Full Body Kettlebell Workout


Have you tried a kettlebell workout yet?

You have probably seen those strange looking cannonball weights in the corner of the gym. Maybe you have even wondered whether they are any good for building muscle and getting strong. 

The answer is, hell yeah!

Kettlebells will allow you to develop the type of functional strength that you just can not get from barbells and dumbbells. They also challenge your stabiliser muscles and balance like nothing else. Plus they burn a lot of calories. In fact, the kettlebell swing will churn through about 20 calories every minute. 

So, are you ready to give the kettlebells a try? 

Awesome.  But before we launch into an actual total body kettlebell workout, it is important to warm-up and learn how to breathe properly for this type of workout. 

Warming Up

Because kettlebell training involves your whole body and you generally start slow and build up, there is an element of warming up built into every workout. You can find out more about warming up (and cooling down) here.


You have to give more attention to your breathing when you are training with kettlebells. While you are performing the exercise, you have periods of both tension and relaxation. This is primarily controlled by your breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing will allow you to brace your abdominals, which is important while exercising with kettlebells. 

Here is a simple exercise to help you to breathe diaphragmatically:

  • Lie on your back on the floor, and put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Take a deep breath and deliberately breathe through your nose, keeping your lips tight or pursed.
  • As you inhale through your nose, you will feel your stomach expand and fill with air.
  • Now exhale, placing your tongue between your teeth and forcing the air out of your stomach to make an audible sound.

When you are performing the basic kettlebell swing, inhale diaphragmatically as you pick up the weight. Then forcefully exhale as you bring it from the backswing position to the top position. As the weight comes down take your next diaphragmatic breath. 

Swing Technique 

The Russian kettlebell swing is the fundamental kettlebell movement. Let’s take a look at the proper swing technique before we launch into our workout.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, with your weight on your heels.
  2. Rest the kettlebell on the floor between your feet. 
  3. Look down at the ground six feet in front of you. 
  4. Sit back into your hips and reach down to grab the handle with both hands in an overhand grip. 
  5. Swing the bell behind you, then aggressively snap your hips forward as you stand up. As you do this, extend your spine and squeeze your butt.
  6. Bring your arms up to chest level.
  7. Immediately return to the bottom hike position and move into the next rep.

Here is an awesome full body kettlebell workout for beginners that provides you both a cardio workout and a strength/muscle building challenge. It combines the kettlebell with some key bodyweight exercises so that you can get your workout within a six by three foot space (for those of us who are space limited).

ExerciseSets/RepsRest (between Sets)
Kettlebell Front Squat3 x 1530 seconds
Push-up/Press up3 x 10-1530 seconds
Kettlebell Swing3 x1530 seconds
Plank3 x 30-60 seconds30 seconds
Turkish Get Up2 x 530 seconds
Burpees2 x1030 seconds
Kettlebell Deadlift2 x 1530 seconds
Bodyweight Squats2 x 2530 seconds

Kettlebell Training FAQ

What are good conditioning kettlebell exercises?

Kettlebells are a great way to get a heart pumping conditioning workout. Here are some excellent exercises to include in your kettlebell training routine:

  • Kettlebell Snatch.
  • Kettlebell Windmill.
  • Kettlebell Clean.
  • Kettlebell Squat.
  • Kettlebell High Pull.

Do these exercises as a circuit for 45 seconds each for a super effective kettlebell workout routine. For a beginner kettlebell workout, cut the time on each exercise back to 25 seconds.

What muscles do kettlebell swings work?

Kettlebell swings work the upper back muscles, shoulders and quads.

What size kettlebell should I get?

  • Male: begin with 12-16 kg kettlebells.
  • Female: begin with 8-12 kg kettlebells.

Are kettlebell workouts effective?

Yes, kettlebell workouts are great for muscular strength, endurance and cardiovascular benefits.

Are short, intense kettlebell workouts really better than long duration steady state cardio?

Yes, there is a lot of research to show that high intensity interval training (HIIT) will produce a greater overall calorie burn than steady state cardio. The main reason is that HIIT brings on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect by which the metabolism is boosted for 24-36 hour after your workout is finished. Kettlebells are an ideal format for conducting HIIT training.

A very effective HIIT workout for fat loss with kettlebells involves doing the kettlebell swing for 20 seconds, then resting for 10 seconds. Repeat this sequence 8 times!

How often should I train with kettlebells?

Kettlebells workouts should be shorter and more intense than your conventional weight/resistance training sessions. A short 10 minute workout can be repeated 5 times per week for fat loss. A longer full body kettlebell workout, such as the one described in this article, will take around 30 minutes to complete. This can be repeated 3 times per week.

You can also do power moves like the push press with kettlebells.

How many reps should I use when training with kettlebells?

The number of reps that you use in your kettlebell workout will depend on your training goal. If you are primarily training for fat loss, you should go with relatively high reps in the 15-25 range. However, if you are primarily training to increase your strength and muscle mass, choose a slightly heavier kettlebell and work within the 8-15 rep range.

Is the kettlebell front squat a good quad developer?

Yes, the kettlebell front squat is a good quad developer, It places more emphasis on the quads, as opposed to the glutes. It also allows you to load the quads without putting compressive pressure on the spine the way the barbell squat does.


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