fit womens weekly blog

19 Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

Even before you get into real kettlebell training, I think you should get some kettlebells.

You can use them for all of the exercises you would use a dumbbell for…

And they make these exercises tougher, which is always a good thing (I’ll tell you why in a minute)…

AND using kettlebells like a dumbbell which start to build the strength needed for “real” kettlebell exercises a little early.

So I think you should start a kettlebell collection with a:

8kg kettlebell – That’s the pink one down below.

12kg kettlebell – That’s the blue one down below.

8kg and 12kg kettlebells you should buy

I use Rogue Fitness kettlebells. Think they are one of the best and also one of the best priced kettlebells. You can get the two kettlebells above for under $100 and that also includes shipping.

I’ll get to all 18 of these exercise in a minute, but first I want to cover two important things:

1. Why do kettlebells make exercises tougher?
2. How do they start building the strength you need faster?

It’s about the offset

Kettlebells are a ball of iron with a handle where the center of gravity is practically in the middle of the ball of iron.

Dumbbells are perfectly distributed weights where the center of gravity is right where you grab the handle.

Kettlebells demand more muscle activation to balance and control the kettlebell’s weight offset.

It kinda sounds ridiculous, but you’ll feel it immediately.

This is what also helps you begin building the strength for kettlebells before you learn all of the “real” kettlebell fundamental exercises.

You will be teaching your muscles to work better together to stabilize ever move. The exercises I’m about to show you will really help this.

So let’s get going.

The 19 Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

(These are the perfect way for you to get started)

1. Figure 8’s

kettlebell figure 8s
figure 8s kettlebells

This is a simple exercise that usually requires a lot of reps to feel it.

You go down into a half(ish) squat and you’ll move the kettlebell in a figure 8 around your legs. The heavier the kettlebell, the more it will pull and the more muscle you’ll have to activate to control the movement.

When you first learn, you’ll probably round your spine. Rather, deepen your squat to create more space and keep your spine straight.

2. Halos

kettlebell halos
halos from behind

I love this exercise. It’s more of a mobility exercise. You’ll have to force your shoulders through a decent range of motion.

I love adding halos in a warmup. All of the warmup circuits in Strong use halos because kettlebell training is pretty demanding on your shoulders.

3. KB Pushups

kettlebell pushups
kettlebell pushups variation
kettlebell pushups variation

Version #1 – Hand on handles

This is a great version because if you have heavier kettlebells, you can use them like parallettes. I will explain this later because it’s a very advanced move.

First off, you can go deeper into a pushup. Again, you’ll need strong and mobile shoulders for this.

Version #2 – Hands on bells

I love doing this because it requires you to hold your body tighter. The kettlebells are going to want to roll around so you need to grip them… make some muscle… and control them.

I think once you try this, you will really enjoy the challenge.

4. KB Floor Presses

single kettlebell floor press
kettlebell double chest press
double kettlebell floor press

Version #1 – Single and Heavy

I like to put my thumbs through the hand of the kettlebell. I think it’s a lot more comfortable.

Version #2 – Double presses

Hold your kettlebells like normal and press.

Try your best to keep your arms going down at a 45 degree angle. Don’t let them flair out. And as with most exercises, focus on the muscles you’re working.

Your chest, your arms, and grip your kettlebells tight.

5. Goblet Squat

goblet squat
dont hold the kettlebell too low
single kettlebell floor press

I love the goblet squat. Holding the kettlebell instantly improves almost everybody’s squat… mainly because we lack properly mobility from living our daily lives.

Make sure you hold the kettlebell tall. Where it’s in front of your neck. Your arms may begin to fatigue before your legs and the kettlebell may start to fall down.

Don’t let this happen. As the kettlebell falls down, it drags your torso down with it and your squat falls to pieces.

One last thing… try doing a goblet squat in front of a wall. Maybe 4 inches from the wall… a wall you can hit accidentally. Focus on feeling the ground with your entire foot and activating your arches as you push your hamstrings back and your knees out.

Go slowly. This is a great drill to help you improve squat mobility.

6. Pop Squat

kettlebell pop squat
kettlebell pop squat

A fun and fast squat variation. You will pull on the handle of the kettlebell as you come up from your squat. Use your legs to generate the initial force and then all you’ll need is a little tug with your arms.

The kettlebell will float a little and as it does, you can catch it under the handles.

Then just drop it and go right back into your next rep. Remember to keep your torso tall and squat down… don’t bend over.

7. Alternating Pop Squat

kettlebell alternating pop squat
kettlebell alternating pop squat

This is a fun variation. Rather than hold onto the kettlebell with two hands as you go down into your squat, you hold on with only one.

Then as you come up pushing hard with your legs, you give the small tug with only your one arm and you catch the kettlebell with two.

Switch arms on the way down and repeat. Just like above, remember to keep your torso tall and squat down… don’t bend over.

One workout everyday for 12 days.

Come workout with me – rep for rep – for FREE!

I approach workouts from a different perspective. It’s all about consistency and intensity.

You’ll burn more fat and build more lean muscle definition by getting in at least one short workout everyday with crazy intensity… compared to skipping three days and doing one long workout.

Click the button below to sign up for the 12 Days of Sweat and Strength.

On the next page, you can choose bodyweight and dumbbell workouts or kettlebell workouts.

8. Squat to Press

kettlebell squat to press

When I need an exercise that will get my muscles burning and my heart pounding, I go with a squat to press.

If you want a bigger cardio burn, don’t go too heavy. You want rep speed.

If you want more muscle, go heavy. But listen to your body.

Hold the kettlebell with the handle between your hands and pointed down. This keeps it out of the way so you don’t accidentally hit yourself in the face. I’ve seen it happen. Not fun!

Move through each rep with grace. It’s connected. You go down into your squat, holding the kettlebell tall. As you come up, you are transferring the power from your legs all the way up your body, directly into the press.

It’s not a squat and then a press. It’s a squat into a press.

9. Deadlift

kettlebell deadlift

I love kettlebell deadlifts. It’s a great way to practice the hip hinge and groove your form safely. The reason it’s save it’s because of the weight (although that does help) but because you can keep the kettlebell between your legs. Right inline with your center of gravity.

This means you’re less likely to get the weight out front where your back will kick in to support the weight. No back issues.

Be careful though. You could be very tight from your daily life and still feel back issues. This is one reason why mobility work is so important to do on a consistent basis.

Every member of Fit Women’s Weekly get access to a little program Dan and I created called Rejuvenate. It’s packed full of small mobility workouts you can do throughout the day to help improve flexibility and joint movement.

I’d say it’s one of the more important parts of Fit Women’s Weekly.

10. Single Leg Deadlift

kettlebell single leg deadlift

I do love this exercise although it can be tough to do.

First, make sure you focus on keeping the kettlebell beside your leg the whole time. Again, this is your center or gravity and you want your hamstrings and butt doing the work… not your back.

I like to have my non-lifting leg barely touching the ground behind me so I can stay balanced. But make sure you don’t use it too much.

Make sure you don’t keep your lifting leg too straight too. Your legs should bend as you go down but it’s still a hinge at your hips. Your butt is still going back.

11. Rack Walk

kettlebell rack walk

As a beginner, you can put a kettlebell into the rack position any way you want to start. As you get better with kettlebells, you can learn to clean it properly.

This is why I created Strong, which has the Kettlebell Clinic. In this program you will learn all of the kettlebell fundamentals in great detail. One of those being how to clean the kettlebell so smooth it looks like magic.

Anyway, get the kettlebell in rack position and detach your elbow from your body so it’s just your arm holding the kettlebell. Try to go a little heavier than normal and just go for a walk around the room.

You are building shoulder stabilizers and endurance strength, plus a lot of core strength.

If you have a friend who can help you get two kettlebells into rack, you can do this with two kettlebells and make it even better.

12. Kettlebell Farmers Carry

kettlebell farmers carry

Farmers carry is a great exercise because it forces your whole body to engage… and you can do this with kettlebells if you have heavy enough ones.

What I really love about it is the shoulder stability part. Most women who do this, tend to let the kettlebell weight pull their shoulders down. But don’t do this. Rather plug your shoulders into their sockets and with amazing posture walk.

If you do this consistently, you’ll get incredibly strong. Not to mention a lot of other exercises will get easier because your improved shoulder and grip strength.

13. Racked Squat

kettlebell racked squat

It’s amazing how holding a kettlebell in rack position can make everything harder… especially a squat.

So get your kettlebell in rack however you can. And then start knocking out squats.

The offset weight will make it much harder. I find you need to even engage your core as the kettlebell is pulling you to it’s side.

I like to take my non-kettlebell arm and hold it out to the side to help with some counterbalance… that is unless you’re doing double racked squats.

Go slower than your normal squat. You will feel your arm get fatigued quickly and pulled down by the kettlebell. Here’s how to beat that… squeeze the kettlebell handle and flex your arm muscles. This creates a stronger base and as you come up from your squat, your arms won’t be tugged down.

Bracing is a really important topic that we’ll cover in another blog post.

One workout everyday for 12 days.

Come workout with me – rep for rep – for FREE!

I approach workouts from a different perspective. It’s all about consistency and intensity.

You’ll burn more fat and build more lean muscle definition by getting in at least one short workout everyday with crazy intensity… compared to skipping three days and doing one long workout.

Click the button below to sign up for the 12 Days of Sweat and Strength.

On the next page, you can choose bodyweight and dumbbell workouts or kettlebell workouts.

14. Racked Lunge

kettlebell racked lunges
Same idea with the racked squat… now just with a lunge. Remember the tip about flexing your muscles and holding those kettlebells strong. It makes a huge difference.

15. Overhead Walk

kettlebell overhead walk

This is another shoulder stability exercise I love. It’s great for helping you get ready for full out kettlebell exercises.

All you’re going to do is take a lighter kettlebell to start and hold it over your head… then walk.

You’ll quickly feel it in your shoulder and as you turn different directions, you’ll feel your shoulder stability gets taxed. This will make you much stronger. But you have to do it consistently.

This is also something you can do while lunging. There are a few workouts in Strong where we will doing lunges while holding the kettlebell over our heads. It’s tough!

16. Standing Presses

kettlebell shoulder presses

Shoulders… shoulders… shoulders!!!

To do full out kettlebells, you need strong shoulders. Grooving your press is a great skill to have. Plus it makes for stronger shoulders which is a huge plus as a women. Most women do not have really strong shoulders.

Before you press the kettlebell, squeeze the handle and make sure your muscles are turned on. You don’t want to flex them like crazy but you want them active.

Then press the kettlebell up in a J-curve and push your arm up high at the top. Don’t just let the kettlebell fall down… bring it down with control. Keep your muscles engaged.

A great way to get stronger is by doing negatives. As you bring the kettlebell down, go really really slow. Maybe six seconds at least… and flex your muscles hard the entire time.

You really tax your muscles during the eccentric phase of any lift and it’s a great way to build that strength.

17. Sling Shots

kettlebell sling shots
kettlebell sling shots

You are going to love these. They are fast and if you go heavy enough, they can get your heart rate up high.

You will need to watch the gif and picture sequence to really get a good idea of how to do these. But I’ll say this…

As you bring the kettlebell between your legs, be careful not to slam it into your knee. I’ve done this before and it hurts.

As you bring the kettlebell between your legs, squat a little more than you think and that will help you create space and move your legs out of the way. Plus it also loads your legs up so then can snap with power flinging the kettlebell around your body even faster.

18. Reverse Swings

reverse kettlebell swing
kettlebell reverse swings
Reverse swings look a little goofy, but they are a great training drills for your regular swings.

When you’re doing reverse swings, you can feel your hamstrings active more and it helps you groove your hip hinge.

Watch the gif and give it a try. With a little work, you will feel what it’s like to have that perfect hip hinge.

19. Swings

kettlebell swing
kettlebell swings

And finally we are at one of the “real” type of kettlebell exercises.

The swing is such an amazing exercise and you don’t really appreciate it until you start messing with all the variations.

Once I get my members good on a basic swing, I’ll move them to double swings and heavier swings. This is when they really feel it… both from a muscle perspective of producing power and from a heart rate perspective too.

From doing the deadlifts, you should have your hip hinge perfectly grooved.

The swing is essentially a dynamic deadlift. Same movement but you’re hips are snapping at the top to swing the kettlebell rather than just picking it up.

To get the full breakdown of the swing and all of my practice workouts, join Strong. I even break it down into slow motion videos so you can see the intricate details of the swing… like where the kettlebell should be when you’re hips go back.

A big mistake a lot of beginners make is having the kettlebell too close to the ground. This robs you of power and it activates your back which you don’t want.

19 Kettlebell Exercises You Can Start Doing Today

I created this list to encourage you to buy kettlebells now for your home.

Forget about dumbbells. They are great but you can do so much more with kettlebells and to get started you don’t even need to do know how to do all the crazy kettlebell moves just yet.

So go order a 8kg kettlebell and a 12kg kettlebell. It will cost you less than $100 with shipping. And then join Fit Women’s Weekly so you can learn and train with me. That’s the most important part anyway!

If you have any questions about these exercises, let me know on Facebook or Instagram. You can click below to follow me and talk with me.

If you haven’t yet, join the 12 days of Sweat and Strength. If you’re reading this post, join the dumbbell and bodyweight workouts… NOT the kettlebell workouts.

You can do the dumbbell and bodyweight workouts with a kettlebell still because these workouts use exercises like the ones listed above.

The kettlebell exercises are very advanced and very tough.

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One workout everyday for 12 days.

Come workout with me – rep for rep – for FREE!

I approach workouts from a different perspective. It’s all about consistency and intensity.

You’ll burn more fat and build more lean muscle definition by getting in at least one short workout everyday with crazy intensity… compared to skipping three days and doing one long workout.

Click the button below to sign up for the 12 Days of Sweat and Strength.

On the next page, you can choose bodyweight and dumbbell workouts or kettlebell workouts.

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