My Ultimate Kettlebell Workout Guide!
I’ve been using a pair of Kettlebells for more than a year now and I think it’s time I write my review at the same time my own guide for those who may be interested. First off, what exactly is a kettlebell? Well for starters it’s basically a bowling ball with a handle. History says it hails from Russian farms and was used as a weight-thing. Some famous Russian guy named Pavel brought it to the U.S. and voila! The trend has since started.
Here would be questions you may be wondering right now:
“Is this good in losing weight/burning fat?”
A most definite yes. Kettlebells promote aerobic and anaerobic activity in just a few minutes and yes it also burns fat at a more rapid rate than most traditional training. Kettlebells offer a variety of exercises, sets, and a bunch of circuits which can also be paired with non-kettlebell training but is also just as good on its own.
And as a testimony, kettlebell training helped me not only to lose weight (with a dedicated healthy diet), but to burn the unnecessary fat in my body therefore converting them to muscle. I have a friend who’s pretty heavy with a big fat belly and he was shocked to find out that we weigh the same (80 kg). How can he look so BIG and me so lean? Fat is lighter than muscle and is more voluminous. Its density is less than muscle tissue which makes really fat people look like giant balls of lard. I’m not saying he’s one but a few more of those quarter-pounders and he may well be on his way.
“Why would I use a pair of kettlebells over pairs of dumbbells or the barbell?”
Kettlebells train the body in a holistic manner meaning most of its exercises utilizes more than three muscle groups at a time. Form this point on, I’d like to say the dumbbell is the easier version of a kettlebell and the barbell a somewhat distant cousin.
Why is the dumbbell easier? A basic dumbbell is balanced on two sides while a kettlebell is typically heavy on one end. Dumbbells and kettlebells share similar exercises but overall, the kettlebell takes the cake if we are to go for difficulty and results. Because the kettlebell’s weight is not equally distributed, it takes more effort at controlling or carrying it therefore making the hand, grip, and forearm already stronger than they would be if you used a dumbbell of the same weight.
Barbells and Kettlebells are both good at strength training but in terms of muscle building, in all honesty, barbells take the lead. Barbells were simply made for muscle building. But barbells have limited holistic exercises and provide little benefits to the lower body than with a good pair of kettlebells. And as for fat burning and metabolic training, training that enhances the metabolism in a short period of time, kettlebells win it. Kettlebells combine aerobic and anaerobic exercises which can be attributed to HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. Kettlebell training also mimic everyday movements which benefits you even more functionally than a dumbbell or a barbell could.
And oh, I’ve compared and I find kettlebell training much more fun than the other two.
“I’m a beginner and I want to try. How heavy should I go for?”
It all depends on how much you can carry, really. For starters, don’t use a pair. Just master one kettlebell at first. A good starting weight for men would be 16 kg or roughly 35 lb while women may start with around 10 kg or roughly 22 lb. It’s all about feeling comfortable with the weight. Too light may mean little benefits and too heavy may mean serious injuries. It’s like regular lifting where your aim is either to get stronger or simply burn excess fat. In a nutshell, a light pair for extended periods of time is more on fat burning while a heavy pair with short repetitions is for strength training (and of course, fat burning).
“Will they fit inside my room?”
Kettlebells aren’t all that big and the weight variances aren’t so huge that they would be larger than car wheels (regular sedans, not monster trucks). They’re just like bigger versions of dumbbells. And they don’t need any accessory to use them unlike the barbell which needs an oly bar.
“What exercises should I do?”
Here is the fun part. I’ll tell you a bunch of basic moves coupled with videos so it won’t be that hard to imagine how they’re done. Before I get started, let me remind you that PROPER FORM is of utmost importance. A wrong form can mean either a little muscle strain or the end of a normal life. I kid you not.
In this part here I’ll discuss with you examples of basic exercises that you can use with a single or a pair of kettlebells. Remember that you must master the one-handed kettlebell exercise before using two. Using two kettlebells require double of everything: Effort, discipline, energy, and pain threshold. And as with everything else, even the danger or risk of injury not just to self but to others are also doubled. Mind your surroundings.
1. The Swing
1.1. One Kettlebell
A. Two-Handed Swing
When you ask a kettlebell enthusiast which exercise is a staple for the kettlebell, they will most likely say the Swing. Let’s start with the two-handed Swing:
A few reminders on the Two-handed Swing:
1. Spine has to be straight NOT vertical, straight.
2. Inhale before you lift then exhale when it reaches the max height (should be chest-level).
3. Your lower body is the source of the lifting energy i.e. pelvic thrusts
4. Your arms shouldn’t do anything beside holding the Kettlebell. Let them “hang” while your pelvis does all the work.
B. One-Handed Swing
Almost the same with the Two-Handed swing, the One-Handed swing is simply a swing using one hand alternating with the other.
There’s a variation for this Swing. It’s a bit more difficult because you let go of the kettlebell mid-air which therefore requires more concentration and muscle work.
1.2. Two Kettlebells
2. The High Pull
1.1. One Kettlebell
The second level of the Swing, the high pull aims to lift the kettlebell overhead in momentum.
2.2. Two Kettlebells
Once you master this, you can go and do the Snatch.
3. The Snatch
3.1. One Kettlebell
They say the Snatch is the ultimate and at the same time one of the very basic kettlebell exercises. It’s an advanced form which stemmed from the basic swing. It’s the best exercise in working your whole body and has been credited as the “Czar” of kettlebell exercises.
3.2. Two Kettlebells
This is the basic and should be mastered before doing the advanced form.
This is the advanced form.
Now I myself don’t really like this version because it feels unsafe but to each their own, I guess.
4. The Squat
4.1. One Kettlebell
The squat is a known workout for barbell and dumbbell enthusiasts alike. It’s a pretty common exercise which brings no surprise as to why even kettlebells have it. Aside from being basic, it’s one of the most holistic exercises involved specially in the world of barbells. It’s an effective fat burner if done repetitively at a rapid rate in the shortest amount of time.
4.2. Two Kettlebells
Side view because this view is the most important of all.
Front view so you’ll know how constipated you’d look like when you do this.
5. The Clean
5.1. One Kettlebell
The clean is relatively easy enough and is a perfect beginner exercise.
Once you get that done, I recommend the Clean and Press
5.2. Two Kettlebells
That’s it for the common exercises done using the kettlebell. Below you’ll find the not so common yet basic movements as well.
6.1. to 6.2. One kettlebell to two kettlebell rows
This is actually one of those advanced techniques but most I’ve seen consider it a basic move. Below you’ll find 3 variations of the kettlebell row.
If you think his instruction unclear or lacking, here’s a more in-depth approach to doing the renegade row.
7. Kettlebell Burpees
I’ll only recommend you the two kettlebell version and as for the video, the last variant is my preferred.
8.1. One Kettlebell
Good lower body training.
A good variation is the kettlebell tactical lunge. Just alternate between legs
8.2. Two Kettlebells
The See-Saw requires two kettlebells.
10. Jump Squats
10.1. One Kettlebell
Now this is a really rare kettlebell exercise that even I’ve just recently been aware of. It looks like a good warm-up exercise, though.
10.2. Two Kettlebells
Skip to 1:40 🙂
Once you’ve mastered the exercises above, it’s time for a little challenge by mixing 2 to 3 of the exercises to achieve maximum metabolic rate. Note that each combination I’ll tell you will more or less give you similar results in terms of fat burning but not in muscle group training. Note that the key in kettlebell training is speed. The faster you do your workouts, the better. And if you feel that the weight is no longer a challenge, you can either choose to stop there and maintain or upgrade to another weight set if you wish to get stronger.
Another note is that I’ll mostly show you combinations using two kettlebells. If you wish to use just one or feel that two is a bit hard for you to use right now, simply adjust the combinations to fit only a single kettlebell use. The same with videos portraying the use of only one.
1. Swing – High Pull – Snatch
This is a personal favorite. It shows the transition from the basic swing up to the advanced snatch.
2. Clean – Jerk/Press – Push up – Renegade Row – Burpee
It’s a lot but it’s not that difficult at all. It’s not so fast compared to number 1.
3. Snatch – Squat
Seems simple enough but the fatigue you’ll get when you squat won’t be so simple after each set.
4. Clean – Squat – Press
5. Swing – High Pull – Clean – Squat
6. Swing – See Saw – Clean – See Saw – Lunge
This video shows us a good variant of the double kettlebell lunge.
Another variant which uses the Snatch.
The next set will be the difficult ones but also the ones with the most benefits for fat incineration.
7. The Big 5!
This makes use of the Swing, Snatch, Clean, Press, and Squat.
7.1. One Kettlebell
7.2. Two Kettlebells
8. The Greatest 7!
This is not your ordinary complex. It is by far the most difficult I’ve done. It not only incorporates the Big 5! but also adds the push up and renegade rows!
Jump to 3:03!
Do this complex for 4-5 times with heavy kettlebells OR do 5 repetitions of each exercise for 5 times with lighter weights.
9. The Destroyer
According to the notes on the video, it consists of 15 each of swings, snatches, squats, clean and presses, and push ups using a pair of 16 kg kettlebells. I did this before and I never want to do this again because it literally drains me in the morning!
10. The Godzilla
This is a personal favorite in terms of complexes. It’s simple yet effective and you really feel the burn.
Other exercises that can be used in combination to Kettlebell training
1. Push ups
I’ll show you the different kinds of push ups available to us. It’s a good exercise on its own. The key here is to do it as fast as you can.
But for the standard, this is how it should be done first.
2. Pull ups/Chin ups with Knee up
A strong man can always pull himself up. That is all.
3. Burpees/Squat Thrust
This is my all time favorite warm-up exercise. It’s a good combination of the push up and the jumping jack for me.
It’s simply fun to do!
Overall you can use whatever combination you see fit. It can be from here or your own creativity can be applied. Just remember to always have proper form and know your limitations. Make sure the area your working in isn’t crowded as Kettlebells require space. With all that was said, thank you for reading my article.
I’ll update this soon enough with a good diet combination and routines that involve more aerobics which is not limited to running. I’m hoping to make this my ultimate guide not just for kettlebells but for overall good health.