Get The Most From Your Training with These Kettlebell Workouts for Men

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January 23, 2023
An athlete doing kettlebell workouts for men at the gym

Kettlebells are incredible training tools. The versatility, unique exercises and effectiveness they deliver is fantastic. When they’re done properly, kettlebell workouts can transform your fitness and physique.

In this article I’m going to teach you how to get the most from your kettlebell workouts. I’ll discuss different types of kettlebell workouts and how to pick the right kettlebell for your workouts. Finally, I’ll leave you with sample workouts for you to get started with.

Your kettlebell game will be going up several gears…

Kettlebell Workouts for Men – The Different Types

As with lots of other types of gym equipment, there are all kinds of different types of workouts you can do with a kettlebell. Lots of people limit their kettlebell training to kettlebell swings, but there’s so much more you can do .

Here’s a few of the different types of workouts you can do with a kettlebell… 

Muscle building kettlebell workouts

Any kind of resistance can be used to build muscle. A kettlebell is no different to a machine, dumbbell or barbell in this regard. In fact, there are advantages that a kettlebell has over some of these other approaches…

  • It’s far easier and safer to do ballistic exercise with a kettlebell than a resistance machine
  • You can do an entire exercise routine with just a single kettlebell – you can’t do that with a machine
  • You can get kettlebells in a huge range of weights
  • There’s a massive exercise repertoire available with kettlebells, including some specific kettlebell movements such as swings
  • You can do all the functional strength exercises you can do with other approaches, and add others to boot
  • Kettlebells are unilateral exercises, so they iron out any muscle imbalances

For the most part I don’t like to say one exercise approach is better than others, because they’ve all got their place. The point here though is that you can do some excellent muscle building workouts with a kettlebell.

Fat burning kettlebell workout

When it comes to fat burning workouts, kettlebells are fantastic. The fact that you can do such a wide variety of exercises with a single item lends itself brilliantly to fat loss. A whole body workout can be achieved with a handful of kettlebell movements. This transforms your fitness levels and burns huge amounts of calories.

It has been known for years that high intensity resistance training is an effective weight loss strategy when paired with a sensible diet. One of the best pieces of equipment for high intensity training is a kettlebell.

The effects of the training on carbohydrate metabolism and fat metabolism are well known by now.

Kettlebell circuit workout

A circuit workout is where several exercises are performed back to back without rest. This is known as a ‘circuit’. Once a set of the exercises has been completed, you can take a short rest break.

You can complete multiple circuits in the workout.

The beauty of using kettlebells for a circuit workout is that you don’t need to change equipment all the time, so it makes transitions between exercises seamless. Each kettlebell exercise you do will have different target muscles, so you’d end up training your entire body in a limited amount of workout time.

Depending on the type of exercise and the amount of weight used, you could use circuit training to create different exercise adaptations. Your kettlebell circuit workout could have a muscle building, aerobic capacity or weight loss goal.

Selecting the kettlebell for your workouts

There are two types of kettlebell that are worth using – a competition kettlebell and a cast iron kettlebell. They come in a range of weights. Based on my experience, here’s how I would suggest you think of them…

Men

  • Light kettlebells: 6-16 KG (13-35 LB) 
  • Medium weight kettlebells: 18-28 KG (40-62 LB)
  • Heavy kettlebells: 28 KG + (62 LB+)

Women

  • Light kettlebells: 3-8 KG (6.5-17.6 LB)
  • Medium weight kettlebells: 8-16 KG (17.6-35 LB)
  • Heavy kettlebells: 16 KG + (35 LBs)

This is just a guide of course – you might find these to be wrong depending on your experience of kettlebell training.

Competition kettlebell

Competition kettlebells are a uniform size with a narrow handle, designed to be used with chalk. The handle is the same width as the bell. The competition kettlebell is the same size regardless of the weight used, and is made from steel rather than iron.

Regular kettlebell

A cast iron kettlebell has a wide, thicker handle and isn’t uniform size – the heavier the kettlebell, the larger it is. Standard kettlebells are made from iron and often wrapped in a protective coating. As a general rule, most gyms will have cast iron kettlebells based on price.

Sample kettlebell workouts for men

Upper body muscle building kettlebell workout

A kettlebell lends itself well to upper body muscle building – you can replicate all of the major compound lifts… presses, rows, cleans etc. As well as this you can do kettlebell specific movements such as swings. 

Here’s a great upper body muscle building kettlebell workout…

Beginners, perform 3 sets of 10. Intermediates, 4 sets of 10 and advanced kettlebell trainers can go for 5 or more of 10.

Maintain a high level of intensity, keeping rest periods as short as possible. These are all effective movements as long as the weight is sufficiently hard…

Incline Kettlebell Bench Press

Dual Kettlebell Bent Over Row

How to do a Kettlebell Overhead Press

The American Kettlebell Swing | Exercise Tutorial

Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Dual Kettlebell Shrug

These upper body exercises train the entire upper body and they’re suitable for all levels of ability. As a reminder, beginners, perform 3 sets of 10. Intermediates, 4 sets of 10 and advanced kettlebell trainers can go for 5 or more!

Lower body strength building kettlebell workout

Kettlebell training is great for building leg muscle and strength. Alongside kettlebell swings, you can also use kettlebell lunges and kettlebell squats. These are fantastic exercises for building a strong core, strong legs and improving your physique and athleticism. 

Here’s a great lower body workout that’s suitable for all levels. The difference being the more advanced and stronger you are, the heavier the kettlebells you should be using.

There are different rep ranges for the exercises here, so pay attention to the title descriptions.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat 4 x 15

Kettlebell Swing 4 x 25

Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squat 4 x 10 (per side)

Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift 4 x 10 (per side)

Kettlebell Russian Twists 3 x 10

This lower body strength building kettlebell workout will challenge your legs, glutes, core, lower back and forearms. It’s a true examination of your core musculature as well as your legs, so keep your core tight with every one of these exercises.

Your ability and strength will determine the weight of the kettlebell you use. If you’re strong, use a heavier weight. Take a minute of rest between sets.

Full body kettlebell circuit workout – advanced kettlebell lifters only

This workout is a chance to link together various aspects of training. These are challenging movements, designed for experienced kettlebell users.

It’s a high intensity workout, where you need to have plenty of exercise experience in order to cope. You’ll work on conditioning training, explosive movement training, core strength, ballistic full body exercises and complex movements in one workout.

We’ll use kettlebells to mimic some of the conventional weightlifting movements, and enjoy the many health benefits of these effective exercises.

This is a circuit training workout, so the plan is to perform a set of each one. You then rest for a given amount of time – my suggestion is 60 – 120 seconds. Long enough to recover, but short enough to maintain exercise intensity.

Perform as many rounds as you can either within a time window, or to a certain target. Doing it this way means you’ll enjoy a cardio workout and a strength workout in one. These are mostly full body compound movements to make the workout efficient.

There are different rep ranges for the exercises here, so pay attention to the title descriptions…

Kettlebell clean and press x 10 (per side)

Kettlebell snatch x 12 (per side)

Single arm kettlebell high pull x 15 (per side)

Kettlebell thrusters x 10

Kettlebell step ups x 12 (per side)

Kettlebell push ups x 15

If you perform these exercises with intensity and purpose, you’ll enjoy incredible results despite the simplicity of the programming. This kind of workout really highlights the versatility of the kettlebell. It reminds us that in a world of increasing technology, sometimes simplicity still wins.

Kettlebell Training Tips

Here’s a few basic tips to help you get the most from your kettlebell training…

Use great technique

Kettlebells are incredible and can actually help improve injury symptoms in some cases. However, like any exercise approach there is an inherent risk involved. To minimize these risks you should execute each movement with the best technique you can.

That may mean keeping your ego in check and reducing the weights you lift. If it saves your back, it’s worth it. Always practise your technique with lighter weights. As and when you’re confident your technique is great, increase them.

If you’re really struggling, get yourself a coach to help teach you.

Mix up exercises

To quote Glassman… ‘Routine is the enemy’. I have fun with kettlebells by doing different exercises. Experiment with them – try different rep ranges. Different weights. Go for time rather than reps. Add exercises into a complex. 

Not only will you enjoy your training and learn new, more adventurous exercises, you’ll benefit your fitness too. Your strength training routines will improve, your core muscles will be activated more, your legs will be challenged differently. 

Keep your body guessing and keep your training interesting.

Combine movements into circuits

The beauty of kettlebell training is that there aren’t any rules. You can combine exercises you like into a circuit. Mix kettlebell exercises with bodyweight exercises. Throw in cardio elements too.

Switch up intensity, durations and techniques. 

Not only is circuit training effective for a myriad of fitness goals, it’s also super efficient. You can throw together a 15 minute circuit, 20 minute circuit, a HIIT workout etc. The best kettlebell workout makes for fun exercise.

If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re going to want to do more of it. When it comes to fitness, that’s rarely a bad thing!

What to expect from kettlebell training

If you’re new to kettlebell training, you’re about to enter a whole new world of exercise variety! You’ll be able to experience a new type of muscle strength and complete entire exercise sessions with a single item.

Physically, you’ll change too. You’ll be strengthening the posterior chain (muscles that run up the back of your body) effectively. This will translate into excellent force production benefits. You’ll do a lot of eccentric (where the muscle lengthens) training too.

You’ll develop a great understanding of your biomechanics. How your body moves, how to generate force and how power development works. You’ll strengthen your core, strengthen your lower back and strengthen your glutes.

I realize I’m making kettlebell workouts sound amazing… and I make no apology for that, because they are.

Follow the advice in this article and enjoy adding kettlebells to your training arsenal!

About Steve Hoyles