Must Do Kettlebell Exercises

Christina Perez
• Thursday, 21 October, 2021
• 11 min read

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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. In addition, it’s an effective way to train for improving movement patterns and ensuring equal weight distribution during certain exercises.

As a result, it allows you to do things you couldn’t (more efficiently) with either of the aforementioned fitness tools. If you can’t maintain proper form or perform more than 8 reps, the weight is probably too heavy for you at this point in your training.

The most important thing is that you learn the exercise first and the weight will naturally follow. It works the entire posterior chain (backside of the body) and core muscles too.

Kettle bell SwingSomething important to know about this movement is that the hips should be responsible for the arm action. Keep your feet slightly wider than hip-width and bend your knees a quarter of the way.

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Tighten your core, keep your shoulders down, straighten your back, then hinge forward at the hips without bending your knees further. With your torso parallel to the floor, flex your lats and lock in your rear Delta.

Swing the kettle bell back between your legs then thrust your hips forward into the standing position which should move your arms upward in front of you. The kettle bell dead lift is another excellent posterior chain exercise that works the upper legs, back, core, and even biceps.

Stand close to the kettle bell, keep your back straight and core tight. Hinge forward at the hips and bend your knees then grab the kettle bell with both hands.

Flex your lats, retract your shoulder blades and drive the weight up through your heels and mid foot. The goblet squat is a great kettle bell exercise for working your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

But it also works your core and forces you into thoracic extension which is ideal for good lifting posture. Kettle bell Goblet SquatThoracic outlet syndrome is when the space between the collarbone and the first rib is compressed.

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(Source: silverwolfnutrition.com)

The kettle bell hang clean is one of the best power movements you can do for your upper body. As a result, the weights smacks into the forearm muscles (not good), not to mention placing a lot of stress on the wrists.

So, the key to doing this exercise safely is to keep the kettle bell close to your body, while using a grip that’ll allow the weight to move around the handle as opposed to flipping over it. The right way to do this is to rotate the wrist during the concentric (positive) portion of the exercise.

Lastly, you don’t want to keep your wrists completely straight or flexed, but in slight extension for better control. To do it: Grip the kettle bell so that the handle is at a more diagonal angle in your palm rather than straight across (e.g. the handle should start high near the thumb and angle down to the bottom of the wrist directly under the pinky finger).

Thrust upward and pull the kettle bell up the center of your body as if you were zipping up your jacket then rotate your wrist so your palm is facing away from you. The push press is a simple movement that works the shoulders and traps plus it also involves assistance from the triceps.

But the little ‘push’ from the legs helps to get heavier poundage overhead and it’s also useful when fatigued. So for this variation, you’re going to combine the two previous movements to make for one fluid motion.

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It’s a great exercise for developing overhead strength, power, and shoulder stability. With your back straight and core tight, bend your knees a quarter of the way down to allow the kettle bell to lower while hinging at the hips.

To do it: Get into a push-up position and grip the kettle bell handles so your hands are about shoulder-width apart and on either side of your lower chest. Keep your torso neutral and row one kettle bell by pulling it up toward your rib cage.

The kettle bell windmill is a great core and hip flexibility exercise and it may also benefit the spine. Maintain a neutral spine and bend your torso in the same direction as your feet while looking at the kettle bell.

Push upward through your heels and mid foot while squeezing your glutes as you return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side after you’ve completed the desired number of reps.

It’s a rather simple movement that involves picking up the weight, keeping everything tight with shoulders back, and walking for distance without breaking form. It’s a very functional movement that can improve stability, shoulder health, coordination, and overall full-body awareness, as you have to hold a kettle bell overhead while going from a lying to a standing position.

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Here’s a great video demonstration… A lot of exercises focus on anterior and posterior stability/strength. However, if we’re to prevent energy leaks and maximize overall physical performance, then we need to do exercises that focus on lateral function.

Bend your hips and knees until you can grab the kettle bell while keeping your back flat. Drive upward through your heels and mid foot then thrust your hips forward as the kettle bell reaches mid-thigh.

Make sure your torso and shoulders are level and resist the kettle bell pulling you to one side. If you’re using enough resistance while continually progressing in weight or reps then you’ll build muscle.

We recommend keeping the weight in the 10-20 rep range for muscle building. Kettle bells are better suited for individuals who have a decent amount of training experience unless doing very basic movements.

So if your goal is maximum muscle growth and strength, then you’ll need to focus more on dumbbell and barbell training. Although, kettle bell training can produce muscle and strength gains with an effective routine.

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Some are easier while others are more challenging but just start slow, learn the techniques, and you’ll have an arsenal of kettlebellexercises that you can pull from at any time. 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.

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.

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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, kettle bell workouts 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.

“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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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2 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/which-kettlebell-to-start-with/
3 www.strongfirst.com - https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/how-heavy-a-kettlebell-to-build-muscle.14714/
4 unlockketo.com - https://unlockketo.com/product/akt-16kg-kettlebell-kettle-bell-profession-strength-training-sports-equipment-sports-gym-household-dumbbells-weightlifting-workout/
5 www.t3.com - https://www.t3.com/au/features/best-kettlebell
6 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/onnit-double-16kg-kettlebells/
7 www.simplefitnesshub.com - https://www.simplefitnesshub.com/what-weight-kettlebell-should-i-buy/
8 www.mensjournal.com - https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/how-to-choose-the-right-kettlebell-weight-w447908/
9 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/academy/what-is-the-best-kettlebell-weight-to-start-with/