Kettlebells are well known for their strength training benefits. They are easy to store, small enough to easily hold in your hands in almost any position, and not too heavy to use for almost any exercise. These kettle-shaped weights are extremely popular with pro athletes and newbies too! Of course, they are not going to do anything for you sitting there on your floor or under your couch, so let us get into some of the most effective kettlebell drills and workouts you can do almost anywhere!
The Kettlebell Suitcase Lunge
Probably one of the most recognizable exercises you can do with a kettlebell, the suitcase lunge works your legs, glutes, back muscles, and a few of your shoulders (not much but a bit). It is mostly done for the benefit of the legs and butt, and it is amazingly effective in this regard.
How to Do Suitcase Lunges
- Find an open area where you can safely move around.
- Stand up straight with a kettlebell in each hand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place your arms at your sides (try not to swing your arms during this exercise, keep them still)
- Step forward as far as you can. Bend your forward knee and lower yourself down bending your other knee as well all the way until your back knee touches the ground. During this exercise keep your back straight and your tummy tight.
- Stand up and return to the starting position placing most of the weight on your back foot.
Hand to Hand Swings
The hand-to-hand swing is a modified version of the super-popular one-arm swing. This drill will work your deltoids, quads, glutes, abs, obliques, hamstrings, and rhomboids. These will get you a solid workout in a noticeably short amount of time. Before you get started with hand-to-hand swings, be prepared for an intense workout.
How to do Hand to Hand Swings
- For this exercise you are only going to use one kettlebell, so you can set one off to the side.
- Stand up with your feet about shoulder-width apart while grabbing the handle of a kettlebell with one of your hands.
- Bend your knees a little bit and bend forward at your hips and swing the kettlebell back between your legs. Be careful here for obvious reasons and do not do it too fast or you could hurt your special parts!
- Now stand up again and swing the kettlebell up to about chest height. When you get to the very top of the swing, hand off the weight to your other hand.
- Alternate hands and continue swinging the weight.
Kettlebell Drills – Squat
This exercise is exactly what it sounds like, a squat while holding kettlebells! What a creative name, right? The front squat works your legs, glutes, hips, abs, and back muscles as well. This is not just a killer strength training workout, but it also benefits your joints and is a decent cardio drill as well. If you like working your legs, check out some of these killer jump ropes for crossfit that can help you pump up.
How to Do Font Kettlebell Squats
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart while placing a kettlebell on the floor between your legs.
- Bend your knees and lower your body straight down while grabbing the kettlebell.
- Lift the kettlebell to the shoulder position and stand up while pulling your elbow back to keep the kettlebell closer to your body.
Dead Lifting with Kettlebells
This is much like the deadlift you already hate, using traditional barbells. Of course, kettlebells are smaller and less intimidating so this may not be so bad. The deadlift will work your butt, hamstrings, and lower muscles in your back. If you have recently injured your back or have pain there now, either avoid this drill or use a lightweight.
How to Do Dead Lift with Kettlebells
- Place one weight in front of you on the ground about 18 inches from your toes.
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell in front of your feet.
- While keeping your back straight begin to sit back, bending your knees, and reach out to grab the weight.
- Grab the handle with both of your hands and stand straight up, when your body is completely upright and your back is straight, that counts as one rep.
Single-Leg Kettlebell Deadlift
The single-leg deadlift is an interesting one due to the position your body is in while doing it. You may have seen people doing this and wondered what the heck is going on? You end up with your leg sticking straight out behind you like a yoga move but you are also doing what appear to be push-ups with kettlebells? This is a strange-looking exercise, but it works your shoulders, core, upper legs, and mid-back muscles all with one exercise.
How to do it
Stand with your feet directly under your hips and grab a weight in each hand with the kettlebells resting on your upper legs.
Shift your weight to the left leg and extend the right leg back behind you while lowering your chest and the kettlebells toward the ground.
When your chest and your right leg are parallel to the ground, return to the starting position. This constitutes a single rep.
Push presses are excellent strength training exercises that will leave your arms burning, but also work the butt, calves, and hamstrings. If your arms are looking a bit sad, this is the workout you should start with because it is known to be very effective for building lean muscle in the arms.
How to do Push Presses
- Make sure you have at least a few feet of space around you and stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grab a weight in both hands with the palms facing outward.
- Bend your arms so that the kettlebells are resting at the shoulders.
- Barely bend your knees just a tiny bit, and as you begin to stand up again, push the weights up over your head.
- Bring the kettlebells back down to your shoulders, and slightly bend your knees again. This is one rep. Continue with as many as you feel you need!
Fluttering Kettlebell Kicks
The name of this one is deceiving as it sounds like a leg exercise, which is kind of is, but at its core (no pun intended) this is a core exercise that will work your abs and lower back. The fluttering motion of the legs during this exercise will work your legs a bit, but the real focus here is going to be on your core, and it will tire you out!
How to do Flutter Kicks
- Get down on your back and hold a weight with both hands, make sure the kettlebell is right above your shoulders.
- Lift your chest and shoulder off the ground.
- Lift your legs about 4 inches up from the mat and make small little flutter kicks with your feet (like you were swimming as a kid).
- Be aware not to strain your back, if it comes up off the ground just lift your legs a little higher and your back will return to the ground, where it is supported.
The kettlebell windmill is another one that looks odd if you see it performed and do not know what it is. It may look weird, but this exercise is going to work your shoulders and stomach muscles as well as your lower and mid-back. It is a good one that can be done safely as it does not place too much strain on your back or shoulders. I would still advise against doing it if you have a fresh injury, however.
How to do it
- With a weight in your right hand, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Point your feet so they are pointing about 45 degrees to the left and lift the weight overhead until the elbow is fully extended and your arm is straight.
- Look up toward the kettlebell and move your hips toward the right side while bending down to the left side until your left hand can touch your left shin.
- Reverse the motion and repeat, changing which hand holds the weight each time.
Kettlebell Figure 8 Kettlebell Drill Exercise
This may be the best which is naturally why it is last on the list. Figure 8 works the most muscles out of all these drills. While performing this one you will be working all the back muscles, glutes, quads, biceps, hamstrings, calves, and shoulders. That is almost every major muscle worked with just one exercise!
How to do the Figure 8
- Grab a weight with your right hand and lower your body into a squat position.
- Keep your back straight.
- Move the weight around your right leg and then through your legs coming from the rear.
- Grab the kettlebell with your other hand from the front side and bring it back through your legs again.
- Repeat this as many times as needed to get a good workout!
If you have not yet chosen kettlebells for your home setup, check out our detailed buyer’s guide!