A Full-Body Kettlebell Workout
If you could only have one piece of home workout equipment (and it’s unclear what scenario would ever lead to such a restriction), a kettlebell would be a great choice. You can use kettlebells for all manner of strength workouts, with their off-centre weighting making them perfect for swing exercises in particular, and they’re also great for speedy circuit sessions that improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn boatloads of calories.
For those who are new to kettlebell training, the workout below is a great place to start. It focuses mostly on the lower body and core, hitting all the muscle groups that runners should be working on as part of their strength and conditioning sessions. You can work through the sets and reps as detailed below, or do the exercises in rotation as part of a circuit if you prefer.
Sets 3 Reps 20
This is the quintessential kettlebell exercise and the best place to start with your workout. The kettlebell swing fires up the posterior chain (your back, shoulders, hamstrings and glutes) and it’s those muscles that you should use to swing the weight, rather than jerking it with your arms.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Holding the kettlebell by the top of the handle in both hands bend down by hinging at your hips and take the weight back between your legs to create momentum. Drive your hips forward to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height and then control the swing back down.
Sets 3 Reps 12
This squat variation powers up the entire lower body and also helps you nail the form of the movement when building up to barbell lifts like back and front squats. Gripping the horns (the sides) of the handle, hold a kettlebell against your chest so its handle points towards the ground. Your elbows should be tucked in so it looks like you’re holding a goblet (if that’s something you’ve done before!)
From this position sit back and drop into a deep squat, at least until your thighs are parallel to the ground, before pushing through your heels to stand back up.
Sets 3 Reps 20 total
A cracking core move that puts the focus on your obliques – the muscles that run down the side of your midsection that are vital in twisting movements. Sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet planted. Holding a kettlebell in front of your chest, lean back until your torso is at a 45° degrees angle to the ground. Then lift your feet off the ground so you are balanced on your bum. Twist your torso to take the kettlebell as far to one side as you can while keeping your balance and then twist it all the way to the other side.
Sets 3 Reps 10 each leg
The classic forward lunge is a great exercise for strengthening your lower body, working all the major muscle groups in your legs plus the glutes. If you take it on the road with this walking variation you’ll also ramp up the core benefits of the move.
Hold one kettlebell to your chest by the horns or two by your sides using the handles. From a standing position take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at 90°. Then, keeping your body as low to the ground as possible, take your left leg forward and step straight into another lunge.
Sets 3 Reps 10 each side
Switch the focus to the upper body with the last exercise in the circuit. The single-arm row hits your back, biceps and shoulders, and also throws in some core benefits to boot. Place a kettlebell by your feet, take a step back with your left leg and bend over to grab the handle with your left hand. Keeping your back straight, pull the kettlebell up to your stomach by retracting your shoulder blades. Do all the reps on one arm then switch to the other arm.
Time 2 min
This is a great “finisher” to throw in at the end of your workout, especially for runners because the wall sit works wonders in improving your thigh strength in particular. Holding a kettlebell in both hands lean back against a wall and slide your torso down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should be bent at a right angle and positioned above your ankles. Now hold this position until the timer runs out. Or, if you want to up the stakes, put the kettlebell between your thighs and squeeze them together to keep it there until the time is up.