Our Favorite Kettlebell Workout
September 06, 2017
We like our workouts like we like our activewear: simple and effective. That's why the kettlebell is one of our favorite pieces of equipment. It's compact and portable, so you can get in a sweat just about anyway with limited prep time (just make sure to stretch), and it can be used in a variety of exercises for different fitness goals, whether you're building strength, endurance, and/or flexibility. The key is knowing where to begin, so we asked our friend Nick Divine, professional strength coach and founder of Divine Fitness SF to show us a routine anyone could perform when they need a quick 15-20 minute full-body exercise. Follow his instructions below, and get busy making moves.
Time: 15-20 Minutes
Equipment: A Kettlebell
Instructions: This workout can be completed as a circuit or as individual sets. For a circuit, perform 8-10 reps of each exercise in order. Rest 1-2 minutes between cycles and repeat the circuit 3-5 times. Use a lighter weight when performing the workout as a circuit.
1. SINGLE-ARM FRONT SQUAT
4 Sets of 10 Reps — Alternate Holding The Kettlebell With Each Hand
The Kettlebell Front Squat is an essential movement for building lower body and core strength. It is also required for a variety of other kettlebell exercises that incorporate the squat movement, including Jump Squats, Squat Presses, and Squat Holds. Each one requires focused control, a tight core, and a stable platform rooted from your feet.
- If you are unfamiliar with how to squat, think of it as sitting down in a chair.
- Keep your core tight while you push your hips behind your centerline.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor with your weight on your heels.
- Extend your free arm out from the Rack Position at the top of each rep.
- As you descend, keep the kettlebell in the nook of your arm.
- Try to squat past the point of your upper legs becoming parallel to the floor while maintaining good form.
Tips and Safety: Keep your knees pressed out and your chest up throughout the squat.
2. ONE-ARM ROTATIONAL KETTLEBELL PRESS
4 Sets of 8 Reps — With Each Arm
The One-Arm Rotational Kettlebell Press is a great rotational movement that will build upper body strength and mobility throughout your shoulders and thoracic spine. This will also help intensify a weight that has become easy to press.
- Clean a kettlebell to the rack position on your left arm
- Simultaneously pivot on your left foot rotating 90 degrees to your right while pressing the kettlebell overhead
- Achieve lockout while maintaining a vertical arm and spine
- Reverse the motion until the kettlebell is safely in the rack position again
Tips and Safety: Do not rotate too far as you press to avoid putting too much stress on your lower back. Watch your shoulder as you lock out at the top of the press to avoid overextending and straining your shoulder.
3. BALLISTIC ROW
4 Sets of 10 Reps — Alternating Each Hand
The Ballistic Row is an excellent exercise to build a powerful back, core and arms. Make sure to do this in a place where dropping the kettlebell won’t cause damage to anything. By performing the ballistic row you will also have the added benefit of a strong grip and forearms.
- Stand over a kettlebell with your knees bent.
- Grab the kettlebell and with a straight back and tight core, pull the kettlebell up explosively
- As the kettlebell rises, quickly switch hands and lower with the opposite hand
- Pull up with that hand and switch again. Repeat.
Tips and Safety: Maintain core tension to alleviate pressure on the lower back.
4. RUSSIAN KETTLEBELL SWING
4 Sets of 10-15 Reps
The kettlebell swing is such a great exercise, it can be performed as it’s own workout. The key to this movement is an explosive hip “snap” to drive the weight forward. It’s an extremely effective exercise when performed properly, but it’s deceptively technical. If you’re new to kettlebell training, we recommend checking out our tips on perfecting the swing.
Tips and Safety: This is a hinge at the hips, not a squat. Keep a tight core, straight back, and get your hips behind your center line.
Nick Divine is a certified Functional Strength Coach, CrossFit Level 1 and TRX Suspension trainer, and the founder of Divine Fitness SF