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16 min read

8 Killer Fat-Burning Kettlebell Exercises for Weight Loss

Even if you only have one kettlebell at your disposal you can get a fat-burning workout that rivals sprinting on a treadmill or pedaling your heart out on a spin bike. You get the best of strength training and cardio with kettlebells, as long as you pick the proper exercises. 

To maximize calorie burn during your workout, pick any of the following exercises that work muscles in your legs, upper body, and core:

  1. Kettlebell around the body pass
  2. Two kettlebell row
  3. Kettlebell deadlift
  4. Figure 8
  5. Half Turkish get-up
  6. Russian kettlebell swings
  7. Kettlebell front squats
  8. Kettlebell windmill

You can combine these exercises to create a circuit, do them one at a time to focus on form, or pick a few to combine with another routine. Either way, each exercise is valuable in your arsenal. Some require practice to feel comfortable, but the effort will be worth it in the end.

How to Get A Full Body Workout Using Kettlebells: 8 Beginner Exercises

Before you jump in to try these intense exercises, consider doing a quick warm-up to prepare your body.Doing so can prevent injury and boost your performance once you’re ready to jump into the kettlebell exercises.

There are a few ways you can warm up.One method is foam rolling, whichincreases your range of motion and warms your body. Another option is to use a cardio machine for five minutes. You can use a stair stepper, rowing machine, bike, or treadmill to get your body warm. 

Perhaps the best option is a dynamic warm-up, whichpreps your body to move using simple bodyweight exercises.

For example, a circuit of squats, lunges, push-ups, and butt kicks repeated for 5 minutes will prepare your body for the workout. You can also practice kettlebell movements with a light weight before you jump into the full workout.

1. Kettlebell Around the Body Pass: 3 Sets of 10 Reps

A strong core is required to keep your torso upright and prevent excess rotation during this exercise. It’s an excellent first movement in your kettlebell workout because it’s not very complex in terms of technique.Start with a light weight to perfect your form before moving on to something heavier.

  • Step 1: Hold the kettlebell with your right hand.
  • Step 2: Swing the kettlebell out in front of you with your arm fully extended
  • Step 3:Bring your opposite hand forward to meet the swinging hand
  • Step 4: Without breaking the momentum of the bell, continue swinging it in a circle around your back
  • Step 5:Continue swinging around your body to the back, where you will exchange hands back to the starting hand
  • Step 6:Exchange hands without breaking the momentum of the kettlebell
  • Step 7:When the swinging hand comes around to the front of your body, switch hands and continue the circle

Muscles Targeted:

Your abdominal muscles and lower back are responsible for keeping your core steady during this movement.That means your obliques and rectus abdominis in the front of your abdomen, as well as the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum in your back are working. Plus, your forearms and shoulders might get tired from handling the weight.

2. Two-Arm Kettlebell Row: 3 Sets of 10 Reps

This is a deceptively challenging exercise. It works muscles in your upper and lower body, and if you use heavy kettlebells, can leave you breathless.

  • Step 1: Grab two kettlebells and place them in front of your feet. Bend your knees slightly.
  • Step 2: With a flat back, lean forward with bent knees and pick the kettlebells up, standing up fully
  • Step 3: Push your hips back and lean forward with the kettlebells on the outside of your knees
  • Step 4: Keeping your torso in place, pull the kettlebells up towards your stomach until your elbows are above your torso
  • Step 5: Lower the weights & repeat

Muscles Targeted:

Your back muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rhomboids will bear the brunt of this exercise.You’ll also use your lower back muscles to hold your upper body in place, as well as your hamstrings and glutes.

3. Kettlebell Deadlift: 3 Sets of 8 Reps

Deadlifts are a challenging exercise and are helpful for both burning fat and building muscle says Certified Personal Trainer Hannah Shine. In fact, this is one of her favorite exercises for women who are looking to get leaner.

It’s important to note that the deadlift can be an intimidating exercise. The name alone sounds serious, and deadlifts are often done with heavy weight. Phung Tran, Certified Exercise Physiologist, explains thatthe kettlebell deadlift can easily be modified to fit your fitness level, so you don’t need to worry about excess strain.

There are many variations of the deadlift, but this one is perhaps the most accessible. Since the handle of a kettlebell sticks up above the rest of the weight, it’s easier to reach one when it’s on the floor. The handle is similar to a barbell, which is how traditional deadlifts are performed.

  • Step 1: Start with a kettlebell on the floor between your feet
  • Step 2:Bend your knees and squat down with a flat back, reaching both hands toward the kettlebell
  • Step 3: Maintaining a flat back, grip the kettlebell with both hands and stand up
  • Step 4: Pause at the top of the movement, then push your hips back and bend your knees to return the weight to the ground.

Muscles Targeted:

Deadlifts require leg strength from most major muscle groups of the lower body. Your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes must all work. Plus, you’ll use the muscles of your lower back to stabilize your spine, as well as the upper back muscles and latissimus dorsi.

4. Kettlebell Figure-8: 3 Sets of 12 Reps

This movement is similar to the kettlebell swing.If you’re not comfortable with the swing yet, you can use this exercise to practice. It’s also a fun exercise that forces you to use coordination, balance, and timing.

  • Step 1:Start with your legs a bit wider than hip-width apart and a kettlebell in front of your feet
  • Step 2: Squat down and reach one hand forward to grab the kettlebell
  • Step 3: Swing the bell back between your groin as though you’re hiking a football
  • Step 4:Swing the kettlebell up to shoulder-height
  • Step 5: As the kettlebell swings back down between your legs, push it behind the opposite thigh and grab it with your other hand
  • Step 6: Swing the bell in front of your body again
  • Step 7: As it comes down, switch back to the first hand to complete one rep

Muscles Targeted:

While the bulk of the work in this exercise should come from your glutes and hamstrings, your arms have to move the weight around your legs to form the figure-8.Your shoulders, triceps, biceps, and forearm muscles are all used to navigate the weight around your legs.

5. Kettlebell Half Get-Up: 3 Sets of 6 Reps

Few exercises are better for core strengthening than this one. It’s unlike any exercise you’ll see in the gym and can take some practice to perfect.Once you do, you’ll notice a significant increase in core strength.

Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Doctor of Chiropractic Alex Tauberg explains that the get-up requires focus, balance, and coordination. It also improves stability and mobility in the shoulder. Since you do the exercise on one side at a time,it can help correct any imbalances or asymmetries your body may have.

  • Step 1: Lie down on your back with legs straight out
  • Step 2:Grab the kettlebell in your right hand and extend your right arm straight up
  • Step 3:Bend the left knee and plant your left foot
  • Step 4: Press your left elbow into the ground and press the kettlebell towards the ceiling, turning your chest to the left as you do so
  • Step 5: Press your left elbow off the ground so that only your left hand is on the ground

Muscles Targeted:

You have to use the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis to stabilize your trunk in this movement. Your shoulder muscles are also going to work hard to keep the kettlebell steady.

6. Russian Kettlebell Swing:3 Sets of 15 Reps

This is a classic kettlebell exercise, known for its simplicity and effectiveness. You’ll need a kettlebell that’s heavy enough to force you to use your hips, but light enough so that you don’t strain your back.

When you do swings, your heart rate will go up and remain elevated for the duration of the set, explains Certified Personal Trainer Jesse Feder.Since your heart rate is up you’ll burn more calories in less time than with other, less intense exercises. The odd shape of the kettlebell forces you to use your core to stabilize the weight, says Feder. His clients enjoy this exercise because it’s not boring, unlike other, more traditional strength training exercises.

  • Step 1: Start standing with a kettlebell in front of your feet
  • Step 2: Grab the bell with both hands by squatting down
  • Step 3:With a flat back, hike the kettlebell between your legs as though you’re hiking a football
  • Step 4: Stand up and swing the kettlebell in front of you with arms straight until it reaches shoulder-height
  • Step 5:Swing the bell back down between your legs to complete one rep

Kettlebell swings are highly effective, so it makes sense that they’re one of the most popular kettlebell exercises. However,if you’re looking for a more unique challenge, try the kettlebell clean and press.

Kate Meier, Certified Personal Trainer and Weightlifting Coach, loves this exercise because it involves squatting and pressing, two taxing movements. Here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Start with one kettlebell on the ground
  • Step 2: Squat down and grab the handle with one hand
  • Step 3:With a flat back, stand up and pull the kettlebell off the ground, pulling it towards your shoulder
  • Step 4:Turn your palm towards your chest, flipping the kettlebell so that it rests on the back of your forearm
  • Step 5:Squat slightly to catch the kettlebell as it lands on your shoulder
  • Step 6: Stand up and press the weight overhead until your arm is completely straight

Muscles Targeted:

Some of the biggest muscles in your body will power this explosive movement.Your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back will make the weight fly up.Your forearms have to work hard to keep the bell from slipping from your hands, and your latissimus dorsi will help pull the weight back down.

7. Kettlebell Front Squats:3 Sets of 10 Reps

Squats are known as a leg exercises, but this variation incorporates your shoulders and core as well.When done properly, it should be one of the most taxing kettlebell exercises and leave you breathless.

  • Step 1: Start with two light kettlebells on the ground between your feet
  • Step 2: Squat down and grab one kettlebell with each hand
  • Step 3: Lift the bells and, as you stand up, pull them towards your shoulders, turning your palms towards your chest as you do, so that the kettlebells flip to the outside of your forearms
  • Step 4: With the kettlebells resting on your shoulders and elbows near your sides, set your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Step 5: Squat down, keeping your feet flat on the ground, as low as you can comfortably go
  • Step 6: Stand back up to complete the rep

Note that if you have trouble with this exercise, you can do akettlebell goblet squat. It can be difficult to get the kettlebells in place for the front squat, so don’t be discouraged if you’re having problems.

William Toro, a Certified Personal Trainer, says that the goblet squat is great for beginners. It also works the lower body muscles and burns tons of calories, so you’re not missing out if you swap front squats for goblet squats.Here’s how to do them:

  • Step 1:Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Step 2: Hold a single kettlebell in front of your chest, gripping either side of the handle
  • Step 3: Keep the kettlebell in front of your chest and bring your elbows down to your ribs
  • Step 4:Squat as low as you comfortably can, then stand back up to the top of the movement

Muscles Targeted:

Your quadriceps and glutes will do most of the work to bend and straighten your legs as you squat.Your lower back muscles, including the erector spinae and multifidus, will keep you upright as the kettlebells pull you, forwards. Your shoulders will help you keep the weight from slipping forwards.

8. Kettlebell Windmill:3 Sets of 8 Reps

Similar to the Turkish get-up, the windmill can be difficult to learn.However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel this exercise in your obliques and arm. The technique is perhaps the most unique of any kettlebell exercise and will make you feel like a gymnast.

Danielle Gray, a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Kettlebell Trainer, and Women’s Fitness Specialist, says this exercise will leave her sore for days. She likes it because it works many core muscles that are often neglected in other exercises. It also requires an incredible amount of stability, particularly when you go up in weight.

  • Step 1: Start with the kettlebell in one hand, resting on your shoulder. The bell should be on the outside of your forearm
  • Step 2: Press the kettlebell overhead
  • Step 3: Turn your opposite toes out to the side
  • Step 4: Reach your opposite hand down the inside of the same thigh, pushing your hips to the side with the kettlebell
  • Step 5:Reach as far as you comfortably can, then press the bell back up towards the ceiling
  • Step 6: Straighten your body to complete one rep

Muscles Targeted:

Your obliques and latissimus dorsi will support your body as you bend and straighten. Your quadratus lumborum in your lower back is also involved. The shoulder muscles, biceps, and triceps help you stabilize the weight as you hold it above your body.

Why Are Kettlebells So Great for Losing Weight?

Kettlebells can help you lose weight because they work many muscles and are often used for fast-paced exercises. The kettlebell swing, for example, is very fast-moving and powerful. Compare that to a squat, which is much slower and less cardio-intensive. The swing should burn more calories, even though it uses similar muscles.

Esther Avant, a Certified Personal Trainer,and Sports Nutritionist believes kettlebells allow you to get an effective workout in a fraction of the time you’d spend with other types of weight training equipment. Plus, kettlebells are easy to store in your home, making them one of the most convenient pieces of exercise equipment. Keep reading to learn what makeskettlebells so great for weight loss.

The 3 Main Reasons Kettlebells Are Great for Losing Weight

1) Uses More Muscles

You can divide weight lifting exercises into two categories: isolation and compound. An example of an isolation exercise is the bicep curl, which works one muscle at a time. These exercises, which focus on a particular muscle, are excellent if you want to target a specific muscle. However, if your goal is to burn fat,you should incorporate multiple muscles in each movement.

An exercise like the squat works multiple muscles simultaneously. Each muscle burns calories as it contracts, andresearch shows that these types of movements lead to more fat loss than isolation exercises. It’s difficult to do isolation exercises with a kettlebell, given how bulky and inconvenient they are for small movements. On the other hand,kettlebells make compound movements simpler and more enjoyable.

2) Builds Strength and Aerobic Fitness Simultaneously

Kettlebell exercises combine strength training with thecardiovascular improvements you’d normally get from HIIT training. Sprinting on the treadmill might seem very different from swinging a kettlebell, but they have similar effects on the body.

By increasing the number of reps in each set and alternating exercises, you can keep your heart rate elevated for longer periods. In fact, you can create an interval training workout using the 8 kettlebell exercises in this article.There’s no longer a need to decide between cardio and weight training, you can lump them into one workout.

3) Simplicity

Don’t let their cannonball shape and metal handle fool you, kettlebells are one of the least complicated and most beginner-friendly items in the weight room. Since kettlebell movements are relatively athletic in nature,they can feel more intuitive than machine or barbell exercises.

Another benefit of kettlebells is their compact size. They’re easy to store and you can even take them with you on trips. The easier a piece of equipment is to use, the more likely you’ll use it. Their simplicity has helped kettlebells stand the test of time.Evidence shows they were used in Russia as early as the 1700s.

How Quickly Can You Shed Pounds with Kettlebells?

It’s hard to say how much weight you’ll lose from using kettlebells because training is only half the battle. A study conducted by the American Council on Exercise investigated the effects of 8 weeks of kettlebell training. They found that the participantshad the same amount of body fat before and after this study.

Don’t let these results get you down. The problem is that they didn’t account for diet. As a general rule of thumb, you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose body fat. That means you’re consuming fewer calories than you’re burning.

To get yourself into a calorie deficit, one of the easiest methods is to eat less. Smaller portions at each meal can help you achieve this. Think about it this way:it’s easier to skip a candy bar, which contains 200 or more calories than it is to do an extra round of kettlebell circuits.

Are Kettlebell Workouts Good for Beginners?

If you’re new to the gym, all of the exercise equipment might look foreign. However, dumbbells and barbells are very common and should at least look slightly familiar. Kettlebells are arguably less prominent in popular culture, so there’s a chance you’ve never seen one before.


The fact that the bulk of the weight in a kettlebell is offset below the handle might make it seem pretty awkward to lift, but it makes exercises like deadlifts and squats much easier.Try more basic exercises, like the swing and deadlift, before you move on to more complex movements.

What Kettlebell Weight Should a Beginner Start With?

While kettlebell exercises are generally regarded as safe, beginners should use caution when selecting their weight. There’s still a risk for injury, particularly if you use heavy weight.Those who are at risk for falling are more prone than most to injury from kettlebell exercises.

Take into account your size and relative strength. You’ll likely use less weight than someone taller or larger than you. Weight doesn’t necessarily translate if you’re moving from dumbbell exercises either, so don’t assume that you should use the same weight even if the movement is similar.

More important than the weight you use is your technique. If you have an improper form on an exercise, using even a lightweight can lead to an injury and slow your progress. Seek out a professional to show you the proper form if you’re uncertain. Once your technique improves, you should feel comfortable lifting more weight.

Can You Build Muscle with Kettlebells Only?

Just like dumbbells, barbells, or machine weights, you can build muscle using kettlebells exclusively. As long as the weight you’re using and the number of reps and sets are challenging enough, you can stimulate your muscles to grow.

If you want more muscle, make sure you’re performing exercises to target each major muscle group. That’s why it’s important to use compound movements, such as the squat and shoulder press, tomake sure every muscle in your body is challenged.

Kettlebells Make Weight Loss Exciting

If you’re new to the world of kettlebells or have incorporated only a few exercises into your routine, try some of the movements mentioned above.The unique possibilities that kettlebells unlock will breathe life into your workout routine, giving you more motivation to hit the gym.

The technique of some of the exercises can be foreign and difficult to master, but it’s worth it once you start to see results. When in doubt, use lighter weights and have someone check your form so that you can avoid injury. 

Kettlebell workouts are perfect if you’re looking to add high-intensity circuits to your workouts. They make it easy to combine cardio and weight training into a time-efficient and effective workout.You can burn fat, build muscle, and improve your cardiovascular function with kettlebells.

Given the high-intensity nature of the workout, you may want to consider investing in a more supportive sports bra that will keep the girls in check as you complete your windmills and squats.For that, we recommend SHEFIT's Ultimate Sports Bra.

Other Resources for Losing Weight Fast

As you might know,weight loss is a holistic journey. You need to stay consistent with your workouts, eat food that helps you achieve your goals, and take care of your mental health all at the same time. That can seem daunting, but as you learn more you’ll be better equipped to handle these challenges. Here are some resources to bolster your weight loss knowledge:

Working Out to Lose Weight

If you watch a CrossFit competition, you’ll notice that many of the competitors are lean, perhaps more than most other sports.The goal of the sport is to combine different aspects of fitness into one, so it’s not surprising that it’s considered one of the best weight-loss workouts. 

In a typical CrossFit workout, you can expect to do some combination of weight training and cardiovascular activity.They include challenging bodyweight exercises, kettlebell or dumbbell movements, and barbell lifts. There are also strength workouts and more endurance-focused days.

One of the benefits of CrossFit is that you won’t be bored. There’s a lot of variety, withnew workouts posted almost daily on the CrossFit website.If you’re interested and are looking for a good way to get started,check out this fat-burning CrossFit workout.

Another option is to combine your current weight training workouts with high-intensity interval training, similar to CrossFit. Mixing bursts of cardio with strength training can help youburn more fat and gain more muscle than doing cardio alone.

If you’re not sure how to start combining your cardio and strength training into a HIIT workout,check out this combination chest and HIIT workout.

Don’t Forget About Diet

Trying to lose weight with exercise alone can be a challenge. To put it simply, one candy bar per day can add 200 or more calories to your diet. Depending on the intensity and type of workout you’re doing, it can take 10, 20, or more than 30 minutes to burn that many calories.You can save yourself a lot of trouble if you diet properly.

An easy way to replace one of your meals with a healthier option is to make a smoothie. If you’re unsure where to start,here’s a healthy recipe for a post-workout smoothie. The benefit of a smoothie is its convenience. You can take it to work or the gym, and have it when you’re hungry.

If you’re looking for a hard reset,try out this 3-day easy diet detox.This can get you back on track if you’ve gone off the rails during a vacation or a stressful period at work. Don’t worry if your diet isn’t perfect at all times, the important thing is that you get back on track when you can.

To put it simply,you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. That’s why tracking your nutrition can be helpful for weight loss.

Try a nutrition-tracking app to bring more awareness to the calorie and macronutrient content of the food you’re eating. Doing that alone can help you make better decisions that will ultimately lead to weight loss.

There’s More To It Than Diet and Exercise

The bulk of your fat loss results will come from working hard in the gym and eating properly. However, those aren’t the only things that matter. For example, getting enough sleep can help you lose weight byreducing hunger and boosting energy levels

Taking care of your mental health is also important. One tip is to spend less time on your phone, which is the root cause of stress for many people.For 10 other weight loss tips,check out this article.

Knowledge is key to losing weight because it helps you make better decisions. If you’re frustrated by a lack of progress with your diet and workouts, or you’re losing motivation, do some research to find new challenges or ideas.

For example, you canread this article that compares different types of running and how they impact weight loss.