Kettle bells can be used for a variety of exercises that improve both your strength and cardiovascular fitness. 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.
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. 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. 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. When you’ve completed your repetitions, return to your starting position.
When your chest is even with the kettle bell handles, exhale and push your body back up to its starting position. Hold a kettle bell by the handle so that it rests against the outside part of your shoulder.
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. The key is to start slow and, if possible, with the help of a certified personal trainer.
I am currently reading Easy Strength and stumbled upon this passage: With any of the above techniques , the reps should be limited. It makes sense to apply Professor Verkhoshansky’s depth-jump guidelines: Experienced athletes should not exceed 4 × 10...
There are plenty of benefits to kettlebelltraining and one of the main ones is this: Many kettle bell exercises are dynamic, often ballistic, meaning fast lifts rather than the slow and controlled strength training most of us are used to doing. The kettle bell originated in Russia and was popular in the U.S. decades ago, but has hit a resurgence in the last few years with a flurry of classes, videos, and books.
The momentum of many kettle bell movements (a big no-no in traditional strength training), creates centrifugal force, focusing more attention on the muscles used for deceleration and stabilization. The American Council on Exercise commissioned a study to find out just how effective kettlebelltraining is.
After eight weeks of kettle bell exercises, researchers saw significant improvement in endurance, balance, and core strength. The greatest improvement was in the core where strength increased a whopping 70 percent.
You need to have a very strong foundation before testing your balance and core strength with a heavy weight. However, you can use a kettle bell like a dumbbell for static exercises like dead lifts, rows or squats.
Many of the swinging movements may be unfamiliar and a professional can help with your form and in choosing your weights. Very well Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.
Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Additional Reading Kettle bell Swing, Snatch, and Bottoms-Up Carry: Back and... : The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.
Jay K, Frisco D, Hansen K, et al. Kettle bell training for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health: a randomized controlled trial. It's good to know these distinctions when shaping your own resistance program so you can choose the most appropriate tool to reach your individual goals.
These sturdy weights are usually made out of metal and sometimes coated in a durable plastic finish. The bands are usually found to be in a much lower price range than kettle bells, likely due to the materials used to produce them as well as the cost of shipping.
This quality makes them extremely convenient for people who are on the go and gives them an advantage over kettle bells. With kettle bells, you can get the same amount of resistance throughout the range of motion by keeping the movement slow and controlled.
This means that with bands, you will likely become be stronger in mid- to end-range movements you do functionally -- reaching or lifting, for example. For example, the kettle bell swing has been shown to strengthen muscles of the core, arms and legs while also providing an increase in heart rate.
While bands can be used with the arms or legs to target one specific area, kettle bells work multiple muscles at once. Kettle bell swings, for example, work the thighs, glutes, core, back and arms.
To do a basic kettle bell swing, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and get into a comfortable squat position. Both exercise bands and kettle bells can lead to improved strength and performance, but ultimately it will depend on your individual needs with regard to which one is more ideal.
Consult a professional such as a physical therapist or athletic trainer before starting a new routine for safety and instruction. If you are looking to gain strength then Kettle bells can be a great tool to help you achieve your goal.
The truth is you can build strength with any type of added resistance, whether that is Dumbbells, Barbells or Power bags. During the Squat the Kettle bell can be placed in the rack position nicely resting against the upper arm and forearm and enable much larger weight to be held against the body.
Efficiency of movement means recruiting more motor units which in turn will activate more muscle fibers for greater contractile strength. With practice, you can educate your body to recruit the maximum amount of motor units during each lift and therefore increase your strength.
In fact when most people begin resistance training (lifting weights) it is this efficiency of movement or motor unit recruitment that gives the impression of gaining muscle. The beginner weight lifter becomes more skillful at lifting over time and this helps improve their strength much more than muscle development.
However, there does come a time when efficiency and motor recruitment are maxed out and additional muscle mass is the only way to develop further strength. I’ve noticed this principle of strength as a skill rather than being related directly to muscle mass many times when training clients and educating personal trainers.
If you started training at your max lift of 7 reps x 3 sets it would leave you beaten up and tired for days. Also remember that more practice time means more development of skill and improved motor unit recruitment.
For example, it is no use getting strong at small isolation exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions. The double kettle bell clean and press or long cycle is possibly the best full body strength training exercise.
The kettle bell double racked squat exercise will heavily strengthen the legs, buttocks, hips, core and back. You can use the double clean exercise in order to get into the top position ready to begin your set.
You can build a lot of strength with the double kettle bell swing but I would recommend slightly higher reps for this exercise. Extra caution needs to be taken when swinging heavy kettle bells due to the dynamic nature of the exercise.
I really like this exercise because when loaded up nice and heavy it really challenges the core sling system that runs from the hip across to the opposite shoulder. The Central Nervous System (CNS) will fatigue heavily if you push yourself too hard and although you may feel physically ready to exercise again, mentally you will not have recovered.
Again, another reason why training at 50% of your max is so important, you can lift more often without totally fatiguing your central nervous system. For strength building workouts rest periods should be extended to 2.5 – 3 minutes per set.
Double Kettle bell Clean and Press x 5 reps Rest 3 minutes Repeat x 3 sets All efforts should be placed on lifting heavy at 50% of your max and then taking nice long rests between sets.
What many believe to be initial physical strength gains through muscle are actually an increase in motor unit recruitment. Use large full body kettle bell exercises for your training to develop more useful strength.
This video is about how to gain more strength, tone up & lose weight in one easy, fun way using the principle of Cluster Training. Cluster training was created to make strength gains quickly, ramping up your metabolism to burn calories the rest of the day.
Your body requires a variety of methods to make progressive gains with your fitness goals so instead of doing reps you do this instead. Weightlifting is a general term that can refer to any kind of resistance training designed to improve muscular strength, power, size or stamina.
This makes kettle bells great tools for functional training with gains that will transfer to standard weightlifting, everyday activities and sports. Kettle bell exercises have also been shown to improve the postural coordination in people who do activities that commonly result in musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, which may help to prevent injury.
There are many types of equipment to choose from, including barbells, dumbbells and machines, which have a wider weight variety, allowing you to tailor a training program to your personal needs. For instance, bodybuilders are likely to prefer weightlifting to kettle bell exercises because they rely on isolation movements like bicep curls and leg presses to build and define muscles.
While bad form during any type of workout can lead to injury, kettle bell exercises are especially difficult to master and may require special supervised training. Despite this, kettle bells are a useful addition to any weightlifting program that seeks to improve balance, coordination and explosive power as well as muscle size and maximal strength.
A 16-kilogram (35 lb) “competition kettle bell Arthur Saxon with a kettle bell, cover of The Text Book of Weight-Lifting (1910)The Russian girl (, plural girl) was a type of metal weight, primarily used to weigh crops in the 18th century. They began to be used for recreational and competition strength athletics in Russia and Europe in the late 19th century.
The birth of competitive kettle bell lifting or Gregory sport ( ) is dated to 1885, with the founding of the “Circle for Amateur Athletics” ( ). Russian girl are traditionally measured in weight by Food, corresponding to 16.38 kilograms (36.1 lb).
The English term kettle bell has been in use since the early 20th century. Similar weights used in Classical Greece were the halter, comparable to the modern kettle bell in terms of movements.
Variants of the kettle bell include bags filled with sand, water, or steel shot. By their nature, typical kettle bell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength.
The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work. Unlike the exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettle bell exercises involve large numbers of repetitions in the sport, and can also involve large reps in normal training.
Kettle bell exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks. This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and more similar to high-intensity interval training rather than to traditional weight lifting.
They can offer improved mobility, range of motion, agility, cardio vascular endurance, mental toughness and increased strength. The following is a list of common exercises that are uniquely suited to the kettle bell for one reason or another.
A kettle bell exercise that combines the lunge, bridge and side plank in a slow, controlled movement. Keeping the arm holding the bell extended vertically, the athlete transitions from lying supine on the floor to standing, and back again.
As with the other slow exercises (the windmill, get-up, and halo), this drill improves shoulder mobility and stabilization. It starts lying on the ground with the kettle bell over the shoulder in a straight arm position, as in the top of a floor press, but with the other arm along the floor straight overhead.
The trainee then gradually turns their body away from the kettle bell until they are lying partially on their front. The kettle bell is held hanging in one arm and moved smoothly around the body, switching hands in front and behind.
Also called a front leg pass, this is a backward lunge, circling the bell around the front leg, returning to the standing position, and repeating. Like the slingshot, but the bell is swung forward until the arms are parallel to the ground.
Starting with the bell in the rack, the bell is pushed away to the side slightly, the swung down to the other side in front of the body, and reversed back up into the rack. A variation of the press where the other arm assists by pushing open palm against the ball.
Stand on one leg and hold the kettle bell with the opposite arm. By then lowering and raising the kettle bell you can work stabilization and power.
A press utilizing a bent-leg windmill position to lift heavier weight than is otherwise possible. One bell is rowed to the chest while maintaining the plank position, then returned to the ground and repeated with the other arm.
Alternatively performed with a single kettle bell, one arm at a time. This requires more control than an ordinary push up and results in a greater range of motion.
Feet may be elevated to increase the difficulty, until the trainee is performing a handstand push-up on the kettle bells. In any movement involving the rack or overhead position, the kettle bell can be held with the ball in an open palm (sometimes called the waiter hold) for a greater stabilization challenge, or for even more precise control and added grip challenge, the bottom-up hold, squeezing the kettle bell by the handle upside-down.
Holding a single kettle bell in the rack position bottom-up with two hands (“by the horns”) makes for goblet exercise variants. Conventional swing: The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell.
Hang clean: The kettle bell is held in the rack position (resting on the forearm in the crook of the elbow, with the elbow against the chest), lowered to below the knees, and then thrust back up in to the rack. The kettle bell is held in one hand, lowered to behind the knees via hip hinge, swung to an overhead position and held stable, before repeating the movement.
Jerk: As a push press, but with two dips, for more leg assistance (as in the barbell clean and jerk) Thruster: A rack squat with a press at the top using momentum from the squat. An easier variant for those with less hip mobility is to perform the squat parallel to a step or ledge, so that the foot of the free leg can dip beneath the pushing leg at the bottom.
Carry: Walking with the kettle bell held in various positions, such as suitcase, rack, goblet, or overhead. Row: While bent over anywhere from 45 degrees to parallel with the ground, the kettle bell is held hanging from a straight arm, pulled up to the hips or laterally, and lowered again.
Keeping the bell arm vertical, the upper body is bent to one side and rotated until the other hand is touching the floor. The single kettle bell version is called the suitcase walk.
These build grip strength while challenging your core, hips, back and traps. The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell.
The key to a good kettle bell swing is effectively thrusting the hips, not bending too much at the knees, and sending the weight forwards, as opposed to squatting the weight up, or lifting with the arms. The one-arm swing presents a significant anti-twisting challenge, and can be used with an alternating catch switching between arms.
Within those variations there are plenty more variations, some are, but not limited to: pace, movement, speed, power, grip, the direction of thumb, elbow flexion, knee flexion. The kettle bell has more than 25 grips that can be employed, to provide variety, challenge different muscles, increase or decrease complexity, and work on proprioception.
Competitive lifter (Greek) performing jerk with 32 kg kettle bells (rack position). Contemporary kettlebelltraining is represented basically by five styles. Hard style has its roots in powerlifting and Gj-rykarate training, particularly hobo undo concepts.
With emphasis on the “hard” component and borrowing the concept of time, the Hard style focuses on strength and power and duality of relaxation and tension. Gregory, sometimes referred to as the fluid style in comparison to the Hard style, represents the training regimen for the competitive sport of kettle bell lifting, focusing on strength endurance.
CrossFit kettle bell refers to implementation of kettlebelltraining as in CrossFit curricula, often with significant modifications to preceding styles (e.g. American Swing vs. conventional swing, placing the kettle bell down between snatches). Juggling is a training style where the practitioner releases and catches the kettle bell with all manner of spins and flips around the body.
Kettlebelltraining is extremely broad and caters to many goals, some being, but not limited to: mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed and power. If an athlete is training in the gym, on the beach, or in the park, and not performing any of the above disciplines, they are participating in kettlebelltraining.
The sport can be compared to what the CrossFit Games is to CrossFit, however, the sport has been much longer in existence, and is only recently gaining more popularity worldwide, with women participating as well. One such example being Valerie Wazowski, who at age 52, was the first US female lifter in the veteran age category to achieve Master of Sport in 24 kg Kettle bell Long Cycle.
21 (1908), p. 505: “PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE USING SCHMIDT'S Celebrated 'MONARCH' DUMB-BELL, BAR BELL AND KETTLE BELL SYSTEM”; also spelled KETTLE-BELLS (with hyphen) in a 1910 advertisement for the “Automatic Exerciser”) ^ a b c Rathbone, Andy (2009-01-04). “The kettle bell way: Focused workouts mimic the movements of everyday activities”.
Blast Fat & Build Strength With Innovative Equipment!” Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 542-544 ^ a b Iv ill, Laura (2008-11-22).
“Exclusive ACE research examines the fitness benefits of kettle bells” (PDF). Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 125-127 ^ Kettle bell Swing Vs. High Pull”.
^ “The Kettle bell Clean, Stop Banging Your Wrists | The Complete Guide”. 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.
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.
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.
You'll already be a little gassed when you switch arms in your given set and it's best to give the strong side the best chance to perform well by letting it go first. No, I said a knowledgeable friend, not the self-proclaimed expert pal who says a good workout is doing 100 burpees for time.
Seriously, there is a logical progression to take with kettle bells and jumping right into this would be a disservice. Learn the traditional swing first and the goblet squat, then you can work on new lifts.
I know it's expensive, but hiring a coach will save you the heartache of learning bad habits and trying to undo them later. This means firing your muscles with more intensity and fighting the urge to collapse like a house of cards.
This will vary depending on if you are doing a ballistic, such as a swing or a grind, like a press. You should always start a one arm swing with both hands on the kettle bell.
Right before you hike the kettle bell between your legs, you'll let your non-working arm drift off to the side. By mirroring the other arm you'll keep your shoulders square throughout the arc of the swing.
By keeping your shoulders square, you'll avoid rotation of your neck, back, and spine. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that rotating your torso with a heavy load, moving at high speeds, in varying planes, may be a bit of a problem.
However, with the kettle bell snatch you only want to mirror your working arm so much. With the kettle bell snatch you'll do all the same steps as before at the bottom of the swing, but you'll stop your non-working hand somewhere just past your hip.
As you begin your next rep and the kettle bell is somewhere around your waist, get right back to mirroring the working arm as you hinge. Again, by mirroring your working arm your shoulders will stay square, the hips will load big and you'll snap that kettle bell up overhead with ease.
Now for the grinds and the eagle talon you develop in your free hand when you're pressing a heavy kettle bell up overhead. Don't ever have a gun in hand while pressing a kettle bell overhead.
While digging around the depths of the internet, I found numerous articles about involuntary hand clenching causing accidental shootings, even by seasoned gun handlers. In a short and concise article, Greg Ellifritz, explains this eagle talon phenomenon.
You could lose your balance or trip, you can be startled, or one hand can be closed or clinching (I.e. holding the handle of a kettle bell) and the other will spontaneously mimic the other hand. Unless you are doing your workouts on a tightrope, while watching the Blair Witch Project, we are really only dealing with a clenched hand causing the other to do the same.
Instead of letting your hand do whatever it feels like, you should close the “strength loop” by making a fist and send more functional strength to the loaded arm. If you create more tension in other muscle groups that energy will spill over and make you stronger and more stable.
Robert Ruxandrescu has a great article that explains this and the tension techniques you can use. In short, there are a few key muscle groups that you want to fire when pressing weight overhead or for any big lifts (squats, dead lift, Turkish get-up, etc).
The CNS does not feel safe and will shut it down before you do your best Bruce Lee impersonation. Being able to tense these major muscle groups while performing your lift, is something you need to practice.
At first, it will feel like trying to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. A quick tip : it can be hard to clench your bare hand.
Don't wiggle your body to get the weight overhead, stay stiff as a board. If you have to do some weird body movement to get the weight overhead go lighter.
If you're looking to up your conditioning, the kettle bell snatch is a great option. Keep that body square and make sure to finish at the top with the complete lock out.
You can really make front squats, cleans, presses, and even Turkish get-ups a lot more intense when doing them bottom-up style. Example Bottom-Up Programming: Depends on the lift, but keep it heavy and low volume.
Stand nice and tall with a proud chest and keep from slouching to the loaded side. Put any of these workouts in your normal gym flow and you'll be glad you did.
About the Author: Charlie is a strength coach at Elemental Performance + Fitness in the small mountain town of Lander, WY. Charlie believes strength training is foundational and can be applied to any fitness goal.
Charlie works with a wide variety of clients, but focuses on climbers and coaching a local youth climbing team. Charlie spends most of his time at the gym training his athletes (programs he already put himself through), at the crag climbing, or backcountry skiing.