Get Fitter, Faster: Fitness, Food & Health Hacks

Hey, I'm Julien. I share a weekly newsletter designed to make you fitter. It's short, smart and actionable17k read it, I'd love you to join too. It's free.

I want to get fitter

The 12 Best Kettlebell Workouts You Must Add To Your Routine

 Written by 

Jordyn Snyder

 Last updated on 

Working out can be repetitive if you’re not careful to incorporate new exercises every so often. It can get even more stagnant if you’re using limited equipment, so we’re here to give you twelve amazing kettlebell workouts to add to your routine that are sure to help you reach your fitness goals and how to do each one properly.

But First, What Is A Kettlebell?

If you’re new to the gym or you just don’t remember what those weird-looking weights are called, a kettlebell is a cast-iron or cast-steel ball with a handle attached to the top. It looks very similar to a cannonball with an arched handle. These free weights come in varying sizes from 5 lbs and beyond and can be a great tool to add to your arsenal.

A man preparing himself before doing kettlebell workouts
  • Save

The Benefits Of Kettlebell Workouts:

Simplified Training

Kettlebells don’t require any large machinery, which means if you prefer a private gym in your own home you can buy a single kettlebell and use it for a wide range of workouts that targets multiple muscle groups. They’re also pretty easy to learn to use and can be used in such varying degrees that it’ll get difficult to be bored with them.

Substitutes Cardio

Kettlebell workouts are a great cardio exercise that not only helps strengthen your cardiovascular fitness, but for building strength as well. If you’re comparing a set of bench presses to a kettlebell swing set, there are quite a few benefits to kettlebell swings which include less muscular fatigue. Kettlebell swings incorporate more muscle groups, allowing you to increase the intensity and exercise longer. Overall, kettlebells are just a fantastic option for total-body strength.

Builds Posterior Chain Strength

When lifting it’s very important to have a strong posterior chain to lower your risk of injury and help increase your base of strength. We’re talking about your glutes, hamstrings, lats, spinal stabilizers, and core muscles. Kettlebells are a great tool to use to assist as a form of power development or as an accessory for conditioning and can work your posterior chain without over-taxing those muscles.

Training You to Move Better

Movement in itself is a great thing for the human body, but if you are someone who is recovering from an injury or can’t do heavy-impact exercises due to health issues, kettlebells are a great alternative. You have full control of the kettlebell weight and can change from a lighter weight to a heavier weight as needed for a workout. The exercises that can be done with a kettlebell, for the most part, are nearly all low-impact and require less stress on the body than let’s say a standard deadlift.

Increases Your Range of Motion

Most kettlebell workouts require you to squat, swing, or lift the kettlebell over your head, all of which need a bending motion of some kind, whether that’s in the knees, hips, or arms it doesn’t matter. While performing a kettlebell workout you’re possibly reaching the peak of physical mobility for your body, which is proven to build muscle mobility and increase flexibility.

A bunch of kettlebells used for effective kettlebell workouts
  • Save

List of Kettlebell Workouts And How To Do Them:

Kettlebell Halo

The kettlebell halo exercise is a favorite for shoulder mobility and here’s how you do it:

Your starting position should be upright with your shoulders relaxed and positioned over the hips. Hold the kettlebell in front of you by the horns (the vertical sides of the handles). This means the bottom of the kettlebell should be facing the ceiling.

being held out just a few inches from your face. Begin the exercise by circling to the right and around that side of your head and then let it lower behind your head before bringing it to your left side and then back to starting position. After a complete rotation, reverse direction by circling the other way and then stopping once you’ve arrived at your starting position again. Repeat until the set is done.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

For the kettlebell goblet squat, start with the kettlebell at chest level, elbows under wrists, and a firm grip on the horns. Press the shoulder blades together and down as you set a sturdy stance with your feet hip-width apart. As you squat with proper form, keep your core muscles engaged and the kettlebell off your body (no resting it on your chest). Remember not to drift forward or lean too far in any direction that might make you lose balance.

Once you reach the bottom of your squat, push against the floor and slowly return to starting position without shooting your hips Once standing, repeat steps over until finished.

Kettlebell Gorilla Row

This kettlebell exercise requires two kettlebells of the same weight placed on the ground hip-width apart and the handlebars parallel to each other and your feet. Hinge from your hips and bend your knees slightly to grab the handles. Keep one kettlebell in your hand and row with the other, lifting it back towards your hip.

Remember here to keep your wrist straight, core engaged, and lead the lift with your elbow. Keeping the same squat-like position, lower the kettlebell back down and then repeat but on the other side, continuing to alternate arms until your set is done. This exercise can be done with your feet at shoulder width or in a wider squat, the positioning really depends on what feels best to you. You can also play around with head positioning (looking forward, packing the neck, etc.) and your grip on the handles.

Kettlebell Pistol Squat

The pistol squat is a more advanced full-body exercise that requires a bit more balance and coordination than a lot of other exercises. To do this one, you’re going to start as you would for a goblet squat and instead of a normal squat, you’re going to extend one leg out in front of you and curl your toes back. While keeping your weight back on your heel and midfoot, sit your hips back and lower under your reach as far as you can down. Pause for three seconds and then drive from the heel back to the starting position all while remaining tight and under tension.

Kettlebell Single-Racked Reverse Lunge

The racked reverse lunge is one of the best and easiest kettlebell lunge exercises and to start it, place your feet shoulder-width apart and have a kettlebell “racked” over one arm. This means you’re going to be standing with your hand through the kettlebell handle, gripping the top loosely with the weight of it resting on your outer forearm.

Once you are in position, extend one leg out backward into a lunge stance and perform a proper lunge. Your knee should not touch the ground (just hover over slightly) and your front thigh should stay parallel to the ground while you keep your torso upright. Once you perform a single reverse lunge with one leg, swap, and then alternate each lunge stance until the set is complete.

Kettlebell Hip Thrust

For this exercise, you’ll need a bench and a kettlebell. If you’re familiar with a barbell hip-thrust, you’ll just replace the barbell with a kettlebell in this exercise, but if you’ve never seen one, let us explain. You’re going to prop your shoulders on the edge of the bench with your feet on the ground. The weight should be propped on your hips therefore as you lift your hips you’re also going to be lifting the kettlebell. Once at the top of the bridge position, you’re going to control the lowering and repeat, making sure you can feel the contraction in your glutes.

Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is not only the most popular kettlebell exercise, but this two-handed swing is sure to help you reach your fitness goals. You’re going to stand over your kettlebell with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. With a flat back, engaged abdominals, and toes forward, grab the handle of the kettlebell, pretending you can pull the weight apart.

While contracting your lats, take a deep breath, and sweep the kettlebell between your legs. Start small and build momentum with loose arms, allowing the weight to move as it naturally would (imagine a pendulum) that only goes as high as your chin. Bend your knees just enough to keep your weight in your hips and don’t forget to continue breathing. Once you’ve done one full swing up and down, then continue with the momentum until your timer is finished.

Kettlebell Single-Handed Swing

This one-handed swing is going to be very similar to the regular swing except, you got it, it’s one-handed. If you feel like you’ve mastered the regular swing then begin in your typical starting position for a kettlebell swing with one hand on the handle.

Maintain a neutral spine and then engage your glutes and hip-hinge as you normally would for a swing making sure to avoid using your shoulders to move the weight and that you don’t extend too far backward. It’s also important you don’t twist and overcompensate for the asymmetrical load either. Continue the exercise like this until your time is done.

Kettlebell Swing Changing Hands

Like a one-handed swing, you’re going to start off swinging as you normally would, except when the kettlebell reaches chest height, you’re going to grab hold of the handle to swap hands. 

When you drive up (once you reach chest height) remember to turn your wrist so it’s facing inward before grabbing the kettlebell with the opposite hand.

If you try to grab without this turn motion of the wrists, you might find yourself reaching too far forward and leaning in a way that can cause injury and mess up your form. If you find yourself unable to switch hands, stay with the same hand and don’t change mid-swing. If you do change on the descent or on the swing upwards you’ll find yourself with back pain and you’ll likely feel off balance as well, so only change hands at the top of the movement.

Kettlebell Overhead Press

Here you’re going to start with your feet shoulder-width apart, let your toes point outwards slightly, and engage your glutes. “Rack” the kettlebell by having the weight resting over your outer forearm and your elbow tucked in and close to your body, remembering to keep your wrist straight. Brace your core and press the kettlebell overhead, not allowing it to drift forward or backward.

Ensure your shoulders stay down and your knees lock at full extension creating full tension through the legs as you press and squeeze the handle as tightly as you can. On the descent, make sure you don’t just drop it, lower it slowly back to a racked position, and then press the weight upwards again until your set is finished.

Double Kettlebell Push Press

Start in a deadlift position and then grab the kettlebells to lift them into a double-racked position. It’ll look like the starting position for an overhead press, but instead of one kettlebell, you’ll have two (one in each hand). While pressing the kettlebells above your head, slightly bend your knees and force an exhale as you extend your hips into an upright position.

You’re going to use this movement to press the kettlebells until your arms are straight but not locked. After a second, pull your lats down as you return the weights to their racked position. Now, repeat these steps until your set is complete.

Kettlebell Good Morning

If you’re looking for a good mobility warmup begin this exercise with a lighter kettlebell between your shoulder blades. While engaging your core and glutes, bend from the hips by pushing your hips backward and keeping your knees slightly bent. Only lean as forward as your hamstrings will allow. Throughout the whole exercise make sure your elbows are close together and not chicken-winging out. Keep doing this until your set is done.

Are 20-minute Kettlebell Workouts Enough?

One of the great things about kettlebells is they can be done at home and only require about 20-30 minutes of your time. So, if you’re a stay-at-home parent under the constraints of parenthood or are busy working and can never find the time to work out, kettlebells could be a fantastic option for you.

Not only are they time-saving, but since they require very little equipment (just a singular kettlebell), it’s become a quickly growing workout among people with limited time. The short answer is yes, 20 minutes and a single kettlebell is 100% enough!

How Many Days A Week Should You Do Kettlebell Training?

Everyone is obviously different so it really depends on your skill level, your body’s current condition, and how often you work out. Since kettlebell workouts can be very straining and intense, it’s recommended that you do them in shorter bursts with higher intensity and between three-five days a week. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time for recovery and to prevent injury. You know your body the best, if you’re feeling extra tired listen to it.

What Else Should I Know About Kettlebell Workouts?

Training with kettlebells isn’t always meant to be an intense workout. While on your path of strength training, you’ll find how the kettlebell movement works with your body, especially once you learn the proper form. This means it’s important not to get too frustrated or upset if you don’t see results right away or how you envisioned them. It’s always smarter to start easy and work your way up progressively instead of jumping right into an intense exercise and a heavyweight.

Share via
Copy link