4 Must-Have Kettlebell Drills

By Brandon Richey

As a coach, I often come across students who have never touched or considered using a kettlebell in their training program.

But what I’ve found, is kettlebells are the perfect tools for generating results the student has sometimes been unable to grasp for weeks, if not months.

Plus, if you’re someone who likes to work out at home, a few kettlebells are great to have—they’re small, compact, portable and can optimize two aspects of training simultaneously: cardiovascular conditioning and strength training.

So if you’re looking to build speed, power, strength, mobility, and stamina, today’s article will knock your training up a few notches and maybe even blast you through a training plateau.

Kettlebell Swings

This is a movement many of you are already familiar with. If you’re going to add in any kettlebell training, this is the one not to overlook.

When it comes to fighting your hips have to be mobile and explosive. Kettlebell swings are great for harnessing this trait due to the hip snap that is needed to execute this drill. It can be done double-handed, or single.

When hiking the kettlebell between your legs at your groin, you’re loading your hips up for the movement.

In order to propel the kettlebell in the proper arc from between your legs up to your chest height, you’ve got to forcefully extend your knees and hips to perform the hip snap.

This movement will help you develop a strong posterior chain of muscles which involve your hips, glutes, back, and hamstrings. All of these muscles are necessary for sprinting, jumping, and kicking.

Kettlebell Goblet Squats

The goblet squat is one of the most overlooked and underrated strength movements in terms of building a strong squat along with a powerful core center.

In fact, goblet squats are so crucial that you can utilize these to drastically enhance your barbell back squats, as well as your push-ups. (A good measure of identifying if you’re ready for barbell back squats is to get highly proficient at performing the kettlebell goblet squat.)

Both of these are crucial for building a strong power base, whether you’re working on a well-rounded fitness routine, or something more specifically like fight conditioning.

The reason this will enhance your back squats is due to the loading of the weight. Holding the kettlebell against your chest and squeezing it between your forearms as you descend down into the squat will ensure that you squat into a fuller depth.

Squatting with a more complete range of motion (ROM) will enhance your squat movement, which involves your barbell back squat.

Because the kettlebell is front-load movement, the squat forces you to brace your core midsection to stabilize the weight throughout the squat.

This enhances your core strength, which is fundamental to performing just about every other weight training (bodyweight or otherwise) movement you do.

Turkish Get-Ups

If you have never performed a kettlebell Turkish get up (TGU) for your training, then you’re depriving yourself of performance.

In terms of functional fitness performance, there is no better lift that will help you build ground-based agility and train you to get down and up from the ground with seamless effort.

This is one of the most powerful movements you can perform. In fact, the TGU is powerful that many strength and conditioning coaches utilize this movement to correct a lot of movement dysfunction with athletes in nearly every sport.

Kettlebell Snatches

When it comes to building on your functional strength, enhancing your cardiovascular conditioning, and helping you build bulletproof shoulders, you can’t beat the kettlebell snatch.

This movement also incorporates the same hip action as the kettlebell swing, but adds in the element of involving more of your shoulders as your bring the weight to an overhead position.

It does, however, require a bit more attention to form.

The objective with the kettlebell snatch is to perform the hip snap as you swing the kettlebell back between your legs to load your hips. As you snap your hips, you want to forcefully drive your legs and feet through the ground to create the power to elevate the kettlebell overhead.

You should really root your feet in for a couple of reasons. By rooting in you will create significant power and stabilize your body so you don’t allow the kettlebell’s momentum to pull you off balance.

The overhead movement is performed with you keeping the kettlebell close to your torso as you drive with your legs to elevate it overhead. Keep the kettlebell close to your body by imagining you’re zipping up a jacket.

As the kettlebell ascends you should perform a corkscrew motion with the kettlebell smoothly rolling around your forearm as you elevate it to the overhead position. If you’re banging your forearms and getting bruises your technique is poor and you need to learn how to seamlessly roll the kettlebell in the movement.

The Takeaway

When you’re looking to build your performance and fitness for a particular sport, or life need you have to apply specific training to meet specific needs. This is known is specificity of training.

These kettlebell drills are very specific to the needs of fighting and will serve as a great start to get you on track with improving your fitness and performance for fighting.

If you want more tips on how to get shredded with kettlebells, come visit my website, Brandon Richey Fitness.



SEALgrinderPT coach Brandon Richey is a certified strength and conditioning coach, author, and founder of Brandon Richey Fitness.

He has worked with thousands of athletes over his 17 years of experience, developing fitness training programs for beginners to professional and D-1 level collegiate athletes at the University of Georgia.

He also trains MMA and Muay Thai athletes, both professional and amateur.


QUESTION: Hi, Coach. I’m looking to build up my kettlebell set, but I’m on a major shoestring budget at the moment. I’m a DIY kind of person. Do you have any info on how I could make my own kettlebells?

ANSWER: Yes; check out this article—How to Make a Kettlebell.

QUESTION: Got any SEAL-style sandbag workouts I can do?

ANSWER: Yes—got just the article for you: Navy SEAL Sandbag Workouts.



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