Whether your goal is to build strength, gain muscle mass, or increase your aerobic capacity, kettlebells are a brilliant piece of equipment to use. With just a couple of kettlebells, you’re all set to perform an effective and fun work that will target your whole body and burn plenty of calories.
Due to its unique handle-and-bell shape, you can use the kettlebell creatively, swinging it, flipping it over your arm, and holding it in a few different ways through a large range of motions. They offer you greater variety than barbells or dumbbells often providing a more interesting and dynamic workout to keep you engaged and motivated. Additionally, as the majority of the weight is on one end of the kettlebell, most exercises challenge the stability of more than one muscle group at a time, specifically the core.
This is also a great workout to try at home. Don’t have a kettlebell to hand? A bottle of laundry detergent is the ideal replacement. Not only is it a substantial weight for exercising, but the handle makes it easy to grip.
These 8 exercises develop power and strength, build muscle, improve cardiovascular conditioning, and more. Excellent functional exercises, they target multiple muscle groups.
Here’s how to do them:
The swing is a staple move that targets the core, hips, glutes, hamstrings and the upper body, including your shoulders and lats. A brilliant all-rounder, if you only learn one kettlebell move, this should be it!
- With a soft bend in your knees, hinge forward at your hips, push your bottom back, and grab the handle with both hands. Tilt the bell on its side, handle toward your body.
- Hike the bell high up in your groin area (your wrists should touch high in your inner thigh) and thrust your hips forward aggressively so that at the top of the swing, you are essentially in a standing plank, looking straight ahead, squeezing your core, glutes, and quads.
- Once the bell reaches about chest height (and not above shoulder height), hinge forward at your hips and push your bottom back again, letting the bell drop on its own as you do. You should not feel like you’re using your arms to lift anything. Let your eyes, head, and neck follow so that you don’t strain your neck.
The movement requires your full concentration, strengthening your mind-muscle connection as well as your shoulders, triceps and back.
- Start in a half kneeling position with one foot and one knee on the floor, both knees bent 90 degrees. Or, stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold a kettlebell bell up at your chest with both hands gripping the handle.
- Lift the weight to eye level and slowly circle it around your head counter clockwise, making a halo shape. As you circle the weight around your head, maintain a tight core, and keep your elbows close to your body to engage your triceps.
- Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
Kettlebell Lateral Lunge
This move will make you feel the burn in your quads and bottom and is excellent for hip mobility and functional strength.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a kettlebell by the handle with both hands at your chest.
- Take a big step out to the right. Bend your right knee, hinge forward at the hips, and sit your bottom back to lower into a lateral lunge. Keep your back flat and core engaged, and make sure your knee doesn’t move forward beyond your toes.
- Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.
Sumo Deadlifts With High Pull
This explosive move develops the muscles in your legs, back, and shoulders. Your form here should be similar to a traditional deadlift, except your legs should be wider than shoulder-width distance and your feet should be slightly turned out.
- Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and toes angled out.
- Hold a kettlebell by the handles with both hands, palms facing in.
- Hinge at your hips and bend your knees to lower your body and the weight. Push your bottom far back and keep your back flat. Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor.
- Keeping your core tight, push through your heels to stand up straight. As you stand, bend at the elbows to pull the weight up toward your face.
- Pause at the top and squeeze your bottom.
Curl and Press
This move works your arms and shoulders and requires involvement from your torso muscles to stabilise. Try to do the curl and press as one smooth movement.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp a kettlebell in each hand, palms facing out and hanging by sides
- Curl kettlebells up then move into a push rotating the arms as you press to keep palms facing out
- Reverse the motion by lowering the weights from the press position back to your shoulders and uncurling arms, do this with smooth control
The triceps are not a muscle many people work, so go with a lighter weight here. Focus on keeping your back straight so you isolate the triceps and make sure your arms are completely straight at the top of the exercise.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Grip the kettlebell by the ball at the base of the handle with both hands and raise it directly overhead.
- Keeping your elbows close to your ears, lower the kettlebell behind your head to neck level. Pause, then straighten your arms to raise the kettlebell overhead.
Bent-over rows strengthen your triceps, back, and chest. Keep the movement slow and controlled to get the full benefit and help avoid injury.
- Start in a lunge, with your left leg out a few feet in front of the right.
- Hinge at the hips to bend forward, keeping your back flat.
- Make sure your shoulders and hips are square with the floor.
- Hold the kettlebell handle in your right hand with your arm hanging straight at your side. Rest your left arm on your left knee.
- Lift the kettlebell to your rib cage, engaging your back as you pull. Pause and lower it back down.
This exercise will build your core and lower abs. Try to keep your core tight and your lower back flat on the ground.
- Lie on your back and hold a kettlebell in both hands by the bell. Hold the weight straight above your shoulders.
- Lift your shoulders and upper torso off the ground.
- Raise your legs a few inches off the ground and flutter kick your feet.
- If your back comes off the ground, or you feel any strain, bring your legs up a couple more inches.