The kettlebell is a major multitasker—it can help you work on your cardio and strength, while torching up to 20 calories a minute, according to a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise.
But there’s more to it: Compared to other weights like dumbbells or plates, the kettlebell’s unique shape—which allows for unbalanced weight distribution and a constantly shifting center of gravity—will also help you “recruit more of the stabilization muscles that are responsible for supporting your core,” Judine Saint-Gerard, CPT, head coach at Tone House in New York City, tells Health.
The workout below, created by Saint-Gerard, is a mix of kettlelbell-based moves meant to really make you work. Choose a kettlebell based on your abilities and fitness level (meaning, not too light that you can swing it too fast, and not too heavy that you can barely lift it), and get to swinging.
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, hands at shoulder height, elbows bent, and a kettlebell in hands. Keeping chest up, push hips back, bend knees, and lower down into a squat (A). Push into heels to rise back up to standing as you press kettlebell overhead (B). This is one rep. Lower kettlebell down; then repeat. Do 3–4 sets of 12–15 reps.
Stand behind a step or bench in a staggered stance with your right foot in front of your left, knees slightly bent, and a kettlebell in your left hand. Hinge at the hip, bending forward so your torso is almost parallel to the floor; place right hand on top of step (A). Bend left elbow, squeeze shoulder blade, and pull kettlebell up (B). Pause; then lower kettlebell back to start. This is one rep. Do 3–4 sets of 12–15 reps per side.
Holding a kettlebell in both hands, stand with feet shoulder-width apart; bend knees slightly and hinge at hips, allowing the kettlebell to swing back between legs (A). Press into heels, engage core, squeeze glutes, and drive hips forward, propelling the kettlebell forward and up to chest height (B). Let it fall back down naturally and between legs. This is one rep. Do 3–4 sets of 20 reps.
Lie faceup with knees bent, feet hip-width apart, and left elbow bent and on the ground with a kettlebell in hand, knuckles faceup. With weight in heels and core tight, squeeze glutes and lift hips up so that body is in a straight line from your head to your knees (A). Holding this position, press the kettlebell straight up (B); lower arm down while keeping hips lifted. This is one rep. Do 3–4 sets of 12–15 reps per side.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in right hand, arm hanging in front of right thigh. Bend knees, hinge at hips (A), and in one swift movement, drive through your hips and pull the kettlebell straight up to shoulder height; the kettlebell should then swivel around your wrist like a corkscrew so that the ball is resting between your forearm and biceps (B). Reverse motion back to start; then repeat. Do 3–4 sets of 12 reps per side.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and on either side of a kettlebell. Bend knees, hinge at hips, lower torso, and grab handle of kettlebell (A). Keep your gaze a few feet in front of you to maintain a neutral spine. Push into ground with feet to stand up, driving hips forward and squeezing glutes to lift kettlebell (B). This is one rep. Reverse motion back to “A,” and repeat. Do 3-4 sets of 12 reps.
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