Kettlebells (KB) have swept the mainstream fitness media and they are gaining popularity more than ever. [If you did not already recognize who the guy is in the picture above, it is Lance Armstrong.] This is most likely because of the convenience, effectiveness, and time-saving it provides to anyone who wishes to get lean and strong in as little as 20 minutes a day. So, the common question I get asked is: what are great kettlebell exercises for beginners? or what is a good kettelbell workout? While Youtube is great for looking up videos to answer these questions, it may not be the best source unless you know what you’re looking for.
Being a Russian Kettlebell Certified (RKC) Instructor, I decided to put together a video demonstrating the most foundational kettlebell exercise which is the swing. In this video, I go over tips on how to protect your hand as well as the biggest mistakes when performing kettlebell swings and how to correct them.
Please watch this video before you read the rest of the article:
You may feel that I talk about too many technical points in the video but each of them matters if you really want to do kettlebell swings properly. Doing them wrong can 1) hurt you and 2) make your workout less efficient which means you will burn less calories. If you want to take your learning even further, you may want to look for a Russian Kettlebell Certified Instructor in your local area to critique your form.
One more thing to think about before you perform any kettlebell exercise are the shoes you are wearing. Typically, running shoes are not ideal when performing kettlebell exercises. The thick cushion which running shoes have will basically hinder your feet from making full contact with the ground which may throw you off balance. For instance, if I were to perform kettlebel swings with a thick heel, the heel will make me lean forward to offset the weight of the kettlebell as it reaches shoulder height. So, if the heels were taken out, having more contact with ground will also help us become more stable and more strong for any kettlebell lift.
I showed you several ways you have more variety in your kettlebell workouts even if you just now the beginner exercises like the swing and goblet squat. Now, I’d like to show you a few different set-ups you can do so you can do this at home.
3 Samples of How to Set-up Beginner Kettlebell Workouts
Workout 1: Ladders Style
20 Kettlebell Swings
10 Goblet Squats
Start at the top of the reps at 20 and 5 reps. For each set, you will do 1 less repetition for the swings and doing 1 less repetition for every other set of goblet squats. Do this until you reach 1 rep for each exercise. This is how it goes:
Set 1: 20 Swings, 10 Goblet Squats
Set 2: 19 Swings, 10 Goblet Squats
Set 3: 18 Swings, 9 Goblet Squats
Set 4: 17 Swings, 9 Goblet Squats
Set 5: 16 Swings, 8 Goblet Squats
Set 6: 15 Swings, 8 Goblet Squats
All the way to 1 repetition for each exercise
Workout 2: Interval Style
30 seconds of Kettlebell Swings plus 30 seconds of Jump Rope equals 1 set.
Do 10 sets for a total of 10 minutes.
Note: If you are completely new to doing swings, you may want to start at 5 minutes and work your way up especially because you may get too sore the next few days.
Workout 3: Mixed Style
One set consists of:
30 seconds Kettlebell Swings
30 seconds Plank
30 seconds Forward Lunges
30 seconds Rest
Perform 5 sets for your first workout and work your way up as your strength and conditioning improves.
Just by looking at the 3 workouts above, you can have an idea of how much variety you can have with your workouts even if you only know 1-2 kettlebell exercises. If you actually go and do any of these workouts, you will find just how intense they can get even for a simple set-up like the one I detailed above.
When you’re ready to learn a new kettlebell exercise, watch this video where I teach the Turkish Get-Up (TGU) which is another fundamental kettlebell exercise:
Turkish Get-ups are different from swings wherein you have to really focus on doing each step slowly and carefully. In the RKC community, we call swings as a grinding movement whereas TGUs are more of a strength exercise. So, if I were to add TGUs to my kettlebell repertoire, I would do this at the beginning of a workout separate from the swings when I am still fresh. Then, I would perform any of the above workouts as a finisher.
I hope this post on kettlebell exercises for beginners has inspired you to start working with kettlebells and add more fun, intensity, and variety to your workouts. If you have any questions about the videos or the workouts or about kettlebells in general, please post them below and I’ll answer them when possible.