They may come in fun hues like pink, blue, and green, but don’t be fooled: Kettlebells are made for hardcore strength work. Sure, you can use them just like you would use a dumbbell for standard exercises like curls or weighted crunches, but their unique design allows you to do more powerful moves that drive up your heart rate and make your muscles work harder. As with any lifting exercise, however, correct form is key for safety and optimal results. Here, we share exercises that use a kettlebell so you can tighten and tone for summer. Now grab one of those ’bells and get swinging!
1. Kettlebell Swings
This exercise works legs, butt, and core. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width and hold the handle of a kettlebell with both hands in front of hips, palms facing body. Inhale as you bend over from the hips (keeping your back straight) and bend your knees slightly, swinging the kettlebell between your legs. Quickly rise up, exhaling and powering your hips forward and straightening your legs. Allow the momentum to drive your arms up in front of you to chest height (it may take a few squats to get the hang of it). Don’t hinge forward too far from the hips; your back should stay straight the entire time.
2. Renegade Row
This exercise works core and back. Get in plank position on the floor — wrists under shoulders and legs straight — with the kettlebell next to your right hand. Grab the kettlebell handle with your right hand and draw it toward your rib cage (with your elbow rising behind you). Lower it and repeat, then switch arms to complete the set before doing cardio. Lower one or both knees if you need to.
3. Overhead Triceps Extension
This exercise works triceps. Stand grasping the lower part of the kettlebell handle in both hands so you’re touching the handle as well as the round part. Extend arms overhead, then, keeping upper arms close to your ears and abs engaged, bend elbows and slowly lower weight behind head. Raise arms overhead again and repeat.
4. Upright Row
This movement works shoulders and back. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold the handle of the kettlebell with both hands in front of hips, palms facing body. Keeping abs engaged, draw weight up to chest, bending elbows out to sides. Return to starting position and repeat.
5. One-Arm Chest Press
This exercise works your chest. Lie face-up on the floor with knees bent and hold the kettlebell handle with palm facing away from you, arm extended over chest. Bend elbow out to side and lower kettlebell next to chest, then press it up again. Repeat, then switch sides before resting or doing cardio.
6. Single Arm Curl
This is an exercise that works your biceps. Stand with feet hip-width apart or staggered and hold the kettlebell handle in right hand at your side, palm facing forward. Keeping upper arm still, curl weight toward your shoulder. Slowly lower to starting position and repeat, then switch arms to complete the set before resting or doing cardio.
A version of this article appeared in our partner magazine, Get in Shape 2022.