Blog
kettlebell exercises banner image

17 Kettlebell Exercises: Beginner & Advanced (2020)

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a regular gym-goer, we have compiled the ultimate list of kettlebell exercises for you to use in your workout.

Kettlebells are a brilliant piece of kit with tons of benefits, and an even bigger list of exercises that they can be used for. 

Below you will find all of the best kettlebell exercises out there, complete with video tutorials on how to execute them, information about the muscles that they work, and common mistakes to look out for.

So, what are you waiting for? Lets get stuck in!

But before we get started, have you ever thought about making a living out of your love for fitness? 

Kick-start an exciting new career by enquiring about our REPs endorsed personal training courses here or check out our free course prospectus.

Kettlebell Exercises: A Beginners Guide

If you’re new to the world of health and fitness or a little unfamiliar with kettlebell exercises, don’t sweat it!

We have got you covered with our list of kettlebell exercises for beginners just below.

Within our list, you’ll find a variety of different exercises so that you can work multiple muscle groups with just one pair of kettlebells!

Think of yourself as more of a pro? Stick around because once we’re done with here, we have included our favourite advanced kettlebell exercises a little further on.

Join 1000s of other Fitness and Health enthusiasts and get updates packed with career advice, nutrition tips, product reviews and more

#1 Upright Row

Set Up: This exercise can be performed anywhere at any time. It’s one of the best single kettlebell exercises out there, so all you need is one kettlebell, a hard floor and lots of space around you. 

Starting Position:

  • Stand with your back straight and your feet a little wider than shoulder width. 
  • Your toes should be slightly pointed out. 
  • Shuffle back your bottom slightly and grab the kettlebell handle with both hands, using an overhand grip.

Execution:

  • From the starting position, push your feet into the ground and straighten your legs.
  • Lift the kettlebell until it reaches the height of your chin. 
  • Squeeze your shoulders and upper back by raising your elbows higher than the kettlebell handle.
  • Exhale as you contract your abdominals,  shoulders and glutes.
  • Using a controlled movement, lower the kettlebell back to the starting position.

Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: if you’re looking for upper body kettlebell exercises, this is definitely one to try! This exercise primarily works your shoulders, traps, and biceps.

Secondary Muscles: Core, glutes, and quads.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Rounding your shoulders: Ensure you maintain scapular retraction by keeping your shoulders firmly pulled into their sockets.

Arching your back: Dip your hips as you squat down into the lower position, ensuring you always keep your back straight. 

Relaxing your core and glutes: When you are in the full upright position, focus on engaging and squeezing your glutes and abdominals, as if you were getting ready to take a punch.

Working out at home and need your own equiptment? These are the best kettlebells to buy for your home workouts.

#2 Kettlebell Two Hand Swing

Obviously we couldn’t make a list of the basic kettlebell exercises without including this classic! If you haven’t tried a swing yet, here’s how to do it!

Setup: To start this exercise, you will need one Kettlebell (or dumbbell). 

Starting Position: 

  • Stand with your feet-shoulder width apart.
  • Place the kettlebell on the ground, about a foot in front of you. 
  • Bend at your waist and grip the kettlebell handle with both hands. 
  • Pull your shoulders down and back, steady your core before starting the exercise.
  • Preserve these prompts throughout the entire workout. 

Grip: To control the kettlebell while it swings, hold it by the handle, palms facing you. 

Execution:

  • Lift the kettlebell off the ground and allow it to swing between your legs. 
  • Keep a slight bend in your knees and make sure that your back stays flat throughout the exercise. 
  • To force the kettlebell into the air, powerfully drive your hips forward. 
  • With your arms, control the kettlebell as it swings up, refraining from pulling it up any higher than your shoulders. 
  • Allow the kettlebell to swing down, controlling the decline and keeping your core engaged. 
  • As the kettlebell drops back to the starting position, move straight into the next rep. 
  • On the final rep, allow the kettlebell to swing through your legs and finish by placing it back on the ground a foot in front of you.

Kettlebell Two Hand Swing Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: The is up there with the best kettlebell exercises to work the glutes and the hamstrings. 

Secondary Muscles: this exercises also works your quads, core muscles, torso, and the muscles in your back.

Common Mistakes to Avoid With The Kettlebell Two Hand Swing

Lowering into a Squat: As this exercise is a hip-dominant exercise when executing the move, think about bending at your hips, not your knees. They are just along for the ride. 

Using your Arms: Predominantly, the kettlebell swing is a lower body exercise and not a shoulder exercise. The strength produced by your hips is enough to swing the bell into the air. Your arms are to help keep control of the kettlebell but shouldn’t be pulling the bell up. 

Ignoring the Core: Having a soft core makes for a messy execution of this move. It also puts stress on your spine. Keep your core tight throughout the entire exercise by bracing yourself as if you are preparing for a punch - this will ensure that your glutes are doing the initial work, not your lower back. 

Bringing the Kettlebell Overhead: You may see some people raise the weight over their heads, but this advised against as it can cause tension on your shoulders. Remember that you are training your hips, not your shoulders. 

Failing to Breathe: With the kettlebell being a rhythmic exercise, it is perfect for improving your breathing. Remember to breathe throughout the exercise (and all of the kettlebell exercises in this list!), breathing in as the kettlebell lowers, and exhaling through the swing. 

Benefits Of This Exercise

It’s a Full Body Move: there’s a reason that this is up there with our favourite full body kettlebell exercises! Since this is a full-body workout, it doesn’t just work out your hips and glutes; it tightens your core, and strengthens your torso and back muscles. 

It Trains the Hip Hinge: A hip hinge is an essential movement pattern. It is used in skills like jumping and exercises like deadlifting and squatting. With a proper hip hinge, you can strengthen your glutes, boosting the contribution to the movement—all the while keeping your back safe. 

It’s Good for Your Back: If you’re looking for a reversal for back issues, this is one of many easy kettlebell exercises that could help. This movement puts force on your spine in the opposite direction. There have been a lot of successful studies proving it. 

It Improves Conditioning: The kettlebell exercise is a full-body exercise and therefore its a brilliant way to build overall muscle endurance. From your calves to your hands, all of your muscles must work together to perform a perfect rep.

#3 Kettlebell Lunge and Press

Set up: All you need is one single kettlebell and plenty of space.

Starting position:

  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • With your right hand, grab the kettlebell and hold it at your right shoulder. 

Execution:

  • Holding the kettlebell in your right hand, take a big step backward with your right leg.
  • Bend at your knees and lunge towards the ground.
  • Push yourself back up so that your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  • As soon as you are standing upright, push the kettlebell directly up and above your head and come back slowly to your shoulder.
  • Once you have completed a full set, repeat the steps holding the kettlebell in your left hand, and stepping backwards with your left leg.

Kettlebell Lunge and Press Muscles Worked

As this another one of our favourite kettlebell compound exercises, it works a bunch of different muscle groups. The kettlebell lunge and press engages the muscles of the shoulder, arms, back, legs, glutes, and the core of the body.  

Mistakes To Avoid

Not Taking Big Enough Steps: Do not take small steps while doing lunges as this will shift the majority of the stress of the move on to the quadriceps. If you want to see the rewards of this compound move, especially the benefits for building your glutes, make sure that you take large steps.

Keep Your Knees Tracked Forwards: Although this is one of the most basic kettlebell exercises, there is still room for injury if you don’t execute the move properly! To prevent any damage to your knee joints, avoid collapsing your knees inward while performing lunges. Instead, keep your toes and your knees facing forwards to avoid any pain to or potential injury.

Keep Your Back Upright: one mistake that a lot of people make when performing a kettlebell lunge and press, is leaning their upper body forwards as they lunge. To avoid bringing on any unnecessary back pain, it's really important that you maintain an upright posture throughout the entire movement. 

Locking Your Arms: one final thing to avoid, is locking your arms at the elbow at the top of the ‘press’ movement. Extending your arm without fully straightening it as to do so could cause an unwanted injury!

Benefits of The Kettlebell Lunge and Press

Builds Strength: if one of your exercise goals is to build your overall body strength, this is definitely one of the best kettlebell exercises for beginners to add into your routine.

Stabilises Your Core: because this exercise requires the use of your core muscles and it challenges both balance and coordination, it can help you to improve your core stabilisation. Not only will this help you to tone your tummy, good core stabilisation also makes it easier to carry out other kettlebell compound exercises.

Burns Body Fat: if you’re here searching for easy kettlebell exercises that will help you to lose weight, you need to add this exercise into your workout. The kettlebell lunge and press   works the large muscles in the lower body, a brilliant way to burn body fat.

#4 Goblet Squats With Kettlebell

Setup: This is another exercise that can be done with a single kettlebell. So grab one kettlebell and find yourself a spot with plenty of space.

Starting Position: 

  • Stand straight and keep your feet slightly wider than your hips-distance apart. 
  • With both hands, grip the kettlebell and hold it in front of your chest as if you are cupping a goblet. 
  • Keep your elbows tucked close to your body. 

Execution: 

  • Begin to squat by forcefully driving your heels into the floor. 
  • Push your hips back, until your elbows touch the insides of your knees.
  • Once you reach the bottom of the squat, return to the starting position and repeat. 

Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: this is one of the best kettlebell glute exercises, targeting your glutes, as well as your quadriceps and hamstrings.

Secondary Muscles: abdominals, calves, forearms, and shoulders. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Holding the Kettlebell too Far from Your Body: in order to get this exercise right, the kettlebell should be “racked” close to your body and at chest level. You’ll also need to make sure your elbows are fully bent so that when the weight is close to your chest, you won’t feel as if you are aggressively engaging your biceps to hold it. 

Holding the kettlebell too far away from your body can result in over engaging your biceps and forearms, and it can also cause you to lose your balance. 

Leaning Forward from the Waist: another common mistake to avoid is hinging your body from the waist, and leaning or tipping as you perform the squat. This can cause issues with the natural alignment of your spine, and again, it will make it more likely for you to lose your balance. 

Not Utilizing the Full Squat: The most stimulating part of this exercise is the squat. So, although it might be tempting to make your life easier by not performing a full squat, lowering your body until your elbows touch your knees is the only way to get the full benefit of this exercise.

Benefits Of This Single Kettlebell Exercise

Improve Your Squat Form: One reason that this movement is one of the best kettlebell exercises for beginners, is that it really helps with getting the proper squat form. Not only can squatting properly prevent injuries related to squatting and lifting, it will also help you to build your strength, allowing you to lift more in other squat variations. 

Improved Alignment: Since your elbows touch the inside of your knees at the bottom of this squat, this exercise can help to improve your knees alignment with your toes.

Need help improving you squat form? Box squats are a great place to start! Find out exactly how to do box squats here.

#5 Kettlebell Hip Thrust

Set up: To set up for a kettlebell hip thrust, you’ll need a single kettlebell and a bench that is low enough to support your shoulder blades.

Ideally, you’ll need a bench that is around 12 -14 inches above the ground. 

Starting position: 

  • Sit on the ground with your back against the bench.
  • Position the bench so that the seat is at a height just below your shoulder blades. 
  • Now, grab the kettlebell with both hands and hold it on your pelvic bone.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart, and sit so that your knees are at 90 degree angle.

Execution:

  • Fix your eyes at a single point. 
  • Next, tuck your chin, and use your glutes to raise the bottom half of your body.
  • Squeeze the glutes while you drive your hips up and simultaneously press your heels on the floor.
  • Roll the kettlebell a bit forward and take it off your hip bone as you keep stretching the hips. 
  • Once your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, reverse the movement to lower your body back again. 

Kettlebell Hip Thrust Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: The primary muscle targeted by the kettlebell hip thrust is Gluteus Maximus.

Secondary Muscles: this exercise also recruiters the Quadriceps, Gluteus Medius, Adductors, and the Hamstrings.

Hip Thrust With Kettlebell: Mistakes To Avoid

Get Your Form Right: The first mistake that most people make with this exercise, is bringing their feet too close to their butt. Preferably, you need to create a 90-degree angle at your knees while performing this exercise.

Engage Your Core: Another common error that a lot of beginners make is stretching the lumbar in retaliation for the hip extension. To avoid this, make sure that your core muscles are engaged as you carry out the exercise.             

Benefits Of The Kettlebell Hip Thrust

It's Easy To Do: One benefit of the kettlebell hip thrust is that it's one of the most basic kettlebell exercises to execute. Not only is it really simple to do, it’s just as easy to tailor the difficulty of the exercise to suit different fitness levels, all you need to do is change the weight of the kettlebell used.

Isolation Exercise: whilst some of the best kettlebell exercises like swings and the lunge and press are brilliant because they recruit multiple muscle groups, one of the best things about the kettlebell hip thrust is that it's an isolation exercise. When performed correctly, this exercise is a brilliant way to train your glutes in isolation.

If you enjoy adding kettlebell exercises into your routine, why not take it to the next level? Check out how to become a kettlebell instructor over on our blog!

#6 Kettlebell Good Morning 

Set Up: For this exercise, all you need is one kettlebell, a hard floor and plenty of space around you. 

Starting Position: 

  • Stand upright with your back straight and your feet shoulder width apart. 
  • With both hands, hold the kettlebell in front of your chest.

Execution:

  • Hinge at your hips, tilting your upper body forwards until you feel a slight stretch on your hamstrings. 
  • As you do this, keep your back straight and ensure that you don’t lock out at your knees.
  • Once your chest is roughly parallel to the ground, reverse the move and return  to the starting position.

Kettlebell Good Morning Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: Erector spinae (lower back), Hamstrings, and Gluteus Maximus.

Secondary Muscles:  Core muscles.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Rounding Your Shoulders: For maximum results and safety when performing a kettlebell good morning, you should focus on squeezing back your shoulder blades as tightly as possible. This will help you to maintain good posture and keep your shoulders from rounding as you perform the exercise, reducing your risk of injury.

Bending Your Wrist: Bending or cocking your wrist as you execute this move can weaken your arms and could cause strain to your wrist and forearm.

Relaxing Your Core: To ensure that you perform this movement in a way that is both effective and safe, your core should remain engaged throughout the duration of this exercise.

Kettlebell Good Morning Benefits

Build Core Strength: Although this exercise primarily targets the muscles on your posterior chain (the back of your body), your core muscles are also recruited. As a result of this, good mornings with a kettlebell help to build core strength and improve core stability.

Emphasises The Hamstrings: Another benefit of this exercise is that it puts a lot of emphasis on the hamstrings. For that reason, you can incorporate this movement as part of a kettlebell exercises warm-up to activate and stretch your hamstring muscles.

#7 Halo Exercise

Setup: With this exercise, you will need a kettlebell; (or a dumbbell can be used) grip the handle by the horns, lifting it to the front of your body. 

Starting Position:

  • Begin with good posture, standing up with your shoulders relaxed and positioned over your hips. 
  • Keep your knees forward, bent slightly - abstain from locking or stiffening your knees. 
  • With both hands, hold the kettlebell in front of your body, grasping it by the horns (vertical sides of the handle). 
  • Position the kettlebell so the bottom is facing upwards.

Execution: 

  • Start by circling the kettlebell right, carrying the kettlebell near the right side of your head and letting the kettlebell drop low behind the neck. 
  • Loop left, bringing the kettlebell towards the left side of your head back to the starting point to finish. 
  • After completing a rotation, go in the opposite direction. Start rotating left, and finish by revolving back to the preliminary position. 

Muscles Worked

Prime Mover: Shoulders, triceps.

Secondary muscles: Upper back. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid 

Over Circling: Keep the route of the kettlebell reasonably close to your body and avoid making big circles around the head. Instead, your forearm should slightly glide the top of your hair as you move through the exercise. When the kettlebell is directly behind you, it should be straightforwardly behind your neck or a little lower. If it is right behind your head, it’s too high. 

Poor Posture: If your waist is bending to make larger loops, or if you’re bowing your back to bring the kettlebell behind your neck, then your stance isn’t stable enough. Avoid poor posture and any potential injuries by rooting your feet hip-distance apart, relaxing at the knees slightly, and keeping your core muscles tensed throughout the entire movement.

Holding Your Breath: As with any exercise, it's really important that you keep breathing when you’re doing this move. Remembering to breathe normally for this exercise is especially important as it's pretty common for people to hold their breath as they move the weight over their head.  

Benefits Of This Exercise

Build Your Core: This is another one of the best kettlebell exercises to work your core muscles. With the right form, you can strengthen your core and in turn your aiding stability and balance.

Improved Upper Body Flexibility: One of the lesser known benefits of this exercise is that it’s great for upper body flexibility, creating a healthier spine, shoulders, and back. So, if you suffer from stiffness in your shoulders or back, this is a great exercise to help. 

#8 Kettlebell Slingshot

Set Up: For this exercise you will need one kettlebell and sufficient space around you. When preparing your training area, make sure there are no obstructions nearby. 

Starting Position:

  • Stand upright with your back straight and slightly bend your knees. 
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart. 

Execution:

  • From the starting position, take the kettlebell in your right hand with your palm facing towards your body. 
  • Swing both your arms out in front of you and pass the weight from your right hand to your left hand.
  • With the kettlebell now in your left hand, swing your left arm to your left side and behind your body.
  • Reach your right arm behind your body and grab the kettlebell from your left hand. 
  • With the kettlebell now in your right hand, swing your right arm out to your side and then in front of your body.
  • Reach your left arm in front of your body and  take the kettlebell from your right hand. 
  • Repeat this exercise for the desired number of reps. 

Kettlebell Slingshot Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: Rectus abdominis and obliques.

Secondary Muscles: Pectoralis major, lower back, hamstrings, and glutes.

Common Mistakes To Avoid 

Swinging With A Rounded Back: When you perform the kettlebell slingshot, rounding your back as you swing increases the risk of injuring your lower back. To avoid this, keep your chest up and your back straight for the duration of this exercise.

Squatting As You Swing: The key to getting this exercise right is to hinge your hips as you swing, rather than squatting down. To know that you’re getting the kettlebell slingshot right, make sure that you move your glutes back instead of down.

Overusing Your Arms: One common mistake that people make with this exercise, is forgetting that the power of swinging the kettlebell should come from hinging your hips back and thrusting them forward. Your arms should guide and control the weight, rather than lifting it. 

Swinging Too High: Finally, another mistake that personal trainers see often, is people swinging the weight too high up. The higher you swing, the more likely you are to arch your back, which as we mentioned just above, is a really risky practice that could result in an injury.

Kettlebell Slingshot Benefits

Build Strength & Power: As with a lot of kettlebell exercises, one of the benefits of this movement is that it is a brilliant way to build strength and power. Not only will this have benefits for anybody with strength-based goals, this benefit also makes the kettlebell slingshot a great move to benefit your performance in other sports and aspects of your training.

Improved Shoulder Mobility: Despite this being on the most basic kettlebell training exercises on our list, there is one pretty unique benefit! This move is great for recovery, specifically, it can help to rebuild shoulder mobility after an injury.

Enjoy this exercise? Add some diveristy into your workout by learning how to do face pulls with OriGym.

#9 Farmer's Walk (with Kettlebell)

Set up: This exercise needs a pair of kettlebells and plenty of space for you to walk around in

Starting Position 

  • Grab a pair of kettlebells and hold them in each hand.
  • You should be standing upright with your arms by your sides.
  • Keep you back straight and do not bend your knees (but avoid locking them out). 

Execution 

  • Once you are comfortably settled in the starting position then start the farmer's walk by simply walking in a straight line.
  • Do not bend the elbow while doing the farmer's walk and keep a good posture throughout the exercise.
  • Depending on how much space you have, walk a distance of anywhere between 2 and 5 meters before turning around and walking back to your starting point.
  • You can increase the distance or the kettlebell weight according to your capacity and strength.

Muscle Worked

Prime Movers:  Biceps, Triceps, Forearms, Shoulders, Upper Back, and Core Muscles.

Secondary Muscles: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves.

Kettlebell Exercises For Beginners: Mistakes To Avoid

Keep Good Form: Although this is can be seen as a pretty easy exercise, its not quite as simple as taking a regular walk in the park! So, sticking to good posture is still really important. Some common mistakes to avoid include lowering your chin, hunching your shoulders, and failing to engage your core muscles during the exercise.

Exercise Benefits 

Transferable Benefits: As with pretty much all of the kettlebell exercises in this list, the farmers walk is a great way to build strength. But, thanks to the nature of this exercise, this particular movement is really great for building functional strength, which will benefit you in every day tasks like carrying shopping bags or walking long distances! 

For us, there really is one of the best kettlebell exercises that you can do. So much so that we have put together a full blog post dedicated to the benefits of the farmers walk right here.

Best Advanced Kettlebell Exercises For Regular Gym Goers

#1 Kettlebell Sit and Press

Set up: For this exercise, all you will need is some space, a gym mate, and a single kettlebell.

Starting position:

  • Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Grab the Kettlebell and hold it with both hands on your chest. 

Execution:

  • Do a clean shoulder press with one kettlebell and then push it upwards with the momentum that is exerted by shoulder muscles unless it is overhead. 
  • Then next you need to bring it back to the chest as you will be lowering the body towards the floor.
  • Always make sure that while you perform this exercise you keep your heels on the floor. 

Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: This exercise mainly focuses on the shoulders and core muscles. 

Secondary Muscles: Biceps, triceps, deltoids, trapezius.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

As this is one of the more advanced kettlebell exercises, there are a couple of things to take note of so that you can keep good form.

Here’s our advice for avoiding an injury:

  • Do not keep the kettlebell too close to your chest.
  • Avoid letting your feet come off the ground - lifting your heels can cause a hip injury! 
  • Keep your back straight and ensure that you don’t slouch your shoulders
  • Avoid using momentum to move the kettlebell. 

Benefits Of The Kettlebell Sit And Press

Burns Your Core Muscles: Although a lot of the kettlebell exercises in our list involve the core muscles, this particular movement is arguably the best to get your core burning. The kettlebell sit and press really gets your core working, doing wonders for core stabilisation, as well as helping you to chisel out that six-pack.

Works Your Upper Body: Another benefit of this particular exercise is that it's one of the most effective upper body kettlebell exercises out there. As well as your core muscles, this movement also improves both strength and flexibility in your shoulders.

#2 Kettlebell Lateral Swings

Set up: For kettlebell lateral swings all you will need is a single kettlebell and plenty of space around you.

Starting Position:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Stand with your arms by your sides, holding a kettlebell in one hand.

Execution:

  • Holding the kettlebell in your right hand, move your arm out towards your side until you are holding the weight at shoulder height.
  • Swing the kettlebell across your body towards your left foot, hinging at your hips and bending your knees slightly.
  • At the bottom of the move, the kettlebell should be just passed your left shin.
  • Swing the kettlebell back up to shoulder height and repeat the movement. 
  • Once you’re finished with your set, swap and repeat the exercise with your left hand.

Kettlebell Lateral Swings: Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Back muscles. 

Secondary Muscles: Forearms, shoulders, and core muscles (Specifically, the obliques).

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Not Controlling The Weight: as with a lot of exercises with a kettlebell, a lot of people fail to properly control this movement, using the momentum of the swing to move the weight, instead of engaging their muscles. Not only does failing to control the kettlebell make the exercise less effective, you could end up hurting yourself.

Benefits Of Kettlebell Lateral Swings

Build Rotational Strength: because of its lateral nature, this is probably not one of the best kettlebell exercises for beginners. Moving the weight in a lateral plane means that this exercise is a brilliant way to build rotational strength.

Full Body Workout: Another one of the benefits of this more advanced kettlebell exercise is that it provides a full body workout! Kettlebell lateral swings are a great way to work your upper body and your legs in one single exercise.

Want to switch up your exercise routine? You can perform this exercise with resistance bands, too! Find out more about the benefits of resisance band training right here!

#3 Kettlebell Clean and Jerk 

Setup: All you will need is one kettlebell and plenty of space around you.

Starting Position: 

  • Start with a kettlebell on the floor between your legs.
  • Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  • With the kettlebell still between your legs, lean forwards and overhand grip the bell before starting. 

Execution: 

  • Clean the kettlebell to your shoulder by forcefully pushing your hips backward while looking frontward. 
  • Lengthen your legs and hips, by creating momentum to pull the bell towards your shoulder. 
  • When the bell is close to your chest, twist your wrist and move the kettlebell into a racked position. Your palm should be facing you now. 
  • By pushing up, jerk the bell over your head into the air. Then bring back into a racked position, and back onto the ground. 
  • Repeat. 

Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: Shoulders, Traps, Quads, Core.

Secondary Muscles: Hamstrings and Glutes. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid 

Inconsistent Set-Ups: With this exercise, most mistakes start with the first pull and is usually traced back to reduced setup positions. To clean that up, try static starts, perform slow cleans, and ask for help from someone who is more experienced with exercises with the kettlebell if you are still struggling. 

Never Press Out: If you find that you are pressing out the kettlebell with the jerk, you’re not quite getting it right. To avoid this, you will have to lower the weight and practice generating enough power to get the kettlebell directly overhead without pressing it out. 

Lifting Your Heels: To minimise your risk of injury with this move, avoid raising your heels when bending your knees. Your feet should stay firmly on the floor to keep posture and power.

Benefits Of Kettlebell Training Exercises

Build Upper Body Strength: If you’re looking for exercises that you can do with a kettlebell to build upper body strength, this is definitely one to try. Pressing the kettlebell above your head within this movement is a great way to strengthen your shoulders and back. 

Work Your Core: One benefit of this clean and jerk variation is that thanks to using a kettlebell, it's a brilliant way to develop your core strength. Particularly, when you clean the kettlebell into a racked position, you are building real strength within your core. 

#4 Kettlebell Reverse Lunge

Set up: For the Kettlebell reverse lunge find plenty of space and grab a pair of kettlebells.

Starting position:

  • Stand up straight and tightly grip a kettlebell in each hand.
  • Hold the kettlebells on either side of your body with your arms by your sides and your palms facing your body.

Execution:

  • Keeping the kettlebells close to your sides, with your dominant side (right for right-handed people and vice versa), start performing a reverse lunge by putting your leg behind you and bending your knee to lower your body down towards the floor.
  • Aim to get your knee just above the ground.
  • Reverse the movement to push yourself back up to the start position (not forgetting to keep breathing throughout the movement).
  • Alternate between legs with exactly the same controlled, solid technique.

Kettlebell Reverse Lunge Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: Quads, Hamstrings.

Secondary Muscles: Lower back, Shoulders, Triceps, Calves, and Gluteus Maximus.

Exercises With The Kettlebell: Mistakes To Avoid

Engage Your Core: Ensure that while performing this exercise your core is tight as this will save you from any avoidable spine injury.

Keep Breathing: As with all of the other kettlebell exercises on this list, make sure that you constantly breathe in and out throughout this movement. As this is one of the more advanced kettlebell exercises there can be a lot to think about, but remembering to practice good breathing techniques is still super important.

Kettlebell Exercises: The Benefits

Brilliant Leg Workout: Because this exercise works one leg at a time, the Kettlebell Reverse Lunge is a fantastic way to improve single leg strength. This is a unilateral exercise, which means that both sides of the body have to work just as hard. This is a huge benefit as it can help with any issues of muscle imbalance that come as a result of the dominant side of your body overcompensating during movements bilateral exercises, like a squat or swing. 

Improves Balance: Thanks to this advanced variation of a classic lunge, you could see some serious improvement in your balance and coordination. 

When we're finished here, why not check out our guide to the best calf exercises for leg day!

#5 Pistol Squat On Kettlebell

Set Up: The only equipment you will need to perform this exercise is a kettlebell. When setting up your training area, make sure you are on a hard floor with plenty of space around you. 

Starting Position: 

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Using both hands, pick up the kettlebell and hold it close to your chest. 
  • Your hands should be around the main part of the kettlebell with the handle facing down towards the floor.

Execution:

  • From the starting position,  raise one foot off the ground and begin to squat. 
  • As you squat down, stretch your lifted leg in front of you to balance. Make sure your body stays in alignment. 
  • Use your glutes to push up to the starting position.
  • Alternate legs after each rep.

Kettlebell Pistol Squat Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: Quadriceps and glutes

Secondary Muscles: Core stabilisers (abdominals and obliques). 

Common Mistakes to Avoid with the Kettlebell Pistol Squat 

Heels Coming Up: If you struggle to keep your heel on the ground during the pistol squat,  try strengthening your legs, glutes and abs. Stretching your calves regularly can also help to build flexibility in the ankles, which can help you to perform this exercise correctly. 

Sitting Too Far Back: Sitting too far back can force your back to round and can make it difficult to balance.  When performing a kettlebell pistol squat,  your hips should move back slightly first. You should then bring them forward when you squat lower down. 

Hunching your back: The better your posture, the more effective this exercise becomes. To prevent your spine from rounding during this exercise, pull your shoulder blades down and back while lifting your chest and tensing your abs. 

Kettlebell Pistol Squat Benefits 

Improved Mobility & Flexibility: not only does this exercise have the expected benefits for building strength, this particular movement also promotes mobility and improves flexibility. 

#6 Double Kettlebell Windmill

Set Up: For this exercise, you will need a pair of kettlebells, a hard floor and plenty of room around you. When setting up your training area, make sure that there are no obstructions nearby. 

Starting Position: 

  • Stand upright with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Place the two kettlebells between your feet. 

Execution: 

  • From the starting position, clean and press one kettlebell over your head while allowing the other to hang down in front of you. 
  • Rotate your feet about 45 degrees away from the overhead kettlebell. For example, if you are holding the overhead kettlebell in your left hand, turn your feet to the right.
  • Start to move your hips to the side of the overhead kettlebell.
  • Turn your chest towards the overhead kettlebell. 
  • Let the lower kettlebell to drop towards the ground, in front of your front leg.
  • Fully engage your core area as you reverse the motion and return to the starting position.

Double Kettlebell Windmill Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: Shoulders, obliques, and abs.

Secondary Muscles: Triceps, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Losing Focus: This is certainly one of the more unusual kettlebell exercises, so concentration is key. Maintain full control of the exercise and ensure that the kettlebell remains above your shoulder by always keeping your eyes on the overhead kettlebell.

Moving too fast: You should move slowly enough so that you are always in full control of the kettlebells. Losing control of the overhead kettlebell could be extremely dangerous and will likely result in an injury.

Benefits Of Double Windmill Kettlebell Exercises

Different Kettlebell Exercises: Outside of the fact that this exercise helps to develop strength and build muscle, our favourite thing about this exercise is that it's different to your typical weight-training exercises, which makes it a fun addition to your workout routine.

#7 Single Arm Kettlebell Row

Set Up: For this exercise, you will need a single kettlebell, a hard floor, and an obstruction-free space around you. You may wish to use a gym/ yoga mat for added comfort and protection. 

Starting Position: 

  • Stand upright with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • With a kettlebell in one hand, lean slightly forwards by pushing your hips back and bending at your knees slightly. 

Execution:

  • Row the kettlebell up towards you until it reaches your stomach.
  • Pull in your shoulders and make sure that your elbows track back (rather than out to your sides).
  • Reverse the movement to return the kettlebell to the starting position, and continue with the desired number of repetitions on one side before swapping hands.

Single Arm Kettlebell Row Muscles Worked

Prime Movers:  Biceps, middle and lower back  and lats.

Secondary Muscles: Upper back and traps.

Common Mistakes with the Single Arm Kettlebell Row to Avoid

Rounding Your Spine: Just because your body is leaning forward, doesn't mean that it's ok to round your spine! To prevent the risk of injury, you should keep your spine in an anatomically “neutral” position, ensuring your upper spine does not round and your head does not protract forwards. 

Engaging your core muscles really helps to avoid rounding the spine. Unsure how? Check out our blog post explaining how to engage your core properly.

Single Arm Kettlebell Row Benefits

Build Your Back Muscles: As with the upright row that we discussed in our list of kettlebell exercises for beginners, this exercise is also a brilliant way to work your back muscles. The single arm row effectively targets the middle back, traps, and triceps.

Unilateral Exercise: Another benefit of the single arm row is that it is a unilateral exercise, where only one side of the body is worked at a time. This is a huge benefit as unilateral movements are a great way to ensure that both sides of your body are as strong and toned as each other. If you find that the dominant side of your body does more of the work in a regular upright row, it's definitely worth giving this single arm alternative a try!

#8 Kettlebell Overhead Squat

Set up: If you want to focus on single kettlebell exercises, then all that you require is a single kettlebell and a free space away from other people or obstructions.

To make this exercise more advanced, you can grab two kettlebells and hold one in each hand.

Starting position: 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • With both hands, hold a kettlebell in front of the chest.
  • Or, for the two kettlebell variation, hold a kettlebell in each hand, at shoulder height.

Execution:

  • Holding the kettlebell(s) in position, start the move by bending your knees slightly.
  • Now, push the kettlebell(s) overhead by straightening your arms - but don’t fully lock your arms.
  • Ensure that the kettlebell is placed behind the head with the arms completely extended.
  • Lower the body gradually into a squat by bending the knees and pushing your hips backwards until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Push yourself back up and lower the weight(s), then repeat the exercise.

Kettlebell Overhead Squat Muscles Worked

Prime Movers: Quadriceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Triceps, back, abdominals, calves, hamstrings, and shoulders.

Mistakes To Avoid With The Kettlebell Overhead Squat

Maintain Good Posture: as the overhead squat with two kettlebells is one of the more advanced moves on our list of kettlebell exercises, losing your form can be easy. One particular problem is leaning your upper body forward during the squat movement, which can really injure your lower back. 

Exercise Benefits

Full Body Kettlebell Exercises: one of the best things about this exercise is that it has all of the benefits of a regular squat, and then some, making it one of the best kettlebell compound exercises. Pushing the weight overhead really works your core and it gets your upper body involved, too, which can help to increase the strength of the upper back and boost shoulder stabilization. 

Improved Squat Pattern: You know what they say, practice makes perfect! Strength-training is no exception to this rule. So, by adding the kettlebell overhead squat into your regular exercise routine, you’re sure to see improvements in any other squat variations. 

Join 1000s of other Fitness and Health enthusiasts and get updates packed with career advice, nutrition tips, product reviews and more

Before You Go!

Whatever your fitness level, we hope that you have found some new kettlebell exercises to add into your workouts.

But before you leave us, have you ever thought about making a career out of your passion for fitness? Enquire about our personal trainer courses now or download our online course prospectus here

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

Recommended Posts

Download Your 16 week Home Strength Training Programme

Download Your 16 week Home Strength Training Programme