What are the Different Types of Kettlebell Routines?

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  • Written By: Micki Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2020
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Kettlebells, which have origins in Russia, are cast iron balls usually coated in rubber and used in workouts much like dumbbells. The main difference is a handle that allows for the mass to extend beyond the hand and results in the possibility of various types of kettlebell routines. These exercises can be done virtually anywhere and may help with both strengthening and conditioning. One might choose to focus on specific parts of the body such as the arms, core, or legs, and a total-body workout may also be achieved through some kettlebell routines. Some routines include arm presses, sit-ups, squats, various kettlebell swings and Turkish get-ups.

Typical workouts aimed at strengthening the arms, such as presses, bicep curls, and rows that tone the triceps, are one type of exercise. These kettlebell routines may be performed standing or with the use of a weight bench. The movements, weight used, and the number of sets and reps completed are often similar to a weightlifting routine. Two kettlebells may be used at once, holding one in each hand; alternating hands is another option.


Kettlebells may be used in exercises to target the core muscle groups as well and, generally, only one is needed for this workout. A kettlebell sit-up requires a kettlebell held at arms’ length toward the ceiling while performing a regular sit-up. An extension is another exercise that targets the abs; starting on the back with knees and kettlebell in toward the chest, this move is done by sending the legs out and tapping the heels on the ground while bringing the kettlebell back behind the head. Return to the original position and repeat.

Leg workouts may also be achieved through specific kettlebell routines. Squats, in which the toes should point forward and the back kept straight, could achieve results faster when a kettlebell is held to the chest. Various lunges such as the side lunge, the forward lunge, and traveling lunges are all possible additions to a kettlebell routine aimed at strengthening and toning the quads, hamstrings and calves.

There are kettlebell routines designed to utilize the handle feature of the equipment and use several large muscle groups at once for a total body workout. One basic exercise is the swing, and perfecting this move allows one to build upon it with the goal of doing more advanced routines. Standing with legs hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent, the swing is performed by gripping one kettlebell by its handle and swinging it through the legs, then returning to a standing position and raising the kettlebell at arms’ length no higher than the head. The swing is powered by hip thrusting, not by using arm strength. Videos depicting exercises such as the clean and the Turkish get-up can be found online and, when done in conjunction with the swing, form a type of kettlebell routine that may workout the entire body.


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