Best Kettlebell Exercises for Fat Loss

Kettlebell Exercises for Fat loss

 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2022, more than 1 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for various non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer. A study published in the American Heart Association Journal in 2021 showed that obesity increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and some cancers by up to 50%. 

Muscles Anatomy

Incorporating physical activity, such as kettlebell workouts, into one's daily routine can aid in fat loss and prevent the development of obesity-related diseases. Kettlebell exercises are a type of strength training that use a cast-iron weight with a handle to perform various movements. These exercises target multiple muscle groups and can increase cardiovascular endurance, making them an effective tool for weight loss. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that kettlebell training can result in significant improvements in cardiovascular fitness and reductions in body fat.

Kettlebell training is a powerful and effective way to lose weight and get in shape. The kettlebell's unique shape, design, and ballistic nature allow for various exercises targeting all the major muscle groups of the human movement system.

Advantages of Kettlebell Training

One of the most significant benefits of kettlebell training for weight loss is that it is a high-intensity, full-body workout. This elicits a response in the body called peripheral heart action, which in turn, creates more of a caloric deficit from your workouts. 

Kettlebell Training is a form of "Functional Training." Functional exercises mimic everyday movements, using patterns we see in real life, such as push, pull, lunge, rotate, hinge, and squat. These exercises help improve your overall fitness level and make it easier to perform everyday tasks.

Kettlebell training is also a great way to improve overall strength and athleticism. Because kettlebells come in various load sizes, they significantly challenge your muscles and create a hypertrophic effect. As long as you work with the mindset of progressive overload and working to places of muscular fatigue, you can build muscle mass.

Helpful Resources:

  • Free Daily workouts with kettlebells here

Focus on Form and Technique

The most critical aspects of any new modality include form and technique. When performing exercises, focus on keeping your core tight and engaged. This will help to protect your back and maximize the effectiveness of the exercises. Living Fit has a variety of courses and workouts that can address concerns related to form and provide context for training for body composition changes. Here are some of the best movements to add to your training to change your body composition. 

Best Kettlebell Exercises for Fat Loss

Kettlebell Swing

One of the best kettlebell exercises for weight loss is the kettlebell swing. This exercise targets your legs, glutes, and core and is a great movement as a conditioning drill or to build explosive hip extension strength.

Steps to Perform Kettlebell Swing

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward. 
  2. The Kettlebell should be positioned arm's distance away from your feet, centered with your body.
  3. Take the pink edge of both hands with the palms up, and fingers facing each other and place them across your hip flexors, pushing your hips into a hinge. 
  4. Grab the bell by the handle and tilt the kettlebell bottom so the handle is leaning toward you. 
  5. Initiate the first swing by "hiking" the kettlebell tight between your legs, much like a football center hikes a football. 
  6. Once the kettlebell is deep inside your hips, stand up fast, create explosive hip extension, and thrust the bell forward. 
  7. Once the Kettlebell reaches its apex height, pull it back toward your thighs. 
  8. Wait until the final moment of impact of your hips to sit your hips back and initiate the next swing quickly. 
  9. Repeat for time or reps as assigned in your program. 

Targeted Muscle Groups in Kettlebell Swing

This motion targets the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lats, and uses the anterior core as a stabilizer. 

Kettlebell Single Arm Clean and Press

Another effective kettlebell exercise for weight loss is the kettlebell clean and press. This compound movement requires you to understand how to clean a kettlebell, the front rack position, and how to press overhead.

Steps to Perform Kettlebell Single Arm Clean and Press

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Start with the kettlebell between your feet, close to your center of gravity. 
  3. Hinge at your hips and grab the kettlebell with your hand.
  4. Rapidly pull the kettlebell up your center, rapidly extending your hips. 
  5. At the weightless point of the pull, pull your elbow in close to your body and punch your hand thru the kettlebell. 
  6. This should result in your kettlebell being caught or cleaned.
  7. From the rack position, press the kettlebell overhead. 
  8. Repeat this movement for a set number of reps or time, then switch sides and repeat.

Kettlebell Single Arm Snatch

The Kettlebell Single Arm Snatch is a dynamic full-body motion that requires fast hip extension, overhead mobility, and strength as well as a strong pull. Like most other kettlebell movements, it focuses mainly on the posterior chain of musculature, including the glutes, lats, and hamstring, but adds in the rhomboids and posterior deltoid and emphasizes the core.

Steps to Perform Kettlebell Snatch

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Start with the kettlebell between your feet, close to your center of gravity. 
  3. Hinge at your hips and grab the kettlebell with your hand.
  4. Rapidly pull the kettlebell up your center, rapidly extending your hips. 
  5. The pull should be targeted at a weightless overhead position. At the point of weightlessness, turn the kettlebell over and punch thru the handle, similar to a clean. 
  6. Finish position should be arm extended overhead, hips extended, spine in a neutral position, and core engaged. 
  7. Bring the kettlebell back down to a front rack position, then to the ground to repeat the movement for reps or time. Complete on the other side. 

Kettlebell Carries

One of the main focuses in any body composition change is to include movements that can be completed for an extended period to create more of an aerobic effect on the body in addition to strength and power training. One of the simplest ways to do that with a kettlebell is to include carries. Carrying heavy kettlebells not only challenges grip strength but improves posture as well as shoulder stability. No program would be complete without adding carries to a program. In addition to being able to be done for extended periods and challenging aerobic conditioning, there are a variety of positions for the bells. 

There are various carries with kettlebells, including farmers, front rack, and overhead carry. Any carry can be a single arm or two kettlebells. The farmer's carry is the simplest and allows for a very challenging load. A good goal, as Gray Cook outlines in the Functional Capacity Screen, is to carry 75% of your body weight for 2 minutes. Executing a farmer's carry is simple. 

Steps to Perform Kettlebell Carries

  1. Set up two kettlebells of a challenging load variance. 
  2. Step between the kettlebells and initiate a hinge to pick them up off the floor. 
  3. With an erect posture, walk in any direction for time or distance, minimizing the movement of the bells. 
  4. Only go as heavy as you can maintain great posture. 
  5. Hold the kettlebells slightly away from the body for an added challenge. 

Kettlebell Plank Rows

Using the plank row is one of the best ways to work on the upper body and core strength with a pair of kettlebells. The plank row is one of the most significant stability challenges a person can create with a set of kettlebells. It challenges the muscles of the shoulder, bicep, lat, lower trap, transverse abdominous, and obliques, as well as the stabilizers of the hips. Challenges like this significantly increase effort and work output and create greater caloric output overall. 

Helpful Resources:

  • Free Daily workouts with kettlebells here

If the goal is to make changes in body composition, the easiest way to do so is to force the whole body to work at once, and the plank row is the perfect way to do that. Follow these simple steps to execute the plank row.

Steps to Perform Kettlebell Plank Rows

  1. Start with two kettlebells hip distance apart on the floor. 
  2. Set up your body in a plank with your hands on the kettlebells. 
  3. The width of your feet dictates the challenge of the movement. Wider feet mean it's easier or more stable. Narrowing the stance creates a more significant challenge to the stability of the core. 
  4. From the plank position, row one kettlebell to the body, with a mid-range of motion between the rib cage and hip. 
  5. During the row, do not twist or turn your body. The goal is to maintain stability.
  6. Return the kettlebell to the ground. 
  7. Repeat on the same arm or alternate between arms. 

In addition to these exercises, many other kettlebell exercises are practical for weight loss, such as the kettlebell turkish get-up, the kettlebell goblet squat, and the kettlebell deadlift. Any one of these, done with the intent of progressive overload, will result in changes in body composition and lean muscle mass increases. Rotating load variance or challenging stability and movement can keep programming fresh. These changes in the program's focus will help prevent boredom and ensure that you are challenging your muscles in new and different ways.

Focus on Nutrition Intake for Fat Loss 

To lose weight with kettlebell training, it is essential to pair your kettlebell workouts with healthy nutrition and great sleep. Eating a diet that is high in protein and low in processed foods will help to keep you feeling full and satisfied while also providing your body with the nutrients it needs to build muscle and burn fat. A great rule is to consider the source of food: If it doesn't fly in the sky, swim in the sea, grow from the ground or graze from the Earth, limit how much you put in your body. Getting enough sleep will help to reduce stress and keep your hormones in balance, which is essential for weight loss.

Maintain proper hydration levels, drinking between 90 and 120oz of water daily. Drinking plenty of water will help to flush out toxins and keep your body functioning correctly. An excellent way to see if you are hydrated is to check the color of your urine. Clear with a slight tint of yellow means you are hydrated. 


Pair these tips with some of the movements above and create new changes to your body composition with kettlebell training

Helpful Resources:

More Helpful Resources:

  • Free Daily workouts with kettlebells here

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