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Kettlebell workouts | 5 exercises for beginners

05 February, 2018
Kettlebell for Beginners

If you’re looking to start some weight training or a gym-junkie looking for a change of pace, kettlebell workouts might be for you. Kettlebells are easy to store and relatively simple to transport, and have further benefits over dumbbells and barbells. Due to the shape and hold required for kettlebells, movements help strengthen your stabiliser muscles and grip, as well as provide huge increase to aerobic capabilities and core strength.

To start your new kettlebell routine, try these 5 simple kettlebell exercises for beginners.


Goblet squat

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Using a light weight, hold the kettlebell handle’s corners in your hands and hold it close to your chest. Elbows pointing down, face forward, lower yourself into a squatting position, pushing your rear out and focusing your balance into your heels. Hold for three seconds, and push up through your heels in one controlled movement to the starting position.

Do’s:

  • Use your glutes and hamstrings to perform the movements
  • Keep your core tight and arms rigid

Dont’s:

  • Start with a heavy weight – this action can get tiring very quickly
  • Push your knees towards each other
  • Look down and up as you squat – make sure to keep your eyes forward
  • Arch your back

Kettlebell lunges


Kettlebell Lunges

Just like regular lunges, only with a kettlebell in each hand. From a neutral standing position, move into a lunge, your front leg bent at 90 degrees and your back leg bent with the knee just about the floor. Keep your shoulders engaged and your grip strong, eyes and chest forward. From your lunge position, push through your foot and quad into a one-legged neutral standing position, and follow-through with a lunge from the other leg.

Do’s:

  • Keep kettlebells steady as you lunge
  • Focus on your core and maintaining balance
  • Lunge confidently with controlled actions
  • Have your arms slightly bent

Dont’s:

  • Swing kettlebells as you move
  • Change step length and stride if you’re unable to balance – choose a more comfortable weight
  • Stomp the ground as you lunge

Russian kettlebell swing

Russian Kettlebell Swing

The Russian kettlebell swing is not as easy as it looks! Holding a kettlebell in both hands, keep you back straight, tuck in your chin and bend your knees slightly. Let the kettlebell fall with gravity and follow it, bending your knees and letting the kettlebell swing between your legs. Use you hips and glutes to generate power to swing the kettlebell up till it’s around chest height. Instead of letting gravity do all the work, apply resistance as the kettlebell drops. Repeat the movement.

Do’s:

  • Focus on stability
  • Ensure you have a good grip on the kettlebell
  • Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground

Dont’s:

  • Let the swing pull you forward – if this is happening, choose a lighter weight
  • Arch your back
  • Rely entirely on momentum to move the kettlebell

Overhead press

Kettlebell Overhead Press

Hold a kettlebell in both hands with the weight facing upwards. In a neutral stance, focus on your core and balance, and push the kettlebell upwards using your back and shoulders. The natural movement of your arms should keep the weight safely out of range of your face.

Do’s:

  • Plant your feet firmly on the ground
  • Use your upper back and shoulders to move the weight
  • Keep elbows tight and controlled

Don’t’s:

  • Bend backwards to compensate for the weight
  • Lift unevenly – if you’re favouring one arm, switch to a lower weight so you can strengthen you’re weaker side
  • Strain your neck – the lift comes from your back and shoulders, so relax your neck

Kettlebell crunches

Kettlebell Crunches

Lay flat on the ground and lift your legs so your heels are facing the ceiling. Your upper back and rear should be your main contact and support on the ground. Holding a kettlebell by the weight (not the handle), engage your core, crunch your abs, and push the kettlebell towards your toes.

Do’s:

  • Focus on moving your upper body to create the crunch
  • Hold the kettlebell by the ball, and ensure you always have a good grip on it
  • Perform the movement in a controlled way

Dont’s:

  • Twist your body to make the height – if you’re struggling, switch to a lower weight
  • Shift the weight as you’re moving – needless to say, dropping the weight during this exercise won’t be fun
  • Keep going if your back is in pain – if you feel any kind of soreness, stop the exercise. A pinching feeling might indicate nerve pain, while a slow ache might be muscle development. If you experience discomfort doing this exercise, seek a trainer or physiotherapist to assess your condition and guide you through proper technique.

Check in with a trainer

If you're getting back into training, or are looking to start training from scratch, we heavily advise taking the time to book sessions with a personal trainer and a physio. Professionals will be able to guide you through technique and best practice, as well as guide you to exercises that might be more beneficial to your goals.

All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.

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