4 Kettlebell Moves to Master

Tone anywhere with this affordable tool


Give it up for Russia: they nailed the whole fitness thing when they debuted kettlebells in the 1700s. “Kettlebells are a time-saver,” says Lorna Kleidman, three-time Kettlebell World Champion and creator of KettleX Fitness. It’s an intense cardio, power, strength, and endurance session in one—and is easy to integrate with your current fitness routine or workday, she says. “[They] help you to create balance within your muscular system, leading to stronger ligaments, tendons, and bones, along with explosiveness that’s required in any sports or even daily activities.” Use kettlebells to complement yoga, running, tennis, or golf practices.

Stuck on the that resistance training bulks you? Using weights helps build lean muscle. Kleidman recommends working with 15-20 lbs. (for women) and 20-25 lbs. (for men). If this is too heavy, start with lighter weights and work up to heavier ones.

The Moves:

1: Double Arm Swing
Repeat 10-15 times, increasing weight and reps as you progress. Exhale on the upswing and inhale on the downswing.

Photo: Woman demonstrated Kettlebell Double-Arm Swing exercise

Step 1: Swing bell backward and up.
“Begin with knees soft, butt back, and spine straight. Bring the bell back between your legs so your wrists connect to your inner-upper thighs, then forcefully push the ground away as you straighten your legs and bring your hips under you, generating the upward swing of the bell to chest level. As the bell descends, allow it to naturally swing back between your legs, your wrists making contact with inner-upper thighs,” Kleidman says.

Step 2. Bring bell to the ground.
“After the last upswing [in a set], take a couple of seconds to slow the momentum, letting the swings become smaller and smaller while maintaining a flat back, until the bell stops and is pointing toward the floor as in the beginning. Only then should you place it on the ground,” she says.

2. Kettlebell Ladder
Simple push-ups and kettlebells are a power duo. Move through this sequence, and repeat, reversing the ladder.

Do 10 double arm swings, 2 push-ups
Do 8 double arm swings, 4 push-ups
Do 6 double arm swings, 6 push-ups
Do 4 double arm swings, 8 push-ups
Do 2 double arm swings, 10 push-ups

3: Backward Step/Pass
Repeat 10 times, increasing weight and reps as you progress.

Photo: Woman demonstrates Kettlebell Backward Step/Pass exercise

Hold kettlebell in your right hand with your palm facing behind you. Step your right leg back into a lunge; bending the knees. Pass the bell under your left knee to your left hand, stand straight, and repeat on the left side.

4: Plank Row/Pass
Repeat 8 times, increasing weight and reps as you progress.

Hold a plank position with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your core tight. To do a plank, get into a push-up position with your elbows and forearms flat on the floor, and hold, focusing on lengthening through the body. Grip kettlebell in one hand and slowly lift. Lower kettlebell and change hands. “If this is too challenging, simply hold a plank for 20 to 30 seconds, increasing your time by 5 seconds on each workout until you can hold for 45 seconds,” Kleidman says. Then, add the bell lift.

Bonus Sequence:
Do this before yoga, running, tennis, or golf.

Perform 25 double arm swings followed by 10 presses on each arm. Rest up to 1 minute and do four sets. (To do a press: Grip kettlebell in one hand and pump your arm toward the ceiling).

Swing Safely
Avoid injury with Kleidman’s safety tips.

  • Warm up before lifting.

  • Have dry and lotion-free hands.

  • Tune into your form. Use lighter weights or take a break if movements feel sloppy. “Quality of movement takes precedence over quantity of movement,” she says.

  • Work with 4x4 feet of open space and be sure that children or pets will not enter the area.

Talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.