Make Friends with Kettlebells

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rack of different colored kettlebells of various weights

I know, these funky-looking weights can seem a little weird if you’ve never tried them before.  And I guarantee you don’t have to have a certain qualifying percentage of Eastern European heritage in order to use them effectively!  Kettlebells are lean, mean fat-burning machines (well, technically you are the machine in this equation- but you get the gist of it) so I encourage you to make friends with them.

And hey, if you’re designing your own home gym, I encourage you to add a kettlebell or 2 (if not a whole set) into the mix. These bad boys are not just great strength and muscle builders but also provide that much-needed variety for your stale cardio routines – especially for folks that experience cold-weather winters and go stir crazy on the treadmill or other types of indoor cardio equipment.  Kettlebells are that fresh spin your body’s been craving. Calorie-incinerating, arm-toning, ab-tightening – what’s not to love?  If you’re new to kettlebells and not sure where to start, here are several standard exercises to get your muscles pumping.

Kettlebell Deadlift

  • Put some arch in your low back, pivoting slightly at the hips
  • Squeeze your glutes as you squat down, ensuring your back keeps its form
  • Grab the kettlebell with a full belly of air
  • Keep your arms at full extension as you rise


woman does around-the-world kettlebell exercise

  • Hold the kettlebell in your right hand
  • Swing the bell out in front of you with an extended arm
  • Grab with your left hand as the weight passes your naval
  • Swing it behind you, grabbing the weight again with your right hand
  • After 4-6 rotations, switch the direction for 4-6 more
  • Try not to whack your butt too much!

Front Squats

  • Clean the kettlebell up to your chest and hold with both hands
  • Stand with your feet slighter wider than shoulder-width
  • Put a mild arch in your back (like the deadlift above), and point your chin up slightly
  • Descend until upper legs are right at parallel with the ground
  • Stand back up, avoiding lock-out in your knees

Two-Arm Kettlebell Row

  • Pick up 2 bells and hold them against the front of your thighs in an upright position
  • Hinge at the waist while keeping the upper back flat, bend knees a bit
  • Draw the kettlebells up to your waist together, keeping arms close to your sides
  • Hit 8-12 reps

Kettlebell Half-Get-Up

woman does get-up exercise with red kettlebell

  • Lie down on your back with legs out
  • Grab the kettlebell and then extend your right arm fully
  • Bend the left knee and surge up, with your left arm propping up your body in a triangle
  • Transition to sitting, then carefully reverse the movement; repeat 8-10 times

Kettlebell Swing

  • Grab the kettlebell handle with both hands, while keeping your feet wider than shoulder width apart
  • Start the movement by thrusting the hips forwards (as opposed to using the arms) and pinching the glutes
  • Let the arms continue the swing’s momentum until the bell comes up to face level
  • Control the swing in the downward motion too for safety and eccentric muscle training
  • Go for time: start with sets of 20 seconds – even go with a Tabata routine once you’re comfortable with the movement

woman swinging kettlebell

An efficient kettlebell circuit offers you a fantastic complete body blast leading to a bullet-proof core and excellent recruitment of multiple muscle groups for functional fitness training.  Prepared to give these monsters a shot? Trying putting the exercises above to work for you next time you’re bored with your tired old cardio routine, or if you need a change from the weight routine you’ve been using since high school.  You might just reap some impressive results in much less time than expected – and just in time for summer!

Work these individual exercises in here and there, or even try a full kettlebell-only workout up to 3 times a week to guarantee a nice metabolic shake-up to usher in some new weight loss.


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