Kettlebell Workout For Weight Loss
Unlike before where most people would just do cardio as a way to keep fit or lose some extra pounds, today, more and more people are incorporating weight lifting in their workouts. A kettlebell workout for weight loss is a perfect example of this. These exercises are ideal for men and women, beginners as well as seasoned gym-goers.
What is a Kettlebell?
A kettlebell is a cast-iron ball with a handle attached to the top of it. Picture a cast-iron cannonball with a handle. These weights weigh anywhere from as low as two kilograms to over 45 kilograms (5 pounds to over 100 pounds).
Benefits of kettlebell workout routines for weight loss
Other than helping you lose those extra unwanted pounds, these exercises have more benefits. They include:
- Improved aerobic power, strength and overall fitness
Research published in 2019 proved that kettlebell exercises were quite effective in improving muscle strength and aerobic power in people (2).
- Improved posture and balance
- Lower blood sugar levels
This is especially beneficial to patients with diabetes. Unlike fat, muscle burns a higher amount of energy, thus effectively helping bring down your glucose levels. However, if you are diabetic, be sure to consult your doctor, not only before incorporating kettlebells to your workout routine but also before attempting any form of exercise (4).
- Prevent heart disease
Since you will be getting in some cardio, this form of physical activity may enable you to control your weight and reduce your chances of developing conditions that may put a strain on your heart. It also helps lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol)
- Restore muscle mass and improve grip strength in older adults
In 2018, a clinical trial involving older women aged 65 – 75 years old, proved that kettlebell workouts enabled these women with sarcopenia (loss of skeletal mass and function), increases the sarcopenia index, grip strength, and back strength (1).
Please note that you must always make an appointment to talk to your doctor before attempting any new workouts or incorporating kettlebells or any other forms of weight into your exercise routine. This is especially important for pregnant women or anyone with a pre-existing health condition such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes, among other illnesses.
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Examples of beginner kettlebell workout for weight loss
Before you tackle any of these exercises, please note that as a beginner you will not be using the same weights as your friend who has been working out for several years. Or even the same kettlebells as that friend who started working out with them six months ago.
Guidelines for beginner kettlebell weights are:
- 8 kilograms (18 pounds) – For women who are new to both weight-lighting and kettlebell training.
- 12 kilograms (26 pounds) – For any woman who has lifted weights before but is new to kettlebell workouts.
- 16 kilograms (35 pounds) – Any man new to both weight-lighting and kettlebell training.
- 19 kilograms or more (44 pounds) – For men who have done weight lifting before but are unfamiliar with kettlebell exercises.
Now that you have the perfect weight for you, here are examples of easy beginner kettlebell workouts for weight loss:
The kettlebell slingshot
This is a great warm-up exercise that does wonders for your shoulder flexibility.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the handle of the kettlebell in both hands and extend your arms to waist level in front of you.
- Release the left hand, so you are gripping the handle with the right hand. Pass the weight around you counterclockwise for 45 to 90 seconds.
- Change sides and rotate it clockwise for an additional 45 to 90 seconds.
This is probably the most known kettlebell inspired workout.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a kettlebell between your feet.
- Engage your abdominal muscles and set your shoulders back.
- Push your hips back and bend your knees and grab the weight with both arms.
- Exhale as you make an explosive upward movement to swing the kettlebell out in front of you.
- Your arms should finish parallel to the floor.
- Lower your body, bringing the weight down between your calves.
- Repeat for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat for another 20 seconds.
This exercise is great for arms, shoulders, glutes and quads.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with a kettlebell just outside each foot on the floor.
- Engage your core and lower your shoulders as you try to squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Push your hips backwards, and bend your knees to reach the kettlebell handles (like a squat position).
- Firmly grip the kettlebells, keeping your arms and back straight.
- Slowly raise your body until you are standing straight.
- Pause and inhale before lowering your body.
- Repeat this ten to 12 times for one set.
This is a great exercise for your glutes, core muscles and quadriceps.
The walking lunge
Just like traditional non-weighted lunges, this variation with the kettlebell is fantastic for your hamstrings and glutes. The added weight helps with the intensity of each lunge.
- Start by standing with your feet together.
- With both hands around the handle, hold the weight close to your chest. Alternatively, you can hold a kettlebell by the handle in one or both hands, with your arms at your sides.
- Slowly step forward with your left leg, bending your knee while keeping your right foot in place. Make sure your left knee doesn’t extend over your toes.
- Pause for a few seconds, then push your body upward, and bring your right foot up next to your left foot.
- Continue alternating legs with each lunge.
- Repeat this 10 times for each leg.
Kettlebell goblet squat
The goblet squat is a great example of a compound exercise. This is because it engages several muscles at once, namely, the core, quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and your toes pointed out slightly.
- Hold a kettlebell with both hands around the side of the handle, not from the top of the handle, and keep it close to your chest.
- Slowly bend both knees so that your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Keep your elbows locked and your back straight.
- Using your leg muscles, with your upper body still, straighten up to your starting position.
- Repeat this ten to 12 times.
Kettlebell high pull
- Start with the kettlebell on the floor between your feet. Your feet should be set slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
- With your spine in a neutral position, bend your knees and lower into a squat position.
- Using both hands, pick up the kettlebell and push through your heels. Engage your core as you move back up to your original standing position, pulling the weight to hip level as you go.
- Raise the kettlebell until the handle reaches chin level, pointing your elbows up in the process. Be careful that you do not hit yourself in the face.
- Lower the kettlebell back to your waist and get back into the squat stance.
- Repeat this ten to 12 times.
Also, note that, if you do not have a gym membership, or are not willing to purchase one, these exercises are also perfect examples of home kettlebell workout for weight loss. As long as you have a go-ahead from your doctor and are dedicated, you can use the above workouts to shed the extra pounds in the comfort of your home.
Kettlebell workout for weight loss for men
Here are some great workouts that both young and older men can do with kettlebell weights. Remember to pick a weight that you are comfortable with not to injure yourself or those around you. Take note that you should not overwork yourself. If you can do just one rep stick to that until your muscles develop further.
Plyo Kettlebell Press-up
This upper-body exercise helps build explosive pushing strength as well as building strength in the chest, triceps, shoulders, and core.
- Place one kettlebell on the floor and get into a press-up position.
- With one hand on the floor and the other on the kettlebell, lower yourself as close to the ground as possible, keeping your back straight.
- Quickly raise your body and swap hands before doing a push-up on the other side, then keep repeating this fluid motion.
- Do this ten to 12 times.
The Russian Twist
This is a great workout for anyone targeting their ab muscles.
- Sit with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Holding the kettlebell handle with both hands, lean back so that your torso is at about a 45 – degree angle to the floor.
- With your heels a few inches above the floor, rotate your torso from right to left, swinging the weight slightly across your body.
- Rotate from side to side 10 to 12 times.
It should be noted that this workout does not just work for the abs. It works for the core as a whole and is especially great for the external and internal obliques (also known as love handles).
Single-arm Kettlebell Snatch
The kettlebell snatch is a great core workout and a full-body strength and conditioning movement. It also helps boost shoulder stability and upper-back strength in the long run.
- Holding a kettlebell in your right hand between your legs, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Drive upwards through your hips and knees and as the weight rises to shoulder height, rotate your right hand and push it upwards until your arm is locked out.
- Squat down and return the weight to the start position.
- Do this up to 15 times. Rest for 60 seconds then repeat the whole process with your left hand holding the kettlebell.
This is another fantastic compound workout option
- Start by standing with your legs more than shoulder length apart.
- Lift a kettlebell with each arm and rest them both on each shoulder.
- Lower into a squat, maintaining a flat back and an upright chest.
- Drive your heels into the floor and as you explode up from the squat position, press both kettlebells overhead.
- Lower the weights back down to your shoulder and drop into the squat position.
- Repeat this ten to 15 times.
Please note that if this is too advanced for you, opt to lift just one hand at a time, leaving the other hand at your shoulder holding the other weight. Alternate sides with each squat.
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Kettlebell workout for weight loss for women
It should be noted that both men and women can do all of the above workouts for weights loss. None of them are gender-specific. However, here are some full body kettlebell workout for weight loss routines that women can do at home or in the gym.
Curl to squat and press
- Start in a squat position with a kettlebell in each hand, arms extended toward the floor between feet, palms facing away from the body.
- Bend your elbows and curl the weights to shoulder level.
- In one motion, press through heels to stand up, raising the kettlebells overhead, rotating palms to face inward and stopping when biceps are by the ears.
- Reverse movement to return to starting position.
- Do this ten to 15 times.
The halo helps with arm and shoulder flexibility.
- Start standing with feet hip-width apart holding the handle of a kettlebell with both hands in front of your face, elbows bent and wide at sides.
- Keeping both elbows bent, and the rest of the body still, slowly circle the kettlebell clockwise around the head once, keeping the weight at eye level.
- Complete 15 clockwise turns before changing sides and doing the same thing 15 more times counterclockwise.
Kneeling Thrust to Press
This movement works your arms, core, quads and glutes.
- Start seated on heels with a kettlebell in each hand, arms bent, elbows narrow, palms facing inward, and weights resting against upper arms.
- In one motion, press hips forward and rise up to a high kneeling position using that. momentum to rotate palms away from the body and press the kettlebells overhead until arms are straight and biceps are by your ears.
- Remember to tighten your glutes as you come up.
- Reverse motion to return to start.
The Bottom Line
Kettlebell workouts for weight loss are amazing ways to incorporate weights into your workout routine. When done right, they have a slew of incredible benefits ranging from better posture to prevention of illnesses. However, you must keep in mind to only use weights that you are comfortable with and seek medical advice before starting a new exercise routine. Most importantly, for weight loss, you must couple working out with eating well. Remember to make healthy food choices and sleep well.
What is kettlebell training?
The idea behind first originated from Russia before spreading throughout the world. Since you only need one equipment, the idea behind kettlebell training is quite simple. All you need to do is to hold this weight in one or both hands as you do various workouts.
Using these weights enable you to engage different sets of muscle at the same time. It helps with your overall and cardio endurance, flexibility and agility, as well as strength and balance.
Is a kettlebell workout good for weight loss?
Yes, it is. Depending on how intense your workout is, you can burn up to 400 calories in just 20 minutes. This is a great option for someone with a busy day who cannot only afford to spend hours at the gym but would still like to lose some weight and/or build some muscle.
If we are counting down calories lost per minute, high-intensity workouts may help you burn at least 20.2 calories per minute which is the equivalent of running at a pace of 6 miles per hour (approximately 9.6 km per hour).
How fast do you see results with kettlebells?
As seen above, these forms of weights can help you burn a large number of calories within a very short time. For many people, this can be a very exciting and tempting idea that may lead them to exercise with kettlebells every day. However, as tempting as it is, this is not advisable.
Instead of exercising with these weights every day, opt to just do a 20 minutes kettlebell workout for weight loss three times in a week. After all, for a healthy and sustainable weight loss journey, you should aim to lose half a kg to one kilogram every week (3).
If you are still not convinced that gradual weight loss is better than shedding the extra weight in just a few short weeks, here are some disadvantages of quick weight loss
- Quick fat loss is unsustainable in the long run. In most if not all cases, people end up adding more weight than they initially lost.
- Loss of water weight instead of fat loss.
- Menstrual irregularities in women and young girls.
- Headaches, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, and constipation, among others.
Can you do a full body kettlebell workout for weight loss?
Yes, you can. A quick 20-minute kettlebell exercise routine can be enough to give you a full body workout. From the above examples, some workouts that will work out your whole body include:
- The kettlebell swing
- Kettlebell high pull up
- Weighted walking lunges
- Double or single-arm thrusters
- The Russian twist
- The kettlebell halo
All the above exercises work more than one muscle which will give you a full-body workout. You can switch them up with the other example above if you please, or check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Effects of 8-week kettlebell training on body composition, muscle strength, pulmonary function, and chronic low-grade inflammation in elderly women with sarcopenia (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Kettlebell Exercise as an Alternative to Improve Aerobic Power and Muscle Strength (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Losing weight (2020, cdc.gov)