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3 Basic Moves for a Whole-body Kettlebell Workout (with Video)

Back in the day, only the most hard core weightlifters used kettlebells. Now, everyone’s catching on to their effectiveness and versatility. With just 3-4 sizes of kettlebells stashed away behind your sofa, you can do a full-body resistance workout that you feel the next day.

The free weights at the gym are great, but you don’t always have time to get there. Or maybe your gym is still closed [1]. Investing in a few kettlebells will give you the means to emulate some of the more savage strength-building movements that you get with an expensive trainer, without having to leave your house or cough up a membership fee. You can even incorporate kettlebells into your microworkout [2] regime.

Stay on track no matter where you are! Instantly download your Primal and Keto Guide to Eating Out [3]

Why Kettlebells?

Until about 10 years ago, mainstream fitness favored barbells and dumbbells over kettlebells. More recently, people started understanding the benefits of kettlebell workouts:

3 Basic Kettlebell Exercises for a Full-body Workout

There are hundreds of kettlebell moves out there, and lots of combo moves to keep things interesting. Whether you’re just starting out or want to refine your kettlebell routine, here are three kettlebell exercises that everyone should know and be able to do well.

How to Do a Kettlebell Swing

The basic kettlebell exercise is the kettlebell swing.

  1. To start, squat as low as you can. Maintain proper squat positio [6]n – feet shoulder width apart, toes slightly out, slight curve in lower back, weight on your heels, chest out, shoulders back, eyes straight ahead – with the kettlebell resting between your legs.
  2. Grab the bell and, as if in a deadlift, rise up while pushing your hips out. Drive the kettlebell up primarily with your lower body and core; your shoulders will help, of course, but they shouldn’t be the main agent of movement.
  3. When you reach the top of the motion, actively pull the kettlebell down to the start position.

Tip: Try to resist pulling with your shoulders and instead actively engage your legs, hips, and stomach in the movement, and you’ll be able to handle higher weights sooner.

What Muscles Does a Kettlebell Swing Work?

Either performed with one or both hands, the kettlebell swing enlists your shoulders, core, and thighs. Such a compound movement leaves room for error, so be cautious of your form. Correct form is absolutely essential to avoid injury and maximize output.

Read next:

9 Worthy Alternatives to the Back Squat [7]

Alternatives to Burpees for When You’re Tired of Doing Burpees [8]

At-home No Equipment Arm Workout [9]

How to Do a Clean and Press

These Olympic lifts aren’t only possible with a barbell; the kettlebell works as well. From the basic swing, you can transition into numerous other movements.

  1. For the clean, start in the swing position. Still pushing with your hips and legs, swing the bell up while keeping your elbow in.
  2. As the bell reaches your shoulder, dip your knees and get your elbow underneath the kettlebell. Hold it at your shoulder.
  3. From the clean, you can move into the press. Simply push the kettlebell up over your head with your shoulder and slowly lower it.
  4. Return to the squat/swing position and repeat.

Turkish Get Ups

Turkish get ups have long been a staple for Eastern European strongmen, and incorporating them into your workout will strengthen your body’s foundation and improve your core strength.  This is a fun one, but also a bit difficult to describe. For clarity’s sake, let’s use a specific hand.

  1. Lie on your back while holding the kettlebell straight up in the air with your left hand. Keep your elbow locked and the kettlebell resting against your forearm. Keep the elbow locked throughout the exercise.
  2. Prop yourself up on your right hand (obviously, not the one attached to the arm holding the kettlebell) while bringing your left foot toward your buttocks.
  3. Put your right knee and left foot on the ground, so that you’re in a half-kneel.
  4. Maintain the straight arm and stand up. Always keep your eyes on the kettlebell.

Any natural motion a Primal man might have made, from crushing animal thigh bones with a rock for the marrow, to hoisting up a prey’s carcass for transport, can be simulated with a kettleball. Have fun with it, and from here, branch out and find other moves to master.

What is your favorite kettlebell move or combo? Let me know in the comments below.