Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Kettlebell Exercises: Benefits And 8 Effective Workouts

Kettlebell Exercises: Benefits And 8 Effective Workouts

Do you ever get tired of doing endless cardio but don’t want to build too much muscle lifting heavy weights? Believe it or not, there’s a perfect happy medium, and it’s called the kettlebell. Research is starting to find that a combination of weight training and high intensity cardio puts our bodies in fat melting mode while also adding healthy muscle tone, which can be accomplished using kettlebell exercises.

Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells

The kettlebell first originated in 18th century Russia and is a ball of cast iron with “horns” that shape into a handle. The handle is what is used the most, but the horns are useful when different holds are needed, like during kettlebell squats for example.

So, what’s special about a kettlebell compared to dumbbells and other weight training tools? A kettlebell’s weight is not distributed evenly like it is with dumbbells. This creates the need to counterbalance and stabilize your body during kettlebell exercises, which are amazing for core strength, balance, and coordination.

What’s even more interesting is that a 2013 study[1] done by the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse over a period of eight weeks showed that athletes (with experience in strength training) not only had their strength improve, but core strength jumped by 70% when using kettlebells. Also, aerobic ability increased 13.8%, and balance improved by leaps and bounds. This is not only valuable for the everyday person, but also for people who may lack balance and strength, like older adults and the physically challenged.

Benefits of Kettlebell Exercises

There are many incredible benefits that come from doing kettlebell exercises. Kettlebells are known to improve overall strength, core power, balance, flexibility, and coordination while also melting fat and sculpting healthy and lean muscles.

Because a kettlebell has an off-set center of gravity, usually about 6 to 8 inches away from your grip on the handle, it is harder to control. Therefore, the best kettlebell exercises are going to require strict and controlled form and body mechanics.

Here are a few other benefits of kettlebell workouts:

Combines Strength and Cardio

Kettlebells require you to practice ballistic exercises that combine strength, cardio, and flexibility training for a full body workout. They’ll add extra weight while doing squats, twists, or swings, which help you build strength but also up your cardio. They also improve range of motion while burning fat.

Improves Functional Strength

Kettlebell exercises target multiple muscle groups that help with everyday tasks and daily life. For example, the Russian twist with a kettlebell improves both back and core strength, which will help with posture, as well as your ability to balance and lift heavy items. 

Compact and Portable

Kettlebells are small, and you only need one or two to train you entire body. Because of their size and shape, they are easy to store and carry to and from the gym if desired.

Fun and Versatile Workouts

Kettlebell exercises offer a wide range of movements that target every muscle group for a total body workout. There are many exercises that can be combined in various ways to keep your everyday workout routine interesting.


8 Great Kettlebell Exercises

Are you ready to add kettlebell exercises to your workout? You won’t be disappointed! Below are some of the biggest and most important moves in kettlebell training that will target your entire body.

1. Russian Kettlebell Swing

Russian Kettlebell Swing


    Muscles worked: Shoulders, back, hips, glutes, legs, core, arms, shoulders

    Stand up tall with your feet a little wider than hip width apart. Pick up the kettlebell by the handle with both hands, palms facing your body.

    Now, keeping your knees slightly bent, drive your hips backward, dropping the kettlebell between your legs. With an explosive motion, drive your hips forward, swinging the kettlebell in front of your body while also keeping your glutes and core tight.

    Keep this swinging motion going for a total of 12 to 15 reps, and remember to use your hips, not your arms to swing the bell.[2]

    2. Kettlebell Goblet Squat


    Kettlebell Goblet Squat

      Muscles worked: Legs, glutes, back, core

      Hold the sides of the kettlebell handle (the horns) in both hands directly in front of your chest, around shoulder height. With your feet hip width apart, bend into a squat, keeping your knees behind your toes and your weight in your heels.


      Once your legs are parallel to the ground, drive upwards with your heels into a standing position. Repeat for a total of 12-15 reps.[3] This kettlebell exercise will have your legs and glutes toned in no time.

      3. Kettlebell Lunge Press


      Kettlebell Lunge Press

        Muscles worked: Shoulders, back, arms, abs, glutes, legs, core

        Stand up straight with the handle of the kettlebell held by both hands in front of your body. Step forward into a lunge with your left leg while simultaneously raising the kettlebell with the right arm towards the ceiling. Return your legs to standing while lowering the kettlebell back to your chest. Aim for 12-15 reps per leg.[4]

        4. Kettlebell Sumo Upright Row / High Pull

        Kettlebell Sumo Upright Row / High Pull


          Muscles worked: Back, legs, shoulders, arms, core

          For this kettlebell workout, start with your feet a little wider than hip width apart and the kettlebell on the ground between your feet. Lower down into a squat to pick the kettlebell up by the handle with both hands (knuckles towards the floor).

          Push up through your heels to a standing position while raising the kettlebell up to your chin using your arms and shoulders. Keep your legs and core engaged to avoid straining your back. Lower back down to start, and repeat for 12-15 reps.

          5. Kettlebell Russian Twist



          Kettlebell Russian Twist

            Muscles worked: Abs, obliques

            Sit on the floor with your feet in front of you. Bring the kettlebell to your chest, with your arms bent, and raise your feet off the floor, keeping them in the air. Start by twisting from side to side, and if you’re ambitious, tapping the kettlebell on the floor on each side of your hips. Your abs will be on fire after about five of these!

            Keep going for a target of 15-20 reps.[5]

            6. Single-Arm Kettlebell Press

            Single-Arm Kettlebell Press



              Muscles worked: Chest, arms, core

              Lie flat on the ground with your knees bent (for back support). Grab the kettlebell by the handle in one hand with your palm facing your body. Slowly push the kettlebell towards the ceiling while rotating that hand to face towards your feet. Return to starting position and aim for 12-15 reps per arm.[6]

              7. Single-Arm Kettlebell Split Jerk

              Muscles worked: Shoulders, chest, back, legs, core


              Start this advanced move by holding the kettlebell to your shoulder with your palms facing the front.[7] Then, bend your knees slightly, jump your left leg back, and explode the kettlebell upwards over your head into a split jerk position.[8]

              Balance your arm and body before any further movement. Return to standing position while the kettlebell stays over your head. Carefully, without hitting yourself in the head, lower the kettlebell towards starting position. Repeat and aim for 4-6 reps per side to get the most out of this great kettlebell exercise.

              This move can be a little more difficult than many of the others, so watch the above video to learn proper form and avoid injury.

              8. Single-Arm Kettlebell Snatch


              Single-Arm Kettlebell Snatch

                Muscles worked: Shoulders, chest, back, core

                Start with your kettlebell on the floor between your feet, which should be hip width apart. Grasp the handle, and explode up off of your toes, pulling on the kettlebell until it is level with your chest (elbow should be tucked in). At this point, push the bell up over your head to complete this move.

                Steady yourself before lowering back down to starting position, and repeat for 4-6 reps.[9]

                Final Thoughts

                When you are preparing to do kettlebell exercises, make sure you are warming up and stretching before using some of these explosive and bigger moves, as you don’t want to injure yourself. Always watch a video to help with proper form and body mechanics and to perfect each move in order to get the best out of each exercise. Combine the above moves to create a versatile kettlebell workout routine that is fun and effective.

                More on Building Muscle

                Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via


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                Amanda Lindsey

                A registered nurse and a mom who loves to share health resources to help others.

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                Last Updated on April 19, 2021

                15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

                15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

                Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

                Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

                For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

                Benefits of Static Stretches

                Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

                Improved Flexibility

                If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

                Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

                Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

                Prevent Injuries

                If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

                Think of it this way:

                When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

                Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

                Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

                For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.


                However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

                Improvement in Recovery

                If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

                Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

                Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

                Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

                Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

                • Improved relaxation
                • Increased movement efficiency
                • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
                • Reduction in muscle tension
                • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
                • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
                • Relief from cramping

                15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

                Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

                1. Neck Stretch

                  While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

                  Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

                  2. Chest Stretch

                    Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.


                    3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

                    Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

                      Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

                      4. Triceps Static Stretch

                        Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

                        Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

                        5. Biceps Stretch

                        Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

                          Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                          6. Wrist Stretch

                          11 Best Tennis Elbow Exercises For Pain Free Mobility [PDF]

                            While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

                            7. Side Stretch

                              Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                              The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.


                              8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                                Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                                9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                                Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                                  Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                                  Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                                  10. Knees to Chest

                                  Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                                    Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                                    11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                                    How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                                      Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                                      12. Figure 4 Stretch

                                      How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                                        Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                                        13. Standing Quad Stretch

                                          Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.


                                          Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                                          14. Hamstring Stretch

                                            Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                                            Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                                            15. Calf Stretch

                                              Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                              Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                              Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                              Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                              When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                              Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                              This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                              That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                              The Bottom Line

                                              Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.


                                              Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

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                                              Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via


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