It’s hard to start even thinking of all the possible kettlebell benefits you get from including this piece of equipment into your training routine. The advantages of kettlebells are many - they are versatile, come in various weights, and can be a great addition to the gym program for both beginners and professional athletes.
If you still haven’t included kettlebell exercises in your workouts, then hopefully, our article will convince you to fix that mistake. We will be going over all the benefits of kettlebell workouts, as well as which exercises to include and how to choose what kind of kettlebell to buy for your home gym.
Now without keeping you waiting any longer, let’s get started.
What are the Biggest Kettlebell Benefits? The biggest benefits of training with kettlebells include working on your full-body strength conditioning and explosiveness, fixing muscle imbalances and asymmetry, and improving mobility and stability. It’s an incredible piece of equipment that will enable you to train from anywhere and to switch up your standard workouts at the same time.
As we already mentioned, the benefits of kettlebell exercises are many, as this piece of fitness equipment is extremely versatile, and it’s used by everyone - from fitness beginners to pro athletes. In the paragraphs below, we will do our very best to outline only the key ones that you need to be aware of so that you can know the answer to the question, “Why use a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell or another piece of equipment.”
One of the biggest benefits of kettlebell exercises is that they require you to use the muscles of both your upper and lower body. That makes them ideal equipment for full-body workouts, where you want to focus on gaining strength without putting too much strain on a particular body part (such as the back, chest, or legs). Of course, the heavier you go, the harder the workout will be and the more stress on your muscles, but typically even the heaviest kettlebell is considered lightweight for powerlifters or Olympic weightlifters. Along with that, they can help you incorporate some low-impact cardio into your strength-focused sessions, as the most popular exercises with kettlebells - the swing and the Turkish get-ups are guaranteed to have you sweating.
Coordination and Mobility
We cannot talk about kettlebell workout benefits without mentioning both coordination and mobility. If you want to be a good athlete or just a person that’s able to move well and feel good in their body, you need to be both mobile and coordinated. Along with that, if you want to advance in your strength training and learn more difficult exercises such as the snatch or the clean & jerk, you need to have not only great mobility but also incredible coordination. Something that you can gain by incorporating exercises such as the kettlebell snatch into your training sessions. By doing so, you will increase your shoulder mobility and your overhead stability, both of which are required for doing the snatch properly.
The great thing about training with kettlebells is that you don’t need to be coordinated and mobile to start. You can start small and progress the more you train. Because kettlebells are usually lighter weight, they will allow you to safely build stability, coordination, and mobility with exercises like the swing, the Turkish get-up, and also windmills. Additionally, you can work on those same aspects related to your lower body by doing kettlebell squats, deadlifts, and lunges. As you build strength, coordination, and mobility, you can safely begin to perform the same exercises with barbells and with more weight.
If we have to mention only one of the kettlebell training benefits, that will be versatility. Unlike many other pieces of equipment, which can be used only for one or two exercises, the kettlebell is super versatile and can be used for many. In fact, you can get a terrific, full-body workout at home with only the kettlebell if you know how to build a routine efficiently.
However, being able to train literally anywhere is not the only thing that makes kettlebells versatile. Their versatility also comes from the fact that you can do all kinds of exercises that target different muscle groups with them. For example - you can get in a full-body workout with kettlebell swings and Turkish get-ups. Still, at the same time, you can also do more targeted exercises such as a kettlebell goblet squat or an overhead press, which mainly uses muscles in your lower or upper body.
Fix Asymmetries or Imbalances
Some kettlebell exercises require you to use both hands on the bell through the movement - for example, the dead bug pullover or the swing. However, most kettlebell exercises are unilateral - meaning you either have one bell in each hand during the exercise or you perform reps with one side at a time. This makes them ideal for fighting any asymmetries or imbalances you may have. For example, if your right arm is continuously helping out your left one during bench presses by dropping the barbell and performing the exercise with kettlebells, you will be able to fix that imbalance in no time. Along with that, if you’re training for aesthetics, balancing your strength can help you get a more well-rounded figure that’s perfect for photos.
We often get asked what are kettlebells good for, and one thing many forget is the development of power. Because kettlebells tend to be lighter in weight, many people consider them to be good only for beginners or for more cardio-focused movements. However, the reality is that kettlebells can make you a more powerful lifter. Exercises such as cleans, snatches, and high pulls require you to move the weight quickly, which over time, helps you be able to generate more power with more efficiency.
For powerlifters, these kinds of exercises can help them increase their main lifts, and for Olympic lifters, they’re great for getting better coordination and synergy between the mind and the body. This kind of unilateral work at a lighter weight can refine your technique and skill, which makes you more adaptable to any barbell sport.
Improving Grip Strength
It’s true that including kettlebell exercises in your training will improve your entire body's strength. However, it’s worth mentioning grip strength in particular, as it’s key for some athletes, especially lifters and fitness athletes. Typically, kettlebell training involves flows or timed circuits, during which you have to hold on to the bell the entire time, which is different compared to the usual barbell work lifers do.
What makes kettlebells great for building grip strength is the fact that you’re controlling the equipment through the entire movement as it goes through different planes. If we only take a look at the snatch, we can see that your forearm will have to move at several different angles through the exercise.
With that said, it’s good for you to find a balance between holding on tight enough so as not to drop the kettlebell while keeping it loose enough to be able to move the equipment freely. Getting that kind of balance will be super beneficial for your grip and will help you feel more secure when performing powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting moves.
Top 5 Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners and Professional Athletes
Okay, we talked a lot about the benefits you get from kettlebell training, and hopefully, you now know why you need to incorporate it into your routine. But the question as to how you can do that remains. That’s why let’s go ahead and take a look at five kettlebell exercises you can easily fit into all your workouts.
We cannot make a list of kettlebell exercises without including this one. In fact, many think that the popularity of kettlebells rapidly increased only thanks to this one exercise that’s often promoted by fitness gurus and online coaches. It is perhaps the most powerful kettlebell exercise when performed with decent technique, as it involves the entire body and it helps you form a base for all other exercises.
If you still haven’t gotten around to doing the kettlebell swing as part of your training, this is your cue to begin. Whether you want to gain strength, coordination, mobility, or stability, this movement can help you for all four while also working on your explosiveness and power. Along with that, the kettlebell swing works on your cardiovascular system as the exercise requires huge amounts of oxygen, and doing it only for 30 seconds will leave you huffing and puffing at the gym.
The Goblet Squat
This is one of the most popular and fundamental exercises that should be present in the workout regime of any athlete. It’s very easy to perform and master while still being great for both professionals ad beginners.
Contrary to popular belief, this exercise doesn’t just work on your lower body. Like most squat movements, it mainly uses your glutes and quads, but it also needs your back and core to work in order to retain body control and balance. It’s terrific for teaching proper squatting techniques to beginners while also getting them to increase their strength levels until they’re ready to move on to the barbell. Along with that, goblet squats are perfect for athletes that want to put more focus on explosiveness and endurance, as they allow you to perform the movement quickly and for more reps due to the lighter weight.
This is a more complex but incredibly rewarding lift that you can start learning with kettlebells. This is an explosive exercise that involves you lifting the weight from the ground to an overhead position in one quick and fluid motion. It requires your entire focus, full-body power, and coordination. The snatch doesn’t just use your arm and leg strength, it also engages your core and your posterior chain, and the speed with which it's done also helps you develop your cardio fitness.
Additionally, if you want to start Olympic weightlifting, learning the kettlebell snatch will help improve your overhead stability and mobility, making you more ready to do the movement with a barbell.
Yet another classic, popular kettlebell exercise is the strict press. It is a great addition to any workout program as long as your shoulder mobility and stability are in order. Otherwise, it can make you more susceptible to injuries. Many people think that this exercise is the same as the overhead press, but that’s not true. While they look similar at first glance, the kettlebell strict press involves the entire body, unlike the shoulder press. Along with that, pressing up with kettlebells is more comfortable as the entire motion is more relative to the joint of your shoulder. That enables you to generate more power and more efficiency while keeping your body engaged.
Recently, the Turkish get-up has gotten its fair share of recognition and attention, and that’s a given because it is an exercise that provides many benefits, much like the kettlebell swing. It’s terrific for helping stabilize muscles and working on core strength, as, unlike most kettlebell exercises, it’s done slowly and with deliberate movements. The get-up requires you to go up from a lying down position to standing up, all while holding a weight in one hand. For the exercise to be effective, you need to be able to keep the bell from falling while also keeping your arm extended.
Regardless of what you want to work on as an athlete, the Turkish get-up provides you with a range of benefits from functional core to rotational strength development and upper body stabilization. It’s terrific for improving posture, hip stability, mobility, and trunk strength.
How to Choose the Best Kettlebell?
Recently, kettlebells have gotten more and more popular, which is why there are many sizes and shapes available on the market. And while that’s good because it makes it easier for you to find the best ones for you, it also makes making the right decision more difficult. If you search for “kettlebell,” you will see all kinds of different ones, including some shapes like skulls and other totems. If we have to narrow it down, these are the most popular types of kettlebells you can choose from:
- Vinyl coated ones
- Cast iron ones
- Adjustable ones
- Ones with different faces
- Plastic ones
In theory, you can use all these kettlebells for the most basic exercises, as they serve the same purpose and can be suitable if you plan on using them from time to time at home. However, if you want to get the best possible ones, we would recommend either competition kettlebells or cast iron ones. Let’s see why.
With those kind of kettlebells, the handle is smaller, and they’re squarer in design. That’s because the idea behind it is to be easy to use with just one hand, so the shape and size remains the same regardless of the weight. One big advantage of them is the fact that your hand one slides around due to the limited space it has. Along with that, once you adjust to the size, you can easily change weight quickly.
The only, however, big disadvantage is that you cannot use the for exercises where you have to hold the kettlebell with two hands. That makes it impossible for you to do the kettlebell swing, halo, and goblet squat, which are terrific basic exercises.
Cast Iron Kettlebells
Cast iron kettlebells are made from one piece of metal, so their size increase along with the weight. You will also see that the handle is wider, which enables you to do exercises where both hands are required. Cast iron kettlebells are much more suitable for beginners due to their versatility. However, if you’re aiming to do competitions and are looking for speed, then competition ones are much more suitable for you.
If we have to recommend to you a kettlebell of exceptional quality and that is popular on the market, then we’ll go for REP Fitness Matte Kettlebells. They come in a size range from 4 kg (9lb) to 48 kg (106 lb) and have a textured matte coating that brings extra grip. These kettlebells are die-cast meaning they’re highly durable with a smooth surface and weld-free handles.
Each size is marked with a specific color code that refers to the international color standards, so it’s easy to define the kettlebell size. Also, it’s labeled with kilograms and pounds for even quicker identification. This is a great option for a full-body workout by switching between different kettlebell sizes to perform various movements with weight and work out different muscles.
3 Things You Should Avoid When Buying Kettlebells
Here are a few things you should be on the lookout for when buying kettlebells for the first time.
Avoid Thick Handles
The first thing you need to look at is the handles. You don’t want to get a kettlebell that has a handle that’s too thick. If it’s difficult to wrap your entire hand around the handle, then that’s a sign it’s too thick for you. That means when you start working out with it, it will tire your forearms quickly, and you can also drop it in case you have to do many reps.
Completely Round Body
Plastic or Vinyl Coated Kettlebells
Is kettlebell good for belly fat?
Training with a kettlebell can help you lose body fat if you do circuit workouts that are focused on increasing your heart rate and are more cardio-like. With that said, it’s not the only thing that will help you on your way to losing weight, and you shouldn’t expect for the magic to happen.
What kind of body do kettlebells give you?
Kettlebells can have different benefits for your body depending on what kind of workouts you do. Overall, they help you build strength and explosiveness while also keeping you mobile and working on your conditioning.
Is 20 minutes of kettlebells enough?
A 20-minute kettlebell workout is enough to get your heart pumping and to give you the most vital benefits of training with this piece of equipment.
Are kettlebells effective?
Kettlebells are a terrific and effective piece of equipment that can help improve your workouts. Not only do they train your strength, explosiveness, and conditioning, but they also help make your training session more versatile and more complex.
Hopefully, this article helped you learn more about the benefits of kettlebell exercises and why they need to become a part of your regular training plan. As you can see, kettlebells are an extremely versatile piece of equipment that can be used by both professional-level athletes and beginners in the gym, and it will provide benefits for both groups as long as it’s well incorporated into a proper workout regime. Having said that, we would like to ask you about your experience training with kettlebells. Did you enjoy it and what kind of benefits did you notice from it? Let us know below in the comments.
- Benefits of Unilateral Training // Trained: https://www.trainedphysioperth.com.au/unilateral-training-benefits/
My name is Ihor and I have been a professional weightlifter since 1996. With over 20 years of competition experience, my resume includes European Champion in 2009 and the silver medalist at 2011's Senior World Championships – 105kg division.
I competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
After hanging up my own competitive lifting shoes, I decided to share my huge background as a coach. I am currently coaching multiple athletes who are competing at national and international competitions.