Kettlebells are all the rave these days as more people realize the many benefits of working out with them. Their odd shape often makes people hesitant to try them, but that’s what makes them excellent workout tools.
Kettlebell exercises are great for everyone, from those new to weight training to advanced athletes and martial artists. Kettlebells give you all the benefits you get from working out with dumbbells or barbells, plus many you don’t get from them.
Some of the main reasons you should consider incorporating kettlebells into your training routine include:
Kettlebells Can Be Used To Create Full-Body Workouts
Kettlebells are versatile training tools that can be used for balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength training. These are the four cornerstones of fitness (strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance), and kettlebells are the only training tools that can be used to enhance them all.
Improves Core Stability And Strength
Kettlebells can be used for ballistic training, which improves your explosive power by maximizing the acceleration phase of your reps while minimizing the deceleration phase. These explosive movements give the abdominal muscles a thorough workout from all angles as you contract and coordinate your breathing during your reps. This leads to increased core strength and stability, even when you’re performing exercises that don’t necessarily target your core.
Improves Body Coordination And Awareness
Movements performed with kettlebells tend to be dynamic since you’re typically swinging them around. These movements require you to be aware of your body as you pump out your reps. This improves your mind-to-muscle connection, improving your sense of proprioception (your ability to coordinate and sense the movement of your body and its different parts). Improving your mind-body connection carries over to other aspects of your life like martial arts training.
Strengthens Your Stabilizer And Balance Muscles
Training with kettlebells forces you to control your movement. This forces your stabilizer muscles to keep your movement controlled, strengthening them. You don’t get this benefit when using exercise machines since you can only move on a predetermined path, and you don’t have to worry about keeping the weight balanced as you perform your reps.
Effective Fat Burn
Swinging kettlebells around burns up to 20 calories per minute. So a 20-minute kettlebell exercise burns up to 400 calories while giving you all the benefits listed above. You’d have to run for 20 minutes at a six-minute-per-mile pace to burn that many calories. The average person struggles to complete running a mile in eight minutes to keep things in perspective.
Also, kettlebell fat-burning workouts tend to be high intensity, so you get an afterburn effect called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. As a result, your body keeps burning more calories after your workout.
Great Option For Cardio Workouts
Kettlebells are a great alternative to running for people who aren’t fans of the latter. Just create some circuits with kettlebells and only rest after completing each circuit. You get to enjoy the benefits of strength training and cardio simultaneously.
Develops Explosive Power And Speed In Your Hips
Improves Flexibility And Mobility
Kettlebells keep your body loose as you perform your movement patterns. You often have to move through multiple planes of motion when pumping out your reps. This increases your mobility and flexibility over time.
Builds Lean Muscle
Kettlebell help to build lean muscle mass, particularly when you make your exercises high intensity.
Improves Posture And Posterior Chain
Many kettlebell exercises target muscles on your back end, like your lower back, middle back, hamstrings, and glutes. This improves your overall athleticism and improves your posture.
Improves Your Grip Strength
Your grip strength affects your ability to perform exercises in the gym and many things in your everyday life. Grip strength is even more important for people involved in martial arts like Judo since many of their techniques start with establishing a solid grip on your opponent. Exercising regularly with kettlebells improves your grip strength even if you’re not explicitly training it.
Exercises You Can Perform With Kettlebells For A Full Body Workout
Now that we understand how beneficial training with kettlebells can be, let’s take a look at some simple kettlebell exercises you can use to build full-body workouts:
1) Kettlebell Swing
- Get into the starting position with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart.
- Grab a kettlebell with both hands and keep your arms straight in front of you.
- While keeping your back flat, hinge forward at your hips and bend your knees a bit. Now, swing the kettlebells backward between your knees.
- Let the momentum of the kettlebell swinging help you as you squeeze your glutes and drive your hips forward. Bring the kettlebells back to the starting position to complete a rep.
2) Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift
- Get into the starting position with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- With both hands, pick up a kettlebell with an overhand grip, then straighten your arms.
- Push your hips backward and bend at the knees to lower yourself.
- Drive your feet into the floor by pushing on it to return to the starting position.
3) Kettlebell Clean And Press
- Get into a low squat position with a kettlebell placed near your left foot.
- Straighten your right arm to the side to keep your body balanced.
- Broaden your chest and engage your core as you grab the kettlebell with your left arm.
- Drive your body upward and stand up straight. Lift the kettlebell over your head and straighten your arm.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the movement for your target number of reps.
- Switch sides and perform the exercise with your right arm for the same number of reps to complete a set.
4) Kettlebell Renegade Row
This exercise targets your glutes, abs, arms, shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps, and back. It combines the movement of conventional rows with pushups to give you a complete upper body workout. Here’s what it looks like:
- Position two kettlebells about shoulder-width apart from each other on the floor.
- Get into a high-plank (pushup) position with your hands on the kettlebell handles. Keep your wrists facing each other in this position.
- Lift your left hand off the floor while holding the kettlebell, bringing your elbow towards your back.
- Return to the starting position and perform a pushup before repeating the movement with your right arm to complete a rep. You can skip the pushups if you find them to be too challenging.
5) Kettlebell High Pull
This exercise gives your glutes, legs, back, and shoulders a thorough workout. It helps to build explosive strength in these areas. Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Get into a squat with a kettlebell placed in front of you.
- Pick up the kettlebell with both hands, using an overhand grip.
- Explosively drive your body until you’re standing straight, and bring the kettlebell under your chin. Lift your elbows above your shoulders when bringing the kettlebell to your chin.
- Return to the starting position to complete a rep.
6) Kettlebell Front Squat
Here’s an excellent workout for your lower body. It targets muscles in your legs, like your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. To perform the exercise:
- Grab a kettlebell with your left hand while straightening your right hand out to the side to stay balanced.
- Get into a low squat, with your things at least parallel to the floor, tighten your core, and explode straight up. Perform your targeted number of reps before switching to your right hand.
7) Kettlebell Deadlifts
Kettlebell deadlifts help to build explosive power in your back, thighs, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. It’s also a great way to build mass in these areas since you get to work out with two kettlebells simultaneously. It’s also one of the more straightforward exercises on our list since it mimics the movement used for conventional deadlifts.
Here’s how to perform the exercise:
- Get into the starting position with your feet about shoulder-width apart with a kettlebell just outside each foot.
- Pull your shoulder blades back and tighten your abdominal muscles as you bend at the knees and push your hips back to reach the kettlebells.
- Grab both kettlebells while keeping your back and arms straight and your feet flat on the ground.
- Slowly drive your hips and chest forward to stand up straight with the kettlebells in your hands.
- Pause for a second and take a deep breath before lowering your body back down. Repeat for your targeted number of reps.
8) Kettlebell Lunges
Kettlebell lunges target your hamstrings, quads, and glutes. The exercise also helps to improve your balance since it’s performed with only one leg at a time. You can perform the exercise with one or two kettlebells, depending on how challenging you want it to be.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Stand with both feet together while holding one or two kettlebells.
- While keeping your chest upright and your shoulder blades back, step forward with your left leg, bending at the knee to form a 90-degree angle.
- Push down with your forward leg to return to the starting position. Perform as many reps as you want with your left leg before switching over and doing the same with your right leg.
9) Russian Twists
Russian twists with kettlebells target your abdominal muscles, particularly your obliques. The exercise can be done with kettlebells, barbell plates, or a weighted medicine ball. The key to getting the most out of this exercise is maintaining a firm grip on the kettlebell and not dropping it on your lap when performing the movement.
Here’s how to perform the exercise:
- Sit on the floor with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Lean back, so your upper body forms a 45-degree angle with the floor.
- Grab a kettlebell with both hands and bring your feet off the ground.
- Rotate the kettlebell from side to side, twisting your torso as you carry its weight.
10) Kettlebell Shoulder Press
Here’s a simple kettlebell exercise that engages your shoulder and triceps. Here’s what it looks like:
- Get into position with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a kettlebell in one hand so that it rests on the outside part of your shoulder on that side. The palm of the hand holding the kettlebell should be facing your chin, and your elbow should be right next to your body.
- Push the kettlebell upward and straighten your arm overhead. Slowly return the kettlebell to the starting position to complete a rep. Perform all your reps on one hand before switching to the other arm.
11) Kettlebell Hand-To-Hand Swing
- Start standing upright with a kettlebell in one hand. Keep the kettlebell at shoulder level and your feet hip-width apart.
- Drive your hips back to start the movement and swing the kettlebell between your legs. Keep your chest up and drive your hips forward to return the kettlebell to the starting position.
- Switch hands when the kettlebell returns to the starting position and repeat the movement with your other hand to complete a rep. Maintain control of the kettlebell throughout the movement to force your muscles to do more work.
12) Kettlebell Windmill
This is one of the more complicated kettlebell exercises, but it’s an effective way to target your entire body. It particularly targets your core, shoulders, glutes, obliques, hamstrings, and hips. The windmill also improves your overall flexibility and mobility.
To perform the exercise:
- Stand upright with your feet a bit more than shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in your right hand. Straighten your right hand overhead with your palm facing forward.
- Slide your left arm down the front of your left thigh, keeping your palm facing forward. Your arms should look like a windmill at this point as your left hand slides towards your left foot. Hinge at your hips as you lower your upper body toward your left foot
- Reverse the movement, lifting your upper body back to the starting position. Transfer the kettlebell to your left hand and perform the motion sliding towards your right foot this time to complete a rep. Keep your spine straight towards the movement.
13) Turkish Getup
The Turkish getup is one of the few exercises that primarily target your stabilizer and core muscles. It also engages muscles all over your body. It’s a movement you should already be familiar with if you train in martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, or wrestling.
The Turkish getup also works as an excellent warmup since it engages muscles all over your body. Here’s how to perform the exercise:
- Lay flat on your back with a kettlebell in one arm. Straighten the arm holding the kettlebell, keeping it aligned with your shoulder.
- Raise the knee on the same side with the kettlebell off the ground while keeping both feet flat on the floor. Place your free arm out away from your body so it forms a 45-degree angle with your torso.
- Hold the kettlebell tightly and sit up the line of your free arm. Use your elbow as a base first, then your hand as you sit up. Keep the arm with the kettlebell straight as you perform the movement.
- Perform as many reps as you can, then switch to your other hand and repeat the movements on your other side.
14) Kettlebell Snatch
The kettlebell snatch is a total body exercise that mainly targets muscles in your posterior chain, like your hamstrings, glutes, and back. The movement improves your posture and develops power in your posterior chain. It works most of the muscles in your body, so add it to your cardio circuits to get your blood pumping.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Start standing upright with your feet a little more than hip-width apart. Grab a kettlebell with one hand and sit back to load your hips.
- Bend at your knees a little as you swing the kettlebell between your legs.
- Use the kettlebell’s momentum, thrust your hips and shrug your shoulders as you snatch the kettlebell over your head.
- Perform your targeted number of reps, switch hands, and repeat the movement the same number of times with your other hand.
15) Kettlebell Chest Press
The kettlebell chest press targets muscles in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. It involves laying on the floor and pressing kettlebells overhead, just like you would for a bench press. You can make this exercise more challenging by laying on an exercise ball to get a broader range of motion. You can also perform the exercise in a bridge position to hit your muscles from a different angle.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Lay on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
- Grab two kettlebells positioned by your shoulders with an overhand grip. Your palms should be facing the ceiling.
- Press the kettlebell upwards, straightening your arms. Return to the starting position to complete a rep.
Mix Them Together To Reach All Your Fitness Goals
You don’t have to perform all the exercises listed above to get a full-body workout at the gym. Just pick two lower body exercises, two upper body exercises, and two full-body exercises to give yourself a complete workout.
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