Kettlebell fans love the heavy, round-shaped weights for a reason — kettlebell exercises combine cardio and strength training for a time-saving calorie burn. The amount of calories you can burn using kettlebells can be amazingly high: a study by the American Council on Exercise found that the average person burns 400 calories in 20 minutes when doing kettlebell exercises. More research has found that regularly exercising with kettlebells significantly reduces back, neck, and shoulder pain by strengthening core and upper body muscles.
If you’ve never done a kettlebell workout before, know that starting out is a little bit more involved than just lifting weights. Because many kettlebell exercises involve a lot of swinging moves, you need to make sure that you are handling it correctly to not injure yourself. Start with a lighter weight, and try these three exercises to determine if it’s the right size. Once you’ve figured out the right fit, read on for more effective kettlebell exercises.
Deadlifts are extremely effective for correcting your posture, and the fact that they give your butt a nice lift doesn’t hurt either. Hold a kettlebell in one hand to do this single-leg deadlift; remember to bend at the waist while keeping your back straight and control your movements as you raise back up. Here’s how to do a single-leg kettlebell deadlift correctly:
Hold a kettlebell (between 10 and 20 pounds) in your right hand, and lift your left foot slightly off the ground.
Keeping your back neutral, lean your entire torso forward while raising your left leg, which should stay in line with your body. The kettlebell will lower toward the ground. Keep your left shoulder blade pulled down your back.
With your back straight, return upright, coming to your starting position.
This completes one rep. Maximize this move by keeping your right foot off the ground as you go through your reps.
Do 12 reps on each leg, for three sets.
Yes, your arms will be tired after you’ve done this move, but they’ll also be well-defined and strong. Here’s how to do the Turkish Get-Up:
Begin lying on your back with your right arm pointing toward the ceiling and your right knee bent. Your left arm should be out to the side and a little lower than your shoulder.
Keep your eyes on your right hand, and come to sitting without lowering your right arm. Lean onto your left hand to prepare you for your next move.
Press down into your left hand to lift your pelvis off the ground. Keep your eyes trained on your right hand.
Shoot your left leg backward, putting weight on your left knee, which you should place directly under your left hip. Your arms should be in a straight line with left hand on the floor and right hand toward the ceiling. You are bent to the left, but your eyes will still be focusing on the right hand.
Push off the floor with your left hand, so your torso is upright. Keep looking up at your right hand.
Come to standing. Bring left leg forward to meet the right.
Reverse the sequence to return to starting position on floor.
Do six to eight reps with your right arm up, then switch sides.
This move is a great exercise for toning the glutes, and while you can use a dumbbell to execute the move, using a kettlebell will work more muscles and help challenge your balance. Here’s how to do a kettlebell squat:
Stand with feet wide, toes pointing forward, and hold a heavy kettlebell in front of you with palms facing toward you.
Keeping your chest lifted, squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Pause, and then rise up to standing and repeat. Do 20-25 reps.
This double-kettlebell move is a killer, but it tones your entire body. And since it focuses on your obliques and torso, you’ll notice a smaller waist in no time. To do the kettlebell windmill sequence:
Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart.
Rotate your left toes outward and raise your right arm above your head, keeping your eyes trained on the weight.
Shift your hips to the right. Don’t let your pelvis swing behind you as you move into the sassy position.
As you shift your hips right, your weight will shift to the right, too. You should feel about 60 percent of your weight in your right foot.
Lower your torso toward the floor, so the kettlebell hovers just off the floor.
Keep your body as flat as possible, with the ankles, hips, and shoulders in one plane. This position feels a lot like a tight Triangle pose in yoga.
Keep your torso still as you bring your left hand to your left shoulder in a bicep curl.
Keeping your left arm bent and your right arm pointing to the ceiling, come to standing position. Imagine your waist doing all the work to move your torso upright.
Shift your pelvis back to center once again to distribute your weight evenly between both feet.
Complete the rep by bringing your left arm overhead, working your shoulder. Lower your left arm down to return to starting position, and repeat.
Kettlebell Squat and Swing
This classic kettlebell move will tone your back and shoulders while working your core — all while getting your heart rate up as well! Keep a full grip on the kettlebell to stay in control, since this move is all about the explosive swing you do as you come up from your squat. Learn how to do the kettlebell squat and swing below:
Stand with your feet wider than hips-width apart, toes slightly pointing out. Squat down, and hold a kettlebell with both hands between your legs. Make sure your back is flat and your abs are engaged.
As you inhale, press into your feet and explode up, straightening your legs and swinging the kettlebell in front so your hands are in line with your shoulders.
Exhale, and with control, come back to the starting position, allowing the kettlebell to swing back between your legs.
This counts as one rep. Complete three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Both the halo and the orbit (shown on the next slide) are amazing moves for shoulder-joint mobility as well as your abs, Laura says. “In today’s world, we really neglect the core. Lots of people have back issues and things like that, so the orbit and the halo are great moves to increase the strength in your midsection,” she explains.
Hold a kettlebell with both hands and bring it up to your chest. Keep holding onto the kettlebell with both hands as you raise it up over the left side of your head (your left ear).
Slowly move the kettlebell so it is behind your head, then move the kettlebell so it is over your right ear. Keep your head straight and core engaged while you do these movements.
Bring the kettlebell back to your chest, then reverse the movement (bring it up to behind the right ear, then behind your head, then behind your left ear).
Bring the kettlebell back to your chest. This completes one rep. Do 10 reps.