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Effective Kettlebell Workouts for Women – What You Need to Know

 Written by 

Steve Hoyles

 Last updated on 

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Over the last couple of decades, kettlebell workouts for women have grown in popularity. I own a strength and conditioning gym, and can see that more women are using kettlebells than ever before.

When you get kettlebell training right, it can transform how you look, feel and perform. In this article I want to share some effective kettlebell workouts for women. I’ll show you ladies how to enjoy the benefits of kettlebell training without risking injury.

A woman doing kettlebell workouts for women
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The movement patterns in kettlebell training are unique. I’ll show you how to perform kettlebell exercises that you can use in various types of workouts. These are full body compound movements. You can use them to train all major muscle groups, improving muscle tone, metabolic rate and abdominal muscles.

The article contains intense kettlebell workouts for women. You can add them to your exercise routine to make training fun and varied.

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Kettlebell workouts for women benefits

There are all kinds of benefits from kettlebell exercise. They are a full body workout, training everything from your limbs to your core muscles. With proper form they are excellent for injury prevention. They provide excellent cardiovascular exercise and improve general strength.

Our Top Pick
Yes4All Solid Cast Iron Kettlebel
Based on our testing, this is the best kettlebell for beginners. For about 45$, this greatly-designed, sturdy kettlebell will last you for years. It also comes with a 1 year warranty.

Adding kettlebell training into your current workouts will make you fitter.

Here’s more of those benefits in more detail…

Improved strength

Kettlebell workouts are full of ballistic movements. These exercises strengthen arm muscles, buttock muscles, back muscles, leg muscles – the whole lot. 

Research from 2012 used twice-weekly kettlebell training sessions to help athletes improve squatting strength and vertical jump height. After 6 weeks of training, the athletes saw their explosive strength improve by 19.8%.

This led the researchers to conclude…

‘The results of this study clearly demonstrate that 6 weeks of biweekly KB training provides a stimulus that is sufficient to increase both maximum and explosive strength’

These explosive strength gains were achieved with only twice per week kettlebell sessions.

A woman following kettlebell workouts for women
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Huge calorie burning potential

Any exercise that trains the larger muscles in the body will burn calories at a fast rate. Add into that the compound exercise element and you’ve got one of the most effective calorie burning exercise programs there is.

Any personal trainer knows that fat burning exercises has to be either high intensity or long duration. A kettlebell workout can be either.

In a study on kettlebell training intensity and calorie burn from University of Wisconsin, researchers found that…

Energy expenditure during the kettlebell snatch workout averaged 13.6 calories per minute, or 272 calories burned during the 20-minute workout.

It was also noted that ‘kettlebell snatch workout meets the ACSM guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory endurance.”

This is a very high rate of calorie burn, putting it ahead of many types of endurance exercise. A full body kettlebell workout, performed across 3-5 workouts per week could make a huge difference to the success of a weight loss program.

Sculpted muscles

One of the benefits of reduced body fat is sculpted muscles. With the types of exercises you do with kettlebells, you’d perform a full body exercise routine in a short period of time. 

You don’t even need to lift a very heavy kettlebell to enjoy these benefits.

Select the correct exercises. Use the correct form. Work at a high enough intensity. That’s all you need to build strength and great looking muscles in less than a couple of hours per week. An entire five move circuit will be enough if it’s done well!

An athlete at the gym doing kettlebell workouts for women
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Injury proofing

All things being equal, strong muscles are more injury resistant than weak muscles. By using kettlebells you combine glute exercises, lower back exercises, core exercises and upper body exercises in single movements. It’s up there as one of the most complete strength training tools there is.

This means you strengthen everything rapidly, which reduces your training time, and your injury risk.

More to the point, in some cases kettlebells allow people to both rehabilitate injuries and train around them. This prevents them from becoming an issue in future. Research by the legendary Stuart McGill from 2012 concluded…

quantitative analysis provides an insight into why many individuals credit kettlebell swings with restoring and enhancing back health and function

This shows there’s room for consideration of kettlebell workouts for injury proofing.

Time efficient workouts with kettlebells

If we go back to the study earlier, we saw that a kettlebell snatch workout was burning 272 calories in a 20 minute workout. That’s a lot of calories to burn, but it was also strengthening the body too.

The strength and cardiovascular improvement you get from this style of training means you can exercise faster. You do so without sacrificing the workout quality or the results you get. Your entire exercise session takes less than 30 minutes. That’s a huge result for busy women.

Different types of kettlebell workouts for women

Here’s a snapshot of the different types of kettlebell workouts. These are all fantastic exercises for women with a range of different goals…

Kettlebell HIIT and Fat Loss Workouts

A great HIIT workout is simple – you perform high intensity intervals of an exercise. My favorite way to do it with kettlebells is to pick 3-4 different kettlebell exercises and hit them hard.

Our Top Pick
Yes4All Solid Cast Iron Kettlebel
Based on our testing, this is the best kettlebell for beginners. For about 45$, this greatly-designed, sturdy kettlebell will last you for years. It also comes with a 1 year warranty.

30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest for as many sets/minutes as you can (I’d suggest 5 minutes per exercise).

Here’s the exercises I’d choose…

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Kettlebell Thruster

Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Kettlebell Clean and Press

Across these four exercises you’ll manage to train your whole body with a couple of kettlebells. You’ll have the whole workout done in less than 30 minutes, burning a lot of calories and strengthening your muscles and bones in the process.

Kettlebell strength workouts

You can perform excellent strength workouts with the kettlebell also. You need to be willing to work hard, use a heavy weight kettlebell and work with great technique. The risk goes up with heavier weights, so if you’re unsure on form it’s worth hiring a personal trainer or a coach.

Here are the exercises I suggest you perform…

Kettlebell Swing: 4 x 25 reps

Kettlebell Rows: 4 x 12 reps per side

Kettlebell Reverse Lunge: 4 x 20 reps per side

Kettlebell Push Press: 4 x 12 reps

Kettlebell Deadlift: 4 x 15 reps

Use a kettlebell weight that you find challenging for each set. This might mean you’ll need a range of kettlebells – deadlifts will need a heavier weight than push presses for example. This is a simple yet effective strength workout for women.

Kettlebell core workouts

Strong core muscles are important – not only for exercise and sports reasons, but for general health too. A weak core can be the cause of back and hip injuries, amongst others. A kettlebell is an effective way of strengthening the core. It also allows you to mix things up a bit, rather than just repeat the same bodyweight exercises over and over.

Here’s a kettlebell core workout that’ll give you a few new workout ideas…

American Kettlebell Swing: 4 x 20 reps

Kettlebell Russian Twist: 4 x 20 reps (10 to each side)

Kettlebell Crunch: 4 x 12 reps

There’s no need to overcomplicate a kettlebell core workout. Those three exercises will be sufficient, as long as they are executed well. 

What type of kettlebell do you need?

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…

  • 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 only a guide – you might find these to be wrong depending on your experience of kettlebell training.

Competition kettlebell

Competition kettlebells are straight-up kettlebells (the bell is the same width as the handle). They have a narrow handle, designed for use with chalk. The thinner handle on the competition kettlebell is often preferred by women. This is because it’s easier to grip. The competition kettlebell is the same size regardless of the weight, and is made from steel rather than iron.

Cast iron kettlebell

A cast iron kettlebell is the standard kettlebell you’ll see in many gyms. They tend to have a thicker handle than competition bells, and they come in different sizes depending on the weight. A cast iron kettlebell is cheaper to buy than a steel bell, but might not be as comfortable to use. 

Don’t bother with the kettlebells not made of metal. They’re odd to use, they don’t allow for proper technique, they’re a funny shape and don’t feel nice in the hand.

Some kettlebells that can be used for kettlebell workouts for women
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Can a kettlebell replace other workouts?

Absolutely. Whilst there’s a place for most types of workout in a rounded fitness regime, advanced level kettlebell workouts will tick all fitness boxes. You’re able to perform the foundational exercises with kettlebells, and a full body kettlebell workout will make you stronger, fitter and healthier. 

Can kettlebell workouts be done at home?

Yes. That’s what makes them so versatile. All you need is a kettlebell or two and a bit of space. With such a limited amount of equipment, you can still enjoy a challenging and effective workout

How long should my kettlebell workout last?

Depending on the goal, you can do anything from 15 minutes to 60+ minutes. Remember to work very hard and use great technique throughout. 

Getting started with kettlebell workouts for women

If you’ve been wanting to use kettlebells but didn’t know where to start, use this article as inspiration. It’ll give you plenty of workout ideas, and introduce you to a fun exercise approach.

Don’t think of kettlebells as something only men use. There are hundreds of kettlebell workouts for women. They’ll help you achieve the fitness levels and body that you want. Kettlebell training is excellent core exercise, great for learning new movements and can be tweaked to suit a whole range of goals.

About

Steve Hoyles has spent over 20 years in the fitness industry, working as a personal trainer and weightlifting coach. He now owns a large strength and conditioning facility in the UK, where he trains people from all walks of life. His client list ranges from everyday gym users through to professional athletes. He loves to share his knowledge with people at all stages of their fitness journey.

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