Great Resources for Kettlebell Workouts & Exercises

As a boxing coach, personal trainer, kettlebell instructor, and a black belt martial artist, Tony Wallace has dabbled in many fitness forays — but he still considers one to be tops. “The kettlebell is the best stand-alone exercise equipment for conditioning, strength building, endurance, and overall health,” he testifies.

Resembling a mini bowling ball with a handle, kettlebells are great for cardio, strength, and flexibility training . Start by picking up the weight of your choice—women usually grab between eight and 16 kg weights, while men go for 16 to 32 kg, though these weights vary depending on the exercises of choice. Reps and sets will depend on intensity and fitness levels, for most of these moves, we recommend aiming for 3-5 sets of 10-30 reps with good form.

Tony Wallace demos some impressive kettlebell juggling with an Xtreme Monkey Competition Kettlebell. Shot at Battle Arts Academy in Mississauga, ON.

Kettlebells—cannonball-like weights with thick handles—were the weapon of choice for Russian lifters more than a century ago. They’re just now getting their due in America. The weights offer all the benefits of dumbbell training, plus a few more. The super-thick handles challenge your grip, and the position of the weight in relation to the handle works your core extra hard.

If you love yourself some kettlebells, this workout is for you. (And if you’ve never tried them out, this workout is for you, too!) Kettlebells are awesome because, thanks to the fact that their weight isn’t evenly distributed, they make your stabilizer muscles work extra hard. Basically, they’re super sculptors. And since this workout is designed to target your shoulders, back, butt, core, and arms, your whole body is about to reap those amazing toning benefits.

IF YOU THINK KETTLEBELLS ARE JUST GLORIFIED dumbbells, keep reading. “A kettlebell’s center of gravity actually shifts during the course of the exercise,” says Jason C. Brown, C.S.C.S., owner of Kettlebell Athletics in Philadelphia. In that way, it’s like many of the objects you lift every day (overstuffed briefcases, lopsided grocery bags, unruly toddlers), and repeated use provides much the same benefit: functional, real world strength. “A kettlebell’s unique shape also allows you to transition from one exercise to the next without putting it down,” says Brown. Trainers call this nonstop strategy “kettlebell flow,” and the results speak for themselves: a better metabolic burn and more muscle in significantly less time.

The buzz on HIT (high-intensity interval training) is heating up, with new boutique sweat shops modeled on this to-the-max method popping up everywhere. “All-out intervals push your body past what it’s used to, which means you’re shocking your muscles and forcing them to change,” says Eric Salvador, the head instructor for the Fhitting Room, a recently opened HIT studio in New York City. Jump-start your results in just 19 minutes with Salvador’s killer kettlebell routine. Using a pair of 10- to 15-pound kettlebells, do as many reps as you can of an exercise in a minute, rest for 30 seconds, then move on to the next. Rest for one minute after completing the circuit, then repeat it once more. You’ll burn a scorching 10 calories or so every minute and feel firmer by the time you towel off.

Kettlebells aren’t anything new, but their popularity in fitness circles continues to rise—and with good reason. When used correctly, kettlebells are extremely effective training tools for providing total-body strength and conditioning.