A kettlebell workout is different from other types of strength training routines you may have tried. It offers a more holistic form of training that targets multiple muscle groups at once. That makes kettlebell workouts a great option if you're looking to build strength as well as fitness. But what exactly are the 7 best kettlebell exercises? More about that in this blog!
The kettlebell has a long history dating back to the days of Russian strongmen in the early 18th century. The purpose of the kettlebell then was the same as it is now: to build strength and fitness. When training with kettlebells, you take the same precautions as when training with weights. In other words, make sure you have mastered the technique well and only build up the weight slowly when the technique is perfect.
7 best kettlebell exercises
The kettlebell swing (Russian or American) is a basic kettlebell movement that prepares you for more challenging exercises. The swing targets many of the same muscles as the deadlift while also using your arms and shoulders. Kettlebell swings are a fundamental move and probably one of the most popular kettlebell exercises. It's important to have the right form here, so make sure you perfect your technique.
Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell in front of your body with both hands. Keep your arms straight and move your hips back, bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight. Swing the kettlebell back through your legs. Then straighten your legs and swing the kettlebell forward to shoulder height (Russian swing) or overhead (American swing). Push your hips forward and contract your abs and glutes as you stand. When the kettlebell is at shoulder height/overhead, your knees are straight, your glutes engaged and your hips pushed forward.
Kettlebell Farmer's Walk
The kettlebell farmer's walk may seem like a simple exercise, but the next time you need to bring in the groceries, you'll appreciate your efforts. The kettlebell farmer's walk is a great example of how kettlebells help us with functional fitness. In addition to your back and hips, this move will also engage the muscles in your hand and forearm, increasing your grip strength. So you can safely say that this exercise offers a full body workout.
Start with a kettlebell on either side of you. Squat down and do a deadlift with both kettlebells. Then walk a certain distance or a certain number of laps. This kettlebell exercise is harder than it looks, especially over longer distances. Make sure you maintain the correct posture at all times.
Kettlebell goblet squat
The kettebell goblet squat targets the thigh muscles, but also engages the core. Because these are large muscle groups, you burn a lot of calories while performing the goblet squats. When you take less weight, but do several, fast repetitions, your heart rate will also increase!
You can do this exercise with one or two kettlebells. Beginners start with one kettlebell for the classic goblet squat.
Stand upright with a kettlebell in both hands at chest height. Your legs should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Exhale as you bend your knees and make sure to keep your back straight as you lower your body. Inhale as you return to the starting position.
To use two kettlebells, follow the same sequence, holding a kettlebell at shoulder height in each hand.
Kettlebell Turkish Get up
Together with the kettlebell swing, the kettlebell Turkish get up delivers enormous results. The Turkish get up is very different from the swing as it targets the small stabilizing muscles to develop a solid base of motion.
The kettlebell Turkish get up helps develop the small stabilizing muscles and ensures that the larger shoulder muscle has a solid base to work from. Each hip joint is connected to the opposite shoulder via a 'sling system' that traverses the body. Get ups develop this 'sling system' and thus naturally improve rotational power for other movements. Turkish get ups are also great for mobilizing the hips and upper back. Flexibility in the hips and upper back ensures that the lower back does not have to twist excessively and protects against possible back problems.
The Turkish get up is a fairly complex movement and difficult to describe in words. This video explains the movement step by step.
Want to speed up your heart rate and engage almost every muscle in the body? Then the kettlebell thruster is the ideal exercise for you. The kettlebell thruster is a complex combination of a kettlebell squat and a kettlebell overhead press. The kettlebell squat should provide the momentum to bring the kettlebell up and into the top position.While kettlebell thrusters can look easy when performed correctly, it's a more advanced kettlebell exercise that requires a certain amount of skill and conditioning.
The kettlebell thruster has many benefits, including:
- You use more than 600 muscles in one movement
- Great cardio exercise without moving your feet
- Burn a lot of calories in a short time
- Perfect for developing explosive movements
The kettlebell thruster can be performed in three ways: two arm thrusters, single arm thruster and double kettlebell thruster. With all variants you hold the kettlebell(s) in front of your body in the starting position. You lower down into a squat and from bottom position you rise again and use your momentum to push the kettlebell overhead.
Kettlebell Clean & Press
The Kettlebell clean and press is a powerful exercise that combines upper and lower body strength. Not only do you strengthen your shoulders and core, you also improve your grip and train your forearms.
The kettlebell clean and press provides more or less a full body workout. This move is great for conditioning, building muscle, and is also beneficial for cardiovascular health (especially when used as part of a circuit).
Start holding the kettlebell in one hand at shoulder height with your elbow bent. Make sure your back is straight. This is a one-arm workout. Stretch one arm out at your side. Now lift the kettlebell above your head. Pause briefly at the top and lower your arm to the starting position. Repeat the sequence with the other arm.
The kettlebell windmill is a complex kettlebell exercise that works the entire body, but emphasizes improving strength and stability in the obliques, glutes, and shoulders. You'll also improve core strength and improve flexibility in the hamstrings and hips. The kettlebell windmill is an advanced move that can only be performed when you already have reasonable stability, strength and flexibility.
With the kettlebell windmill you train the body to perform more challenging tasks in everyday life. For example, if you have to bend over and reach to the side to pick up something under a bed or table.
When you first try the windmill, use a smaller/lighter kettlebell or no weight at all. As you become more familiar with the mechanics of the movement, you will be able to do the movement with more weight.
- Start with feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Toes can turn out just slightly to allow for a wider range of motion.
- Grab the kettlebell with your right hand and extend the right arm above your head. Your right palm should face forward.
- Extend the left arm down in front of your left thigh with the palm facing forward. In this position, your arms can look like two windmill arms.
- Hinge at the hips to lower the torso down and to the left side. Your left hand will remain facing forward as it slides toward the front of your left leg toward your foot. Keep the right arm steady and fully extended overhead. In the lowest position (with the left hand close to the left foot) the torso will be tilted to the left, but turned slightly to the right. If you do it right, you'll feel some weight shifting in your right hip.
- Reverse the movement, lifting the body and keeping a strong straight spine. Keep the weight steady and elevated above the right shoulder.
- Return to the starting position and start over. Make sure to maintain a strong, straight spine throughout this move.
As you have read above, using a kettlebell is an excellent way to build strength in your shoulders, back, hips, legs and arms. Kettlebells provide the added benefits of functional movements that can positively impact everyday life.
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