Kettlebell Weight Training

November 3, 2021 2 Comments

Kettlebells are a fantastic tool for weight training that have been overlooked in the past in favour of dumbbells and other equipment. But they are becoming more popular nowadays; they are very versatile and can be used to accomplish many different things. In this article I will explore the growing popularity of kettlebells, kettlebell weight training to achieve different objectives. Finally I will be explaining how I use them in my own training!

Growing Popularity of Kettlebells

Kettlebells initially gained popularity amongst strongmen in the 19th century. In modern times however they have become more and more widely used to the point that now the majority of commercial gyms will have some kettlebells for members to use in their training. Kettlebells are a functional tool that can be used for many full body movements activating many muscles at the same time. They can also be used to isolate only certain muscles. In addition they can aid in fat burning when used to perform full body explosive movements.

Grip training with Kettlebells

Another massively overlooked feature of kettlebells is how they can be used in your training to build a very strong grip, adding mass to your forearms in the process. One of the best ways to build grip strength with kettlebells in a safe manner that doesn’t put undue pressure on your wrists is this:

Grab a kettlebell and sit down on a bench whilst holding the kettlebell between your legs like shown above. Then just using your wrist and no other momentum lower the kettlebell down and then back up. This is a fantastic grip exercise to build a powerful grip over time and also work your forearms heavily at the same time. In order to reap the benefits you would have to approach this exercise in a progressive manner aiming to get more reps with the same weight each week, then moving up in weight gradually. Another way of progressively overloading is by pausing at the top. You could do each rep with a 2 second pause at the top to make it a lot harder on the grip and forearms. Later down the line you could do each rep with a 4 second pause at the top to make it infinitely harder! The possibilities are endless here.

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Kettlebell Weight Training Exercises

Kettlebells are incredibly versatile and there are so many different exercises that you can perform with them- from isolation movements to taxing compound movements involving the entire body. Some great exercises to try with Kettlebells:

  • Goblet Squats These are a great full body exercise that will work a multitude of different muscles from glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, upper back, etc. Simply hold the kettlebell from the handles on the side with a neutral grip, stand up and bring the kettlebell up high. Then simply squat down maintaining good form and come back up.
  • Hammer curls A different way to perform hammer curls, as most bodybuilders are used to performing them with dumbbells. Performing them with kettlebells will provide a unique stimulation to the forearms. You can do tempo curls to provide even more stimulation. As you curl up count “1-2-3” on the way up for more time under tension.
  • Reverse curls – Another great exercise for the forearms, grab the kettlebells with a pronated grip (overhand) on the top handle, curl up. Again make it a lot harder doing these in a tempo fashion for more time under tension and more of a pump in the forearms!
  • Pressing – From shoulder pressing to bench pressing. You can provide a unique and different muscle stimulation to your pressing movements with kettlebells. Will be harder than dumbbells as kettlebells have a thicker handle and will activate more stabiliser muscle recruitment on these exercises as well as working the grip harder.
  • Rows – Make your rows harder using kettlebells instead of dumbbells, will be more taxing on your grip and provide a nice change from standard dumbbell rows.
  • Romanian Deadlift – A great exercise for the posterior chain, works the glutes and hamstrings to a large extent. Try these with kettlebells to make your grip work harder.
  • Turkish Get Ups – An incredible exercise for strengthening your core. But it will be very complex for people who have never tried it before. Takes time to get to grips with it. The starting position is to lie on the floor on your side with the kettlebell cradled close to you, roll over so you are lying on your back. Press the kettlebell up and then stand up with it.
  • Kettlebell Swings – This is one of the classic kettlebell movements, it is a whole body exercise and there is also a great fat burning component to this exercise. Stand and bend forward at the waist maintaining good posture with the kettlebell between your legs. Powerfully explode up by extending through the hips and bringing the kettlebell up high with arms straight. Kettlebell swings are amazing for explosive power as well, it has been shown that they are just as good as jump squats for improving maximal strength and explosive strength.












How I Use Kettlebells In My Training

So how do I incorporate kettlebells into my training? The answer is I predominantly use kettlebells myself for grip training and perform the grip exercise I already outlined in this article. In addition I perform goblet squats, hammer curls and reverse curl with kettlebells. Occasionally I also perform some tricep exercises with kettlebells like a lying tricep extension for a unique and different challenge for the triceps. Personally I am not a fan of dumbbell rows or kettlebell rows, I prefer to do hammer strength machine rows as I find this works best for me. Another rowing variation I like to throw in to the end of workouts for a final pump is to do rows using heavy duty resistance bands, simply find a place in the gym to drape the bands over that is high up and get that pump!


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I hope this article has given you new ideas and ways that you can implement kettlebells into your training. Let me know if you have any questions about kettlebell weight training and if you want any help in how best to implement kettlebell work into your routine. Also if you already use kettlebells, please let me know what your favourite exercises are with these great tools!

2 thoughts on “Kettlebell Weight Training”

  1. Thanks for your post. I have been aware of kettlebells for years, but prefer to always use dumbells because I am terrified of pulling a muscle. But then again, I never new how to use kettlebells until I read your article. I would like to use the kettlebells for getting a strong grip. I also like your kettlebell weight training exercises, especially the hammer curls. The kettle swings seems too dangerous. I’m afraid I might hit someone accidentally. 

    1. kettlebell swings are safe, you just need to ensure you have space in front of you. Stretching areas in the gym are good places to execute this movement. Kettlebell’s are safe when used correctly and provide a unique challenge. 

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