Build Strength and Power with Kettlebells

Workout of the Week
By Dasha Libin Anderson, KettlebellKickboxing.com

Perhaps one of the greatest attributes of kettlebells is their ability to help build strength and power through both standard and very unique motions.  

Here is a fat-melting, muscle-sculpting workout to get you started.

Here is a fat-melting, muscle-sculpting workout.

If you are highly active and consider yourself advanced, do this circuit (all exercises equal one circuit) four times with a minimal break in between. To make this even more challenging, do a two-minute static run in between each circuit (run in place for two minutes, keeping a good pace and raising your feet at least one foot off the ground the entire time).

 If you’re intermediate, do three circuits and take a two-minute break in between. 

If you’re new to exercise, begin with one circuit and within a week or two, move up to two circuits. Start by resting three minutes between circuits and after a month switch the rest to two minutes and aim to do three circuits.

Side Kick

Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's

Wonderful for mobility, this motion will help you build strength in your hips and core, all the while building stability throughout the body. Plus it’s great for dynamic flexibility. 

This is a wonderful warm-up motion before your weighted exercises. 

  • Start from a boxing stance with your lead leg forward and rear leg on the ball of your foot, 90-degrees behind.
  • Bring your rear leg up and in front so the thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Then, with power and stability, kick this leg straight out to the side as you flex your foot.
  • From the kick, return the leg behind you.

You can alternate legs for 1 minute or continue with one leg for 30 seconds then switch.

Swing

Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's

The swing is the basis of all kettlebell movements and is a perfect strength and cardio workout.

  • With both hands, pick up the kettlebell by the handle and sit back, bending first and more deeply at the hips, then bend at the knees.
  • From this position, swing the kettlebell back and behind your knees as high and as far back as comfortable.
  • Start to swing the kettlebell forward keeping your arms straight as you thrust your hips forward and raise your torso back into the standing position.
  • Keeping your arms straight, thrust your hips forward, straighten your knees, and swing the kettlebell in front as you rise to a standing position. You’ll generate power by pushing your hips back behind you (not by squatting to the floor) and then snapping your hips forward.
  • Bring the kettlebell up to shoulder height, this is the top of your swing.
  • Swing the kettlebell down and behind your legs again, then back up to shoulder height in a nonstop fluid motion.

Repeat for one minute. 

Burpee

Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's

The burpee is a very popular strength and cardiorespiratory tool. But adding kettlebells for both range of motion and stability will truly challenge you. 

Please note that if you don’t feel ready to execute this motion with kettlebells, do it without them first.   

  • Place two kettlebells on the floor shoulder width apart about six inches in front of your toes. Make sure the handles are parallel.
  •  To set yourself up for the jump, sit down into a hinge motion, which is where you bend first (and more deeply at the hips), then at the knees. This will allow you to use your glutes when you jump.
  • Push off with your heels and jump up vertically.
  • Land lightly making sure not to pound your knees or other joints.
  • After you’ve landed, reach down and grab the kettlebells with both hands. Then jump your feet back so you’re in plank position.
  • Make sure you distribute your body weight along your core, back, legs, and glutes. Keep your core tight.
  • From the plank, lower your body down into a deep push-up. Balance is key to this move so keep your weight evenly distributed between both arms.
  • After you have finished your push-up, jump back to standing and repeat.

Do steady reps for 1 minute. Prioritize great form over speed.

Kettlebell Plank

Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's

Planks are a perfect way to stabilize the spine, strengthen the core, sculpt the abs, activate the glutes and back, and also get the heart rate up.  

  • Place one kettlebell on the floor as far from your toes as you can comfortably reach.
  • Go down into a push-up position with hands on the floor on either side of the kettlebell.
  • Once you feel stable, place both arms on the kettlebell as pictured.
  • Make sure your shoulders, elbows, and wrists are in a straight line.
  • Your body should also form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. If you were to place a broomstick on your back, it would make contact with your head, upper back, and buttocks.
  • Pull your belly button to your spine and keep your glutes and core engaged by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
  • Hold this position without rounding or hanging through your back. Keep all of your muscles activated.

Hold for 1 minute if you are advanced, otherwise hold for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then hold for another 20 seconds.

Double Squat Thruster

Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's Dasha Libin Anderson showing kettlebell workout at Anderson's

The squat burns lots of calories all the while building strong and powerful legs and glutes, and helping back, hip, and ankle mobility. The press helps build strong arms, shoulders, chest, and back. Together this motion is a powerhouse of total body strength. 

  • Hold two kettlebells on each side of the body as pictured, or hold one kettlebell with both hands in the center of your chest.
  • As you inhale, pull yourself down with tension into a full squat.
  • Keep your back as flat as possible, torso erect, ears over shoulders, and kneecaps tracked over toes.
  • Your weight should be on your heels, not the front of the foot.
  • Toes should be pointed outward at an angle that feels natural.
  • Push the knees apart with the elbows to keep the glutes engaged properly.
  • On the exhale, stand up without leaning forward. 
  • As you come up, drive through your heals and push both kettlebells overhead in a press.
  • Make sure to push your arms up simultaneously as you come up from the squat, this way one fluid motion takes you from the squat to the overhead press.

Repeat for one full minute, again paying attention to form and correct muscle use over speed.

Dasha Libin Anderson is the creator of Kettlebell Kickboxing. If you like this, check out KettlebellKickboxing.com, sign up for the KB community newsletter, and get free ebooks and workouts, including your free “Belly Fat Book” and “Burn 500 Book.” 

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