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Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

kettlebell for beginners

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We have a newfound obsession with wanting to train in ways that promote functional movements and help us boost our athleticism. Since we train jiu-jitsu (and many of you won’t be) this has become our focus lately. Anyone can use kettlebells to help boost their abilities to move functionally. This article is for the average person who is looking to explore new ways of getting active and staying fit! here you will find beginner-friendly kettlebell exercises!

kettlebell exercising

The Importance of Technique and Form for Your Beginner Kettlebell Exercises

Like any other sport or form of exercise, technique is key to making the most out of your time and also key to avoiding any sort of injuries. Fortunately, maintaining good technique for forms of exercise like training with kettlebells is not that hard.

The reason for this is that movements are not that complex, meaning the average person can easily excel at them and achieve great results from these simple exercises. With a bit of consistency and hard work over the course of a decent period of time, you can build a great physique that is not just for show but is also versatile in terms of flexibility and mobility.

This is where kettlebell training takes the cake with the results you achieve because with other equipment like dumbbells and barbells you cannot achieve the same level of movement.

feet shoulder width

Good Form

Exercising with kettlebells require a lot of explosive movements, because of this you can easily compromise on good form during exercise. Therefore it is important to understand what good form is for each exercise and also to remain mindful during it so injuries may be avoided.

For the most part of exercising with kettlebells is that you must keep your back straight, especially the lower back as it is a more sensitive part of the spine that can be easily injured if loaded onto incorrectly.

As most of the exercises require a hinge or a bending down manner at the bottom of the position like kettlebell swing and kettlebell deadlift, the lower back is prone to bend sometimes.

You should try to avoid this by creating a good mind muscle connection and also by bracing properly by keeping your core and glutes engaged and flexed throughout the movement.

beginner kettlebell exercises, kettlebell for beginners

Do’s and Don’ts

The kettlebell has become a staple in many people’s training routine and although it has its versatile benefits it also has its fair share of problems if you overdo it.

Do’s

  1. Use the kettlebell to target weaknesses

    The bell is great for getting comfortable in uncomfortable positions, between two equally matched athletes, the one with better mobility will probably win.

  2. Use them to build stronger glutes

    Your backside is one of the most important muscles in your body, especially for explosiveness and speed. Training it with kettlebells could help you jump higher, run faster, kicking harder and much much more. Practice and progress at hinge movements with kettlebells and watch your athletic progress soar.

  3. Use them to crush mountains with your bare hands

    Doing normal grip work by exercises like farmer’s walks are out of the range of most people, however every gym has a kettlebell you can train with to give the most respectable handshakes ever. A strong grip is a great asset for all your pulling desires and can translate to better deadlifts, better grappling and much more.

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Don’ts

  1. Do not go too light

    More often than not people assume that 5 or 10 lb kettlebell are good enough for a beginner kettlebell workout. However this is not at all the case, if you go too light you are simply wasting your time going through the movements.

    It is very important to safely challenge yourself, to do so you must pick a decent weight to workout with, the sweet spot for most women are 10-25 lb kettlebells and for men its 25-45 lb. Anything under this, you probably won’t break a sweat using them and you’ll just be doing the movements with no real benefit.

  2. Do not go too heavy

    Remember, will is important but ability is crucial. Challenging yourself is important but there is always a limit to the amount of utility you get from a certain number slapped onto a piece of equipment. If it occurs that you are sacrificing form to lift a certain amount, you are outweighing any benefit that you could possibly get with risk of injury.

    If you see a heavier kettlebell that you want to swing around in a majestic manner, you must first master the lighter ones and gain all the benefit you could get. The pride of ego lifting will never outweigh the regret of getting injured because of a foolish decision.

    Find weight that you can control and stop the set when your form starts to take a toll, if you want to push yourself a little harder, try implementing drop-sets with good form to achieve absolute failure.

  3. Do not think bells are just good for cardio

    Most people do not understand the value you gain from a solid kettlebell routine that includes heavy presses, goblet squats, one arm swings. Exercises like these open up and strengthen far more hidden muscles that your average lat pull down and barbell bench press ever could.

    What makes a good athlete an excellent athlete is the mindset of implementing all types of training to his or her routine. Going the extra mile every once in a while makes for superior gains as the body eventually gets used to the same old power cleans and snatches regardless of their intensity.

  4. Do not overdo it

    An aspiring athlete often finds themselves to believe that if something works and gives results without failure then more of it must be better. What this does it that leads you to overdoing exercises every single day till failure.

    The problem with this is that you may injury yourself or you may get demotivated when you eventually stop seeing results. Both of which can be a threat to all the progress you have made.

    It is important to keep a balance, especially with weight and strength training. You must give your body the rest it needs and as far as kettlebell training is concerned, two to three full body sessions are enough to make some serious gains!

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Why Use Kettlebells in the First Place?

Kettlebell exercises are one of the most versatile movements you can do, there is really no goal you can have that can’t be achieved with kettlebell workouts. These are also exceptionally great for injury rehab and other problems.

Mobility problems? Kettlebells will do the job. Want to be more flexible? Kettlebells will do the trick. Need to get back into lifting after an injury? Kettlebells will make sure you re-enter safely.

Other than these, kettlebells also hold some less commonly known benefits such as that it improves the growth of new bone cells. Using kettlebells also improves your posture by strengthening your posterior chain.

What Muscles Do Kettlebells Work?

Even if you do beginner kettlebell workouts, you can still efficiently have a full-body workout that will hit and train every muscle group whether upper body or lower body.

These exercises however mainly emphasize training the glutes, lower back, hamstrings, and quads because most of all the exercises require a strong hinging movement and then back to an upright position.

Over time however, you can build a great physique with just kettlebells and add to the width of your shoulders, strengthen your core, and lose weight with basic training.

Picking The Right Weight For Your Beginner Kettlebell Exercises

Picking the right weight for your kettlebells will have a significant effect on your training. If you use kettlebells that are too heavy, you can compromise on good form which could lead to inefficient training and could cause injuries.

If you choose a weight that is too light, workouts with it would be useless as you would just be going through the movements without any resistance. Doing so would be a complete waste of time as without resistance you are just moving around not making any progress.

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Beginner-Friendly Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Kettlebells are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that have hundreds of different great exercises and combinations of exercises for maximum efficiency. Choosing the right exercises depends on what you have available like the area you have to exercise in, the weight of the kettlebells and also the time you have to spare for a workout.

All of these factors must be taken into account to choose the best exercises for you based on your goals and what you have available. It should also be considered that some exercises might work better for others but might not be as efficient for you and therefore you must explore what works for you which is the beauty of building yourself physically.

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Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swing is without a doubt a staple in kettlebell exercises. Although it targets the entire body, it mainly targets your glutes, spinal erectors, hamstrings, and also upper back. This is an excellent exercise that strengthens the entire posterior chain.

Moreover, because of the long range of motion which consists of explosive movements, this strongly increases the heart rate and is one of the best dynamic movements because you hinge forward at the bottom of the movement.

To do this you must ensure a strong and stable starting position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width.

From the setup position grab the kettlebell and load it by hinging forward and contracting your lats to allow the weight to sweep between your legs until you feel a stretch in your hamstring and glutes.

From here, forcefully drive the kettlebell weight forward with your hips and glutes, you should note that when doing this your arms and shoulders should be loose to the kettlebell swing freely.

kettlebell single arm deadlift

Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift

This exercise is also an excellent option for building explosive strength in the glutes and lower back. It helps settle muscle imbalances through its unilateral setup and challenges the core for stability.

This exercise follows the same cues as a normal deadlift variation with a barbell with proper form, you must inhale at the start of the movement and engage your core by bracing.

Keeping your abs tight and glutes engaged, bend down with your knees bent and toes pointing slightly outwards, keeping your shins close to the handle of the kettlebell.

After you grab the kettlebell weight, drive yourself straight up to stand tall at the end of the movement and flex your lower back and glutes for a solid lockout at the knees.

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Kettlebell Goblet Squats

Goblet squats especially with dumbbells are a well-rehearsed exercise in every athlete’s arsenal for major quad development. However, doing a kettlebell variation is much better and safer for the wrists.

The reason for this is that when done with a dumbbell, the entire load is put on the wrists in an uncomfortable position that could potentially cause an injury. When using kettlebells the risk is minimized because of the handles.

The starting position for this variation is to stand tall with feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and you must keep your core tight throughout the entire movement. You must hold the kettlebell with its handles at chest height and prevent it from touching your chest.

While keeping your torso upright and your core tight, squat straight down as deep as comfortably possible and then straight up into an upright position while exhaling.

kettlebell one arm press, kettlebell for beginners

Kettlebell One-Arm Press

The single-arm, kettlebell overhead shoulder press is one of the best exercises to strengthen and build muscle in the shoulder. Moreover, it is a challenging movement because it is also a core exercise. Due to the pressing movement and shoulder blades having a significant amount of instability, this exercise will surely make your abs burn.

This exercise works your entire upper body which includes your core, shoulders, triceps, and also upper chest making this an excellent compound movement to build muscle.

Good form is detrimental to doing this exercise because if not done correctly with heavier weights, it can lead to pain in the lower back.

The proper form of this exercise is to clean the kettlebell into the front rack position with the bottom part of the kettlebell resting on the outside part of the wrist. After which you must brace your core and press the kettlebell handle and weight overhead while keeping your back straight until you reach full flexion and the elbow is locked out.

Arm Circle

Arm swings or arm circles are a great exercise to build muscle in your forearms and strengthen your grip. They also train your side delts and can help tone your biceps and triceps.

The proper form for this exercise is to bring a lighter-weight kettlebell up to your shoulder height in a lateral manner. After which you must rotate your arms straight around a small axis either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

You should note that during this exercise you must keep your arms straight and also your shoulder blades stationary during the movement.

How To Stretch Before A Full-Body Kettlebell Workout

Warming up before any sort of exercise with or without weights is absolutely essential to ensure not just a great workout but also ensure minimal risk of injury. There are a few different precautions you should take and also some warm-up exercises before using heavier weights.

Pre-workout precautions can include:

  • Doing mobility exercises with a full range of motion

  • Warm-up exercises before and cool-down exercises after the workout

  • Try to use it in an open area without kids or animals nearby

  • Maintain good form

  • Use chalk powder if you have grip issues

There are also a few different warm-up exercises you should aim to do with a full range of motion before using any heavy kettlebells. Here are five basic kettlebell exercise movement patterns.

Around the World

These are mainly for warming up your lower back, and shoulders and also act as a core exercise. The way to perform this is by moving the kettlebell around your body while standing tall and switching hands behind your back and then switching hands in the front.

Halos

These are especially great for strengthening the shoulder blades, and rotator cuffs and also stabilize the core. The technique for this is to hold the kettlebell upside down in front of you and then move it in an orbiting manner around your head. It should be noted you should try to keep your elbows as tucked as possible during the movement.

Pull-Overs

Pullovers are a great upper body warmup that targets the lats, chest, shoulders, and, abs. The proper form for pullovers is to lie flat on the ground and grab the kettlebell from behind you with a 90-degree angle between your upper arms and forearms.

Then you bring it to your waist in a controlled manner. It is better to keep your elbows tucked in for the safety of the shoulders and also to better target the lats.

Goblet Squats

This variation of squats is an excellent way of targeting your quads as it provides a great stretch. It also works your core as right after the starting position, stability plays a big part in this movement.

There is a very simple technique to this movement which is to have your feet just outside shoulder width apart and hold the kettlebell in your hand at chest height, making sure it does not touch your chest. After you find a comfortable starting position you squat down in a straight line as deep as possible without pain.

A great tip to achieve greater depth during any variation of squats is to slightly elevate your heels by either wearing squat shoes or placing something like a small plate under your heel.

Figure 8s

This exercise is great for training mobility in your lower body. You should use a wide stance with your feet pointing outwards and bend straight down with your knees.

Pick up the kettlebell, and pass the kettlebell between your legs to your other hand which will grab it from the back. Bring the kettlebell around your leg, while straightening your legs, as the kettlebell comes around again, repeat this with your other hand.

Are Kettlebell Exercises Good For Beginners?

Kettlebell exercises for beginners are a great way to start your journey on whatever goals you have whether it is CrossFit, BJJ, or any other sport that requires a strong movement pattern. There are many benefits to using kettlebell workouts as these, which make them an elite option over other exercise equipment like dumbbells and barbells.

  1. Strengthen your grip and give you defined and aesthetic forearms

    Because of the lots of swinging movements and also thicker handles, your grip becomes stronger from the increase in muscle contractions when handling the weight.

  2. They do not require a lot of space for usage

    Since they are small and do not take up a lot of space, they are portable and can be used anywhere even in small congested areas like bedrooms and living rooms. Due to this kettlebells have become a popular option for home gyms.

  3. They reduce the time taken for a solid workout routine

    Not everyone has the time to take out multiple hours of a day to get a decent workout in, that’s where kettlebells come in. Exercises, where these are used, require a lot of different muscle groups to be active, as a result, a 20-minute workout with a few different movements is enough for an efficient workout.

  4. They are great for cardiovascular health

    Since various different muscle groups are involved, the heart rate increases significantly during use, making it a fun and dynamic way to better your cardiovascular health.

Other than these there are also quite a few beginner exercises and different specific movements that can be improved with the use of the kettlebell. It does the following:

  • Improves stability, strength, and power

  • Increases core strength

  • Straightens posture

  • Helps with running form

  • Allows for a wider range of motion

one kettlebell, kettlebell for beginners

What Weight Kettlebell Should A Beginner Use?

Kettlebells come in all shapes and sizes, it can often be intimidating for beginners on what weight kettlebell they should use.

Essentially 2 pairs of kettlebells are more than enough for a great full-body workout. * One kettlebell pair should be of lighter weight for upper body strength training and the other should be heavier for lower body strength training.

The upper body strength is slightly less in kettlebell training than the lower body, so a pair of kettlebells from 6 to 8 kg or 13 to 18 pounds is enough for a beginner.

As for the lower body, it is stronger as it has larger muscle groups like your quads and hamstrings. A heavier pair of kettlebells would be a better option from around 12 to 16 kg or 26 to 35 pounds.

beginner kettlebell workout

Full-Body Kettlebell Workout For Beginners

A full body kettlebell workout for beginners is a great way to slowly enter the world of self improvement through exercise. Training three to four days a week is more than enough to make some serious progress over a period of time, it is recommended for beginners to give extra emphasis on resting enough as the body needs time to recover.

Below mentioned is a good kettlebell only workout that hits all major muscles of the body, it is recommended to do this workout at least three times a week for ample training and resting time.

  1. Goblet squat to overhead press: Do three to four sets of 12–15 reps.

    Muscles trained: biceps, core, forearms, glutes, hamstrings, lower and upper back, quads, and shoulders.

  2. Bent-over one-arm kettlebell row: Do three to four sets of 12–15 reps.

    Muscles trained: biceps, core, triceps, and upper back

  3. Kettlebell swing: Do three to four sets of 12–15 reps.

    Muscles trained: core, forearm, glutes, grip , hamstrings, quads, shoulders, and upper back

  4. Bridge with single-arm chest press: Do three to four sets of 12–15 reps for each arm.

    Muscles trained: core, glutes, shoulders, and triceps

  5. Single-arm kettlebell clean: Do three to four sets of 15 reps for each arm.

    Muscles trained: core, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, quads, and triceps

  6. Kettlebell deadlift: Do three to four sets of 12 reps.

    Muscles trained: glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, back, and shoulders

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