18 Minute Full Body Kettlebell Workout for Beginners
The Benefits of Kettlebell Training
Every journey begins with a single step. Kettlebell workouts are no different. You must master the basics of movement patterns associated with kettlebell workouts before moving into a number of the kettlebell exercises in our workout plans like rotational cleans, snatches and kettlebell flow. We have created a helpful list of kettlebell workouts from beginner to expert you can view here. A lot of folks might start you off with the kettlebell swing, but we recommend a few steps even before that like making sure you have the requisite mobility, then attempting the kettlebell hinge, then the chest supported kettlebell swing before even attempting a swing.
Kettlebells Really Work
Working with kettlebells will help you understand how to work with different types of weights correctly. When you use kettlebells correctly, you acquire a whole new level of knowledge of working with weight you might not have before. A lot of us have heard terms like ‘keep your core tight’ when doing any variety of exercise. However, performing a basic movement like simply holding a kettlebell in front of you will really help you understand what this means as you try to control the kettlebell and how to carry it over to any loaded movement.
Your goal is always to control the kettlebell. Not the other way around. Even when you see experts perform rotational kettlebell workouts or kettlebell flow, they are controlling the kettlebell. In order to do this, you become keenly aware of and utilize muscle groups you rarely did before. You start to understand more the idea of countering the momentum of the kettlebell with the tension you create in your own body. The shape of the kettlebell does this more so than almost any weight. Since the majority of the weight is displaced from where you hold the kettlebell, this object will act on your body differently compared to other forms of lifting.
As you understand this and master different movements, you understand more about how you can move better with other types of lifting and in everyday life.
The Most Diverse Tool in the Gym?
You can do almost any movement you would do with a dumbbell with a kettlebell also. Curls, chest presses, yes, you can do it all. So, why consider a kettlebell compared to another form of weight? In addition to isolation movements, you can also build full body strength as well as aerobic capacity. In many cases you can do this with the exact same kettlebell weight. Rather than using a heavy dumbbell for one goal and light for others, you can oftentimes use kettlebells for both due to the infinite ways you can hold them and position your body. You can hold a kettlebell by the handle, by the base of the kettlebell, offset in your palm, upside down by the handle, with one arm or two. You can stand, sit, kneel, half kneel and more.
Try pressing your kettlebell in the traditional form by standing with your core tight, holding the kettlebell in the traditional way. Now try sitting down, holding the kettlebell upside down by the handle and pressing it. It is completely different and you will perform less reps.
Several studies have now cited that kettlebell workouts burn more calories than things like cycling or running. With the same tool you can build strength or cardio.
What Muscles Do Kettlebell Workouts Work Out?
Everything….Okay there is more. While many kettlebell workouts require a tight core, in an expertly created kettlebell workout plan you can truly target the entire body in one relatively short workout. While a fairly basic movement like the kettlebell swing is in itself a great kettlebell workout, it is best to follow the guidance of an expertly created plan. Following an expertly created plan will make sure you do not overwork particular muscle groups and will bring focus to your workouts to target specific areas. You can do this by breaking up your workouts into push days, pull days and more. If you do not follow an expert plan you can risk over or under training by simply just doing movements you find in an article like this one.
Kettlebell Workouts Are Freedom
When learning the basics we recommend very little freedom. You actually should stick to a small variety of movements which have been expertly explained, demonstrated and written into a plant or you. However as you progress, the kettlebell can become one of the most freeing tools for your workouts. As you learn more movements and learn how to put them together you can move freely with the kettlebell in what is called Flow. This is seamlessly moving from one movement to the other during a set period of time as opposed to following rep and set recommendations. One of the keys to working out is breaking up the monotony and being able to just have an off day in which you are simply just moving with load and getting up a healthy sweat, is the idea of Kettlebell Flow. With practice, you will move from movement to movement while maintaining good form.
Following a proper warm up is the ideal way to get the most out of your kettlebell workouts as well. Getting your body and mindset ready to give it your all will help you prepare mentally and physically to get the most out of your kettlebell workout.
Full-Body Kettlebell Workout For Beginners
What constitutes a workout for beginners? For these purposes we are introducing movements that we consider basic. These movements are thought of as less complex in body awareness and practice. Beginner does not mean an expert lifter and strongman would not do the same workout. Anyone can still build strength with this same workout with the proper weight and form.
Beginner Kettlebell Workout Section 1
Dead Start Clean Kettlebell Workout - 30 Seconds each side
The kettlebell should start in between the feet, shoulders are above the hips so the hips don’t come up first. Pull explosively on the kettlebell to get enough momentum to bring it up around the forearm into the rack position. You should not be curling the kettlebell into position, the momentum from driving upward gets the kettlebell there. Drive through the ground and finish with the upper body pulled into the rack position. DO NOT start the movement with your hips. Keep tension through your core. Drive from the ground and explode up.
Goblet Squat Kettlebell Workout - 30 Seconds
In the first set the demonstration shows Marcus holding the kettlebell by the horns. One hand should be on each side of the kettlebell. Hold the kettlebell tight and pull your shoulders back. Under no circumstances should you let the kettlebell drag you forward or cause you to round forward. The entire time your core and back should be engaged to stay straight. In the second set, Marcus performs a true goblet squat which is holding the kettlebell upside down by the main mass of the kettlebell.
Push Press Kettlebell Workout - 30 Seconds each side
Bring the kettlebell to the rack position (pictured). This is the resting place of the kettlebell clean. Your arm and wrist are through the window of the kettlebell, holding it in place in front of your chest while your elbow is bent and your lat is packed (tight or flexed). Your forearm should be straight up and down or with minor internal rotation, but absolutely not hanging out to the side. To gather some momentum, you will dip down slightly then drive the kettlebell upward with your momentum. Instead of simply just pressing the kettlebell, you will use some of the momentum created from your dip to drive the arm up. This is a slight dip. Do not look down as you press.
You will perform the above twice. If at any point you feel like this workout is too easy, you can increase the weight you use, you can speed up your movement or increase your tension. Experts can create variations, but this is a beginner workout. A good general rule in any kettlebell workout, is if you feel yourself leaning or rotating away from having a straight upper body you are probably losing the tension you should keep in your core and back.
Beginner Kettlebell Workout Section 2
The Hang Clean to Squat combo is a combination of the two kettlebell exercises below. In this case you will do 30 seconds on one side, rest 30 seconds and then 30 seconds on the other side.
Hang Clean Kettlebell Workout
The hang position is simply holding the kettlebell in front of you as the starting point. Then use a very slight hinge to clean the kettlebell to the rack position. In this case you will go right into the squat, but this is actually two different movements. The same principles discussed here and here for a proper kettlebell clean apply. The only difference is your starting point and how you generate the initial force to move the kettlebell.
To a Squat
With your feet about shoulder width apart, your core tight and your lats engaged, you will squat below parallel with the kettlebell in the rack position before coming back up again. In this case, you will then unfurl the rack position back to the hanging position before repeating the movement.
Kettlebell Strict Press Kettlebell Workout - 30 Seconds, Rest 30 Seconds and then do the other side
Keep your feet about shoulder width apart and bring the kettlebell to the rack position. Press the kettlebell overhead with your lats and shoulder while keeping your core tight the entire time. If at any point you feel yourself losing this form, take a break.
If you only have light weights, add a pause in your press to really intensify the kettlebell. This is another example of how even with one kettlebell you can absolutely make any movement more challenging.
Combo Movement Kettlebell Workout - 30 Seconds on One Side, Rest 30 Seconds, 30 Seconds Opposite Side. Perform two rounds of this.
You can break this movement down into slower steps if you need to. In the first step, clean the kettlebell from the ground to the rack position. Then step back and lunge with the leg on the opposite side of your rack position. When you get to the bottom of the lunge, press the kettlebell upward. Again, make sure to engage your lats and keep your core tight while pressing from the back lunge position. Step back up to the standing position, unfurl the kettlebell to swing it between your legs and re-clean it back to the lunge position. Then repeat this sequence. It will go like this: Clean from the Ground to the Rack Position - Step Back Lunge with Opposite Leg - Press the Kettlebell - Bring it back back down to the rack position - stand back up - unfurl the bell to swing between your legs and re-clean it to the rack position to repeat.
To make this combination more challenging you can stand up while the kettlebell is still at the top of the kettlebell press. So instead of pressing and returning to the rack position while kneeling, try standing up while the kettlebell is still overhead.
Following an Expertly Created Plan is the Way to Reach Your Goals
Some of the perils of trying to workout by yourself include injury, overtraining and under training. Ideally, you are following a plan that clearly demonstrates each movement performed in the workout and divides the workout days into sections with clearly defined goals. For example, one day you are working on pushing movements like presses and squats, the next day is pulling like rows. The goal with this methodology is to make sure you are targeting specific muscle groups on certain days so they do not get overtrained or under trained. Here are some of our favorite kettlebell programs that follow this methodology:
Kettlebell Origins. This is a strength building program with basic or traditional kettlebell movements.
Turbo Fat Loss. The goal of this plan is to burn fat and build lean muscle with higher rep goals.
Double Gains. This is a more advanced program which can be performed with one of two kettlebells with the goal of putting on muscle.
Common Mistakes in Kettlebell Workouts
There are common mistakes people make with the kettlebells. These usually involve the hinge movements or how the kettlebell makes contact with your body. There are a few fixes for each of these like banging your wrist with the kettlebell, lower back pain from kettlebells and more.