If you’re not familiar with the clean, let Innit Coach Eric Lava, aka “Primal Soldier,” bring you up to speed. Keeping your head, spine, and pelvis in a straight line, bend your hips back to reach down and grasp the kettle bell.
(Don’t crush it; a somewhat soft grip will allow you to spin the weight around your wrist more easily when you clean it.) From the standing position with the bell racked at the shoulder (after you’ve cleaned it), the single-arm kettlebellfrontsquat goes as follows.
Step 1: Hold the kettle bell with your forearm as vertical as possible and your wrist straight. Turn your toes to point out slightly—more if you have trouble squatting deeply, and less if you’re fairly mobile in your hips.
Take a deep breath into your belly, and actively twist your feet into the floor, but don’t let them move. You should feel the arches in your feet rise and your glutes tighten, creating tension in the lower body.
Step 2: Squat as low as you can while keeping your head, spine, and pelvis aligned, and pushing your knees apart. Keep your torso as vertical as possible—you shouldn’t have to lean forward or work extra hard to hold the bell upright.
Holding a load in front of your body acts as a counterbalance, so that when you squat, you’re able to sit back with your hips as you descend with little fear of losing your balance. This better activates your glutes and hamstrings while allowing you to keep an upright, vertical torso, and is much safer for the lower back than barbell back squatting (which often results in a forward lean of the torso that puts the lumbar spine at risk).
The weight wants to pull you forward, so you have to battle to stay tall with good posture. So, while it provides a great workout for a trainee of any level on its own, the kettlebellfrontsquat also serves as a stepping stone to mastering more complex lifts.
As so many activities in sports and in life require you to stabilize an uneven load (throwing a ball, carrying objects, holding an opponent in a grappling drill), the single-arm kettlebellfrontsquat is highly applicable. Because it allows for such a deep squat, you can be sure you’ll work your quads hard through a big range of motion, while also recruiting the glutes and hamstrings.
Kettlebellfront squats can be done heavy for low reps to build maximum strength and muscle, and lighter for higher reps as part of a conditioning circuit or kettle bell complex (in which multiple exercises are strung together). The kettlebellfrontsquat is an essential move one must know in order to link other exercises together in a complex or “flow.” For example, you can clean a kettle bell, go right into a squat, and then come up and press it overhead.
Or row the bell from the floor, and then clean it, squat it, and step back into a reverse lunge. So, owning good front squat mechanics with the kettle bell opens up a range of movement that leads to endless training possibilities.
Quadriceps hamstrings glutes internal and external obliques' rectus abdominal (the six-pack muscle) spinal erectors transverse abdominal (deep core muscle) multimedia (core) front and lateral deltoid latissimus Doris trapezium rhomboids forearm flexors Use these drills to warm up and help mobilize your hips, upper back, and shoulders before you train any kettlebellfrontsquat variation.
The single-arm kettlebellfrontsquat can be done by inexperienced lifters and advanced athletes alike, but if your brand new to kettle bell training, you should master the basic goblet squat first. Also, stabilizing one kettle bell (or dumbbell) with both hands is less complex than controlling a bell with only one arm.
Take a deep breath into your belly, and twist your feet into the floor to create tension. The landmine—a long metal cylinder in which you can load one end of a barbell—provides the freedom of movement that makes free weights great, but with a little more stability and an arc of motion that’s easier on the joints.
Begin pushing through your heels to extend your hips and knees and pull the bar off the floor. Drop into a full squat, keeping the end of the bar in front of your shoulder.
If you’re encountering lower back issues or want to place greater emphasis on the quads as opposed to the hamstrings I recommend adding the kettlebellfrontsquat into your routine. With the kettle bells in place proceed to squat down as low as possible, maintain an upright torso and continue to look forward.
Invest in a high quality kettle bell or two that’ll stand the test of time here. The barbell back squat when performed correctly will hit your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves, and unlike machine based exercises such as the leg extension the barbell squat can safely be performed with heavy weight — allowing us to continually apply progressive overload and build up strong, functional legs.
When training legs, strict form and a full range of motion must be utilized to activate and overload the muscles being targeted. Squat half reps, a minuscule leg press range of motion, not dropping your knee low enough on dumbbell lunges… if you’re constantly limiting your range of motion you’re not going to be able to build either the size or strength you’re chasing.
If you’re performing half reps because you’re unable to get the weight out of the hole it’s a clear sign you’re lifting too heavy. Constant practice combined with stretching, foam rolling and a mobility routine will have you getting low on those squats in no time, tight hip flexors (from sitting all day) are notorious for this.
But the feeling of accomplishment, constant progression, mental fortitude and discipline it builds is worth it. Whether you are looking to burn fat, increase muscle, maintain good joint health or improve your cardio the kettlebellfrontsquat is a great choice.
Activates the often lazy buttock muscles Increases hormonal responses through the body for better growth Improves core strength and stabilization unlike the back squat Develops better joint health through regular pumping of nutrients Speeds up metabolism for fat burning 24/7 Challenges cardio without the need to move your feet The squat is a vital human movement pattern that is used in daily life whether getting in and out of your car or sitting and standing from a chair.
Don’t wing your elbow out to the side or allow the kettle bell to drift forwards off the chest. If this happens your shoulder will get tired quickly and even the worst may result in an injury to your rotator cuff muscles.
Stop at the bottom position and pause for 3 seconds before pushing the floor away from you and standing up. At the top position squeeze your buttocks tightly together and don’t lean backwards.
If during the squat exercise your shoulder does begin to fatigue then you can use your opposite hand to help support the kettle bell. Many people have weak buttocks and hips and therefore tend to find their knees caving in towards each other during the squatting movement.
You must work hard to prevent this from happening by pushing your knees outwards during all phases of the squat movement. The double kettlebellfrontsquat enables you to overload the movement as well as balance out the load on both sides of the body.
You can link fingers to help keep the kettle bell handles together if you find that more comfortable. After each set just change sides so the heavier kettle bell is now being held in the opposite hand.
For those short on time or wishing to choose an exercise that is effective for fat loss then the kettlebellfrontsquat to overhead press is a great choice. Beginners can practice this exercise by holding the kettle bell in both hands and performing the squat and then the overhead press.
As this exercise is very demanding and uses most of the muscles in your body you need to be careful with your technique as you quickly start to fatigue. The kettle bell is held with both hands at chest height which helps balance the squatting movement.
The kettlebellfrontsquat loads the one side of the body and also challenges the one shoulder more intensely than the goblet squat. The double kettlebellsquat has the added bonus of being able to load the body more comfortably than holding the equivalent weight in just one kettle bell.
Barbell front squats are an excellent choice for building sheer strength and bulk in the legs, buttocks and hips. However, the kettlebellfrontsquat offers more muscle activation than the barbell front squat due to the complexities of holding two kettle bells.
Holding one kettle bell in each hand and then squatting ensures a better balance throughout the body as each shoulder is working independently compared to the other. You will also find that due to the more forward position of the kettle bells during the squatting movement that the core muscles are forced to work even harder to stabilize the upper body.
You could easily change the double kettlebellfrontsquat for the goblet squat or single-handed front squat, just remember to balance out your left and right sides. The squat also keeps the joints healthy, helps promote fat loss, and challenges your cardio without the need to move your feet.
The double kettlebellfrontsquat is excellent for developing brute strength and overload the squatting movement. Along with the kettle bell swing, the kettlebellsquat is a huge exercise for hitting all those large muscle groups.
Hitting these large muscle groups means a greater hormonal response along with metabolic effect. The Squat can be categorized as a pushing exercise, and so can be paired with the kettle bell swing for a dramatic effect.
The ability to squat well requires adequate stability, mobility, strength and movement patterning. Regular squatting keeps the joints fresh and mobile reducing the potential for back and knee pain.
Finally, you use up to 600 muscles with every squat movement you perform, that makes it perfect for fat loss and overall strength building. In simple terms the kettlebellsquat takes the body weight squat and loads it with a kettle bell.
Start the movement by pushing the hips backwards Keep the weight on your heels and the outside of the feet Imagine you are wearing ski boots Widen the feet if you have hip mobility issues Turn the feet out to approx 10 degrees Thighs must get to at least parallel with the floor Push the floor away from you on your way up Keep the back flat, chest up and look up Breathe in, hold and descend, breathe out on the way up It is important to note that if you do not squat deep enough (thighs at least to parallel with the floor) then you are not engaging your backside correctly.
If you find that squatting nice and deep causes you problems then you can program and strengthen the movement pattern by using a resistance band. Allow the kettle bell to rest against the chest if needed and keep the arms tucked in.
Practice : work up to 20 perfect repetitions moving smooth and steady. Hold the kettle bell in both hands with the handle pointing upwards.
You will find it easier holding the kettle bell by the body rather than by the handle in this position. As you get stronger and more comfortable with the movement you can add a press into the top of the exercise (see image above) to increase even more muscle activation.
Practice : work up to 20 perfect repetitions before adding the press. You will create an imbalance and rotation through the body by holding the kettle bell one handed and against the chest.
The racked kettlebellsquat allows great transitions from one position to the next but does mean that you will need to squat equally on both sides. Practice : progress to 10 repetitions on each side and 3 total sets.
Once you have mastered the racked kettlebellsquat above you can add even more muscle activation and cardiovascular demands to the movement. As you drive up from the bottom of the squat continue the momentum upwards and press the kettle bell overhead.
Holding the kettle bell permanently overhead while you squat requires excellent mobility through the upper back and shoulders. Keeping the arm over the head makes the heart work harder too as it pushes the blood uphill.
Practice : 12 well performed repetitions on each side is a great achievement. Using a resistance band or Tax as demonstrated earlier is a great way to build up strength and mobility in the movement.
An advanced kettlebellsquat variation that requires very good hip mobility. Take it nice and steady at first as the kettle bell can throw your weight quickly backwards.
The easiest starting point is by holding a kettle bell in each hand in the racked position against the chest. You can even link fingers if you wish but try to keep the elbows in and upper body nice and compact.
Ensure that you are great at squatting without a kettle bell before loading the movement pattern. You can use a resistance band to help improve your squatting skills and strength.
Take your time, progress carefully and logically and the rewards will be well worth the effort. The kettle bell is excellent for squats due to its unique holding positions.
Everyone is different, begin with only your body weight to master the technique first then start to add weight using the goblet squat. The kettlebellsquat is a huge exercise for hitting all those large muscle groups.
We all love new personal records, especially when they are one-rep max or max-rep records —that first time dead lifting your body weight or ten pounds more than your last TSC, the first pull-up or when you finally get twenty. While testing absolute or relative strength is fun stuff, we also know not to just chase weights and that we should strive for consistent and constant progress.
We want our house of strength to stand the test of time. But why not give students a motivating win while they’re working on building that foundation or strengthening that base?
I wanted to show my students how their strength would improve with focus and planning. Need a bigger press or stronger clean and jerk?
I like six weeks as a program length because it offers the best middle ground. It’s long enough to practice skill and build strength, but short enough to keep my students’ attention.
In this program, we will take the 5×5 format and combine it with the principle of spending the majority of our time in 70%-80% of 5RM. I recommend some “play” on your other sessions, but keep it to a light or medium type of legwork.
The idea of “play” is something that is out of focus and can be fun or assist in other goals. Since our focus is the kettlebellfrontsquat, any other lower-body movement would be extra credit.
Maybe you recently learned of a new pistol progression—play could be feeling out that new progression. A student could also play with any other leg work from light goblets squats to single-leg practice.
Just make sure you take a rest day before and after the kettlebellfrontsquat session. Remember, the kettlebellfront squats are the priority in the session and in the week.
A question to address: should you do single or double kettle bells? Sometimes the jumps between percentages are smaller than the differences in kettle bell sizes.
So, this student would stick to double 12kgs until the programming indicates to use 85% at which point I would recommend lifting with the 28 kg goblet. To simplify, here is an easy breakdown going by kettle bells instead of percentages, based on the typical 4 kg jump in bell size.
As you can see each student used slightly different 5×5 combinations, but stayed true to the two rules: never practice with the test weight and build up load. As with any test day, make sure sleep, stress, food, and mindset are in check.
After warm-up (use the one of your choice), we use 5 sets to build up to test weights, but in a modified descending latter, with all percentages based off the 5RM from week one: We project that we will have multiple students squatting body weight for reps after our next cycle.
You will build a solid core built on pressure and time. I encourage you to embrace (pun intended) every set and finish every rep with a smile.
By the end of six weeks, you will become more resilient and harder to kill. Please, let me know how the program goes for you and feel free to ask any questions.
I’ve been asked numerous times to formally outline my triple progression system. So you have done your kettle bell clean and press ladders and have put in your volume.
No matter what your goals are—strength, mass, conditioning, or cuts— kettle bell complexes deliver. Sean Sharon, SFG I, owns and operates Prevail Strength and Fitness.
He has attended university for kinesiology and is also an SSA CPT, Muscle Activation Jumpstart, and Titlist level 1 instructor. He has trained one-on-one clients and groups for almost ten years.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him through social media. Adding different squat variations challenges your body to stabilize during new movements to develop greater strength and function.
Goblet squats are great for developing better hip mobility, improving strength through the full range of motion. Holding the kettle bell in front of your chest to perform a goblet squat is technically isometric loading of the biceps.
Whilst they won’t take the full brunt of the load as they are supported by other muscles, it all helps. Go as low as you can in the squat without letting your heels come off of the floor and keeping the kettle bell in a static position.
As you reach the bottom of your squat, allow your knees to point out before driving up to return to the start position. Now, as you explode up, flip the bell to sit on the back of your wrist at your shoulder and drive it up above your head.
The bell should be dragged halfway diagonally across your chest and then flip to the back of your wrist just before you reach your shoulder. Flip the bell back down and grab with the other hand to goblet squat, before repeating the motion on the other side.
“Well, that sucked.” My client uncracked the kettle bells and put them on the ground, still contemplating how in the world he got crushed by such little weight (comparatively speaking of course). Here I was taking this guy who considered himself to be pretty strong (and to his credit he was — he could do a mid-300lb front squat relatively easily), and putting him on the struggle-bus with a pair of 24 kg kettle bells.
If you’ve spent any time in the gym whatsoever you know this feeling, and it isn’t fun. Whether your goal is to get stronger, move better, burn fat, or be more athletic, the two- kettlebellfrontsquat has you covered.
The two- kettlebellfrontsquat (2 KB FS) should make its way into your program for a host of reasons, but here’s short list to get you started. You’ll never be able to load a 2 KB FS at like you do a traditional front squat with a barbell, but that doesn’t mean it won’t help you get strong.
Granted, the barbell front squat is superior if we’re talking pure lower-body strength, but the increased instability of the kettle bells makes up for the lack of load. In fact, most people feel like a rock when they return to the barbell after a cycle with the kettle bells.
By loading the kettle bells anteriorly you put your core on overdrive and force it to maintain position. A lot of people get into trouble because they lack stability from the right places, and this exercise helps correct that.
The placement of the kettle bells and the increased recruitment of your core makes this one of the best variations to work on grooving this up-and-down pattern. And for my anatomy friends out there, that means getting your outlet to open in the bottom position.
Many people lack the ability to fill up their posterior mediastinum bilaterally when they breathe. By putting them in the bottom of a squat and biasing a little flexion, I can work on breathing properly and getting air into both chest walls (it’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the picture).
Set Your Feet — This could easily be step one, but most people need a little of a wider base to clean the kettle bells up. Either way, I want your feet shoulder width apart, and toes straight ahead or turned out five to ten degrees.
Get “Neutral” — Go ahead and exhale, bringing your ribs down and hips underneath you. It’s important to mention that doesn’t mean let your toes come up off the ground.
We want motion coming from your hips and the opening of your pelvic floor, not from your low back. A great cue for people struggling with this is to think about finding the inside of their right foot and their left heel throughout the range of motion.
There’s a good chance you may experience the following: about halfway to three-quarters of the way down, you feel like you run into a wall. It’s more about solidifying good movement quality and developing a rock solid core.
For example, maybe you have poor ankle dorsiflexion and would benefit from doing some knee breaks in-between sets. Either way, the whole idea is to grant you access to a range of motion you aren’t that familiar with, so you can solidify it during the strength movement.
Once this squat looks rock solid, I feel great about the option of putting a barbell in someone’s hands and having them crush a front squat. But it’s a tool that helps solidify good movement, builds lower-body strength, and locks up an unstable core.
— The goblet squat trains the core and upper back in addition to the lower body. If you’ve mastered the goblet squat, adding a curl at the bottom of the movement, or doing it on one leg, are good progressions.
It’s a foundational movement for anyone who likes to train with kettle bells, or who ultimately wants to train heavy back squats, front squats, power cleans, or a range of other more advanced movements. We’ll start by showing you how to execute the kettle bell goblet squat with great form, tell you all the muscles it works and how, and then provide some alternative exercises you can use to become a sound and strong squatter.
Draw your shoulders back and downward (think: “proud chest”), and tuck your elbows in close to the bell—try to get your forearms as vertical as you can. Tuck your tailbone and draw your ribs down so that your pelvis is parallel to the floor.
Actively twist your feet into the floor, but don’t let them move. You should feel the arches in your feet rise and your glutes tighten, creating tension in the lower body.
Keeping a long spine from your head to your pelvis, push your hips back and squat down, as if sitting down into a chair. Squat as low as you can while keeping your head, spine, and pelvis aligned.
Keep your torso as vertical as possible—you shouldn’t have to lean forward or work extra hard to hold the bell upright. They tend to lean forward excessively to maintain balance, and that can lead to a range of problems: squatting too shallow, rounding the lower back, letting the knees collapse inward, allowing the heels to rise off the floor, etc.
In the goblet squat, you hold a load in front of your body, and it acts as a counterbalance. As a result, you’ll feel more comfortable opening your hips and sitting back with them—you don’t feel like you’re going to fall backward when you begin the descent, because the weight of the kettle bell is gently pulling you forward.
This allows you to squat deeply with an upright torso, and that makes it possible to activate the greatest amount of muscle throughout your legs, while minimizing shear forces on the spine. Positioning the kettle bell in front of the torso makes your core brace your spine more or less automatically, so you can argue that the goblet squat builds strong abs as well.
Furthermore, holding the weight in front of the chest asks a lot of the shoulder and upper back muscles, and fighting to maintain good shoulder alignment strengthens your posture. Because the goblet squat is relatively easy to master, it works well in circuits and other fast-paced workouts that train the whole body.
Upper back (traps, rhomboids) Deltoid Lats Wrist flexors and extensors Rectus abdominal, and deep core muscles Spinal erectors Quadriceps Glutes Hamstrings Calves It will certainly help to improve your squat technique and strengthen your back, legs, and core, but as you progress your loading on the goblet squat, you will reach a point where your upper body can’t support the weight anymore, while your legs still feel strong.
However, that isn’t to say that goblet squats can’t be done with heavy weight, especially if kettle bells or dumbbells are all you have to train with. Some lifters have done reps with well over 100 pounds, which makes for an impressive test of overall body strength.
But the difficulty and awkwardness of getting such heavy weight into position makes moving on to a different type of squat a more practical progression. You can loosen up your ankles, hips, and quads beforehand with these drills from Natalie Rigby (Natalie.Rigby on Instagram), co-founder of The Durable Athlete.
Raise your heels as your knees come forward, and move slowly and smoothly. If you have trouble keeping your balance, hold onto a sturdy object for support.
Tuck your tailbone under and draw your ribs down, so that your pelvis is level with the floor, and brace your core. Raise one leg in the air in front of you, keeping your knee straight, and pointing your toes up.
Repeat in the opposite direction, engaging your glutes as you lift your leg behind you, and then rotating the foot outward. Keeping a long spine, begin leaning back slowly, so that you feel tension in your quads.
In this variation, you squat down, lower the kettle bell until your arms are straight, and curl it back up. If you can keep your spine and pelvis alignment while you move the kettle bell further in front of your body, you can be sure that your squat pattern is strong and stable.
Adding the curl forces you to be more intentional with your movement and maintain muscle tension throughout the range of motion. This can help prevent your knees from bending inward or outward and your tailbone from tucking under too much, and it will lead to better results.
Single-leg squatting is a must for athletes, since so many sports movements require you to push off or land on one leg again and again. Hold the kettle bell in front of your chest as you would to goblet squat, and rest the top of one foot on the bench behind you.
So it’s OK if your shin is angled forward a bit in the bottom position, and your back matches it. While the goblet squat is ideal for beginners, some people will find that they still have trouble keeping their torso upright while performing it.
This all but guarantees that you’ll stay tall while you squat, because if you bend too far forward, the bar will poke you in the chest. (If you don’t have a landmine, the corner of a room can suffice; just protect the walls with a towel.)
Hold the opposite end of the bar with both hands and stand in your squat stance. Twist your feet into the floor to create tension in the lower body as described in the goblet squat directions above.
Lower into the squat as deeply as you can, and then extend your hips and knees to come back up.