Updated: Aug 26
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This 6 week kettlebell program can help you improve whole-body fitness including strength, muscle endurance, and cardio conditioning. It has been designed to support you in maintaining training consistency. Also, the program is completely adaptable so you can adjust it to accommodate your exercise preferences.
In addition to improving general fitness, the 6 week kettlebell program can be used to improve health. For example, if you want to lose weight, reduce your blood pressure, or tip the scales in favour of a healthier body composition, the program can support you to achieve these goals.
If you plan to use the kettlebell program in this capacity, it makes sense to conduct a health screening first. You can do this yourself by establishing your body weight, taking a BMI reading, and conducting a blood pressure test.
Related: The Ultimate Home Health Screening Monitor
Once you've gathered these data points, start the 6 week kettlebell program. At the end of every two weeks, perform the measures again to chart progress. But before setting off on your kettlebell journey, you may find it beneficial to review the training methods. This section aims to outline a range of ideas on how to approach a program as well as provide advice on customising it to suit specific health and fitness goals.
Related: You need a Competition Kettlebell to do this program
6 week kettlebell program method
In truth, there’s no right or wrong way to approach kettlebell training. Kettlebells can be used either as your primary training tool or to supplement static exercises. You can complete one, two, three or four kettlebell sessions a week.
The methodology that you implement – the number of weekly sessions and duration of each session – should be tailored to suit your current physicality and fitness goals.
Tailor the 6 week kettlebell program to suit your fitness goals
You’ve got to find what best works for you, and the only way to do that is to try out different approaches. If your interest in kettlebells is merely about bringing a bit of diversity to your pre-existing regime, you might require only a couple of short sessions per week – perhaps an AMRAP or EMOM session.
However, if you are keen to enter a Girevoy competition, or you aspire to win the coveted crown of ‘Master of Sports’, then of course you’re going to have to invest a lot more time into kettlebell training.
One thing’s for sure, though, the best kettlebell methodology doesn’t involve hours of gruelling training.
Short kettlebell sessions are best for beginners
This is evidenced in the training regime of arguably the greatest kettlebell lifter of all time, Ivan Denisov, who, in the world of Girevoy sports, is MMA’s equivalent of Fedor Emelianenko or boxing’s Mike Tyson. In short, Denisov is the undisputed king of kettlebell lifting and he has amassed an unparalleled list of achievements.
Yet his weekly training regime is strikingly simple.
During physiological testing at a sports science laboratory in Australia, where a team of researchers were trying to learn more about the physiology of top-level athletes, Denisov disclosed a rudimentary outline of his weekly training strategy. In preparation for the biathlon competition, which requires the athlete to jerk and snatch for 10 minutes each, he follows a tried and tested regime that includes:
Jerk and jerk assistance work
Snatch and snatch assistance work
Jerk and jerk assistance work
Snatch and snatch assistance work
Assuming a logical weekly format, 1 corresponds to Monday, 2 to Tuesday and so on through to Saturday – presumably resting on Sundays. As for training times and session durations, no such information was divulged.
Start with 3 day a week kettlebell workout
But by all accounts, a top-level kettlebell athlete will usually participate in two sessions per day each lasting for between 30 minutes to one hour. The sessions consist of high-intensity training – maximal lifts and 10-minute AMRAPs – and lots of technique work.
However, for those who want to enjoy the health and fitness benefits outlined above, three kettlebell workouts a week should more than suffice.
The long and short of it is you’ve got to experiment with different sessions and see what works best for you. Also, you must first make clear what your fitness and training goals are. The brief sketch of the workout above is that of an elite-level athlete preparing for a competition.
If your goals are a bit more modest, then you would probably more than benefit from the 6 week kettlebell program.
6 week kettlebell program time and frequency
Following on from above, to experience fitness and strength gains, and to develop kettlebell handling competency, it is perhaps best to aim for two weekly sessions.
However, they don’t necessarily have to be 30 minutes in duration.
For example, after a 5k run or row, you could work through a 10-minute kettlebell clean to press AMRAP (or one of these kettlebell circuits). By doing so you would engage pretty much every muscle in your body. In addition, you’d begin to master one of the most effective kettlebell exercises – the clean and jerk – which also activates the entire posterior chain.
kettlebell functional workout
If you followed this method, bolting a 10-minute kettlebell AMRAP onto the end of all your weekly training sessions, you would soon be enjoying some serious functional fitness rewards. Furthermore, you’d probably see a body compositional shift in favour of more defined muscles and reduced subcutaneous fat.
In saying that, though, good training practice would necessitate a balance between high-intensity and more controlled technical sessions. By adhering to correct training principles you could reduce your chances of sustaining an injury while improving your lifting technique – which in turn can also reduce injury susceptibility.
So, in a nutshell, mix high-intensity and controlled kettlebell sessions. For example, you could make Monday and Friday your intense training days, and Wednesday your technique development day. Alternatively, follow the 6 week kettlebell program provided.
6 week kettlebell program
This 6-week progressive programme has been designed and crafted to suit people who are just starting on their kettlebell journey but also possess a modicum of bell-handling competency.
It is not suitable for the complete novice. If you have never touched a kettlebell in your life, it makes sense to learn a few simple techniques before starting the program. Once you can competently swing, squat and press a kettlebell, you're good to go.
If you have, however, dabbled in a spot of kettlebell lifting in the past, or you occasionally pick one up in the gym when you’ve got bored of bicep curls, this program could enable you to take your training to the next level.
The fitness outcomes of this 6 week kettlebell program
Improved kettlebell handling confidence
Improved lifting technique
Improved whole-body strength and muscular endurance
Reduced body fat
6 week kettlebell program requirements
That, right there, is a desirable list of health and fitness outcomes. However, emphasis must be placed on participation and persistence. If the programme is approached with a laissez-faire attitude and extensive durations of inactivity intersperse the weeks, it is unlikely that the above list of benefits will be enjoyed.
Thus, the programme ought to be followed as closely as possible. In addition, it's important to select the correct kettlebell weight. If the bell weight is too light, again, you will impede improvement as your physicality will not be sufficiently stimulated.
By contrast, if the weight is too heavy you will significantly increase injury susceptibility. So, it’s important to get the weight just right. There’s no hard and fast rule regarding beginner kettlebell weights. But typically women are advised to start with either an 8/10/12kg and men 12/16/20kg (for a more extensive overview on weight selection see What kettlebell weight do I need).
Principles of training
As part of any training program, you should always observe correct training principles. This means every session should begin with a whole-body warm-up and conclude with a cool-down and stretch.
These principles have been included in the program. However, due to limited space, the suggestions are simplistic. It's for this reason that I recommend incorporating your own warm-ups, cool-downs and stretching.
For a detailed and comprehensive overview of training principles, see our other article: Essential Training Principles.
Also, if you are unsure of how to perform any of the exercises, detailed explanations and video tutorials can be found in the following article: 10 Kettlebell Exercises.
(Please note: the above guide provides a generic outline of how a kettlebell training program could be structured. Before embarking on any exercise program, you should first seek medical clearance from your doctor.)
6 week kettlebell program conclusion
From this article, you should have acquired the necessary knowledge and tools to implement a comprehensive kettlebell program – either of your design or the example provided.
Either way, if you introduce kettlebell training into your regime, it stands to reason that you will enjoy a noticeable improvement both in general fitness and strength.
In addition, you will begin to develop proficiency in handling what is arguabley the single most effective exercise equipment available.
In doing so you will take your training to a level that conventional weights cannot help you to ascend.
All that’s required of you is persistence, consistent participation and a willingness to build your repertoire of kettlebell exercises.
If you can satisfy those basic requirements the benefits outlined in the introduction could be yours for the taking.
Kettlebell training FAQs
What kettlebell weight should I start with?
The basic rule of thumb when purchasing your first kettlebell is males should start with 12 or 16kg and females 6 or 8kg. Remember, you will only need one kettlebell at the start; using two requires considerable experience.
With your shiny new bell it is best to learn two simple exercises – such as the swing and squat to overhead press – and practice them for a couple of weeks until you become used to the way it moves.
If you have only ever trained with static weights, you’ll find kettlebell movements quite unconventional and at first awkward. And unlike static weight training kettlebells require considerably more skill and proficiency to handle.
But when you develop confidence, and after mastering a range of different exercises, consider increasing weight or doubling up.
Related: Need a competition kettlebell?
What makes the kettlebell so good?
Due to its design the kettlebell, unlike, say, dumbbells, cables or exercise machines, destabilises the body through the execution of the movement. When you swing a kettlebell it pulls you forward and throws you back.
This might not sound like an attribute, but it is. When you are destabilised you are forced to engage the core and recruit many synergist and deep stabiliser muscles to stop yourself from losing balance.
In so doing you will not only work a wider range of muscles but also develop functional strength.
Can you lose weight with kettlebells?
The short answer: Yes, you can lose weight with kettlebell training. But how?
Unlike conventional weight training, which is comparatively static and tends to focus on isolation movements (bicep curls, bench press, etc., etc.), kettlebell exercises are highly functional and engage a broad range of muscle groups.
As a consequence the cardiovascular system is forced to ‘feed’ these muscles throughout the duration of the session – in fact, studies have shown that after a high-intense kettlebell session, the body continues to burn fat for up to 30 minutes.
When the cardiovascular system is ‘switched on’, so to speak, this in turn encourages the body to utilise latent fat stores for energy.
It is this characteristic that makes kettlebells the preferred weapon of choice for those fighting fat. And the kettlebell is not only great at burning the blob, it’s also brilliant at building and sculpting muscle.
If you decide to introduce kettlebells into your training regime and use them regularly, ensure to mix high-intense with technical sessions (more on this below). By doing so you will likely experience an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in total body fat.
Related: try this kettlebell weight loss workout
Why train with kettlebells
Unlike conventional weights, such as dumbbells, barbells or machines, the kettlebell – because of its unique shape – does not align with the body’s centre of mass. Why is this a good thing?
Well, for starters, when the weight is positioned on the outside of the body it ‘pulls’ us off balance. To avoid toppling over we are required to activate many more muscles just to keep the kettlebell in position. You can test this yourself by performing a single-arm press with a dumbbell and then with a kettlebell.
Other advantages of kettlebells
One of the primary muscle groups used to stabilise the kettlebell during lifts is the core. Throughout any kettlebell session, the core must remain actively engaged. It is for this reason that after thirty minutes of swinging, pressing and pumping, every muscle feels as though it has been engaged.
kettlebells build muscular strength
Another benefit is what I like to call body strength synchronicity. How can I best describe this term?
Have you ever seen one of those carpet-carrying meatheads at the gym with huge biceps and a hulking chest but a puny pair of pin legs? I bet you have because gyms the world over are rife with them. Well, the meathead is the embodiment (literally) of what is to have strength imbalances.
They might be able to curl 100kgs and bench twice as much, but put them through a series of exercises that require the synchronisation and harmonisation of force applied through complex movements and their true strength will show.
Training with a kettlebell can break down imbalances and bring about strength synchronicity. It does this because, when performing classic exercises – such as the snatch, Turkish get-up and Long Cycle – the whole body is required to work together, as one, to execute the movement. Any weakness or overly pronounced imbalances will impede performance and inhibit the trainer from completing the lift.
kettlebell workout benefits weight loss
Another benefit worth considering is how the kettlebell can promote cardiovascular fitness. Traditionally a kettlebell exercise is performed continuously for a pre-specified period (10 minutes) much like an AMRAP. Consequently, to sustain the necessary physical output, the cardiovascular system is engaged to ‘feed’ the working muscles.
This accounts for why, after 10 minutes of alternate arm clean to press, you will be left gasping for breath and sweating like you’ve just run 5k. It's for this reason that kettlebells are excellent for promoting weight loss. By engaging large muscle groups, such as the legs and back, and activating the cardiovascular system, kettlebell training burns lots of calories.
Over time training with a kettlebell will forge a body that is both as strong on the inside as it is on the outside while also breaking down imbalances and bringing about whole-body fitness.
More kettlebell health benefits
Superior muscular endurance
Improved cardiovascular performance
Enhanced proprioceptive sensitivity
Cast iron core strength
Augmented mental toughness
Need more workout and training ideas?
About Adam Priest –
A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or firstname.lastname@example.org.