If you’re feeling a little blah about your regular dumbbell workouts, might we suggest adding some kettlebell exercises into the mix? Switching up your load can breathe some new energy into your program—and provide a whole bunch of new options to slot into whatever routine you have on your schedule.
That’s because kettlebells are a super versatile piece of equipment: Just like with dumbbells, you can press, push, pull, lunge, squat, deadlift, and carry them, making them great tools to add challenge to your full-body, upper-body, or lower-body workouts.
That doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable, though. For some weighted moves, especially ones that require explosive movement, kettlebells actually reign supreme. And their shape—a round bell bottom and attached handle—makes them easier to move around. Plus, when you grip them from the top, your range of motion will be slightly different too, meaning you’ll be changing up how your muscles are working.
If you’re new to kettlebell workouts, though, choosing which moves to include can feel a bit daunting. So we’ve compiled a list of some of the best kettlebell exercises out there that will hit every muscle in your body. But before we get into them, let’s spend a little time breaking down what you need to know about these muscle-building bells.
What are the benefits of kettlebell exercises?
Like we mentioned, the shape of a kettlebell brings perks that you won’t see with other forms of resistance. “The weight is distributed differently than a typical dumbbell, so it works different muscles doing the same movement,” Sims says. It also requires more wrist motion, so your wrists and forearms get a little extra work.
Like dumbbells, though, kettlebells are effective ways to build strength, since you can continually challenge your muscles with them by adding more weight or increasing repetitions.
Kettlebells are also great for working on power and explosiveness in a low-impact manner, Renee Peel, an NSCA-certified personal trainer and certified kettlebell instructor at the Fhitting Room, told SELF previously. That’s where kettlebell staples like the swing come in.
Finally, one of the greatest kettlebell benefits is that the equipment is efficient and versatile. You don’t need a whole bunch of them to get in a good workout, and there are a whole host of kettlebell exercises out there that work every part of your body. So it’s entirely possible to get in a good, full-body kettlebell workout with just one bell—making them a great option for your home gym, where space may be at a premium.
How heavy should your kettlebell be?
The kettlebell weight you use depends on many factors, such as your strength level and experience using this piece of equipment. (Beginners should also start with bodyweight exercises first, until they feel comfortable doing the moves with proper form.) That said, a good general starting place is a 10- to 15-pound kettlebell, Andy Speer, co-owner of SoHo Strength Lab in New York City, told SELF previously. If you’re more experienced at weight lifting and are used to heavier weights, you can start with a 20-pound or greater kettlebell.