Turn Up the HEAT! Sissy Challenge Revisited a Short but TOUGH Workout

Turn Up the HEAT kettlebell workout from GiryaGirl.com

Working from home is great if you have the personality for it. I'm very grateful to have been able to have this level of autonomy for such a long time. If we want to get technical, I've been in charge of my own schedule for the past 17 years (remember, I'm 40 and all) as an entrepreneur, consultant, and fitness instructor. A great trick to have up your sleeve no matter where you work is a quick, intense, nasty little workout that will get a whole lot done in a short period of time. Kettlebells are especially suited to this kind of activity.

Way back in 2011, I met a couple of people at my first ever RKC-II workshop in St. Paul Minnesota. Unfortunately their website seems to be defunct now, but they used to hold this contest called the Sissy Challenge. It was essentially doing a twisted (and how twisted it is) ladder of 25 kettlebell swings and 25 burpees.

25 swings, 1 burpee,
24 swings, 2 burpees,
23 swings, 3 burpees,
... keep going down to ...
2 swings, 24 burpees
1 Swing, 25 burpees

Told you it was N A S T Y. Psychologically you might think you're making progress as the number of swings declines, but ohhh what a mean mean lesson... those burpees add up super duper quick.

Here's my original post about it, and I remember first trying it in a friend's backyard in the middle of a hot Florida summer... after my face turned purple, my friend stopped her gardening and came over to see if I was actually ok... Don't do this in the summer outside in Florida, ok? At the least you'll scare your friends, at the worst, you might keel over.

As originally written with 25 swings and 25 burpees, this workout is really best for people who are super solid in their kettlebell swings and have the necessary proprioception and abdominal stability to pull off a whole heck of a lot of burpees while protecting the lower back etc. It is also essential to "know thyself" and know when to take a break and walk around some.

All of that being said, ever since 2011, I've made use of several modified versions of this twisted ladder Swing/burpee pattern for other situations. First of all, you can easily vary the intensity of the swings by choosing heavier or lighter kettlebells. Remember, whatever you choose, make sure that it's a kettlebell you can Swing with excellent form.

When working with a small group, or if I have a particularly motivated and competitive client who wants a quick workout they can use at home, I offer the following variations:

Go for 10 reps. To be honest, I do this version myself at home whole lot for a quick high intensity cardio hit if I need to get rolling for a tough computer-heavy day. I may do the 10 rep version earlier in the day and then do a more raw strength or skill workout later in the day.

You can also swap out the burpees for sprawls (burpees with no push up and no jump) or remove the jump from your burpees. These variations are great for less conditioned folks or if you're using push-ups, advanced push-ups, and or plyometrics in your main workout and don't want to burn them out during burpees time.

As I discovered just now, the following 10 rep version (that's one of my absolute favorites to do with a 24kg kettlebell at home) can raise the temperature a little in the living room. It's now a toasty 68 degrees in here and I didn't do that by turning on the heater. And because it's me, and the reps were low I did these with very strict burpees with a full, strict push up and high jump (well, the jumps started high)

10 24kg kettlebell swings, 1 burpee
9 24kg kettlebell swings, 2 burpees
8 24kg kettlebell swings, 3 burpees
... all the way down to ...
1 24kg kettlebell swings, 10 burpees

When doing the 10 rep version I try to do it straight through (though I do take about 2-3 short water breaks). It makes it a fast, gnarly, little high intensity cardio workout. It also clocks in at a total of 55 swings and 55 burpees. While there are more swings in my plan for the day, I feel very happy with the cardio challenge.