If you haven’t been using Kettlebell Workouts in your routine to look your best, you’re missing out. Here are the best exercises you need to try today!
Kettlebells were developed by the Russians in the 18th century as a way of weighing crops. Soon thereafter, they became a tool to develop strength. Made of cast-iron or cast-steel, they are the piece of equipment in the corner of the gym that resembles a cannonball with a handle. Maybe it’s something you have never used and don’t know how to use. Well, that time needs to end and you can also check out the best places to buy kettlebells.
Kettlebells bridge the gap between cardiovascular training and strength training, giving you a two-for-one special. They don’t require much space either. All you need is your kettlebell, your body and a small space, eliminating a concern that many have at the gym. Want a simple, quick workout that gives you results? Kettlebells provide a full-body workout in a fraction of the time it may take to go through a regular workout using other equipment at the gym.
Lastly, a kettlebell can travel with you. Are you going to put a set of dumbbells or a barbell and plates in your car if you go on vacation?
It’s very unlikely. Kettlebells are easily transportable. Next time you are on vacation, pack your kettlebell and do your workout on the beach. From the swings to deadlifts to the Turkish get-up, these are just a few of the many moves that can get you in excellent physical condition.
Are you ready?
It’s kettlebell time!
10 The Best Kettlebell Workouts
#1 Two-Handed Swing
The most common kettlebell move is the two-handed swing. The swing is a very explosive move that requires your body to move dynamically, but also in sync.
Starting with your feet hip-width apart, stand over the kettlebell. With a slight bend in your knees, you should bend at the hip to pick up the kettlebell with both of your hands. Throughout the move, your spine should be in alignment, keeping a nice posture throughout the backside and avoiding rounding over. Pick up the kettlebell and thrust it forward, driving your hips until your body reaches a full, upright position.
On the return, allow the kettlebell to swing back down, folding at the hips as the kettlebell swings back under your hips. The explosive movement continues for as many reps as you would like. The swing not only raises your heart rate, giving you a cardiovascular element, but it works nearly every joint in the body including your hips, knees, ankles and shoulders. Aim for doing 10 reps at first. If you want a real challenge, try to pump out 100 swings per day.
The deadlift is the ultimate posterior move and the kettlebell deadlift is no different. Targeting every muscle on the backside of your body, the deadlift is one of the best compound movements you can include in your workout.
Line up with your feet hip-width apart, standing directly above the kettlebell, just as you do the swing. Hinge forward, pushing your hips back and keeping your back straight to grab the kettlebell with both hands. Drive your hips forward until your body reaches full extension.
To get more out of this lift, go slower on your return to the floor. This is the eccentric phase of the movement and partners with the force of gravity making it even more challenging. The kettlebell deadlift is a great way to learn how to deadlift before moving onto using a barbell.
No workout is complete without some benefits of squats. With a kettlebell you can do many different types of squats with the goblet squat being the most common.
Start by holding the kettlebell against your chest. Push your hips backs as your knees bend, lowering your body closer to the floor until you reach 90-degree knee flexion.
Another tip is to go until your elbows reach the inside of your knees. Do not bend at the hips too much.
That can place too much stress on your backside. Squats are designed to hit the entire lower half of your body and they help to increase hip mobility. Try to do 10 reps per set before moving on to doing more reps.
Do you want to be an Olympic weightlifter? Most people don’t. But, how about developing explosive power?
Who wouldn’t want that, right?
The kettlebell clean can help you do that. An explosive pulling movement, the barbell clean is one of the lifts performed in Olympic competition and you get tons of benefits from Olympic lifting.
Starting with a kettlebell is a great way to learn how to do a barbell clean. Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart, squat down and grab the kettlebell with an overhand grip. Line the kettlebell up with your shoulder. Next, execute the move by exploding upward, extending your hips and knees. Once the kettlebell is off the floor, raise your shoulders above the body. Next, drop under the kettlebell by rotating your arm under it.
Throughout this entire sequence, keep the kettlebell close to your body. The clean is a very challenging exercise, but has many benefits including developing explosive power. Start trying to complete one or two reps with each arm with an emphasis on proper form.
#5 Overhead Press
If you are like most people, chances are when you first entered the gym you were looking to do a bench press rather than do a squat or deadlift. The bench press has many benefits when done correctly and is an exceptional compound movement. You can perform a floor press or bench press with a kettlebell. But, instead of doing that, go ahead and opt for an overhead press.
Grab a kettlebell with one hand and bring it to shoulder height. With your palm starting in neutral position (facing your body), press the kettlebell overhead until your arm is fully extended and rotating the hand so your palm is facing ahead.
The overhead press is an excellent compound movement that often gets neglected because there is too much emphasis on just bench pressing. Not only does it target the shoulders and arms, but it also requires great core stability to press the weight overhead while standing. Start by doing 10 reps for each side. Want more of a challenge? After mastering that, complete three sets of 10 reps for each side without resting in between.
#6 Squat And Press
Now that you have mastered the squat and press, it’s time to combine them. This combo exercise targets the entire body and helps build explosive power.
Start with the kettlebell at shoulder height and your hand in neutral position. Keeping your spine in proper alignment, begin the squatting motion by pushing your hips back and bending your knees as you lower your body. Go until you reach 90-degree knee flexion. At the bottom portion, accelerate to the top, driving your hips and knees upward until you reach full extension while pressing the kettlebell overhead.
This is not just a squat. It is not just a press. It is a squat and press. Use the power from your legs to help you lift the kettlebell overhead. Master the move with just one kettlebell before moving onto the two kettlebell squat and press.
#7 Weighted Sit-Up
Kettlebell training incorporates every muscle on your body, making it one of the more efficient ways to workout. For those that want some isolated core work, though, the weighted sit-up is the move for you.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor. Grab your kettlebell and hold it against your chest. It’s that easy.
Doing a regular sit-up can be challenging for some. As a result, if you are not ready for doing the weighted sit-up, you should master the bodyweight workout move first. Keeping your chin off your chest, lift your torso up until you reach an upright position before slowly lowering your body back down to the starting position.
#8 Two Kettlebell Front Squat
The goblet squat is the appetizer for kettlebell squats. The entrée is the two kettlebell front squat. Adding another kettlebell to the mix increases the challenge and requires excellent form to receive all the benefits.
Start by grabbing two kettlebells in front of your shoulders with your elbows in line with the outside of your body. Keeping your chest lifted and avoiding excessive forward bend, lower into a squat by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Once your thighs reach parallel, push yourself back to full extension.
Adding another kettlebell is not only tough on the lower half, but it also requires increased activation of your core muscles and strong anterior shoulders. Before jumping into the two kettlebell squat and press, master this move. Try starting with a set of 10 reps before adding more weight or reps to the mix.
If you are looking to solely focus on building and maxing out your lifts, chances are single-leg work is rarely in your workout plan. It should be though. And, now is as good a time as any to get it in there.
Unilateral training helps to solve muscular imbalances and supports better stability. The lunge is one of the best unilateral moves you can do as it places a strong emphasis on developing the quads, hamstrings and glutes in a well-balanced manner.
With the kettlebell, you can add a fun variation to spice things up. Grab a kettlebell and hold it in one hand. Start in an upright stance and lunge forward with your leg that is on the same side as the kettlebell. Once you reach 90-degree knee flexion in both knees, pass the kettlebell through the legs to the other hand and push off the starting position.
The lunge is a great exercise to build unilateral strength and balance, but who says you can’t have fun with it? Before you add the pass through the legs, make sure your lunges are on point.
#10 Turkish Get-Up
Lastly, we have the granddaddy of all kettlebell exercises: The Turkish get-up.
Want to increase your body control?
How about increase shoulder stability and shoulder mobility?
Need an exercise that will challenge your whole body from head-to-toe?
The Turkish get-up is the right move for you.
Start by lying on your backside with the kettlebell in your right hand. Press the kettlebell upward until your arms reaches full extension and keep it locked in. With your right knee bent and your foot planted on the floor and left leg extended, place your left hand on the floor and sit up. Push your body off the floor giving a little space between your bottom and the floor. In that space, bring your left knee under your body, putting you in a kneeling position. Push yourself off the floor until your body reaches full extension. Lower your body in a controlled manner in the exact opposite sequence you came up.
The Turkish get-up requires practice, practice, and more practice. Start by not using a weight, but by focusing on keeping your arm fully extended throughout the movement. When you complete your first Turkish get-up, you will have joined elite company.
Kettlebells are for beginners, intermediates, and advanced exercisers. They provide a full body workout that can be completed in a small space, making it even more appealing. Whether you have limited time or limited space and still want an efficient workout that can be intense, kettlebell training is for you. Try these 10 moves. If you master them, then you’ll find that your cardio and strength will be on the rise.
By Adam Clark, CPT