Most people make the mistake of doing only aerobic, “cardio” type exercises for weight loss. They see results in the first few weeks and then cease to continue to see progress.
Why? Because they’re not building much muscle.
Muscle is far more metabolically active than fat, and it needs more energy to live, so building muscle will keep you burning more fat.
Kettlebell movements engage and build muscle in multiple muscle groups. Some kettlebell movements are also classified as ballistic, meaning they are of a higher intensity than other weightlifting motions. Ballistic movements can produce the same effect on the body as sprinting, running, or jumping (but with far less impact on the body and joints—when executed correctly).
Here are some simple, and beginner-ready moves, that will enhance your mobility, strength, and cardio-respiratory fitness.
If You’re a Beginner
Complete two sets of the exercises below. Spend one minute on each exercise with 30-second breaks in between. For exercises that are single sided, do one minute per side. Work with a weight that challenges you after 8–15 reps. You should feel challenged.
To make this basic workout sequence more challenging, add one minute of jumping jacks or running in place between each exercise. After two weeks of this workout, increase from two sets to three sets. After four weeks, increase from three to four sets.
Did you know that the squat burns massive calories and helps define the abs more than any mat-based ab motion you can do? Plus it activates the core and glutes and firms and strengthens the legs.
- Hold one kettlebell in the two-hand rack position,* or hold two kettlebells on each side of the body as pictured.
- 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.
Repeat for 1 minute.
This is an amazing mobility and strength motion that will help loosen your knees and strengthen your obliques, legs, shoulders, and core.
- Bring one kettlebell to the one-hand rack position,** then bring it overhead (as pictured). When the kettlebell is overhead, your wrist should be straight, not bent backward.
- Rotate both of your feet 45-degrees to the left (away from the lifted arm).
- Push your hips out to the right under the raised hand.
- Keep both knees soft.
- Fold at the waist and lower the torso down while keeping the kettlebell overhead. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell the entire time.
- Lower down to the left as far as you can. It is not necessary to touch the floor. Your left arm should extend naturally down in front of the left leg with the palm facing out.
- Return to standing.
Repeat for 1 minute then switch sides.
This motion helps shoulder and back mobility and arm strength. It also defines and activates your abs.
- Start off gripping the kettlebell by the horns (not the horizontal part of the handle). The base of the bell can be up or down.
- Bring the kettlebell up just above your shoulders.
- Begin to rotate the kettlebell around your head.
- Make sure to keep the kettlebell close to the head throughout the full rotation.
- Make sure the kettlebell is not over the head, but rotates directly around the head.
Repeat for 1 minute then go the other direction for 1 minute.
This motion helps stabilize and strengthen your shoulders, core, and glutes, and helps strengthen your back.
- To begin, lie down on your back with the kettlebell in your right hand and your right leg bent.
- Your left leg and right arm should be straight and flat on the ground, positioned out at a 45-degree angle from your body.
- Look at the kettlebell (not forward or down) as you do this exercise.
- Lift the kettlebell so your right arm is straight.
- Push yourself up to your left elbow.
- Then push yourself up to your left hand.
- Lift your body up by pushing your hips up to the sky.
- Pause for a second, engaging your glutes and keeping your abdominals tight.
- Continue back down through the same steps as when you came up.
Repeat for one minute and then switch sides.
This will help you get your heart rate up and work on the mobility of your hips and hamstrings.
- Start from a boxing stance with your lead leg forward and rear leg on the ball of your foot, 90-degrees behind.
- Bring the rear leg straight up as if you were kicking a soccer ball.
- Kick the leg up as high as you can and reach the opposite side arm to touch the foot.
- Return the leg back to your stance.
Kick for 1 minute and then switch legs.
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.”