Kettle bells are some of the most versatile, efficient tools you can have in your exercise repertoire—and as this year proved, people love them and consider them essential. Click here to join to access even more top-level fitness tips. Thanks to the implement's unique shape, which places the rounded load beneath the handle, kettle bells are perfect for swings, presses, and carries from different positions that you wouldn't attempt with dumbbells.
You can work your arms, of course, but also your legs, chest, back, core, posterior chain—really, you can use kettle bells to train your whole body. You get the same unilateral capabilities you get with a dumbbell, and the shape of the kettle bell make them an even better option for single-arm, multi-joint movements like cleans and snatches.
There's also an entirely distinct training modality that has gained popularity thanks to the utility of kettle bells: the flow. The front rack can be used for moves like squats, lunges, walks—really anything focused on your lower body.
Using either one or two kettle bells, you'll hold the load in such a way (demonstrated above) that you'll be forced to engage your core to prevent your torso from tipping over. This simple, incredibly effective movement is a great way to build shoulder stability while working the core.
Try the exercise for 10 to 20 reps per side to start before adding extra features, like the kneeling position in the video or even a squat, for more of a metabolic impact. Goblet Pulse Squat Crush your legs with a little bounce with this dynamic exercise.
Your upper body will get a challenge, too, since you'll be using your arms and bracing your core to keep the kettle bells in the racked position. Try 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps, lowering down into position slowly and pausing at the bottom to create a ton of tension.
Turkish Getup This multi-part movement takes some time and coordination to master, but it's an effective full body exercise once you nail every step. Keep the weight light to start (run through the first few times without any), then add heavier loads as you progress.
If you're bold, set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes, then alternate 5 reps per arm for the whole period. Since you can easily hold and maneuver the implement, you can use it as a load for some traditionally body weight movements.
Perform 4 sets of 12 reps of all or any of the moves individually, or hit them back-to-back as a circuit with no rest as a workout that will torch your whole body. This short workout uses four full body moves to torch off calories—so you'll be feeling its effects for a lot longer than it takes to finish the routine itself.
30:60:90 Bodywork Blast your body with this intense interval ladder from trainer Hannah Eden. Take the longer approach with this routine designed to ramp up your metabolic conditioning.
Brett Williams, NASA Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men's Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.
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. And, if you want to learn more about the benefits of working out with a kettle bell, we’ve got that covered, too.
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. 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.
Slowly bend both knees so that your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Using your leg muscles, with your upper body still, straighten up to your starting position.
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.
Make sure your left knee doesn’t extend over your toes. 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.
Because ours will teach you how to handle a kettle bell using Mega Man and Mario references. Once you’ve watched the video above (featuring Matt Shorts, a lead trainer in our 1-on-1 Coaching Program) here’s a quick recap with repetitions for the workout here:
Prior to jumping into the kettle bell circuit, don’t forget to do some mobility warm up (you can see our warm-up routine here): Nothing too crazy, just something to “grease the groove” and get your body used to movement so you don’t pull any muscles once you start swinging the kettle bell.
In other words, preparing your muscles and joints to move some weight around! A few minutes of running in place, air punches and kicks, some jumping jacks and arm swings, should get your heart rate up and your muscles warmed for the KettlebellWorkout.
Your muscles are broken down when you strength train, and then they rebuild themselves stronger over the following days of recovery! Don’t forget to download our Beginner Kettle bell Worksheet, which covers the above sequence from Coach Matt.
You can print it out and track the amount of sets and repetitions you complete, which will help ensure you progress in your training. Tip from Coach Matt: with your halos, remember to keep the movement smooth.
Grab the kettle bell with two hands “by the horns,” aka the handle. Tip from Coach Matt: for the goblet squat, focus on depth.
It’s more important to practice doing a full squat than to pump out reps. Tip from Coach Matt: when doing the overhead press, get tight.
Tightening your muscles will engage your core, offering a fuller body workout. Tip from Coach Matt: during the kettle bell swing, focus on hinging your hips.
The swing is like a dead lift movement, so you should feel it in your hamstring and glutes. Pick up the kettle bell by driving your elbow up into your rib cage.
Tip from Coach Matt: try to keep your back straight and stomach tight during the row. This will help engage your legs for stabilization as you pull the kettle bell towards your stomach.
Grab the kettle bell with one hand and rest the weight between your arm and chest. Step your leg back (the same side your kettle bell is on) and lower down until your shin is parallelism with the ground (or as low as you can).
Tip from Coach Matt: for the lunges, again keep your back straight. By keeping your shoulders back, you’ll get a fuller body workout when you come in and out of your lunge.
Our spiffy mobile app lets you send video of your exercises directly to your coach, who will provide feedback so you can perfect your technique. In case you’re still on the fence about grabbing a kettle bell, let’s dig into them a little more.
Which one you pick will come down to personal preference, your budget, and your experience with kettle bells. A standard traditional kettle bell will be cast iron, and as the weight goes up, the dimensions go up.
No matter their weight, competitive kettle bells will have the same dimensions for bell shape, base, and handle width. In general, pick a weight that allows you to complete a workout with good form.
If you’re forcing me to pick one for you, knowing NOTHING about you, I’d say consider purchasing a 16 kg if you’re a male or 8 kg if you’re a female. You’ll often hear the terms ballistic and grinding in kettlebellworkout discussions, for fast and slow movements respectively.
For ballistic movements, you might actually want a heavier kettle bell, to help with momentum. For grinding movements, less weight might be in order to help with control.
If the handle has rough edges, you’ll feel each and every one of the movements scrap into your hand. So we’ll chat about ideal brands in a moment.
I’ll end our discussion on handles by saying they are generally standardized at 35 mm for thickness. Not too expensive and decent quality, Cap Barbell kettle bells can be found on Amazon or at any Walmart.
The Cap Barbell is the most highly reviewed and reasonably priced kettle bell we have encountered. Plus, they offer free shipping in the US, which is nice since you’re essentially mailing a cannonball.
Some call Dragon Door the gold standard of anything and everything kettle bell.” Innit rocks, and they offer good quality bells that are quite popular.
OUR ADVICE: Before you go buy an expensive kettle bell, check your gym! If you make your own kettle bell (be careful — you don’t want it breaking mid-swing!
If you’re trying to lose weight, a kettle bell and the workout routine above would be a great part of the plan! As we lay out in our Coaching Program and our massive guide on Healthy Eating,” we believe that proper nutrition is 80-90% of the equation for weight loss.
If you fix your diet AND begin to incorporate our kettlebellroutine a few times per week, you will find yourself building muscle, losing fat, and getting stronger ! If your goal is weight loss, you have to eat less than you burn each day.
This can be through eating less and burning more (from the kettle bell workout above) Processed foods and junk food make it really tough to lose weight : They have lots of calories and carbs, low nutritional value, don’t fill you up, and cause you to overeat. If you don’t like veggies, here’s how to make vegetables taste good.
Soda, juice, sports drinks: they’re all pretty much high-calorie sugar water with minimal nutritional value. Get your caffeine from black coffee or tea, fizzy-drink fix from sparkling water.
Track your calories and work on consuming slightly less each day. We tackle this point in depth in our article Why can’t I lose weight?
Those tips should get you started, but if you want more specific instruction and guidance, check out the NF Coaching Program — Your Coach will build a routine tailored to your individual needs and what equipment you have available: Like most things in life, the important aspect of any exercise regimen is starting it.
No matter what strength training program you choose, start TODAY. Our coaches can work with you to pick up a kettle bell for the first time or to learn more advanced moves.
Whether you are brand new to your fitness journey, or ready to take it to the next level, we have your back! Join our free community with a biweekly newsletter, and I’ll send you our Beginner Kettle bell Worksheet.
Basically, a kettle bell is a cast iron or steel ball that resembles a cannonball and comes with a handle attached to the top. Portable and heavy in equal measure, it’s used primarily in ballistic exercises and weightlifting routines.
Thanks to its compact design and offset center of mass, the kettle bell enables high-repetition sets while infusing an extra tier of leverage into your regimen. Ideal for beginners and experts alike, the best kettle bell workouts accelerate heart rate, burn calories, and build muscles with impressive alacrity.
Culled from websites, magazines, and videos, here are the 15 best kettle bell workouts for men. One of the best kettle bell workouts for beginners is a bona fide calorie burner, which targets muscles in the hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders, pecs, and grip.
To make the KB swing part of your routine, perform the following steps: Pick up the kettle bell and hold it between your legs, using both hands in an overhand grip.
Staring straight ahead, arch your lower back and bend at the hips until the kettle bell is behind your legs. Squeeze your glutes, extend your hips, and swing the kettle bell upward.
Extends the hips and knees so that the swing reverses course on its own momentum, beginning your next rep. Use the natural momentum of the kettle bell and your hip gestures to keep the weight swinging. Muscles worked: hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders, pecs Difficulty level: Beginner-intermediate Focus: power, strength
This overlooked kettle bell exercise combines a front squat with an overhead press and works your full body in the process. Hold the kettle bells in the rack position (so that the weight is resting on the back of your shoulders).
Hold for a second and then power upward with all your might, pushing through at the legs and heels. As you reach the upright position, use the natural momentum of the kettle bells to press them up.
In one graceful movement, jump slightly off the ground while raising your arms. Bend your knees as you land into the semi-squat position while continuing to extend your arms straight above your shoulders.
Muscles worked: shoulders, legs, core, trapezoids Difficulty level: Advanced Focus: coordination, full-body conditioning One of the best kettle bell workouts for fat loss, the snatch reportedly burns about 20kcals a minute.
When the kettle bell reaches shoulder height, rotate your hand and push upward until your arm is completely straight. Muscles worked: glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, upper back, shoulders, grip Difficulty level: Advanced Focus: developing aerobic capacity
A true exercise of champions, the kettle bell pistol squat fires on all conceivable cylinders (no pun intended). Before we dive in, a quick word of advice: master this exercise using just your own body weight before bringing a kettle bell into the mix.
Push through the heel to bring yourself back to the upright position, all without letting your raised leg touch the floor. Muscles worked: quadriceps, gluteus (max, medium, minimum), gastrocnemius, rectus abdominal and obliques, lower back, hamstrings, deltoid and shoulder Stabilizers Difficulty level: advanced Focus: cardio
Grip a kettle bell in each hand, and stand with your legs just wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend at the knees, lower into a squat, and tighten your glutes, all while keeping the kettle bells in their original position.
Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, scapular stabilizers Difficulty level: beginner Focus: strength, power, endurance This kettle bell exercise targets the upper-back muscles, wards off back pain in general, improves grip, and helps with fat loss.
Should you be executing a full kettle bell set, save this routine for the end. Keeping your arms flexed, take short steps as you walk forward as quickly as possible.
Staring straight ahead, get into the full squat position, going as low as you can. You might want to watch some of the best kettlebellworkout videos YouTube can muster before giving this one a go, as it comes in various forms and can be quite tricky to execute.
Using your opposite arm, raise the kettle bell to your shoulder, extending through the legs and hips as you go, and rotating your wrist until the palm faces forward. Bend at the hip while sticking your glutes out, slowly leaning until you can touch the floor with your free hand.
Pause when you reach the ground and reverse back into the starting position. Muscles worked: abdominal, shoulders, hamstring Difficulty level: intermediate-advanced Focus: strength
Lie on your back and grab one kettle bell with your left hand, holding it on your chest. Bend your left knee while your right leg stays straight on the ground.
Push off with your left foot as you roll lightly toward your right hip, leaning onto your right elbow. Push onto your right hand and bring your back off the ground, keeping the kettle bell locked in its raised position.
Swing your right leg back into a kneel, tighten your core, and thrust into the standing position. Muscles worked: obliques, glutes, lower back, pecs, triceps Difficulty level: advanced Focus: strength, balance
Muscles worked: chest, shoulder, core Difficulty level: beginner Focus: strength Drive one kettle bell into the floor while rowing the other one up to your chest, your shoulder retracting and your elbow flexing.
Lower back to the starting position, then bring the opposite kettle bell into a row. Muscles worked: core, bicep, tricep, pectorals, trapezium, rhomboid, deltoid Difficulty level: advanced Focus: conditioning, core stabilization
Hold a kettle bell just below your shoulder using one hand, palm facing your chest. Bend your knees and drive through your heels as you raise the kettle bell overhead, rotating your palms so that they’re facing forward.
Extend your arm fully and lock it in place as you quickly assume the semi-squat position. Muscles worked: shoulders, arms, legs Difficulty level: intermediate
Muscles worked: hamstrings, core, obliques, gluteus, trapezium, forearm Difficulty level: beginner Focus: balance, coordination, muscle strength and development Grip the kettle bell and raise it toward your stomach, retracting your shoulder blade and flexing the elbow.
Muscles worked: shoulders, biceps, back, abs Difficulty level: intermediate Focus: strength