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.
An open space filled with heavy iron, benches, cable setups, and if you're in a big box, plenty of cardio stations and machines. Most of the weights are probably barbells, both on squat platforms and benches, or dumbbells, sitting stacked along the wall on a rack.
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.
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. We've all turned up to the gym, short on time and motivation, only to find every piece of equipment we need for our workout isn't free.
Faced with this scenario, you have two options: ditch the workout and go home or find a piece of versatile equipment that is underused and undervalued by most of the gym-going community. Packing the same weighty punch as dumbbells, kettle bells are likely to be found in a dusty corner of the gym.
But don't let their underused fool you; this is a brilliant bit of kit, and while the bros are queuing for a bench, you can take advantage. Kettle bell swings can help increase your heart rate, burn extra fat and tone muscle Corey Jenkins Getty Images
Much like the humble rowing machine and versa climber, most gym bros steer clear of the cast-iron 'bells, helping you get an effective, time-efficient workout in, without having to worry about your kit getting pinched. This and the growing popularity of sports such as CrossFit and Strongman have helped drive kettle bell training and workouts into the mainstream.
On top of this, owing to their design, kettle bells are one of the easiest weights to move around during your workout in a short timeframe and can be stored away easily, from your car boot to your garden shed or garage. “Kettle bells give you the opportunity to move athletically with additional resistance from a variety of angles and more challenging positions,” explains Jon Lewis, a personal trainer with fitness outlet Industrial Strength.
Not only that, but exercises such as kettle bell swings can help increase your heart rate, burn extra fat and tone muscle, but where they really come into their own is in building strength throughout your posterior chain. As these are your body’s biggest muscles, you’ll also torch calories,” says Rob Blair, PT at The Commando Temple.
Additionally, kettle bells are an incredibly useful tool for those looking to build their base of strength and mobility, so if you're struggling with your barbell back squat, for example, utilizing the kettle bell goblet squat is a good way of practicing proper form with a safer exercise that can then be upgraded as your strength increases. Well-suited for swings, presses and carries, kettle bells also lend themselves to more dynamic movements, where a dumbbell or barbell may be more difficult to use.
Usually, kettlebellworkouts are built on a high-rep range, meaning that several muscles are worked at once and, if kept at a consistent pace, can offer similar aerobic benefits to HIIT training. Similarly, by performing kettle bell circuits three times a week, you’ll pump up your VO2 max by 6 per cent in just under a month, according to the NSA’s Sac Report.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research also found that kettle bell training contributes to a healthier lower back, owing to the loading and movement patterns. “Kettle bells are arguably one of the most versatile bits of equipment you can find in a gym,” says Sam Wrigley, a London Bridge-based PT.
“They're great tools for metabolic conditioning and can be used for resistance work too, if you can't access dumbbells or barbells.” “Typically, it’s with the kettle bell swing, because of its dynamic nature — moving back and forth quickly at the hip joint”.
“This exaggerated flexion and extension at the hip puts a lot of force through the lower back.” When it comes to getting injuries from poor form, the “arching of the back and not engaging the glutes in an overhead press or folding in a goblet position” can put you at risk of busting your lower back. Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and bend your knees to grab the kettle bell with both hands.
Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height. Initiated by a powerful hip thrust from your hamstring and glutes, opting for heavier weights (once the move is mastered, of course) for up to 90 seconds a set will vastly improve your anaerobic fitness, accelerating your heart-rate and ignite a fat-burn that the bench press can only dream of.
Instead, by combining a front squat with an overhead press, you're transforming a drab move into a compound, multi-joint exercise that demands full-body power. In one swift movement, slightly jump off the ground and raise your arms to extend above your head.
Land softly on your feet with your knees bent as though you're doing a squat and extend your arms straight above you shoulder-width apart. Powerlifting moves needn't be restricted to barbells bending under crippling weight loads.
Instead, the kettle bell clean and press offers the opportunity to increase grip strength, become stronger in overhead movements (your shoulder press will thank you) and will help you learn the lesson of maintaining a rigid core during all lifts. Plus, the researchers found that participants performing the kettle bell snatch usually maintained 86 to 99 per cent of their maximum heart rate, making it an essential move for easy weightless.
Drive through the heel and bring yourself back up to standing position, without letting your leg touch the floor. Functional and an easy gym brag, the kettle bell pistol squat is the king of mobility moves.
Ideal for oiling the stiff joints of desk-jockeys and gym bros, it'll also set your Instagram feed ablaze. Helping you master the holy trinity of fitness — stability, strength and mobility — it'll challenge your core (there's more to a six-pack than crunches and planks, after all) and will build sportive-worthy quads while increasing balance.
Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, clasping a kettle bell in each hand in front of your chest with palms facing each other. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat, keeping the kettle bells in the same position and ensuring you don't round your back by tensing your glutes throughout.
Keep your arms strong and walk short, quick steps as fast as possible. Ideal for building grip and plugging onto the end of a tough workout, farmer's walks also pack heavy-duty muscle onto your upper-back while fighting lower-back pain and being a useful conditioning tool and fat-loss.
All the benefits of a traditional shoulder press — improved strength and targeting of many upper-body muscles — without the hassle of having to wait for dumbbells or a machine. Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and bend your knees to grab the ketllebell with one hand.
Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height. Increase the demand you place on the shoulder stabilizing muscles by doing kettle bell swings with one arm.
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They were first used by Russians as counterweights when measuring out goods, and then some old-timey strongmen started to juggle, press, and swing them around for entertainment. Although we don’t recommend dressing up in loincloths and haphazardly tossing weights overhead, there are many benefits to a good kettle bell workout.
For one, the thick handle that attaches to the cast iron base will challenge your grip more than a dumbbell or barbell. This means you can perform more explosive and dynamic movements with kettle bells compared to their iron counterparts.
You also can get a lot of work done in a tight space, so kettle bells are perfect for small home gyms or apartments. Lastly, you can more naturally string together moves to create a workout flow — do a swing, then a clean, and then a press for example.
Kettlebellworkouts offer all the benefits of dumbbell training, with the added advantage that the super-thick handles challenge your grip. They’re ideal for explosive exercises that work major muscles, burn body fat, and build power.
They also add a new dimension to classic moves like chest presses and flies. And you don’t need a wall-length rack of them to get a great workout—one pair will suffice for this routine.
The idea is that you’ll exhaust your muscles just enough while jacking up your heart rate to burn more calories and therefore more fat. Just like the kettle bell itself, the methods of this routine aren’t new — but they’ve stood the test of time because they work.
The weight of a kettle bell hangs a few inches below its handle, which makes it more difficult to control. This extra muscle activity means your body burns more calories.
Couple that with exercises that target the whole body, and you have a formula for significant fat loss. Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing one set for each, one after the other.
Choose a weight that allows you to complete 12-15 reps for each exercise. Read articleWorkout Routines With minor tweaks and subtle changes to your exercise form, you can be sure to finish your chest training on a high note...