Plus, the shape of a kettle bell lets you work your muscles a little differently than a traditional dumbbell, Jessica Sims, a NASM-certified personal trainer at the Hitting Room in New York City, tells SELF. When you take a class with kettle bells, or any other new type of equipment, it's normal to feel a little lost.
Oh, and a quick lesson on the lingo: The “ball” refers to the heavy sphere at the bottom, and the handle is the part attached to it. The handle is also referred to as the “horns,” and can be gripped at the top, on the sides, or near the base where it meets the ball.
Adding a kettle bell increases the resistance your body has to work against to stand back up, challenging your muscles even more. In addition, holding the kettle bell close to your chest helps you nail proper form.
“When you pick up heavy grocery bags, you should squat down like this so you don't hurt your back.” Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly, gripping the sides of the kettle bell handle with both hands at chest height.
They also secretly challenge your core, since you have to keep your abs tight to avoid arching your back. Sims says to choose a heavier weight with a dead lift—since you're not bending your elbows at all, you're mostly using your glutes, which are likely the strongest muscles in your body.
Hinge at your hips and push your butt back as you lower your torso and the weight toward the ground. “Make sure that you don’t let the kettle bells swing, keep them stable by your side like actual suitcases,” Sims says.
Push through your heels, putting most of the weight on the back foot, to return to the starting position. Adding weight to a sit-up adds an extra challenge for your core, and the press at the top works your shoulders and arms, too.
For these sit-ups, Sims says you can either keep your knees bent or put them in butterfly position, depending on what feels comfortable for your hips. Start in a sit-up position, lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
Kettle bell swings are great for your butt, legs, and lower back, Sims says. You can probably go heavy here, but she suggests nailing the technique with a lighter kettle bell before adding too much weight.
To perform a swing with proper form, you have to “thrust your hips aggressively to get the kettle bell up, don't use your arms,” Sims explains. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettle bell handle with both hands.
Bend your knees slightly, then hinge forward at the hips to swing the kettle bell between your legs. Stand back up; use the momentum from your hips to swing the weight to chest height.
Your form here should be similar to a traditional dead lift, except your legs should be wider than shoulder-width distance and your feet should be turned out a bit. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and toes angled out.
Switching to one-handed swings isolates one side at a time, which makes it harder and helps improve stability. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettle bell handle with one hand.
Bend your knees slightly, then hinge forward at the hips to swing the kettle bell between your legs. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettle bell handle with one hand.
Bend your knees slightly, then hinge forward at the hips to thread the kettle bell between your legs. Bring your now-empty hand to meet the weight at the top of the movement (so you don't slam it into your chest).
Grasp a kettle bell in each hand, palms facing out, arms bent so the weights are resting at each shoulder. Bend your knees just a few inches, and as you stand back up, press the weights straight up overhead.
To protect your lower back and make sure you're using your triceps, don't arch your back, Sims instructs. The key here is to straighten your arm completely at the top—that'll let you work the triceps through a full range of motion. Grip the kettle bell by the ball at the base of the handle with both hands and raise it directly overhead.
Keeping your elbows close to your ears, lower the kettle bell behind your head to neck level. The trick is to keep your core tight and hold your torso stable as you rotate your arms and the weight.
Lift the ball to eye level and slowly circle it around your head to the left. Hold the kettle bell handle in your right hand with your arm hanging straight at your side.
Holding a kettle bell above your head at the top of a crunch challenges your core and lower abs—so does the flutter motion of your legs. Start with the weight above your shoulders, and to make it more difficult, bring it a little behind your head, Sims says.
Make sure to keep your core super tight and lower back flat on the ground. If your back comes off the ground, or you feel any strain, bring your legs up a couple more inches.
Stand in front of a box or step, holding a kettle bell by the handle with both hands at your chest. Crew Performance Zip-Front Sports Bra (jcrew.com, $45), Cotton On Body Pocket Crop Tight (, $35), and Puma Fierce Evoking Women's Training Shoes (, $120).
Getty Images When you're new to working out, or to strength training in general, there's something really intimidating about facing a weight room or even a set of dumbbells (if you can even manage to find them right now). Enter the kettle bell, a type of dumbbell that's round (like a bell) and has a handle, making it easy to lift and carry around.
Our Health & Wellness newsletter puts the best products, updates and advice in your inbox. The way the bell is shaped allows you to train power, endurance and strength all in one little piece of iron,” says Lauren Kan ski, certified personal trainer and founder of the K Method.
Getting started with a kettle bell workout may seem as easy as picking one up and swinging it around -- but that can lead to injury. Keep reading for Kan ski's advice on how to get started with a kettle bell workout routine below.
Getty Images If you've never worked out with kettle bells, it's important to start with a lightweight model so you don't hurt yourself while you learn the basics. Even though the weight you use will depend on your personal fitness level and background, in general Kan ski recommends starting with an eight to 10 kg (about 17 to 22 lbs) kettle bell for workouts that involve any overhead movements and 10-14 kg (22-30 lbs) for beginners who want to learn how to do kettle bell swings (instructions below).
“The biggest thing for beginners is to learn how to hold the bell and work on that grip strength.” The standard kettle bell grip is similar to how you would grab a bag of groceries.
According to Kan ski, one of the biggest mistakes she sees people make is jumping right into more advanced moves like swings and snatches before they're ready. Master these three moves from Kan ski and you'll be off to a solid start with your kettle bell fitness routine.
Your core stabilizers fight hard through the squat to keep you balanced,” Kan ski says. Start with the kettle bell in the front racked position -- sits at your chest, cradled in your bicep, with the horn (handle) underneath your clavicle.
Start holding a kettle bell in each hand by your sides, keeping them off your thighs. Start with the kettle bell about an arms' length away from your body, resting on the ground.
Brace your core, grip the bell and throw it between your legs like you're hiking a football. Then quickly extend your hips forward to fling the bell in front of you, while keeping your shins vertical.
The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile. Kettle bell workouts offer a lot of flexibility.
Sign up for a kettle bell class at the gym or online to learn how to do the moves safely. It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Hall are huge fans of kettle bell workouts.
You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast-paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettle bell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups. Most kettle bell workouts include squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that work your abs and other core muscles.
The kettle bell is used as a weight for arm exercises like single-arm rows and shoulder presses. Lunges and squats are among the most popular moves in a kettle bell workout.
Your tush will be toned by using the kettle bell for added weight during lunges and squats. Using a kettle bell for a dead lift helps tone your back muscles.
The kettle bell is an effective weight that will build muscle strength. You may want to sign up for classes in person or online to learn the basics of a kettle bell workout.
Yes, if you take a class or pick a DVD that's for beginners and use a lighter kettle bell. Depending on the program, you may be getting both your strength training and your aerobic workout at the same time.
If you choose a kettle bell that is too heavy or if you have poor form, you are likely to lose control of it. Start out with an experienced trainer who can correct your technique before you hurt something.
Adding a kettle bell to your existing workout is great if you want to burn through more calories in less time. This type of high-intensity workout is not for you if you would rather do a more meditative approach to body sculpting, or if sweating isn’t your thing.
With your doctor’s OK, you can include kettle bells in your fitness routine if you have diabetes. Muscle burns energy more efficiently, so your blood sugar levels will go down.
Depending on the workout, you may also get some cardio to help prevent heart disease. Continued Using kettle bells in your workout puts some serious demands on your hips and back, as well as your knees, neck, and shoulders.
If you have arthritis or pain in your knees or back, then look for a less risky strength-training program. If you have other physical limitations, ask an experienced instructor for advice on how to modify your workout.
If you worked out with kettle bells before becoming pregnant and are not having any problems with your pregnancy, then you will likely be able to continue using them -- at least for a while. You can adjust by using lighter kettle bells and avoiding certain moves.
Sources American Council on Exercise: “Exclusive ACE research examines the benefits of kettle bells.” Overview & Facts Tips for Success Get Lean Get Strong Fuel Your Body All Guide Topics
Build a Better Butt: Workouts for Slim and Shapely Glutes While I was never exactly shredded, I was making good progress on the big lifts and felt comfortable taking off my shirt in public.
I was still eating like a person with an active lifestyle, but the most movement I was getting was walking from my bed to the couch. That, coupled with the new existential threats of daily existence under the pandemic, meant I was eating a lot of takes out, and food became a distraction from the casual terror of everyday life.
Dan John's 10,000 Kettle bell Swing Workout has earned a reputation as a simple, brutal fitness challenge. The swings are supplemented with squats, presses, or dips for four of the weekly training sessions.
John claims that people who have taken on the challenge dropped fat while adding muscle, saw noticeable improvements in posture and body composition, and made significant gains in overall strength. I wanted a program that didn't require regular gym access while still offering big results to combat my pandemic pounds and general malaise.
By the time the challenge was finished four weeks later, I had dropped nearly all the pandemic weight and a quarter of my body fat. Week 1 of the 10,000 Kettle bell Swing Challenge There are thousands of trainers on the internet insisting their programs are the absolute best way for people to lose weight.
You need to expel more energy than you're putting in (this is called a caloric deficit). That can happen through careful focus on diet, exercise, or most effectively, some combination of the two.
To keep me accountable and make sure I actually finished the 10,000 swings, I asked longtime friend and collaborator Diego Lopez, a comedian and model in Brooklyn, to complete the challenge with me. During the pandemic that's meant coaching clients through Zoom and training sessions in the park.
For people looking to improve their fitness with minimal equipment, Lopez has been a strong advocate for kettle bells. “The kettle bell swing is a phenomenal pattern to strengthen the upright human being,” said Lopez.
The first day of training Lopez completed his 500 swings with a 70-pound bell, but struggled with his grip. The first day of swings (I used a 54-pound bell, as prescribed in John's workout design) and presses took me 38 minutes to complete.
By the end of the last set I looked like I’d just stepped out of the shower and every part of my body felt sore. One of the hardest things about hitting 500 reps in a workout was maintaining good form.
Focusing on the hip hinge and being consistent with the swings can get exhausting, but that's kind of the point. Part of the reason I had gained so much weight over the course of the pandemic lockdown—aside from the obvious stress eating—was because I stopped doing things consciously.
I'd slam back a fourth park drink because they were far cheaper than what I'd pay in a bar. Logging the calories and doing more or less the same workout each day wasn’t sexy, but it did give me a sense of control.
With the beauty of hindsight I can understand what a success dropping three pounds in a week is, but it didn't feel that way at the time. These feelings had more to do with the fact that a big assignment was ramping up at my day job than anything to do with diet or kettle bell swings.
I had a huge project due that required late nights and multiple meetings. The shame of explaining that I'd quit or missed a workout seemed worse than actually doing the swings.
Lopez even shared a story about a late night message from a lady friend he left unheeded—he turned down the booty call to finish his swings. My face looked noticeably thinner and clothes that had been feeling tight fit again.
Getting a decent workout in at under half an hour was incredibly satisfying, even if I continued to look like Swamp Thing after I was finished. He cut his record for completing 500 swings to an impressive 17 minutes, and dropped 10 pounds without tweaking his diet.
My buddy, Diego Lopez, showing off his results from the program. I dropped 16 pounds in four weeks, going from 210 to 194. While the 10,000 swing kettle bell challenge didn't leave me with visible abs or a superhero body, it did leave me in a significantly better body composition than when I started, which serves as proof of concept for Dan John's program.
I kept hoping to come up with some kind of life changing revelation when I discussed the challenge with friends, but nothing profound came to mind. If you make a plan, put in hard work, and remain consistent, you'll get results.
So really, I think the challenge shows that you don't need a gym or personal trainer to get noticeable results from your workouts. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.
Imagine you’re a soldier posted at a foreign military base. Western : occasional soul-crushing, long, brutal workouts followed by days of weakness as you recover.
Eastern : easier, shorter training performed every day with little weakness or recovery. Pavel Tsatsouline, the “father of the kettle bell ”, focused his entire career on the Eastern strength approach.
Here’s what I learned from trying one famous method of daily kettle bells training called “Greasing the Groove”. Ask 100 coaches, and you’ll hear a divide on everyday training:
Everyday training can help or hinder you depending on the type of exercise, duration, and your recovery. Age Environment Sleep Fitness level Diet Stress Genes & epigenetics Supplementation Activity outside the gym Work Deliberate recovery practices
Each factor impacts your recovery and ability to train intensely. Most famous for his always leave one in the chamber philosophy of strength training, Pavel introduced the world to a concept he called “Greasing the Groove.”
Greasing the Groove (GTG) is a micro-workout approach to every day kettle bell training. Instead of long dedicated blocks of all-out workouts, Pavel prescribes light sessions every day.
Sessions with long rests between sets, and stopping well before failure. Best of all, light, every day kettle bell training doesn’t require recovery.
Greasing the groove can stand alone as a complete workout, or layered on top of an existing routine for faster results. Intense kettle bell training should be relegated to three to five days per week.
Like conventional barbell and dumbbell programs, intense kettle bell training tests your ability to recover. Training frequency Workout intensity Volume Recovery
If this all seems too confusing, Pavel designed a great program for everyday Kettle bell Training called Simple & Sinister (Amazon). He gives you daily kettle bell routines and lays out the common rookie (and veteran) mistakes.
While exercising, the moment your form slips up just a tiny bit, STOP. I can trace back most of my injuries to ignoring poor form cues.
For the best results, perform 70-250 kettle bell swings daily before breakfast when hormones and enzymes are primed to burn stored body fat. For an average strength man, he recommends 24 kg for KBS and 16 kg for TGU.
For an average strength lady, Pavel recommends 16 kg for KBS and 8 kg for TGU. I’ve found that I can complete a workout of Kettle bell Swing and Turkish Get-Ups in just about 10 minutes.
Most people begin noticing big results and improvements in 2-4 weeks. Cardio and strength benefits begin earlier, while goals like weight loss can take a little longer to show.
Every time you enter the room, hit a few kettle bell swings. The Eastern workout approach is the antithesis of the way I trained.
I started GTG and reclaimed 15 hours previously consumed by the gym. Paradoxically, swinging kettle bells kept me consistently near full strength while I continued to build muscle.
I no longer spent 90 percent of my weeks recovering from monstrous personal-record setting workouts. I hack my workouts with an incredible technology I wrote about called blood flow restriction training.
When used correctly, kettle bells are extremely effective training tools for providing total-body strength and conditioning. As with any technical movement, lift, or skill, proper coaching is required to maximize the benefits.
It's a two-for-one exercise, meaning you're able to combine strength training and cardiovascular conditioning into one efficient movement. Though it looks easy to perform, the swing can take a significant amount of time, practice, and coaching to perfect.
Unfortunately, this exercise is often performed incorrectly, which will limit your results as well as any further progressions that are based on this basic movement. The kettle bell goblet squat isn't just a leg exercise; it's another total-body juggernaut that offers more mobility—the ability to move easily so you can safely train with heavier loads—and improved conditioning.
It teaches you to move fluidly, and when you add the external load (a kettle bell) it requires strength, mobility, and skilled movement. It's a powerful full-body exercise that requires attention to detail and a respect for human movement.
For strong, resilient shoulders, improved hip and trunk strength, and enhanced mobility, the Turkish get-up is essential. Once you can do the first three exercises—and have demonstrated appropriate shoulder mobility and stability—the kettle bell press is another exceptional movement to learn.
The unique shape of a kettle bell and offset handle allow you to press in the natural plane of motion relative to your shoulder joint. You just feel like you have more power to press efficiently with a kettle bell, mostly because of the more natural plane of motion.
Similar to the kettle bell swing, the clean is another explosive exercise for total-body strength and conditioning. The difference here is that the kettle bell finishes in the rack position as opposed to being projected horizontally away from your body.
The kettle bell snatch is physically demanding and technical, but offers outstanding total-body strength and conditioning benefits. It can help transcend athletic performance to new levels, build explosive strength, and forge strong, powerful shoulders.
The snatch requires proper technique, explosive hip power, and athleticism. This exercise should not be attempted until the kettle bell swing hip-hinge pattern and explosive hip drive are established.
Though watching videos is helpful, the best way to learn how to correctly do these challenging movements is to work with a certified kettle bell instructor.