The Most Effective Kettlebell Exercises

One of the most appealing things about kettlebell training – and what draws a lot of folks to it in the first place – is its effectiveness.

With a single kettlebell and mastery of a few basic exercises, you can work every muscle in your body in about 20 or 30 minutes.

So if you’re looking to get a great workout but you don’t have a lot of extra time, you want to know what the most effective kettlebell exercises are …

The answer to this question is highly dependent on several factors, such as:

  • Specifically what you’re trying to accomplish with your training (some exercises are going to be more effective for building strength, some better for losing fat, etc.)
  • Your current fitness level (certain exercises and modifications are better for beginners, while others would work better for advanced folks)

That being said, for 98% of individuals who just want to get a time-efficient workout, lose some belly fat and gain a bit of lean muscle, the most effective kettlebell exercises are the basic ones.  There’s just no need to master more than a handful of moves to reach your goals.

Taking this to an extreme, you can get great benefit from doing just two exercises – the swing and the Turkish get up.

Why the swing and the get up?

In the HardStyle kettlebell training method, everything is built upon mastery of the swing and the Turkish get up. The swing is the ‘base’ balistic exercise, and the get up is the ‘base’ grind.

And this makes perfect sense when you analyse the rest of the basic kettlebell moves (the goblet squat, the clean, the press, and the snatch) …

For example, in the clean and the snatch, the ‘bottom’ position is identical to the swing; so if you don’t really, really have the swing down, your clean and snatch are going to be jacked up.

And the Turkish get up is fantastic for strengthening your wrists, conditioning your forearms, and building the necessary shoulder mobility and stability for doing a great press and snatch. If you can’t lock out the ‘bell overhead at the top position of a get up properly, you sure as heck won’t be able to while you’re doing a clean or a snatch.

Swing and get up instructional videos

Here are two videos I made that show you how to do the swing and the Turkish get up:

Swing and get up workout

Based on the info I’ve provided so far in this article, here’s a sample workout:

Start with a 10 minute warm-up – pick three or four body weight exercises like push ups, squats, sit ups, etc. and put them together into a circuit – do 10 reps of each about two-three times through. Make sure to chose movements that hit different parts of your body – for example:

  • 10 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 10 sit ups

Repeat this sequence 2x without rest

  • Now grab your kettlebell.  We’ll start with sumo deadlifts.  Do two sets of 10 slow and deliberate reps, emphasizing the stretch in the back of the legs.
  • Next, perform five sets of 15-20 reps of kettlebell swings.  Take 30 seconds rest between sets.
  • Finally, do three Turkish Get-Ups on each side, switching sides with each rep.

Cool down and you’re done for the day!  This workout should only take you 15 or 20 minutes, but it’s guaranteed to leave you smoked if done with the proper intensity.

The most effective kettlebell exercises are the most basic ones.  The swing and the Turkish get up are a great place to start.  In fact, if I had to pick just two moves to work every muscle group in my entire body, these would be the ones I would choose.

Thanks for reading and talk soon -

Forest Vance, MS, RKC II, CPT

P.S. One caveat:  Relying on just two exercises for your fitness program can get a little boring.  Effective is one thing … enough variety to keep things interesting and being able to stick with a program for the long term is another.

My 10×10 Kettlebell Solution system gives you 10 exercises to work with (mostly kettlebell moves, with a few body weight exercises mixed  in) and uses these to build 10 different workouts done over 10 weeks time.  It’s designed for folks who want to lose fat, gain lean muscle, and transform their bodies.  And it strikes a great balance between effectiveness and fun!

Click the link below to check it out:

The 10×10 Kettlebell Solution

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