Written and Programmed by Sylvia Takada, CPT, SFG II Certified Kettlebell Instructor, and SFL Certified Lifter
Photography by Paul Buceta
Hair & Makeup by Monica Kalra
The four main aspects of fitness include strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance training. One of the biggest benefits of kettlebell training is that you can hit all of these with just one tool. Plus, with this full-body strength and conditioning kettlebell circuit—which includes both ballistic (dynamic, explosive) and grinds (slow and controlled) techniques—only minimal space is required, so you can make a lot of progress with little disruption to your day. All of these exercises will also help improve your core strength and stability through multi-planar movements. Quality over quantity reps will ensure you get the maximum benefits!
Kettlebell Circuit AMRAP 20
Complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes
1. Kettlebell Dead Clean & Press x 6 reps per side
2. Kettlebell One-Arm Row x 6 reps per side
3. Kettlebell Swing x 12 reps
4. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift x 6 reps per side
5. Goblet Squat x 12 reps
Kettlebell Dead Clean & Press
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell handle in line with your ankles. Maintaining a proud chest, squat to grab the bell (A) and in one explosive movement, keeping the bell close to your body, pull the bell up into the rack position (B).
Note: The kettlebell rack is a position in
which the kettlebell is positioned so that it’s resting comfortably and there is minimal amount of stress on the muscles. The kettlebell handle rests across your palm. Forearm is always neutral, elbow is flexed, and top of the knuckles are under your chin.
From the rack position push the bell up, with an extended arm, above your head using an uppercut movement (C). As you push the kettlebell to full extension, rotate your hand so the kettlebell is resting on the back of your hand. Reverse the movement and repeat.
The dead clean and press is a dynamic exercise that targets your upper back, shoulders, and arms, all in one explosive movement.
Kettlebell One-Arm Row
Set your feet about hip-width apart. The kettlebell will be positioned between your legs with the handles of the bell vertical. Keeping your back straight and core tight, bend your knees, hinge forward at the hips, and push your glutes back. Pick up the kettlebell using a horizontal/overhand grip, and do a one-arm row by driving your elbow back (not outward), and toward the ceiling. As you pull the weight up, squeeze your back muscles. Slowly lower the weight and repeat.
The kettlebell row is a great functional exercise to develop your upper back, specifically your lats and rhomboids.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a kettlebell with both hands (palms facing toward you) and arms straight down. Inhale and push your hips back (hinge) and slightly bend your knees to bring the kettlebell between your legs (A). Your back should be straight and core engaged. Exhale and squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward to lift your body into a standing position (standing plank). Allow your arms to swing the kettlebell as far as it will naturally go (B).
Note: Aim for shoulder height or parallel to the ground and don’t use arm strength to raise the kettlebell. The power will come from the thrust of your hips.
Inhale and lower the kettlebell between your legs by pushing your hips back and slightly bending your knees. This is one rep.
The kettlebell swing is one of the most versatile exercises. Done correctly, the swing targets your entire posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, and upper back) and is also an amazing conditioning tool.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
Note: I recommend trying this without weight first to nail down the movement mechanics.
Plant one foot firmly on the ground, pointing straight ahead instead of at an angle (A). Bend and lift the other leg (B), this is where it should remain throughout the hinge part of the reps: in the air. If needed you can lower it for momentary balance only as the bell comes up. Straighten your supporting leg, pull your knee cap up, and squeeze your glutes.
To pick the kettlebell up with both hands, bend the knee of the supporting leg (but keep your heel on the ground), hinge at your hips, bend down, pull your shoulder blades back, and stand all the way up. At the top, keep your glutes squeezed. With control, lower the kettlebell back down. It does not need to touch the ground and be mindful of your toes. During the reps the free leg may remain bent or you might straighten it—whatever feels more comfortable for you. Return to the standing position: stand all the way up by squeezing your glutes and hams. Straighten the supporting leg. Repeat.
After jacking up your heart rate with the first two exercises, it’s time to slow it down a bit. Single-leg Romanian deadlifts also target the posterior chain while adding an element of coordination and balance. You’ll do all reps on one side before switching legs.
Standing with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart, hold a kettlebell in front of your chest (A) by the sides of its handle. Draw your shoulders back and downward, tuck your elbows in close to the bell. Keeping a long spine from your head to your pelvis, push your hips back and squat down, as if sitting down into a chair. Squat as low as you can while keeping your head, spine, and pelvis aligned (B). Push your knees apart as you descend. You should feel most of your weight on your heels to mid-foot area. Squeeze the glutes, and drive through your feet as you extend your hips and knees to come up. Repeat the movement.