A kettlebell workout may seem intimidating, but there are a whole host of kettlebell exercises that are actually pretty beginner-friendly—and we’ve got a bunch of them right here to break down for you!
Kettlebells are a great tool for strength training. Yes, for many exercises they’re totally interchangeable for dumbbells or other weights. But for some weighted moves, especially ones that require an explosive movement, kettlebells reign supreme.
Why? The way they’re shaped makes them much easier to move around. You can also hold them by the handle or the bell (the round part of the weight), which allows you to get a different range of motion depending on the kettlebell exercise you’re doing.
Plus, the shape of a kettlebell lets you work your muscles a little differently than a traditional dumbbell, Jessica Sims, a NASM-certified personal trainer and Peloton instructor, tells SELF. “The weight is distributed differently than a typical dumbbell so it works different muscles doing the same movement,” she says. It also requires more wrist motion, so your wrists and forearms get a little extra work.
They’re also very versatile, meaning you can get in a full-body workout using just kettlebell exercises. For more information on how to get started—and how to do those full-body kettlebell exercises—read on!
What are the benefits of kettlebell workouts?
Like we mentioned, the shape of a kettlebell—and its weight distribution—means that this piece of equipment will challenge your muscles slightly differently than dumbbells will, even when you’re doing the same exercise. Like with dumbbells, though, kettlebells are effective ways to build strength, since you can continually challenge your muscles with them through adding more weight or increasing reps.
Along with building strength, kettlebells are also great for working on power and explosiveness in a low-impact manner, Renee Peel, an NSCA-certified personal trainer and certified kettlebell instructor at the Fhitting Room, told SELF previously. That’s where kettlebell staples like the swing come in.
Finally, one of the greatest kettlebell benefits is that the equipment is efficient and versatile. You don’t need a whole bunch of them to get in a good workout, and there are a whole host of kettlebell exercises out there that work every part of your body. So it’s entirely possible to get in a good, full-body kettlebell workout with just one kettlebell.
What weight kettlebell should you use?
The kettlebell weight you use depends on many factors, such as your strength level and experience with kettlebell exercises. That said, a beginner may want to start with a 10- to 15-pound kettlebell, Andy Speer, co-owner of SoHo Strength Lab in New York City, told SELF previously. If you’re more experienced at weight lifting and are used to heavier weights, you can start with a 20-pound or heavier kettlebell.
It’s also important to note that the “right” weight for kettlebells also depends on the exercises you’re doing with them. For instance, you may be able to go heavier in an exercise that works larger muscles (like a deadlift) than with one that works smaller muscles (like a triceps extension).
Is it OK to use kettlebells every day?
You shouldn’t work out every day, whether with kettlebells or any other piece of equipment—it’s important to give your muscles the rest they need, so they can repair after a workout and come back stronger. That’s why rest days are important.
Plus, if you’re strength training with kettlebells, it’s important to take at least 24 hours between workouts that target the same muscle groups. For instance, if you’re doing a lower-body kettlebell workout with moves like the kettlebell squat and deadlift on Monday, you’re going to want to wait until at least Wednesday to work your glutes, quads, and hamstrings again.
Is 20 minutes of kettlebells enough?
Your workouts don’t need to be long to be effective—you can definitely get in a good workout in 20 minutes or less! If you don’t have a lot of time, programming a workout in circuits (where you go from one exercise to the next with minimal rest in between) can help you get through a whole lot of work.
Need some short kettlebell workout inspiration? Check out this 20-minute full-body kettlebell workout or this 10-minute total-body kettlebell routine. (Have a little more time, though? This 30-minute kettlebell workout is a great option.)
How can you create your own full-body kettlebell workout?
A solid full-body kettlebell workout should contain moves that work the front and back of your upper body and lower body, as well as your core.
If you want to create your own kettlebell workout, we have you covered with options there, too. For a kettlebell workout that’s under 20 minutes, simply choose five of the exercises below—try two exercises that work your upper body, two that work your lower body, and one that works your core.
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, resting for 30 seconds before heading to the next kettlebell exercise. (If you’re more advanced, you can try 40 seconds of work to 20 seconds of rest.) Then rest 1-2 minutes between rounds. Complete 3 rounds total.
Remember, the best kettlebell workout is one that you’ll enjoy doing, so feel free to customize your routine with the kettlebell moves that work for you and the programming that fits your schedule.