The humble kettlebell – bulbous and mocked by gym rats. But yet, we all were happy to grab one or two of those oddballs during the lockdown. Ironic, isn’t it?
Rusty More and Chris Lopez think that these kettlebells have more to offer than meets the eye. They even designed a whole program based solely on kettlebells – let’s see if it’s any good.
About the Creators – Rusty Moore & Chris Lopez
While Rusty seems to own/run the company, this program was actually designed by Chris.
Chris is a strength coach that started his fitness career more than 20 years ago in Canada and only started training with kettlebells later in his life. Once he noticed how versatile they were, he flew to Florida to get his RKC certification.
Three years later, Chris was the first Canadian to get certified by Strongfirst, a considerable achievement. Somewhere along this time, Chris also started his own website called KettlebellWorkouts.com, which spread like wildfire.
Chris and his family then sold all of their belongings to move to Costa Rica. This is where he still resides and only trains with kettlebells. Only. He’s not interested in building more muscle mass than needed – but rather to live healthily.
With so much experience and credentials to his name, it’s only logical that Chris would be the one to design this program.
Visual Impact Kettlebells Program Overview
There’s a pretty clear overarching goal with the Visual Impact Kettlebells program. It’s to improve health by reducing fat and building a little bit of muscle. You’re looking to design and build an athletic body that looks healthy and fit.
- Fitness level: Beginner to intermediate
- Duration: 12 weeks
- Workouts per week: 4 – 6 workouts per week
- Average workout duration: 35 – 45 minutes
- Equipment needed: Minimal equipment
- Goal: Lose weight and get fit
You have two options for following the plan – you can either download a PDF, or you can follow along with an online guide – the latter of which is much easier to follow. Again, this entire plan is only based on kettlebells. However, it’s actually advised that you have a few different ones, specifically lighter and heavier ones.
Visual Impact Kettlebells Details
Like various other plans we’ve reviewed, this program has three distinct phases, each with its own lifting pattern and style:
- Phase 1: Foundational kettlebell exercises
- Phase 2: Advanced kettlebell exercises
- Phase 3: Chains and flows
As you read more and more of the introduction, it becomes apparent that they’re very committed to the idea of burning calories while building muscle. Not something that usually goes hand in hand, but perhaps their training style is the key.
Before the workouts begin, there’s also a whole section on buying the correct kettlebells that you’ll need. There are various options at different prices and sizes, so they cater to everyone.
Am I Really Only Training with Kettlebells?
It would appear so, yes. But let’s have a look at the very first workout.
Perform as many circuits of the following exercises in 25 minutes:
1 Arm Row: 3 Reps
1 Arm Clean & Press: 3 Reps
1 Arm Squat: 3 Reps
The other workouts all seem to be quite similar but with the standard deviations, of course.
In the first phase, you either have strength-based workouts – like the one above – or “swing” workouts – you’ll be doing a lot of kettlebell swings.
Phase two seems to combine strength and cardio training into one session, making each session significantly harder. Luckily, there’s also a drop in weekly volume down to three workouts per week from the previous four.
Phase three is like upper elite kettlebell training, as they introduce “chains.” Chains combine one move with others into a … chain. For instance, going from an OHP to a swing into an OHS. Three moves mean you burn a few extra calories, and you have a greater chance of building muscle as well.
Yeah, you’ll only be using kettlebells, which immediately should have sirens in your mind going, “but what about progressive overload?” Well, they address this topic in a section called “Kettlebell Progression.”
Because you can’t add more weight to a kettlebell without replacing the whole thing, they recommend that you use other metrics, such as:
- Rest time
Essentially, you’re looking to create more time under significant tension. They argue that with increasing volume, they can offset training hard.
Is this true? It depends…
What Will Get Me Results?
Look, there’s no denying that this plan will get you results. The workouts do progressively ask more of the athlete or client, whether it be more sets, etc. The problem comes in with – as always – marketing.
They have some funny claims, such as, “You don’t need to chase strength. When the perfect form is practiced multiple times per week, strength will “come to you.”
This makes no sense whatsoever.
You have to force the muscle to adapt. A muscle will respond to external resistance by changing its nature (i.e., growing!).
You’ll grow some muscle from these workouts, especially in the beginning. If you’re a novice overall, then you could be growing the entire 12 weeks! That said, if you’re someone more experienced and your muscles are “used” to this type of stimulus, nothing much will happen.
For the majority of people following this plan, they’ll adapt and grow (some muscle) for the whole 12 weeks. You certainly won’t be looking like Thor anytime soon, but it’s still pretty effective. It’ll help you lose some fat and build a tiny bit of muscle (granted, your diet is on point).
You may have noticed that there are only 3 – 4 days of exercise scheduled in this plan – good eye. This is quite low, even for full-body training. Chris has included some Active Recovery training days, which are labeled as optional but not recommended in phase 3.
In phase 1, the recovery workout of choice is going to consist of loaded carrying. Loaded carries are one of the best exercises that you can do that’ll actually train the entire body, especially the core. This is especially effective for those who sit down at work a lot.
In phase 2, the recovery workouts are EMOTM (every minute on the minute) workouts. These will have you do a certain number of reps in a minute, and the remainder of the set will be your rest time. These are pretty good for increasing cardiovascular fitness.
Other than this, Chris also advises that you go for regular walks, as these can help with recovery and even digestion.
These workout days are certainly welcome. See, when you have the promise of “burning body fat” and you don’t give dietary advice, your workouts better be intense. And these just aren’t. So, you could then increase the number of workouts.
This is beginning to look like a plan that’s been designed with beginners in mind. Low volume, just the necessary information, and just enough volume to make a newbie sore. This makes sense now – the program was never designed for someone who’s trained before.
3 Visual Impact Pros
- Low on equipment: This plan, as you might expect, is incredibly low on equipment. You technically only need one kettlebell, preferably two. Hell, you could do this plan with a dumbbell if you were really motivated. It’s not often you find plans like these, which is a nice change of pace.
- Time management: The time you spend training per week is certainly not overwhelming. This increases the likelihood of you sticking to the plan and making progress. Not to mention, there’s also the opportunity for you to increase how much you train with the active rest days.
- The progression isn’t intimidating: I’ve worked with hundreds of clients, and very few understand the idea of progression, and even fewer enjoy it because – well – it’s scary. This plan allows progression in a way that isn’t really that scary – with more sets and/or time. This removes the threat of a heavier weight but does still allow for some progression.
3 Visual Impact Cons
- Lack of nutrition advice: While it’s certainly not needed, it would’ve been nice, especially considering the fact that the workouts aren’t that intense. This means to actually lose a decent amount of weight, the person probably needs to have their diet in check…
- Science mumbo-jumbo: As you may or may not know, the fitness industry has a nasty knack for butchering science for the goal of making sales. The creators, unfortunately, do the same here. Whether it be promises of “gaining strength by making it come to you” or by claiming weight loss can be achieved without mentioning calories at all, they could’ve made a greater effort.
- Limited progress: While they do offer progression working with time under tension, the easiest way to progress is by increasing the load. This would also allow for greater muscle type fiber 2 growth – the muscle that tends to look better. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it is something to take into account.
Rusty Moore’s Visual Impact Kettlebells Program – Final Thoughts
I’m personally not a fan of kettlebell workout programs. They have their place, sure, but the people who only train with them are surely missing something. Setting my preconceived notions aside, this is actually a pretty good plan.
It isn’t overbearing by having a workout schedule that only scholars could stick to, and it’s pretty solid for beginners. There are surely things that could be improved:
- Some nutritional information would be very welcome since one of the goals of the plan is to strip body fat.
- Allowing for the progression in load would lead to better results, especially for those who are more experienced.
I understand the second point goes against the ease of kettlebells, in general, but adjustable kettlebells do exist! Using those would’ve created a new resistance profile, which would be very welcome.
That said, for the majority of people, the Visual Impact Kettlebells Program is A-OK. It’s fun, and they use metrics and exercises that are unconventional, increasing the odds of someone sticking to the plan.
If you’re someone who’s spent some time training before, maybe look for something a little bit harder to do because this will be too easy.
Rating: 4.0 out of 5