Kettlebell Exercises



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Kettlebell Cleans– Start by standing erect with your feet around shoulder width apart, gripping a kettlebell in one hand with your palm facing toward you.  As a coaching point before I continue with the description, this movement should be very smooth.  The kettlebell should not “flop” on your arm at all, and if you complete the movement properly it will feel almost effortless.  To continue, squat slightly and as you return to the standing position pull the kettlebell up while rotating your hand so that your palm is facing the mid-line of your body and finishes directly under your chin.  Your hand should travel close to the mid-line of your body throughout the entire movement.  Depending on what is prescribed by your trainer, you could either complete all the reps on one arm before moving on to the other or you could alternate each repetition.

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Kettlebell Swings– Start by standing erect with your feet shoulder width apart, or slightly wider, with a kettlebell gripped with both hands between your legs and your palms facing toward you.  To start the movement, begin to push your hips back and forth to gain momentum with the kettlebell.  You do not need to squat very much through out the movement, a slight squat with the hips travelling back is enough.  To swing the kettlebell, squeeze your glutes and extend your hips.  You to feel like you are extending your hips quickly with a bit of a “pop.”  In order to complete this type of kettlebell swing you do not need to lift the kettlebell with your upperbody at all, the weight only needs to travel as high as the force generated by your hips can move it.  As the kettlebell travels back to the starting position you will have to slow it down; to do this push your hips back as you would to begin swinging the kettlebell so that your glutes and hamstrings can decelerate the weight.  Your chest and torso should stay as upright as possible throughout the entire movement and your feet should stay flat on the ground.  You should pushing through the middle of your feet and heels throughout the movement.

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One Arm Kettlebell Swings– Everything from the two arm kettlebell swing still applies, just during this exercise you only grip the kettlebell with one hand.  Continue the exercise with one hand until the prescribed reps are completed then switch to the other hand and continue until set is complete.

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Overhead Kettlebell Swings– All the attributes of the kettlebell swings described above are held constant with this swing, except, you actually lift the kettlebell when it comes to the end of the swing.  This kind of swing can be done with a regular swing pattern or a squat dominant swing pattern.

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Kettlebell High Pulls– Start by gripping a kettlebell in one hand and standing erect with your feet about shoulder width apart.  From there, squat down keeping your arm straight.  Ascend by driving through the middle of your feet and your heels while squeezing your glutes and your quads.  While ascending, pull on the kettlebell, driving your elbow straight up into the air.  This movement should be done in all one motion, it should not be segmented.  So, while ascending from the squat you should be pulling on the kettlebell and driving your elbow up.  Complete prescribed reps on one arm before switching to the other arm to complete the set.

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Kettlebell Figure 8’s– Start by standing erect with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart.  The kettlebell should be gripped in one hand in between your legs with your palm facing toward you.  Squat by pushing your hips back and keeping your back flat; push the kettlebell back between your legs, switching hands directly underneath your hips.  Once you switch hands, rotate the kettlebell back to the front of your body allowing natural rotation to take place at your shoulder, finishing with your palm facing towards you as you prepare to switch hands again.  Repeat the process with the other hand and continuing until prescribed amount of reps or set amount of time is reached.  It is important to keep your knees from travelling toward each other while completing this exercise.  Make a conscious effort to keep your knees facing directly forward at all times.

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Kettlebell Lunge Switches– Start by standing erect with your feet underneath you, gripping a kettlebell in one hand step forward into a lunge position with the leg opposite of the arm holding the kettlebell.  Once in the bottom position switch the kettlebell to the other hand underneath the lunging leg and drive through the heel and middle of the foot of your lunging leg to push back into the standing position.  Repeat the process on the opposite leg, continuing this alternating pattern until prescribed reps are completed on each leg.

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Kettlebell Snatches- Start by standing erect while gripping a kettlebell in one hand with your feet about shoulder width apart.  This exercise starts by doing a one arm swing to get the kettlebell moving with momentum.  Once the kettlebell gets moving, you want to think in terms of throwing your hand to the sky by driving your elbow up and then letting your hand extend over your elbow.  This should be a smooth motion and the kettlebell should roll in your hand and turn over, but it should not “flop” onto your forearm.  Once in the locked position at the top, your shoulder blade should be back and down.  Your arm should finish parallel with your ear.  Continue with one arm until prescribed reps are completed then switch to the other to complete the set, unless otherwise coached.

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Ketttlebell Overhead Squats– Start by standing erect with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, gripping a kettlebell in one hand.  From this point, clean and press a kettlebell into the overhead position.  From here, you want to set your shoulder by pulling your shoulder blade back and down, while constantly “reaching for the sky” with your hand.  As you squat, push your hips back and concentrate on keeping your knees straight, not allowing them to fall inward.  You will have to keep your torso and chest as tall and erect as possible.  Judge your squat depth by reaching for the floor with the opposite hand, when your finger tips touch the ground begin to ascend by driving through the middle of your feet and heels.  Continue with one arm until prescribed reps are completed then switch to the other arm and complete the set.  This exercise can also be done using a dumbell.

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Kettlebell Turkish Get Up– As a quick aside, this exercise should be learned and mastered with no weight before doing it with a kettlebell.  Start by laying on your side with a kettlebell beside you, it should be about halfway between your shoulder and your elbow.  Pull the kettlebell into place by using both hands to pull it up to your chest.  Bend your knee of the same leg and bring your heel up close to your butt.  Press the kettlebell straight up from your chest.  While completing the exercise you always want your arm fully extended with your hand “reaching for the sky.”  You also want to look up at the kettlebell through out the movement.  After you have pressed the kettlebell into place, curl your trunk up and support yourself on your elbow then work up to posting on the hand opposite the kettlebell.  Stay posted on that hand while driving through the heel of your bent leg to lift your hips off of the ground.  After this, bring your straight let back and through, posting your knee of that leg on the ground directly underneath you.  Your hand should still be in contact with the ground at this point.  From here, rotate your trunk up into the upright position.  You should be in a split stance with one knee on the ground at this point.  Now, you want to squeeze the glute and quad of your up leg to lunge into a standing position.  Again, all this should be done with the arm holding the kettlebell fully extended and reaching for the sky at all times.  Once in the upright and standing position, reverse the steps exactly to return to the lying position.  You can either complete all the prescribed reps on each arm before moving on to the other, or you can alternate each rep; especially if the exercise is being done for a certain amount of time.

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Kettlebell Front Squat (rack position)– Start by cleaning two kettlebells up into the rack position (see video demonstration of rack position and cleans).  Have your feet shoulder width apart or a little wider with your toes pointing forward or slightly pointed out.  Concentrate on keeping your chest up and your torso erect throughout the entire movement.  Descend by pushing your hips back and moving down in one motion.  Ascend by driving through the middle of your feet and your heels, concentrating on keeping your knees pointing straight ahead by squeezing your glutes and quads.

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Kettlebell Windmills– Start with your feet wider than shoulder width, then clean a kettlebell into the rack position with one arm.  From this position you are going to press and squeeze the weight up using your shoulder and upper back muscles while rotating your opposite shoulder down and reaching for the floor simultaneously.  During the middle phase of the exercise, each arm should be fully extended with your torso rotated and you looking up at the kettlebell.  Return to the upright position by rotating back up while keeping your arm with the kettlebell locked.  To complete another rep, bring the kettlebell back to the racked position and start the process over.  Complete all reps prescribed on one arm before moving on to the other arm and finishing the set.

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Kettlebell Pushups– Start by placing two kettlebells parallel to each other shoulder width apart.  Grip the kettlebells in the center of the handle and get yourself into the pushup position.  When in the pushup position your body should be in a straight line.  Your hips should not sag, nor should they be elevated so that your body is “jack knived.”  To keep your body in a straight line, squeeze your glutes and your abdominal muscles to keep your hips stable.  To do the actual pushup, start by squeezing your upper back to “pull” yourself into the down position, letting your shoulder blades retract completely.  Once in the down position, which is as far as you can descend while still being able to push your chest out and keep your shoulders back, drive through your hands and push yourself back into the up position.  At the top you can let your shoulder blades separate, or protract.  Continue this process for the prescribed amount of reps.

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Kettlebell Clean and Press– Start by standing erect with your feet around shoulder width apart, gripping a kettlebell in one hand with your palm facing toward you.  As a coaching point before I continue with the description, this movement should be very smooth.  The kettlebell should not “flop” on your arm at all, and if you complete the movement properly it will feel almost effortless.  To continue, squat slightly and as you return to the standing position pull the kettlebell up while rotating your hand so that your palm is facing the mid-line of your body and finishes directly under your chin.  Your hand should travel close to the mid-line of your body throughout the entireupward pull phase of the movement.  As soon as the kettlebell reaches the end-point of the clean, retract your shoulder blade on the working side and press the kettlebell overhead.  Return to the start position under control.