Calling all fitness freaks! We watched the best kettlebell workout videos on the Internet and are bringing you the results. But before we dive into the best kettlebell exercises for men, you might be wondering: just what are kettlebells, anyway?
Basically, a kettlebell is a cast iron or steel ball that resembles a cannonball and comes with a handle attached to the top. Portable and heavy in equal measure, it’s used primarily in ballistic exercises and weightlifting routines. The equipment is also popular enough to have an entire sport–aka kettlebell lifting–dedicated to it.
Thanks to its compact design and offset center of mass, the kettlebell enables high-repetition sets while infusing an extra tier of leverage into your regimen. Ideal for beginners and experts alike, the best kettlebell workouts accelerate heart rate, burn calories, and build muscles with impressive alacrity. Making them part of your overall fitness routine is a no-brainer.
Now that you’re up to speed: onto the exercise! From the best kettlebell workouts for fat loss to resistance training to strength-builders like kettlebell squats, thrusters, and swings, we’ve got you covered in all things kettlebell. Culled from websites, magazines, and videos, here are the 15 best kettlebell workouts for men.
1. Kettlebell Swing
One of the best kettlebell workouts for beginners is a bona fide calorie burner, which targets muscles in the hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders, pecs, and grip. To make the kb swing part of your routine, perform the following steps:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Pick up the kettlebell and hold it between your legs, using both hands in an overhand grip.
- Staring straight ahead, arch your lower back and bend at the hips until the kettlebell is behind your legs.
- Squeeze your glutes, extend your hips, and swing the kettlebell upward.
- As the weight swings back between your legs, bend your hips and bend slightly at the knees.
- Extends the hips and knees so that the swing reverses course on its own momentum, beginning your next rep.
- Use the natural momentum of the kettlebell and your hip gestures to keep the weight swinging. Your arms shouldn’t be doing the work.
Perform as many kettlebell swings as you can for 30 seconds, and then take 30 seconds of rest. Do this for 3 sets when you start out, increasing the weight and number of sets as you improve.
Muscles worked: hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders, pecs
Difficulty level: Beginner-intermediate
Focus: power, strength
2. Kettlebell Thrusters
This overlooked kettlebell exercise combines a front squat with an overhead press and works your full body in the process. There will be a pain, but it will be a good kind of pain, which is what the best kettlebell workouts are all about. Here’s how to execute:
- Grab two kettlebells and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hold the kettlebells in the rack position (so that the weight is resting on the back of your shoulders).
- Lower as you bend slightly at the knees into the semi-squat position.
- Hold for a second and then power upward with all your might, pushing through at the legs and heels.
- As you reach the upright position, use the natural momentum of the kettlebells to press them up.
- Finish with your palms facing outward.
- Lower back into the starting position and repeat.
Perform 3 sets of 3 reps, increasing the weight and number of sets as you improve.
Muscles worked: shoulders, legs
Difficulty level: Intermediate-advanced
3. Kettlebell Clean and Press
Want to work your shoulders and core while improving your grip strength? The kettlebell clean and press is one of the best ways to do it. It can be done with one kettlebell (per arm) at a time, or two at once. For the double kettlebell set, perform the following maneuvers:
- Stand in the upright position, holding a kettlebell by either side (i.e. two kettlebells total).
- Bend your knees slightly and keep your legs shoulder-width apart.
- In one graceful movement, jump slightly off the ground while raising your arms.
- Bend your knees as you land into the semi-squat position while continuing to extend your arms straight above your shoulders.
- Return to the starting position. Repeat.
Perform 5 sets of 5 reps, taking 1 minute of rest between each set.
Muscles worked: shoulders, legs, core, trapezius
Difficulty level: Advanced
Focus: coordination, full-body conditioning
4. Kettlebell Snatch
One of the best kettlebell workouts for fat loss, the snatch reportedly burns about 20kcals a minute. It’s also known to (nearly) max out the heart rate. Here’s how to perform it:
- Hold a single kettlebell between your legs using one hand.
- Go into the semi-squat formation.
- Use your hips and knees to thrust upward.
- When the kettlebell reaches shoulder height, rotate your hand and push upward until your arm is completely straight.
- Return to the semi-squat position, with the kettlebell between your legs, and repeat.
Perform as many snatches as you can for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Start with 3 sets and increase the number of sets as you improve. When you’ve worked your way up to 10 sets, increase the weight.
Muscles worked: glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, upper back, shoulders, grip
Difficulty level: Advanced
Focus: developing aerobic capacity
5. Kettlebell Pistol Squat
A true exercise of champions, the kettlebell pistol squat fires on all conceivable cylinders (no pun intended). By that we mean it builds upon stability, strength, and mobility in one fell swoop. This is also one of the best kettlebell workouts for abs.
Before we dive in, a quick word of advice: master this exercise using just your own bodyweight before bringing a kettlebell into the mix. Only when ready, perform the following steps:
- Using both hands, hold a single kettlebell directly under your chin.
- Raise one leg off the floor and extend it, while simultaneously squatting down with the other leg.
- Push through the heel to bring yourself back to the upright position, all without letting your raised leg touch the floor.
- Lower back down and repeat.
Perform 5 reps per set and 3 sets total, taking 1 minute of rest between each set. Increase the number of reps per set as you improve.
Muscles worked: quadriceps, gluteus (max, medius, minimus), gastrocnemius, rectus abdominis and obliques, lower back, hamstrings, deltoids, and shoulder Stabilisers
Difficulty level: advanced
6. Kettlebell Goblet Squat
Here are another one of the best kettlebell workouts for fat loss, if not the best. Pull it off and you’ll have some firm glutes and six-pack abs to show for it. Here’s how to execute:
- Grip a kettlebell in each hand, and stand with your legs just wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Bring the kettlebells to the front of your chest, with your palms facing one another.
- Bend at the knees, lower into a squat, and tighten your glutes, all while keeping the kettlebells in their original position.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
Perform 3 sets of 5 reps, taking 1 minute of rest between each set. Increase the number of reps per set as you improve.
Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, scapular stabilizers
Difficulty level: beginner
Focus: strength, power, endurance
7. Kettlebell Front Squat
Here’s a top kettlebell exercise that needs no introduction. To execute, do the following:
- Hold a kettlebell in front of each shoulder, palms facing one another.
- Staring straight ahead, get into the full squat position, going as low as you can.
- Pause at the bottom, keeping your chest out and your hips straight.
- Drive through at the heels and return to the starting position. Repeat.
Perform 3 sets of 10 reps, resting 1 minute between each set.
Muscles worked: quadriceps, glutes, core
Difficulty level: intermediate
Focus: fat burn, muscle gain