You’ve probably heard “there is nothing new under the sun,” and kettlebell workouts are no exception. While we will get into some easy kettlebell exercises for beginners in a moment, let’s first brush up on a little kettlebell history.
What Is a Kettlebell?
A kettlebell is not quite a ball and not quite a dumbbell. Instead, it’s a round cast iron or steel ball with a flat surface on the bottom and a metal handle on the top. It might seem like these curious metal balls with handles are sort of new on the gym scene, but upon second glance, they have a definite medieval quality to them. There’s a good reason for that. As it turns out, back in the 1700s, kettlebells were originally created as a tool to weigh crops. As time progressed, those farmers who used the kettlebells for work became stronger and began holding strength competitions, and thus began the use of kettlebells for strength, conditioning, flexibility, and weight training.
Benefits of a Kettlebell Exercises For Beginners
Fast forward to 2018, and kettlebell training has become a mainstay on the fitness scene. The benefits are vast and include fat loss, gaining strength, full-body flexibility, developing explosive power, building muscle, and more. Additional benefits of kettlebell exercises for beginners include:
- Convenience—the fact that they are so easy to use and you can do so many different workouts with them makes them almost worth their weight in gold. There’s no reason to be stuck with boring old dumbbells, barbells, and machines. With just a few kettlebells, you can get a full-body workout.
- Requires power, strength, and endurance—this multi-faceted workout garners health benefits across the board. Because of the odd center of gravity and the versatility of the kettlebell, they can actually be much more effective than barbells, dumbbells, or machines when it comes to overall conditioning.
- Injury prevention—beyond the obvious major muscles worked out by using kettlebells is the strength they help build among the tendons and ligaments and stabilizer muscles, not to mention increased grip strength and a stronger core as well.
- Target different areas—because of the versatility of the kettlebell, and the ability to work individual muscles, you can both target specific muscles as well as get overall conditioning.
- Ramp up your metabolism—by working larger muscle groups in conjunction with smaller ones, you are able to work more muscles in less time which translates to more calories burned both during and after your exercise session.
- Cardiovascular benefits—the constant lifting and lowering of the kettlebell without ceasing helps to build endurance, and the sheer volume of energy required to perform the movements causes both increased calorie burn and aerobic conditioning.
- Flexibility—the single-hand design of the kettlebell forces you to fully extend your arms and legs and trunk through a full range of motion. This type of movement aids you in becoming more flexible overall which helps with coordination and agility.
Try These 10 Easy Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners
Now that you’ve learned more about the wonderful kettlebell and all its amazing benefits, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. Get started with these 10 kettlebell exercises for beginners.
1. Single-arm swing—grab the handle of a kettlebell with one hand with your feet hip-width apart or slightly more. Keeping your arm straight, your core tight, and your knees slightly bent, swing the kettlebell forward and upward, but as you initiate the motion, drive the kettlebell up using your hips rather than your arm as you straighten your legs. When the kettlebell returns to the start point and your knees are again slightly bent, this completes one repetition. You can either continue multiple single-arm movements or you can alternate by switching arms at the bottom of each swing.
2. Figure-eight—begin with your legs hip-width apart, squat down with your back straight and your chest up and forward. Grab the kettlebell with your right hand and swing it around the outside of your right leg and then back between your legs. Next, pass the kettlebell to the left hand and swing it around the outside of your left leg. Continue this motion for 8 repetitions.
3. Russian twist—begin by sitting with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor in front of you. Hold the kettlebell with both hands (your arms will be bent) in front of your chest or belly. Then lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Rotate your torso from left to right by twisting at the waist and controlling the kettlebell as it crosses your body.
4. Goblet squat—while standing with your feet wider than hips width apart and your feet slightly turned out, hold the kettlebell in front of your chest with both hands, elbows bent, keeping your elbows close to your body. Squat down by bending your knees and pushing your hips back until your knees are at a 90-degree angle while keeping your chest up and facing forward. Pause and return to the standing position and repeat.
5. Two-arm row—using two kettlebells, place them in front of you on the floor. From a standing position, bend over at the waist (keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent) to grab both kettlebells. While in the bent-over position, pull the kettlebells upward toward your stomach while focusing on bringing your elbows upward toward the middle of your back. Lower the weights and repeat.
6. Turkish half get-up—begin by lying on your left side, knees bent, and legs stacked. Grab the kettlebell with both hands. Roll onto your back, moving the kettlebell to the left side of your chest while straightening your right leg. Let go with your right hand and place it next to the right side of your body with the palm flat on the floor. With your left arm, raise the kettlebell straight above your body (keeping your left knee bent and left foot flat on the floor) and, using your core, sit up as you push your left arm as high into the air as you can. Slowly lower yourself back gently onto you right elbow, then shoulder, until your back is flat on the ground. Then slowly bring the kettlebell back to your chest, and roll onto your left side, returning the kettlebell to the ground. This is one repetition. Repeat on the opposite side. This is a more challenging exercise, so it’s best to learn the movement without a kettlebell before adding weight.
7. Windmills—hold the kettlebell with your right hand and place your feet hip-width apart at a 45-degree angle toward the left (opposite of the arm holding the kettlebell). Raise the kettlebell overhead and lock your arm. Shift your weight onto your right leg (keeping it straight), pushing the hip out toward the side. Rotating at the waist, and as you slightly bend your left leg, slowly bend at the waist toward your left leg. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell and your chest facing forward rather than toward the left leg. Throughout the exercise, you’ll keep your right arm extended overhead. Lift your torso back up slowly and repeat on opposite side. Again, this can be challenging to learn, so it’s best to start with no weight.
8. Russian swing—begin by stranding straight with your feet a bit wider than hips-distance apart. Using both hands, grab the handle keeping the palms face down and your arms in front of your body. Slightly bend your knees and drive your hips back. Next, explosively move forward by pushing up into a standing position while swinging the kettlebell upward, keeping the glutes and core engaged. The motion should come from your hips. Lower the weight back down in a controlled manner and repeat the motion.
9. Single-arm snatch—begin with a kettlebell between your feet and with your knees slightly bent. Reach down with your right arm, grabbing the handle. Explode your legs up, swinging the kettlebell up, bending your elbow as it reaches shoulder height yet using the momentum to push your arm straight over your head while straightening your legs and torso. Control the weight back to the ground and repeat on the opposite side. This is all done in one smooth movement, but it helps to break it down as you learn.
10. Power plank with row—start in a plank position, but instead of placing your hands on the floor, grasp the kettlebell handles, one kettlebell for each hand. Keeping your core tight, so your body does not rotate, lift your right arm and kettlebell up, bending at the elbow and keeping it tucked to your side. Once your arm is parallel to the ground, pause, and lower back to the ground in front of you. Repeat on the opposite side.
Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners Recap
With just a simple set of kettlebells, or even a single kettlebell, you can get a fantastic full-body workout virtually anywhere—your home, your backyard, a park, a hotel room, or even at a gym. So go ahead and give these kettlebell exercises for beginners a shot!