Depending on who teaches you what moves with a kettlebell, you may feel like you’ve had a complete workout almost immediately with just, for example, a single Turkish getup. This acrobatic move will get your core, quads, shoulders, glutes and everything else talking loud and clear, especially if you pick a challenging weight, as fitness coach Neghar Fonooni did in a much-viewed video showing her hoisting 28 solid kilograms with perfect form. Until you get to Fonooni’s level, though, your complete kettlebell workout will certainly entail hoisting lighter weights in more varied exercises.
“‘Kettlebell’ and ‘complete’ are synonymous,” notes Lorna Kleidman, New York-based founder of the KettleX program, with enthusiasm. “The kettlebell’s shape makes it easy to achieve a full-body, heart-pumping workout in a short amount of time.” That’s what makes kettlebells so special and effective, she says, in helping you achieve strength, endurance and fat loss.
When planning your workout with kettlebells, or “KBs” in trainer parlance, “be sure to use complexes that include all planes of motion,” Kleidman recommends. Your workout needs to include forward and back components, such as the forward lunge with the KB chop and the backward step with the KB overhead press. You also need lateral and rotational components, such as a lunge with a KB pass and standing golfer’s circles or halos. For the ballistic and power components, Kleidman advises swings or swings with jumps. Round off your workout with pushing-and-pulling components, such as presses and rows.
The ACE Approach
American Council on Exercise resident exercise physiologist Fabio Comana designed a complete workout to keep you busy two or three times a week. He advises the deadlift, single-arm swing and Turkish half getup, followed by the kettlebell pushup, single-arm row and walking lunge. With the addition of the shoulder press and halo, you hit a fair number of the same families of KB exercises advocated by Kleidman, such as rotations, swings, pulls and pushes.
As long as you are lifting your KBs in a way that hits various planes of motion, as Kleidman and Comana advocate, you are on your way to a complete workout -- and the variations are infinite. San Diego-area trainer Lauren Brooks, author of “Kettlebells for Women,” recommends regular deadlifts, one-arm and two-arm swings, the chest press and the suitcase deadlift for one weekly workout, and the goblet squat, single-arm row, clean and additional one-arm swings for a second workout two days later.
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.