The kettlebell is an extremely versatile piece of training equipment to have at home. Kettlebells offer unique training benefits over dumbbells—the uneven weight distribution will challenge you to control the weight as you swing, press, or pull. Plus, kettlebells will add extra challenges when it comes to grip and core stability. It's a good idea to have your home equipped with a nice set of kettlebells—you never know when you'll be stuck inside, especially during the winter.
These 10 workouts were provided by Luke Pelton, C.S.C.S., NSCA-C.P.T., a competitive powerlifting coach and weight-training instructor based in New York. All you need: a set of kettlebells and a physio ball.
Before you begin, you need to know what your goals are, so that you work in the appropriate rep range. According to Pelton:
- A lighter kettlebell used for a few sets of higher reps (15+) will promote muscular endurance.
- A heavier kettlebell used for multiple sets of a few reps (5-8) will promote more hypertrophy and strength.
In both cases, choose a kettlebell heavy enough so that you're nearing muscle failure by the end of the set. Each workout will consist of a lower-body movement, an upper-body movement, and a core/grip movement. These movements will challenge your stability flexors in a way you've never experienced before.
Here's how to do each of the following workouts:
- For endurance: perform 3 sets of 15+ reps (on both sides when required), with 45 seconds of rest.
- For strength/hypertrophy: perform 4–5 sets of 5–8 reps (on both sides when required) with 90–120 seconds of rest.
- Kettlebell Goblet Squat
- Kettlebell Press on Physio Ball: Keep the physio ball under the shoulder blades. Keep the hips extended so the back is flat. Press with the bell hanging behind your hand.
- Shoulder Press—Hold the bell bottom-up at shoulder height and raise it above your head to full arm extension. Brace your core and make sure to stabilize the kettlebell.
- Kettlebell Deadlift: Approach the kettlebell as you would a deadlift, with the kettlebell between your feet. Pull straight up by driving your hips forward. Lower with control to the ground.
- Kettlebell Single-arm Shoulder Press on Physio Ball—Hold the kettlebell in your hand, with the bell hanging behind your hand. Sit on the physio ball and engage your core. Press the kettlebell overhead.
- Briefcase Carry—Focus on maintaining proper core bracing and stability of the kettlebell.
- Kettlebell Split Squat: With one foot behind you on a bench (or chair), lower that knee to the ground while holding the kettlebell at chest height.
- Kettlebell Renegade Row: Get into pushup position with your hands on the kettlebell handles. Row one arm up, place it down on the ground, regain your balance, and row the other arm up. That's one rep. Try to keep your core and hips as still as possible—don't rock back and forth too far.
- Overhead Carry: Focus on maintaining proper core bracing and stability of the kettlebell.
- Single-arm Deadlift—Stay balanced and keep your core tight so no compensations occur.
- Standing Overhead Press—Keep the core braced to avoid compensatory movement. Press with the kettlebell hanging behind your hand.
- "Alphabets": Hold two light kettlebells in front of your body, with your arms bent and your forearms held straight out. Moving at the wrists only—this is a forearm—exercise spell out each letter of the alphabet. See how far you can make it!
- Squat to the Floor: Hold the kettlebell in front of you and let it hang between your legs. Squat, letting the kettlebell touch the ground before coming up.
- Kettlebell Pushup: Place the kettlebells on the ground, hold the handles, and do pushups.
- Kettlebell Single-arm Shoulder Press
- Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift—Hold the kettlebell in front of your body with feet shoulder-width or narrower. Perform a hip hinge so your hips travel backwards and the weight is lowered over the midfoot. When you feel a stretch in the hamstrings, contract your glutes to return to the starting position. To make this more difficult, hold the kettlebell in one arm as shown.
- Single-arm Kettlebell Shoulder Press: Sit on the ball and engage your core. Press with the bell up so the kettlebell is upside-down for extra grip and stability work.
- Briefcase Carry: Walk about 30 feet, then turn around and walk back.
- Single-arm Overhead Kettlebell Squat: Hold the kettlebell in one hand over your head. Squat down, keeping the kettlebell overhead the whole time. Make sure not to lean over too far to compensate for the imbalanced weight—tighten your core and your glutes.
- Kettlebell Renegade Rows
- Overhead Carry: Walk about 30 feet, then turn around and walk back.
- Kettlebell Deadlift
- Standing Overhead Kettlebell Press
- Kettlebell Swing
- Kettlebell Goblet Squat
- Kettlebell Single-Arm Press
- Kettlebell Suitcase Carry: Walk about 30 feet, then turn around and walk back.
This will give you some extra work.
- Goblet Squat: Done with lighter kettlebell as a warmup.
- Split Squat
- Romanian Deadlift
- Bottom-Up Standing Overhead Press
- Kettlebell Pushup to Renegade Row: Perform renegade rows with each arm, then do a pushup without taking your hands off the kettlebells.