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The 12 Best Kettlebell Workouts to Build Muscle
As the workout of choice for 19th-century strongmen, you're probably wondering how a kettlebell workout can help you, now, in the 21st century. With a huge variety of exercise possibilities and the ability to increase your heart rate, build muscle, and burn more calories in less time, we're here to tell you all about the virtues of a kettlebell workout.
A kettlebell workout can offer a range of different workout styles, including HIIT workouts, low-intensity, heavyweight workouts, and incorporating compound moves into your routine. We've been taking a look at some kettlebell exercises and have found some fantastic options for you to incorporate into your workout to help you build muscle.
If you want to find out more about kettlebell workouts, how they can help you, and what the best kettlebell exercises are for building muscle, then keep on reading!
What is a kettlebell workout?
So, what is a kettlebell workout?
A kettlebell workout involves exercising using a kettlebell. A kettlebell is a cast-iron cannonball with a handle top. They vary in weight and are suitable for at-home workouts as well as being available in gyms for use by members.
Kettlebell exercises vary and can be grouped together into different workouts of different intensities. Kettlebell exercises cover arms, legs, core, glutes, back, shoulders, and all other parts of your body that you may want to build up muscle.
Kettlebell workouts are great for beginners as most exercises are easy to follow. Kettlebell exercises can be added to your already built workout routine, or you can add a separate kettlebell workout to your workout regime.
You can perform kettlebell workouts indoors and outdoors as well as at home and at the gym.
Why should I do kettlebell exercises?
Kettlebell exercises have lots of benefits.
A kettlebell workout is great to build a variety of muscles. With exercises that target all major muscle groups, you can work on building muscles all over your body. And along with this variety, comes variety in intensity. Kettlebell exercises can be grouped to create high-intensity HIIT training workouts, low-intensity heavyweight workouts, and to add into already-built workout regimes.
Kettlebell workouts are also great for burning calories quickly. They build muscle and burn fat all in one go and are fantastic for those trying to lose weight as well as get fitter. With such variety in exercises, you can build muscle easily.
A kettlebell workout can be added easily into your gym routine as kettlebells are usually available in gym settings. Along with this, you can perform kettlebell workouts at home. Kettlebells are available in a variety of sizes to buy for your home, you can even do kettlebell workouts in the garden!
Most of the best kettlebell exercises are really simple and easy to add into your gym or at-home routine and they can substitute cardio too. Kettlebell exercises increase your heart rate and can replace the cardio within your routine, which is great if you hate running! They can also increase your range of motion, making exercise easier in general and protecting against serious injury.
Finally, kettlebell workouts are great for fixing muscle imbalances in your body. This can help with even muscle building as well as helping to reduce injuries or back pain and the like.
Now we know how great a kettlebell workout can be for your body, let's take a look at some of the best kettlebell exercises you can try for building muscles!
The 12 best kettlebell workouts to build muscle
Now we know why we all should be doing kettlebell workouts, its time to take a look at some great kettlebell exercises for building muscle. Remember to practice weighted exercises carefully and stop if you feel overwhelming pain.
If you have any condition that could make this kind of exercise more difficult, speak with your doctor before trying them out the ensure they are safe for you. If you are unsure of the correct ways to perform these movements, even after reading all our information, you could try speaking to a personal trainer too.
The kettlebell swing is a well-known kettlebell exercise. You've probably seen a few people doing them at the gym already, and now it is your turn.
To execute a kettlebell swing, you need to begin with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Hold the kettlebell with both hands, palms facing you, and lower the body. With knees slightly bent, drive the hips back and then thrust forward, swinging the kettlebell with straight arms, aiming for shoulder height.
The kettlebell swing is a full-body exercise. It engages a range of muscles and is a great exercise to use in place of cardio. It is great for posture, balance, and flexibility.
Sumo squat with kettlebell
The sumo squat is a variation on a regular squat and, in this instance, is performed using a kettlebell to add weight to the exercise.
To perform a sumo squat with a kettlebell, hold the kettlebell with both hands, between your legs. Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, push the hips back and bend at the knees to squat. Move as low as your range of motion will take you and then push back upwards.
This is a great lower body exercise that targets your inner thighs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves.
Kettlebell Pistol squat
This is a fantastically difficult exercise to perform but once you've gotten the hang of it, it's going to help you build muscle quickly!
To execute a kettlebell pistol squat, you should begin by holding one kettlebell with both hands, underneath your chin. Lift one leg off the ground and squat down with the other. Driving through the heel, bring yourself back to standing, all without lowering the other leg to the floor.
This exercise is going to help you build muscle all over your body, though particularly in your legs and buttocks. It is also a great exercise for building stability, strength and mobility, as well as balance.
Another great full-body exercise and generally overlooked, this exercise involves thrusting your kettlebell overhead and working a range of muscles.
To begin, hold two kettlebells by the handles so that the weight is resting on your shoulders, behind. With knees slightly bent and keeping feet shoulder-width apart, slowly squat down. Then, driving through the legs, straighten up and extend your arms above your head pushing the kettlebells upwards. Squat down again, and replace the kettlebells to your shoulders and repeat.
This kind of full-body exercise is great for high-intensity exercise regimes and can help you to build muscles quickly and evenly.
Plenty of kettlebell exercises work your full body and the kettlebell snatch is another of them.
To execute a kettlebell snatch, begin with feet shoulder-width apart and hold one kettlebell between your legs. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Driving through your hips and knees, push back up. Lift the kettlebell with you and to your shoulder. At the shoulder, twist your hand and push the kettlebell overhead until your arm is straight. Squat back down, bring the kettlebell back between your legs and repeat.
This exercise is great for HIIT workouts and is incredible for weight loss. As a full-body exercise, it helps you to build muscles across the body.
Kettlebell goblet squat
As the king of compound exercises, squats will always be great to add to your routine. This squat incorporates a kettlebell to add weight to your exercise.
To perform a goblet squat, stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell in both hands, preferably with the cannonball facing upwards. Bend at the knees and lower self into a squat. Push back up, driving through the feet, and returning to the starting position. Make sure to maintain proper form and keep the kettlebell firmly in place at your chest.
Compound moves are great for working for multiple muscle groups and are great for even and healthy weight loss. It will also help you to build strong muscles in your lower body.
Kettlebell plank drag
You're probably getting the gist here as this is another fantastic full-body workout to try with your kettlebells.
To begin, get yourself into a full plank position and place a kettlebell just outside of one of your hands. Reach across with the arm opposite to the kettlebell and drag it into the same position on the other side. Repeat this moving the other way. Remember to hold your plank form throughout, making sure not to dip or raise your buttocks and keeping your arms straight.
This exercise is great for learning control and balance as well as working your core. It is a good, controlled full-body exercise.
Alternating kettlebell overhead press
An upper-body workout that is perfect to perform with kettlebells, the overhead press is a great starter exercise for beginners. Use a weight you know you can lift to ensure you're not making it too difficult for yourself as you begin this exercise.
Hold two kettlebells at your shoulders in the rack position. This means the weight of the kettlebell is being held against your body. Press one kettlebell straight overhead until your arm is fully extended and your palms are facing forwards. Lower this arm back into the starting position and repeat on the other arm. Make sure all kettlebell movements are controlled during this exercise.
This is a great beginner kettlebell workout and can be performed with light weights as you begin using these weights. This exercise is perfect to build muscles in the shoulders, arms, and even the core.
Alternating kettlebell floor press
The alternating kettlebell floor press is a good exercise if you're exercising at home and don't have extensive equipment. This exercise mimics the movement of a bench press, sans the bench.
Begin lying on your back and holding two kettlebells, one in each hand. Press one kettlebell towards the ceiling until your arm is fully extended and then lower back. Repeat on your other arm. Remember to control each movement throughout this exercise.
The kettlebell floor press is good when you're missing equipment. It works your chest and arms and focuses on your triceps and the stabilising shoulder muscles.
Kettlebell press with row
Another great full-body exercise you can try with kettlebells, this exercise is good for balance and control.
To perform kettlebell press with row, begin in the press-up position with hands grasping a kettlebell handle in each. Perform a press-up and then return to the starting position before performing a row on your right arm, lifting the elbow past your back and squeezing together your shoulder blades. Replace your right hand and then perform a row on your left arm, replacing the left hand and then repeating the whole movement.
Building shoulder, arm and core muscles, the kettlebell press with a row is like a more challenging press-up and can offer almost a complete workout in one go!
Single-arm overhead kettlebell squat
For a fantastic compound move, and maybe more challenging than the goblet squat, try out the single-arm overhead kettlebell squat.
To execute this move, begin with your arm locked overhead, palm facing forward, holding one kettlebell. Keep your feet around hip-width apart and then squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Push back through the hips and knees and return to the starting position.
This compound exercise is perfect to build legs, buttocks, and glutes but works the rest of the body too. This is also a great move to get your heart rate pumping.
A pretty challenging exercise with an angelic name, this is a good move if you want to feel the burn!
Begin sitting up with knees slightly bent, back straight, and two kettlebells held straight overhead. Lower back to the ground, moving the kettlebells to your chest and moving slowly so as to really feel it. Then sit back up, engage your core, and return to your start position.
This difficult exercise will engage your abs and shoulders and help to build muscle in these areas.
A note on safety
Kettlebell exercises can be incredible for stability, balance, and muscle building, but they can also cause injury if not performed correctly. Injuries to the lower back are very common with ill-performed kettlebell workouts. Kettlebell swings and other moves can regularly cause injuries when they are not performed with the proper technique.
Arching your back, failing to engage your glutes, and folding forward are all common habits that cause lower back injuries in kettlebell workouts. To protect your lower back, ensure you are working on your technique and perfecting your form every time you perform it.
If you are struggling with frequent injury, speak with a personal trainer or other sports and health professional. They can show you how to correct your form and how to properly perform the move.
When using kettlebells, ensure you don't use more weight than you can handle. Workouts with weights are supposed to push you but should never push yourself so far you injure yourself. Make sure to stop any exercises that are causing you overwhelming pain.
Kettlebells engage a whole range of muscle groups meaning you're going to need to take care of your body after this kind of workout. Remember to stretch properly afterwards and don't push yourself too far.
You could try grabbing a protein bar or protein shake (you can get vegan protein shakes and keto options too now!) to help with muscle recovery. You could also try a magnesium salt bath to relax your muscles and help with healing. Or even use some magnesium lotion after a bath using calming bath salts, to ensure you relax your muscles after your workout.
Remember that working out is only half of the deal and you need to make sure you're eating a healthy and balanced diet, rich in whole grains, like oatmeal, nuts and seeds, pulses, fruit and veg, to ensure you're living a healthy lifestyle!
Kettlebell workouts are really great for helping to build muscle. They engage all muscle groups in varying ways and many kettlebell exercises are full-body exercises, great for burning fat, getting your heart rate up and even sometimes filling in for cardio. Remember to work out in a way that is safe and try not push yourself so far as to cause serious injury.
Kettlebell workouts are an easy way to add weights to your exercise regime, can help you to build muscle, and can engage a range of muscle groups, all while fitting into a wide variety of workout styles. Try adding some kettlebell workouts into your routine now, or even add a whole new workout style!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I build muscle with a kettlebell workout?
Kettlebell workouts are fantastic for building muscle. Lots of kettlebell exercises are full-body exercises and can engage a whole range of muscle groups, making them an easy way to build muscle while burning fat and calories. Adding weights to your workouts will always help you to build muscle, but remember that muscle building happens in recovery so ensure you take care of your body after a workout.
What kettlebell exercises workout the most muscles?
The kettlebell exercises that engage the most muscle groups are collectively called compound moves. These include exercises like the kettlebell goblet squat, the single-arm overhead squat, the sumo squat, kettlebell thrusters, and kettlebell swings. This style of kettlebell exercise engages muscles across the body and help to increase the heart rate too.
Can you get ripped with just a kettlebell?
While kettlebell workouts engage lots of muscle groups and help you to burn calories and fat while building muscle, getting a ripped figure comes from engaging in a range of exercises as well as eating a healthy diet. Kettlebell workouts use lots of compound exercises which engage a range of muscles and help to increase your heart rate. This helps to build muscle and stimulates fat loss, helping you get the figure you want. While exercising regularly is great for your health, though, your figure is also affected by what you eat and so eating a healthy diet is essential.
What kind of physique will kettlebells give you?
Kettlebells engage all muscle groups, provided you perform a range of exercises. They can help you to build muscles in your arms and shoulders and can be added to exercises which engage the core, legs, glutes, and buttocks. Kettlebells can help you get a range of physiques depending on the style of workout you are performing. They can help with HIIT workouts to lose weight and burn fat, low-intensity heavyweight workouts to build muscle, or just in routines that focus on building general fitness.