Kettle bells are some of the most versatile, efficient tools you can have in your exercise repertoire—and as this year proved, people love them and consider them essential. Click here to join to access even more top-level fitness tips. Thanks to the implement's unique shape, which places the rounded load beneath the handle, kettle bells are perfect for swings, presses, and carries from different positions that you wouldn't attempt with dumbbells.
You can work your arms, of course, but also your legs, chest, back, core, posterior chain—really, you can use kettle bells to train your whole body. You get the same unilateral capabilities you get with a dumbbell, and the shape of the kettle bell make them an even better option for single-arm, multi-joint movements like cleans and snatches.
There's also an entirely distinct training modality that has gained popularity thanks to the utility of kettle bells: the flow. The front rack can be used for moves like squats, lunges, walks—really anything focused on your lower body.
Using either one or two kettle bells, you'll hold the load in such a way (demonstrated above) that you'll be forced to engage your core to prevent your torso from tipping over. This simple, incredibly effective movement is a great way to build shoulder stability while working the core.
Try the exercise for 10 to 20 reps per side to start before adding extra features, like the kneeling position in the video or even a squat, for more of a metabolic impact. Goblet Pulse Squat Crush your legs with a little bounce with this dynamic exercise.
Your upper body will get a challenge, too, since you'll be using your arms and bracing your core to keep the kettle bells in the racked position. Try 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps, lowering down into position slowly and pausing at the bottom to create a ton of tension.
Turkish Getup This multi-part movement takes some time and coordination to master, but it's an effective full body exercise once you nail every step. Keep the weight light to start (run through the first few times without any), then add heavier loads as you progress.
If you're bold, set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes, then alternate 5 reps per arm for the whole period. Since you can easily hold and maneuver the implement, you can use it as a load for some traditionally body weight movements.
Perform 4 sets of 12 reps of all or any of the moves individually, or hit them back-to-back as a circuit with no rest as a workout that will torch your whole body. This short workout uses four full body moves to torch off calories—so you'll be feeling its effects for a lot longer than it takes to finish the routine itself.
30:60:90 Bodywork Blast your body with this intense interval ladder from trainer Hannah Eden. Take the longer approach with this routine designed to ramp up your metabolic conditioning.
Brett Williams, NASA Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men's Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.
They’re simple but offer more than enough ways to make challenging, creative sweat sessions. These workouts were designed by Tyler Mango, a fitness instructor at Brick New York.
Even though there are programming and exercise carryovers throughout these routines, they’re distinct enough so that you’ll keep getting results as long as you don’t stick to any one workout for too many weeks on end. It’s a good idea to have your home equipped with a nice set of kettle bells—you never know when you’ll be stuck inside, especially during the winter.
These 10 workouts were provided by Luke Elton, C.S.C.S., SCAC.P.T., a competitive powerlifting coach and weight-training instructor based in New York. A lighter kettle bell used for a few sets of higher reps (15+) will promote muscular endurance.
A heavier kettle bell used for multiple sets of a few reps (5-8) will promote more hypertrophy and strength. In both cases, choose a kettle bell heavy enough so that you’re nearing muscle failure by the end of the set.
Because ours will teach you how to handle a kettle bell using Mega Man and Mario references. Once you’ve watched the video above (featuring Matt Shorts, a lead trainer in our 1-on-1 Coaching Program) here’s a quick recap with repetitions for the workout here:
Prior to jumping into the kettle bell circuit, don’t forget to do some mobility warm up (you can see our warm-up routine here): Nothing too crazy, just something to “grease the groove” and get your body used to movement so you don’t pull any muscles once you start swinging the kettle bell.
In other words, preparing your muscles and joints to move some weight around! A few minutes of running in place, air punches and kicks, some jumping jacks and arm swings, should get your heart rate up and your muscles warmed for the KettlebellWorkout.
Your muscles are broken down when you strength train, and then they rebuild themselves stronger over the following days of recovery! Don’t forget to download our Beginner Kettle bell Worksheet, which covers the above sequence from Coach Matt.
You can print it out and track the amount of sets and repetitions you complete, which will help ensure you progress in your training. Let’s go over each exercise in the 20-Minute Beginner KettlebellWorkout:
Tip from Coach Matt: with your halos, remember to keep the movement smooth. Grab the kettle bell with two hands “by the horns,” aka the handle.
Tip from Coach Matt: for the goblet squat, focus on depth. It’s more important to practice doing a full squat than to pump out reps.
Tip from Coach Matt: when doing the overhead press, get tight. Tightening your muscles will engage your core, offering a fuller body workout.
Tip from Coach Matt: during the kettle bell swing, focus on hinging your hips. The swing is like a dead lift movement, so you should feel it in your hamstring and glutes.
Pick up the kettle bell by driving your elbow up into your rib cage. Tip from Coach Matt: try to keep your back straight and stomach tight during the row.
This will help engage your legs for stabilization as you pull the kettle bell towards your stomach. Grab the kettle bell with one hand and rest the weight between your arm and chest.
Step your leg back (the same side your kettle bell is on) and lower down until your shin is parallelism with the ground (or as low as you can). Tip from Coach Matt: for the lunges, again keep your back straight.
By keeping your shoulders back, you’ll get a fuller body workout when you come in and out of your lunge. Our spiffy mobile app lets you send video of your exercises directly to your coach, who will provide feedback so you can perfect your technique.
In case you’re still on the fence about grabbing a kettle bell, let’s dig into them a little more. Which one you pick will come down to personal preference, your budget, and your experience with kettle bells.
A standard traditional kettle bell will be cast iron, and as the weight goes up, the dimensions go up. No matter their weight, competitive kettle bells will have the same dimensions for bell shape, base, and handle width.
In general, pick a weight that allows you to complete a workout with good form. If you’re forcing me to pick one for you, knowing NOTHING about you, I’d say consider purchasing a 16 kg if you’re a male or 8 kg if you’re a female.
You’ll often hear the terms ballistic and grinding in kettlebellworkout discussions, for fast and slow movements respectively. For ballistic movements, you might actually want a heavier kettle bell, to help with momentum.
For grinding movements, less weight might be in order to help with control. If the handle has rough edges, you’ll feel each and every one of the movements scrap into your hand.
I’ll end our discussion on handles by saying they are generally standardized at 35 mm for thickness. Not too expensive and decent quality, Cap Barbell kettle bells can be found on Amazon or at any Walmart.
The Cap Barbell is the most highly reviewed and reasonably priced kettle bell we have encountered. Plus, they offer free shipping in the US, which is nice since you’re essentially mailing a cannonball.
Some call Dragon Door the gold standard of anything and everything kettle bell.” Innit rocks, and they offer good quality bells that are quite popular.
OUR ADVICE: Before you go buy an expensive kettle bell, check your gym! If you make your own kettle bell (be careful — you don’t want it breaking mid-swing!
If you’re trying to lose weight, a kettle bell and the workout routine above would be a great part of the plan! As we lay out in our Coaching Program and our massive guide on Healthy Eating,” we believe that proper nutrition is 80-90% of the equation for weight loss.
If you fix your diet AND begin to incorporate our kettle bell routine a few times per week, you will find yourself building muscle, losing fat, and getting stronger ! If your goal is weight loss, you have to eat less than you burn each day.
This can be through eating less and burning more (from the kettle bell workout above) Processed foods and junk food make it really tough to lose weight : They have lots of calories and carbs, low nutritional value, don’t fill you up, and cause you to overeat. If you don’t like veggies, here’s how to make vegetables taste good.
Soda, juice, sports drinks: they’re all pretty much high-calorie sugar water with minimal nutritional value. Get your caffeine from black coffee or tea, fizzy-drink fix from sparkling water.
Track your calories and work on consuming slightly less each day. We tackle this point in depth in our article Why can’t I lose weight?
Those tips should get you started, but if you want more specific instruction and guidance, check out the NF Coaching Program — Your Coach will build a routine tailored to your individual needs and what equipment you have available: Like most things in life, the important aspect of any exercise regimen is starting it.
No matter what strength training program you choose, start TODAY. Our coaches can work with you to pick up a kettle bell for the first time or to learn more advanced moves.
Whether you are brand new to your fitness journey, or ready to take it to the next level, we have your back! Join our free community with a biweekly newsletter, and I’ll send you our Beginner Kettle bell Worksheet.