Let’s be clear: kettlebells are not at all like dumbbells. Sure, both fitness tools are weighted and pack a punch when it comes to upping your strength. However, what makes kettlebells different than dumbbells is that the weight is unbalanced and offset. Meaning they kick in your core and require balance and coordination to use properly, mimicking objects you might use in your everyday life, which makes them an excellent source of functional fitness.
And let’s not forget they torch calories while helping you build strength and muscle. So if you haven’t worked with a kettlebell before, you definitely need to give it a try at your next sweat session. While you’re at it, you’ll also want to check out this sweat-inducing kettlebell workout created by Jillian Michaels, health and fitness expert and creator of the My Fitness app.
For all modifications Michaels recommends doing less reps and/or reducing weight. Get ready to sweat!
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25 – 50lbs (for women)
Works: Hips, Glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, lats, delts.
Form: This is an explosive swing. The hips are a hinge. This is not a squat for a front raise. Don’t lean back at the top of the swing.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out, and knees slightly bent; look straight ahead. Hold a kettlebell between your legs using a two handed, overhand grip.
- Keeping your back straight, bend your hips back until the kettlebell is between and behind your legs; squeeze your glutes to extend your hips and swing the weight up.
- Let the weight swing back between your legs as you bend your hips and slightly bend your knees; if it hits you in the butt, you’re doing it right. Extend your hips and knees to then shift the momentum as you immediately begin the next rep.
Turkish Get Up
10-20lbs (for women)
Works: Deltoids, Hips, glutes, abs.
- Place the kettlebell next to the shoulder on the side you’re working.
- Roll to your side and cradle the kettlebell with both hands. Working hand grips the kettlebell, the opposite hand covers it.
- Roll onto your back and lock out your arm holding the bell so the arm is perpendicular to the floor (in the working arm)
- Bend the knee on the side of the body that’s holding the kettlebell.
- Place the opposite arm on the floor approximately 45 degrees out from the body.
- Drive from the foot on the working side and roll up onto your elbow. Once you’re stable at the elbow, roll up onto your hand.
- Lift your hips off the ground high enough to be able to move your outstretched leg under your body.
- Support yourself on one arm, the heel of the straight leg, and your planted foot. (Three contact points.)
- Keep your arm extended vertically the entire time.
- Take your straight leg and pull or sweep it under your body, placing it next to and behind the hand on floor.
- Keep your gaze up looking up at kettlebell.
- Take the opposite hand off the floor and sit up, keeping the kettlebell overhead. Now shift gaze to look forward.
- Shift leg that’s on the ground so that both legs are now parallel to each other, in a lunge position.
- Drive from your back foot, through your hips, and into your front foot, standing up from the lunge.
- While still looking forward, step back into the lunge so that your knee is on the floor.
- Bring the back leg to perpendicular from the front leg.
- Place the hand (not holding the bell) in front of the knee on the floor.
- Stick your leg straight out in front of you and put your booty on the ground.
- Roll down to your elbow, and then down onto your shoulders and back.
Double front squat
10- 20lbs per kettlebell (for women)
Works: quads, glutes, upper back, biceps.
- Clean the kettlebells into the rack position, resting on your forearms, biceps, and shoulder with a neutral wrist position. Then interlock your fingers.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes straight or slightly pointed out. Look straight ahead.
- Hold a kettlebell between your legs using a two handed, overhand grip.
- Inhale and lower straight down into a squat position, making sure you stay on your heels and keep your hips underneath you the whole time.
- Exhale and press back up into start position.
Double bent row
10 to 20lbs per kettlebell (for women)
Works: Back, Biceps
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and two kettlebells in front of you.
- Hinging at the waist grab the kettlebells and bend your elbows to pull the bells to your rib cage, palms facing in towards the body.
- Then extend your arms back to the start position and repeat.
Double clean press
*This has a huge variation so unless you’re with a pro let’s play it safe.
10lbs per kettlebell for beginners
25lbs for intermediate / advanced. Very advanced can safely do more but only if you have mastered this movement.
Works: quads, hamstrings, glutes (clean).
Deltoids, triceps, chest (press).
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Keep your upper arms against your sides, shoulder blades drawn in toward the spine and use a pulling up motion.
- Immediately use an uppercut motion having both bells end up in rack position (resting on your forearms, biceps, and shoulder with a neutral wrist position).
- From the Rack Position, press the kettlebells straight up to lockout and then lower kettlebells back into the Rack Position.
- Drop the weight smoothly into a swing and repeat.
Perform each exercise for one minute. Do each move in swift succession as a circuit. Rest one minute between each circuit (no rest between exercises) Four rounds.
A version of this story was published February 2020.
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