SparHawk: Raptor Kettlebell Workout

When I give a workshop on strength training, there is a moment that people tell me: “You always say that.”

It’s not the stupid jokes, and I have plenty. It is this: “If all you did was add some Goblet Squats and Loaded Carries to your training, you would be doing fine.”

And, like so often in life, the answer is simple but the implementation is the issue. Let me offer a simple, repeatable workout that gets you squatting and walking with load.

I name Loaded Carry workouts after the birds of the Raptor family. It started off as a joke about how we are picking up things and moving them, but we soon found that this was a nice way of organizing them. This workout is called the Sparrow Hawk or Sparhawk.

You need a reasonable bell, Kettlebell or dumbbell. You will be doing Goblet Squats and Suitcase Carries. Suitcase Carries are like Farmer Walks, but you only load one side…like you are carrying a single suitcase. So, do Sparhawk once with a lighter load than you think, maybe in the 35 to 50 pound range. Yes, you can go heavier but do it once first.

It’s simple:

8 Goblet Squats, then march away with the bell in the left hand about 60 feet (gym length is best).
7 Goblet Squats, then return to the original position with the bell in the right hand.
6 Goblet Squats, left hand suitcase walk.
5 Goblet Squats, right hand walk.
4 Goblet Squats, left hand walk.
3 Goblet Squats, right hand walk.
2 Goblet Squats, left hand walk.
1 Goblet Squat, finished.

That is 36 squats, but you are under load for about three minutes. So, your anti-rotation muscles are going to be working overtime with the asymmetrical walking and then will have to still join in to support the squats. You get the benefits of squatting including the mobility and flexibility work plus the additional boon of three minutes of time under tension.

Mix in some presses, pulls and some swings and you have a nice quick full body workout that won’t take very long. If you like training outdoors, extend the walks and learn why many, including back expert Stu McGill, consider the Suitcase Walk one of the best core exercises you can find.


Dan spends his work life blending weekly workshops and lectures with full-time writing, and is also an online religious studies instructor for Columbia College of Missouri. As a Fulbright Scholar, he toured the Middle East exploring the foundations of religious education systems. His books, on weightlifting, include Intervention, Never Let Go, Mass Made Simple, and Easy Strength, written with Pavel Tsatsouline.

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