Kettlebells are a great tool for improving your strength, cardio, movement skills, and of course for burning loads of calories.
Training with kettlebells is slightly different from using other pieces of equipment, like dumbbells, so I recommend you get some good quality instruction or see my guide here.
If you are ready to get started with your kettlebell training then here is a list of kettlebell exercises starting with the foundational exercises and progressing to the most advanced:
# 1 – Slingshot
A great warm up and starter exercise that gets your accustomed to the weight of the kettlebell.
Keep you feet reasonably close together and hips still as you pass the kettlebell around your body in a circle changing hands at the back and at the front.
Try to keep everything tight throughout the whole movement.
Don’t forget to try both directions. 20 reps each way is a good start.
# 2 – Halo
Another warm up exercise that opens up the shoulder girdle and prepares the body for an oncoming workout.
Hold the kettlebell with both hands by the ball with the handle pointing upwards.
Take the kettlebell around the neck keeping the kettlebell as close to the neck as possible.
Turn the kettlebell over at the back. Your forearms should brush your forehead on the way around.
Try 10 in each direction.
# 3 – Single Arm Deadlift
The perfect beginners exercise to practice the hip hinge.
The hip hinge ensures that when you bend forwards you bend from the hips rather than the lower back.
Stand over the kettlebell with it aligned between your toes.
Push your hips back and keep your chest up as you pick up the kettlebell.
Squeeze your buttocks at the top and reverse the movement. Your back should stay flat throughout the whole movement.
# 4 – Single Leg Deadlift
A great core exercise that integrates both sides of the body as well as developing good movement skills.
Standing on one leg and holding the kettlebell in one hand lean forwards keeping your back flat.
The same leg that goes back is the same arm that you are holding the kettlebell with.
Go down as far as your hamstrings will allow and then return to the top position.
Your standing leg can have a slight bend during the movement.
# 5 – Turkish Get Up
The mother of all kettlebell exercises. Great for movement skills, core activation and shoulder stabilisation.
Starting on the floor with the kettlebell held above your chest, bend one leg and sit up.
Next sweep the straightened leg through to a lunge position and stand.
All you now need to do is reverse the movement.
Practice without a kettlebell to begin with, then a glass of water and finally your kettlebell.
# 6 – Goblet Squat
A standard squat movement but holding the kettlebell with both hands and upside down.
The instability of the kettlebell during the goblet squat will help improve your general squatting movement pattern.
If you struggle to perform correct squats then you will need to regress to the bodyweight squat and work on your mobility, stability and motor control.
# 7 – Racked Squat
This variation on the regular squat loads the body on the one side.
Whenever you load the body unilaterally your core and stabilsation muscles need to work hard to control the movement.
The racked position involves holding the kettlebell in the one hand with the ball resting in the crook of the arm.
Keep the elbow in tight as you squat up and down.
Want More? 7 Kettlebell Squats You Need to Know
# 8 – Racked Lunge
Lunges are a very important movement pattern and by adding a kettlebell to just one side they become even more challenging.
Just as with the racked squat the kettlebell is held with one hand in the racked position.
Take the same leg back as you are holding the kettlebell with and ensure that the knee goes low to the floor allowing for full activation of the glute muscles.
For the forward lunge use the opposite leg that you are holding the kettlebell with.
# 9 – Windmill
Brilliant for improving mobility through the hips and hamstrings as well as improving your shoulder stabilisation.
Start with the kettlebell overhead and the arm locked straight.
Spread your feet to double shoulder width apart and angle your feet at 45 degrees.
Push your hips out to the side and while looking at the kettlebell take the opposite hand down and touch the floor between your legs.
Try to keep both legs straight throughout the whole exercise.
Want More? Complete Guide to the Kettlebell Windmill
# 10 – Single Handed Swing
If the Turkish Get Up is the mother of all Kettlebell exercises then this is the father.
Once you have master the art of the hip hinge by practicing the single arm deadlift then you can progress to the swing.
Holding the kettlebell in one hand push the hips back and snap them forwards as you swing the kettlebell between you legs.
The back should be flat throughout the movement. Highly cardiovascular and great for a full body workout.
# 11 – Two Handed Swing
Exactly the same movement as the Single Handed Swing but using both hands.
Many people find that the Single handed Swing is easier to learn first because when using one hand you are less likely to use your shoulder muscles to lift the weight rather than relying on your hip snap.
Ensure the back is kept flat throughout the whole movement.
# 12 – Alternating Swing
Another Swing variation but this time you change hands during every swing.
Ensure that you wait for the kettlebell to reach the top of swing before trying to change hands.
You have 2 options for changing hands either reaching over the other hand and switching or turning the kettlebell 90 degrees and changing hands from the side.
# 13 – Clean
One of the more technical kettlebell exercises that involves taking the bell from the floor up and into the racked position.
Ensure that the hips are the area that generate the power for the movement.
The thumb should point backwards at the bottom of the movement.
To prevent banging of the forearms try to take the arm around the kettlebell rather than the bell around the arm. Also aim to keep the bell as close to the body as possible.
# 14 – Overhead Press
Pressing a kettlebell overhead can create some great shoulder and pressing strength.
Starting from the racked position crush the handle with your grip as your push the kettlebell straight overhead.
Ensure that you actively pull the kettlebell back down towards the chest using your Lat muscles to support the movement.
Keep a straight wrist throughout the whole movement.
Tight buttocks and core will also provide a more stable pressing platform.
# 15 – Clean and Press
Putting the Clean exercise and Press exercise together forms what is often called “The Long Cycle”.
There are not many muscles that don’t get influenced by the Clean and Press.
As you link the 2 exercises together it is important to take a short pause between each movement.
# 16 – Thruster
Here is another exercise that combines 2 exercises the Squat and the Press for maximum energy expenditure.
Start from the racked position and drop down into the Squat, next drive up from the floor and use your momentum to drive the kettlebell overhead.
Next control the kettlebell back down into the racked position and repeat.
The Thruster is a highly cardiovascular exercise that hits almost every muscle in the body.
# 17 – Bottoms Up Clean
This variation on the standard clean will help to improve your core stability as well as your kettlebell movement skills.
I like to use the bottoms up clean as a good warm up before more challenging exercises.
Start as with the regular clean but this time finish with the kettlebell not in the racked position but upside down with you balancing the movement on the handle.
You will need good grip strength and control to maintain the upside down position.
Hold for 5 seconds and then return back to the start.
# 18 – Side Lunge
If you are looking to build individual leg strength, good hip mobility and back stabilisation then this is the exercise for you.
Holding the kettlebell in both hands close to the chest take a sideways step, push the hips back and drop into a side lunge position.
Keep your chest up and weight on your heels.
One leg should bend while the other remains straight.
Try to work at getting deeper and deeper each repetition. The lower you can go the better the Glute muscle activation.
# 19 – Bob and Weave
Similar in movement to the Side Lunge but this exercise is a bit more dynamic and really gets the heart rate up.
Hold the kettlebell high up the chest with both hands and step out to the side, duck down as if trying to get underneath a low doorway and then bring your other foot across to meet the foot that stepped out.
Make sure that all the movement comes from a hinging at the hips rather than bending forwards at the lower back.
The back should remain flat throughout the movement.
# 20 – Kettlebell Row
The first of the rowing movements and this one is simple providing you get your back in the correct position.
Bend over at the hips ensuring that you maintain a flat back and that your chest is lifted.
Look down at about 2 metres in front of you. Keep your feet at shoulder width apart.
Grab the kettlebell with one hand from between your legs and row the kettlebell back towards your one hip.
Your back should remain stationary at a 45 degree angle to the floor during the whole exercise.
Want More? 10 Kettlebell Exercises for the Back here
# 21 – Pistol Squat
The ultimate leg exercise but requires lots of strength, stability and mobility to perform it correctly.
Standing on one leg hold the other out in front of you just above the ground.
Next push the hips back and squat down keeping the other leg off the floor.
You should drop down as low as your heel on the floor.
Next drive up from the ground place all your weight on your heel. The one leg should not touch the floor through the whole exercise.
Hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of you as a counterbalance.
# 22 – Overhead Squat
This version of the squat really works your core muscles as well as shoulder, upper back and general stabilistion.
Hold the kettlebell overhead with a locked out arm.
Next drop into the squat position by pushing your hips backwards. All your weight should be on your heels.
At the bottom of the squat push up from the floor back to the starting position.
The kettlebell should remain overhead throughout the exercise.
# 23 – Deck Squat
A fun exercise that works a lot of muscles at once but also requires good hip mobility.
Start by holding the kettlebell in both hands.
Next drop into a deep squat and the roll back onto the floor keeping your feet on the ground.
Take the kettlebell overhead and raise your hips up into a bridge position.
Finally throw your arms and kettlebell forwards as you return to the deep squat position and then finally stand.
The key to this exercise is the aggressive throwing of your weight forwards giving you the momentum to get back into the bottom part of the squat.
# 24 – Tactical Lunge
This lunge variation requires a lot of coordination but is excellent for advancing your lunging skills.
Start with the kettlebell in both hands and hanging in front of you.
Next take a step back into a reverse lunge.
As a gap appears underneath your front leg pass the kettlebell underneath from one hand to the other.
Finally return to the standing position with the kettlebell held in both hands again.
Continue to lunge with the same leg creating a circular movement underneath the front leg.
# 25 – Overhead Lunge
Similar to the Overhead Squat this lunge increases the amount of core activation as well as shoulder stabilisation.
Press the kettlebell overhead and lock your arm keeping your wrist straight.
Next take a good step forwards into a lunge position.
Try to ensure that the back knee kisses the floor or gets as close as possible.
Finally return back to the start position.
The kettlebell should remain overhead for the entire exercise.
# 26 – Side Lunge and Clean
Have you tried combining the Side Lunge with the Clean?
This exercise requires a lot of good coordination, skill, mobility and core strength.
Start with the kettlebell in the racked position.
Step out into a side lunge to the same side as you are holding the kettlebell.
At the same time as stepping out take the kettlebell down into the bottom position of the clean.
Next drive up from the heel back to the starting position and at the same time cleaning the kettlebell back to the racked position.
# 27 – Circular Swings
One of my favourite dynamic kettlebell exercises but can be dangerous if you are not ready for it.
Start with the kettlebell in one hand and then swing the kettlebell across the body and up to around head height.
The kettlebell then swings back down across the body as you rotate to absorb the mass.
Drive with the core muscles and swing the bell back to the top position.
Be very careful you don’t hit your knees with the kettlebell.
# 28 – Circular Clean
Similar in some ways to the Circular Swing but this time you begin in the racked position.
Rotate the body slightly in the direction of the kettlebell and push the bell out, swing it across your body and then return it to the racked position.
The exercise is like performing a regular clean but the kettlebell swings across the body each time rather than going up and down.
Again, watch those knees!
# 29 – Walking Swings
Lets take the Swing to the next level.
There are many ways to add further demands to the Swing but one way is to walk forwards, backwards or to the side with each repetition.
This may sound difficult but once you have mastered the swing adding an extra step each swing isn’t usually a problem.
A nice challenge is to swing walking from one tree to another tree, or the length of a football pitch!
# 30 – High Pulls
A great pulling exercise for the back of the body that also gets the heart rate seriously racing.
Perform a regular Single Handed Swing but at the top of each Swing movement pull your arm in towards your body.
Keep your wrist straight and elbow nice and high.
Next push the kettlebell out and back down into the bottom part of the swing.
If you haven’t performed this exercise before it is probably the most cardiovascular kettlebell exercise you will ever experience.
Want More? How to Master the Kettlebell High Pull
# 31 – Snatch
Ever heard of the 10 minute Snatch challenge?
The Snatch uses everything you have got to take the kettlebell from the bottom of the Swing to overhead.
Again starting from the Single Handed Swing, swing the kettlebell up at around head height, pull the kettlebell towards you and then push up.
Next throw the kettlebell out and absorb the mass at the bottom of the swing. Then repeat.
Once mastered try 10 minutes of Snatches changing hands as many times as you wish but without putting the kettlebell down.
Want More? Ultimate Guide to the the Kettlebell Snatch
# 32 – Sotts Press
A very tough pressing exercise that require good mobility and core strength.
Start with the kettlebell in the racked position and then drop down into a deep squat.
At the bottom of the Squat press the kettlebell overhead and then return it back to the racked position before standing.
You will need good mobility in your upper back to perform this exercise well.
# 33 – Renegade Row
A very powerful core exercise when performed properly and also great for building the back of the body.
You will need 2 kettlebells for this exercise.
Start in a Push Up position with both hands on the handles of the kettlebells.
Next row one kettlebell back towards your hips keeping your body and back nice and flat.
Return the kettlebell to the ground and repeat on the other side.
If you cannot remain in a good plank position throughout this exercise then it is too advanced for you.
How about 2 Kettlebells?
If you really want to increase the demands and take your Kettlebell training to the next level you could always try some exercises holding a kettlebell in each hand.
Swings, Cleans, Squats and Presses are a great introduction.
Love Kettlebell Training? See My Kettlebell Workouts Website here