3-Circuit Kettlebell Workout

Full-Body Kettlebell Workout (made up of three mini circuits: the first focusing on core, then lower body, then upper body)I mentioned in a previous post that I was excited about a Dragon Door kettlebell certification coming to Boston at the end of this month. Welp, missed the sign-up deadline. Womp. But it’s actually a blessing in disguise because a reader introduced me to StrongFirst (thank you, Lindsey!) and I was pretty blown away at how amazing (and totally intimidating) it sounded. StrongFirst has an intense, 3-day certification program that will be in Boston in August, but it’s expensive ($1,600) and after reading the testing requirements, I’m actually not even strong enough to pass! I read the weight of the bells that would need to be used for each of the tested exercises and just went damn.

My first thought was, ok better get training. But before I start increasing my weights, I really want to have the form perfected. StrongFirst offers courses (different from certifications) that are one day and go over the ins and outs of kettlebells and proper form and alignment. They’re $299 and that cost can go towards a certification course should I chose to do that in the future. It sounds perfect for where I am right now, and it’s coming to Boston late April—whoop! I won’t be credentialed afterwards, but will be 100x more knowledgeable. Really excited to share all I learn with you guys!

And speaking of kettlebells, here’s a full-body workout I did the other day in my apartment made up of three mini circuits (one focusing on core, one on upper body, one on lower body).

3-Circuit Kettlebell Workout

Equipment I Used:

  • 25-lb kettlebell
  • 20-lb kettlebell
  • Exercise mat

This workout consists of three circuits: the first focusing on core, the second on lower body, and the third on upper body. There are kettlebell swings in each one for a little cardio boost (plus kb swings might just be the most perfect exercise…ever). Go through each circuit three times. Complete one circuit before moving onto the next. Complete each circuit as quickly as possible (without sacrificing form!) and rest for up to 1 min in between circuits.

I indicated the weight I used in the exercise descriptions but adjust these to match your fitness level. With kettlebell exercises, it’s always best to start with a lower weight until you’re comfortable with the form.

I would budget 30 minutes for this workout. If you’re more advanced, you’ll be able to finish in less time; beginners will need a little longer. Full-Body Kettlebell Workout (made up of three mini circuits: the first focusing on core, then lower body, then upper body)

Circuit 1 (Core) | Go through 3 times

1 min Kettlebell Swings | Start with kettlebell on the floor between your legs and lift it up to starting position with both hands, flat back, using your legs to lift. With kettlebell hanging between your legs, use your arms as a pendulum, and swing the bell to chest-to-eye level by thrusting with your hips while keeping your core tight as you stand up straight. Swing back down and repeat. Your knees should remain slightly bent, but the main source of movement is hinging at the hips—not so much squatting. I used a 25-lb bell (but need to go up!).

50 Russian Twists | Start seated, holding the kettlebell in both hands at your chest, feet lifted off the ground with your knees bent. Lean back slightly, core engaged, balancing on your tailbone. Twist to one side, bringing the kettlebell to the outer side of that hip; then repeat in the other direction. Really twist at the waist—you want your chest to be totally facing whatever side you’re bringing the bell. I used a 20-lb bell.

25 Standing Side Bends (each side) | Stand with feet hip distance apart and a kettlebell in one hand. Lean over to the side with your torso as you lower the kettlebell towards the ground (try to get it at least to knee height, if not a little lower). Engaging the obliques, bring your torso back upright to starting position once you’ve gone as low as possible. I used a 25-lb bell.

Circuit 2 (Lower Body) | Go through 3 times

1 min Kettlebell Swings

25 Goblet Squats | Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with your toes angled slightly outward. Hold a kettlebell in both hands, cradling it at the base of the handle at your chest. Keeping your torso as upright as possible (you don’t want to hunch forward with the weight of the bell), squat down, trying to get your bum lower than your knees. As you bend the knees, they should track in line with the angle of the toes and not jut forward of them. Once you reach the bottom of your squat, weight in your heels, power up to standing, thrusting the hips forward slightly at the top as you squeeze those glutes. I used a 25-lb bell.

25 Figure 8 Side Lunges (each side) | Begin standing with kettlebell in your right hand. Lunge out to the side onto your left leg, sitting your butt back to prevent the knee jutting forward of the toes. As you lunge out, gently swing the kettlebell around that left leg in a partial figure 8 movement, passing it off to your right hand as you continue to circle it around that left leg. Pass it back off to the right hand as you push off the left leg and return back to the starting standing position. I used a 25-lb bell.

Circuit 3 (Upper Body) | Go through 3 times

1 min kettlebell swings

15 Clean ‘n Press (each side) | Start standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell in one hand, arm straight, bell hanging in front of your body. Bend knees into a half squat, and bring the kettlebell from a straight-arm hanging position to being closely held by the center of your chest with arm bent, fingers facing up. It’s a smooth movement, pulling the bell straight up and flipping your grip around the handle from an overhand grip to underhand (it will be cradled in the crook of your thumb and index finger at the end). Use your legs to help you achieve the clean: push up from your feet, straightening your legs for added power as you pull the bell up, and landing softly back into that half-squat as you catch the bell in its new hand position. From there, straighten legs as you stand up and extend your hand and the bell skyward. Reverse the moves to bring yourself back to starting position. Try to keep the kettlebell towards the center of your body throughout this move. When done correctly, this isn’t just an upper-body workout, but great for your core.

15 Mini Get-Ups (each side) | This is a partial Turkish get-up (very partial). Start laying down with the kettlebell in your right hand, right arm extended straight up towards the ceiling. You want to “pack” your shoulder blade down and back into the floor. Your right knee should be bent with right foot planted on the floor. Left leg is outstretched and left arm is laying beside you on the floor out at an angle. This is your starting position.

From here, engage your core and drive through the right heel as you punch the kettlebell straight up, coming up to a propped position on your left forearm. So you crunch the abdominals and, leading with your chest, rotate the shoulders so that the right arm is still perpendicular to the ground and your left forearm/elbow is supporting the weight of your upper body.

The last step is to squeeze the glutes and left oblique to lift the hips up into a sort of side plank. Don’t change the position of your feet when you do this. Reverse the motion, lowering the hips back to the ground and lowering your shoulders back down to the floor to your starting position. I used a 20-lb bell. full-body-kettlebell-workout-20

WEARING: t-shirt: c/o Reebok (old) // leggings: c/o Eddie Bauer

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Comments

  1. Really great explanation/workout tips! How do you take the photos, self-timer or do you have a camera man? I always want to share more of my workouts but never remember to take pictures of me doing any of the exercises

    • When I first started out, I mostly used self timer with my camera set up on a tripod. It’s a pain though, so now I have someone take them for me (goes much quicker and photos turn out better for sure). My mom is a saint and takes most of them, and if she’s not in town, I’ll recruit friends.

  2. Man I love goblet squats. I chose them in the class I designed as my “graduation” from my internship and I guess they worked since now I’m a formal instructor! Looking forward to more KB workouts!

  3. I am just starting the process of shopping for some home equipment. What brand of kettle bells and dumbbells do you like best?

    • For kettlebells, I bought most of mine at Sports Authority and a couple online that are from GoFit. I like both brands! They’re a good, less-expensive option. If you want highest of the high quality, I’d order kettlebells through one of the kb certification programs (Dragon Door, StrongFirst–just google their website and they both sell equipment). Those are pricey though. The most important thing is that you find a brand that fits your hands–if you can’t comfortably grip the handle with both hands, you won’t be able to do the best kb exercise of them all–swings! 🙂

      For light dumbbells (1-5lbs) don’t spend more money than you have to–you can find sets at TJMaxx or Target that’ll do the trick. For heavier dumbbells (8lbs+) I would recommend hex dumbbells (short for hexagon–they have six flat sides so that they don’t roll on the ground). I personally like when they have the rubber coating around the ends so they don’t slide on the ground. I don’t know too much about different brands, but Body Solid is one to look into. Hope that helps!

  4. I know you were thinking of moving into doing videos. I’d LOVE to see a instructional video on a proper kettlebell swing. I always wanted to try, but I’m afraid that I won’t have proper form and hurt myself.

    Also, I’d like to agree with Mandy up there about kettlebell equipment 🙂

    • I’m taking a kettlebell course at the end of the month, so once I’ve gone through that and learned all there is to know about bells, I’ll post a tutorial on swings! 🙂 As for brand of bells, I bought most of mine at Sports Authority and a couple online that are from GoFit. I like both brands! They’re a good, less-expensive option. If you want highest of the high quality, I’d order kettlebells through one of the kb certification programs (Dragon Door, StrongFirst–just google their website and they both sell equipment). Those are pricey though. The most important thing is that you find a brand that fits your hands–if you can’t comfortably grip the handle with both hands, you won’t be able to do the best kb exercise of them all–swings! 🙂

  5. Wooo!! Was pumped to start reading and see my name – so glad you decided on StrongFirst. You definitely made the right decision. I think that cert is at my gym too, so I’ll probably see you there 🙂

  6. fun! That KB training sounds perfect for where I am right now, too, but April is a crazy busy month for me unfortunately 🙁 Can’t wait to see how it goes!

  7. Thanks for sharing this routine. Looks really hard but i”ll still let my friends know about it

  8. Simone Henry says:

    I just finished this workout …. OMG! I am in pain but I feel great 😀

  9. Caitlin says:

    I never use to have any issues, but this work out (specifically the second circuit), as well as your recent KB lower body workout have completely screwed up my back. I’m trying to really focus on using my glutes and thighs, as well as engaging my abs, but I couldn’t make it through that second circuit. I think I need to drop weight and just really build back up and focus on form. Boo!

    • omg My back has been killing me for days now from this as well. I went slow and did not even do half the reps.

      • When low-body exercises are done with added weight at the front of our body (Circuit 2 in this workout!), our center of gravity is shifted and our back is required to work harder to stabilize. This makes these types of exercises great for strengthening the back, but often there’s a fine line between strengthening and straining when it comes to this muscle group. Form is super important and it’s helpful to cut back with the weight to start. I’m sorry to hear you both were feeling it in a BAD way following this workout! I’m going to start a video series on common form mistakes and will add these moves to my list. Hopefully that will prove helpful moving forward!

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