[Kettlebell Workout] Shape and tone in just 26 minutes!

HIIT those kettlebells to blast calories and build a better body!

Due to its unique dimensions, with its horns and handle that alter the centre of gravity with the type of grip this design promotes, the kettlebell imposes a different type of resistance on the body than does a dumbbell. This more dynamic exercise tool, therefore, has the ability to activate more muscles during each exercise, including important core muscles, as the body tries to stabilise itself and control the movement of the weight.

These attributes of kettlebell training offers a host of benefits, from increased full-body strength and conditioning to a higher rate of calorie consumption when compared to other forms of weight training. In fact, according to research conducted at the University of Wisconsin and funded by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a 20-minute kettlebell workout burns an average of 272 calories. In a different study, researchers determined that training with kettlebells burnt at up to 20.2 calories per minute, which works out to a staggering 1,200 calories per hour.

So ditch the dumbbells and try this kettlebell workout!

How to do it:

  • Perform this workout using a HIIT 10-rep EMOM – every minute, on the minute – structure. Set a timer for 1-minute intervals.
  • Perform 10 reps of each exercise (5 reps per side for unilateral exercises) within that minute, then move directly to the next exercise for the next minute-long interval.
  • If you finish before 1 minute is up, use the remainder of the interval to recover.
  • Rest for one minute after completing all 8 exercises.
  • Repeat for a total of 3 rounds.

That’s it! 26 minutes of lung-busting, calorie-blasting, body-sculpting high-intensity exercise.

The moves

  • Russian kettlebell swing
  • Single arm deadlift, clean and overhead press
  • Romanian deadlift
  • Sumo with high pull
  • Kettlebell lunge with pass through
  • Alternating one-arm swing with pass
  • Kettlebell arm complex
  • Kettlebell windmill

Form tip: Keep your wrists as straight as possible during exercises to limit the chance of injury.

The Workout

Move 1: Russian kettlebell swing

Set up with the kettlebell in front of you. Hinge at the hips and push back your glutes while keeping your back straight. Lower yourself until you can grip the handle with both hands. Pull your shoulders back and down by engaging your back muscles. Pull the kettlebell back hard as your hands go between your legs until you feel the tension in your hamstrings. Contract your glutes and hamstrings forcefully and allow this to drive your hips forward, extending them in a popping motion. Use the momentum of this movement to drive the kettlebell up and forward into the swing phase of the movement. Guide the kettlebell with your hands and extended arms as it travels up to about shoulder height. Let the kettlebell fall back between your legs. As it does, repeat the movement.

The kettlebell swing is a highly effective exercise for anyone who wants to achieve functional strength and fitness, as the movement teaches you to generate power from the core outward, generating force from the hips, legs, back and core stabilisers. It also works to improve mobility and delivers a full-body workout with one move.

Move 2: Kettlebell single arm deadlift, clean and overhead press

Start with a kettlebell placed between your feet, with your legs positioned wider than hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Lower your hips to grab the handle with one hand using an overhand grip. Deadlift the kettlebell off the floor and continue to pull it up until it reaches chest level. With your elbow tucked in at your side, rotate your arm out, then press the kettlebell overhead. Reverse the movement to return the kettlebell back down to the ground to complete one rep. Complete 5 reps on one side before swapping arms.

Move 3: Single-leg Romanian deadlift

Stand upright with a neutral spine holding a kettlebell in your right hand. Brace your core and place your body weight on your left leg (opposite to the arm holding the kettlebell). Bend at the hip, reaching down to the ground with the kettlebell. Push your hip back and go as low as you can while maintaining a neutral spine. As you do so, extend your ‘free’ leg straight out behind you. When your back and extended leg are in alignment to form a table top, contract the hamstring and glute of your supporting leg to return to the upright position. Perform 5 reps with the left leg, then repeat on the right leg.

Form tip: Do not allow the hip of the ‘free’ leg to tilt up as you hinge. 

Move 4: Alternating one-arm swing with pass

Set up as explained in the Russian swing description, except this time hold the kettlebell on the handle with one hand. Swing the kettlebell up by driving through your hips to generate the power for the swing phase. Swing the kettlebell up to chest height, until your arm is parallel to the ground. At the top of the swing, switch the kettlebell to your opposite hand. Allow the kettlebell to drop back down under control, being careful not to round or hyper-extend the lower back. Allow the kettlebell to fall between your legs before executing the hip extension to repeat the movement. Each swing counts as one rep.

Form tip: Don’t shrug your shoulders or flex your elbows to attempt to extend the range of motion of your arms.

Move 4: Sumo squat with high pull

Set up with the kettlebell placed on the floor between your legs, with your feet wider than hip-width apart and toes pointing out. Squat down by grasp the handle with both hands by bending your knees and pushing back your hips. Drive up through your feet and extend your knees and hips to rise back up. As you do so, pull the kettlebell up to your chin, keeping your elbows above your wrists as you do so. Lower the kettlebell down and drop into a deep squat to repeat the movement.

Form tip: Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.

Move 6: Lunge with pass through

Stand upright holding a kettlebell in your right hand. Step forward with your right foot and lower yourself down by flexing the hip and the knee of your leading leg. Allow the trailing knee to drop down until it nearly touches the ground. As you lunge, pass the kettlebell under your bent leading leg to your opposite hand (left). Press through the heel of your leading foot and extend your knee and hip to return to the starting position. Repeat the movement for the recommended amount of reps in an alternating fashion.

Form tip: Keep your torso upright throughout the movement.

Move 7: Kettlebell arm complex

Stand upright, with your feet placed shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell on the horns with an overhand grip. Curl the kettlebell up to your chest, then press the kettlebell overhead. From this position, flex your elbows to lower the kettlebell back behind your head. Press the kettlebell back up and then lower it back down to the starting position to complete one rep of the complex.

Move 8: Kettlebell windmill

Clean and press a kettlebell overhead with your right arm. Adopt a wide stance with your feet pointing out at a forty-five-degree angle. Keep your loaded arm locked out as you push your hip out in the direction of the locked-out kettlebell (right side). Continue to lean over until you can touch the floor with your free hand. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell being held overhead. When your free hand touches the ground, reverse the motion back to the starting position. Perform 5 reps on one side, then swap over to the other.

Performed by Janni Hussi

Shot by James Patrick

Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You'll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.