We Tried the Primal Swoledier’s Kettlebell Flows!

We put Eric Leija's workouts to the test.

What happens when two moderately fit guys try some of the hottest workouts on social media? Eric Leija, better known on Instagram as “Primal Swoledier,” has become famous for programming workouts that combine kettlebell movements, bodyweight moves, and other elements into high-intensity circuits.

And there’s a good chance you’ve seen a video of Eric in action, training by himself or with other fitness celebs at Onnit’s Austin-based gym. But while fitness celebs and influencers look great performing these movements, how about real folks? What are these workouts BEST for, and how difficult are they, really?

Two of BarBend’s writers/editors — David Thomas Tao and Phil Blechman — gave three of Eric’s workouts a shot in the BarBend studio. (Note we did these on different days, not back-to-back-to-back all in one session!) 

We found the workouts surprisingly challenging, and often times, that difficulty came from the movements where we least expected it. 

[Related: Listen to our podcast with Eric Leija about how he programs his Primal Swoledier workouts!]

Primal Swoledier Workouts

Below are the three workouts we tried from Eric Leija. Looking to program your own? Check out Eric’s best tips for programming kettlebell flows! Fun fact: Eric is an occasional BarBend contributor and has written some great content for our readers.

Workout 1

30 seconds of each movement:

1. Bent over row into pallof press
2. Standing oblique crunches
3. Single arm deadlift into reverse lunge

5 total sets, with 2 minutes rest between sets

Workout 2

30 seconds of each movement:

1. Bent over row into a clean
2. Push press into front squat
3. Russian kettlebell swing

6 total sets, with 90 seconds rest between sets

Workout 3

10 reps of each movement:

1. Kettlebell halo
2. Jumping deadlift with kettlebell
3. Push-up into mountain climber

3-5 sets, 1 minute rest between sets

Reactions

Overall, we both thought these workouts were more challenging than they first appeared, and the limited rest between rounds certainly caught up with us by the third (or even second) set on most workouts. Eric and his friends make a lot of the movements look effortless online, but in reality, the intensity ratchets up pretty quickly. And since so many of Eric’s workouts feature an “as many reps in XYZ time frame” format, it’s fairly straightforward to scale up or down the work depending on your pace.

Have you given Eric’s workouts a shot? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

David Tao

David Tao

BarBend’s Co-Founder and Editorial Director, David is a veteran of the health & fitness industry, with nearly a decade of experience building and running editorial teams in the space. He also serves as a color commentator for both National and International weightlifting competitions, many through USA Weightlifting. David graduated from Harvard University and served for several years as Editorial Director/Chief Content Officer of Greatist.com.

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