If you’ve been thinking about starting or upgrading your home gym (whether that’s a corner of your bedroom, or a full two-car garage), this article will tell you exactly what you need to know about kettle bells, how many to get, where to buy them, and how to put them to good use. The design of the kettle offers three distinct advantages over it’s “bell” brothers, the dumbbell and barbell:
They sit flat on the floor (no rolling around) and the compact design means no wasted space. Likewise, dumbbells are a great training tool, but you’ll need a lot of them to get a decent full-body workout.
Armed with some savvy training knowledge (you will be by the end of this article), you’ll be able to get a great total-body workout with only 1-3 kettle bells, no matter your strength level. As a fitness coach, my goal is to get new clients feeling comfortable and confident while lifting weights and learning basic movement patterns.
Because the bell’s center of mass is directly under your grip, dead lifts fly up naturally without much cueing. But no matter your goal, or where you’re starting from, kettle bell training can transform your body and performance in ways you never thought possible.
Losing body fat and maintaining a lean physique comes down to controlling calories through nutrition and training. Kettle bell training offers many powerful ways to rev your metabolism and burn a mountain of calories in very little time.
The kettle bell swing is a hip hinge dominant movement, like a dead lift or box jump. This means each and every rep engages the posterior chain muscles of the hamstrings, glutes, back, and lats (plus lots of cores if you do them right).
When working all these large muscle groups dynamically at the same time, your heart rate jumps and you enjoy a calorie burn akin to a sprint (without the impact on the joints). Of course, any exercise can help you lose weight, but the kettle bell swing (and its big brother — the snatch) is a one-stop-shop for anyone looking for a simple and proven approach to cut body fat while building functional strength.
As mentioned above, kettle bells are a great way for beginners to learn the fine art of strength training. The foundational kettle bell lifts cover all the major movement patterns while developing athleticism and a strong mind-muscle connection.
Squats and swings build powerful and mobile hips — the keystone for every truly strong athlete. Row and press variations (especially bottoms-up) build resilient shoulders and a guaranteed ticket to the gun show.
This “what the hell” effect takes place when, after using kettle bells for a while, new reserves of strength and skill suddenly appear to demolish stubborn old personal records. For example, a long-distance trail runner might flounder after a couple laps in the pool… and a swimmer might find cycling tortuous.
Kettle bell training is optimal for a type of endurance called general physical preparedness (GPP). You won’t be the absolute best in any one field, but you’ll be in great shape and ready to handle a broad range of activities — from pickup basketball to packing a U-Haul.
Over the years, I’ve invested in nearly 30 kettle bells (a hodgepodge of different sizes, styles, and brands). Plus, a medium weight is ideal for kettle bell complexes — the stringing together of multiple lifts into a larger continuous set.
Kettles come much heavier than these (the 48 kg “Beast” is the cherry on top most collections), but we’re focusing on the sizes with the most value for beginners. Without the option of increasing weight in small steps, you are forced to make progress in various other ways with the same bell — volume (more reps), density (less rest), and variations (there are dozens of ways to perform a lift) are the big ones.
No matter your sex or fitness level, nearly every bell size has great value and there’s plenty of overlap in the recommendations anyway. These are your “bread ‘n butter” weights that will serve you well in both lower and upper body training for life.
Finally, the extra 12 kg will give you a great pair for double kettle bell workouts. We follow the same line of reasoning for the fellas, with an assumption of more general upper body strength.
We start with 12 kg as even the brawniest of dudes will get good use from one for mobility-oriented lifts like arm bars and windmills as well as advanced get-up and bottoms-up press work. From here, I like to recommend a pair of 20 kg (44 lb) kettle bells as this seems to be a sweet spot for double bell complexes.
The good news is there are plenty of trusted online sellers that offer quality kettle bells. Here’s my top-5 list of recommended kettle bell brands and merchants based on my own personal use (all links are affiliate):
These kettle bells come in different weights and you can make use of these equipments as you do lunges, shoulder presses, and lifts. The kettle bell workouts get your heart pumping and are quite beneficial in burning calories, offering body flexibility and many other things.
Kettle bell exercises mostly targets areas like the core, arms, glutes, legs, and back. These kettle bells come in weights that range from 5-100 pounds and you can purchase them from sporting goods stores or from online retailers.
There is a short review of research on kettle bell exercises that teaches about some workouts and its benefits. Kettle bell exercises stimulate an incredible amount of abdominal contraction because of their explosive conditioning movements.
The abdominal contraction along with coordinated breathing offers quite a high level of conditioning that actually has made kettle bells popular among athletes and fighters. In one study there was absolutely clear evidence of some effective positive changes in cardiovascular health from kettle bell exercises.
Since there are several kettle bell exercises which we do with our arms in an overhead position, the muscles that are responsible for assisting our breathing process are pretty engaged in the muscular activity; thus not allowing them to assist in the process of respiratory. This in turn forces the muscles that are most responsible for the breathing process to play an even higher role in the cardiovascular health.
They also enable you for increasing your strength and building up speed and also your endurance levels simultaneously. The first thing that must be kept in mind is that your entire back and abs remain absolutely straight.
Most physical therapists value these exercises because they teach us to move in a better, stronger, and a safer way. Kettle bell exercises help you build powerful forearms and also improves your grip.
Moreover, such exercises also allow you to devote your attention towards your skill, strategy, rest and recovery. I recently got asked “Are kettle bell swings good for you?” so I thought I would answer the question here.
So the kettle bell swing is very demanding on the cardiovascular system without the need to move your feet or impact your joints. So another advantage of the kettle bell swing is the large amount of muscle recruitment you get from the exercise.
As you drive the kettle bell up using the hips and legs you recruit a large amount of muscles in the back of the body. The kettle bell swing is different because it strengthens the posterior chain, improving your upright posture which in turn pulls your shoulders back and reveals the chest.
With a strong emphasis on desk jobs and computer work many people spend too much time seated. The kettle bell swing helps to combat this by strengthening the abs as you lock into the upright position.
The abs work hard at the top to prevent the body from over extending backwards, similar to a vertical plank position. During the swing the lower back should also be kept in a static (isometric) position so the movement can be generated by the hips.
The kettle bell swing uses 100’s of muscles in one movement, is very cardiovascular without the need to move your feet, improves your posture and burns lots of calories. If you experience pain when you lean forward or bend backwards then the kettle bell swing is not for you.
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. This can lead to a serious injury to your back, shoulders, or neck.
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.
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 Kettle bells, which look like cannonballs with handles, have become a popular strength training alternative to traditional barbells, dumbbells, and resistance machines.
Kettle bell exercises often involve several muscle groups at once, making them a highly effective way to give your arms, legs, and abs a great workout in a short amount of time. 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. You can always increase the weight once you’re comfortable with the correct form for each exercise.
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.
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. In today’s world we spend the majority of our days doing things in front of us with terrible posture.
Cubicles) for hours at a time not moving and making the front of our body even tighter. If You’re Not Doing The Kettle bell Swing, You’re Destined To Stay Fat, Tight & Weak For The Rest Of Your Life!
This overuse of the muscles on the front side of our bodies is called “anterior dominance” and it is plaguing our society. Anterior dominance results in imbalances in our muscles causing us to move and perform at sub-optimal levels.
And because of our terrible posture — because our anterior muscles are shortened and tight pulling us forward — we give the illusion of being weak and unconfident as opposed to standing erect with our chins up. It’s no wonder that we’re generally unhealthy compared to previous generations that didn’t live a convenience lifestyle in this information age.
And there is one exercise — that if you incorporate it into your daily routine — can easily combat the ill effects of anterior dominance and the Western Lifestyle. FrequencyExercise TypeIntensityRepetitionsRest up to 7x per week strength training high intensity varies by workout varies by workout Once labelled “hard core”, kettle bells are now popping up in every gym, garage and backyard because of their portability and reputation for fast results.
Go into any gym and you’ll see inexperienced exercisers turning a swing into a front squat and shoulder raise exercise further tightening our hips, quads, chest and shoulders and just adding to the anterior dominance issue that I told you about above. A hip hinge — like a dead lift movement — forces you to use those posterior chain muscles to move the kettle bell.
It will allow you to loosen your tight hips and strengthen your butt so that you’ll develop the rear end of an athlete. It will bulletproof your low back by creating an armored brace around your midsection, and it will get rid of that paunchy gut.
“If You’re Not Doing The Hard style Kettle bell Swing, You’re Destined To Stay Fat, Tight & Weak For The Rest Of Your Life!” As opposed to starting your set of swings from the standing position like how you see most amateurs do it, the hike pass allows you to overstretch your lats — a powerful muscle in your upper body with a direct relationship with your glutes — and get more “juice” out of your swing.
Push your hips back keeping your butt high and bend your knees slightly. Always making sure your shoulders stay above the level of your hips, “hike pass” the kettle bell through your knees by contracting your lats.
When you push your hips back keeping your butt high and your shins vertical, you are hinging. This is good because most people today are hip flexor and quad dominant (your anterior muscles), so learning how to load and use your posterior chain creates a natural balance between front and back that will help in preventing knee and hip issues.
Imagine that you are growing roots through your feet and grab the ground with your entire foot. Getting proper instruction from an expert so that you can MASTER THE KETTLEBELL SWING is the best thing that you can do for your training regardless of your goal.
If you want to build strength, kettle bell swings will forge a grip of steel and will add pounds to your dead lift & squat. If you want to boost your athleticism, kettle bell swings will make you more powerful and add height to your jump and shave seconds off your sprints.
If you want to pack on muscle, swinging a heavy kettle bell will build an intimidating upper back & set of shoulders. And if you want to shed body fat, swings will incinerate blubber like butter melting in an iron pan.
If you are in a position where you feel that kettle bell training could be right for you then this guide will act as a great starting point for seniors and older adults. Increases bone density due to the additional forces put through the joints and bones by the kettle bells Adds muscle mass, something that you lose quickly as you reach older age Improves balance, great for preventing falls and better footing Increases grip strength, another attribute that disappears quickly as you get older Improves mobility, nothing symbolizes old age like an inability to move naturally Rehabilitates joint issues, the frequent nutritional pumping movements of kettle bell training improves joint health Improves circulation, kettle bell training actively pumps the blood around the body for better circulation Increases cardiovascular health, your heart rate will be elevated and lungs forced to work harder Raises metabolic rate for fat loss, an increase in metabolism means more calories burnt at rest Increases confidence, feel stronger, mobile, fitter and have better balance for a more confident you Improve mental health and produces a more positive attitude towards life in general
Your focus as a senior should not be to break any lifting records or to push yourself to complete exhaustion. As you get older and move less you ability to take your joints through their full range diminishes.
A lack of joint mobility will not only affect your posture but also your ability to move correctly. I recommend that you run through a full joint mobility routine before each workout.
For many people this mobility routine can have more of an impact on their lives than the workout so please don’t skip this section. The great thing about neck mobility is that you can practice anytime of the day even while seated watching TV.
The upper back or thoracic spine is one of the areas that is getting more and more restricted with modern lifestyles. Watch a video of the upper back mobility warm up exercises below:
Regular wrist mobility will help keep the joints healthy and improve circulation. Watch a video of the wrist mobility warm up exercises below:
If you don’t walk over varied ground or take part in sports then your hip mobility will probably be limited. Poor hip mobility will affect your walking gait as well as force your lower back to move more than it should do.
Simple body weight squats are one of the best exercises you can perform and will strengthen your full body. Good ankle mobility will improve your balance as well as prevent further leg injury while walking or tripping on uneven ground.
Often one of the most overlooked areas of the body a simple ankle mobility routine will also improve circulation. Watch a video of the ankle mobility warm up exercises below:
Try to keep the kettle bell close to the neck line and don’t bend the head forwards. Work hard to keep your back flat and use your buttocks and legs to perform the heavy lifting.
Watch a video of the kettle bell single arm dead lift exercise below: You will also find this is a great exercise for seniors with limited mobility as it lengthens the hamstrings and mobilizes the hips.
I recommend practicing the exercise without a kettle bell first in order to master the movement. Not only is the kettle bell step up highly effective at raising the heart rate and strengthening the legs and buttocks but also has a great cross over into your daily life.
You will find walking up hills and stairs much easier if you work on this exercise. There are not many muscles that the goblet squat doesn’t activate when performed correctly.
You will also quickly raise your heart rate, pump vital nutrients around your body and improve your movement strength and skills for daily life. Failure to get a full 90 degree bends in the knees will limit the amount of buttock activation achieved.
Watch a video on how to improve your kettle bell goblet squat exercise below: The ability to get up and down from the floor is an important activity as we get older and very challenging for many people.
Everyone should practice the get up without a kettle bell first, if need be you can hold a tennis ball or glass of water in the hand. Practice : when you can perform 10 alternating repetitions without a kettle bell then slowly start to add some load.
Start off steady and use a light kettle bell for the first 2 weeks before slowly increasing the load. You should feel out of breath at the end of each circuit if not add more load or pick up the pace.
Using kettle bell exercises for seniors and older adults can be highly effective at improving health, fitness and well-being. Regular kettle bell training can improve balance, strength, your metabolism, help with fat loss and confidence.
Older adults can move and be just as strong, if not stronger, than those half their age so there are no hard and fast rules for what weight to start with. I’ve included a kettle bell circuit that you can follow 3-4 times per week just add load steadily as you get stronger.
Always seek professional medical advice and take your time and listen to your body as you exercise. 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.