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6 Power Kettlebell Exercises To Obliterate Body Fat And Send Your Heart Screaming

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No list of scorching fitness trends would be legitimate without the seemingly innocuous kettlebell.

The kettlebell is an archaic piece of equipment dating back to 18th century Russia. It looks like a cannonball with a handle. But don’t be fooled by its old age or lack of sex appeal — the kettlebell is spry and mobile, and powers an arsenal of uber-intense exercises that’ll make your muscles scream and calories shrivel.

Kettlebell training burns in the neighborhood of 20.2 calories per minute. That’s on par with running a 6 minute mile.1 And that’s only DURING exercise — not including the afterburn (aka EPOC).

It’s incredible how something so simple can pack such a heavy punch and utterly massacre the entirely body, in seemingly one large fell swoop. But we masochistically like body obliteration.

Kettlebell training is one of the quickest ways to overclock your heart rate, thrash muscle tissue—from your delts to calves—and break into fat storehouses. Once you get into a flow and sweat starts streaming, the metabolic burn is unparalleled.

Unlike a dumbbell, the kettlebell’s construction and physics uniquely allows the center of gravity to shift during an exercise. It’s functional, which makes sense. With its ergonomic handle and body construction, it emulates real-life objects. Suitcases, grocery bags, golf clubs, garbage cans, flowerpots, and generally anything else you’d lift on a regular basis works that way. Dumbbells and barbells are great, but other than wine bottles, how often are you really lifting items with an even weight distribution. Casual logging, I guess?

By default, kettlebell training is a full-body affair. During most exercises—let’s use a swing as an example—not only are you ballistically pulling up against gravity, but you’re actively resisting acceleration when the kettlebell gets in motion. In other instances, you’re working to move the kbell from floor to ceiling; incorporating explosive strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, and CV fitness to get it up repeatedly.

And that’s where the potency really hits hard. Kettlebells almost always result in HIIT — and produce the avalanche of benefits that go along with it.

Ready to enter kettlebell hell? Anchor your training with these 6 high-powered kettlebell exercises. They’re an amazing way to infuse movement, spike your heart rate, knock off calories, and obliterate body fat.


 

6 Power Kettlebell Exercises To Obliterate Body Fat And Send Your Heart Screaming


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1. Kettlebell Swings


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How To:


Target Muscles: Shoulders, Legs, Lower Back, Core

Kettlebell Swings are your foundational move and the pinnacle of kettlebell fat incineration. They’re a fast, explosive movement that revs the heart and hits the entire body — including the shoulders and front deltoids, rear delts, lower back, core, and even the legs.

Like the deadlift or squat, form is absolutely key. Start light, master the movement, and THEN up the weight.

  • (1) Place a kettlebell in between your feet.
  • (2) Maintain a flat back, bend down, and grab the handles. This is your base position.
  • (3) Powerfully dip down, press through your heels (squeeze your butt), raise your torso, and vigorously swing the kettlebell up to forehead height. Thrust through your hips at the midpoint and keep your arms straight throughout the motion.
  • (4) Let the kettlebell sit at the apex for as long as possible, bend your knees, and slowly allow it to release between your legs — keep your chest up. Repeat.

Pro Tip: Do it with one arm.

 

 

2. Kettlebell Snatch


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Image: CrossFit Canberra

How To:


Target Muscles: Shoulders, Legs, Lower Back, Core

Once you master swings, the next logical progression is the Kettlebell Snatch. I’ve advocated hard for dumbbell snatches for a looooooooong time, and they’re a consistent staple in almost all of my shoulder training. But kettlebells are optimal. The physics are much more natural, as you’re pulling, swinging, and flipping — not pressing like you would with a dumbbell. Because of that, they require fluid full-body coordination and vertical explosiveness to complete.

Think of them as a jet thrusters that torch fat, build colossal strength, and effectively boost CV fitness and VO2max.

  • (1) Place a kettlebell in between your feet.
  • (2) Maintain a flat back, bend down, and grab the handle with your right hand.
  • (3) Powerfully ascend and begin swinging the kettlebell up. As it begins to approach ab height, explosively yank it up over your shoulder, flip the kettlebell over your wrist, and extend up until your arm is straight.
  • (4) Slowly lower the weight back down and immediately repeat.

 

 

3. 1-Arm Kettlebell Front Squat


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How To:


Target Muscles: Legs, Butt, Core

Think of your body in quadrants. Unlike traditional squats, Front Squats pull your center of gravity towards the front half of your body. That shifts the emphasis onto your quads and abs, increases core engagement, and forces you to keep your back straight to avoid falling over.

The 1-Arm Kettlebell Front Squat pushes that further by directing all of the weight to the front right/front left of your body. In other words, instead of being evenly distributed, it’s isolated to one quarter of your body. THAT requires massive core stability to keep yourself balanced — both frontally and laterally.

On top of squatting and hanging onto a fat-ass kettlebell, your main focus is a straight torso.

  • (1) Hold a kettlebell so that it’s folded over your right hand at about neck height. It should sit in the nook between your forearm and bicep.
  • (2) Tighten your core, keep your back flat, and squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Your body will likely start to fall forward and over to the right — resist that and stay as straight as possible.
  • (3) Powerfully press through your butt and ascend back up to start.

Pro Tip: Add a press at the top of the movement.

 

 

4. Kettlebell Windmill


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How To:


Target Muscles: Core, Lower Back, Shoulders

The Kettlebell Windmill simultaneously digs into the core and obliques, builds flexibility and mobility, increases lateral range of motion, and burns out the shoulders, arms, and forearms.

It’s all about muscular endurance and maintaining alignment throughout the movement. A strong back and core are mandatory.

  • (1) Stand upright and hold a kettlebell overhead with your right arm. Lock that arm in place.
  • (2) Take one small step back with your left foot. Shift all of your weight over to your right hip — keep that leg stationary.
  • (3) Without arching your back, stare at the kettlebell, bend over to the left and touch your left foot with your left hand. The kettlebell should stay completely vertical the entire time.
  • (4) Contract your obliques, tighten your lower back, and powerfully raise back up to a full standing position

Pro Tip: Do a calf raise at the top of every rep.

 

 

5. Kettlebell Turkish Get Up


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How To:


Target Muscles: Legs, Core

The Kettlebell Turkish Get Up is the epitome of a full-body movement. Your goal: maintain a straight arm and get the kettlebell from the floor to a position where it’s directly overhead (without pressing). It’s far more challenging than it looks and requires massive coordination, concentration, and full-body strength to get right.

Start with a light weight and gradually work your way up. Form is your primary concern.

  • (1) Lie on the floor with a kettlebell in your right hand and your right knee bent. Press it over your face. Keep your arm locked at all times. It doesn’t move.
  • (2) Press your left forearm into the ground, raise your torso, and explosively push the kettlebell up overhead. You should be propped up with your torso at 45º. Keep your core tight.
  • (3) Raise up to a full sit, swing your left leg back, and push up further so that you’re propped up on your left shin and right foot. The kettlebell is still straight overhead.
  • (4) Finish the movement by doing a lunge.
  • (5) Slowly reverse the movement until you’re flat on the floor.

 

 

6. Kettlebell High Pulls


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How To:


Target Muscles: Shoulders, Traps, Legs, Lower Back

Kettlebell High Pulls are the kettlebell equivalent of an upright row. They’re a great way to shred the front deltoids and hammer the upper traps. Additionally, the ascension is vigorous and incorporates elements of a deadlift, which helps crank up the intensity and increase the rate of fat burn.

  • (1) Place a kettlebell in between your feet.
  • (2) Maintain a flat back, bend down, and grab the handles.
  • (3) Ascend, raise the kettlebell up to your waist, and then pull it directly up in front of your face. Your elbows should stay high and reach eye height.
  • (4) Slowly lower the weight back down to the ground. Repeat.

Pro Tip: Do it with one arm.

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
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References, Notes, Links

  1. ACE Fitness — Kettlebells: Twice the Results in Half the Time? []