Are you looking for a great workout that fuses strength and cardio with minimal equipment? This kettlebell workout will help you build strength and burn fat for the ultimate total body routine.
A kettlebell is a cast-iron, ball-shaped weight with a single handle attached to the top of it. It is this unique design that sets kettlebells apart from other types of weights (e.g. dumbbells). Because the weight of a kettlebell is not distributed evenly, it requires more core stabilization and balance to maneuver.
The 5 Best Kettlebell Exercises
If you’ve seen these popping up at your local gym or fitness retailer, but aren’t exactly sure how to incorporate them in your workouts, then you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn the five best kettlebell exercises plus how to combine them for a full-body workout.
1. Goblet Squat
The goblet squat is one of the easiest kettlebell exercises to learn, and it’s very effective for building all-over strength. While squatting is one of the fundamental movement patterns, it’s nice to switch things up. The goblet squat is a great exercise to add to your squatting routine.
To perform a goblet squat, begin in a standing position with the ball of the kettlebell in your palms and close to your chest. From here, lower down into a squat position. Allow your knees to point out and your hips to drop below your knees, if possible. Drive through the heels to bring yourself back up to a standing position. Don’t forget to squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement!
2. Reverse Goblet Lunge
Similar to the goblet squat, the goblet lunge takes toning a step further by focusing on single-leg movement. With this exercise, you’ll not only increase strength and cardiovascular endurance, but you’ll work on your balance and hip flexibility as well.
Begin by holding the kettlebell at your chest like you did in the goblet squat. Step one foot behind you into a lunge. If your front knee pokes out over your ankle, take a bigger step backwards. Drive through the heel of your front foot to come back to the standing position you started in. Perform this movement on the other side.
3. Kettlebell Strict Press
The kettlebell strict press is similar to the dumbbell strict press, but unlike the straight bar on a dumbbell, the curved handle will allow you to work naturally with your shoulder joint’s plane of motion. The kettlebell variation also requires more power, making it more than just a shoulder workout. It’s a full-body exercise.
Begin by holding the kettlebell at your shoulder, fingers faced forward. Brace your core, inhale, and on your exhale, use your entire body to press the kettlebell overhead. Inhale to carefully lower it back down to shoulder height.
The high-pull is an isolated shoulder movement. I love performing this movement after a more intense shoulder exercise, like the strict press, for that ultimate burn-so-good feeling.
Begin by holding the kettlebell in both hands below your waist. Use your shoulder strength to lift the kettlebell up to your face as you point your elbows out and up. Pause for a moment before lowering back down.
5. Kettlebell Swing
The kettlebell swing is the most popular and powerful kettlebell exercise. It will get your heart pumping for an excellent cardiovascular workout while helping you build strength. There are a number of different ways to kettlebell swing, but today we’ll cover my favorite, the Russian-style kettlebell swing.
Before we get started, I want to cover some of the mechanics and techniques that make up a really great kettlebell swing.
First, it’s important to point out that the swinging movement comes from the strength of your legs and the hinge of your hips, not from your arms. It may appear from the pictures that the swing originates from the arms and hands, but that isn’t the case.
If you aren’t familiar with hip-hinging, here’s my best analogy. Think of your hips as the hinge to a door, your feet, legs and glutes as the wall the door is attached to, and your torso as the door itself. Just like the wall your door is attached to, your lower body should be firm, strong and unmovable. Your hips will act as the hinge to move your torso, like the door, back and forth.
The hip-hinge and kettlebell swing take practice. If this is a new concept to you, I recommend practicing a few times with little or no weight to perfect the hinging movement. While you want a tight grip on the kettlebell to make sure it stays in your hands, resist the urge to swing with your arms. Allow the strength to come from your lower body and the movement to come from your hips. Your upper body is just along for the ride!
Now that you’ve learned 5 of the most fundamental kettlebell exercises, let’s combine them for a circuit workout that will not only help you build strength and tone muscles, but will get your heart pumping for a great cardiovascular workout as well!
This workout is a countdown-style circuit workout. Begin by performing 5 reps of each movement listed above, starting with the Goblet Squat and ending with the Kettlebell Swings. When you get to the bottom of the list, rest for 60 seconds and then perform 4 reps of each exercise, again starting from the top of the list and working your way down.
Continue working your way down the list, performing one less rep each round until you’ve performed just 1 rep of each movement. If you’re more advanced and want to take this workout up a notch, start the circuit with 10 reps and work your way down to one.
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