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).
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.
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.
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.
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. The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile.
Buy a DVD or sign up for a kettle bell class at the gym 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 buy DVDs or sign up for classes 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 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.
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.
We live in a world of infinite knowledge, yet we rarely stop to think about the dangers of such innovation. Well, maybe not that many, but in this day and age of strength and conditioning the kettle bell is turning into a standard training tool among coaches and trainees.
If you’re new to the kettle bell and want to jump in with both feet, three full body workouts hitting each movement pattern per week is plenty. The conventional gyms and department stores of the world would have you believe that a 10lb kettle bell is all a man needs and a 5lb is plenty for a woman.
Well, my friend, I hate to burst your kettle-bubble, but if you want to see any benefits from the bell you need to challenge yourself. 99% of the time (a statistic I just made up to prove a point but is still going to be high) trainees go too light.
There’s no set standard per se as each person is different, but here’s a good guide for non-injured, healthy men and women: Challenging yourself is important, but if you’re breaking form for the purposes of lifting a certain weight, then the potential harm outweighs any good could be doing.
If I had a nickel for each time I’ve seen someone attempting a technical move like the snatch at a conventional gym with zero knowledge of the movement outside of watching a video I’d be a rich man. Finding a reputable coach in your area or absorbing instructional videos will do your body good.
Juggling, intense movements, and programs with a ton of volume can look enticing, but if you’re not ready for it take a step back. Check out the Durability channel on Innit Academy On Demand to work through tight areas and open up new movements.
Double kettle bell work, heavy one arm swings, bent presses, goblet squats, and incredible flows will do far more than get your heart pumping. A powerful routine that will build incredible strength AND conditioning is utilizing the kettle bell (or a few) for a strength-geared circuit.
For example, you can perform a press, goblet squat, renegade row, and one arm swing. This gives you PLENTY of room for growth since you can’t change the weights easily.
Between get-ups, arm bars, windmills and sots presses kettle bell deliver amazing strength, but also incredible mobility from your hips to your shoulders and everything in between. You can incorporate challenging movements as a warm up or what I do is pick the toughest ones based on my body’s abilities and spend a whole session playing with them.
For example, I’ll incorporate a longer mobility warm up and then hit multiple sets (never to failure) of sots presses and deep goblet squats using lighter weights. Because of the position of the kettle bell even simply pressing it will pull your arm back a bit further stretching your lats and opening up your shoulders a hair more.
Your glutes and hamstrings are your power source for building hip speed and explosive strength. This can be alternated with heavy and lighter weights and aiming for 50-200 reps (not necessarily at once).
Sets can be broken down and performed ladder-style, on the minute, or pair them with a calisthenics move like push ups for a more robust session. A strong grip is more useful than the mainstream fitness world gives it credit.
The off-center placement of the bell gives the kettle bell an advantage over other tools as it forces you to keep a flexed forearm while in the rack and overhead position. Combine that with kettle bell flows, juggling, and ballistic movements to strengthen your grip from every angle.
Eventually, you can try tougher routines and juggling complexes to unleash the power of the bell. Most strength training is done with trunk flexion and extension with the occasional rotational movement medicine ball throw.
Squats and dead lifts are awesome, but when you combine powerful movements with the likes of rotational swings, lateral punches, and 360 snatches you’ll build strength from a multitude of angles. Strength in motion (what we’ve dubbed the outside the box thinking and kettle bell flowing) is almost meditative.
There are no sets and reps. You just move, and this allows you to explore different ranges of motion, planes, and movement patterns. If you’re a coach or group class leader kettle bells are fantastic to lead clients through a plethora of movements that will deliver strength and conditioning in record time.
If you’re a solo practitioner nothing beats the simplicity of one or two bells and some fresh air. Some simple complexes and movements can help you continue on your strength quest without skipping a beat and minus the tons of equipment and weight needed.
An easy way is to limit your tools to a kettle bell and club or mace, a suspension trainer and your body to build a high-functioning physique without all the fluff. This will help you take your kettle bell abilities to the next level and help you unlock your imagination for some fantastic, out of the box strength and conditioning sessions.
The benefits of kettle bell training are endless and are proving to far outshine the conventional dumbbells and fancy machines found inside gyms and health clubs. The kettle bell ’s unique shape (the handle, the bulk of the weight massed into a dense ball) is obviously different from that of a dumbbell.
This shape allows the body to perform a multitude of ballistic and grind exercises in a natural, fluid motion. The offset weight of the ball forces more muscles to stabilize and allows for the body to take each exercise through a longer range of motion.
‘ Increased endurance‘ Rapid fat loss‘ Muscular strength without the added bulk‘ Increased core stability‘ Full-body workout‘ Stronger back‘ Rehabilitated shoulders‘ Flexibility‘ Mental toughness‘ Decreased musculoskeletal pain‘ Twice the results in half the time you would spend at the gym A study done by the American Council on Exercise showed the effectiveness of kettle bell training for burning calories.
A recent study performed in Scandinavia investigated the effects of using kettle bells to improve musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health. The study also showed that kettle bell training improves strength of the lower back among adults with a high prevalence of reported musculoskeletal pain.
No gym membership is required and you can get your entire workout done with just one bell.‘ It’s a full-body and very balanced workout.‘ It’s never boring and super fun.‘ It makes your rear very strong and firm.‘ It’s easily transportable and can be used almost everywhere.‘ It can be shared in a group setting, making it a social activity.‘ It can target every single muscle group in your entire body.‘ Did I say it’s quick and gets to the point? Sign up for our free weekly newsletters and get nutritious recipes, healthy weight-loss tips, easy ways to stay in shape and all the health news you need, delivered straight to your inbox.
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.
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.
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. A lot of people are under the impression that the use of kettle bells are some gimmicky fad that burst on the fitness scene within the last decade or so.
The benefits of Kettle bell Training are backed by valid science & extensive studies conducted in the exercise industry along with many hours of practical application experience. While referencing all this science and studies lends credence to the effectiveness of using kettle bells, I only need to trust my own experiences with these amazing implements and the great results I have gotten myself and for those who have practiced with them under my guidance.
If you are going to put forth the time and energy to work out, why not choose a program where you can get great back- end benefits like this for your up- front efforts? If you were to read no further, just that reason alone would be enough to position most people for success in their quest for their ideal body composition.
Unfortunately, that hack trainer over at the 24-hour super-duper mega techno gym considers throwing you on a treadmill like some mindless hamster followed by doing some curls and crunches a total body workout. Spare yourself the disappointment and frustration of participating in thoughtless and ineffective workouts like this if you really want to improve your fitness.
Many of my reasons I state in this article for why I use a kettle bell in my training also cover what a total body workout should consist of. Hopefully, you realize that our stay on this planet is finite and that we don’t have a lot of time to waste doing unproductive things.
I train with kettle bells because they allow me to design safe, brief, sustainable workouts to experience Maximum Fitness in Minimal Time leading to Stellar Results. Everybody talks about the ‘core” and all of its virtues, but really never train it too productively from what I see while walking around gyms in different cities I visit.
Rarely do I witness worthwhile or meaningful efforts to train the core besides people throwing together some type of crunch or setup routine they have etched in their brains from somewhere in time. Many kettle bell exercises will give you a metabolic effect similar to sprinting, BUT without beating the hell out of your knees, ankles or joints.
The challenge is to pursue a fitness program consisting of exercises that will not only give you a productive workout, but promote an existence of rich, pain free movement as well. High-repetition kettle bell exercises, such as swings and their variations really get your heart rate up and push the limits of your cardiovascular endurance.
Kettle bell exercises push your muscles, especially those in your core, to keep working repeatedly for long periods of time. This builds muscular endurance, which helps maintain posture and form in your workouts as well as throughout everyday life activities.
Good posture prevents injuries, unhealthy muscle tension, and other aches and pains we all seem to have accumulated to varying degrees over our lifetime. The good news is that you can get incredible fitness and health results with just 2-3 short kettle bell workouts per week in conjunction with a well-designed program.
I loved the fact that I could get in a challenging and fun kettle bell workout that literally addressed every fitness goal I valued with a minimal time investment that yielded maximum results. This really uncomplicated my routine, freed up more time to devote to other responsibilities/leisurely pursuits and boosted my fitness and health to levels that surpassed my expectations.
This is very true if you define quality as moving better and pain free, performing daily tasks more efficiently and confidently, enjoying new levels of activity and finally achieving that ideal lean, tight and strong body worth bragging to the heavens about! I’m convinced that sound, thoughtful and challenging physical training in general does wonders for your mental well-being and will contribute to a positive outlook on life.
Furthermore, kettle bell exercises are extremely efficient at building lean muscle mass, which elevates the metabolism and helps maintain a healthy body weight long term. Kettle bell training will help you forge your ideal body without wasting a lot of unproductive time in the gym.
Thoughtfully programmed variety is beneficial because it keeps the body challenged, which helps avoid training plateaus. Add new exercises only if you can justify its purpose in furthering your training goals, it’s safe and you can perform them competently.
Beginner, intermediate, and advanced trainees will all be challenged since there are so many exercise regressions and progressions that can be applied in a kettle bell training program to keep all levels engaged and moving forward with their goals. If you can’t move well and with a requisite amount of strength, then your quality of life and performance of your everyday activities will suffer.
Heed my warning and train in such a way where you will promote and preserve your joint mobility and pain free movement quality. Renowned coach Steve Maxwell stated that in his many years of teaching fitness worldwide, he has never had a client tell him that they wished they had done more bench presses over their lifetime.
Instead, they all overwhelmingly regret not practicing and staying connected to exercises that improved their movement quality in order to live an active pain free life. This is a great warning that I wished I would have heeded in my younger training days, but fortunately it is rarely too late to improve your movement quality if you have the desire to take action and practice meaningful exercises.
While kettle bells play a huge part in the programs I design, they are by no means the be all and end all fitness modalities. But if you want to torch the fat, increase mobility, get lean & strong, develop killer legs, tighten your butt & perform better physically and live a life of active vitality and longevity, then a well-designed kettle bell based program may be for you.
If you like the fitness benefits you can experience from training with kettle bells, then take action and dare to transform your body and your quality of life. Grab a friend, spouse or loved one or go it alone and give kettle bell training a shot if you want to experience meaningful results, achieve that ideal body and even have some fun and excitement.
Many gyms and health clubs wanting to jump on the kettle bell bandwagon and cash in on their dynamic reputation and “cool” status for propelling one to their fitness goals will make the knee-jerk decision to add them to their facility with little thought as to their proper use or how to integrate them safely into their master plan if they have one at all. I have been to more facilities than I care to remember that will just let trainees and trainers do all kinds of unsafe movements and buffoonery with a kettle bell ranging from truly cringe worthy technique to using the kettle bell to gang dance around in some kind of disjointed routine of meaningless expenditures of energy.
People get hurt when they don’t take the time to learn safe, sustainable technique or take instruction from inept, unqualified, unprepared instructors who do you, me, the kettle bell and the fitness industry a colossal disservice by muddying the effectiveness and reputation of this excellent tool. Regarding scenarios such as this, trainees and trainers will usually get hurt at some point due to their lack of proper technique training and then ridiculously blame the kettle bell for their shortcomings instead of their own ineptness and failure to learn proper technique and program design as to the reason for their failure or injury.
In the wrong hands the kettle bell becomes nothing more than an Attractive Liability for irresponsible gym owners, trainers and members who are either ignorant of sound technique or their colossal egos dictate that they are above learning from others with greater skill than their own. I politely questioned one gym owner why he lets his admittedly unqualified staff have free rein of the kettle bells without any legitimate training.
I told him you are allowing your staff to teach horrendous technique to your client base in a dangerously unsustainable manner. Don’t get me wrong- everybody at some point regardless of their experience or qualifications will sustain some type of injury or tweak a muscle here or there performing any exercise using any fitness tool.
With proper instruction, kettle bells are easy to learn, yet will keep you challenged and progressing without boring the hell out of you. I have been using kettle bells for over a decade and I have yet to experience boredom or lack of enthusiasm and I have sampled just about every fitness tool and method out there.
With the explosion of kettle bell training over the last 10 years there are now many shapes and sizes available to buy. Common kettle bell exercises involve swings, lifts, and presses, but unlike weightlifting or powerlifting, kettle bell training can be performed bilaterally and unilaterally in all planes.
The Single Arm Dead lift exercise can be performed with any type of kettle bell : As you can see from the competition kettle bell image above the handle is much smaller and is squarer in design.
The advantage of these types of kettle bells is that your hand doesn’t slide around due to the limited space plus you can get used to the size even when the weight changes. If you choose to go for the cast iron kettle bells then there is still a few more things that you need to know before you buy.
Make sure you don’t buy a kettle bell with a handle that’s too thick. A kettle bell with a handle that is too thick is going to quickly tire out your forearms and finishing repetitions of an exercise can be very tough.
The bottom of the kettle bell should have a natural flat but it shouldn’t have an attached rubber or plastic base. Bases can be good for preventing marks on your floor but unfortunately they’re going to really dig into arm and into your body when you’re using the kettle bell.
The fourth thing is to make sure that there are no sharp edges on the kettle bell handle. Look out for kettle bells that have sharp bits of paint and also check where the handle meets the body that there are no small nicks that can cut into your hands.
Avoid a kettle bell that’s a round ball with a big, sharp handle stuck on the top There should be a nice smooth bit of continuity with the kettle bell from the body into the handle.
If the handle spacing is too small you’re going to find it really digs into your wrists when in the racked position or overhead. If it’s too big, then the kettle bell will lie too far down on the arm and it’s going to dig into your forearm.
It seems to be trendy to coat kettle bells in vinyl or plastic to avoid marking floor etc. However, due to the huge rise in popularity there are now many weight sizes in-between the ones listed above.
At a later date more experienced kettle bell practitioners may work on overhead presses with the 32 kg plus may need to bridge the gap between the 16 kg and 24 kg with a 20 kg for single-handed exercises. I have to say that I’ve learned the hard way and bought lots of kettle bells that turned out to be completely useless.
Here are one brand that I have consistently used over the past few years without any problems, they are very reasonably priced and available on Amazon.com in the USA: For those based in the UK, head on over to Wilkerson Fitness and check out their black series of kettle bells.
Cast Iron kettle bells are the most diverse and excellent for beginners and almost anyone not interested in going in to competition. If you are more advanced and want to focus on purely single-handed exercises than the competition kettle bell may be for you.