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Kettlebell Workouts for Muscle Building, Strength and Aerobic Conditioning

Updated on December 13, 2011

Burn Fat and Build Muscle with these Simple Routines!

Kettlebells are a lot of fun. They offer a taste of danger with their unusual off-balance design, are compact and they travel better than any other type of free weight. There are also endless ways to get creative with kettlebell workouts, so they are anything but boring. Recently, they even made mainstream strength and conditioning news when exercise physiologists decided that they raise heart rates to a higher level than a hard run in less time.


With all the ways a person can get creative with kettlebells (juggling, passing to a partner, pressing three at a time, etc.) the basics promoted by Russian commando trainer Pavel Tstasouline are still an impressive accomplishment. Buy a moderate weight kettlebell and work up to the following epic workouts. You will build muscle, muscular endurance and stamina, and probably a whole lot of fat along the way.


First up is the “Program Minimum.” This workout is simple on paper. 5 minutes of the Turkish Get-up (alternating sides,) and 12 minutes of Swings (alternating hands every couple of minutes.) while this may seem like an easy task, those uninitiated to exercises with the kettlebell will want to aim for 2 minutes or less per set to begin with. Perform 4 sets of 1-2 minutes intervals for each exercise and work up to the goal times over several weeks.


This kettlebell workout routine is going to affect your hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and extensors, pectorals, shoulders and triceps, and especially all major core muscles. Keep in mind that ballistic motions like the swing should be executed in perfect form in order to do them for several minutes at a time. If the shoulders or lower back are burning, chances are it is not being done correctly. See the videos for proper technique on both exercises in the Program Minimum.


If this simple workout gets a little boring, add in the snatch and start working towards the “Rite of Passage.” Talk about getting your heart rate up, the goal of this workout routine is to perform 200 snatches in under ten minutes. While the high repetitions of snatches take care of aerobic conditioning, the pressing requirement takes care of strength. Men should be able to press a kettlebell equivalent to half their bodyweight, and women the equivalent of one quarter their bodyweight. Both exercises can benefit from using technique specific to the kettlebell.


Although these kettlebell workouts may seem simple, the diligent practice of these exercises will leave you gasping for breath. With proper diet, you should be able to lose weight and see dramatic changes in musculature over a period of several weeks. Start off by practicing technique with a light kettlebell and work up to something heavier when it gets comfortable. Stay consistent and the results will come!

Kettlebell Facts

Did you know?

-Girya is the Russian word for kettlebell, the country from which it is presumed to have originated.

-Kettlebell sport is popular, especially in Russia, where it is a national sport. The first official competition was held there in 1948.

-The first kettlebell probably appeared around 1704 somewhere in Russia.

-In 2010, kettlebell world record holder Valery Fedorenko completed 70 repetitions with a 132 pound (60 kg) kettlebell in 9 minutes and 15 seconds. This amazing feat was a new record.

Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up Instruction

Kettlebell Swing Instruction

Kettlebells For Dummies
Kettlebells For Dummies

Want a simple, straightforward kettlebell guide that doesn't make you feel like a dummy? Then this book is for you! Join author Sarah Lurie as she walks you through basic, intermediate and advanced kettlebell exercises for every body.



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    • Crewman6 profile image


      7 years ago

      That would be appreciated! And thanks for the advice. Sometimes as I get older, it feels like my body is betraying me... keep making the effort, but it just doesn't seem to work like it used to.

      You sound like me, when I get going, it's hard to stop writing.

      Thanks again, and I'm watching for your hubs!

    • MosLadder profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Montgomery 

      7 years ago from Irvine, CA

      Oh no, one round of the 'minimum' and you will see how effective it is. More important is the effort put into any given exercise, though. I feel a Zen saying coming on, but anyway...As far as age is concerned, assuming you are in good health, work up to the greatest challenge your body can handle! I'm sure I don't need to tell you that it takes longer to recover as we get older, but always keep it in mind.

      My suggestion would be to keep the weight challenging in order to stimulate muscle growth (important since we lose a lot every year we pass thirty,) and strengthen bones.Go from light to heavy in light again in any workout, and keep moving the entire time for cardio benefits.

      I was about to write more, but I'm going off on a tangent, so maybe I'll just write another hub and send you an update! Cheers!

    • Crewman6 profile image


      7 years ago

      Sounds deceptively simple. I think I overcomplicate things, I'm looking forward to trying this!

      Quick question, does being over 50 change the amount I should try to aim for (eventually working up to)?


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