Hit All Major Muscles With This 6-Move Full-Body Kettlebell Workout

These kettlebell moves will boost your strength and get your heart pumping.

You can use different weights when you're doing strength training, including the kettlebell. 

A kettlebell can help you work on your cardio and strength. And there are a variety of workouts for different parts of your body using this weight, like kettlebell workouts for your core.

Here's more about kettlebell workouts, including one with six moves to put your whole body to work.

The Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts

Compared to other weights like dumbbells or plates, the kettlebell has a unique shape: It looks like a ball with a handle. The shape allows for unbalanced weight distribution and a constantly shifting center of gravity.

The shape can help you "recruit more of the stabilization muscles that are responsible for supporting your core," Judine Saint-Gerard, CPT, head coach at Tone House in New York City, told Health.

Also, per a study published in 20xx in the Journal of Human Kinetics, kettlebell training offers other health benefits, such as:

  • Improved ability to maintain posture when active
  • Better jumping performance
  • Increased power and strength performance
  • Improved heart fitness

The Risks of Kettlebell Workouts

Kettlebell workouts can be a great form of exercise. But those workouts don't come without risks. For example, if you don't use the right weight for a kettlebell or don't use it correctly, it could result in an injury.

So, you'll want to choose a kettlebell based on your abilities and fitness level. In other words, your kettlebell shouldn't be so light that you can swing it too fast. Also, avoid kettlebells that are so heavy that you can barely lift them.

Some individuals should use caution or avoid kettlebell workouts altogether. Older adults doing kettlebell training might be at risk of health complications, such as:

  • Muscle strains
  • Bruising
  • Pelvic organ prolapse

Also, people with osteoporosis or heart problems may want to be careful with kettlebell exercises. Kettlebell training comes with a risk of fractures from osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and events related to the heart.

Pregnant people should not do activities that put them at high risk for injury and have them standing still or lying down for long periods. Kettlebell moves can fall into any of those categories. So, it may be best to avoid them if you're pregnant.

In any case, for exercise, checking with a healthcare provider to determine which workouts are safe for you is best.

The 6-Move Full-Body Kettlebell Workout

The total-body kettlebell workout below, created by Saint-Gerard, is a mix of kettlebell-based moves meant to make you work hard, which include:

  • Goblet squat to overhead press
  • Bent-over one-arm kettlebell row
  • Kettlebell swing
  • Bridge with single-arm chest press
  • Single-arm kettlebell clean
  • Kettlebell deadlift

Goblet Squat to Overhead Press

Muscles worked: biceps, core, forearms, glutes, hamstrings, lower and upper back, quads, and shoulders

workout exercise routine woman health strength weight-lifting
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, hands at shoulder height, elbows bent, with a kettlebell in hand.
  • Keeping your chest up, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower down into a squat (A).
  • Push into your heels to rise back up to standing as you press the kettlebell overhead (B). That's one rep.
  • Lower the kettlebell down, then repeat.
  • Do three to four sets of 12–15 reps.

Bent-Over One-Arm Kettlebell Row

Muscles worked: biceps, core, triceps, and upper back

workout exercise routine woman health strength weight-lifting
  • Stand behind a step or bench in a staggered stance with your right foot in front of your left, knees slightly bent, and a kettlebell in your left hand.
  • Hinge at the hip, bending forward so your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Place your right hand on top of step (A).
  • Bend your left elbow, squeeze your shoulder blade, and pull the kettlebell up (B).
  • Pause, then lower the kettlebell back to start. That's one rep.
  • Do three to four sets of 12–15 reps per side.

Kettlebell Swing

Muscles worked: core, forearm, glutes, grip (hand and wrist), hamstrings, hand, quads, shoulders, spinal, and upper back

workout exercise routine woman health strength weight-lifting
  • Holding a kettlebell in both hands, stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips, allowing the kettlebell to swing back between your legs (A).
  • Press into your heels, engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and drive your hips forward, propelling the kettlebell forward and up to chest height (B).
  • Let it fall back down naturally and between your legs. That's one rep.
  • Do three to four sets of 20 reps.

Bridge With Single-Arm Chest Press

Muscles worked: core, glutes, shoulders, and triceps

workout exercise routine woman health strength weight-lifting
  • Lie faceup with your knees bent, your feet hip-width apart, and your left elbow bent and on the ground with a kettlebell in hand, knuckles face-up.
  • With weight in your heels and your core tight, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips so that your body is straight from your head to your knees (A).
  • Holding that position, press the kettlebell straight up (B).
  • Lower arm down while keeping hips lifted. That's one rep.
  • Do three to four sets of 12–15 reps per side.

Single-Arm Kettlebell Clean

Muscles worked: core, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, quads, and triceps

workout exercise routine woman health strength weight-lifting
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, a kettlebell in your right hand, and your arm hanging in front of your right thigh.
  • Bend knees and hinge at hips (A).
  • In one swift movement, drive through your hips and pull the kettlebell straight to shoulder height. The kettlebell should swivel around your wrist like a corkscrew, so the ball rests between your forearm and biceps (B).
  • Reverse motion back to start, then repeat.
  • Do three to four sets of 12 reps per side.

Kettlebell Deadlift

Muscles affected: glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, back, and shoulders

workout exercise routine woman health strength weight-lifting
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and on either side of a kettlebell.
  • Bend your knees, hinge at your hips, lower your torso, and grab the kettlebell handle (A).
  • Keep your gaze a few feet before you to maintain a neutral spine.
  • Push into the ground with your feet to stand up, driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes to lift the kettlebell (B). That's one rep.
  • Reverse motion back to "A," and repeat.
  • Do three to four sets of 12 reps.

A Quick Review

Kettlebell workouts are a good way to do cardio and strength training at the same time. Just be sure to use a kettlebell correctly, which includes using one with a weight that works for you to prevent injuries. Also, talk with a healthcare provider to determine if kettlebell workouts are appropriate to add to your workout routine.

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  1. Meigh NJ, Keogh JWL, Schram B, Hing WA. Kettlebell training in clinical practice: a scoping reviewBMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2019;11:19. doi:10.1186/s13102-019-0130-z

  2. Błażkiewicz M, Hadamus A. The Effect of the Weight and Type of Equipment on Shoulder and Back Muscle Activity in Surface Electromyography during the Overhead Press-Preliminary ReportSensors (Basel). 2022;22(24):9762. doi:10.3390/s22249762

  3. Grigoletto D, Marcolin G, Borgatti E, et al. Kettlebell Training for Female Ballet Dancers: Effects on Lower Limb Power and Body BalanceJ Hum Kinet. 2020;74:15-22. doi:10.2478/hukin-2020-0010

  4. Meigh NJ, Keogh JWL, Schram B, Hing W, Rathbone EN. Effects of supervised high-intensity hardstyle kettlebell training on grip strength and health-related physical fitness in insufficiently active older adults: the BELL pragmatic controlled trialBMC Geriatr. 2022;22(1):354. doi:10.1186/s12877-022-02958-z

  5. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Exercise during pregnancy.

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