25 Kettlebell Exercises and The Ultimate Kettlebell Workout Guide

25 Kettlebell Exercises and The Ultimate Kettlebell Workout Guide

Weightlifting is a great way to get toned and fit, but having to go to the gym and figure out complicated gyms is a huge pain. If you want a highly effective and easy workout method that can be done just about anywhere, kettlebells are a great option.
This ultimate guide to kettlebell workouts will tell you everything you need to know about using these tools to build muscle and lose weight. 

Table of Contents

 

Why Kettlebells are Great

Of course one of the main reasons you should be picking kettlebells is their convenience. You can exercise outside on nice days, do a workout at the gym, or even go through a few exercises while you watch television in the evening.

Kettlebells are similar to free weights, which research from 2016 shows to be better at building muscle than weight-lifting machines (1). This style of weight requires you to go through a full range of motion while stabilizing your own body, so it helps to workout all the tiny muscles needed for balance and coordination (8).

Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells let you make ballistic and swinging movements, so they double as cardio and speed-training workout (10). Their unique shape lets you increase grip strength and hold onto larger weights easier.

Kettlebell movements exercise every muscle in the body at once, so you get a truly all-purpose workout.

How to Lose Weight Using Kettlebells

Kettlebells are particularly effective for weight loss because they require you to workout so many muscles at once.

According to research from the American Council on Exercise, kettlebells are one of the few exercising methods that combine resistance training and aerobic exercise (2).

This means that you can burn roughly 400 calories per 20 minutes while you use the kettlebells, and at the same time you build muscle that will increase your metabolism even when you aren’t working out (3)!

How to Choose a Kettlebell Workout for Beginners

If you’re new to kettlebells or general fitness, start by taking a look at the common exercises. Pick a workout that includes exercises targeting your arms, legs, back, and core. Look for versatile workouts with an adjustable number of reps or weights.

Start low and work your way up to a level that challenges you without being so hard you can only do one or two exercises.

You also need to choose your weight of kettlebell before you begin your workout. Kettlebell instructor Chris Lopez recommends that people start out with a kettlebell that is roughly 5 to 15 pounds lighter than the dumbells the would otherwise use (4).

Mistakes to Avoid

According to Fitness Magazine, one of the most common issues is holding a kettlebell incorrectly (5). You need to keep your wrist straight and wrap your hand around it instead of trying to hold all the weight with your thumb.

Remember that a lot of the benefits of kettlebells come from the controlled swinging motion, so don’t make the mistakes of whipping it around too quickly or not engaging through the full range of the swing. Another mistake to avoid is wearing stiff shoes because they can prevent you from moving dynamically and balancing properly.

Common Injuries to Prevent

Physical therapists report that kettlebell swings are one of the most common forms of sports injuries they encounter (6). Most kettlebell injuries occur due to improper form or uncontrolled motions.

Do not pick a weight that is too heavy for you, because it is harder to control it through the full swing. For a reduced chance of injury, follow these form tips:

  • Maintain a straight back, neck, and arms
  • Use the glutes and abs to move heavy weights instead of the back and arms
  • Avoid leaning too far back while swinging
  • Use the hip hinge technique to bend forward at the hips instead of the back

How to Warm Up before a Kettlebell Workout

Proper warm up techniques greatly improve the safety and effectiveness of kettlebell workouts (9). Start out with a few static stretches that help to lengthen your quadriceps and work out any stiffness in your back. Then pick up a lightweight kettlebell and move on to some dynamic workout moves.

A good option is a kettlebell halo that involves holding the kettlebell by the horns, extending your arms straight up, and moving the kettlebell in circles around the leg. Another useful move is positioning your body in a wide squat stance as you pass the kettlebell in figure eight motions around your legs.

The 25 Kettlebell Exercises For Women

Most kettlebell exercise can work for either gender, but women often need to modify exercises a little to accommodate their reduced grip and arm strength.

Some exercises are also better suited for women because they help to accomplish exercise goals like increasing curves or tightening up their waist. Here are a few great exercises to try out.

1. Kettlebell Row

Difficulty: Beginner level

Target Muscles: Arms, shoulders, and back

How to: To target your upper muscles, place a kettlebell in front of each foot, and bend over slightly until you can reach the kettlebells. Bend your arms to pull the kettlebells up to your torso while keeping your back straight and your elbows tucked in.

2. The Russian Kettlebell Swing

Difficulty: Beginner level

Target Muscles: Legs, hips, glutes, back, and shoulders

How to: This classic exercise is very simple. It basically involves holding a bell with your arms parallel to the ground, and then moving into a slight squat as you swing the bell between your legs. Check out this video from Wodstar for more details.

3. Single Arm Kettlebell Swing

Difficulty: Intermediate level

Target Muscles: Legs, hips, glutes, back, and shoulders

How to: This exercise is just like the Russian kettlebell swing, but you only hold the kettlebell in a single hand. Extend your other arm through the swing, and switch hands each time your bell goes behind your legs.

4. Kettlebell Squat

Difficulty: Intermediate level

Target Muscles: Thighs, glutes, back

How to: Your form in this is just like a regular squat, where you position your feet a shoulder width apart and bend your legs until your knees reach at least a 90 degree angle. Just make sure to hold the kettlebell close to your chest while keeping your elbows folded in to the body.

5. Kettlebell Overhead Lunges

Difficulty: Intermediate level

Target Muscles: Legs, glutes, abs, back, shoulders, and arms

How to: Add a kettlebell to your lunge routine by holding a kettlebell against your chest as you stand and lifting it in the air each time you lunge forward on a leg. This video from JohnnyFit provides more helpful details.

6. Figure Eights

Difficulty: Beginner level

Target Muscles: Abs, back, and arms

How to: Unlike the more gentle warm up method, you should stand up each time the bell passes between your legs during this exercise. Onnit Academy shows the right way to do this if you want to really build core strength.

7. Kettlebell High Pull

Difficulty: Intermediate level

Target Muscles: Legs, glutes, arms, and shoulders

How to: As this video by BabysBellsBodyweight explains, you do a kettlebell high pull by setting a bell on the ground, squatting slightly, and standing back up as you pull it level with your chest.

8. Kettlebell Windmills

Difficulty: Advanced

Target Muscles: Legs, arms, and shoulders

How to: Windmills involve holding a kettlebell in one hand while you bend down to touch your calf with the other. Windmills can be a little tricky, so watch this tutorial to make sure you do it correctly.

9. Kettlebell Sling Shot

Difficulty: Beginner level

Target Muscles: Abs, arms, and back

How to: All you need to do for this is gently rotate the bell around your waist, passing it back and forth between hands. Greg Brookes shares some helpful tips on how to do it.

10. Kettlebell Floor Press

Difficulty: Beginner level

Target Muscles: Cor, chest, arms.

How to: This simple exercise requires you to lay on the ground and repeatedly raise it into the air. Watch I’llPumpYouUp’s video for tips on how to hold the bell.

11. Sumo High Pull

Difficulty: Intermediate Level

Target Muscles: Legs, back, arms, and shoulders

How to: Get into a wide, squatting stance like a sumo wrestler with a kettlebell in between your legs. Stand up as you bend your arms to the side to raise the kettlebell to shoulder height, and then return to starting position.

12. Kettlebell Deadlift

Difficulty: Advanced Level

Target Muscles: Legs, glutes, abs, back, and arms

How to: Use a kettlebell to do standard deadlifts. Make sure you have proper form to avoid any injuries!

13. Kettlebell Military Press

Difficulty: Intermediate Level

Target Muscles: Back, shoulders, and arms

How to: Hold a bell in each hand, bending your elbows to bring the bells up to your shoulders. Raise your arms above your head until straight.

14. Kettlebell Lunge Loop

Difficulty: Intermediate level

Target Muscles: Legs, glutes, core, and shoulders

How to: these lunges involve passing the bell under your thigh with each lunge. Here’s a video with more details.

15. Kettlebell Twists

Difficulty: Beginner

Target Muscles: Abs

How to: Kettlebell twists are similar to bicycle crunches but far more effective. Check out Jeannie’s video to see more tips about performing this move.

16. Traveling Kettlebell Swing

Difficulty: Intermediate

Target Muscles: Back, legs, and glutes

How to: This exercise involves side stepping along with a basic swing, so it provides very intense cardio.

17. Kettlebell Cleans

Difficulty: Advanced Level

Target Muscles: Legs, glutes, and back

How to: The kettlebell clean is a little complicated, so watch this video by to learn the right form.

18. Kettlebell Split Jerk

Difficulty: Advanced level

Target Muscles: Legs, back, chest, and shoulders

How to: This move is similar to a military press, but also involves more leg movements. Watch this video to get a complete guide from Julie.

19. Kettlebell Push-ups

Difficulty: Advanced

Target Muscles: Back, chest, and arms

How to: This is just a standard push-up, but you wrap your hands around kettlebell handles that sit on the floor instead of putting your palms flat on the ground.

20. Kettlebell Plank and Row

Difficulty: Intermediate

Target Muscles: Back, abs, and arms

How to: Start in a plank position that has your hands resting on two kettlebells. Alternating between each arm, bend your arm up and back to bring the kettlebell up to your hip level, then return it to the ground.

21. Kettlebell Hip Thrust

Difficulty: Beginner

Target Muscles: Legs, glutes, back, and abs

How to: This is just a standard hip thrust, where you lay on your back with your knees bent and raise up your hips to create a straight line from shoulder to knees, but it uses a kettlebell as extra weight.

22. Kettlebell Half Get Up

Difficulty: Intermediate

Target Muscles: Back, abs, and arms

How to: You start in a lying down position and gradually sit up while raising a kettlebell. This Women’s Health video will show you exactly how to do it.

23. Kettlebell Side Press

Difficulty: Advanced

Target Muscles: Abs, chest, shoulders, and arms

How to: IKG demonstrates how to do a side press the proper way.

24. Kettlebell Push-up and Row

Difficulty: Advanced

Target Muscles: Back, chest, and arms

How to: As FatLossSolution shows in their video, this is essentially a kettlebell push up with a row added after each push up.

25. Kettlebell Snatch

Difficulty: Advanced level

Target Muscles: Back, chest, and shoulders

How to: This intense exercise involves pulling a kettlebell all the way from the ground to above your head. Here’s how to do it.

25 Kettlebell Exercises and The Ultimate Kettlebell Workout Guide

The Top 5 Kettlebell Workout Videos to Burn Belly Fat

Kettlebell Workout to Shape and Sculpt Abs

This video from Amy at Bodyfit by Amy is a great workout for those on the go. It is just eight minutes long, and it targets both the rectus abdominis and the oblique muscles. The moves themselves are easy enough for beginners, but advanced kettlebell users can still get benefits from this workout just by increasing weights.

12 Minute Fat Burning Kettlebell Routine

This really intense video from Max involves a huge range of different exercises that are mostly cardio based.

It is perfect for intermediate users who want to burn a lot of calories. In addition to several exercises targeting the core, it also involves some leg workouts. This helps to build thigh muscles that rev up your metabolism and burn more fat overall (7).

Full Length Kettlebell Abs Workout

This comprehensive video from Troy Van Spanje is ideal for beginners looking for a longer kettlebell workout. He takes you through every part of the workout, from the warm up to the cool down, and thoroughly explains the right form for each exercise.

Every exercise targets the obliques, transversus abdominis, and rectus abdominis, so you can really focus on flattening your belly.

Kettlebell Home Workout

This at home workout doesn’t require a lot of space or multiple weights, and it is perfect for intermediate kettlebell users.

Marischa provides a simple ten minute workout that you will definitely feel in your abs and obliques. It also includes some exercises that help with core and back muscles for an extra toned waist.

Chiseled Abs Kettlebell Workout

This advanced kettlebell workout from CaveManTraining includes a lot of intense exercises, but once you get used to them, they really target your abs.

These moves are also useful for those who want a little more definition along their chest and triceps.

The Top 10 Kettlebell Workout Videos for Men

Kettlebell Khaos Workout

A nice feature of this workout by Funk Roberts is that he goes into the science behind kettlebell workouts a little bit.

It might be a little tough for beginners, but it is a solid workout once you’ve built up your strength a little bit. This is a solid full-body workout that targets shoulders, arms, core, glutes, and legs.

1X10 Kettlebell Workout

Daniel from Fitness Blender walks you through a simple workout that just consists of 10 basic motions that are each done for a single minute.

The simplicity of this makes it perfect for beginners, especially since he walks you through the right forms for each exercise.

This exercise is done in just 15 minutes, but you’ll definitely feel it in the arms and legs.

Kettlebell Bicep Workout

Mike Rose has created a bicep workout that is perfect for guys who want to get larger arm muscles. It only takes five minutes and is mainly exercises that are easy for beginners to do.

This targeted workout can be done by itself or mixed in with other workouts.

Full Body Sculpting Workout

Ryan Raw provides a nice, well rounded workout that targets all your main muscle groups, including the legs, back, arms, shoulders, and abs. His clear instructions and thorough guidelines make this workout great for beginners.

It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and you really feel the burn in this workout.

40 Minute Full Body Workout.

At 40 minutes long, this workout definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. Though the exercises themselves aren’t too advanced, the intensity means it is best for people who already have a strong foundation of fitness.

Trainer Troy Van Spanje walks you through a variety of exercises for the arms, shoulders, chest, core, glutes, thighs, and calves.

Kettlebell Metabolic Circuit

Unlike many kettlebell workouts for men, this video from Mandebvu focuses more on cardio than strength training. A great thing about it is how it does the timing for you during the full body workout.

It is a solid choice for beginners since it explains how to do each step, but it is also advanced enough to challenge men who are already athletic.

15 Minute Kettlebell Fat Burner

This workout from Joe Wicks primarily focuses on burning fat. It’s a solid beginner to intermediate workout that you can do with just a single kettlebell.

You will mostly feel this workout in your arms and legs, but it should provide a little core workout too.

Man of Steel Kettlebell Workout

This full body workout focuses on very slow, controlled kettlebell movements that are designed to improve overall strength and build muscles. Cave Man Training provides a simple yet challenging routine.

Since it requires a relatively heavy weight, it is a more advanced workout that can take a little time to feel comfortable.

High Intensity Tabata Kettlebell Workout

Trainer Peter Hirsh has created a fun workout that is useful for people who are new to kettlebell training. It uses mostly simple exercises, but it has a very high intensity rhythm that gets you sweating quickly.

The timer he shows as you go through the arm, leg, shoulder, glute, and core workouts makes it easy to time your exercises.

Kettlebell Leg and Thigh Workout

Guys who want to build their leg muscles should check out this intermediate level video from Mike at Anabolic Aliens.

It’s just five minutes long, and the trainer gives you plenty of great detailed instructions for how to engage your muscles as you workout.

The Top 3 Kettlebells to Try

Almost any type of kettlebell provides plenty of benefits, but there are a few kettlebell designs that stand out from the rest. Here are a few great options to try.

Note: If you click some of the links in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Yes4All Vinyl Coated Kettlebells

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This kettlebell has a slightly wider handle than usual, so it is easy to hold it with both hands when you are trying to do kettlebell swings.

The manufacturers use a single-cast mold and coat the bells with an electrically charged paint bath, resulting in an unusually smooth ball that will not poke you or cause unnecessary friction.

Its gently rounded shape with a flat bottom makes it easy to use this bell in a variety of exercises.

Cap Cast Iron Competition Bell

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This is ideal for shoppers on a budget. It is significantly cheaper than the high end bells without having too much of a downgrade in quality.

A nice thing about this bell is the flat bottom that lets you use the bell for rows and push ups. Color coding handles make it easy to find the right size for different workouts

Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder Kettlebell

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These unique kettlebells use a hammertone finish that provides a little extra grip on the kettlebells. They also have different handle sizes for different weights, so it is easier for women to grip the weights.

Like the Cap Cast Iron bells, they also come with color coding to make your workout easier.

Our Choice – Top Workout, Top Kettlebell

Ultimately, the Yes4All kettlebells win out over the competition.

In addition to being very comfortable to use, they are also one of the most durable options. Investing in these will give you workout gear that lasts for years.

One of the best workouts out there is the Kettlebell Khaos workout by Funk Roberts. It manages to fully exercise every part of your body, yet it is still short enough that you can finish it in under a half hour.

This workout manages to blend cardio and strength training perfectly, so you get great results!

Sources

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5260589/
(2) https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/3172/ace-sponsored-research-study-kettlebells-kick-butt
(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC296885/
(4) https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/how-to-choose-the-right-kettlebell-weight-w447908/
(5) https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/lose-weight/build-strength/kettlebell-mistakes/
(6) https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/06/19/high-risk-exercises.aspx
(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3661116/
(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3641709/
(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5833972/
(10)https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b251/adabde9cf75fdf1c4e161b96354542e6d6bd.pdf