One of the most common things stopping people from getting a great workout is a lack of time. It’s often not even the workouts themselves taking huge chunks out of your day either, with commuting to the gym and setting up your equipment meaning a one-hour workout can dominate an entire evening.
That’s why keeping things simple is sometimes best, especially when you can enjoy a comprehensive session with just one versatile piece of equipment: the best kettlebells. These functional fitness tools are ideal for full-body training, opening the door to seemingly infinite variations of strength-boosting movements.
As a result, whether you’re looking to get a sweat on at home or make your gym trips more time-efficient, the humble kettlebell can help you build strength throughout your entire body.
This kettlebell workout from WIT Fitness head coach Jordan Shelley takes just 30 minutes, but in that short time it will still spike your heart rate, crush calories and help you get seriously strong.
Full body 30-minute kettlebell circuit workout
Perform the following exercises as a circuit, working for 40 seconds and resting for 20 seconds. Complete five rounds in total, with one minute of rest in between rounds.
Remember to keep some water on hand for hydration, and to perform a warm-up before you dive into your working sets.
1. Russian kettlebell swings
- Stand with your feet just outside shoulder-width, with a soft bend in the knees.
- Hold the kettlebell with your arms long and relaxed, keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together.
- Send your hips back, hinging at the hips and keeping a straight back with your weight pushing down through your heels.
- Then, explode your hips forward to drive the weight up to just above hip height. As the weight descends, head straight back into the hinge and continue repeating the cycle of movements until the time is up.
Form tip: This movement is a hinge so the power should be coming from the lower body rather than the upper body. Squeeze your glutes as you drive forward to help activate the lower body muscles.
- Set up with your feet just outside shoulder-width, holding the kettlebell in a goblet position at the chest.
- Squat down, keeping your weight in your heels, your chest up and your core tight. Aim to squat low enough that your thighs are below parallel with the ground.
- Drive up through your feet, with your hips and chest moving up together, to stand back up straight.
Form tip: Don’t let the hips shoot backwards.
3. Dual kettlebell push press
- This can be done with just one kettlebell or a pair of weights.
- Hold the kettlebells in a front rack position (as shown in the image above).
- Keep your core tight and dip at the knees.
- Drive up and, as you do, press the kettlebells over head.
Form tip: This movement is also good for practicing stability overhead. Remember, it’s not a jerk, so the feet should not come completely off the ground.
4. Front rack carry
- Hold a pair of kettlebells in the front rack position, as shown in the above image.
- Walk slowly ensuring your core remains activated throughout.
Form tip: Keep your elbows high until the time is up.
5. Alternating gorilla row
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, have your two kettlebells in front of you between your legs.
- Hinge forward and engage your hamstrings, sending the hips back and keeping your back straight until you can grip the kettlebells.
- Remaining in this hinged position perform alternating bent-over rows, bringing the kettlebells up towards your belly button.
- Ensure your hips and back remain straight throughout.
Form tip: Don't let your back round.
All of the movements in this circuit session are compound exercises, meaning they work several muscles simultaneously. For example, exercises like kettlebell swings and goblet squats hit the hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, calves, glutes and core (among others) so you get plenty of muscle-building bang for your buck.
With only 40 seconds of work at a time, you can push yourself to get as many reps in as possible — this approach is often called an AMRAP workout. But, even when you're pushing the pace, always remember to focus on your form in order to avoid injury. If you’re still new to the gym and these movements aren’t familiar to you, we recommend focusing on quality over quantity.
You can repeat this workout on a regular basis, slightly increasing the weight of the kettlebell over time to make it more challenging. This will help you progressively overload your training, which is great if you’re looking to grow muscle.
Because some of these exercises target different parts of the body, it might be a good idea to use different kettlebell weights for each exercise. For example, you may be able to use heavier weights for the kettlebell swings and goblet squats, but need to switch to slightly lighter kettlebells for the push presses and gorilla rows.
As well as building strength, the interval format of this workout is also beneficial for cardiovascular fitness. In fact, a 2015 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found this style of workout (high-intensity resistance training) burned significantly more calories than activities such as standard resistance training and endurance running or cycling.
Shelley recommends doing five rounds of this workout, which will take 30 minutes. But, if you have less or more time, you can alter the amounts of rounds you do to make the workout longer or shorter.
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Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.
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