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Full-Body Kettlebell Workout For Beginners

One major advantage that kettlebells have over dumbbells is that you don’t need a wide range of weight increments to create a workout with them.

One 16 kilo weight if you’re a man, or 8 kilo if you’re a woman, will get it done for most people.

The following workout requires just one kettlebell and works the entire body.

Note that, unlike what you see in most kettlebell workouts, we’re not having you do the Turkish getup and full swing—even though we’re well aware that they’re two of the most popular kettlebell exercises.

Rather, we’ve modified these exercises to more user-friendly—but still supremely challenging—versions that will allow someone of any experience level to train safely and with optimal form.

Exercises In The Full-Body Kettlebell Workout For Beginners

Use this routine to build strength and burn fat now, and develop the requisite stability and mobility to graduate to more advanced exercises at a later date.

Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing one set of each in sequence without rest in between. When you’ve completed the entire circuit, rest 1–2 minutes, and then repeat for 3 total rounds.

Duration Frequency Exercise Type Intensity Repetitions Rest
20-25 minutes 1-2x per week strength training steady/deliberate varies by exercise 1-2 minutes

1. Kettlebell Goblet Squat

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Reps: 10

Hold the kettlebell by its horns and drive your shoulder blades together and downward so your chest is open (think “proud chest”). Tuck your elbows in so your forearms are vertical.

Stand with feet a bit wider than hip-width apart with feet turned out slightly. Take a deep breath into your belly and twist your feet into the ground (imagine screwing them down without actually moving them) and squat, keeping your torso upright. Go as low as you can without your tailbone tucking under your butt.

2. Kettlebell One-Arm Row

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Reps: 8 (each side)

Place the kettlebell on the floor and take a staggered stance with your right foot in front. Your foot should be planted just outside the weight. Dig the ball of your left foot into the floor behind you and bend your hips so your torso is angled about 45 degrees to the floor. Rest your right elbow on your right thigh for support and reach for the kettlebell with your left hand. Keeping your shoulders square, complete all your reps on one side and then repeat on the other side.

3. Kettlebell One-Arm Press

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Reps: 5 (each side)

Stand tall holding the kettlebell in one hand at shoulder level. Root your feet into the floor as if you were preparing for someone to push you. Take a deep breath into your belly and brace your abs and glutes. Pull your ribs down and think “proud chest.”

Press the weight overhead with a vertical forearm. Note that your chin should be pulled so that weight has no trouble clearing it. To lower the kettlebell, pull it back down into position—as if you were performing a pullup. Complete all your reps on one side and then repeat on the other side.

TIP: “Don’t get fixated on achieving a full overhead lockout right away,” says John Wolf, Onnit’s Chief Fitness Officer. “Just going to where your elbow is bent 90 degrees and holding it isometrically is a ton of work for most people.” If you need to arch your back, causing your ribs to flare in order to lock out your arm overhead, you’re not training the shoulder effectively. In that case, you may need to regress the movement to a floor press—lie down on the floor with your triceps against it and press upward from there (think of it as a bench press with a shortened range of motion).

4. Kettlebell Chest-Loaded Swing

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Reps: 15

Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell by its horns, pulling the bottom of the bell into your lower sternum. Draw your shoulder blades together and down (“proud chest”) and cast your eyes on a spot on the floor approximately 15 feet in front of you.

Take a deep breath and root your feet. Then bend your hips back, imagining being able to touch your butt to the wall behind you. Keep a long spine with your tailbone tilted slightly up. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, extend your hips and squeeze your glutes, tucking your tailbone under as you lock out.

5. Kettlebell Shoulder Halo

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Reps: 8 (each direction)

Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell by its horns upside down—the bell should face up. Screw your feet into the floor and draw your ribs down. Think “proud chest.”

Begin moving the kettlebell around your head, being careful to maintain your posture and not bend your torso in any direction. Move slowly to avoid whacking yourself in the head. Make full circles and alternate directions on each rep.

6. Kettlebell Hip Halo

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Reps: 8 (each direction)

Set up as you did for the shoulder halo but hold the kettlebell by the handle at arm’s length and make circles around your hips. Hand the kettlebell off from one hand to the other. Perform eight reps in one direction and then repeat in the opposite direction.

7. Kettlebell Around the Leg Pass

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Reps: 5 (each direction)

Perform halos as you did around the hips but with your hips bent back so you move the weight around one knee at a time. Keep a proud chest—ribs down with a long spine. Perform five reps in one direction and then repeat in the opposite direction. Switch legs and repeat.

8. Kettlebell Chest-Loaded Swing

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Reps: 15

Repeat the swings as described above.

9. Kettlebell Single-Arm Squat to Press

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Reps: 8 (each side)

Hold the kettlebell with one hand at shoulder level. Tuck your elbow in so your forearm is vertical. Perform a squat as described above, and then come up and press overhead.

10. Kettlebell Chest-Loaded Swing

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Reps: 15

Repeat the swing a final time.

If you are new to kettlebell training or only have limited experience then this is the article for you.

Below I’ve listed 5 beginners kettlebell exercises that you should learn before any others.

Just mastering these 5 exercises will ensure the rest of your kettlebell training slots beautifully into place.

Below I’ve also included 4 x 4 minute kettlebell workouts that you can use to practice the exercises.

Confused about what size weight to use?
View the best kettlebell starting weights

OK, let’s get started…

1. Kettlebell Slingshot

First on the list is the kettlebell slingshot. The slingshot is a simple exercise that involves passing the kettlebell around the body from one hand to the other.

The slingshot is a great starter exercise because it helps you to acclimatise to the kettlebell weight as well as working the shoulders, core, and grip.

Keep the head and hips nice and still as you pass the kettlebell around the body

Later on in your training you will use the kettlebell slingshot as an exercise to catch your breath between other exercises or as a warm up before your main workout.

Related: Why I love the kettlebell slingshot

Watch a video of the kettlebell slingshot below:

Practice: 10 repetitions one way and then change direction and 10 repetitions the other way. Work up to 20 reps in each direction.

2. Kettlebell Halo


The kettlebell halo is the next beginners kettlebell exercise you should know. The exercise involves taking the kettlebell around the head closely following the perimeter of the neck.

The kettlebell, during this exercise, should be kept nice and close to the neck and taken around the head in a nice rhythmical motion.

The kettlebell halo works deep into the shoulders and the whole of the upper body.

Again, like the slingshot exercise, the halo will be used later in your training both as a warm up exercise but also as an active recovery exercise in between other exercises.

Related: 7 kettlebell holding positions you need to know

Watch a video of the kettlebell halo below:

Practice: start with 5 in one direction and then change and 5 in the other direction. Work up to 10 alternating repetitions in each direction.

3. Kettlebell Good Morning

A slightly more tricky kettlebell exercise next. The kettlebell good morning is not too demanding but it does require good body mechanics.

With the kettlebell held behind you with two hands against the mid back the body hinges forwards at the hips keeping the lower back flat.

The kettlebell good morning teaches you to hinge at the hips without arching the lower back and at the same time mobilising the hamstrings and hips.

As you hinge forwards you take a nice breath OUT and then as you return to the upright position you breathe in again.

Like the slingshot and halo, the good morning will later be used as more of a warm up based exercise or as a filler exercise in between others while you rest.

Related: 4 Steps to master the kettlebell swing for beginners

Watch a video of the kettlebell good morning below:

Practice: start with 5 repetitions, practicing your breathing and keep your back flat. Work up to 10 smooth reps.

4. Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift

Probably the most important kettlebell exercise for beginners is the single arm deadlift.

For this kettlebell exercise the weight is picked up off the floor using the hip hinge movement pattern. The back is kept beautifully flat as the legs, and buttocks do all the heavy lifting.

The kettlebell single arm deadlift is a full body exercise that uses most muscles in the body but more importantly coaches the hip hinge movement used later for the kettlebell swing.

Keeping your weight on the back half of your feet and not wearing shoes with raised heels will help dramatically with the movement and muscle activation.

Related: 7 kettlebell deadlift variations

Watch a video of the kettlebell single arm deadlift below:

Practice: start with 5 repetitions on each side moving slowly and deliberately. Work up to 15 beautiful reps on each side.

5. Kettlebell Goblet Squats


Finally we move onto the kettlebell goblet squat which involves squatting nice and deep while holding a kettlebell at chest height.

The squat is very important movement pattern for daily life and uses most muscles in the body, in particular your buttocks and legs.

It is important during the squat that you go down deep enough so that your thighs are parallel with the floor. If your squat is too shallow then you will not activate your buttocks and will over develop the thighs.

If you find deep squats demanding then you should practice without the kettlebell first.

A good squat without a kettlebell is worth a lot more than a badly performed squat holding one.

You can hold onto a pole, TRX, or resistance band attached in front of you to help strengthen the movement pattern before adding a kettlebell.

Just like the deadlift above, keeping your weight on the back half of your feet and keeping your chest up will help dramatically.

Related: 7 kettlebell squats you need to know

Watch a video of the kettlebell goblet squat below:

Practice: work on getting your squats nice and deep first before adding a kettlebell. Work up to 20 total reps holding a kettlebell.

4 Minute Kettlebell Circuits for Beginners

Now we have listed the 5 beginners kettlebell exercises lets put them together into a few 4 minute workouts.

There are 4 workouts listed below each lasting only 4 minutes.

At first just follow along with each workout for the 4 minutes.

Once you have mastered the workout rest for 30 – 60 seconds and repeat it for a total of 3 times.

Once you can perform workout 1 for a total of 3 circuits then move on to workout 2 and so.

Do not progress onto the next workout until you can perform 3 circuits.

Woman should start with an 8kg (18lbs) or 12kg (25lbs) size kettlebell.

Men should start with a 12kg (25lbs) or 16kg (35lbs) size kettlebell.

Perform a workout 3 – 5 times per week.

Kettlebell Workout 1

  • Slingshot – clockwise x 20 reps
  • Single Arm Deadlift – left x 15 reps
  • Slingshot – anti-clockwise x 20 reps
  • Single Arm Deadlift – right x 15 reps
  • Slingshot – clockwise x 20 reps
  • Halo – alternating directions x 10 reps
  • Slingshot – anti-clockwise x 20 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats x 10 reps

Watch the follow along 4 minute kettlebell circuit 1:

Kettlebell Workout 2

  • Slingshot – clockwise x 20 reps
  • Single Arm Deadlift – Left x 15 reps
  • Single Arm Deadlift – Right x 15 reps
  • Halo – clockwise x 10 reps
  • Slingshot – anti-clockwise x 20 reps
  • Halo – anti-clockwise x 10 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats x 20 reps

Watch the follow along 4 minute kettlebell circuit 2:

Kettlebell Workout 3

  • Slingshot – clockwise x 20 reps
  • Slingshot – anti-clockwise x 20 reps
  • Halo – clockwise x 10 reps
  • Halo – anti-clockwise x 10 reps
  • Good Morning – 8 reps
  • Single Arm Deadlift – Left x 15 reps
  • Single Arm Deadlift – Right x 15 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats x 10 reps

Watch the follow along 4 minute kettlebell circuit 3:

Kettlebell Workout 4

  • Slingshot – clockwise x 20 reps
  • Goblet Squat – 10 reps
  • Slingshot – anti-clockwise x 20 reps
  • Goblet Squat – 10 reps
  • Halo – clockwise x 10 reps
  • Single Arm Deadlift – left x 15 reps
  • Halo – anti-clockwise x 10 reps
  • Single Arm Deadlift – right x 15 reps

Watch the follow along 4 minute kettlebell circuit 4:

Conclusion of 5 Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

Kettlebell training can be confusing and is very different from other types of resistance based training.

Making sure that you begin with the correct exercises to build a solid foundation for future exercises is very important.

Above I’ve highlighted 5 kettlebell exercises that every beginner should start with and then 4 kettlebell circuits that you can use to practice them.

Become masterful at these 5 kettlebell exercises and the 4 workouts.

Not only are these workouts great building blocks for the future but they are also highly effective in and of themselves.

Enjoy your kettlebell training.

Mastered these 5 exercises? See the 5 Intermediate Kettlebell Exercises here

Kettlebells For Beginners – What, Why, and How To Get Started

Are you getting started using kettlebells but you don’t really know where to start or what you should even know before using them?

In this article, which was wonderfully written by one of our Dark Iron Fitness writers Tina Ngai, we explain everything a beginner should know and might have questions about when it comes to using kettlebells.

By the end of this article you’ll be walking away with the knowledge of a fully certified kettlebell swinger ready to swing away 😉

Also if you’re going to start working out with kettle bells or you already are then I highly recommend:

Joining The Dark Iron Fintess VIP List Here for Free

Once you join you can get 10% off our genuine leather wrist wrap guards for kettlebell workouts.

A good pair of high quality kettle bell wrist guards like these keep the kettle bells from banging into your wrists during exercises.

Aside from that, I hope you enjoy this introduction beginners guide to kettle bells

This comprehensive beginners guide for kettle bells is broken down into 9 sections below:

  • 1.) An Introduction to Kettlebells
  • 2.) Benefits of Kettlebell Swings and Kettlebell exercises
  • 3.) Kettlebell Before and After – Why You Should Add Kettlebells To Your Work Out
  • 4.) What Kettlebell To Buy? – The Different Types of Kettlebells
  • 5.) Best Weight for Kettlebell – What Kettlebell To Start With
  • 6.) How Much Do Kettlebells Cost?
  • 7.) Kettlebell Workout for Beginners – Types of Exercises
  • 8.) Kettlebell Workout Form for Beginners
  • 9.) Getting Started Using Kettlebells For A Beginner – Final Thoughts

These sections are best read in order but feel free to jump around to the information you’re specifically looking for Enjoy 😉

1.) An Introduction to Kettlebells

A kettlebell is a cast iron weight shaped like a bowling ball with a thick suitcase-style handle.

It can range in weight from 4kg (9 lbs) to 48kg (106 lbs). Kettlebells first appeared in Russia over 100 years ago., and were used in fairs and markets to balance scales when weighing heavy objects.

The Russian military began using them within their training regime because they work the bodies’ energy systems simultaneously.

Kettlebells come in ‘poods’.

A pood is an old Russian measure of weight, which equals 16kg, or roughly 35 lbs.

In terms of weight lifting equipment kettlebells gained popularity in the east while dumbbells went to the west!

If you want a little more in-depth information on the origins to kettle bells you can check out the Wikipedia page on kettle bells that has a lot of cool information and facts about kettle bells

2.) Benefits of Kettlebell Swings and Kettlebell Exercises

The picture above is brought to you by Human Kinetics. They actually have pretty decent article on the benefits of kettle bells that can get you some extra additional information.

MAIN MUSCLES BENEFITED DURING KETTLEBELL SWINGS:

Core: Most kettlebell workouts include squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that work your abs and entire core.

Arms: Great for arm exercises like single-arm rows and shoulder presses.

Legs: Lunges and squats are some of the most popular moves in a kettlebell workout.

Glutes: Tighten and tone by using the kettlebell for added weight during lunges and squats.

Back: tone your back muscles when you use a kettlebell for dead lifts.

ADDITIONAL BENEFITS:

Flexibility: Adding kettlebells will improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: Your heart rate will increase with this high-intensity workout.

Strength: The kettlebell will effectively and efficiently help build muscle strength.

Weight bearing exercises increase bone density and make the muscles in the body stronger.

This is important for people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels. Kettlebell workouts offer a great deal of flexibility.

You can include a few of the moves in your own workout or do a dedicated kettlebell workout a few times a week.

With older athletes, or people who are just starting a workout program, focusing on proper form and choosing an appropriate weight for your fitness level is crucial. Kettlebell methodology is unique and offers many options.

Normal western progression with dumbbells or even barbells, is to progress to a limited number of reps and continually add weight to an exercise.

Meaning you can progress to possibly 10 reps of an exercise and then simply take your weight up (maybe going from 10 lbs to 15 lbs).

Kettlebell progression can include weight progression, but many times it’s based on progression of repetitions or switching to a harder exercise.

So rather than moving to a heavier kettlebell you can complete more reps or change the exercise to a more difficult one.

You can get a great strength and endurance workout without necessarily having to use the heaviest weight you can find.

You just tweak the exercise for the result that you want. Those who are more advanced will still benefit from this high intensity training.

You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast-paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettlebell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups.

It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Heigl are dedicated fans of kettlebell workouts.

3.) Kettlebell Before and After – Why You Should Add Kettlebells To Your Work Out

Kettlebells can be used to supplement cardio training as well as for active recovery between heavy training days.

Kettlebell training is also an excellent complement to heavy barbell work.

Whether your main focus is strength or endurance, the kettlebell will fit the bill.

You’re super tight when you lift a heavy weight, but loose when you do conditioning.

The kettlebell alternates periods of intense contraction and controlled relaxation to give you a superior workout that combines both strength and endurance training.

Its round shape lends itself to unique exercises and its odd center of gravity forces you to stabilize your muscles to create explosive movements with the bell.

It’s also a good tool for helping teach Olympic lifts safely with a small learning curve.

It’s much easier on the wrists and shoulders to rack kettlebell cleans and to hold for front squats than it is to use a barbell. It’s also faster to learn one-arm kettlebell snatches than barbell snatches. Kettlebell workouts engage the entire body, working many muscle groups at once rather than just targeting one or two muscle groups.

The main muscle groups that are involved and strengthened the most with the basic kettlebell swing motion are the hamstrings, glutes, quads and abs. With a good kettlebell workout, you can burn up to 400 calories in 20 minutes.

4.) What Kettlebell To Buy? – The Different Types of Kettlebells

There are two different types of kettlebells available–regular and adjustable

A regular kettlebell is the most common and has a fixed weight.

An adjustable kettlebell often has weighted plates that can be added or removed.

I actually highly recommend buying your kettle bells from a trusted online resource like this one

Another adjustable option is a hollow kettlebell that can be filled with sand, water or coins to adjust the weight.

If you anticipate using your kettlebell occasionally to supplement your training, an adjustable kettlebell will work and can take up less space.

If you plan to use the kettlebell more consistently, it is best to buy a regular, fixed-weight one.

You may want to purchase some gym chalk to improve your grip on the handle.

It might take some time to develop your grip strength.

Try to use your kettlebell without gloves, they can sometimes mask improper form.

If you are just starting out you might consider wearing a kettle bell wrist guard.

When learning how to “clean” the kettlebell, people often experience some banging of the bell on the backside of the wrist.

You can double up wrist/sweat bands or look into special kettlebell wrist guards

A lot of our very own Dark Iron Fitness customers have said that our wrist wraps also worked great at doubling as wrist protection for kettle bell guards.

Check Out The Dark Iron Fitness Wrist Wrap Guards Here

If you find the handle of your new kettlebell too slippery, you can gently sandpaper the handle to help chalk stick better to its surface.

Keep in mind that the handle size varies from one manufacturer to another.

If you are new to strength training or have small hands, check to see if the kettlebells you are comparing have different handle sizes for different weights and buy accordingly.

Test the handle size to make sure both hands fit comfortably on the handle without touching each other.

Wrap one hand around the handle to make sure the tips of your fingers are only a couple of inches from your palm.

5.) Best Weight for Kettlebell – What Kettlebell To Start With

Your kettlebell shouldn’t be too heavy or too light; you should be able to press it over your head with control and stability, but with some resistance.

Too many people start with a heavy weight and end up injuring themselves.

Start light and master the form and movement first.

It’s best to have the instructor of the class give you the okay to move onto a new weight.

A beginner female should start with an 8-kg (18 lb) bell

The 4 kg may not be heavy enough to provide a solid weight lifting effect for most women.

Women with more weight lifting experience and fitness can start with a 12-kg (26lb) bell.

A beginner male will do best with a 12 or 16-kg (35 lb) bell

If you are familiar with weight training and moving with weights, then 16 kg can be appropriate.

If you are new to strength training, a 12 kg will probably be better.

It doesn’t sound like a lot but it feels a lot heavier than you’d expect! Most men will eventually progress to a 53-pounder, the standard issue size in the Russian military.

Although available in most units, 70-pounders are used only by a few advanced guys and in elite competitions.

It’s nice to have the option of different-sized kettlebells for various exercises.

If you have the budget to invest in several at a time then this is what is often recommended for the average male and female: Women – 8kg, 12kg, 16kg Men – 16kg, 20kg, 24kg

6.) How Much Do Kettlebells Cost?

Kettlebells can range in price from $10 to $150 depending on the weight of the kettlebells (heavier ones are more expensive).

The best place to purchase kettlebells online is here

Ideally your kettlebell is made from one piece, rather than having the handle attached separately.

You don’t want your kettlebell to come apart while you’re swinging it.

Check to make sure your kettlebell comes with a one-year guarantee.

Manufacturers who aren’t willing to stand behind their products aren’t making quality kettlebells.

7.) Kettlebell Workout for Beginners – Types of Exercises

There’s tons of kettle bell exercises and routines to choose from. However if you’re just starting out I suggest taking a look at this link to get started:

  • 6 all around great exercises for kettle bells:

The 6 kettlebell exercises you need to do – by Bodybuilding.com

  • 9 simple kettlebell moves and exercises for beginners:

Everyday health’s simple workout for beginners

  • 20 of the top kettlebell exercises:

Men’s healths list article for the best 20 kettle bell exercises

Those three links above should be great resources for getting your kettlebell exercises going.

Here’s Our General Tips While Working Out With Kettle Bells:

When it comes to kettle bells proper breathing is so important and often overlooked in most exercise studios.

While performing the swing, on the down swing you want to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth — nice and strong as you come to the top of that swing.

Don’t be afraid to thrust!

Focus on quickly squeezing your glutes and thrusting your hips forward to create momentum that will launch the bell into the air.

Explosive power from your butt will protect your lower back, not hurt it.

Just be careful not to thrust too far.

At the top of your swing your hips should be under your shoulders. Don’t “tuck” the pelvis; this will pinch your lower back.

Another resource I can recommend for kettlebell exercises are the best kettlebell workout videos that you can purchase

Working out with a kettlebell gives you what fitness pros call a “functional” workout.

That means it works your muscles in the same way as when you do everyday activities: such as picking up a toddler, carrying your briefcase, or hoisting a gallon of milk.

So, in addition to the more obvious benefits you would gain from developing muscles and strength using kettlebells can also result in making life a bit easier in other, unexpected ways!

And for those of you out there who are truly invested in your kettlebell workouts — check out the comprehensive content from our friends over at Cavemantraining.

Their book Kettlebell Workouts and Challenges is a great investment for your kettlebell journey.

8.) Kettlebell Workout Form for Beginners

The kettlebell swing is a powerful movement with amazing health benefits that can increase strength and flexibility.

However, when performed incorrectly it is also a movement that can create back, hip, or knee injuries.

ALWAYS be aware of your form and periodically have a certified trainer evaluate your swing.

This is actually a really good article specifically focused on kettlebell form if you fell you’re not performing and exercises right.

You can also do this yourself using a smart phone or video camera.

Be sure to squeeze the glutes and quads every time you swing and tighten the abdominal muscles as if you are bracing hard for a punch.

Swinging correctly will make you stronger and more flexible than ever before, however incorrectly performing the movement can create or increase back strain or pain.

Perfect your squat. Swings, high pulls, and lifts such as snatches and cleans, originate out of a squat position, and keeping good form is essential to avoiding injury.

Executing kettlebell exercises correctly takes concentration.

Remember this checklist and use it as your guide for getting into the right start position for all your kettlebell exercises:

A Checklist For Good Kettlebell Form

  • Position your feet shoulder width apart, or slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Put your weight on your heels. If you are doing this right you should be able to wiggle your toes.
  • Keep your shoulders back and down and chest up.
  • Maintain a tall spine and neutral head position.
  • Look at a focal point on the floor six feet in front of you.
  • Contract your glutes, tighten your thighs and abs, and pull up your kneecaps.
  • Make sure the area immediately surrounding you is clear and you have room to swing and move freely.

Don’t wear running shoes with a high, cushioned platform; you could roll your ankle.

The kettlebell masters in Europe do kettlebelling in bare feet.

You should wear a shoe with a low sole such as a court shoe or cross-trainer with a low sole. Swinging kettlebells requires subtle control of your balance.

9.) Getting Started Using Kettlebells For A Beginner – Final Thoughts

If possible, look for a certified kettlebell instructor from a respected kettlebell organization and/or sit in on a class or session.

Be sure the instructor’s philosophy matches your needs.

If you don’t have access to a quality kettlebell instructor or not interested in taking a class or being around an instructor then the next best thing is a highly regarded instructional DVD.

There are many people who have learned strictly from watching DVDs.

Instructional books are also great resources.

Ultimately learning in person is the best scenario, but a quality DVD is definitely sufficient if that is your only option.

Kettlebell swings have become synonymous with great conditioning without running. But what do you do when your gym doesn’t have a big selection of kettlebells? Swing a dumbbell. Kettlebells are indeed the best tool for the job, but you could do amazing work swinging a dumbbell if you do it the right way.
Swinging a dumbbell can provide the same benefits as swinging a kettlebell such as:

  • improved movement at the hip
  • great conditioning in a small space
  • increased strength of the glutes and hamstrings
  • improved coordination of bracing and relaxation
  • make ya look better naked

Dumbbells present a different challenge for swings though because the handle is in the center of the weight as opposed to atop the weight. So it’s better to swing a dumbbell by the end plate than by the actual handle. I’ve put together a quick video to show you how to swing your dumbbells from the end plate. Watch the video and give dumbbell swings a try. You’ll feel a lot less like you’re missing out because your gym lacks kettlebells and you’ll reap the same benefits.

If you’re looking a for a great simple addition to your training for better work capacity and conditioning try adding 100 swings a day. It takes less than 5 minutes once you get the hang of it and is very effective.

Happy swinging!

Which Are More Effective: Dumbbells or Kettlebells?

Walk into any gym, and you’ll likely encounter two basic kinds of free weights: the trusty dumbbells and the new kid on the block, the kettlebells. Both have their merits and devotees, but one question often persists: When it comes to getting results, is one better than the other? Here, experts weigh in on which to choose and when.

Best for…

Dynamic Movements: Kettlebells
When it comes to explosive, physical movements, kettlebells are king. If your goal is powerlifting, plyo improvements, or if you’re competing in a sport that requires explosiveness (like basketball or CrossFit games), research suggests kettlebells lead to greater gains.Transference of kettlebell training to strength, power, and endurance. Manocchia P, Spierer DK, Lufkin AK. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 2013, Jul.;27(2):1533-4287.

Choose these for exercises that recruit several major muscle groups and involve moving in a big, significant way. Some typical kettlebell moves include snatches, cleans, windmills, Turkish get-ups, and of course, the kettlebell swing.

Swings are also great because they can spike your heart rate, providing cardiovascular as well as strength benefits, says Dell Polanco, head coach at BRICK New York. Unlike a simple curl or press, the kettlebell swing activates your entire posterior chain of muscles—your glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae (back muscles), he explains.

Basic Movements: Dumbbells
“Dumbbells are great for a little bit of everything,” sats Nikki Reifschneider, the assistant director of fitness and personal training at the University of Miami. “You can start with more basic movements like a chest press, shoulder press, a row, or squats with dumbbells held at the shoulders.” The advantage is that you’re not swinging the weight around (like you do in a snatch or swing), making the moves a bit more straightforward, Reifschneider says.

Mixing up Your Workout: Kettlebells
“If you’re sick of doing burpees and mountain climbers, try kettlebells during a HIIT workout,” says Liz Barnet, certified trainer at Uplift Studios in New York City. Barnet adds that it’s easy to integrate kettlebells into a workout finisher—for example, 30 to 60 seconds of all-out effort swings to cap things off.

Newbies: Dumbbells
Stick to dumbbells unless you have instruction with kettlebells, Barnet says. In fact, all of the experts we spoke with emphasized that dumbbells are the best choice for weight training unless you’ve specifically worked with a personal trainer on kettlebells.

Improving Grip Strength: Kettlebells
Because the horn (handle) of the kettlebell is often thicker than a dumbbell, they can be ideal for increasing grip strength, Barnet says. “For instance, a bent-over row with a kettlebell can strengthen the grip and help prepare you for challenging exercises like pull-ups,” Barnet says.

General Fitness: Dumbbells
One study showed that, compared to dynamic moves with kettlebells, basic weightlifting exercises (think power cleans and squats) led to significantly greater improvements in strength over a six-week period.Effects of weightlifting vs. kettlebell training on vertical jump, strength, and body composition. Otto WH, Coburn JW, Brown LE. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 2012, Sep.;26(5):1533-4287. In other words, if your goal is general strength and fitness, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to dumbbells—and there’s probably not an advantage to using kettlebells.

Adding an Extra Challenge: Kettlebells
“Kettlebells take the center of gravity about six to eight inches away from your hand, whereas dumbbells provide more stability,” Reifschneider says. This makes moves like a bottoms-up kettlebell press especially challenging because you’re working to lift the weight and stabilize it—so the bell doesn’t topple over and hit your arm. Trainers also love kettlebells because of that instability: They’re just like unbalanced objects you pick up every day. But with that added challenge, kettlebells do provide an unwelcome element of danger, so if you’re fairly new to exercising, stick with dumbbells.

Progressing in Weight: Dumbbells
It’s easy to make your workouts more challenging with a dumbbell. “You don’t have to use dumbbells in a slow, isolated push-press ,” Polanco says. “You could do hang cleans, squat cleans—all of those are explosive movements.” Polanco also says it’s OK to practice some of those explosive moves first with dumbbells before upgrading to a kettlebell. And remember, “to a certain extent, a weight is a weight,” Reifschneider says. “With any piece of equipment, you can make a workout challenging. It’s all about your creativity.”

Plus, kettlebells often don’t come in small size increments like dumbbells, Polanco says. Although lots of companies make kettlebells in other weights, depending on what your gym has available, it might be tough to find a “perfect fit.” On the other hand, most gyms readily stack dumbbells at five-pound increments, making them ideal for moving up in weight gradually.

The Takeaway

So which is better? Well, it depends. Newbies and those looking to perform basic strength movements at the gym should head toward the dumbbell rack, while CrossFitters and people doing explosive moves should grab a kettlebell. Choose which type of weight works with your exercise plan and fitness level, and never hesitate to consult a certified trainer for a personalized assessment if you have any questions.

Photos: Pond5

You just got to the gym. You can turn right for the dumbbell rack. Or left for the kettlebells. Where are you headed?

If your choice is dumbbells, know that they have an advantage over weight machines or barbells because of the instability component, which forces your body to recruit more muscles. They also allow you to do multi-joint exercises that target your upper and lower body, says Gregory Johnson, CSCS, head trainer at Varimax Fitness in Sacramento, CA. Another point for dumbbells: It’s easy to keep a set at home. (Note: If you’re really aiming to beef up your strength, the instability of dumbbells will prevent you from lifting heavier weights. A more stable barbell is better in this instance.)

RELATED: 5 Exercise Machines That Aren’t Worth Your Time

Kettlebells can be used in the exact same way as dumbbells, says Johnson (think: overhead press, bicep curls, rows, lunges — you name it). “Depending on the exercises you do, there may be no difference between the two,” he says. Want to do a single-arm row with a kettlebell? Go for it.

Then again, some people argue that you shouldn’t use kettlebells as a traditional weight, instead encouraging pendulum-style movements, like kettlebell swings. Since the weight isn’t balanced like a dumbbell, your body must work harder to stabilize and adapt to the changing center of gravity. One particular advantage: shoulder scapula stability. “This is important for your overall posture. If you can’t retract your shoulder blades, you’re potentially keeping them in a bad position,” Johnson says.

RELATED: 5 Beginner-Friendly Kettlebell Exercises

“The biggest thing is that these are tools in your bag. I don’t necessarily like one more over the other,” says Johnson. So switch things up. One day, choose dumbbells, the other kettlebells. (See individual workouts below!) Or, mix them up. No one says you can’t do both in one day.

Total-Body Kettlebell Workout

This full-body kettlebell workout from Johnson features five traditional kettlebell movements. If you want to build strength, pick up a heavier kettlebell (heavy enough that it’s challenging but you can still maintain form) and do 10 reps of each move. If you want more cardio endurance, use a lighter kettlebell and do 15 to 20 reps of each.

Take as little rest as you can between moves, which will keep your heart rate, up, says Johnson. After each set, rest up to a minute if needed. But listen to your body. “Never sacrifice form or posture for speed or tempo,” says Johnson. “If you’re losing form because you’re tired, then stop and give yourself enough of a break you can go back to maintaining your form,” he says. Complete four rounds.

RELATED: 5 Common Kettlebell Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Photo: Pond5

1. Kettlebell Swings
This is a hip-driven movement, where the explosive power comes from your glutes. Use the heaviest weight of the series here.

2. Single-Arm Kettlebell Press
One tip: make sure your eyes follow the weight throughout the movement. The benefit to doing an overhead press with a kettlebell is that it’s safer on your shoulder than a dumbbell, says Johnson. Do both your right and left arm.

3. Single-Arm Kettlebell Clean
You can bring the kettlebell straight up or do a pendulum kettlebell swing here — the choice is yours, says Johnson. The key is keeping a “chicken wing arm” at your side (arm in tight, elbow by your side). Do both your right and left arm.

4. Turkish Get-Up
Here’s why you should be sold on this move: “this is one of the best exercises for your core,” says Johnson.

5. Bottoms Up Kettlebell Walks
Two ways you can do this: keep your thumb near your shoulder or fully extend your arm, holding the weight over your head (the bell or “bottom” of the kettlebell should be on top). Maintain a stable posture and a neutral spine.

Total-Body Dumbbell Workout

If you have weights at home, you don’t even need to head to your gym for this one. Johnson has his clients do this circuit at home for a quick 20-minute full-body workout. The moves switch from lower to upper body with a little core at the end. Perform 3 rounds of 15 reps. Try to take as little rest in between each move as you can without sacrificing form.

RELATED: The 7 Best Strength Exercises You’re Not Doing

Photo: Pond5

1. Dumbbell Squats
Pick whatever variation you like. For example, hold one dumbbell in front of you (a goblet squat) or hold one in each hand at your shoulders or down at your sides.

2. Chest Press
Hold one dumbbell in each hand. You can do these laying flat on your back on a bench or on the floor if you’re at home.

3. Dumbbell Lateral Lunge
While you probably do forward or reverse lunges on the regular, Johnson recommends working in lateral lunges to really hit your glutes. Keep one dumbbell in each hand.

4. Supported Single-Arm Row
Place one hand on your knee and hinge forward. Keep your spine straight throughout the movement (the only thing that should move is your shoulder and arm during the row).

5. Extended Sit-Up
Lay down flat on floor, knees bent, and hold one or two dumbbells directly over shoulders. Crunch and sit up to a tall spine. At the top, your torso should be straight, arms overhead, dumbbells over shoulders, and biceps to ears.

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Warning! The following kettlebell arm exercises are designed to help tone and strengthen your arms! Kettlebells are great to use for your arms because it’s challenging, helps you build muscle and burns fat. It’s also a great alternative to using dumbbells, especially during high-demand times at the gym, when they’re all being used.

We have 5 exercises to share with you that are fantastic for building strength, mobility, and balance. These exercises can be a great addition to any full body workout.

Try these 5 kettlebell arm exercises:

  1. Kettlebell Clean & Press
  2. Kettlebell Bicep Curl
  3. Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extension
  4. Overhead Press
  5. Kettlebell Lateral Raise

For each exercise our personal trainers recommend trying 3 sets of 10-12 reps, however, this will be dependant on your fitness level and experience. So if you’re unsure, consult with our PT’s who can guide you in the right direction.

#1 – Kettlebell Clean & Press

The kettlebell clean and press is a fantastic total body exercise. It works out many of the muscle groups. It’s great for conditioning sessions and increases movement, stability, and strength with the body.

The muscle groups that are targeted:

  • Shoulders, Upper Chest, and Triceps
  • Hamstrings and Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Upper Back, Traps, and Lats
  • Anterior Chain

Here’s how to do a kettlebell clean & press:

  1. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and have a kettlebell on the floor in front of you.
  2. Bend at the knees and push your hips slightly back and reach down to grab your kettlebell with one hand (either hand to start with).
  3. To perform the movement, swing the kettlebell back between your legs and create a swinging motion forward up. Drive your hips forward while keeping your back straight.
  4. As soon as the kettlebell is swung just above your belly button, pull it back and move your hand underneath the kettlebell so it’s resting against the back of your wrist.
  5. Now push the kettlebell straight up and over your head until your arm is straight. Keep your elbows locked.
  6. Reverse the movement to go back to your starting position.

#2 – Kettlebell Bicep Curl

For this variation, we are showing you the standing kettlebell bicep curl. It’s a great exercise for increased muscle strength. This only isolates the biceps alone. When performing this exercise it’s important to have the handles positioned in the mid-upper palms. That way the kettlebells won’t slip and are locked in.

Here’s how to do a kettlebell bicep curl:

  1. Grab a pair of kettlebells, hold one on each side. Keep your upper arms stationary.
  2. Bend your elbows and curl the kettlebells up towards your shoulders.
  3. Slowly return them down to your sides.

#3 – Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extension

Overhead tricep extensions are great for bodybuilders and anyone who is looking to build muscle. With a kettlebell, it focuses on the triceps, lats and the medial head section. This exercise will help you improve your stability and greater muscle activation.

To perform the kettlebell overhead tricep extension, this is how you do it:

  1. Hold the kettlebell behind your head between your hands. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend your arms overhead, then slowly lower your kettlebell.

#4 – Overhead Press

The standard kettlebell overhead press is a suitable exercise for increasing strength endurance. Similar to the clean and press (exercise number 1) but without the squat motion. Make sure your legs are locked and the weight of the kettlebell to be supported by your lower body. This will help you feel stabilised to perform the exercise.

This is how to do the kettlebell overhead press:

  1. Have a kettlebell in each hand, hold them behind your hands against the back of your wrists.
  2. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Lift your arms and press the kettlebells together over your head. Lock your elbows at the top.
  3. Perform the motion in reverse slowly.

#5 – Kettlebell Lateral Raise

The kettlebell lateral raise is a suitable exercise to work out your traps and deltoids. This exercise is great for strengthening the area and is also easy enough for beginners to try. It’s the same technique with dumbells but we’re using kettlebells instead.

How to perform the kettlebell lateral raise properly:

  1. Hold one kettlebell in each hand, placing them on the sides of your body.
  2. Maintain a straight torso, lift the kettlebells to your side while the rest of your body remains stationary. Have a slight bend at the elbows as you lift up.
  3. Lower the kettlebells back down slowly. Exhale to lift, inhale to lower.

For more kettlebell exercise ideas, ask one of our Crunch personal trainers

Want to learn more kettlebell exercises? Our personal trainers are trained to teach you and make the experience of working out at the gym more comfortable and fun! If you have any questions or keen to learn something new, they’re eagerly waiting for you!

Get in touch with one of our friendly Crunch staff members who can set up a time for you today to get started.

Why Are Kettlebells So Effective? | The Many Benefits of Kettlebell Training

Why are kettlebells so effective? What makes these specific weights so useful for fitness?

Well, there is no doubt that the kettlebell itself looks really strange — like a mini bowling ball with a luggage handle.

But once you learn about the many benefits it can provide, you will appreciate their construction, usefulness, and effectiveness.

For those out there who aren’t confident in doing kettlebell workouts due to the high intensity and expected grip strength, don’t turn away yet!

Our patented Dark Iron Fitness lifting straps are made of durable cowhide suede and are the perfect accompaniment to kettlebells.

Kettlebells are used for explosive workouts that combine strength training, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility while strengthening your core and improving flexibility.

Their numerous benefits include strength gain, endurance, flexibility and weight loss.

Let’s discuss more in depth about kettlebells, their effectiveness and how you can implement them into your daily workouts.

Related: Kettlebells for Beginners

Why Are Kettlebells So Effective? — The Basics

Kettlebell Anatomy and Purpose

Many of the kettlebell lifts are variations of the classic Olympic lifts, with one huge difference.

Kettlebell ballistic lifts are much easier to learn than traditional Olympic lifts.

Olympic Lifting is difficult to master, but with the kettlebells, some basic instruction can help anyone learn these lifts.

Kettlebells are great for teaching proper speed from the hips — essential in power and speed sports, which is why they are a CrossFit staple.

Many of the movements and skills required in CrossFit focus on learning to have fast and effective hips.

Kettlebell workouts differ from workouts using machines or dumbbells (free weights) because when you train with a machine you are forced to move in a predetermined path.

Dumbbells have a tight center of gravity and mainly utilize the major muscle groups.

A kettlebell’s odd shape and off-center mass forces you to use muscles that mimic real-life activities.

They are often referred to as one of the top 10 tools for physical strength and endurance training.

Total Body Exercise

One of the biggest benefits of kettlebell training is that all of the exercises are essentially total body exercises.

You get total body strengthening and conditioning with one single tool.

You can easily find the one that fits your needs.

They come in several sizes: ranging from 8lbs, all the way up to 105 lbs, for those who are very strong and experienced.

Easy to Learn and Use

The shape of the kettlebell lends itself to unique exercises.

Its odd center of gravity forces you to do more work involving your stabilizing muscles to create explosive movements with the bell.

It’s much gentler on the wrists and shoulders to perform and finish kettlebell cleans.

Also, kettlebells are easier to use for front squats than a barbell, and you can learn one-arm kettlebell snatches faster than barbell snatches.

Enjoy the ease of use and appreciate that such a unique weight can help streamline other exercises you already do.

Related: 22 Different Kettlebell Exercises

Safe Workouts

Kettlebell workout routines are safe, quick, full body workouts that do not strain joints or lead to other possible injuries often found with conventional weightlifting.

Of course, injuries can still occur, but often they stem from the high-intensity aspect of the training.

Always practice correct form and safety in all exercises, but be content in the fact the kettlebell is one of the safer weights to work with.

With a stronger grip, or the use of something like suede lifting straps, you can really get the most out of kettlebells.

If you have previously been avoiding barbell exercises due to safety concerns, look into the kettlebell alternatives.

Why Are Kettlebells So Effective? — The Workouts

Why Are Kettlebells So Effective for Strength and Endurance?

Whether your focus is strength, endurance, or both, the kettlebell will be beneficial and effective.

You’re super tight when you lift a heavy weight, but become loose when you do conditioning.

The kettlebell alternates periods of intense contraction and controlled relaxation, to give you a superior workout that combines strength, as well as endurance.

Kettlebell workouts will help you build muscle and allow for the endurance to build to further progress in both areas.

Why Are Kettlebells So Effective for Strength and Flexibility?

Many kettlebell exercises allow you to build joint strength and flexibility along with strength and conditioning.

Even the basic kettlebell swing provides a great hamstring stretch.

Other exercises such as the windmill, and single leg deadlift, also build flexible strength.

Flexibility is key, especially for those using kettlebell workouts in CrossFit, because flexibility optimizes the exercises.

Why Are Kettlebells So Effective as a Core Workout?

The kettlebell stimulates tremendous abdominal contraction because of the explosive conditioning movements.

Basically, this means you’re working your abs even when you’re “not working” your abs.

The abdominal contraction and coordinated breathing provide a very high level of conditioning that has made it popular among fighters and other elite level athletes.

A strong core can be considered the foundation for most sports and fitness as a whole.

The fact you can work your core indirectly, just through the dynamic aspect of kettlebells, is truly amazing.

Exceptional Conditioning

Kettlebells are so effective because they stimulate the muscles and surpass standard cardio exercises.

They enable you to increase your strength, build up speed as well as your endurance level at the same time.

Many kettlebell exercises flow together. You don’t really even need to put the weight down.

You can string a sequence of exercises together and perform them continuously.

This gives you a great strength and endurance workout in a shorter amount of time.

Related: Are Kettlebells Good for Weight Loss?

Progress Without Having to Spend More Money

Kettlebell progression can include weight progression, but it is often based on doing more repetitions or moving on to a harder exercise.

So rather than moving on to a heavier kettlebell you simply complete more reps or change the exercise to a more difficult option.

Killer strength and endurance work can be achieved without necessarily having to use the heaviest weight you can find.

The exercises just need to be adjusted for the results that you want.

You only need one or two kettlebells to get in great shape.

For an example, look at these recommendations below:

Women – 8kg (18 lb), 12kg (26 lb), 16kg (35 lb),

Men – 16kg, 20kg, 24kg

Some people are naturally stronger, but ultimately the kettlebell isn’t a strength tool—it’s a strength-endurance tool.

The savings from purchasing only one or two kettlebells and having a variety of workouts is great.

If financials are important (they usually are), and you are on a budget, kettlebells won’t break the bank!

Why Are Kettlebells So Effective? — Other Advantages

Kettlebells are Fun

The more fun and simple something is, the more likely you are to do it.

You can learn basic exercises in about five minutes and there’s enough variety to keep you interested.

If you find yourself becoming bored with traditional exercises or having to be in the gym, consider using kettlebells.

The numerous things you can do with kettlebells make it enjoyable, and you can even use them outside.

What’s better than bringing your weights to a public park and working out?

Doing such things with a barbell is almost impossible (possible, but silly and not worth the effort).

Related: The Best Kettlebell Workout DVDs

The “Movement Advantage”

The movement advantage is learning to move better through the use of kettlebells.

This is especially valued by physical therapists because kettlebells actually teach you to move in a way that is better, stronger, and safer.

Unlike the traditional exercises that keep the body in a linear plane, kettlebell exercises are ergonomically natural to the body’s range of motion.

Unfortunately, many of us today lose some of our basic movements as a result of sedentary occupations and lifestyles.

When you don’t use it, you lose it.

That’s what happens when we don’t move our bodies with the full range of motion or become used to certain unhealthy postures (like sitting in front of a computer all day).

The kettlebell can help facilitate getting you out of these habits and jumpstart better movement and posture.

Don’t let your laziness or 9-5, inactive job be the death of your body!

Related: What’s So Special About Kettlebells Anyway?

Conclusion as to Why Kettlebells are so Effective

Kettlebells are relatively inexpensive, small enough to be portable, and easy to store away.

They are terrific for overall fat loss, improving lean body mass, and helping teach proper use of the hips (important for speed and power sports).

Kettlebells give you a great workout, either on their own or as a part of your dumbbell/barbell/machine routine.

They are so effective that serious lifters should definitely consider them as a way to enhance and supplement their barbell or dumbbell workouts.

And, when the kettlebells start getting heavier, don’t forget to think about securing your grip.

Dark Iron Fitness leather suede lifting are guaranteed not to rip, tear, or fall apart — the perfect compliment for your kettlebell.

The effectiveness is half driven by the ergonomics, exercises and variety, while the other half is determined by your personal drive.

Give kettlebells and kettlebell workouts a shot to see if they’re right for you, maybe they’ll be the most effective for your goals.

Related: Why Are Kettlebell Workout Routines So Effective?

What’s So Special About Kettlebells Anyway?

It was just a few short years ago that I discovered kettlebells after thirty years of weight training. Yes, thirty years of training and it was only a few years ago that I discovered kettlebells. Up until then, I really didn’t know what they were or how to use them. I’ve been a gym rat for all these years and have always been partial to dumbbells, barbells, and machines at the local gym.

When I finally decided to purchase my first 16kg kettlebell to see how this tool could possibly help me, I was blown away. I was even more blown away when I took my first workshop taught by a phenomenal, high level RKC Instructor (Andrea DuCane). This is when I found out what I had been doing for the last few months on my own was completely wrong. I was very humbled, to say the least.

Now, after numerous workshops, kettlebell certifications, and countless hours of practicing, teaching, and training, I know there is something very special about kettlebell training. You could say I’m on a mission to help other people learn about how to use it the right way to get the results I have.

Today, people ask me all the time, “Why kettlebells? Is this type of training really any different from a dumbbell or other gym exercises?” Every time I’m asked that question, I start to feel the passion build and I have to contain myself. Kettlebell training is radically different from any other form of training I’ve personally experienced in my thirty years of weight training.

Kettlebells are kaizen. Kaizen is Japanese for continuous and never-ending improvement. There’s really something “magical” about kettlebells when you learn how to perform the key exercises correctly. It’s a very different type of training from other modalities.

The kettlebell swing is a perfect example of the uniqueness of kettlebell training. Why? As Tracy Reifkind, RKC and author of the great book The Swing puts it, it’s a two-for-one exercise. It combines the benefits of resistance training and cardiovascular conditioning in one very powerful exercise. There isn’t an exercise that addresses so many things at once as does the kettlebell swing.

The magic of the kettlebell appears to have something to do with the cannonball shape and the offset handle, which allow you to manipulate the kettlebell much differently than you could with a dumbbell, barbell, or any other training device. The shape and the handle allow you to perform ballistics and grinds. Ballistics are fast, explosive movements, while grinds are slow and deliberate. This allows for a different type of training experience for faster results.

While there are many great things about kettlebell training, one of the biggest benefits is that all of the exercises are essentially total body exercises. This means you get total body strengthening and conditioning with one single tool. Virtually every fitness goal you want could be accomplished with a kettlebell, but don’t mistake me saying that this is the only thing you should do. It’s a tool, just like a barbell is a tool, and other training methods certainly have utility and benefits, as well.

What I have found is that the kettlebell has become central to my training programs. While I still use bodyweight exercises and barbell programs, kettlebells are an essential part of my training and what I teach today because they offer better results in less time. The time efficiency of training is another huge advantage of kettlebell training, as you can get amazing workouts in a very short time period.

What about the “movement advantage?” The movement advantage is learning to move better through the use of kettlebells. This is something I feel very strong about as a former physical therapist, because kettlebells actually teach you to move in a way that is better, stronger, and safer. Unfortunately, many of us today lose some of our basic movements as a result of sedentary occupations and lifestyles. When you don’t use it, you lose it. That’s exactly what happens when we don’t move with full range of motion or become habituated to certain postures (like sitting all day at a computer).

Kettlebells help us to reclaim our true movement and flexibility again. The Turkish get up is a great example of an exercise that teaches us to move better. I’ve had many clients say how well they move and function again, after learning how to perform this exercise correctly. It’s a very powerful, dynamic, and fundamental exercise, like the kettlebell swing.

If you learn the proper way to use a kettlebell, I can guarantee you’ll discover for yourself, what’s so special about kettlebells. The best way to get started is to find a certified instructor and get qualified instruction from the beginning, if you can. This will ensure you get started off the right way and get results, faster and more safely than trying to figure it out on your own. For total body strengthening and conditioning, kettlebells are definitely a very special fitness and performance training tool to incorporate into your program.

Photos courtesy of .

Is Kettlebell Training For You?

It is time to train like a man again (especially if you are a woman) and get back in touch with visceral impulse that has been locked away for years. No need to purchase a gym membership or spend $1,000s on expensive equipment. Two kettlebells are all that you need to increase muscular endurance, lose fat and build size and strength.

Kettlebells do not take up much space so you can train in your apartment, backyard, garage or go outside and get some fresh air. Kettlebell training is a form of training that will not only improve the appearance of your physique, it will give you strength and mental toughness that you did not know was even possible.

“Stuck in a rut? Bust out of it in a big way with a kettlebell workout. This old-school piece of equipment is a throwback to the dawn of strength training; many of you may not be familiar with it. After a brief introduction to its physique -building values, we feel confident you’ll soon give kettlebells-style training a try.” – Joe Weider, Editor of Muscle & Fitness Magazine

Is kettlebell training the be all end all of working out? No, it is simply an effective way to train and enhance whatever program you are on.

What Is A Kettlebell?

What is a kettlebell? Glad that you asked. Imagine a black bowling ball with a suitcase handle on it and you have an idea of what a kettlebell looks like. A kettlebell is a big hunk of iron that comes in several sizes: 8lbs, 12lbs, 18lbs, 26lbs, 35lbs, 44lbs, 53lbs, 70lbs, 80lbs, 88lbs, 97lbs and for super strong men and women 105lbs!

Standard Weight Training

  • One-Arm Kettlebell Floor Press
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curl
  • One-Arm Kettlebell Row

Ballistic Exercises

  • One-Arm Kettlebell Snatch
  • One-Arm Kettlebell Swings
  • One-Arm Kettlebell Clean
  • One-Arm Kettlebell Jerk

In addition, to giving you incredible muscular endurance when done in high repetitions, with a proper nutrition plan any excess fat that you have will melt off rapidly. Ballistic exercises are not the only exercises that you can benefit from, kettlebell exercises such as the Turkish get-up and Windmill will develop a rock-hard midsection and increase shoulder flexibility and stability.

As a result many chiropractors are using kettlebells with their patients for rehab. If you are a man that wants to increase size and strength, try doing some of my favorite kettlebell exercises:

Favorite Kettlebell Exercises

  • Two-Arm Kettlebell Clean
  • Two-Arm Kettlebell Military Press
  • One-Arm Overhead Kettlebell Squats
  • Alternating Renegade Row
  • Double Kettlebell Snatch
  • Two-Arm Kettlebell Clean

If you are a woman that wants to lose weight and tighten up your glutes, quads, abs, and arms, apply a steady diet of kettlebell training ballistic work with some low rep kettlebell training strength work and you are all set.

Why Not Dumbbells Instead?

You may be thinking that you could do all of the above exercises with dumbbells. While this is true, anyone that has used both will tell you that kettlebells are much harder to handle and yes in this case, harder is much better.

Kettlebell handles are much thicker than dumbbells and will give you a vice grip in no time. Also, the off-center weight of a kettlebell will force you to use more stabilizer muscles and work the targeted muscles through a longer range of motion.

For combat athletes and anyone else that likes it tough, the ballistic shock of kettlebells teaches you how to absorb shock efficiently which is critical for combat sports such as: wrestling, MMA, football, and hockey.

The above reasons are why MMA fighters such as Frank Shamrock, BJ Penn and Fedor enhance their workouts with kettlebells. Also, it is why top strength coaches such as Ethan Reeve and Louie Simmons recommend kettlebell training to their athletes. Athletes are not the only ones who are hooked on kettlebell training.

Members of the entertainment world such as Chris Pontius of MTV’s JackAss and WildBoyz and Harley Flannagan, founder of the legendary NYC hardcore band “The Cro-Mags” have attended my kettlebell workshops and are ecstatic about Kettlebell training. Both Chris and Harley talk to everyone they know about the benefits of kettlebell training and you will as well after you attend one of my seminars.

Still skeptical? Try the following experiment with a dumbbell. Take a dumbbell and try doing three sets of twenty one-arm swings . After you have done twenty swings with one arm, switch hands and do another twenty reps.

Continue to go back and forth until you have done three sets of 20 reps. Now if you thought that was hard, imagine making that exercise several times harder with a kettlebell.

An Aerobic Alternative

Imagine how much fat your will burn and how your muscular endurance will go through the roof. No doubt about it, high rep kettlebell training is an aerobic workout and great alternative to stepping classes, spinning classes, and anything else that strips you of our manhood and makes you feel like a jack @ss.

If you feel like a [email protected] when you do something, then it is probably something that you should avoid unless you are getting paid well 😉 Personally, I actually like to get results from my training and I am sure you do to. A balanced kettlebell training program combined with a solid worth ethic and healthy nutrition plan is a sure-fire recipe for success.

I have been training with kettlebells for over four years and I have never been in better shape. In addition to being lean and strong, my body has learned how to work as one unit. My muscular endurance and mental toughness have improved tremendously.

Best of all, I do not have to go to the gym to get an incredible workout. Give kettlebells a shot for three months and I sincerely doubt that you will ever want to go back to barbell curls and leg raises. Once you have been infected with the power of kettlebell training, there is no going back. Take a look at the exercises below for more information.

Bonus: Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Is kettlebell training the ultimate way to train?

No one system is the ultimate way to train. Do not kid yourself as training is not a black and white world. Is kettlebell training effective for fat loss, strength training and building muscle? Yes and it is a super fun way to train.

In order to keep training interesting, you have to keep it fun and kettlebells are a great fit. You can benefit from kettlebell focused programs or you can incorporate kettlebell training into your current regimen. There is something for everyone.

Are kettlebell exercises dangerous?

Only when done with poor form. However, any exercise is dangerous even push-ups and lame machine exercises when poor form is used. People die every year from bench pressing. Thus far, there have been no deaths related to KB training yet.

Of course, I am sure some idiot will change that statistic some day. Bottom line is most people will require in person instruction to maximize the benefits of kettlebell training safely.

Kettlebell DVD’s while useful are not a replacement for in personal instruction. That said, top strength trainer Bud Jeffries stated if you cannot learn how to use Kettlebells from Mike Mahler’s DVD then you are in big trouble and should not bother weight training period!

Is kettlebell training effective for fat loss?

Yes however pushing yourself away from the table more often and cutting krispy creme out of your diet is even more effective. Fat loss is 70% diet and 30% training. Unless you are a professional athlete where training is your job. Do not kid yourself into thinking that you train like a professional athlete unless you are one.

Kettlebell training can be an effective way to promote a normal healthy metabolism. However, anyone that tells you that you can lose fat with kettlebell training and a crappy diet is doing you a disservice.

Is Kettlebell training effective for building muscle?

What do barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells all have in common? All three are forms of weight training. Thus, just as barbells and dumbbells are effective for building muscle, kettlebells are effective as well. That said, nothing takes the place of progressive weight training with barbells.

Barbell squats, barbell deadlifts, Barbell Military Presses, and weighted dips are among the kings of muscle building. If your main goal is to build muscle then you are better off with barbells. If you have been training with barbells and dumbbells for a while and want a new stimulus then kettlebell training is a great fit.

Also, kettlebells are great for building the shoulders, hamstrings and arms. Kettlebells are not the best fit for quad development or of course calf development. A combination approach utilizing kettlebells and barbells is an effective way to go.

Finally if your testosterone and growth hormone levels are low then forget about putting on muscle. It is just not going to happen. Get some blood work done with your Doctor and see where you are at.

I want to get stronger without getting bigger. Is kettlebell training for me?

RELATED POLL

Have You Ever Had A Blood Test To Determine Your Hormone Levels?

Yes, this is one of the most popular benefits of kettlebell training. Women for example love kettlebell training as it helps them tone up and lose fat without over developing muscles. Truth be told, building muscle is not easy for men and especially women so that should be the least of your worries.

Worrying about getting too big is like worrying about making too much money. That said, kettlebell training is popular with members of the armed services, secret service, law enforcement community, and anyone else that wants functional strength that carries over to real world activities such as sitting on the coach and using the remote control 😉 Just kidding.

Do women use kettlebells?

Only the smart ones 😉 Yes I work with women all of the time at my workshops and they love kettlebell training. Especially exercises such as swings, 1-legged deadlifts, and The Windmill. Swings and 1-legged deadlifts tighten up the glutes and hamstrings and the windmill is great for the midsection.

Women tend to believe the illusion that they will turn into “Arnold” just be looking at weights. Fortunately, top kettlebell instructors such as Lisa Shaffer and Lauren Brooks of are perfect examples of the benefits of kettlebell training for women.

Check out their sites today and get over the irrational fear once and for all that you will turn into “The Hulk” with weight training. Here is a testimonial from Michelle Wong:

“I really love working out with my kettlebells. Especially the swings and clean and presses. Working out with traditional weights has always kept me really strong but about 6 months ago, I started noticing that I was having trouble picking up my muscular 5-year old (he was about 70 pounds) who also lifts traditional weights as well as kettlebells. He kept saying, ‘Mommy, you need to lift more weights.'” – Michelle Wong

Are kettlebells popular with athletes?

Many athletes are enjoying the benefits of kettlebell training. Some examples are MMA fighters Frank Shamrock, Frank Trigg, Bob Sapp and Tait Fletcher. Many celebrities such as Chris Pontius (Movie Jackass) the band “Korn” and Harley Flannagen of “The Cro-mags” are also enjoying the benefits of kettlebell training. Kettlebells are a natural fit for athletes and this trend will continue.

Is kettlebell training a fit for martial artists?

It sure is and two of the top martial arts strength coaches Steve Cotter and Steve Maxwell are big fans of kettlebell training. No doubt their stamps of approval carry a lot of weight as both are highly respected members of the martial arts community.

Is kettlebell training great for lazy people?

Nope but watching TV and eating junk food is. When you are ready to take charge of your health think about getting some kettlebells and actually using them.

If kettlebell training is so great how come they are not in every gym in the country?

Having worked for a major fitness club chain in the past, I can tell you first hand that the main goal of a fitness club is to make money and keep liability costs low. Thus the trend in most clubs is to have more machines and less free weights.

While machines are not as effective as free weights, they are much easier to use and require minimal instruction. Thus, less of a need for highly skilled trainers. If a gym adds kettlebells they also have to pay to have their trainers educated in proper kettlebell instruction. They would much rather spend money on their sales staff as most of the income health clubs generate are from membership sales.

The potential client who has not signed up yet is often more important than the client who has already joined. Thus many gyms spend the majority of their income attracting new members not getting results for existing members. Now there is nothing wrong with making money as that is an important goal for every business.

Regardless, few gyms realize that they could make more money by providing exceptional offerings to their clients. Unfortunately, the clients gyms prefer are the ones who sign up for a year and never show up. The ones who actually use the gym regularly are costly.

No doubt a more progressive gym could make a lot of money with kettlebell classes. Especially kettlebell classes targeted toward women. Finally, the last thing a fitness club wants you to know is that you can get in great shape at home with a few kettlebells.

You only need one or two kettlebells to get in great shape. Just about anyone can afford this and has room for a few bells that can easily go in a closet. However, very few people could afford to have expensive machines at home. Thus it’s better to convince the client that he she needs expensive equipment to achieve his or her goals. Personally, you are better off in smaller gyms which focus more time on their clients.

What size kettlebell should I start off with?

Most men do well with 53lb kettlebells. However, if you are out of shape and just getting into training, start off with a 35lb kettlebells. Basically if you can do 50 pushups, 10 pull-ups, and 100 bodyweight squats, start with the 53lb kettlebells.

Also if you can bench press 225 or more start with the 53s. If not then get the 35s. I prefer double kettlebell world. Regardless, starting with one kettlebells is fine as well. Many men will have the strength to handle 70-pound kettlebells or more.

However, heavy kettlebells are not ideal for learning proper form. Thus, leave your ego at the door and err on the side of going lighter. You can always sell your lighter bells to a friend or to someone on a message board. In addition, there are always harder KB exercises that you can do with the lighter bells to keep them useful. If you are a man with low testosterone and high estrogen levels you may need to start with a 26lb bell 😉

Women usually start with 18-pound bells. Stronger women start with the 26l-pound bells. Many women can handle the 35-pound bell or more. Nevertheless, the 35lb bell is not a good bell to start with for most women. Learn proper technique first and then move on to the heavier bells.

Ladies if a 25-pound dumbbell is light to you then get a 26-pound kettlebell. If it is heavy to you then start with an 18-pound bell. Again, I prefer double work. However, one bell is fine to start off with.

Where do I get kettlebells?

Several companies make kettlebells. The best ones are made by Lifeline USA, Dragondoor, Ader and Ironwoody. I used to prefer Dragondoor bells, but love the new bells that Lifeline USA offers. They have thicker handles and superior bells for women. They also offer more sizes such as 79-pound and 97-pound bells.

Finally they are much cheaper than any other bell on the market. You cannot go wrong with their bells and I will be selling them on my site soon. Dragondoor is the original KB company in the U.S. and has some nice bells. They are also the most expensive bells on the market.

My only real complaint about the DD bells is the new ones have a smooth coating which makes the bells slide out of your hands easily. You have to use a lot of chalk especially when using the heavier bells. More chalk equals more calluses which is not fun.

Also the light bells for the ladies have thin handles which most women do not care for. Exercises such as snatches and cleans are harder with the thin handles (easier to bang up your wrists) and a great exercise such as the Renegade Row is out of the question.

The price is not cheap either but given the fact that you can potentially replace your gym membership with a few bells, it is not a big deal. Also, as far as I know the DD bells are the only ones that are made in the USA. Keep that in mind if that is important to you.

The Ader kettlebells have a nice base which is great for anyone that uses smaller bells for exercises such as the Renegade Row . I have heard that many women prefer the Ader kettlebells over Dragondoor.

I have used them a few times and the bells feel nice. However, I have to admit that I prefer the DD bells more for exercise such as snatches. The Ader bells are cheaper so that is something to consider as well.

Most likely you will be happy with the Ader bells and my friend Lisa Shaffer is a strong advocate of them and sells them on her site. I respect her opinion and her approval carries a lot of weight. I would contact her to see if they are a fit for you.

The Ironwoody bells are more competitively priced as well. However, I do not care for the handles at all. They are slippery and just do not feel right for exercises such as snatches and cleans. Regardless, I have had many people bring them to my workshops and they are happy with the bells.

Since I have not used them for any extended period, I cannot say decisively whether they are a fit or not. I would contact them at their site and look for some feedback on the bells or on some message boards.

One potential advantage of the bells is they are all the same size. For example an 85-pound bells is not any bigger than a 70-pound bell. With Dragondoor and Ader, the 88s and 105s are much bigger than the 70s which makes them much harder to use (in a bad way).

For example, I do not find the weight of Dragondoor’s 105s overbearing. However, the size of them makes them hard to handle. For an exercise such as the double swing I have to take a sumo stance to do the exercise safely and that is not a powerful position for me.

Regardless not too many trainees will get beyond the 70s so it is an irrelevant point for most trainees. The disadvantage of the bells being the same size is with regards to the lighter bells. Women will shy away from using an 18-pound bell that is the same size as a 70-pound bell! That is for sure. Moreover, women will have the same problem that I do with DD’s 105-pound bells with Ironwoody’s bells. Thus, women are better off with DD or Ader kettlebells.

Finally, adjustable kettlebells are another option. There is a model that has the look and feel of a real kettlebell. The only thing I do not like about it is the handle. It is similar in design to the Ironwoody handle and it just does not feel right.

Also do not expect to switch from one weight to another easily with the uskettlebell model. It takes time to adjust the weight so you pretty much have to decide what weight you are going to use for a workout and stick with that.

Unlike other adjustable bells you do not have to worry about the bell coming apart during a workout. It has a large strong screw that goes in the bottom that is sure to keep the bell together. As much as I like the uskettlebell model, I prefer the real thing and will continue to stick with solid non adjustable kettlebells.

Bottom line is my favorite bells are made by Lifeline USA and to be very honest; yes I make money off the bells if you buy them. Of course, that should not be a problem as I could sell any bell on the market and have made my choice. I have no problem with making money off of a great product that I use personally and you should have no problem purchasing it from me.


Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners

If you are new to kettlebell training then beginning with the basics is very important. You will get excellent results by mastering the fundamental kettlebell movements and performing them well.

Here is a list of my favourite kettlebell workouts for beginners. Remember that form and technique are very important. If you find that you get tired or start to lose your technique during any of these workouts then please stop.

Start by taking 1 days rest after any of these workouts so you always give your body time to recover. Less, in this case, is more!

Kettlebell Swing Workouts for Beginners

1– Kettlebell Swing Tabata

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swings – 20 seconds
  • Rest – 10 seconds
  • Repeat – up to 8 times

A very simple but effective way to improve your Swings as well as Cardio. Perform 20 seconds of Double Handed Swings followed by 10 seconds of rest. Work up to 8 rounds for a total of 4 minutes.

Related: 4 steps to master the kettlebell swing for beginners

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2– Kettlebell Swings & Slingshots

  • Kettlebell One Handed Swing – 30 seconds
  • Kettlebell Slingshot – 30 seconds
  • Repeat – up to 8 times each side

Begin with 30 seconds of One Handed Swings on the left side and then 30 seconds of the Slingshot. Next 30 seconds of One Handed Swings on the right side and then 30 seconds of the slingshot. Continue alternating sides and using the slingshot between swings. Work up to 8 rounds on each side.

Related: Why I love the Kettlebell Slingshot

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3– Swings and Fast Mountain Climbers

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swings – 20 reps
  • Fast Mountain Climbers – 20 reps
  • Repeat – 10 times

Swing the kettlebell for 20 reps and then perform 20 fast mountain climbers (20 reps on each leg). Repeat the pairing for a total of 10 rounds and 200 swings.

Related: 7 kettlebell swing mistakes that will cause back pain

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4– Kettlebell Swings Countdown

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swings – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Goblets Squats – 10 reps
  • Repeat – 9, 8, 7, 6 etc

This is a motivational little workout that is super simple. Start with 10 Double Handed Swings followed by 10 Goblet Squats. Repeat both exercises for 9 reps, then 8 reps, then 7 reps, all the way down to 1 rep each. At the end you will have completed 55 Swings and 55 Goblet Squats.

Related: 7 Kettlebell Squats You Need to Know

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5– On the Minute

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swings – 20 reps
  • Repeat – On the Minute for 10 mins

Set your timer to beep every 60 seconds. Perform 20 reps of the Double Handed Swing at the start of every minute and then rest for the remainder of the minute. Continue for 10 minutes and a total of 200 swings.

Related: Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing

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Turkish Get Up Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners

6– 5 x 5

  • Kettlebell Half Get Ups – 5 reps each side
  • Repeat – 5 times

Simple workout to improve the first part of the Turkish Get Up. Perform 5 reps on each side 5 times for a total of 25 reps each side. Work on keeping your heel on the floor throughout the exercise and returning to the starting position nice and slow.

Related: 12 kettlebell workout formats to better achieve your goals

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7– Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Ladder

  • Kettlebell Turkish Get Up – 1 rep each side
  • Repeat – 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Fundamental way to become great at the Turkish Get Up. Start with 1 rep on each side, then 2 reps, then 3, and so on. See how many reps you can complete on each side without putting the kettlebell down. If you can make it to 5 reps on each side then start coming down again, so 4 reps, then 3, then 2 and finally 1. Climbing all the way up to 5 reps and back down again is a total of 25 reps each side.

Related: Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

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8– Dream Team

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swing – 20 reps
  • Kettlebell Turkish Get Ups – 1 rep each side
  • Repeat – 10 rounds max

Double Handed Swing for 20 reps followed by 1 Turkish Get Up on each side. Repeat for up to 10 rounds and 200 swings and 10 Turkish Get Ups each side.

Related: Top 7 floor based kettlebell core exercises

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9– Dice Pair

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swing – 1st dice + 0
  • Kettlebell Turkish Get Ups – 2nd dice
  • Repeat – 20 mins max

A fun way to keep your workouts interesting, using the 2 most fundamental kettlebell exercises, the Swing and Turkish Get Up. Throw 2 dice or one twice. Add a zero to the first so if you throw a “5” that’s 50 swings and use the second for the number of Turkish Get Ups. So if you throw a “5 & 2” that’s 50 swings and 2 Turkish Get Ups each side. See how many rounds you can complete in 20 minutes.

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Fat Burning Kettlebell Circuit Training for Beginners

10– Kettlebell Basic Circuit

  • Kettlebell Single Handed Swing – 30 secs each
  • Kettlebell Overhead Press – 30 secs each
  • Kettlebell Clean – 30 secs each
  • Kettlebell Racked Squat – 30 secs each
  • Rest 60 secs – Repeat 3 times

A simple but effective circuit that helps you work on your flow from one exercise to the next as well as the basic exercises. Swing for 30 seconds on each side followed by Pressing each side, then Clean each side and finally Squat each side.

Set your timer for 30 seconds each side and try not to put the kettlebell down or stop and rest. The whole circuit takes 4 minutes. Work up to 3 circuits resting for 60 seconds between circuits.

Related: Complete guide to the kettlebell overhead press

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11– Kettlebell Basic Circuit 2

  • Kettlebell Single Handed Swing – 30 secs each
  • Kettlebell Clean – 30 secs each
  • Kettlebell Lunge – 30 secs each
  • Kettlebell Squat & Press – 30 secs each
  • Rest 60 secs – Repeat 3 times

The same format as the workout above except using slightly more advanced exercises. Move onto this circuit once you can comfortably complete circuit #10 3 times.

Related: Stop Banging Your Wrists and Clean Like a Pro

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12– Kettlebell Circuit Overload

  • Kettlebell Single Handed Swing – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Clean & Press – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Lunge – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Squat & Press – 30 secs
  • Repeat other side
  • Rest 60 secs – Repeat 3 times

Again similar to the workout circuits above except this time you perform all the exercise on one side before changing and performing them all on the other side. You will find this circuit more difficult than the ones above because it overloads one side of the body.

Related: Are you ready for the one hand kettlebell swing?

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13– Kettlebell Big Circuit

  • Kettlebell Turkish Get Up – 60 secs each
  • Kettlebell Single Handed Swing – 60 secs each
  • Kettlebell Overhead Press – 60 secs each
  • Kettlebell Racked Squat – 60 secs each
  • Kettlebell Reverse Lunge – 60 secs each
  • Kettlebell Sit & Press – 60 secs
  • Rest 60 secs after each exercise

A circuit based workout but this time 60 seconds on each side and a rest after each exercise. So Turkish Get Ups on the left for 60 seconds then immediately onto the right for 60 seconds. Next rest for 60 seconds and then move onto the next exercise. You can make this workout even more challenging by adding in 10 burpees into the 60 second rest period.

Related: 16 Kettlebell Lunge Variations from Beginner to Pro

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14– 7 Minute Kettlebell Circuit

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swings – 20 reps
  • Kettlebell Bob & Weave – 20 reps
  • Fast Mountain Climbers – 20 reps each side
  • Repeat for 7 minutes

This workout only lasts for 7 minutes. Perform a circuit of: 20 Double Handed Swings, 20 Bob & Weaves and 20 Fast Mountain Climbers, as many times as possible in 7 minutes.

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15– 7 Minute Kettlebell Circuit 2

  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Alternating Reverse Lunge – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Sit & Press – 10 reps
  • Repeat for 7 minutes

Another 7 minute workout that uses the same format as the one above. Complete all 3 exercises as a circuit for 10 reps each. Complete as many circuits as possible in 7 minutes.

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Strength Building Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners

16– Kettlebell Clean & Press Density

  • Kettlebell Clean & Press – 5 reps each side
  • Repeat – 15 minutes

Gain strength quickly by performing the Clean and Press for 5 reps each side, as many times as possible in 15 minutes. Once you have mastered the Clean & Press work on adding someextra weight an really challenging yourself.

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17– Pressing Ladder

  • Kettlebell Overhead Press – 1 rep each
  • Repeat – 2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1

Using this ladder format is another way to gain strength very quickly with the Overhead Press. Begin by pressing 1 rep on each side and then 2 reps and then 3 reps, then 4 and finally 5. Next keep pressing as you work your way back down to 1 again. Once completed you will have Pressed 25 reps on each side.

Related: 3 kettlebell ladder workouts for strength

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Kettlebell Core Workouts for Beginners

18– Windmill Ladder

  • Kettlebell Windmill – 1 rep each
  • Repeat – 2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1

Using the same format as the above workout you can build up your core strength and flexibility by increasing the amount of reps you perform each round by 1. Work up to 5 reps and then back down again if possible for a total of 25 reps each side.

Related: Master the Kettlebell Windmill Exercise with 4 Logical Progressions

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19– Get Up & Plank

  • Kettlebell Half Get Up – 5 reps each
  • Front Plank – 30 seconds
  • Repeat – 5 times

Work your core hard by performing 5 Half Get Ups on each side followed by 30 seconds of the front plank. Work up to 5 rounds and 60 seconds of front plank for each round.

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20– Plank & Press

  • Side Plank – 30 secs each side
  • Kettlebell Sit & Press – 60 secs
  • Repeat – 5 times

Begin with 30 seconds of the Side Plank on each side followed by 60 seconds of the Sit & Press. Your eventual goal is 60 seconds of the Side Plank each side and 5 complete circuits.

Related: 7 best kettlebell ab exercises

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Motivational Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners

21– Movement Ladder

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swing – 30 secs / rest 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Alternating Lunge – 30 secs
  • Push Ups – 30 secs
  • Repeat adding an extra exercise each round

Set your timer to beep every 30 seconds. Begin by Swinging for 30 seconds. Next rest for 30 seconds. Then Swing for 30 seconds and Goblet Squat for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Continue adding an exercise each round until you complete all 4 exercises before resting. Next come back down the ladder by removing an exercise each round from the front of the list.

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22– Single Sided Movement Ladder

  • Kettlebell Single Handed Swing – 30 secs / rest 30 secs
  • Burpee – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Reverse Lunge – 30 secs
  • Push Ups – 30 secs
  • Fast Mountain Climbers – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Sit & Press – 30 secs
  • Repeat adding an extra exercise each round

The same format as the workout above except this time the Swings and Lunges are one sided so you would perform the left side on the 1st round and the right side on the 2nd round and continue alternating sides throughout the workout.

Related: What kettlebell weights to use for different kettlebell exercises

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23– Reps Countdown

  • Kettlebell Squat & Press (Thruster) – 10 reps
  • Burpee – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Sit & Press – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swing – 10 reps
  • Push Ups– 10 reps
  • Repeat – 9, 8, 7 , 6 etc

A motivational circuit that starts with you performing 10 reps for every exercise. Next complete the circuit for 9 reps, the 8 reps, then 7 reps and so on down to 1. At the end of the workout you will have completed 55 reps of each exercise, that’s a total of 275 reps. Time yourself completing the workout and see if you can finish it quicker next time.

Related: How to master the kettlebell thruster exercise

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24– Single Sided Countdown

  • Kettlebell Windmills – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Forward Lunge – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Sit & Press – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Racked Squat – 10 reps
  • Repeat – 9, 8, 7 , 6 etc

This circuit follows the same format as the workout above except that the Windmills, Lunges and Squats are all performed on alternating sides each round. For example, 10 Windmills Left, 9 Windmills Right etc.

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25– Monster Movement Ladder

  • Fast Mountain Climbers – 30 sec / rest 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swing – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat & Press – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Alternating Lunge – 30 secs
  • Squat Thrust – 30 secs
  • Push Ups – 30 secs
  • Kettlebell Sit & Press – 30 secs
  • Repeat adding an extra exercise each round

A demanding movement ladder that adds a new exercise into the circuit every round. Start with 30 seconds of Fast Mountain Climbers, then rest for 30 seconds. Next 30 seconds of Fast Mountain Climbers and 30 seconds of Double Handed Swings. Continue adding an exercise each round until on the final round you are performing all 7 exercise without a rest.

If you are feeling brave you can then come back down the ladder by reversing the format and removing an exercise each round.

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Conclusion

When you first start training with kettlebells it is important to work on the basic exercises. The better you can become at the basics the more effective your kettlebell training will become and the less injuries you will receive.

With this selection of kettlebell workouts for beginners you now have no excuses to ever get bored or reach a plateau with your training.

Keep practicing and let me know about all your superb results 🙂

Have you tried any of these kettlebell workouts for beginners? Let me know more below…

Blog

The internet can be both a blessing and a curse when you’re trying to find the right information. Especially when it comes to kettlebells… even the names of the exercises sound strange.

For a mere mortal It could be very easy to just give up and possibly miss out on one of the greatest pieces of equipment ever created.

Well don’t worry! Thousands of fitness instructors have attended my courses over the years and in turn tens of thousands of people attend one of my Kettlercise® Kettlebell Group Fitness Classes every year.

So you’re in the right place to start your Kettlebell journey. Here’s what we are going to look at together:

1. What do Kettlebells actually do?

2. Types of Kettlebell training and The Kettlercise System.

3. What weight Kettlebell should I start with?

4. 7 Key Kettlebell Exercises to get you started

5. Your first sessions

6. Workout Plan

7. Where to Now? Your next Steps.

Ok, so let’s start at the beginning. What do Kettlebells Actually Do?

Without giving you a History Lesson… its relatively agreed that the humble bell over the years has mainly been used as a show of Strength and Power.

The Local village folk would gather at the summer fair and the men would proceed to show off their skills by how heavy or how many times they could lift the kettlebell in an array of various exercises. I’m sure you’ll get the principle.

These days it’s slightly different with the introduction of sports science things have become a little more structured and are now used as a serious training tool.
…and with the right designed Program will help with:

• Fat Loss
• Muscle Tone
• Rehabilitation
• Stamina (Endurance)

It can still be obviously tailored to:

• Strength
• Power
To what degree depends on what you’re after but whatever you decide upon, you’ll still need to follow the basic principals for setting the foundations (that I’ll outline in a minute). But first let’s have a look at the types of Kettlebell training.

Types of Kettlebell Training and the Kettlercise System:

This is where some confusion lies, certainly on the World Wide Web.

Generally kettlebells have two distinct types of training – ‘hard style’ also known as traditional or ‘soft style’ also known as Girevoy sport or Kettlebell sport.

Here’s the difference I have summarised to keep it relatively light.

Hard Style / Traditional
It’s normally done for repetitions of let’s say 1-30 times of a given exercise or for let’s say about 30-60 sec’s of time. Similar as you would in a gym: 10 squats, rest and repeat. This is the most common one used by gyms and trainers around the world even if they sometimes appear to get it wrong (and they often do).

Soft Style / Kettlebell Sport
It’s normally done for time let’s say 10 minutes of a given exercise.
(Long cycle training) you would try and swing a kettlebell as many times as possible over 10 minutes. There are some subtle differences in technique which I won’t touch upon in this article.

The Kettlercise Training System:

Kettlercise is Based on the traditional side of kettlebells with some modern day sport science behind it. And its all Purpose is this Fat loss. Body tone.

This is achieved by something called PHA or Peripheral Heart Action Training. With this method we generally alternate exercises that work the lower body and then the upper body, or front to back. Then in the more advanced training, we put several together into what’s called a complex (but don’t worry about this for now…).

This is what happens when the body has to quickly shunt the flow of blood from one extremity to another depending on which muscles are working at the time.

There by helping the body maintain an intensity that will use more energy in turn burning more calories (Those pesky Fat stores) with added benefit and its this EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) or more commonly known as the ‘after burn’ effect.

Your body is literally going to continue to Burn Calories (body fat) for hours after you have finished your workout. Now that’s what we like to call a win/win formula!

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So what weight Kettlebell should you use?

It used to be said that a Male should start with a 16KG Kettlebell…That’s about 36LB’s.

It was also said that a Female should start with an 8KG Kettlebell… That’s about 18LB’s.

Which is Complete Bull and for a couple of reasons.

The main reason (in the modern era) is that the smallest weight you could buy up until around 12 years ago was an 8KG (18lbs). So it made sense the ladies started with an 8kg and the next size up jumped to a 12kg (26lbs) then 16kg (35lbs) and so on….not in small increments as they do these days. You can now buy Kettlebells from 2kg to 100kg and more or less any number in between.

The Second Reason it’s Complete BS is imagine going into a gym and its your first day the trainer takes you over to the treadmill and says;

“Right get on! As you’re a woman I need to set you off running at 12mph.”

“I don’t think I can run at 12mph… I’ve never done it before.”

“Well get on!”

At which point on you get and the trainer turns it straight up to the 12mph and BOOM of you fly in a heap on the floor. The trainer comes over shaking his head looking down at you sprawled out…

“Aww well never mind guess it looks like you can’t use the treadmill…”

“But can’t I walk or run slower to begin with?”

“Nope, it says here Women have to run at 12mph, Men at 20mph.”

“Why?”

“Look, Rules are Rules.”

“Who created the rule?”

“I’ve no idea… think it was someone called Internet.”

“Well that’s stupid!”

“Well, maybe you should try the Bike.”

“Is there a minimum speed?”

“Oh Yes! 20mph for Women 25mph for Men.”

“I think I ll give it a miss.”

I’m still shocked by how many trainers or ‘Gurus’ say it.

The truth is everyone is different.

You start from where you are now, learn the technique and build from there.

However, if you are wanting to start the Kettlercise Training system we do have a Kettlebell Size guide to help:

IMPORTANT: Please check our recommended Kettlebell KG chart against your current level of fitness before ordering:

Ladies Levels: Current Exercise/Fitness Level Recommended Kettlebell Weight Kg/lbs
Absolute Beginner For someone that has never done exercise before or considers themselves very unfit. 2kg/5lbs
Beginner If you feel your fitness is ok but still class yourself as a beginner. 4kg/9lbs
Intermediate If you class your fitness as very good 6kg/13lbs
Ultrafit If you class your fitness as extremely good and have done a lot of resistance training before. 8kg/18lbs
Mens levels: Current Exercise/Fitness Level Recommended Kettlebell Weight Kg
Beginner For someone that has never done exercise before or considers themselves very unfit. 6kg/13lbs
Intermediate If you feel your fitness is ok but still class yourself as a beginner. 8kg/18lbs
Advanced If you class your fitness as very good 10kg/22lbs
Ultrafit If you class your fitness as extremely good and have done a lot of resistance training before. 12kg/26lbs

IMPORTANT: If in doubt ALWAYS start with a lighter weight

** The above are recommendations and guidelines only. Always consult your GP before commencing regular fitness and exercise activity.

7 Key Kettlebell Exercises to Get You Started

Let’s now have a look at some of the Kettlebell Exercises we are going to use later in the workouts:

Basic Exercise 1: Two Hand Kettlebell Swing

Major Muscles worked:

  • Hamstrings (Your Muscles at the back of your legs)
  • Glutes (Your Butt)
  • Core (Your Abs)

How to do the Two Hand Kettlebell Swing:

  • Kettlebell should be centered
  • Keep your back muscles tense, and your shoulder down and pull back to avoid the shoulder joint moving forward
  • Brace abs hard in the bottom position to keep your hips square and avoid unnecessary rotation of torso
  • Swing kettlebell slightly behind and as kettlebell reverses movement powerfully drive upwards with hips to project kettlebell outwards and upwards
  • Keep a slight natural bend in the arm as kettlebell travels upwards
  • Let the kettlebell return naturally back through the legs and repeat the procedure

Two Hand Kettlebell Swing Position #1

Two Hand Kettlebell Swing Position #2

Two Hand Kettlebell Swing Position #3

Basic Exercise 2: Kettlebell One Hand Bent Over Row

Major Muscles worked:

  • Latissimus Dorsi (Your back)

How to do the One Hand Kettlebell Bent Over Row:

  • Adopt a wider than shoulder width stance with kettlebell in one hand
  • Flex knees slightly and bend over at hips whilst keeping your back flat
  • Slowly draw the elbow back close to your body until wrist finishes near waist
  • Smoothly return to start
  • Keep core muscles contracted to help maintain neutral spine position

One Hand Kettlebell Bent Over Row Position #1

One Hand Kettlebell Bent Over Row Position #2

Basic Exercise 3: Goblet Squat

Major Muscles worked:

  • Quadriceps (Muscles at the front of your legs)
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

How to do the Kettlebell Goblet Squat:

    • Take hold of Kettlebell by the bell and hold in front of your chest.
    • Slowly sit down and back into a squat position with the top of the thighs level with the floor, keeping your head up.
    • Return to start position by pushing up through your heels.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat Position #1

Kettlebell Goblet Squat Position #2

Basic Exercise 4: One Hand Shoulder Press

Major Muscles worked:

  • Deltoids (Your Shoulders)

How to do the One Hand Kettlebell Shoulder Press:

  • From rack position (Image 1) press your arm overhead rotating palm towards the front
  • From the side the bell should be in line with the shoulder
  • Return to the rack position by turning your hand immediately as the kettlebell descends not letting your elbow move out from the body

Kettlebell Shoulder Press Position #1

Kettlebell Shoulder Press Position #2

Basic Exercise 5: One Hand Clean:

Major Muscles worked:

  • Hamstrings
  • Core (Abs)
  • Glutes

How to do the One Hand Kettlebell Clean:

  • Grasp the kettlebell with one hand and assume swing stance position with the kettlebell hanging at arm’s length
  • Drive through with your hips and draw arm vertically whilst using upper back muscles
  • Let elbow slide slightly to the side of the body and rotate wrist externally to help kettlebell rotate around forearm and land in rack position. Keep the arm relaxed
  • Hips should be fully locked at this position
  • Upper arm should be braced against torso with fist opposite sternum (Chest plate), palm facing in
  • Return to start by tilting elbow and flipping kettlebell over wrist and sitting back into start position at same time.

One Hand Kettlebell Clean Position #1

One Hand Kettlebell Clean Position #2

Basic Exercise 6: One Hand Kettlebell Swing Snatch

Major Muscles worked:

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Core
  • Upper Back
  • Shoulders

How to do the One Hand Kettlebell Swing Snatch:

  • Adopt basic hip drive position with Kettlebell in one hand
  • Swing Kettlebell behind and then drive with the hips to project the Kettlebell above head in one smooth action
  • As the Kettlebell reaches face height bend the arm slightly and let the bell begin to flip over the wrist (it shouldn’t bang on the back of your arm)
  • Finish movement by punching in to the air and straightening the arm on top
  • From here cast the kettlebell slightly and let the arm follow the same line of trajectory as the upward movement
  • Sit back in to the basic hip drive set position while bracing the abdominals
  • Let the kettlebell swing through the legs as you do this and then drive back upwards again
  • Repeat on the other side

One Hand Kettlebell Swing Snatch Position #1

One Hand Kettlebell Swing Snatch Position #2

Basic Exercise 7: Windmill

Major Muscles worked:

  • Obliques (Ab muscles at the side of your body.. AKA, ‘Love handles’)
  • Lower Back

How to do the Kettlebell Windmill:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart with one foot at somewhere between a 60 degree angle and a 90 degree angle, depending on what you feel comfortable with to the other and the kettlebell in the bottom hand.
  • Bend the lead leg slightly and raise the other arm vertically.
  • Fold at hips, keeping your back leg straight and reach towards floor with other hand.
  • Push your hips in the opposite direction to the leaning side while keeping arm vertical as you fold over at hips.
  • Keep looking up at vertical hand throughout movement as we advance and place a Kettlebell in the upper hand, you’ll need to keep your eye on it (trust me!)
  • You should feel this in the opposite oblique/lower back muscles to the side that you are bending to and probably feel a stretch on the inner thigh

Kettlebell Windmill Position #1

Kettlebell Windmill Position #2

Your First Sessions

This is where most people go wrong. It’s a bit like putting flat pack furniture together without reading the instructions first! Everyone wants to ‘dive straight in’ and get going straight ‘out of the gate’.

Before you know it you’ve one shelf going east and another one going west and with a load of left over screws (which is extremely frustrating)! I’ve obviously never done that… and on the odd time that I might have done, the instructions were wrong… well that’s my take on it anyway.

However, on a more serious note if you set off wrong with Kettlebells you could hurt yourself.

You have to nail the fundamentals first… do this and you’ll move forward quicker with your fitness goals. Trust Me!

Your first session should be to learn the Kettlebell SWING and Guy has broken it down in to 3 Simple Steps:

Spend 10 minutes just learning this stage. Do 10-20 Repetitions. Rest for 20 sec’s and go again. Repeat 5-10 times. You should start to feel your hamstrings working (that’s the muscles at the back of your legs). Notice he hasn’t got a Kettlebell yet. DON’T go to Stage 2 until you’re comfortable here.

Same again with Stage 2. Do 10-20 repetitions. Rest for 20 sec’s and go again. Repeat 5-10 times.

It’s time to put everything together. Try to do 10 Repetitions and then rest for 30-60 Seconds. Repeat 4-5 Times.

Now we’ve done this, let’s give the legs a rest and have a look at Exercise 2 (The One Hand Kettlebell Row).

Kettlebell Row without Bell Position #1

Kettlebell Row without Bell Position #2

1. Let’s just practice the position without the Kettlebell.

2. Have a go with the Kettlebell and do 10-12 Repititions on both your left and right side. Rest for 60 Seconds, then Repeat 4-5 Times.

Remember… Rome wasn’t built in a day and all we’re doing at this stage is laying foundations. You can practice all the above exercises without the Kettlebell. In the next section, we’re going to look at some examples of beginner workouts.

Beginner Workouts

Before we start our workout, we first need to get the blood flowing around the system and warm the muscles up for what’s about to come…

Let’s start just by:

1. Walking on the spot for 1 minute and just gently rolling the shoulders as we go (we didn’t think you’d need a picture for this one)

2. Next, let’s go back and practice the ‘Hip Drive’. This is basically the ‘Two Hand Kettlebell Swing’ but WITHOUT the Kettlebell for 1 Minute.

Kettlebell Swing without Bell Position #1

Kettlebell Row without Bell Position #2

3. Now let’s start to stretch the body a little by going in to the ‘Windmill’. Do 45 sec’s on the left side then swap over and do 45 sec’s on the right.

Kettlebell Windmill without Bell Position #1

Kettlebell Windmill without Bell Position #2

4. Last warm up exercise the kettlebell ‘Goblet Squat’ but again WITHOUT the kettlebell for 30-45 sec’s then just shake out the legs and arms.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat without Bell Position #1

Kettlebell Goblet Squat without Bell Position #1

I would use this warm up for this entire workout. REMEMBER: This IS BEGINNER LEVEL At this stage we are NOT getting ready to enter the Olympics!! That’ll come later..

As I mentioned earlier, Kettlercise® uses the PHA method of training so we are going to move the work from one end of the body to the other.

Here’s 3 Beginner Kettlebell Workouts formulated in the Kettlercise style:

The 4 Exercise Mini Kettlercise® Circuit

1. Two Hand Swing – 1 Minute
2. One Hand Row – 30 Seconds each side
3. Goblet Squat – 1 Minute
4. Shoulder Press – 30 Seconds each side

Once you’ve done all 4 exercises rest for 1-2 minutes, and then repeat 5-6 times. So in total from start to finish 30-40 minutes. Don’t worry if you don’t hit the minute’s first time out, just DO WHAT YOU CAN do safely and then move on… we’ll get there!

Here’s Another 4 Exercise Mini Kettlercise® Circuit

1. Two Hand Swing – 1 Minute
2. Windmill – 30 Seconds each side
3. Kettlebell Clean – 30 Seconds each side
4. Bent Over Row – 30 Seconds each side

Once you’ve done all 4 exercises rest for 1-2 minutes, and then repeat 5-6 times. So in total from start to finish 30-40 minutes. Let’s Turn It Up A Bit!!!

The 6 Exercises Mini Kettlercise® Circuit

1. Two Hand Swing – 1 Minute
2. Bent Over Row – 30 Seconds each side
3. Swing Snatch – 1 Minute
4. Windmill – 30 Seconds each side
5. Kettlebell Clean – 30 Seconds each side
6. Shoulder Press – 30 Seconds each side
This is a little toughter so we can repeat 4-5 times but still resting 1-2 minutes at the end of the circuit.
As we move forward, see if we can get the rest time down until it’s continuous with no rest.

Where to now? Your Next Steps

Well Congratulations, we’ve covered quite a bit here on our short time together and you’re probably asking yourself ‘What Now?’

It’s time to take it up a level… with that in mind, I’ve put together a ‘Sample’ of our Kettlercise Transformation Program with our ‘Tri-Plate’ Nutritional Guide at a Fraction of the Normal Price – Just Click on the Link Below.

HAVE FUN!

Would you like to get Started on your Body Transformation?
The NEW Kettlercise® 6 Week Program is Out Now!

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You won’t believe what it includes… Click on the Link to ‘Take the Tour’ 👉 http://bit.ly/6WeekInferno

Kettlebell workout for beginners

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