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7 quick kettlebell exercises for beginners

Some of the top kettlebell exercises if you're just getting started.

Fitness

7 quick kettlebell exercises for beginners

7 quick kettlebell exercises for beginners

Curious to incorporate kettlebells into your workouts? Here are some good exercises to help you get started and avoid injuries.

Are you looking to lose weight, gain muscle, build strength, and flexibility with a small investment? If so, kettlebell exercises might be the answer for you.

Some of the benefits of incorporating kettlebells into your workouts include:

  • Great for muscular endurance and flexibility
  • Workout your entire body
  • Get many exercises out of one compact equipment
  • Cheap and easy to store at home
  • Fun mix between cardio and strength training
  • Functional strength if you’re tired of just doing isolated reps

What is a kettlebell?

A kettlebell is a large ball-shaped weight with a single handle used to perform ballistic exercises. Kettlebell training can benefit someone with a beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletic condition by adding unique exercises that will engage all your large muscle groups to burn more calories.

 

Yellow kettlebell in a gym

Kettlebell history

Kettlebells were initially developed in Russia during the 1700s, primarily for weighting crops. Farmers eventually became stronger and started displaying their strength during festivals. During the 20th century, the Soviet army utilized kettlebells during the strength training and conditioning program.

Kettlebells are now widely used in a variety of fitness program helping with weight loss, muscle gain, conditioning, strength, and flexibility.

Why kettlebell

Kettlebells deliver a relatively strong return on investment (ROI) for the amount of exercises and the health benefits that can be obtained from it. Kettlebells can also spice up the exercise routine to combine cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training by working your lower back, legs, and shoulders engaging your entire body at one time. You will burn more calories and work at a higher cardiovascular pace by engaging more muscle group, through a kettlebell training. You can choose lower reps /  higher weight for muscle gain and higher reps / lower weight for conditioning or endurance.

Let’s talk about how to get started with kettlebell training.

Getting started with kettlebell exercises

The first thing you will want to do is to figure out which weight works best for you. Try out some of the exercises below without the weight first to learn the technique. Then, go to the nearest sports store near you a try out a couple of different weights, starting with the lowest weight, to figure out what works best for you. The kettlebell exercises for beginners is only going to require one kettlebell.

The most critical part of kettlebell training is first to understand how a kettlebell works, especially if you are already used to conventional weight training with dumbbells and barbells. A kettlebell has a lower center of gravity, which facilitates the ballistic and swinging type movements.

Learning how to properly swing a kettlebell will be the first step you will need to achieve before starting a kettlebell training routine. Like anything else in life, you have to master the basics first before moving on to something more advanced. So let’s cover how to build a sound basis with kettlebell exercises for beginners starting with the kettlebell deadlift.

Kettlebell Slingshot (also known as Kettlebell Around the Waist)

Exercise: Kettlebell Slingshot or Kettlebell Around the Waist

Image source: skimble

The kettlebell slingshot is recommended as a warm up before any of your kettlebell exercises. The motion of this kettlebell exercise for beginners will help your body better understand the new movements you are going to learn.

Tips:

  • Feet should be at shoulder width apart, feet parallel, and back straight
  • Start with kettlebell on the floor aligned with your feet, bend your knees slightly, keep your back straight, and squat down
  • Pick up the kettlebell driving the weight through your heels while keeping your back and chest straight
  • Bring the kettlebell up by squeezing your butt and bring the kettlebell down to the ground
  • Hold the kettlebell with your right hand and rotate it to the right behind your body
  • Grab the kettlebell with your left hand, behind your body, and continue the rotation until you reach the starting point
  • Perform the same amount of repetitions on both sides

Here is a video demonstration on how to correctly perform a Kettlebell Slingshot.

Recommended: 3-4 sets (25 reps to the right and 25 reps to the left) followed by a 30-45 second rest.

Kettlebell Deadlift

Exercise: Kettlebell Deadlift

Image source: skimble

Once you start getting used to the motion of the kettlebell, you should move forward and attempt the kettlebell deadlift. This exercise will build lower body strength to sustain the motion of the kettlebell swing. Keep in mind that this movement will engage your lower back and legs primarily.

Tips:

  • Feet should be at shoulder width apart, feet parallel, and back straight
  • Start with kettlebell on the floor aligned with your feet, bend your knees slightly, keep your back straight, and squat down
  • Pick up the kettlebell driving the weight through your heels while keeping your back and chest straight
  • Bring the kettlebell up by squeezing your butt, bring the kettlebell near the ground, and repeat

Here is a video demonstration on how to correctly perform a Kettlebell Deadlift.

Recommended: 3-4 sets (25 reps each) followed by a 30-45 second rest.

Kettlebell Swing

Exercise how to: Kettlebell Swing

Image source: skimble

It’s essential to get the kettlebell swing right from the get go as this will be the foundation of the majority of the other kettlebell exercises for beginners. So I highly suggest spending some time learning how to swing a kettlebell properly.

This movement will primarily engage your lower back, legs, and shoulders. But other muscle groups like your core and forearms will also be working as well.

Tips:

  • Stand up with feet wider than shoulder width apart
  • Hold the kettlebell between your legs with palms of your hands facing back.
  • Keep your back straight, slightly bend your knees, send your hips back, pick up the kettlebell, and come up to a standing position
  • Slightly bend your knees, keep your arms loose, and use your hips as a pivot point to swing the kettlebell in from of you
  • Allow the kettlebell to swing in between your legs and repeat this motion until your swings build up to be parallel with the floor
  • You can perform this exercise with one hand or both hands

Here is a video demonstration on how to correctly perform a Kettlebell Swing.

Recommended: 3-4 sets (1 minutes each) followed by a 30-45 second rest.

Kettlebell One Arm Clean

Exercise: Kettlebell Right or Left Arm Clean

Image source: Silver Wolf Nutrition

The next best transition from a kettlebell swing will be a kelllebell one arm clean. This exercise start with a swing and ends with a clean. This kettlebell exercise is slight more complex than you kettlebell swing and will require you start with a lighter weight to avoid hurting your forearms during the clean motion.

Tips:

  • Stand up with feet wider than shoulder width apart
  • Hold the kettlebell between your legs with palms of your hands facing back
  • Start the swing by bending your knees slightly and pushing your hips backward when starting the motion like a kettlebell swing
  • When the kettlebell reaches mid-air level, perform the clean motion by twisting your wrist outwards and tucking your elbows close to your body
  • The kettlebell should sit tight in your pocket, and your hands should be close to your chin
  • Keep your back and chest straight at all times

Here is a video with an explanation of how to properly perform a Kettlebell Clean.

Recommended: 3-4 sets (10-15 reps each arm) followed by a 30-45 second rest.

Kettlebell Shoulder Press

Exercise how to: Kettlebell Shoulder Press

Image source: CutAndJacked

This exercise will take the kettlebell shoulder press a step further into a should press, thus engaging more muscle groups to burn more calories. This exercise should test your endurance, build your overall upper body strength, and core.

Tips:

  • Stand up with feet wider than shoulder width apart
  • Hold the kettlebell between your legs with palms of your hands facing back
  • Start the swing by bending your knees slightly and pushing your hips backward when starting the motion like a kettlebell swing
  • When the kettlebell reaches mid-air level, perform the clean motion by twisting your wrist outwards and tucking your elbows close to your body
  • From this point push the kettlebell upward, like a unilateral shoulder press
  • Keep your back and chest straight at all times

Here is a video with an explanation of how to properly perform a Kettlebell Shoulder Press.

Recommended: 3-4 sets (10-15 reps each arm) followed by a 30-45 second rest.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Exercise how to: Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Image source: Sweat Like A Pig

The kettlebell goblet squat will engage your lower body as well as your lower back, core, and shoulders. The goblet squat is not a typical squat. Your posture will have to change slightly to accommodate the additional weight that is in front of your body to center your point of balance. You can utilize this exercise to increase your strength, endurance, as well as your flexibility through a full range of motion.

Tips:

  • Stand up with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keep your back straight, slightly bend your knees, send your hips back, pick up the kettlebell, and come up to a standing position
  • Slightly bend your knees, keep your arms loose, and use your hips as a pivot point to swing the kettlebell in from of you
  • Allow the kettlebell to swing in between your legs and repeat this motion until your swings build up to be parallel with the floor

Here is a video with a couple of insightful pointers on how to properly execute a Kettlebell Goblet Squat.

Recommended: 3-4 sets (10-15 reps) followed by a 30-45 second rest.

Kettlebell Halo

Exercise how to: Kettlebell Halo

Image source: Indian Workouts

This kettlebell exercise variation for beginners will challenge you by unconventionally working your core.

Tips:

  • Stand up with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Hold the kettlebell between your legs with palms of your hands facing back
  • Start the swing by bending your knees slightly and pushing your hips backward when starting the motion like a kettlebell swing using both hands
  • Turn kettlebell upside down, holding it by the horns, when kettlebell reaches chest level
  • Rotate kettlebell around your head
  • Keep your core tight during, both back and chest, during the exercise

Here is a video with a couple of insightful pointers on how to properly execute a Kettlebell Halo.

Recommended: 3-4 sets (10-15 reps) followed by a 30-45 second rest.

Kettlebell your way to your fitness goals

For such a small investment, a kettlebell will help you achieve your fitness goal but will require that you give it a try. To get started with kettlebell training, you have first to figure out your ideal kettlebell weight. When choosing your first kettlebell, start out with the smallest weight and try out a couple of the exercises above. The exercises should feel comfortable but not too easy.  If you can easily perform more than 15-25 reps, you might try out a couple of heavier weights to find out which one fits you best.

Once you figure out your kettlebell weight, try out some of the exercises above. Start by first working on your form then focus on progression by working your way up by consistently adding more reps and/or sets.

Starting a kettlebell training is not an easy task. Regardless if your goal is to lose weight or to gain muscle, the above kettlebell exercises for beginners will get you going in the right directions. Just warm up and follow the instructions above for at least 4-6 weeks to build strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Bruno earned his B.S. in Exercise Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Houston. Bruno is fully committed to applying concepts of exercise science and human nutrition to help others live a healthier lifestyle.

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