Challenging yourself in new ways is a key component to sustained progress in fitness. One of the best ways to do that is with kettlebells. With kettlebells, you can always keep things fresh, while working your body in a functional, dynamic and explosive way. Whether your fitness level is beginner or advanced, kettlebell workouts will help you improve strength, conditioning, and mobility. Moreover, if done right, you can build lean muscle and shred fat. If you want to move and look like an athlete, kettlebells are a must for your arsenal.
One of the great things about kettlebells is, they work for any fitness level. They are very adaptable. From heavier kettlebell sizes to more difficult kettlebell progression exercises and workouts, there’s always room for constant improvement. For beginners, it’s important to master the essential kettlebell exercises and do workouts that suit your fitness capacity. From there, you will see constant progress as you move to more advanced exercises and workouts. That said, many of the kettlebell beginner exercises are standard movements that will remain in your exercise lineup, as they are effective at all stages of fitness.
To help you get to know this fantastic training tool, which includes the most important movements to learn first, how to perform the exercises correctly, and how to structure a kettlebell workout, we’ve asked coach Scott Viala to put together a full length, follow along full body kettlebell workout for beginners that includes the most essential movements everyone should know.
In the workout, Scott teaches you how to perform the exercises with proper form, using clear and simple instructions and demonstrations. Then, he takes you through a kickass beginner workout that will target your entire body for strength, hypertrophy and fat loss.
While this is a beginner workout, even non-beginners will find it challenging. Scott himself is an advanced kettlebell specialist and you can clearly see this workout challenged him. Beginners just need to choose an appropriate weight (we will discuss this below).
Note: This full body workout only requires a single kettlebell.
For those who have been using kettlebells for some time now, still pay attention to the form tips, as you might learn something from Scott that will make the exercises more effective.
If you are a complete beginner to working out, kettlebells will still be suitable for you. You’ll be starting your fitness journey in a manner that’ll set you up for success in the long run because kettlebells are highly functional. With kettlebells, you will be training for strength, endurance, mobility, stability, balance, coordination, and durability. All the pillars of well-rounded fitness. And in terms of body composition, you will put on muscle and burn a ton of calories with kettlebell workouts, making you look lean and cut. All in all, it’s a training tool that will allow you to move, feel and look like an athlete. It’s everything you need all in one bell-shaped piece of equipment.
For those who are beginners to kettlebells but not fitness in general, you will pick up the movements quickly. While some of the movements are unlike typical conventional exercises, especially the ballistic movements because they use multiplanar movement patterns rather than singular planes of motion, an understanding of basic form will come into play with kettlebell workouts.
In any case, start light and follow good demonstrations, like the workout we have for you below. If you do that, you will be able to train with kettlebells in an effective manner, even if you’ve never picked up a weight in your life. Soon enough, the movements will feel like second nature and you will see so many improvements in your fitness and body composition.
Kettlebells are great because they can be used in so many ways. You can train with them like you would dumbbells, but because of the nature of their design, you can also use them in dynamic ways, which are known as ballistics. Because the kettlebell’s load is central located, they lend themselves to swift motions that mimic the way our body’s were naturally intended to move. Moreover, because of the somewhat unbalanced design (handle above the weight), kettlebells place greater demands on stabilizer muscles, core strength, and balance and coordination, all of which are often overlooked with conventional bodybuilding.
To touch more on our first point…
You can use kettlebells to build muscle and strength very similarly to barbells and dumbbells. These kinds of exercises are called grinds. Kettlebell grinds are slow and controlled movements like Goblet Squats, Front Loaded Squats, Deadlifts, Chest Presses from the Floor, and so on. They target your muscles in a singular plane of motion (at least most times, as some will move you through multiple planes of motion and/or are multi-joint exercises).
All in all, with kettlebells, you can do simple muscle building exercises like curls or military presses, but you can also do dynamic explosive exercises unique to kettlebells, known as ballistics.
Ballistics are explosive exercises based on movement patterns and they often move you through multiple planes of motion. Examples of ballistics are kettlebell swings, snatches, and cleans. Ballistics move you in a way that is athletic and natural to our primal movement capacity. They build power, strength and coordination through the transverse, sagittal, and frontal planes. Moreover, ballistics are fantastic for improving endurance and burning a lot of calories in a short time. They will have you constantly moving, focusing on going from point A to B (to C) rather than slowly contracting up and down.
For beginners, the two most important kettlebell ballistics are the Swing and Clean. The workout we have for you today incorporates these two movements. You will learn how to perform correctly them thanks to Scott Viala's clear cut instructions. We will also go over the benefits of each at the end of the article.
Note: The workout includes three other great exercises too. As such, it is a 5 exercise workout. It may not seem like a lot, but we promise you will have different thoughts when the workout is over (better yet, halfway through). Don’t worry though, it is tough, yet manageable.
If you want to start training with kettlebells, there are three things you need to consider:
You need to choose a kettlebell size that is appropriate for your strength and kettlebell skill level. For beginners, it is best to start light. Kettlebells can feel awkward when first starting out. We typically recommend a 10-18 pound kettlebell for beginners. If you are simply new to kettlebells, not strength training, or you naturally have more strength and power, then you can go for something a little heavier most likely (i.e. 20-30lbs).
Learn more about what size kettlebell is right for you? This is a complete guide that will cover everything you need to know about choosing a kettlebell size, based on experience, gender, age, and goals.
While two kettlebells would be great, only one is needed when first starting out. Most beginner exercises can be done with a single kettlebell. For example, rather than doing double front squats, you can do the more beginner-friendly goblet squat.
Here's something to consider when deciding on one or two kettlebells (or more)…
You can choose two kettlebells, one lighter, one somewhat heavier, allowing you to do have a more suitable weight depending on the exercise (i.e. heavier for squat based movements and lighter for upper body movements like presses). However, when going for a heavier kettlebell, remember that regardless of the exercise, your arms will need to hold it up! With single kettlebell exercises, at least you can use two hands for exercises like swings or squats.
Related: 50 best Single Kettlebell Exercises
You could also choose two kettlebells of the same weight, allowing you to do doubles (i.e. double front racked squats, double sumo deadlifts, double military presses). At some point, you will want two kettlebells of the same size for doubles work. Just be sure you can handle the extra weight.
As for single kettlebell exercises, you also need to consider that some of the movements (i.e. single kettlebell presses, single kettlebell cleans, or single kettlebell snatches) will cause you to have an uneven weight distribution. While this is the beauty of kettlebell training, as it helps you develop a strong, stable core, if your balance and coordination is poor, you will have trouble with the exercises, even if the weight is not particularly heavy for you. The point is, starting light probably makes sense if you have concern about the uneven, unilateral side of kettlebell training.
All in all, we suggest going for a reasonable size (around 10-18lbs) and getting just one as a beginner. If you like kettlebell workouts, you can invest in more later on. One kettlebell will be enough to do all kinds of workouts for the time being. Moreover, a single kettlebell is enough to help you master most movements.
As a kettlebell beginner, you will want to master the following exercises, as these are fundamental for kettlebell training:
We recommend learning them in that order too. As once you get the clean down, then press, you can combine for the clean & press. Also, the dynamics of the clean and the strength you gain from the clean & press will help you for the snatch.
The follow-along full body beginner workout by Scott Viala below will cover the Swing and Clean exercises (with a single kettlebell). So, after this workout, you should have a good grip on those. Keep reading on as you are going to learn everything you need to know about these two foundational kettlebell exercises.
Our full body beginner kettlebell workout also incorporates a couple other great exercises for beginners. So, it’s not just swings and cleans.
More Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners:
A simple Youtube search and you can see how to do all of these exercises. But for now, focus on the exercises in this workout (below).
You’ll want to do workouts that are manageable. They should be challenging, but you should feel like you still have a little something left in the tank when you are done. You don’t want to overtrain or get so sore you can’t workout again for a week! Put simply, aim for a 30 minute workout. Even 20 minutes for a beginner is good, so long as there isn’t tons of rest time.
Your work to rest ratio should be around 1-to-1 since you will likely be using a light weight kettlebell. So if your set takes 20 seconds, rest for 20 seconds. In-between exercises, you can take a little longer of a break.
Good kettlebell workout structures for beginners:
Start off with sets x reps or simple circuits with a couple exercises back to back. Then as you get comfortable with kettlebell training, try more difficult workouts like AMRAPs. The great thing about AMRAP workouts is that it is suitable for all levels, as how much work you do depends on your capacity. You may be able to complete 4 rounds, while you someone else can do 5, but you both get the same effective workout (so long as you pushed equally hard). It’s not about how many rounds, it’s about the quality of your workout.
For our workout below, it is 25 minutes and it uses a sets x reps structure for the swings and cleans, ending with a tri-set of three different exercises back to back for three rounds.
Note: If you need a little more rest time than Scott gives you, simply pause the video. But, don’t rest until your heart slows down to normal, you want to keep your heart rate up as to burn more calories.
Here’s a full body kettlebell workout that you can follow along to. We classified this 25 minute kettlebell workout as “beginner” because it goes into the 2 main lifts every kettlebell trainee should know, the clean and swing. It also incorporates around the body swings, stalls, and plank drags. Overall, this is a great workout for strength and conditioning. Even non-beginners will find this total body kb workout very effective.
Scott will teach you exactly how to perform the movement, with some tips on how to get the most out of the exercise. The instructions are simple, quick and clear, as to not distract from getting in a good workout.
KETTLEBELLS FOR THIS BEGINNER WORKOUT:
All you need for this workout is a single kettlebell! If you have more than one, choose a heavier kettlebell (relative to your strength, for the first two exercises, and a somewhat lighter one for the final three in the tri-set).
Strength & Conditioning
This workout will help you build strength, muscle, explosive power, and core stability. Moreover, it’s going to burn a good amount of calories in a short time, which is great for fat loss.
1. Kettlebell Cleans:
- Quick demonstration
- 3 sets x 9 reps (each side), short rest in-between sides
2. Kettlebell Swings:
- Quick demonstration
- 4 sets x 15 reps (double-handed)
3. Tri-Set x 3 rounds:
- Around the Body Swings x 10 reps left to right / 10 reps right to left
- Around the Body Stalls x 14 reps (7 to each side)
- Plank Drags x 18 reps (9 drags to each side)
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO THIS KETTLEBELL WORKOUT?
Throw this workout in your training plan once or twice a week. This is an all-round workout that will get you into great shape!
Now, let’s go over each exercise in the workout, with tips and muscles worked…
The kettlebell clean involves bringing the kettlebell from the ground up to a rack position. It is a power exercise so you will be explosive with the movement. It is going to work your hamstrings and quadriceps primarily, but as it is a full body movement, it incorporates a lot of ancillary muscles, such as your arms, shoulders, lats, abs, calves, glutes, quads, and back.
Tips for kettlebell cleans:
The kettlebell swing is a hip hinging explosive movement. You will be swinging the kettlebell from between your legs ups your shoulder height. It’s a full body kettlebell exercise that targets your abs, shoulders, pecs, glutes, quads, hips, hamstrings, and lats, as well as your grip strength.
Tips for kettlebell swings:
KETTLEBELL AROUND THE BODY
This exercise will target your arms (particularly your forearms), shoulders, back, and core.
KETTLEBELL AROUND THE BODY STALLS
This variation will target also target your arms, shoulders, back, and core, but it adds emphasis on the obliques and shoulders and it is a bit more explosive.
KETTLEBELL PLANK DRAGS
Plank drags are a complete core exercise, and like all planks, your glutes, quads, shoulders and back will be engaged for stability. They will also work your arms as you need to drag the kettlebell from side to side.
That’s it! Let us know what you think in the comments below. If you’d like give Scott a shout out on Instagram too.
If you have any questions about this beginner kettlebell workout or anything related to kettlebells, please feel free to contact us. We are glad to hear from you.
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