There are some pieces of exercise equipment that truly stand the test of time. Kettlebells are one of them. They look like cannon balls with handles, and often feel as awkward as they look. Their unique shape makes them incredibly versatile.
This simple piece of equipment provides a total-body workout. This quick, but thorough, workout is designed to hit most major muscle groups: legs, back, shoulders and core. When you’re pressed for time and limited in equipment, it’s best to use compound movements.
A compound movement involves more than one group of muscles. You could say you’re killing two (or more) birds with one stone when you use compound movements. Doing an exercise like the bicep curl, which only works one muscle group, wouldn’t be as efficient as doing a squat with a bicep curl.
For this nine-minute workout you’ll do a circuit consisting of four exercises. These exercises last for 45 seconds, with a 15-second break between exercises. You’ll repeat this circuit twice, then end with a bonus round which lasts for 1 minute. In that minute, you’ll do as many kettlebell swings as possible.
The circuit starts with the kettlebell deadlift. This is a strong movement for most people, so feel free to bring out your heaviest kettlebell for this one.
The move: Stand over the kettlebell with the handle facing horizontally. The handle should be in line with your ankles. Stick your butt back and bend your legs as you reach down to grab the handle with both hands. As you go down, keep your chest up. Grip the handle and lift the kettlebell by driving into the ground with your heels. Keep your back flat as you stand up completely. Keep your elbows locked out the entire time. Then, put the kettlebell back on the ground and repeat. Keep your hands on the handles until 45 seconds is up.
WEIGHTED RENEGADE ROW
This is a back exercise that also challenges your core and shoulder muscles.
The move: Start in a pushup position with each hand on a kettlebell (pictured here with dumbbells), holding the handles. Spread your feet wider than you would for a regular pushup. Pick one kettlebell up and pull your hand back into your ribcage. Lower the kettlebell so that it’s directly under your shoulder, then lift the other kettlebell up. Keep alternating until time is up.
This exercise combines a squat with an overhead shoulder press. The movement works your legs, shoulders and triceps. It can be exhausting, particularly if you’re doing it for 45 seconds straight so pace yourself.
The move: Grip a kettlebell by the sides and hold it in front of your chest with your elbows against your rib cage (pictured here with dumbbells). Spread your feet out to your normal squat stance. Squat down until your elbows touch your thighs, then stand up. As you stand, press the kettlebell overhead until your elbows are straight. Your biceps should be close to your ears. Then lower the kettlebell back down to chest height and repeat.
BOTTOMS-UP KETTLEBELL CARRY
This exercise shows why kettlebells are so unique. It’s called a bottoms-up carry because the metal ball of the kettlebell is going to be above the handle throughout. It challenges your grip, core and shoulder strength, and even your balance.
The move: Grip the kettlebell by the handle and press it straight overhead, keeping the kettlebell flipped upside down. Your job is to hold it in place without letting it fall over. Walk slowly down a hallway or open gym space. Switch arms halfway through.
During your final minute you’ll perform a total-body exercise called the kettlebell swing. It involves your legs, hips, back and core muscles.
The move: Start with a kettlebell on the ground one foot in front of you. Squat down and grab the handle of the kettlebell. Hike it back like you’re hiking a football, then stand up and swing it forward. Keep your feet flat on the ground the entire time.
Throughout the exercise, think of the kettlebell as a pendulum. Keeping your arms straight, you swing the kettlebell back and down into your groin and you stick your butt back. Then, you use your hips to thrust the kettlebell up until your arms are parallel to the ground. Try to repeat this motion for one minute straight to complete your workout.