Weight Loss Kettlebell Workout (Plus Best Exercises)

Did you know you can burn a ton of calories by doing a specific kettlebell workout for weight loss?

There was a time when I didn’t know this. I honestly thought endless hours of cardio was the key to weight loss. Certainly in terms of burning calories.

But, kettlebells offer some of the best fat-burning exercises out there that really work.

You burn a load of calories, lose fat, increase your muscle strength, build muscle, and improve your cardio.

And you don’t need to worry about hiring a personal trainer because everything you need to know can be found in this article.

In this guide, I’m going to explain exactly how you can make progress in your journey by following a kettlebell workout for weight loss.

I’ve included three workouts for you to follow, plus as a bonus, I’ve also made a list of 25 of the very best kettlebell exercises for weight loss.

What is a Kettlebell?

A kettlebell is a free weight that is round with a flat base with an arched handle. It kinda looks like a teapot without the spout, hence the name “kettlebell”.

Nobody had really heard of a kettlebell outside of Russia until just over 15 years ago. Russia started using them way back 350 years ago.

And they’re that popular in Russia that kettlebell lifting is the national sport – pretty cool.

A kettlebell’s center of mass extends beyond the handle, unlike dumbbells.  This allows them to be swung, thrown, pressed, and moved, which gives you a cardiovascular and strength workout at the same time.

kettleblle

Types of kettlebells

There are two types of kettlebells.

And if you haven’t noticed them already, they come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes, but ultimately, the types remain the same.

1. Cast Iron Kettlebell.

I would say this is the most popular choice, and if you’ve been paying attention you would’ve probably seen them in commercial and CrossFit gyms.

People also use them at home, and I’m one of them.

They can be easily identified because the handle is usually wider than the bell itself. And it doesn’t matter how much the kettlebell weighs.

They’re great for your average recreational trainer who uses them at home or in the gym. The wider width allows for a better grip for someone not used to gripping handles for longer periods of time.

 

2. Competition Kettlebell.

These differ a little bit from your regular cast iron kettlebells.

The handle diameter is a little smaller, and the dimensions of competition kettlebells are regulated. Also, the handle aligns with the bottom part of the bell. The reason being is because the handle is smaller and slimmer, it allows for more natural one-armed movements in competition.

Also, regardless of whether you’re male or female, it keeps the kettlebell consistent.

The “Competition Kettlebell” is suited for athletes and lifters who would like to compete.

It’s also a fantastic bit of kit for the smaller-handed individuals as they can fit both hands in the handle’s width with ease.

core workout

Kettlebell Benefits

Coordination.

Whether you’re doing slingshots or alternate swings, your hand-eye coordination will improve tenfold.

The slightest lack of concentration and the kettlebells are slipping out of your hands and crashing to the floor. This is where coordination comes in and stops that.

Although some of the movements can be tricky to master initially, once you get a hang of them you’ll be like a duck to water and you’ll see a marked improvement in your hand-eye coordination.

Flexibility.

There are so many different ranges of motion you use with kettlebells, that both the joints and muscles are moving in an elastic way, which improves joint health and muscular flexibility.

It’s a great way to become more flexible without specifically working on your “flexibility”.

Increased strength.

Kettlebells are truly awesome for building strength – and quickly. They’re also great at building muscle mass.

Yes, they’ll never match the King of maximum strength capability – the barbell – but kettlebells build extremely explosive strength.

You work a variety of muscle groups with kettlebells so you become stronger in them all.

Improved core.

I had absolutely terrible core strength, even with lifting weights on and off for years.

A lot of people into weight training have a weak core, yet you wouldn’t think seeing some of the numbers they move on the barbell.

But a lot of trainers use secondary muscles to compensate for a weakness in the primary muscles that should be doing most of the lifting movement. This then causes imbalances and injuries.

And a weak core.

Kettlebells don’t allow you to use secondary muscles to overcompensate. You’re forced to use the correct one each and every time.

They’re one of the best ways to get a strong core.

Better grip.

Keeping hold of the kettlebell handle when you’re doing some movements can be a test of grip strength. But the good news is that your grip strength significantly improves from using them.

It’s not easy holding onto a heavy bell when you’re swinging it mid-air with one arm, so it’s an important factor to have a good grip on your hands and fingers.

Full Body Workout.

I don’t care if you want to use kettlebells for strength training; you’re going to be improving your aerobic endurance at the same time.

You will literally improve your strength and power throughout your whole body. Also, your cardiovascular endurance will improve greatly even if you don’t intend it to.

Put it this way; since strictly using kettlebells to work out, my RHR (resting heart rate) has come down by 14 points.

Yes, four-teen.

And I attribute this partly to using my entire body when working out with kettlebells.

Improved posture and balance. 

When using kettlebells you have to focus on keeping your body stable and tight.

You also have to focus a lot on keeping your core firm and tight, which naturally gives you better posture. And there’s not really a choice in it.

I’ve found there’s very little room for error with kettlebells. If you slouch or use poor form, you’re going to know about it instantly, which could result in injury.

As I mentioned earlier; there’s no way to use secondary muscles to overcompensate using the primary ones when using kettlebells.

kettlebell lunge

Workout at home.

This isn’t a physical benefit, but it’s most certainly a plus in my eyes so I felt it needed to make the list.

The beauty of kettlebells is they’re not big at all and are much smaller than barbells and plates, for example. This means you don’t need a lot of free space in order to get a workout in.

I have about 12 kettlebells in total which vary in weight, and they’re neatly tucked away in the corner of my garage. I no longer need to leave my house to train at the gym when I’m pressed for time.

Another amazing plus with kettlebells is that you can literally change your shape using just one single kettlebell. It isn’t essential you have two.

Short, intense workouts.

I’m not someone who has much free time, and I certainly don’t want to be out of the house for 2 hours plus, 3-4 times a week by going to the gym.

So kettlebells are a blessing because I can crush a full-body workout in under 20 minutes and be left dripping in sweat, feeling fatigued, and have saved myself a bunch of time to be more productive elsewhere.

And there are so many more benefits to list. I could go on and on.

woman lifting kettlebell

What Makes Kettlebells Great For Fat Loss?

They offer High-Intensity-Interval Training.

For as long as I can remember, cardio was King for fat loss.

A lot of people preached about running and how amazing it is to get the weight off, and sure the weight would go, but some of that weight loss would be muscle.

Endless hours of cardio crushes your hormone profile in many ways and releases cortisol, which is better known as the “stress hormone”.

And cortisol eats muscle, which you absolutely don’t want to happen.

But, short, intense workouts are proven to be incredible for fat loss.

You tend to perform circuits with kettlebells, which means you have little to no rest between sets. This is great for fat loss and muscle building.

EPOC.

EPOC stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.

In laymen’s terms, this means that you burn a higher number of calories many hours after you have finished working out. Studies say this can be up to 24 hours!

Kettlebell training is known for being one of the best methods for EPOC. This is because you’re using many muscles in the same workout and pushing your aerobic capacity to the max.

Running isn’t a great tool for EPOC because as soon as you stop running, calories stop burning.

And the same goes for most steady-state cardio exercises too, like the elliptical for example.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is what produces EPOC, so if you’re going to do cardio – and you want the EPOC effect – HIIT is your best friend here.

What Kettlebell Weight is Right For You?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all here, but usually, the starting weights for most people are as follows:

Men: 26lbs (12kg) – 44lb (20kg)

Women: 18lbs (8kg) – 35lb (16kg)

If you’re strong and have an athletic background, go heavier by all means.

I would always err on the side of caution and start with a light kettlebell that is good for you. The weight may feel easy in your hand, but once you start performing some of the exercises and you’re using your upper body, you soon realize it’s heavier than you thought.

kettlebell

How Many Kettlebell Workouts For Weight Loss Per Week is Optimal?

3-4 intense fat loss workouts per week are perfect.

This is the beauty of kettlebells. You don’t need to be in the gym 5-6 times per week, two hours each time.

Three to four, 20-30 minute intense sessions per week will produce great results alongside a sound nutrition plan.

Remember to work hard in your workouts. Never make them too easy. And opt for a circuit-type routine to keep the intensity up.

Proper Form is key

I cannot stress enough how important correct form is with kettlebells.

When I first started using them I was cocky. I figured that because I’d come from a bodybuilding background I would find them pretty easy and master them within a week or two.

Let’s just say I was humbled. And I still am months later.

Perhaps like me you came from an athletic background and are strong. But this doesn’t mean your form is going to automatically be great.

It takes time and lots of practice.

There should be no rush to master the art of kettlebell form. Respect them because if you take them for granted you may come away with an injury.

I have been close on many occasions.

Is It Wise to Do Other Workouts Alongside Kettlebells?

There is nothing stopping you from doing different workouts alongside kettlebells.

So if you enjoy running or cycling, for example, then by all means incorporate this into your schedule to improve your fitness levels.

Even if you’re bodybuilding/strength training, adding kettlebells to your routine is great. But just be mindful of doing too much. And take care of your joints.

I do 3 intense kettlebell workouts per week, as well as 3 moderate runs. I do this because my body can handle it, but the moment it gets too much I’ll cut a run-off.

Try it out and see what works for you.

kcal

Calorie Deficit

When it comes to weight loss, it always comes down to one thing, and one thing only:

Calories in Vs Calories out.

It’s really that simple.

You can do as much exercise as you wish, but if you’re eating more than you’re burning off then you won’t lose body weight.

To do this you must be in a calorie deficit, and there are different ways to get you there.

The most popular approach is counting calories, and that’s what I would recommend. An alternative method is portion control, but I’ll save that for another article.

Keep a track of your weight, and I’d also highly recommend taking body measurements once a week.  In my opinion, the scale is not the most accurate tool to measure progress, and this is why taking body measurements is good.

Diet

Protein is your friend here.

It’s so important as it allows you to hang on to as much muscle as possible whilst losing fat. Unfortunately, if you don’t eat enough protein you will burn muscle.

Not only that, protein has incredible health benefits for your body overall, and it’s satiating. Unlike processed carbs, protein fills you up for longer, which reduces the temptation of eating junk food on your diet.

We also mustn’t forget carbohydrates and fat. These are also important in your diet.

Shoot for complex carbohydrates such as rice, oatmeal, wholegrain bread, pasta, etc. These are ideal to assist you in your workouts.

As for fats, opt for high-quality ones such as fatty fish, natural peanut butter, natural cashew nut butter, avocado, olive oil, whole eggs, nuts, flaxseed, etc.

One final note is that it’s really important to work out alongside a nutritional diet. This will get you toned, fit, and strong.

It will also stop you from looking skinny-fat, which I’m sure is not a look you’re going for on your weight loss journey.

Best Kettlebell Exercises For Weight Loss

  1. Goblet Squat
  2. One-Arm Kettlebell Deadlift
  3. Row
  4. Push Press
  5. Reverse Lunge
  6. Double-Hand Swing
  7. Static Lunge
  8. Suitcase Row
  9. Alternate Swing
  10. Bob & Weave
  11. Two-Handed Squat & Press
  12. Reverse Lunge & Press
  13. High Pull
  14. Snatch
  15. Squat & Press
  16. One-Handed Swing
  17. Clean
  18. Sit & Press
  19. Side Lunge
  20. Double Lunge
  21. Windmill
  22. Racked Squat
  23. Half Get-Up
  24. Slingshot
  25. Single-Leg Deadlift

 

About the author

Chris Jones

I'm Chris. I have a vast interest in all things relating to health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. I also love to improve my mindset and learn how to increase my productivity. If you'd like to say hello or ask me a question, please visit my contact page, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter (@liveliftlife).