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The Best Kettlebell Workouts For Strength, Cardio And Fat Loss

If you only have the space for one piece of workout equipment at home, the kettlebell is a strong contender for the bit of kit you should invest in. As Ashton Turner – co-founder of London’s Evolve 353 gym (opens in new tab) – explains, perhaps the best thing about a kettlebell is the variety of training you can do with it.

“With just one item of kit there are so many things you can do, including high-rep fat loss workouts and lower-rep strength sessions. They’re good for developing hip hinge power, which is useful for athletic power creation without the injury risk associated with the deadlift.”

To show off this versatility Turner has put together five workouts that can help you get the most out of a kettlebell, whatever your training aims are.

1. Five-move workout to build muscle or burn fat

You can do this workout in two different ways. Opt for high reps and short rests to burn fat, or low reps with heavier weights and longer rests to build muscle.

2. Five-move kettlebell workout to get you abs of steel

These single-sided moves force your core to work hard to keep you balanced, helping you to carve out a defined set of abs.

3. Kettlebell circuits to build strength and power

Explosive movements like swings and snatches are the order of the day in these power-building workouts, which are great for improving your sporting performance.

4. Superset workout for quick results

Keeping the pace high and rest periods short in this session helps you to build muscle and burn fat in double-quick time.

5. Advanced workout that uses two-kettlebells

Once you’re a kettlebell pro, pick up two at a time and tackle this challenging full-body session.

Before you rush off to try those, however, here are some tips for choosing a kettlebell and a straightfoward kettlebell circuit to fit the training time you have available.

How To Select A Kettlebell

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1 Comp standard: “I like competition kettlebells [pictured above] because every weight is the same size,” says Turner. “That’s useful for getting a consistent feel, particularly when you’re doing complex moves like cleans and snatches.”

2 Cast iron: “I prefer cast-iron kettlebells over rubber-based ones because they tend to have a more stable base. That’s useful when you’re doing exercises like the renegade row, where you have to put all of your bodyweight on the kettlebell.”

3 Perfect weight: “For men, I’d suggest using a 16kg and a 20kg kettlebell. That’s heavy enough to provide a challenge but light enough to do high-rep sets and will allow you to do all of the key exercises, including the ones in this guide.”

How To Warm Up For These Workouts

The kettlebell is a great bit of kit for doing explosive, compound exercises, and you’ll be swinging it all around the place in these workouts. That means you need to prep your body before you start, because going for an explosive swing or clean with cold muscles is a recipe for disaster.

To warm up for the workouts you need to consider what movements you’ll be making in each of them, so look through the exercises you have lined up and see which muscles will be doing the work.

You can start with this dynamic stretching warm-up that gets your entire body limbered up, and then target the muscles you’ll employ in the workout. The easiest way to do this is to run through a set of the exercises using a very light kettlebell or even no weight at all, just to make sure your body is ready for the movement patterns you’re about to throw at it.

Fat-Burning Kettlebell Circuit

“Set the timer for however long you have to work out,” says trainer Adam Wakefield. “Perform as many rounds as possible of this circuit in that time. Record your score and try to beat it each time.” Alternate sides where necessary each round.

Clean

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Reps 3

Bend forwards by hinging at your hips and softening your knees to reach down and grasp the kettlebell. Swing it back between your legs, then drive your hips forwards to send the kettlebell forwards and up. Once it passes bellybutton height, pull it towards you and move your hand under the weight so it lands softly on the back of your wrist in the rack position. Reverse the movement to take the kettlebell back down.

Overhead press

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Reps 5

Hold the kettlebell in the rack position with your elbow tucked in to your chest. Press the weight directly overhead, rotating your arm so your palm faces forwards, then lower back to the rack position under control.

Front squat

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Reps 7

Hold two kettlebells in the rack position. Lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push back up to standing.

Bent-over row

Reps 9

Holding a kettlebell in each hand, hinge forwards from your hips and let your arms hang straight down. Lift the kettlebells up to your ribs by drawing your elbows past your torso and squeezing your shoulders together. Pause at the top, then lower the weights under control.

Swing

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Reps 11

Hold a kettlebell in both hands in front of you. Bend at the knees and hinge forwards at your hips to swing the weight back between your legs, then drive your hips forwards to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height as you stand up. Control the swing back down.

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