The kettlebell is a versatile fitness tool that can help almost anyone reach his or her fitness goals. Kettlebell workouts, if designed properly, can burn fat, build muscle, and improve athletic performance. Who wouldn’t want all three?
If you’re keen on getting in shape fast with one simple piece of equipment, try any of these three quick kettlebell workouts, which pack a lot of punch in a short amount of time. And what’s more, these workouts can be tailored to any fitness level—simply pace yourself as fast or as slow as needed, and choose your weights accordingly.
For these workouts, we’ll use three kettlebell exercises: the sumo deadlift, goblet squat and swing. Check out the instructional videos below to learn how to execute the moves with good form:
1. Evens and Odds
If you thought learning to count by even and odd numbers in elementary school was hard, wait until you try this workout. Purely a numbers game, “Evens and Odds” uses a trick called “descending sets.” You’ll do your hardest set first and the sets get gradually easier, allowing you to keep going even when you feel tired. So rather than stopping to rest between sets, the workout becomes one long set—this helps you build more muscle and burn more fat overall.
Grab a kettlebell that’s about a quarter of your bodyweight (so if you weigh 140 pounds, use a 16 kg kettlebell—about 35 pounds), and perform the following:
- 10 deadlifts, 10 goblet squats, 10 swings
- 8 deadlifts, 8 goblet squats, 8 swings
- 6 deadlifts, 6 goblet squats, 6 swings
- 4 deadlifts, 4 goblet squats, 4 swings
- 2 deadlifts, 2 goblet squats, 2 swings
Rest 2 minutes, and then perform:
- 9 deadlifts, 9 goblet squats, 9 swings
- 7 deadlifts, 7 goblet squats, 7 swings
- 5 deadlifts, 5 goblet squats, 5 swings
- 3 deadlifts, 3 goblet squats, 3 swings
- 1 deadlift, 1 goblet squat, 1 swing
For your first workout, start with one round, and record your time. When you’re able to finish the workout faster, increase the weight of the kettlebell or add another round.
2. Kettlebell Intervals
You may have read somewhere that interval training is the best way to burn fat, and it’s true. Performing short bursts of intense exercise followed by longer periods of lighter exercise lets you do more work in less time. It even lets you burn more calories at rest by increasing Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC for short), which simply means that you’ll burn slightly more calories than normal for a few hours after completing an interval workout. Talk about a return on your investment!
This workout combines kettlebells and planks to help you burn fat and strengthen your core during your rest periods. Grab a kettlebell you can comfortably swing for 20 swings and perform the following:
- Deadlift, 10 reps
- Front plank, 30 seconds
- Goblet squat,15 reps
- Side plank (right side), 30 seconds
- Swing, 20 reps side plank (left side), 30 seconds
Repeat for 3-5 rounds, resting 60 seconds between rounds.
3. Power Pairs
Want to run faster and jump higher? Combine heavy lifting and explosive movements during your workouts. This technique is called “contrast training,” and it takes advantage of a nervous system phenomenon known as post-activation potentiation. Basically, if you lift something heavy, your nervous system gets fired up and recruits more muscle fibers to help you jump and sprint more explosively.
But here’s the catch—you’ve got to put everything you’ve got into every rep. Contrast training relies on maximal effort, so perform every rep like your life depended on it.
Try these three exercise pairs to develop your athletic power:
- Goblet Squat, 3 sets x 5 reps (Use a weight you could lift 7 times)
- Vertical Jump, 3 sets x 3 reps (Jump as high as possible and don’t pause between jumps)
- Sumo Deadlift, 3 sets x 5 reps (Use a weight you could lift 7 times)
- Broad Jump, 3 sets x 3 reps (Jump as far as possible and don’t pause between jumps)
- Swing, 3 sets x 8 reps (Use a weight you could swing 10 times with good form)
- Sprint, 3 sets x 30 yards (Run as fast as possible)
Conquering the Kettlebell
These three workouts are fast and simple, but most of all, they work. Regardless of your fitness goal, the kettlebell can get you there, so grab yours today and get moving.