by Mike Mahler, Mahler’s Aggressive Strength
Change up your workout routine and burn fat faster with these top kettlebell exercises.
Photographs of Mike Mahler courtesy of Michael Neuveux.
One-Arm Kettlebell Swing
Place one kettlebell between your feet. Push back with your butt and bend your knees to get into the starting position. Make sure that your back is flat and look straight ahead. Swing the kettlebell between your legs forcefully as if you are passing a football to someone behind you. Quickly reverse the direction and drive though with your hips explosively taking the kettlebell straight out. Let the kettlebell swing back between your legs and repeat. Switch arms with each set. Remember that the swing is primarily a hamstring exercise and that is where all of the power is generated from. It is not a front raise.
One-Arm Kettlebell Snatch
Place a kettlebell between your feet. Bend your knees and push your butt back to get in the proper starting position. Look straight ahead and swing the kettlebell back between your legs as if you are passing a football to someone behind you. Immediately reverse the direction and drive through explosively with your hips. Pull the kettlebell towards your body as if you are starting a lawn mower. The trajectory of the kettlebell will resemble a J Curve rather than an arc. As the kettlebell rises to your shoulder open your hand and get your hand around the bell rather than letting the bell flip over and bang up your wrist. Punch through straight overhead to complete the snatch. Get your Kettlebell Training Manual
One-Arm Kettlebell Clean
Place a kettlebell between your feet. As you bend down to grab the kettlebell, push your butt back and keep your eyes looking forward. Swing the kettlebell between your legs as if you are passing a football behind you. Quickly reverse the direction and drive through forcefully with the hips. Bring the kettlebell straight up using body momentum (don’t even think about trying to curl it). Open your hand and get your hand around the handle rather than letting the bell flip over and bang up your wrist.
One-Arm Kettlebell Bottom Up Clean (Hang Position)
Hold a kettlebell like a suitcase. Swing it back and then forward and crush grip the handle to hold it in place in the rack position. Keep a loose grip until you reach the rack position and then crush grip the handle and flex your entire body to hold the bell in place.
Kettlebell Sots Press
Clean a kettlebell and go into a full squat. Stay in the bottom position of the front squat and press the kettlebell overhead until it is locked out completely. Lower the kettlebell back to the starting position and repeat. Stay in the bottom position of the squat for the entire duration of the set. Make sure you push your glutes into your calves and contract your midsection for increases stability and power. If you cannot do a full squat, then you cannot do the Sots Press. Get your Kettlebell Training Manual
Clean and press or snatch a kettlebell overhead with one arm. Keeping the kettlebell that is overhead locked out at all times, push your butt out in the direction of the locked out kettlebell. Turn your feet out at a forty-five degree angle from the arm with the locked out kettlebell. Lower yourself until your non-working hand touches the floor or front foot. Pause for a second and reverse the motion back to the starting position.
Kettlebell Side Press
Clean a kettlebell with one arm. Push your hip out in the direction of the cleaned kettlebell. Turn your feet out at a forty-five degree angle from the arm with the kettlebell. While you are sitting back and lowering yourself, actively press the kettlebell at the same time. Continue to bend to the side until the kettlebell is locked out.
Kettlebell Bent Press
Clean a kettlebell with one arm. Push your hip out in the direction of the cleaned kettlebell. Turn your feet out at a forty-five degree angle from the arm with the kettlebell. While you are sitting back and lowering yourself, contract your lat as hard as possible and move your body away from the kettlebell. Continue to bend to the side until the kettlebell is locked out. The difference between the Bent Press and the Side Press is that there is no press with the Bent Press. You simply hold the bell in position and extend your forearm as you shift your weight away from the kettlebell.
Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up (TGU)
Lie on your back and use two hands to position a kettlebell to the lockout position of one arm. Lets use the right side as an example to discuss proper performance. Keep the bell locked out at all times. Bring your right leg in and use your right leg to pivot to the left. Roll onto your left triceps and keep rolling until your hand touches the floor.
Use your left hand and right leg to drive forward. As you are driving forward, bring your left leg in and take your right leg forward. Now keep driving forward until you are in the bottom position of a lunge. Take a second to gather yourself and then stand up. To complete the rep, reverse the movement to get back to the starting position. Do a lunge back to the bottom, then place your left hand behind your back until you feel the ground. Bring your legs forward and use your left arm to guide you back to the starting position. Take a second to gather yourself and then proceed to another repetition. Get your Kettlebell Training Manual
Double Kettlebell Military Press
Clean two kettlebells to your shoulders. Breathe in as you clean the bells to the rack position. Hold the kettlebells in tight against your core as if you are a boxer bracing for a punch. Try to touch your elbows to your midsection so that you have a strong foundation to press off of. The shortest distance between two locations is a straight line.
Remember that when you do the overhead press. Imagine that the bells are connected and that you are pressing a barbell. Press the bells up and out only as much as necessary to complete the exercise. As the kettlebells pass your head, lean into the bells slightly so that they are locked out behind your head. Take a bench press tip from legendary powerlifting coach Louie Simmons and lower the kettlebells with your lats. Your lats are much stronger muscles than your shoulders and will assist in stabilizing the shoulders for maximum strength. Lowering two kettlebells is your chance to get your lats loaded up for the next press.
Double Kettlebell Push Press
Clean two kettlebells to your shoulders. Squat down a few inches and reverse the motion rapidly. Use the momentum from the legs to drive the kettlebells overhead. Once the kettlebells are locked out, lower the kettlebells to your shoulders and repeat. Stay very tight upon cleaning the kettlebells and when you squat down a few inches to power up the leg drive. However, when you reverse the direction get loose in order to move quickly and then get tight again once the bells are locked out overhead.
Double Kettlebell Bent Over Row
Place two kettlebells between your feet. Bend your knees slightly and then push your butt out as much as possible as you bend over to get in the starting position. Imagine that you are trying to sit in a chair behind you. Arc your back and hold your chest high as you sit back to get into the optimal pulling position (Imagine that you are a Venice Beach bodybuilder if you are having difficulty with this). Grab both kettlebells and pull them to your stomach. Lower the bells back to the floor under control and repeat.
Kettlebell Renegade Row
Get into the top position of the pushup holding on to two kettlebells that are less than shoulder width apart. Take a shoulder width stance and push one kettlebell into the floor forcefully while you pull the other kettlebell in the working arm. Hold the kettlebell in the working arm in the top position for a second and then lower the kettlebell under control back to the floor. Switch arms after each repetition.
Kettlebell Pistol (One-legged Squat)
Hold a kettlebell close to your chest like a steering wheel. Hold the non-working leg up and squat all the way down with the working leg. Pause at the bottom for a second and then stand up. Pull yourself down slowly with your hamstrings and contract your abs, glutes, and quads for maximum tension and stability.
Double Kettlebell Front Squat
Clean two kettlebells to your shoulders and take a stance that you find comfortable for your body type. As you squat down, push your butt out. Looking straight ahead at all times, squat as low as you can and pause at the bottom. Rise back up and repeat. Pull yourself down with your hamstring and breathe in as your lower yourself down to the bottom. Hold your breathe and stand up.
Get your Kettlebell Training Manual and start shaping your body faster!
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES