Kettlebell Workouts for Weight Loss Series – Part 1

Weight loss is often oversimplified to calories in versus calories out. The reality is that losing weight is much more complicated than that and there is more to the process than how many calories you eat versus how many calories you burn. Weight loss involves many interrelated factors such as nutrition, sleep, genetics, hormones, mental and emotional stress, and energy expenditure.

The energy expenditure of your body depends on metabolic rate, body heat generation, and physical activity. Typically, people assume long bouts of steady state cardio such as running or biking will help them burn the most calories. While you do burn a lot of calories doing cardio, this type of exercise is not the most efficient way to increase muscle mass – which is the key to increasing your metabolism. More muscle mass means your body will burn more calories throughout the day – even when you are not exercising. Therefore, the most effective way to boost metabolism and therefore your body’s energy expenditure is by building muscle mass through lifting heavy weights.

That’s where kettlebells come in.


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Kettlebells are not only great for building explosive strength and power, but also an effective tool for weight loss (assuming the other factors such as nutrition, sleep, hormones, and mental and emotional stress are dialed in).

First, kettlebells are a great way to add variety to your training routine. While the usage of kettlebells dates back to ancient times like dumbbells, they have only hit gyms as a mainstream tool in recent years. While most people know what a kettlebell is, many have never used one. When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to adapt your routine when you hit a plateau and are not seeing results. Introducing your body to something unfamiliar like kettlebell lifting can provide a new challenge and push you past a plateau.

Next, kettlebell training is a total body workout that demands more energy from the body – which means you burn more calories and work all of the muscle groups. The offset weight of the ball of the kettlebell provides a very different experience than the evenly distributed weight of a dumbbell or barbell, which requires more recruitment from your core and other stabilizing muscles. The unique stimulus from the unevenly distributed weight of a kettlebell activates more muscle fibers than traditional dumbbell exercises.

While kettlebells can be used to perform almost any dumbbell exercise, they are also great for high-intensity compound movements such as swings, cleans and snatches.

Lastly, kettlebells are ideal for continuous, high-repetition activity – meaning you can get your cardio without a treadmill and build muscle mass simultaneously. Kettlebell Sport training uses the jerk, snatch, and clean & jerk exercises for 10-minute sets without setting the bells down. There are even competitions designed for this, which can give you a goal to keep you training consistently.

Taking the above reasons for using kettlebells into account, this workout is specially designed to help you build muscle mass, burn calories, and therefore accelerate your weight loss.

Perform each exercise in a circuit using a 40/20-time period (40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest) before moving on to the next exercise.

Complete three full circuits for a workout of approximately 20 minutes in duration.

Warm Up (10 reps each)

Arm circle
Standing toe touch
Bodyweight squat
Alternating forward lunge
Alternating side lunge

Swing
Primary Muscles: glutes, hamstrings, core, spinal erectors, lats, and deltoids

• Stand upright, feet about hip-width apart, with a kettlebell on the floor about two feet in front of your feet.
• Hinge at the hips with a neutral spine and grab the handle with both hands. Pull the shoulders down and away from the ears to set your lats and upper back.
• Swing the kettlebell back between your legs, making sure the bell stays above your knees and the shoulders stay at hip level or slightly above. Knees can be slightly bent.
• Powerfully extend your hips, contracting the glutes and core at the top of the lift. The kettlebell should float up to about shoulder height, with elbows slightly bent.
• Let gravity pull the kettlebell back down, only hinging at the hips when your arms hit your waistband.

High Pull
Primary Muscles: glutes, hamstrings, core, spinal erectors, lats, and deltoids

• Stand upright, feet about hip-width apart, with a kettlebell on the floor about two feet in front of your feet.
• Hinge at the hips with a neutral spine and grab the handle with one hand. Pull the shoulder down and away from the ear to set your lats and upper back. The free arm will lightly tap the top of the kettlebell in the starting position, and will mimic the working arm throughout the lift.
• Swing the kettlebell back between your legs, making sure the bell stays above your knees and the shoulders stay at hip level or slightly above. Knees can be slightly bent.
• Powerfully extend your hips, contracting the glutes and core at the top of the lift. At the floating point of the lift (around shoulder level), pull your elbow back and to the side of your body so the kettlebell moves toward you.
• Guide the kettlebell back down along the same path, allowing the arm straighten. Hinge at the hips once your arm hits your waistband.
• Repeat on the other side.

Squat Press
Primary Muscles: quads, glutes, hamstrings, and deltoids

• Clean the kettlebell into rack position, with wrist straight and fully inserted through the bell handle and elbow into the body.
• Squat down, allowing the elbow to lift from the body in order to maintain balanced.
• Return to the starting position by pushing the floor away, then press the kettlebell overhead, stacking the weight of the kettlebell over your shoulder as you fully straighten your arm.
• Lower the kettlebell back to the rack position.
• Repeat on the other side.

Deadlift
Primary Muscles: glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors

• Stand upright, feet about hip-width apart, with a kettlebell on the floor between your feet.
• Hinge at the hips with a neutral spine and grab the handle with both hands. Pull the shoulders down and away from the ears to set your lats and upper back.
• Drive the floor away forcefully and contract your glutes and core to fully extend your hips without leaning the shoulders back.
• Lower back down to the starting position with control, ensuring the spine remains neutral.

Plank Pull Through
Primary Muscles: core and deltoids

• Start in the plank position with the kettlebell to the outside of your left arm.
• Reach your right hand under your body and grab the handle of the kettlebell, then drag the kettlebell underneath your body until it’s outside your right arm. Try to prevent your hips from shifting from side to side as you move the kettlebell.
• Reach your left hand under and across and bring the kettlebell back to the outside of your left arm.

Figure 8 movement
Primary Muscles: abs, glutes, and deltoids

• Stand upright, feet about hip-width apart, with a kettlebell on the floor about two feet in front of your feet.
• Hinge at the hips with a neutral spine and grab the right side of the handle with your right hand.
• Swing the kettlebell between the legs, and simultaneously reach your left hand behind your left leg to grab the left side of the handle. Release your right hand as you bring the kettlebell around your left leg and back through the center.
• Reach your right hand behind your right leg to grab the right side of the handle. Release your left hand as you bring the kettlebell around your right leg and back through the center.

This workout can be performed 2-3 times per week, depending on your fitness level and ability to recover from the workout. By utilizing kettlebells in your daily workouts, you will not only increase your metabolism, but you will build the strength and stamina to easily perform daily activities. Check our blog regularly for more of our 10 part series on kettlebell workouts for weight loss.

About Kettlebell Kings

Kettlebell Kings is a premium-quality kettlebell and kettlebell content provider, based in Austin, Texas. You can view our equipment, kettlebell how-to’s, and get expert advice at Kettlebellkings.com. For more information, call us at 855-7KETTLE to learn more.

Questions from our athletes.

Question: Coach; I want to start at a local gym and am thinking about CrossFit. Where can I find more information and get started?

Check out the CrossFit website here. Make sure that the gym has an “On Ramp” program and that you go slow to start.

Related Articles:
CrossFit Kettlebell workouts and tips

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