Bodyweight workouts are a fantastic way to stay fit and build strength, but adding a dumbbell or kettlebell can help increase the difficulty and intensity of your session. These tools also open up a world of possibilities when it comes to the exercises you can perform, helping keep your fitness routine fun, fresh and exciting.
Take the best kettlebells (opens in new tab), for example. These versatile bits of kit allow you to perform everything from goblet squats and Russian twists to deadlifts and clean and presses. You can basically work every major muscle group in your body, thanks to their ergonomic design.
Someone who's no stranger to the kettlebell is Rhiannon Bailey (opens in new tab), a fitness and yoga coach who regular shares challenging yet accessible workouts with her 34,000-strong Instagram following.
She recently posted a full-body strength workout that takes just 15-30 minutes and uses (you guessed it) two kettlebells. However, if you don't own a kettlebell, you can also give it a go with a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) or any other weight you can hold – even two tins of beans or a pair of water bottles, if that's what you have to hand!
The session involves five movements, completed one after the other as a circuit. You perform each exercise for 45 seconds, take a short 15 second rest, then get straight back to work with 45 seconds of the next exercise.
The workout is also scalable, making it suitable for all fitness levels. Bailey advises beginners to try three rounds of the five-minute circuit and use a lighter weight, while regular exercisers might want to perform 4-6 rounds with heavier kettlebells.
"Work to your level, (one) that will challenge you while keeping your form on point," Bailey says.
Watch Rhiannon Bailey's full-body kettlebell workout
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This session is an example of high-intensity resistance training (opens in new tab) or HIRT. A twist on the popular HIIT (opens in new tab) (high-intensity interval training) format, this workout style uses high repetitions and low rest times to keep your heart rate high and burn calories. But, where HIIT focuses on cardio-based exercises, HIRT incorporates more strength-based movements to help you build muscle.
The result? You get two for the price of one when it comes to the health benefits of your training, boosting your strength and aerobic capacity in one fell swoop.
A study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine (opens in new tab) found HIRT can boost your metabolism, muscle mass and strength, as well as significantly increasing post-exercise energy consumption, leading to greater calorie burn than traditional resistance training. This makes it a favorable option for anyone looking to build muscle and burn fat, as it can help you create a calorie deficit (opens in new tab).
After trying this intense workout, we would advise you recover the following day with a rest day or active recovery session – for example, a swim, cycle or jog at a steady pace.
Harry Bullmore is a fitness writer covering everything from reviews to features for LiveScience, T3, TechRadar, Fit&Well and more. So, whether you’re looking for a new fitness tracker or wondering how to shave seconds off your 5K PB, chances are he’s written something to help you improve your training.
When not writing, he’s most likely to be found experimenting with a wide variety of training methods in his home gym or trying to exhaust his ever-energetic puppy.
Prior to joining Future, Harry wrote health and fitness product reviews for publications including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Before this, he spent three years as a news reporter with work in more than 70 national and regional newspapers.
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