this is a generic program with limitations. Everyone is an individual, so feel free to change this to make it work for you as best you can.


Again lifting kettlebell sport and powerlifting thrive on periodization and setting yourself up for success in the competition season, often changing focus will allow you to maintain your strengths and work on your weaknesses and serve as a mental break! For some people, mental breaks will result in better long-term success as it helps to avoid burnout!

Hopefully, the program outlined above gives you some ideas and confidence to integrate kettlebell sport into your powerlifting program or vice vera, whether that is to give yourself a bit of a break and build up your work capacity or to start competing in kettlebell sport full-time or the powerlifting offseason. Alternatively, if you wish to build up some strength to help you move to heavier bells in kettlebell sport.