Kettle bells can be used for a variety of exercises that improve both your strength and cardiovascular fitness. And, if you want to learn more about the benefits of working out with a kettle bell, we’ve got that covered, too.
Russian strongmen in the 1700s developed kettle bells as implements to build strength and endurance. You’ve probably seen depictions of bare-chested carnival strongmen hoisting them over their heads.
Using lighter kettle bells at first allows you to focus on using the proper form and technique for the different exercises. Fitness experts suggest using kettle bells with the following weights if you’re at an intermediate to advanced level with your strength training:
Aim to add more reps each week, then work toward adding more sets as you build strength. Push your hips backward, and bend your knees to reach the kettle bell handles.
Firmly grip the kettle bells, keeping your arms and back straight. This is an excellent exercise to boost both your muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.
While your shoulders and arms will do a lot of the work, most of the effort should come from the hips and legs. Engage your abdominal muscles and set your shoulders back.
Exhale as you make an explosive upward movement to swing the kettle bell out in front of you. Squats are an excellent lower- body exercise that work your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, as well as your abdominal muscles.
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out slightly. Slowly bend both knees so that your thighs are almost parallel to the floor.
Using your leg muscles, with your upper body still, straighten up to your starting position. With both hands around the handle, hold the kettle bell close to your chest.
Alternatively, you can hold a kettle bell by the handle in one or both hands, with your arms at your sides. Slowly step forward with your left leg, bending your knee while keeping your right foot in place.
A great exercise for working your abs and obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen that run from your hips to your ribs), the Russian twist can also be done with a weighted medicine ball or barbell plate. When using a kettle bell, be sure to keep a firm grip so that you don’t drop it on your lap.
Sit with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Holding the kettle bell handle with both hands, lean back so that your torso is at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
With your heels a few inches above the floor, rotate your torso from right to left, swinging the kettle bell slightly across your body. Push ups target your chest, triceps, and core muscles.
When your chest is even with the kettle bell handles, exhale and push your body back up to its starting position. There are many benefits to working out with kettle bells, for both men and women, across all age groups.
According to a 2019 study, a kettle bell workout is a highly effective way to improve your strength, aerobic power, and overall physical fitness. Compared to resistance circuit-based training, the same study found that a regular kettle bell workout is just as effective at improving cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength.
A 2013 study reported that participants who completed an 8-week kettle bell training session saw noticeable improvements in their aerobic capacity. Kettle bell exercises have the ability to restore muscle mass and improve grip strength in older adults, according to a 2018 study.
According to Harvard Health, kettle bell exercises can also help improve your posture and balance. You typically use your core muscles more with kettle bell exercises than with dumbbells or barbells.
If possible, ask a certified personal trainer at your local gym or fitness center to show you the proper form for kettle bell exercises. Stop immediately if you feel sudden or sharp pain.
A little mild soreness after a workout is normal, but you shouldn’t feel sudden, sharp pain while working out. Kettle bells can take a little getting used to, but working out with them is a highly effective way of improving your muscle strength and cardio fitness.
If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Case in point: Studies show that training with kettle bells yields pretty incredible improvements in aerobic capacity and strength, Pinocchio P, et al. (2013).
Transference of kettle bell training to strength, power, and endurance. Effects of kettle bell training on postural coordination and jump performance: A randomized controlled trial.
We turned to Rob Slaver, a trainer and coach and the founder of Bandana Training, for this workout. He put together a routine that will help you feel comfortable using a kettle bell — all while delivering a head-to-toe sweat session.
You’ll perform a strength move in which your movement is slow and controlled. Then, you’ll perform a power move in which your movement is explosive — without sacrificing proper form.
Since the power exercises can be challenging for beginners, Slaver suggests sticking to a lighter weight until you master the movements. Check out the GIFs below for a quick guide to executing these movements properly and safely.
Targets: Hamstrings, glutes, abs, back, shoulders Bend knees slightly, hinge forward at hips, and maintain a flat back.
Use the momentum to return to standing, drive your hips forward, and squeeze your glutes. Bring the kettle bell up to shoulder height, still keeping arms straight.
Grab a kettle bell with an overhand grip and straighten your arms. Start in a squat position and grab the kettle bell with an overhand grip using both hands.
As you stand, bring the kettle bell under your chin and lift elbows above shoulders. Grab the kettle bell in right hand and drive your body upward.
As you stand up tall, bring the kettle bell up over your head with a straight arm. Keep arms straight and make sure wrists are facing one another.
Lift right hand off the floor, gripping the kettle bell and drawing elbow back behind you. When done right, a few kettle bell exercises can provide a muscle-burning challenge and an effective full — body workout for both men and women.
Like all exercises, it takes dedication and perfect form to reduce the risk of injury. One benefit of using a single kettle bell during your workout can be improving symmetrical balance.
Use the 1-arm swing to improve erector spinal muscle conditions on the opposite side (contralateral) of the body Use the 2-arm swing to strengthen the rectus abdominal (abs) muscles on both sides This can also lead to heavier lifts in other areas, especially when your grip strength has also improved.
Working with the kettle bell can look easy, but proper form is key to prevent injury and get the most out of each exercise. If you’re looking for ways to build mass, abs, or weight loss, try the exercises in this kettlebellworkout.
Hinge at the hips and grab the kettle bell with both hands in an overhand grip. As the weight comes back down, you should end up in a partial squat once the bell is in between your legs.
Keep your arms straight throughout and your knees over your toes, maintaining a lumbar curve in your spine. Increase the volume of reps and sets once you get the hang of it, along with kettle bell weight.
Get a killer workout with the kettle bell renegade row, perfect for men wanting to improve their upper- body muscles. Concentrate on holding the plank at all times, even if your reps take longer.
Pull the bell up to your torso (rib cage), squeezing that shoulder blade towards your spine as you lift. This is a great kettle bell exercise for men wanting to perfect the squat and work out their glutes.
Grab one kettle bell with each hand, holding the horn of the bell against your chest. Squat back and down, like you’re attempting to sit down, keeping your weight at the center of your feet.
Advanced tip: Feel the burn by adding another kettle bell and performing a racked squat. Perform walking lunges with kettle bells to work on your balance and strengthen your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
Both squats and lunges will help with building a solid lower- body foundation of symmetrical muscle. Begin by lifting a kettle bell in each hand with an overhand grip, allowing them to hang at your sides.
This kettle bell exercise will work out your shoulders, traps, and upper back to help build serious mass. If you struggle with the bottom phase of certain exercises, the push press can help reduce fatigue.
Start with the kettle bell at your shoulder and begin to press up with the bell until your arm is fully extended. Finish the reps on one side before switching the bell to the other hand to repeat and complete the set.
This kettle bell dead lift will work the lower body, posterior chain, and core. Maintain a proper stance throughout — flat back, weight in your heels, chest up, core engaged.
Begin by hinging at the hips, lowering down to grab the kettle bell handle in an overhand grip. Pause for a second and then lower back down to the starting position in a slow, controlled motion.
For men (or women) who need to stabilize their shoulders and build a solid foundation for other lifts, this is a must-try. Grab the handle with the arm closest to the floor and then wrap your other hand over top.
Keeping the bell close to your body, roll over so that your back is flat on the floor. The bell should be on your chest, with your bottom knee bent and foot flat on the floor (the other leg is straight).
Use both hands to lift the kettle bell, keeping a straight wrist, and make sure your shoulder is comfortable. Take your top hand and place the arm at a 45-degree angle to the side of your body.
Grab the kettle bell with your other hand and move back to the fetal position to reset for the next rep. Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSI DLA Inc. products or the contents of this article.
Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program. Old School Labs is the maker of premium supplements that carry on the fitness values of the “Golden Era” of bodybuilding.