The Best Kettlebell Workouts for Weight Loss + a Workout Sequence

Kettlebell Workouts for Weight Loss

When I need and want to burn fat, the three key elements I focus on are diet, rest, and exercise. When I combine these three with healthy decisions, my body becomes a fat-burning machine. Let's talk about the importance of each briefly.

Focus on Diet

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the macronutrients that make up the food we eat. Macronutrients are the source of energy (calories) our bodies need to fuel them. I am just going to hit the basics, so there is an elementary understanding of the importance of diet in weight loss.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for the body. A range of 45 to 65 percent of calories should come from carbohydrates. They contain about 4 calories per gram. The range for weight loss should be on the lower end of the scale around 45 to 50 percent. Good sources are oats, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and anything whole grain is good.

Protein

I remember the phrase “proteins are the building blocks of the body” from a nutrition class way back in middle school and it has always stuck with me. Proteins play vital roles in the formation of the brain, and nervous system, building, repairing, and maintaining body tissues, hormones and metabolism. 

This just names a few, so it is an essential nutrient for your body and health. Protein contains 4 calories per gram. A range of 10 to 35 percent of calories should come from proteins. The range for weight loss should be on the higher end of the scale around 25 to 30 percent because protein boosts metabolism. Good sources are eggs, nuts, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, protein bars and shakes, plant-based alternatives to meats, low-fat milk, fish, and lean cuts of chicken, beef, and pork.  

Fats

Fats are the most energy dense of the three macronutrients with 9 calories per gram. Fats provide critical functions for the body including protection of vital organs, vitamin absorption, insulation, and energy reserve.  The range of fats in the diet should be between 20 to 35 percent, with 20 to 25 percent for weight loss. Good sources are unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids such as olive, canola, peanut, corn, and fish oils.

Do Some Rest

According to the American Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million people in the United States suffer from insomnia. Lack of sleep (6 hours or less) contributes to mental and physical problems such as depression, heart disease, shorten life span, compromised immune system, and weight gain. I try to get at least 7, sometimes eight which is within the healthy range for sleep for adults. 

Include Exercise in Your Daily Routine

I think everyone knows by now the importance of exercise for weight loss. Today, I am going to focus on a piece of equipment that has been around for hundreds of years and has stayed the same throughout those years--the kettlebell. For more information on the history, what size kettlebell should be used, and where to purchase click here.

Foundational Kettlebell Exercises 

When starting to use kettlebells, it is important to master the basics: squats, swings, clean and press, and thrusters. I always have my clients start with light weights, so the risk of injury is low. The focus is on proper form over heavyweight. Once the basics are done correctly, I challenge them with heavier weights and different exercises.

  • Beginner males should begin with a weight of 35lbs (16kg) and females with 18lbs (8kg)
  • Intermediate males should begin with 44lbs (20kg) and females at 26lbs (12kg) 
  • Advanced males should be able to handle 53lbs (24kg) and females 35lbs (16kg). 

These are ranges, so I suggest using a weight so that you can perform the exercise without breaking form, but it is still challenging. 

The workouts I like to use for weight loss are Tabata and circuit training.  Both are proven to burn fat, and both keep workouts engaging and not boring. They also are great when I want to get a good workout in, but I am pressed for time.

Tabata is a type of HIIT workout and it is very efficient and helps raise your metabolism.  I use it frequently when programming workouts for both me and my clients. I like the protocol of one or more series of eight cycles of 20 seconds of hardcore effort followed by 10 seconds of recovery. 

Circuit training consists of 8 to 10 stations of different exercises for a set number of repetitions. After completing a station, I move immediately to the next. The range I normally use for my clients is 2 to 4 rounds depending on fitness level. 

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Kettlebell workouts are highly effective for weight loss and overall fitness, incorporating dynamic movements that engage multiple muscle groups and elevate heart rate. The workouts outlined below utilize kettlebells along with slam balls and battling ropes to provide a comprehensive fat-burning and strength-building experience.

The initial two workouts focus exclusively on kettlebell exercises for weight loss, showcasing the versatility and effectiveness of this compact piece of equipment. Each exercise demonstrated uses a single kettlebell, but additional resistance can be added by incorporating a second kettlebell for those seeking greater intensity.

Incorporating kettlebell exercises into your routine can accelerate weight loss due to their ability to enhance cardiovascular endurance and promote calorie expenditure. When combined with slam balls and battling ropes in subsequent workouts, the training becomes even more dynamic and engaging. This comprehensive approach not only burns calories efficiently but also targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, contributing to overall fat loss and improved fitness levels

The following exercises are the ones that will comprise the workouts. The first two workouts are strictly kettlebells, while the remaining will be using a combination of kettlebells, slam balls, and battling ropes. All kettlebell exercises shown will be with one kettlebell, but two can always be added.

  • Kettlebell Squat

  • Kettlebell Swing

  • Kettlebell Clean and Press

  • Kettlebell Thruster

  • Kettlebell Deadlift

  • Kettlebell Lunge

  • Kettlebell Pullover

  • Kettlebell Bent-Over Row

  • Kettlebell Russian Twist

  • Kettlebell Leg Raises

I always do a 5-to-10-minute warm-up before a workout and I choose weights that I know will keep good form but still challenge me.

Best Kettlebell Exercises for weight loss

Kettlebell Squat

  • Grab the handle of the kettlebell(s) with both hands in an overhand grip and hold it in front of your chest. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Foot position should allow for knees to be in alignment with toes and heels to stay on the ground.
  • Descend into a squat position. Find a squat position comfortable for you. I do not go past parallel because of a past knee injury.  
  • Slowly stand back up straight while pushing heels into the ground to generate greater force. Keep the kettlebell(s) in front of you during the movement
  • Return to the starting position.

Tips: Avoid rounding your back and shoulders.

Muscles Worked: Quads, Adductors, Lower Back, Glutes, and Calves.

Kettlebell Swing

  1. Take a wider than shoulder-width stance. Hold the kettlebell with both hands with an overhand grip.
  2. Hips hinge back and remain above the knees.
  3. Lumbar curve maintained.
  4. Knees in line with toes.
  5. Hips and legs extend rapidly, driving the kettlebell overhead (American) or at shoulder level (Russian).
  6. Heels stay down until hips and legs extend.
  7. Arms remain straight.
  8. Hips hinge back as the kettlebell descends to begin the next rep.

Tips: Don’t use a kettlebell that is too heavy. It will shorten your range of motion.

Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, Glutes, Quads, Erectors, Traps, Rhomboids, Deltoids, Abs.

Kettlebell Clean and Press

  1. Place a kettlebell between your feet. Extend your left arm to the side, and bend your knees into a squat position. Grab the kettlebell with your right hand.
  2. Driving from the heels, straighten your knees and pull the kettlebell to chest height.
  3. Rotate your arm around the kettlebell.
  4. Catch the kettlebell on the outside of your arm with your wrist straight.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Tips: Maintain a strong grip and smooth movement.

Muscles worked: Shoulders, Triceps, Core, Back, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quad, and Calves

Kettlebell Thruster

  1. Hold a kettlebell in the desired starting hand at your chest and shoulder level and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart-rack position. Opposite arm out to the side. Lower down into a squatting position, keeping back straight.
  2. Come up explosively and press the kettlebell straight overhead once your hips lock out.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side.

Tip: Avoid hyperextending your lower back on the overhead part of the exercise.

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, Quads, Glutes, Lats, Triceps, and Traps.

Kettlebell Deadlift

  1. Hold a kettlebell(s) in front of you with an overhand grip, palms facing your body. 
  2. Hinge forward at your hips, slightly bending your knees, lowering the kettlebell(s) to the ground without allowing your back to round.
  3. Brace your core and lift back to the standing position.
  4. Repeat

Tips: Keep your head in line with the rest of your body.

Muscles Worked:  Glutes, Lower Back, Quads, Hamstrings, Adductors, Traps, and Forearms.

Kettlebell Lunge

(This video shows the exercise demonstrated with dumbbells, but either one kettlebell or two can be used.)

  1. Hold the kettlebell with both hands close to your chest height.
  2. Lower into a lunge until your left knee touches the floor. 
  3. Drive back up to the starting position, pushing through your right leg and heel.
  4. Repeat the opposite leg.

Muscles worked: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads, Adductors, and Calves.

Kettlebell Pullover

(This video uses a slam ball, which is a great alternative to kettlebells or dumbbells.)

  1. Lie on your back. While holding the kettlebell, extend your arms overhead, but not touch the ground.
  2. Lift the kettlebell to your chest. Keep your arms straight.
  3. Return to the starting position.

Tips: To make this more challenging, lift your legs just above the ground at the start of the exercise and when pulling the kettlebell to your chest, bend your knees.

Muscles worked: Chest, Lats

Kettlebell Bent-Over Row

  1. Place a kettlebell on your right foot. Bend your knees slightly. holding a kettlebell just above your front foot in your opposite arm. Lean forward with your back straight and your head up. Rest your free arm on your front leg for stability.
  2. Grab the kettlebell and pull it towards your stomach, keeping your elbow close to your body.
  3. Pause and then lower the kettlebell to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Switch sides.

Muscles worked: Traps, Rhomboids, Lats, and Biceps.

Kettlebell Russian Twist

  1. Start in a sitting position. With knees bent, pick up the kettlebell and lean slightly back so that your feet are off the floor.
  2. Keep elbows close to your body and hold the kettlebell about 3 inches from your chest.
  3. Rotate your upper body to the right.
  4. Rotate your upper body to the left.
  5. Repeat.

 Tips: The exercise can be modified by putting your feet on the ground.

Muscles worked: Core and Lats

Kettlebell Leg Raises

  • Lie flat on the floor and grab the kettlebells, one in each hand. *If you have only one, hold it with both hands above your chest. 
  • Press the kettlebells in front of your chest.
  • Lift your legs slowly to a 90-degree angle. Keep your legs straight.
  • Pause briefly and then slowly lower your legs back down.
  • Repeat.

Tip: If you have only one kettlebell, hold it with both hands above your chest and follow the instructions above.

Muscles worked: Lower Abs & Hip Flexors

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Other Kettlebell Workouts

#1 Kettlebell Tabata Workout 8 Rounds: 20 seconds work/10 seconds of rest.

  • Russian Swing (Swing to shoulder level)
  • Burpees
  • Clean and Press
  • Mountain Climber
  • Thrusters

#2 Kettlebell Circuit Training Workout-3 sets/15 repetitions

Perform Exercises in 2 groups. Perform each exercise for 15 reps then move to the next exercise in sequence.

Group 1

  • Begin with a single row (15 reps on each side) move directly to clean and press
  • Clean and Press (15 reps on each side) move directly to thrusters
  • Thruster (15 reps on each side) move directly to double arm swings
  •  Double Arm Swings (15 reps)- move directly to Russian twists
  •  Russian Twists (15 reps-rotation for the left to right equals one rep)
  •  Rest for 30 seconds and then repeat the sequence 2 more times.

Group 2

  • Begin with Squat (15 reps) and move directly to deadlift
  • Deadlift (15 reps) move directly to lunge
  • Lunge (15 reps for each leg) and move directly to pull-over
  • Pull-over (15 reps) move directly to leg raises
  • Leg Raises (15 reps)
  • Rest for 30 seconds and then repeat the sequence 2 more times.

#3 Tabata-8 Rounds (Battling Ropes, Slam ball, and Kettlebell)

Perform each exercise for 8 rounds before moving to the next exercise.

  • Alternating Rope Waves
  • Burpees
  • Slam Ball Slams
  • Burpees
  • American Kettlebell Swings (Kettlebell goes all the way up)
  • Burpees

#4 Circuit Training (Battling Ropes, Slam Ball and Kettlebell)

4 sets/12 reps; Perform Exercises in 2 groups. Perform each exercise for 12 reps then move to the next exercise in sequence.  

Group 1:

  • Begin with Burpee Rope Slam (12 reps) and move directly to Kettlebell Row
  • Kettlebell Row (12 reps on each side) move directly to mountain climbers.
  • Mountain Climbers (12 reps) move directly to halo slam balls.
  • Halo Slam Balls  (12 reps)
  • Rest for 30 seconds and then repeat 3 more times.

Group 2:

  • Begin with Simultaneous Rope Waves (12 reps) and move directly to overhead ball lunges.
  • Overhead Ball Lunges(12 reps each side) move directly to thrusters
  • Kettlebell Thrusters (12 reps on each side) move directly to leg raises
  • Leg Raises (12 reps)
  • Rest; Repeat 3 more times.

Kettlebells are an economical, versatile, space and time-saving piece of equipment. I use them daily in my training and my clients’ training. They rev up my metabolism, which starts to burn fat. I did a client’s six-week assessment recently, and she lost 6 pounds; 2 ½ inches off her waist and hips.  Her program consisted of a kettlebell workout at least once, sometimes twice a week. 

The number one thing all my clients want when starting a program is to lose weight. Kettlebell training has helped my clients achieve that goal. When my clients are happy, then I am happy. Remember, the only bad workout is the workout you didn’t do-so get moving. Happy training!

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Author

Kathy Bateman

B.S. Health Education

ACE Personal Trainer

Owner of Kat’s Ironclad Fitness

Instagram @katsironcladfitness

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