You might be new to the world of fitness or maybe you’ve been going to the gym 5 times a week for years, either way, the kettlebells exercises will be beneficial for you. Although many dumbbells and kettlebells movements may look similar, kettlebells work slightly different because with each exercise you get multiple muscle groups involved to get it right and stay stable. All kettlebell work-outs make the muscles strong but not bulky and increase the heart rate to the same levels as cardio exercises. The experts say that it’s a combination of cardio and strength training that work your entire body.
We at Bright Side prepared this selection of very effective exercises for you.
1. Kettlebell 2-arm swing
Areas involved: shoulders, back, hips, glutes, legs
The main thing you need to remember is that the power comes from the hips, not the arms. Stand up straight, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart or a bit wider. Grab the kettlebell with both hands. Moving the hips back and slightly bending the knees, lower the body. Remember, you are not squatting, so don’t go too low. Then explosively move the hips forward swinging the kettlebell at the same time with the momentum. Repeat 12-15 times. Adjust the kettlebell according to your personal level, going too light is actually just as unsafe as going too heavy.
2. Kettlebell sumo squat
Areas involved: back, legs, shoulders, arms, glutes
Start with getting into a very wide stance, the wider your feet are apart, the more effective this exercise is. The important part is that you should feel that the glute muscles are working the most, not your quads. If you mainly feel the front of thighs working, spread your feet a little wider apart. Place your feet at a 45° angle, hold the kettlebell in front with both hands and lower your body and then return to the initial position. When you squat, the knees follow the direction of your feet, and don’t move forward. Don’t lean forward, your body should only be moving up and down. If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, review your technique. Repeat 10-12 times.
3. Kettlebell triceps extension
Areas involved: triceps
This exercise can be done sitting or standing. Hold the kettlebell with both hands, raise it overhead making sure that the elbows are pointing forward. Bend the elbows slowly behind your head. Then extend the elbows to the initial position. Keep the elbows as close to your head as you can manage. The closer they are, the more you activate the triceps. Keep your knees soft if you’re doing it from a standing position.
If you want to add a little extra challenge, pause for a couple of seconds at the lowest position.
4. Kettlebell goblet squat
Areas involved: legs, glutes, back
Hold the kettlebell in front of your chest, keep the elbows close to your body, and stand up straight. Feet should be shoulder-width apart. Squat pushing the hips back holding the kettlebell near the chest. Stand up, keeping the back straight and abs engaged. The effort should come from the legs and glutes. Repeat 12-15 times.
5. Russian twist
Areas involved: abs
Sit on the floor with your legs bent, and feet hip-width apart. Hold the kettlebell close to your chest. Lean back and rotate the torso from the right to the left. Repeat as many times as you can manage. The critical part — you should be rotating the entire torso keeping the kettlebell near the chest. It’s very tempting to start just moving hands with the kettlebell, but remember that quality is always more important than quantity. If you feel that you can do more, lift one or both legs off the floor.
6. Kettlebell single-arm swing
Areas involved: shoulders, back, hips, glutes, legs
This exercise is similar to the 2-arm swing, but with only one arm at a time. Swing the kettlebell up with one arm and change the hands when the kettlebell is down. The same trick from the 2-arm swing also applies to this one, the power should come from the hips, not the arms. Keep the back straight and the abs and glutes engaged.
7. Kettlebell farmer’s walk
Areas involved: back, shoulders, arms, abs
It may look simple but don’t underestimate the benefits of this exercise. Grab the kettlebells in each hand and walk slowly with small steps. Keep the core tight, the back and neck straight, the shoulders slightly back, and look straight ahead. Do 10-12 steps, put the kettlebells down, then repeat the exercise walking back to the start point.
8. Kettlebell clean
Areas involved: legs, glutes, back, arms, shoulders, abs
This exercise can be done with one or 2 kettlebells, it just depends on your level. Place the kettlebell in front of the toes, lower the body pushing the hips slightly back, and grab the kettlebell. Then snap the hips forward giving yourself the momentum to lift the kettlebell up. Keep the kettlebell close to the body. Once it gets to near your chest, move the arm around the kettlebell. It should end up laying on the outside of your hand. Finally, bring the kettlebell to the start position. Repeat 10-12 times and change arms if you did it with one kettlebell.
This exercise can be a bit tricky and you may need to get professional advice if you are not quite sure about the technique.
9. Kettlebell single arm row
Areas involved: back, arms, shoulders, abs
Put your right knee and right hand on the bench, grab a kettlebell with the left hand, and pull it up, keeping the elbow close to the body. Lower the kettlebell, repeating 12-15 times. Change arms. The kettlebell should be moving in a very straight direction, only up and down, no swinging.
10. Kettlebell lunge press
Areas involved: shoulders, back, arms, abs, glutes, legs
Everybody loves lunges and this one is double fun because you get to add a kettlebell to it. Hold the kettlebell with left arm in front of the chest. Lunge forward with right leg and raise the left arm with the kettlebell at the same time. The kettlebell should be moving straight up and end up practically over your head.
Areas involved: arms, back, abs
Start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, lower body to about a quarter of a squat position. Hold the kettlebell with the left hand and swing it around the left leg, starting from outside. When the kettlebell gets between the legs, pass it to the right hand, and swing it around the right leg. Keep the back straight, abs engaged, and chest up. Try not to move the upper body. Repeat 15-20 times.
12. Kettlebell single-arm floor press
Areas involved: chest, arms, core
Lie on the floor, bend one or both legs, hold the kettlebell with the right hand with the palm facing in. Press it straight up, rotating the wrist at the same time. When your hand is up, your palm should be facing your feet. Return the kettlebell to the initial position. Repeat 10-12 times and change arms.
13. Kettlebell slingshot
Areas involved: back, arms, abs
Start with the feet shoulder-width apart, hold the kettlebell with one hand. Swing the kettlebell behind your back, grab it with your other hand and swing the kettlebell to the front of your body. You should basically be swinging the kettlebell around your body. Keep your back straight, your knees soft, and your abs engaged. Repeat 10-12 times, then change directions and repeat 10-12 times again.
14. Kettlebell deadlift
Areas involved: hamstrings, glutes, arms, back, abs
The technique for this exercise is similar to the deadlift with a barbell. You can do the Romanian deadlift or the conventional deadlift, both of these exercises are very effective, but work on different muscle groups. Make sure that you do one or the other in one training, so you don’t overload your lower back.
Both varieties start the same. Place the kettlebell between your legs, squat down, grab the kettlebell. Then stand up holding the kettlebell. Keep the back straight, knees soft when in the stand-up position.
With the Romanian deadlift the legs remain nearly straight with only a very slight bend to lower the kettlebell. The main targets are the glutes and hamstrings.
Conventional deadlifts involve the back muscles more than the Romanian and also work on the quadriceps. Remember, when going down, bend your knees so your thighs are just above the parallel line to the floor.
Important tips to avoid injuries: never round the back, stick the butt out when lowering the kettlebell, and keep the knees soft when coming up.
15. Kettlebell 2-arm military press
Areas involved: shoulders, arms, back
This exercise is not for beginners, you need to have a good feeling of how to work out with kettlebells to perform it safely. Grab 2 kettlebells and hold them near the shoulders, keep the elbows close to the body with the palms facing each other, the knees soft, and the core engaged. Press the kettlebells up, turning the hands at the same time so the palms face the front. Then, bring the kettlebells to the starting position. Repeat 10-12 times. Be smart when choosing the weight of the kettlebells and ask for professional advice if you are not quite sure how to do this exercise.
Are you keen to include kettlebells training in your routine? Or perhaps you have been using them already? Tell us your thoughts in the comments and share this article with your friends.
Illustrated by Daniil Shubin for Bright Side