If you’re looking for a great workout that uses only one piece of equipment and targets many of the large muscles in the body, give the kettlebell a try. The kettlebell is a simple, yet effective tool that can add a great deal of versatility to your regular routine. Kettlebell workouts target a variety of muscle groups helping you build power and strength like no other piece of equipment, all while burning more calories.
Getting Started with a Kettlebell
If you’re new to the kettlebell, take a few minutes to get acquainted with this piece of equipment:
- Ball: The ball is the large, heavy sphere at the bottom of the kettlebell. Some people say it resembles a cannonball.
- Handle: The handle is the top part of the kettlebell that attaches to the ball. You can hold a kettlebell on the top of the handle, on the sides, or near the bottom of the handle where it attaches to the ball.
Selecting the proper weight is important when performing a kettlebell workout. Someone new to working out may want to start with a lighter weight – 18lbs is generally recommended for women and 35lbs is recommended for men. If you’ve been working out for a while and can handle a heavier weight, you can still consider going a little bit lighter than you think until you have your form perfected.
Holding the Kettlebell
Before you start swinging the kettlebell around, take a few minutes to get used to holding it and performing a basic hinging motion. Try this practice movement:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
Repeat this motion several times until you get a hang of the movement. Not doing this motion correctly can increase the risk for injury to your hips, knees and lower back.
Once you are comfortable with the form and motion needed to hinge correctly, you can give the Kettlebell Swing a try. This exercise, is perhaps, the most well-known exercise using the kettlebell. To perform this exercise:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell placed in front of you on the floor
A couple of key points make this exercise more effective and less dangerous:
- Don’t lean back at the top of the swing
- Make sure that the motion is active and deliberate, and not a passive swinging of the bell
- Ensure that the movement is a hinge and not a squat
Proper form is essential when starting a kettlebell. Make sure to take your time and master both the hinge and swing correctly before you move on to the more advanced exercises. Go slowly and really focus on each movement
The KettleBell Exercises
You aren’t just limited to the kettlebell swing; read on for 10 additional beginner kettlebell workouts.
- Halo (targets the shoulders)
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Hold the bell by the handle in front of the chest with the ball on top
- Lift the bell to the right side of the face, slowly (and carefully!) circle it around the head to the left side and return to the starting position at chest height
- Repeat by alternating sides
- Rows (targets the upper back, shoulders, biceps and abs)
- Hold the kettle bell in one hand with both arms hanging at your side
- Step forward into a slight lunge using the opposite leg
- Bend forward at the waist, keeping the back straight
- Lift the kettlebell straight up the side and into the chest
- Lower it back down slowly
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then step back into a standing position
- Repeat on the other side
- Push press (targets the shoulders, triceps, abs, and legs)
- Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart
- Place your hand through the handle and hold the kettlebell at your shoulder (the ball of the bell should be resting on the back of your wrist)
- Squat and press the kettlebell over your head as you are standing up
- Bring the kettlebell back to your shoulder
- Repeat to the desired number of repetitions and then switch sides.
- Squat and curl (targets the biceps, upper back, legs and abs)
- Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart
- Using both hands, hold the kettlebell handle at your chest
- Drop into a squat and perform a bicep curl
- Return to standing and repeat as desired
- Tricep press (targets the abs, shoulders and triceps)
- Stand with your legs together
- Hold the kettlebell with both hands at the base of the handle
- Take a small step forward and slightly bend your knees
- Lift the bell straight above your head
- Perform a tricep press by bending the elbows (keep them close to your ears) and lowering the weight behind your head
- Straighten your arms and repeat the movement
- Deadlift (targets lower back, legs and glutes)
- Begin by standing with your feet together and the kettlebell in one hand
- Lift the opposite foot off the ground while bending your upper body forward, and lowering the kettlebell towards the ground
- Keep your back straight and return to your starting position
- Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions and then change sides
- Turkish get up (targets the whole body)
- Begin by lying on your back while holding the kettlebell in your right hand straight up towards the ceiling. Keep your right knee bent.
- While keeping your right arm straight up, move into a sitting position and place your left hand on the floor next to you.
- Use your left hand to push into the floor and lift your pelvis.
- Bring your left leg underneath you so that you are kneeling on it. Your left hand is still on the floor and your right hand is still pointing straight up into the ceiling.
- Move into a standing position.
- Reverse these movements until you are lying down again.
- Repeat a few times with the right arm, and then switch sides.
- Clean to rack (targets legs, back, abs, arms)
- Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell in one hand with your palm facing you.
- Lower into a squat so that the kettlebell is between or below your knees.
- Stand up and swing the bell into your chest, so that your thumb is now at the center your chest and your hand is between the handle and the bell, with the ball resting on the back of your wrist. Make sure to keep your elbow at your side.
- Lower back to starting position and repeat to the desired number of repetitions.
- Switch sides.
- Chop lunge (targets thighs, glutes and core)
- Begin by standing with your hip-width apart.
- Place your right hand through the handle and hold the kettlebell at your shoulder. The ball of the bell should be resting on the back of your wrist. Place your left hand on top of the right.
- Step forward with the left leg into a lunge.
- Twist into the lunge (to the left) and lower the kettlebell to your left hip.
- Step back into your starting position and repeat to the desired number of repetitions.
- Switch sides.
- Lateral lunge and bicep curl (targets legs and biceps)
- Begin by standing with your feet together. The kettlebell should be in your hand at your side with your palm facing you.
- Use the opposite leg to step into a lateral lunge.
- Using a hinging motion, bend slightly forward and lower the kettlebell between your knees, with your palm facing inward.
- Perform a bicep curl by bending your elbow and gently lifting the kettlebell into your chest. Release the curl and return to a standing position.
- Switch sides and repeat.
There are many different ways that you can incorporate a kettlebell into your regular workout. If you’re ready to take the next step and give this amazing piece of fitness equipment a try, check out MarcyPro to get started!