The kettlebell is such a simple and small piece of workout equipment, yet it can contribute to some serious muscle gain and improvements to your overall health and fitness. American Council of Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainer, Cat Kom, shared her five essential kettlebell moves with us and explained some of the key benefits.
All good gyms with a weights section will include a bunch of kettlebells, but it's also super easy to get your hands on one, or a set, for your own home gym space. Our best kettlebells guide can help you find what to look for.
And conveniently for the following moves, you only need one kettlebell for the whole workout. Fitness instructor and founder of Studio SWEAT (opens in new tab), a fitness app that provides on-demand workout classes, Cat Kom showed us five essential kettlebell exercises great for targeting multiple major muscle groups.
It doesn't matter if you're new to kettlebell training, either; the moves are all beginner-friendly. The exercises are versatile, so the reps vary for each one—so it's fine if you need to reduce the number of reps or pick up a lighter kettlebell to work with.
As this workout is low-impact you also don't need to worry about any jumping or skipping and avoid any risk of putting pressure on your joints. If you do suffer from joint pain you should consider taking one of the best supplements for joints to help ease any discomfort.
Here's the full workout below. Each move contains an instructional how-to video as well as step-by-step descriptions.
- Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, standing directly over the kettlebell. Reach down, with hips set back, and grip kettlebell with both hands - stand tall, being sure to keep your arms straight.
- Slightly bend the knees and tip at the hips so the bottom of the kettlebell is between your knees (like a mini squat – do NOT do a full squat).
- Then using your hips to drive forward, while keeping your arms straight, swing the kettlebell to shoulder height as your legs straighten, but don’t lock.
Try 3 sets of 8
- Like a traditional squat, the Goblet Squat is an all-around exercise that utilizes multiple parts of your lower body, and basically sets them on fire.
- Standing, holding your kettlebell at your chest, lower your butt down until your thighs are parallel with the ground, or even a bit lower if you can muster.
- Hold at the bottom for a moment, and then spring back up again.
Try 15 reps
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. With the kettlebell in your right hand, raise your left arm over your head keeping your right arm in front of your right leg.
- While rotating your chest to the right and looking up at your hand, slowly hinge at the waist to lower your torso and kettlebell toward your right foot.
Kettlebell Curl and Press
Try 3 sets of 8
- Starting with your feet shoulder width apart, hold your kettlebell in front of you with both hands and your arms relaxed.
- Lift the kettlebell toward your shoulders keeping your elbows stable as you lift it.
- Press the weight over your head and lower it back down to your shoulders and then to the starting position.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
Try 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg
- Begin by holding your kettlebell in front of you with both hands. Simultaneously lean your entire torso forward while raising your right foot, lowering the kettlebell toward the ground.
- Make sure to keep your back neutral in the process. Return upright in the opposite motion.
Kom likes to refer to this type of weight as the 'Mighty Kettlebell' because of its versatility and simple no-frills-pure-fitness approach to getting stronger and fitter.
She told Fit&Well, "Compound workouts are basically the holy grail of strength training. Compound workouts are those that employ a couple of simple movements that happen to work out multiple muscle groups at the same time. Talk about workout efficiency!"
Plus Kom also promotes kettlebell workouts like the one above as being a time-efficient way to burn calories quickly. She noted, "Research (opens in new tab) shows that if you’re working out hard with kettlebells, you can actually burn up to 20 calories a minute, which equals 1,200 calories an hour… and that equals running 6-minute miles over that same hour".
Kettlebells aren't the only home-friendly weighted equipment that can help you build muscle and improve your fitness. Some of the best adjustable dumbbells are a great way to progress up weights size without buying multiple different weights. Read about why one of our writers won't be using a gym again after he tried this 15-minute dumbbell arm workout.
Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition.
When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.
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