Why The Onnit Primal Kettlebell Challenge Isn't For Everyone (Especially Bulkers)

Written by Don P on . Posted in Challenge #6

(Reading time: 2 - 3 minutes)

The internet is full of conflicting advice on just about every subject imaginable. Misleading information about kettlebell workouts are of no exception.

You can easily find kettlebell sales pitches that promise women who want to use kettlebells as part of their workout that they won’t bulk up. Scroll down a little more on the same page and you’ll find another pitch aimed at weak teenage boys proclaiming those same kettlebells are the perfect addition for adding slabs and slabs of muscle to your frail, skeletal physique.

So what's real and what's bullshit? Can you bulk with kettlebells or not?

I'm not exactly a fitness expert, nor do I even pretend to be, but after some research I can honestly say The Onnit kettlebell workout challenge is probably the worst workout plan to implement if your goal is to bulk up.

DonDoes30.com - It's Okay I'm Bulking Well, maybe the SECOND worst workout plan.

Bulking Programs

When you want to bulk up, you have several requirements:

  • You will need to gain some weight. But when done correctly, the weight gain should mostly come in the form of muscle mass.
  • You have to use a program that includes progressive overload. This means that you need to increase weight as you progress.
  • You should be reaching failure within an optimal number of hypertrophy producing reps; typically between 6 to 12 reps.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is going to be extremely difficult with the high-intensity, calorie-burning workouts recommended by the "Onnit Primal Challenge." I've mentioned before how much this seems like a cardio workout instead of an actual weightlifting program. A workout style that prescribes substantial amount of rest between sets would be better for bulking.

Progressive Overload

The lack of adjustability is where this kettlebell workout really fails the bulking up test. Throughout the entire program you're using the SAME amount of weight. No adjustments, no increase. You're using the same 35-pound kettlebell on day one as you're using on the last day. This is the kiss of death for bulking.

Too Many Reps

Calculate the maximum number of reps for a 35-pound kettlebell on the first day, then increase your reps each workout. There are no guidelines to stay within the recommended 6-12 reps for bulking and then increase weight. In fact, I'm pushing out 60+ reps right now on some of the exercises and I'm only halfway through.


Ladies, if you're looking to burn off some of that fat from the steady pints of Ben and Jerry's "He-Just-Broke-Up-With-Me" ice cream and you don't want to turn out looking like a WWE superstar, then the Onnit Primal Challenge is probably for you. Guys, stick with the free weights at the gym and question everyone with, "Do you even lift, bro?"


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