The Kettlebell Encyclopedia: 30 Of The Best Kettlebell Exercises {Gifs}

There are times that I get in a workout rut. Feeling as if I use the same exercises over and over again.

Oh, look… squats AGAIN.

The truth is, that doing the same moves over and over again is one of the major reasons, if not the #1 reason, for a plateau.

Not to mention boredom.

A boring workout is a workout that doesn’t get 100% of my effort. I’m not sure about you, but give me a cookie cutter, boring workout and I’ll give it 50%. If that.

So to help break through workout boredom, I thought it would be fun to dig through the archives at all of the kettlebell workouts I’ve done over the years and pull out the best of the best moves.

I’m making this really easy for you. I’m dividing them up into 3 sections:

  1. Upper Body
  2. Lower Body
  3. Core

Of course most kettlebell exercises work more than one zone (which is why I freakin’ love them), but for today I’ll make sure to group moves where the most muscle activation takes place.

Good deal?

30-kbexercises

Upper Body Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell Push-Ups
  • These are so tough for me but so great!
  • With  more emphasis on the triceps, you get a push-up variation not a lot of women do.
  • Keep the kettlebell under your chest, as you lower down, your chest should come directly over it. Keep the elbows going back and push through the triceps.
Snatches
  • A move only for those comfortable with kettlebells. Make sure to seek out help to master the form.
  • Talk about an upper body move. I contribute snatches to any muscular definition that I’ve gained in my arms and shoulders over the past 12 months.
  • Progress to master the snatch… perfect your swing, then clean and then work on the snatch.
Turkish Get-Up
  • Of course a total body move, but you’ll see it’s your upper body that will determine how heavy a kettlebell you can use. Those shoulders will burn!
  • Make sure to start with your feet wide, and your foot firmly planted on the ground. This is the foot you will push through as you come off the ground.
  • Keep your eyes on that kettlebell throughout the move, this will help keep the shoulder engaged and safe!
High Pulls
  • Make sure to get that elbow up nice and high on the upward row.
  • The bottom of the kettlebell should get perpendicular to the wall in front of you.
  • Push through your chest, shoulders and triceps to push the weight back out in front of you.
Single Arm KB Swings
  • A two arm swing I consider more of a lower body move, but change it to a single arm and wowza are you going to feel it all over… especially in that arm.
  • Make sure to keep the hips square throughout the hip hinge and rely on the butt to pop the weight up.
  • Keep the shoulder engaged and back straight as you come up to the top of the swing.
Halos
  • A great move for the entire upper body and core!
  • Engage the core as you circle the kettlebell around your head.
  • Complete “x” amount of reps going one way, then change the direction and complete the other way.
Snatch + Press
  • The snatch is tough, add a press and you make it even more of an upper body move.
  • Keep the core tight, focus on
  • tips
30-60s Rack Hold
  • Holy biceps! Focus on keeping a tight core, as you focus on your breathing to maintain a proper racked position.
  • Set a timer and work your way up to complete 60 seconds per side.
Upright Row
  • Keep the elbows out!
  • As you row up, row just high enough to get the elbows parallel to the ground. No need to go higher for risk of adding unnecessary pressure to shoulders.
Renegade Rows
  • Balance is key! Open the feet a bit wider than when doing standard push ups for support.
  • Lower down slowly, as you complete the push-up, row the weight up so that the elbow is focused on going towards the sky.
  • Lock your butt and core for added balance.

Lower Body Kettlebell Exercises

Goblet Squats
  • Pop squat the weight into goblet position
  • Keep the feet shoulder width apart and facing straight ahead. Push the hips back and lower down just until elbows meet the knees.
  • Press through heels to return to standing.
Lunge With Knee Drive
  • Clean the kettlebell up, and keep the chest up, shoulders back while stepping back with the same foot to lunge back.
  • Push through the front grounded foot to return to standing, while simultaneously driving the knee up towards the kettlebell.
Single Leg Deadlift
  • You simply can not do a great kettlebell lower body workout montage without mentioning the single leg deadlift.
  • Place the kettlebell beside your foot, keeping the back straight, hip hinge by thrusting your hips back as you lower your chest down to grab the weight.
  • Return to standing by squeezing your tush.
Pistol Squat
  • Balance! And good knees is key here.
  • Using a kettlebell actually helps to perfect a pistol squat by helping to balance.
  • Lower down on one foot until tush is near the ground, keeping the back straight and shoulders engaged. Press through the heal to return to standing.
KB Thrusters
  • Complete a goblet squat (as above).
  • Use your legs to drive the kettlebell up towards the sky.
  • Because you’re using your legs, you should be able to use a weight heavier than if just pressing.
Split Squat
  • Set up by getting a bench or chair behind you. Position the kettlebell in rack position.
  • If you’re holding it with the right hand, place your left foot on the block. Position yourself so that as you lower down the knee remains over the front foot.
  • Lower down, and push through the grounded food to return to standing.
KB Swings
  • A butt burner!
  • This move requires having a proper hip hinge. Most mistake the swing for using a squat, but it’s actually a deadlift motion. To drive the kettlebell up, squeeze your but and thrust your hips forward.
  • Make sure to keep the shoulders packs (engaged), the back straight and allow the weight to come no higher than nose level.
Suitcase Lunge
  • A great move for grip strength.
  • Keep the core tight and shoulders square as you step back to do a lunge.
  • Keep the front knee over the ankle.
Standard KB Lunge
  • Just like above, but keep the weight in a racked position.
Prisoner Squat
  • Start by cleaning the weight to get the kettlebell in racked position.
  • Step back and lower the knee down, bring the other back so in a kneeling position.
  • Step forward and up to return. Alternate sides.
Lunge Pass Unders
  • Keep the back straight, as you lunge back pass the kettlebell under the leg from one hand to the other.
  • Because these are faster than standard lunges, you’ll feel a cardio blast along with burning legs.

Core Kettlebell Exercises

1/2 Wind Mill
  • Get down on one knee. Whatever knee is off the ground is the arm you will be holding the kettlebell in.
  • Clean the weight up, complete a press and while the kettlebell is in the extended position, push your hip out and lower down to the ground. Hand and then ftp forearm if you’re able.
  • Squeeze your butt to bring your hips back to position while simultaneously returning to start position.
Weighted Hollow Rocks
  • Grab a light weight kettlebell as this is tougher than it looks.
  • Pull the shoulders up and heels slightly off the ground while holding a kettlebell at chest level.
  • Use the abs to rock back and forth.
V-Sit Press
  • Maintain a V-sit while pressing overhead!
KB Lemon Squeezes
  • Complete a standard lemon squeeze by bringing the knees into the chest while simultaneously sitting up.
  • Hold the kettlebell at chest level.
Russian Twisties
  • Lean back slightly with a kettlebell placed on the ground beside you. Lift and use the core to rotation the shoulders and bring the kettlebell to tap the other side.
  • Repeat.
Pullover Toe Touch
  • Lay on back with kettlebell behind your head, pull it over toward your chest with a slight bend in arms as you crunch up to reach towards your toes.
Standing Rotations
  • So good! Stand up and you’ll see the need to immediately engage the core to keep a straight back.
  • Rotation side to side like Russian Twists.
Standing Oblique Crunch W/ Step
  • The step is optional but adds some fun!
  • Complete an uneven weighted side crunch by arching at the waist and using the abs to return to standing.
Quarter Get Up
  • A back burner too! Act as if you’re going to do a get-up (above), but use the core and push just to the top of the elbow.
  • Use your core to control the slow return to the start position.
Standing Chest Press
  • Much like the standing rotation, you’ll have to tighten the core to maintain stability.
  • Use a light weight, press it from your chest straight out in front of you. As you press, tighten and engage the core even more.

It’s been a long time since I did a compilation of exercises, I’m excited to share these with you!

If you missed the previous ones:

What exercise do you find that you do a lot of?

Comments:

  • RunFastEatLots

    This is a great list of kettlebell moves! I want to start doing more strength training since I mainly run and cycle

    • Thanks, yes adding the strength will help with the other parts as well!

  • Jen

    I love your posts with all the different exercises! And since I am loving kettlebells these days, I am super pumped to have all kinds of exercises in one blog post.

    • Thanks Jen! I love doing them and kettlebells? Well, they’re the best of course!

  • Rebecca P.

    Love this! I always end up doing the same moves with my kettlebell so this is great for switching it up!

    • Definitely change things up! kettlebells offer so much variety but we get caught up on moves like swings and cleans.

  • evelizgarcia

    Squats… I do a lot of squats. I really want one of those squat shirts!

    I’m serious about asking for kettlebells for Christmas.

    • Squats, me too! I am loving squats right now. It’s going to be a great christmas if kettlebells are under the tree!

  • Ohmygosh, this is amazing! Pinning and now I’m asking for kettle bells for Christmas. 🙂

  • eatrunsail

    Thanks so much for this awesome roundup!

  • This is so awesome…pinning it for later to definitely start adding some of those core ones into my routine! You ROCK…XOXO

  • Sheena

    I’m in love with squats and all the different variations but ever since the military I have not been in love with the pushup. Variations even drive me crazy :S Loving this kettlebell workout choose your own adventure style though, thanks 😀

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  • Kim

    Oh – I always love when you do one of your 30 ______ posts!!!
    I’m with you – workouts have to be varied and mixed up – thanks to you, I have some more new moves!!!

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