Kettlebell Training for Fitness and Strength

man working out with 2 kettlebellsKettlebells seem to be everywhere these days, and many people are naturally a little suspicious about them. People ask if they work. The first response to this question must be, what are you trying to achieve? Whether you are looking to lose weight or tone up, or both, then kettlebells do work.

Kettlebell workouts fill the gap between pure cardio workouts and weight training workouts. Exercising with kettlebells quickly raises your heart rate and allows you to work up a sweat. In addition to this, they work the glutes and thighs, so make a great toning exercise as well as fat burner and muscle builder.

Great Workout For Powerful Legs

Many people make two false assumptions when they see kettlebells:

  • They are only suitable for strong men
  • They only work the upper body

A kettlebell workout is a great form of exercise for women. Why? Well, kettlebells work the glutes (butt muscles) and thighs. These are two areas which women are looking to tone up. They work the core muscles and hips as well as exercising shoulders and improving grip strength.

Kettlebell Workout

Before you start a kettlebell workout it is important to warm up. Start by doing around 50 bodyweight squats and a few gentle waist twists. This workout focuses on kettlebell swings and works the lower back, glutes and thighs.

This workout repeats the same set several times. Take it easy the first time to learn how to handle the kettlebell. Focus on building the momentum when swinging with your legs and hips and not by using your back and arms.

  • 20 Double Hand Swings
  • 10 Single Hand Rows on Left
  • 10 Single Hand Rows on Right
  • 20 Single Arm Swings on Left
  • 20 Single Arm Swings on Right
  • 10 Shoulder Presses on Left
  • 10 Shoulder Presses on Right

The Basic Exercises and Progressions video below shows 2 arms swings, single arm swings, and one arm presses (shoulder presses). Repeat this sequence and you have a kettlebell circuit.

The exercise sequence works both your lower and upper body. The two hand swings to start help to get your warmed up , and work the thighs, glutes and hips, as well as lower back and arms. Then the rows give your legs a chance to recover. The single arm swings provide a much tougher workout and help to improve grip strength and coordination. The shoulder presses give your legs another rest before repeating the workout.

This is a simple routine that will get your heart rate raised and works the whole body. Keep your feet well planted, and make sure you have a safe space to exercise in. If you can repeat this workout 3 times without difficulty then you need a heavier kettlebell. This workout will burn fat and build powerful legs. Many martial artists use kettlebells to develop a strong stance.

Not a Fad

Kettlebells are not a fitness fad – they are a simple and effective tool for exercising at home. You can get a good workout which will burn more fat than an exercise bike. It will tone muscles better than a cross trainer. You only need enough space to stand in and swing the kettlebell between your legs. Their popularity is because no equipment is needed other than the kettlebells, and because they provide a more dynamic workout than standard free weights.

Many people like the kettlebell for its simplicity. The style of exercise performed with kettlebells more dynamic than standard free weights. Kettlebell workout programs are more explosive and develop more functional strength than traditional bodybuilding routines.

All Sizes Available

Kettlebells come in all sizes, so can be part if a cardio workout, or as part of a more serious strength training program.

The following videos show beginners kettlebells training, aerobic style workouts and more advanced, dynamic routines. The final videos demonstrate some specific movements, and the dynamic and explosive nature of kettlebell training.

This form of training can provide good results for martial artists, as timing and grip strength play an important role in the training. Kettlebells help you get toned and fit at home with limited space and equipment.

Kettlebell Basics – Introduction to the Kettlebell

This 10-minute video clip shows some simple exercises that are done with one kettlebell. The intro is pretty intense, the basic exercises are much easier. Well instructed by Steve Cotter.

Kettlebell Workouts – Basic Exercises and Progressions

This clip shows a series of kettlebell exercises. The exercises shown are clear and easy to follow. Exercises include the one handed swing with alternate hands; one handed clean; double cleans; bottoms up squat; one handed rack squat; two handed rack squat; plus some press variations.

Aerobic Kettlebell Workout on the Beach

Kettlebell training is not just for men. Here we provide a Women’s aerobic style kettlebell workout on the beach. Lighter kettlebells can be used for a better cardio / aerobic workout. This workout is lead by celebrity trainer Ryan Shanahan.

Kettlebell Training From Russia

This Russian kettlebell training video shows a dynamic and energetic kettlebell workout. This form of training develops functional, athletic strength.

Kettlebell Two Arm Swing Workout

This is a good tutorial for one of the basic kettlebell moves: the two arm swing. This exercises the hips, thighs, glutes, hamstrings, back and shoulders.

Concentrate on keeping the movements fluid and aim for perfect form all the time.

The power should come from the hips and waist and not the arms. If your shoulders get tired quickly, you need to use more hip movement to generate momentum.

The 1 Arm Kettlebell Training Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the foundation exercises for producing a solid core. The kettlebell exercise helps to strengthen the core and lower back.

Kettlebell Woodchop Instruction

The Woodchop is one of the best exercises for a dynamic and plyometric workout which builds athletic muscle. This movement requires a strong stance. It uses hip extensions and rotations with a large swinging motion.

The Turkish Get Up

The Turkish Get Up is a simple exercise that works the core muscles. It is almost impossible to explain how to do a Turkish Get Up. From lying down on your back your press a kettlebell upwards, then lift yourself up off the floor into a standing position. See, this explanation really does not help, so instead, here are some videos:

5 Drills to Breakdown to Turkish Get Up

This is one of the best videos. It provides some strength moves to work on the muscles you need to perform this. This tutorial is from The Art of Strength who specialize in kettlebell workouts.

Kettlebell Athletics Turkish Get Up

This tutorial shows Turkish get ups from a cage fighters perspective.

Jeff Martone Lifts A Woman (Ana Browne) with a Turkish Get Up

If you thought that you had to have a kettlebell to do a Turkish Get Up, think again. This video shows Jeff Martone lifting Ana Browne using the Turkish Get Up exercise.

Now it is your turn.

If you are new to this type of exercise start light. Practice many times without a weight, just keeping your arm help up straight the whole time. Then move on to kettlebells or dumbbells once you are confident with the movements.

Professional Kettlebell Instructors Explaining the Turkish Get Up

Jordan Vezina, a professional fitness instructor, talked to about the Turkish Get Up exercise in 2008. He explains how to do a Turkish Get Up with a kettlebell, a barbell and a sandbag. His main tip is: “Whether this be a kettlebell, barbell, or dumbbell, be prepared to ‘ditch’ it if you start to lose control.” – always have an escape route planned! Read more:

Jordan Vezina runs where he showcases various exercises and also discusses various aspects of sports performance training.

Kettlebells are a great way to exercise. What makes them good is that you can exercise anywhere – at home, in the gym or even in the park. People of different strengths can train together easily by using different size kettlebells.

New kettlebell classes are springing up all the time and we recommend that you get some proper instruction before you start exercising on your own. Learn good form early on to avoid injuries and sprains. This form of exercise is very hard but also very rewarding.

12 Comments on “Kettlebell Training for Fitness and Strength”

  1. MotleyHealth says:

    I just did this workout. The first circuit was OK, on the second my thighs failed me on the right hand single arm swings. I really underestimated how hard kettlebell swings work the thighs. Made three sets in the end.

    The rows were a little too easy, but then I have been doing rows and pull ups with free weights. The shoulder presses were challenging enough, equivalent of a 32kg (70 pound) bar, but having to utilize more supporting muscles, more like dumbbell presses.

    Today was supposed to be a light weight training day (following this weight training schedule) but as my new kettlebell arrived today I made a quick change of plans.

    Cannot wait until the next one. Plan to progress on to some single arm swaps, one arm kettlebell cleans and maybe attempt the Turkish Get Up.

    Good fun learning new fitness workouts!

  2. I’m not sure what those moves in the videos have to do with martial arts, but yeah kettlebells are a great way to get a quick workout and keep in shape. Many martial artists could do to expand their fitness regimens and do a bit more of the general purpose fitness training that kettlbells are so good at.

  3. I’ve been doing kettlebells for six months now – 15 lbs. I’ve noticed my lower abs, shoulders and back get more definition. Not only that, they are just plain fun! My favorite moves are the swing and deadlift. Sometimes the dumbbells and barbells can get boring but kettlebells definitely add another element to your workout. They are not even expensive to buy, I’ve got mine on a clearance blowout sale at the mall. They are good to travel with too.

  4. MotleyHealth says:

    Yeah, I enjoy my kettlebell. Only have a 16 kg one but did attend a class earlier in the year where there were many to pick from. The power cleans were fun to do. Have you tried a Turkish Get Up yet? They are a bit tricky. I do recommended finding a class or instructor to take you through the moves if possible.

  5. I actually have a few DVD’s that I use that take me through the proper form for kettlebells. I haven’t tried a Turkish Get Up yet. I understand that’s like the ‘mac daddy’ of kettlebells moves, lol. It’s something to definitely work toward.

  6. Homer Perkins says:

    So, how EXACTLY do you set up your kettlebell workouts to burn maximum amounts of fat?

  7. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Homer, the key is really to plan a workout that allows you to exercise for around 60 minutes. This will include some non-kb exercises such as jogging, stretching, crunches and push ups, as well as a variety of swings. Kettlebells are great for burning extra calories as they do provide a balance between pure strength training and cardio. However, use a weight that is too heavy and you will exhaust yourself too soon. So, use a lighter weight and pump out more reps.

  8. Hello, I watched the Steve Cotter video. Excellent. However, the next 6 videos are not available to watch. Please help with this and thanks!

  9. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Lisa, I shall get on to this asap. Thanks for letting me know.

  10. MotleyHealth says:

    Lisa, where are you? I ask because I can view all videos OK (I am in the Uk). I am wondering if the content is blocked in some other countries.

    Do you see a message when you try to play the videos?

  11. Hi, Im in the U.S.A. The videos I stated that are missing.. its just a blank white space and when I click on them, it goes nowhere. Maybe its my smartphone being stupid again. I wish my phone would pull up the videos though. I will definately try a laptop pc although I dont own one. I learned about Scott Iardella’s dvd on kettlebells for beginners. But its $47. Well worth the money from an expert when a trainer cant be sought out where one lives. We’re not all loaded with money either. Do you offer anything in dvd for beginners? Thanks!

  12. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Lisa, I just checked on my Android phone and the Youtube videos are not showing on that either. Sure they used to though. If you have a Youtube app on your phone then you should be able to view them. I may see if I can get these bundled up on our YouTube page for quicker navigation.

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