Updated: Aug 20, 2021
For a lot of your home-based exercises, kettlebells are interchangeable with dumbbells. However, for some weighted moves, kettlebells are best. That’s mostly because of their shape, which makes them much easier to swing around. You can hold them by the handle (also called the horns) or by the round bell, which allows you a different range of motion.
The weight is also distributed a little differently from a dumbbell, and that works different muscles when you do the same exercises. You want to work out with kettlebells for the same number of reps as with weights, three to five times a week for about thirty minutes.
Like dumbbells, kettlebells are easily located second-hand, which will save you lots of money. Even new, they’re not that expensive (around $65), so you can easily cut that in half and get a used set.
When you first start using kettlebells, it’s normal to feel a bit of uncertainty. Here’s how to use them for the most effective workouts. Start with a light weight – maybe 10 to 15 pounds – and when you’re totally comfortable with that, you can try moving to a heavier weight.
When doing squats, hold the kettlebell by the handle with both hands and keep it close to your chest. This exercise will work your butt, quads, and hamstrings.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes turned slightly outwards.
Bend at the knees and hips to squat and remember to bring your butt down below your knees. To return to starting position, drive through with your heels.
You can use a heavier kettlebell for deadlifts, which work your butt and the backs of your legs. These are some of the strongest muscles in your body, so let them do a bit of extra work. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
Hold the kettlebell by the handle with both hands, palms facing in. Start at thigh level, then bend at the hips and slowly lower the weight to the ground between your feet.
Keep your back flat and shoulders back. Let your butt and legs do the work. Keep your core strong and work those muscles as you push through your heels to stand up straight again.
Keep your arms straight as you lift the weight back to starting position. Pause and squeeze before starting a new repetition.
Switch back to the lighter weights for the suitcase lunge. For this one, which works your legs and butt again, don’t allow the kettlebells to swing wildly. They can get out of hand and strain your back if you don’t keep them still. Hold them at your sides as if they’re real suitcases.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms by your sides, and a kettlebell in each hand (held by the handle). Take a big step forward. Bend both knees and lower your body until you’re about at a 90-degree angle.
Keep your arms and back straight, your shoulders back, and your core engaged. Push through your heels to return to starting position, keeping most of the weight on your back foot.