If you’re just starting out with kettlebells you might ask yourself “What are the best exercises to do with a kettlebell?“. It’s only natural wanting to know what the best kettlebell exercises are so you can invest your kettlebell training time wisely!
The answer, unfortunately, is not as simple as you’d like it to be. Don’t worry, I am going to list 10 of the best kettlebell exercises, however, do they work towards YOUR goals? What are your goals? Do you see where I’m going with this? If you want to know which kettlebell exercises are the best for you, then you need to know your training goals and they can be:
- cardiovascular endurance
- muscular endurance
- muscular strength
- lean muscle mass
- mental strength
So, with that said, I will list the 10 best kettlebell exercises and also list what they’re good for so you can make an informed decision as to whether they are the best for you. In no particular order, the best kettlebell exercises are:
- Kettlebell Turkish Get-up
- Kettlebell Swing
- Kettlebell Snatch
- Kettlebell Bent Press
- Kettlebell Overhead Reverse Lunge
- Kettlebell Front Squat
- Kettlebell Halo
- Kettlebell Clean
- Kettlebell Windmill
- Kettlebell Row
Whether these kettlebell exercises work towards your goals or not also depends highly on how you program them, so, make sure you get yourself a trainer to program a 4, 6, or 12-week kettlebell program for you or learn how to program yourself. Either way, just knowing what the exercises are is not immediately going to help you reach your goals. I’m sorry, but this is not one of those men’s or girlie magazines where a writer just picks some cool-looking kettlebell exercises and whacks a title on the article to make it look all so easy and just what you were looking for. You’ve come to the place where we build you up and provide all the education and solutions you need to get the results you’re looking for. Now, before I get too salesly, let me stop myself and get back to the 10 best kettlebell exercises:
This kettlebell exercise is good for overall core strength, shoulder strength, plus shoulder and hip mobility. This exercise is always to be performed slowly and you can do it with a light to heavy kettlebell. So, all in all, this exercise is good for strength and mobility.
This kettlebell exercise is good for cardiovascular endurance and power. You can program this with a medium weight and perform for a long time before your grip or glutes will give up, rather than your cardio. If you use light to medium kettlebell you’ll be working in the aerobic zone, if you use heavier weight and lower reps you can use this for the anaerobic zone. So, it’s great for HIIT workouts. You’ll be using your hips and knees, hence, great for flexibility. Also great to strengthen the back.
Just like the kettlebell swing, this kettlebell exercise is good for cardiovascular endurance and power. With a light to medium weight and good technique you could snatch for 30 minutes to several hours, no, I’m not kidding, I’ve only ever done 30 minutes non-stop, but I know people that do this for an hour or longer! The king of kettlebell exercises for power. Because you’re coming overhead and swinging (depending on the type of snatch you use) there are also the benefits for the shoulders and hips when it comes to flexibility and mobility.
This is a golden oldie, not taught or used enough because most people don’t understand it, or think it’s dangerous. It is dangerous, just as dangerous as any other exercise you don’t understand or progress in. It’s actually not a press, but I won’t get into that now. This kettlebell exercise is the best for thoracic rotation, leg flexibility, hip strength, core strength, and shoulder strength (through the overhead position and movement). So, overall, this one is for strength and flexibility.
This kettlebell exercise is definitely in my book of favorites and regularly included in my kettlebell workouts. It’s an exercise for strength, flexibility, and mobility. Definitely not an exercise you do fast. Balancing on one leg (the back leg should do minimal work) and holding something overhead really challenges your stability as well.
The squat on its own is the king of exercises, so, combined with a kettlebell makes it a tremendously great strength exercise for the core, hips, knees, and ankles. It can be performed slow or fast, slow with heavy weight and more explosive with lighter weight. A good squat also works your thoracic and creates a strong back.
The kettlebell halo is great for the shoulders but can also be seen as an elbow flexor exercise if you go down the front every rep. The triceps also get some work to hold it up at the back. The shoulders go through constant rotation, making it an awesome mobility exercise. You can do it light and faster or with a heavier weight for fewer reps. All in all, I would class this exercise in the mobility flexibility section.
There is a host of things you can do with a kettlebell clean, but mostly explosive stuff, and all powered with the legs, so, a great lower body exercise to work power. There are over 70+ kettlebell clean variations I covered in the book Master The Kettlebell Clean and they’re also covered in the online course/kettlebell certification.
The windmill targets the obliques/core, shoulders, and legs, the shoulders and core do the work to move the kettlebell through its range, which is a very different range than most other kettlebell exercises, it has some similarities to the TGU but the movement is all lateral. Definitely a strength exercise for the shoulders and core. For flexibility it would be the legs, the hammies get a great stretch on the leg that’s away from the kettlebell.
If this list was in order, I would definitely list this as number three because rowing is something a lot of people need but are not including in their training. The benefits of rowing/pulling exercises are enormous. How you row affects what muscles it works but it would mainly be the upper back that’s worked. A good strength exercise but also works flexibility because you need to do them bent-over.
To be honest with you, a list of 10 is not enough, each and every kettlebell exercise listed here is good for something, and what’s good for you from that list all depends on your goals.