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The Ultimate Handbook for Mastering Kettlebell Workouts

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  • Post last modified:September 25, 2023

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a fitness center, you’ve likely observed kettlebells in the weight room. But why opt for one of these oddly-shaped weights over a set of dumbbells?

Since most kettlebell movements involve a swinging motion, this kind of weight training activates your entire body rather than just your arm, shoulder, and back muscles. “Kettlebells challenge your body through cardiovascular movement unlike any other piece of equipment,” explains Holly Roser, a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. In fact, kettlebell training is such a effective exercise that you can strengthen your entire body solely through kettlebell training.

Interested in learning more about kettlebell workouts? Here’s what you need to understand about kettlebell training — from the advantages of using kettlebells to proper form and beyond.

What Is Kettlebell Training?

“Kettlebell training entails the utilization of a weight that has a handle in a ball shape with the intention of incorporating a swing,” explains ShaNay Norvell, a personal trainer certified by the National Sports Performance Association. Kettlebells range in weight from as little as 1 pound all the way up to 100 pounds, and kettlebell training exercises are incredibly adaptable and engage the entire body. Some movements necessitate additional strength from the legs and hips. Others involve swinging the kettlebell from one hand to the other. “The swinging motion immediately involves the core and considerably raises heart rate, resulting in cardiovascular benefits,” says Norvell.

Kettlebell training has been around much longer than you may realize — for hundreds of years, in fact. Kettlebells are one of the oldest types of fitness equipment in history, dating back to ancient Greece. The first version of a swingable weight, known as a haltere, was invented in the fifth century B.C. But kettlebells, as you are familiar with them today, were popularized by Pavel Tsatouline, a former trainer for the Russian Special Forces and author of The Russian Kettlebell Challenge. This kettlebell training manual was employed by Russian soldiers and Olympic athletes to attain peak physical performance.

What Equipment Is Used In Kettlebell Training?

“The advantage of working with a kettlebell is that it doesn’t necessitate additional equipment aside from the kettlebell and your body,” says Norvell. To safeguard your feet, wear flat-soled strength training shoes that provide proper stability when engaging in kettlebell training.

You might also wish to employ an workout mat for every kettlebell workout executed on the ground.

Advantages of Kettlebell Training

Kettlebell training offers a gentle, comprehensive workout that fortifies muscles and enhances cardiovascular well-being. Here are the primary advantages of kettlebell training.

Reinforces Core Muscles

Desire to enhance your core strength and stability? Kettlebell training is unquestionably the most potent weight training technique for activating your core. “Due to the [kettlebell’s] shape, your body has to exert more effort to lift and swing it,” clarifies Roser. Traditional kettlebell movements, including the trendy kettlebell swing, necessitate continuous core engagement to maintain lower body steadiness, which accounts for the exceptional core-strengthening effectiveness of kettlebell training.

Enhances Cardiovascular Health

What do you achieve when you combine strength training with cardiovascular exercise? The heart-pounding advantages of kettlebell training. Specifically, kettlebell swings are particularly effective for cardiovascular fitness when compared to other workouts. Studies have discovered that kettlebell swings offer a superior cardiorespiratory challenge than conventional circuit weight training, greater cardiovascular benefits than a Tabata workout, and equivalent heart rate exertion as running on a treadmill — just to mention a few.

Provides a Low-Impact, Comprehensive Workout

One significant advantage of kettlebell training is that it allows you to exercise your entire body, affirms Norvell. Kettlebell exercises engage the muscles of both the upper and lower body, such as the hamstrings and glutes, as well as the upper body muscles encompassing your back, shoulders, and arms. Since one or both feet remain in contact with the ground during kettlebell exercises, kettlebell training is regarded as a low-impact workout, meaning it won’t place excessive stress on your joints.

Offers Accessible Weight Training

Conventional strength training exercises, such as using the squat rack or selecting heavy dumbbells, can be discouraging, even for regular gym-goers. Opting for a kettlebell allows you to bypass the dominance of bro-centric gym equipment, and the kettlebell delivers a workout that’s equally effective to training with heavier weights. In a recent study, researchers determined that swinging a 17-pound kettlebell produced comparable strength training outcomes to performing 52-pound kettlebell deadlifts. So if you seek the benefits of intense lifting without the burden of heavyweights, kettlebell training may be ideal for you.

The Finest Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell training possesses great versatility, as it can be easily customized to align with individual fitness objectives and requirements. Here are a few essential kettlebell exercises to become familiar with.

Kettlebell Swings

Mastering a kettlebell swing is an absolute necessity for kettlebell training. This maneuver is well-liked in kettlebell workouts and serves as the groundwork for intermediate and advanced kettlebell exercises. To properly execute the kettlebell swing, begin with your feet hip-width apart and your kettlebell on the floor slightly in front of you, states Roser. With a level back and bent knees, lift the kettlebell with both hands and hike it back between the legs. Then, propel the kettlebell ahead by utilizing your hips and glutes.

“The concept is to utilize the force from your hip hinge to bring the kettlebell to shoulder height or slightly below shoulder height,” Roser continues. Keep your back level throughout the movement, and activate your core to safeguard your lower back.


A kettlebell halo exercise involves a circular motion that imitates a “halo” shape (thus the title). Grasp the kettlebell by the handle, then circle around the head pausing in front of the chest and alternating the direction each time, clarifies Norvell. Halos engage your upper body along with your core and obliques, and they can be performed standing for a full-body workout or kneeling to isolate the upper body and core.

High Pulls

This full-body exercise is ideal for kettlebell novices. To execute a high pull, initiate with the kettlebell on the ground and your feet wider than hip-width apart. Squat down and grasp the kettlebell by the handle with both hands. Drive your feet into the ground as you extend your legs to stand. Concurrently, pull the kettlebell up toward your chin, concluding with your elbows elevated in a Y-shape. Lower the kettlebell and allow your arms to hang long, then squat down to touch the kettlebell to the ground and repeat.

Searching for additional kettlebell exercises? Try these maneuvers:

The Finest Kettlebell Workouts

Desire to incorporate kettlebell training into your workout regimen? Attempt kettlebell training two to three times per week if you’re a novice, recommends Norvell. You understand your body best, but to commence, attempt performing four or five distinct kettlebell exercises, such as the ones mentioned above, repeating 15-20 times per exercise for three sets each.

Here are a few more kettlebell workouts to contemplate:

If you’re new to kettlebell training, commence with lighter weights (5 to 10 pounds) while grasping proper form and technique. Then progress to heavier kettlebells, advises Norvell.

“Because there are some [kettlebell] maneuvers that are very demanding to your core, there is a risk of herniating a disc or pulling a muscle,” warns Roser. Before moving on to more advanced kettlebell movements or increasing kettlebell weight, consider collaborating with a fitness professional

Work with a trainer to assist you during these exercises, as kettlebells are quite demanding and necessitate the activation of the appropriate muscles to attain optimal outcomes,” explains Roser.

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