Kettlebell Workout for a Toned Everything

If you’re looking to get fit and toned in a hurry without a gym membership - you might consider purchasing a kettlebell. With this single piece of equipment you can build strength and power, as well as improve core engagement and stability.

Not only will this kettlebell workout torch calories and sizzle your entire body, there are also some performance  gains - especially if you’re a runner.

Certified personal trainer, Paul Kostas, says, “Running increases your ability to run more; but when you add in strength training, you’re able to complement the endurance training with resistance, not mimic more of the same stimulus. That will give you more oomph when you push off, strengthen your stride, and ultimately, make you a better, faster runner.”

How Heavy Should the Kettlebell Be?

It’s incredibly important to ensure you purchase the correct weight - too heavy and you could risk injuring yourself; too light and the workout won’t challenge your muscles enough. Kettlebell lifting is technical and requires an attention to detail so make sure to start on a weight you know you can manage until your body adapts.

Essentially, kettlebell exercises are separated into two groups:

Ballistic (explosive): These exercises usually require the use of momentum to assist movements and can be completed using slightly heavier weight. For example, kettlebell swings.

Grinds: These are typically strength moves that require carefully controlled movement and can be completed using lighter weight than ballistic movements. For example, Turkish get ups.

Kettlebell Exercises

1. Kettlebell Swings

Muscles Worked: Shoulders, back, hips, glutes, legs, core.

How to do it: Stand up straight with your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. Hold a single kettlebell with both hands as you prepare to take your first swing. Bring your hips back into a quarter squat - as if you’re about to sit down into an armchair. Then drive your hips forwards and swing the kettlebell up to eye level. Allow gravity to bring the kettlebell back down as you prepare for the next swing. Remember to keep your back straight, with your weight in your forefoot and heel.

How many repetitions: Start with 4 sets of 20 repetitions

2. Russian Twists

Muscles Worked: Abs, obliques

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your feet straight, holding the kettlebell above your core with both hands. Lean back slightly to engage your core muscles, lifting both feet about 15cm off the ground. You may link your ankles together to improve your balance. Then, move the kettlebell to the right of your body, then to the left of your body while keeping your legs still and off the floor. This is one repetition. Remember to keep your back straight and core engaged.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 10 repetitions

3. Deadlifts

Muscles Worked: Glutes, back

How to do it: Stand with your feet a little more than hip distance apart, with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Slowly bend down, bending your knees slightly and keeping your back straight as you pick up the kettlebell. Drive your hips forward as you pick it up, standing up straight. Then bend your knees slightly as you lower the kettlebell to the floor again.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 10 repetitions

4. Bent Over Row

Muscles Worked: Back, arms, shoulders

How to do it: Put the kettlebell down in front of you as you get into the starting position. You want to bend your left knee, as you bring your right leg back, pushing your hips back as far as you can. Rest your left forearm on your left knee as you grip the kettlebell with your right hand. Keep your back straight as you pull the kettlebell up to your stomach, retracting your shoulder blade and flexing your elbow. Lower it back down slowly and repeat.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions

5. Kettlebell Sumo Squat

Muscles Worked: Quads, glutes, back, biceps

How to do it: Stand with your feet a little more than hip distance apart, with your feet pointing outward at a 45 degree angle. Holding the kettlebell with both hands, slowly bend your knees into a squat position. Remember to keep your back straight, with your weight on your heels. Your knees shouldn’t protrude over your toes as you bend down. Then, slowly bring your hips forward as your stand up straight again.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 15-20 repetitions

6. Halos

Muscles Worked: Shoulders and arms

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands. Bring the kettlebell up to your neck, lifting it over your right shoulder. Then bring your left arm to the back of your head, to grab the kettlebell and bring it forward over your left shoulder - grabbing it with your right hand. Essentially, you will be carefully rotating the kettlebell around your head for a number of repetitions before switching direction.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 8-10 in each direction

7. Alternating Arm Swings

Muscles Worked: Shoulders, back, hips, glutes, legs

How to do it: This exercise is much like a normal kettlebell swing, except you will be alternating hands gripping the kettlebell as you swing. This way, your body has to work harder to stabilise itself. To recap, start standing up straight with your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. Hold a single kettlebell with both hands as you prepare to take your first swing. Bring your hips back into a quarter squat - as if you’re about to sit down into an armchair. Then drive your hips forwards and swing the kettlebell up to eye level. Allow gravity to bring the kettlebell back down as you prepare to start a one-hand swing. Just before swinging back up, let go with your left hand. Swing the kettlebell back up to eye level with your right hand. Allow it to swing down, then switch hands before swinging it back up with your left hand. This is one repetition. Repeat this motion while keeping your back straight, with your weight in your forefoot and heel.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 10 repetitions

8. Kettlebell Single Arm Snatch

Muscles Worked: Quads, glutes, arms and shoulders

How to do it: Start standing straight with your legs a little wider than hip distance apart, with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Bend down into a squat position as you grip the kettlebell with your right hand. Keeping your core engaged and your back straight, lift the kettlebell directly above your head. Then squat back down as you bring the kettlebell back down to the floor. Switch hands, and lift the kettlebell with your left hand, before bringing it back down again as before. This is one repetition.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 8 repetitions

9. Sumo Squat with High Pull

Muscles Worked: Back, legs, shoulders, arms

How to do it: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart, with your feet tilted outward at a 45 degree angle, and the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Squat down, grabbing the kettlebell handle with both hands. Keep your hips back and knees bent. Then pull the kettlebell up to your shoulders as your knees straighten and your elbows rise. Keep your core engaged as you lower the kettlebell back down to the floor.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions

10. Turkish Get Ups

Muscles Worked: Shoulders, back, glutes, legs, core.

How to do it: The Turkish Get Up is a more advanced move, so be sure to use an easy weight at first as you get used to the movement. Essentially, it is a controlled transition between lying down and standing up while keeping a kettlebell above your head. Start lying down on your side with the kettlebell next to you. Grip it firmly as you lift it up above you, holding it with your right hand. Keep your elbow locked and your arm straight. Bring your left hand to your side, using it to stabilise you into a seated position, while keeping the kettlebell straight above you. Then, use your left hand on the floor to help you bring your right leg underneath you, transitioning into a lunge position. Keep the kettlebell straight above you with your arm straight as you stand up. Then, reverse the process as you lie down again. Remember to keep your back straight and core engaged at all times.

How many repetitions: 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions

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