You only need one kettlebell and 20 minutes to build full-body strength

Work your legs, arms, chest, core and more with this time-efficient session

A man performing kettlebell swings
(Image credit: Future)

You may think you need two hours in a state-of-the-art gym to get a great full-body workout, but in reality all that's required is 20 minutes and a single kettlebell. 

The best kettlebells (opens in new tab) are our top choice for these sorts of workouts as their easy-to-grip handles and ergonomic shape lend themselves well to compound exercises (opens in new tab) like the squat clean. However, any weight (whether that’s one of the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) or even a full water bottle) will do the trick in most cases. 

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Now you’ve got your equipment sorted, it’s time to introduce you to our featured workout from fitness trainer Rhiannon Bailey (opens in new tab). As mentioned above, this session only uses one kettlebell and takes a mere 20 minutes, but it will still work your upper and lower body while spiking your heart rate and boosting your metabolism.  

Keeping things simple, it is also made up of only four moves – the squat clean, kettlebell swings, push-up transfers and Russian twist extensions. If any of these exercises are new to you, watch Bailey’s video below to see how each one should be performed. Then, when you’ve nailed down the technique, give the workout a go. 

Bailey challenges participants to complete the four exercises as a circuit, performing each movement for 40 seconds before resting for 20 seconds. Repeat this five times to take yourself to the 20-minute mark, and consider the workout complete.

Watch Rhiannon Bailey’s full-body kettlebell workout

A post shared by Rhiannon Bailey (@rhiannoncbailey) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

Bailey’s workout is an example of high-intensity resistance training (opens in new tab) or HIRT, a twist on the popular HIIT (opens in new tab) (or high-intensity interval training, to give its full title). 

It shares the minimalist, time-efficient traits of its predecessor, using high-intensity bursts of activity followed by short rest periods to burn calories and build fitness. However, it adds weighted elements (like a kettlebell or dumbbell) to bolster its muscle-growing credentials. 

This is a great session if you’re short on time and can’t make it to the gym, or simply want a comprehensive home workout to get a sweat on while hitting multiple muscle groups. Due to its intense nature, we would recommend using this as your daily session, and potentially opting for a less demanding activity the following day to allow your body to recover. 

If you’re looking for inspiration for a slightly less strenuous follow-up activity, you could try a session from our cycling fitness plan (opens in new tab) or give some of these anti-ageing yoga moves (opens in new tab) a go.  

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.