Total Body Kettlebell Workout

 
Total Body Kettlebell Workout | Jennifer Diaz

Kettlebells are one of my favorite pieces of equipment to use for a quick and efficient workout. They've been around for centuries and are known for their odd, asymmetrical shape. Core strength and improved balance are a couple of the more well-known benefits of using kettlebells, and rightfully so. A strong core and stabilizing muscles play major roles in the health of our lower backs and joints, decreasing our risk for severe injuries. Studies have shown that performing functional moves with kettlebells not only can increase strength and balance, but it can also improve flexibility and aerobic endurance (combine all of these and you practically cover every aspect of a well-rounded fitness program). It's quite rare to find a style of workout that increases strength and cardio simultaneously, so for those of you who hate cardio but love resistance training, kettlebells may be your answer! 

Below is one of my favorite, total-body kettlebell workouts. *Make sure you read the following tips before you begin:

  • If you're not sure about a move or if a move doesn't feel right, don't do it!
  • Always lift with your legs (swings are not an upper body move.)
  • Back injuries are one of the most common with kettlebell moves, so be sure to always keep your spine in a neutral position. 
  • Because the weight is off-centered, keep your eyes on the kettlebell at all times, especially when it is above your head to protect your shoulders.

Grab a kettlebell (I used 10lb, 15lb, and 25lb) and perform the following exercises 3 times, resting for 1-2 minutes in between each round!

1. Kettlebell Swing

 
 

Targets: Quads, glutes, and core.

  • Start in a comfortable squat position (feet hip to shoulder-width apart) and spine in neutral position.
  • Engage your abs, hinge at your hips into a squat position taking the kettlebell between your legs.
  • Exhale and in an explosive motion, engage your glutes and stand up.
  • Using the momentum from your lower extremities, swing the kettlebell out in front of you about parallel to the floor.
  • Control the kettlebell back down by engaging your abs and immediately performing the second rep.

*Kettlebell swings are NOT an upper body move, so make sure you don't feel this in your shoulders in order to avoid any shoulder or neck injury.

Perform for 60 seconds.

2. Goblet Squat + Shoulder Press

 
 

Targets: Quads, glutes, core, shoulders, and triceps

  • Start in a squat position, feet hip to shoulder-width apart (whatever is most comfortable for you).
  • Sit back into a squat keeping your head up, shoulders back, and knees behind toes.
  • Stand back up, keeping a slight bend in your knees and your abs contracted, and lift the kettlebell straight up. 

Perform 12 times. 

3. Side Plank + Back Fly

 
 

Targets: Core (especially obliques), hip abductors, shoulder stabilizers, and upper back.

  • Start in a full side plank position with your top foot staggered in front of the bottom. 
  • Keep a slight bend in your elbow as you lift the kettlebell up until it is perpendicular to the ground.
  • Slowly lower back down to the starting position. Keep your eye on the kettlebell at all times.

*For modification, bend your bottom leg and place your knee on the ground.

Perform 10 on each side

4. Single-Arm Kettlebell Swings

 
 

Targets: Quads, glutes, and core (performing moves that are counterbalanced amplifies the core-strengthening aspect of many lifts). 

  • Start in a comfortable squat position (feet hip to shoulder-width apart) and spine in neutral position.
  • Engage your abs, hinge at your hips into a squat position taking the kettlebell between your legs.
  • Exhale and in an explosive motion, engage your glutes and stand up.
  • Using the momentum from your lower extremities, swing the kettlebell out in front of you about parallel to the floor.
  • Control the kettlebell back down by engaging your abs and immediately performing the second rep.

*Kettlebell swings are NOT an upper body move, so make sure you don't feel this in your shoulders in order to avoid any shoulder or neck injury.

Perform 30 seconds on each side.

5. Single Leg RDL + Upright Row

 
Total Body Kettlebell Workout | Jennifer Diaz
 

Targets: Hamstrings, Glutes, Core, Shoulder, and Upper Back.

  • Start by standing on one leg, keeping your knee slightly bent and the kettlebell in the opposite hand.
  •  Keep your shoulders back, abs tight, and lean over by hinging at the hips.
  • Engage your hamstrings and glutes to stand back up.
  • Raise the kettlebell to the top of your chest by lifting your elbow up and out to the side, keeping your elbow higher than your hand.

Perform 10 on each side.

6. Single Arm Chest Press + Hip Raise

 
 

Targets: Chest, triceps, shoulders, and glutes.

  • Start by lying down with the kettlebell in one hand and elbow slightly lower than your shoulder.
  • Bend one knee and keep the foot flat on the floor, lift your hips as high as you can while keeping the other leg straight.
  • Press the kettlebell straight up over your chest and then lower back down slowly to the starting position.

*For a modification keep both feet on the floor and raise your hips.

Perform 12 on each side.

7. Lunge + Bicep Curl

 
 

Targets: Quads, glutes, biceps, and core.

  • Start in a standing position with feet hip-width distance apart.
  • Step back as far as you can while keeping most of your weight on the front leg.
  • Bend your back knee, sit back and down into a lunge, keeping your shoulders back and front knee behind toes.
  • Push through the heel of the front foot and stand back up to the starting position. 
  • Keep your elbow by your side and lift (curl) the kettlebell up to your shoulder.

Perform 10 on each side.

8. Tripcep Extension + Turkish Get-Up

 
Total Body Kettlebell Workout | Jennifer Diaz
 

Targets: Total Body.

  • Start by laying flat on the ground with the kettlebell in your right hand and your right knee bent. 
  • Keeping your elbow perpendicular to the ground, slowly lower the kettlebell beside your head.
  • Lift back up to the starting position.
  • Engage your abs and roll all the way up, keeping the kettlebell pressed overhead.
  • Using your left arm and right leg, lift your hips high off of the ground, and carefully bring your left knee under your hip into a lunge position.
  • Engage your abs and straighten up, keeping the kettlebell pressed overhead.
  • Using your right leg and engaged abs, stand all the way up. 
  • Slowly and carefully return to the starting position in the same way you stood up.

*This is an extremely advanced move, so be sure to practice proper form and keep your eyes on the kettlebell the entire time. For further instruction, here is a video that properly demonstrates this move: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bWRPC49-KI

Perform 10 on each side.

*While I'm a major fan of kettlebells, they are not for everyone! Ballistic moves, such as the swings, require a lot of focus and experience. If you've never used a kettlebell before, find a certified personal trainer and let them show you the proper way to use one. It's so important to make sure you're physically ready for more advanced moves before trying them and risking injury.

If you have any fitness questions, feel free to leave them in the comments! Have an awesome workout!

All photos by Kelsey Cherry.