I have to admit. The first time I saw kettlebells at the gym I though of my grandpa working out in the 1930’s and 40’s. There was all this shiny equipment in the gym waiting for me to use and why would I want to use those things that were often in the dark corners of the gym surrounded by the die hard gym rats. But that got me thinking. Maybe there was a reason they were hanging around them.

Kettlebell workouts offer relatively inexpensive training for strength and endurance, and are a fast and fun cardiovascular and fat-burning activity. Since the kettlebells’ center of gravity is outside your hand, they are easy and fun to swing. Kettlebell workouts are an ideal way to build the legs, lower back and shoulders. But basic movements like the swing, snatch and clean and jerk can work your entire body and engage many muscle groups at once.

The focus of kettlebell workouts is muscle resistance, so proper posture and execution matter more than the time you spend working out or the number of repetitions. This also means that as your endurance grows, kettlebell workouts can give you a great aerobic workout in a very short time. When you begin learning these routines, focus at first on mastering the beginning forms. You can then build on these as you move into more complex exercises.

Building Blocks for Kettlebell Workouts

The dead lift begins with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Squat with your feet apart at about the width of your shoulders. Keep your back and hips straight. Your knees should not extend beyond your toes. Grasp the kettlebell and stand up, using your leg muscles to do the work.

The clean begins with the kettlebell in you hand, your arm extended between your legs. Stand feet flat, and do the movement fast but smoothly. Swing the kettlebell a little to get it started, but control the kettlebell as it goes up.

Kettlebell Routines — Intermediate Cardio and Strength Exercises

To build core and shoulder strength, try the kettlebell press. Start from the squat position holding the kettlebell with bent arms in front of your chest (the rack position). Keep your eyes forward and your knees locked. Use your quadriceps, abdominals and glutes to lift the kettlebell smoothly upwards until your arm is stretched out above your head with your elbow locked.

The kettlebell swing is a fun fast way to burn calories. Stand with your feet apart, toes pointed outward. Squat down with your back straight and your hips back, and hold the kettlebell between your legs. Then straighten up and thrust your pelvis forward. This motion sends the kettlebell arcing forward, to reach the top of its arc at about shoulder level. Done properly, this routine will work all the same muscles as jumping.

The kettlebell snatch extends the swing higher, then, just as the kettlebell is a little above your head you punch upwards to end with your arm extended and your elbow locked.