Spice Up Your Training With This Kettlebell HIIT Workout

Introduction | HIIT burns fat | How it works | HIIT kettlebell workout

A man holding a 1-pood kettlebell. He is about to take part in a kettlebell hiit workout as part of a weight loss and fitness building exercise program.

If you’re looking to add a bit of spice to a bland training routine this HIIT kettlebell workout is for you. Comprised of three functional kettlebell exercises, in less than 30-minutes, every major muscle in your body will be engaged.


But because the kettlebell is such a dynamic training tool, a whole host of smaller synergist muscles will be activated too.


For example, kettlebell swings primarily stimulate the glutes, erector spinae, and shoulders. However, this uber-functional exercise also strengthens the Posterior Chain, core, and upper chest.

This HIIT kettlebell workout burns fat

In addition to developing whole-body strength, this HIIT kettlebell workout will get your heart rate up while also burning fat. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is widely used by exercisers as a method of promoting both fitness and facilitating weight loss.


Training at high intensities has been shown to encourage the metabolization of fat for energy. But one of the great things about HIIT is that the body continues to burn fat long after the workout has finished. Studies have shown that it can do this for upwards of 30-minutes to an hour.


So, every high intense minute you train for, you could earn an additional three fat-burning minutes after completing the workout. That's a lot of bang for you buck right there.

 

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How it works

Before you tackle a HIIT workout it’s imperative that you thoroughly warm up first. Of course, warming up is a principle of training and ought to be observed irrespective of the intensity of the workout. Whether you’re about to complete a light gym session or attack a CrossFit AMRAP, you should warm up.


However, warming up is especially important when training at high intensities for the risk of incurring an injury is greater. It’s for this reason why this HIIT kettlebell workout features a progressive 10-minute whole-body warm-up.


Related: learn about the importance of warming up and cooling down.

Once you are sufficiently warmed and (hopefully) raring to go, proceed to work through the three high-intensity intervals below.


You’ll notice that for the three kettlebell exercises each HIIT interval is paired with a rest period. This is standard procedure: HIIT/rest – HIIT/rest. But this HIIT kettlebell workout breaks convention. Instead of resting, you are to engage in an active recovery exercise.


So, on completion of each HIIT kettlebell exercise, you are, for the same duration of time, to complete the accompanying bodyweight exercise. Remember, though, the bodyweight exercise should be performed at a low intensity.

 

HIIT Kettlebell Workout

 

10-minute warm-up

For the first half of the warm-up, you are to interchange between rowing (or skipping or the cross-trainer) and the bodyweight exercises highlighted in green below. Beginning the warm-up at a low-intensity, row for 20-seconds then bodyweight exercise for 20-seconds. Repeat for 5-minutes.


Following the same pattern for the second half of the warm-up, this time replace the bodyweight exercise with the kettlebell exercises. Increase the intensity over the 5-minutes.

Kettlebell exercises

Firstly, familiarise yourself with the technical application of each exercise (if you haven’t trained with kettlebells for a while). Each exercise will be performed at a high intensity for 12 sets of 20-seconds.


After each 20-second kettlebell interval, you are to complete the active recovery exercise. When you have completed all 12 sets of the kettlebell and bodyweight exercises, move on. In total, each HIIT kettlebell exercise will take approximately 8-minutes.

1: Kettlebell swing

  1. Hold the kettlebell between your legs, palms facing inwards, feet a little over shoulder-width apart.

  2. Keeping the back straight pull the kettlebell back and, using your glutes, propel the kettlebell forward until it’s level with your shoulders.

  3. Ensuring to keep your core engaged throughout the movement, allow the kettlebell to return to the start position and repeat.

A kettlebell swing and air squat HIIT session.

2: Kettlebell thruster

  1. Standing over the kettlebell, take a reverse grip of the handle. In one clean movement swing upturn the kettlebell and hold it in front of your chest. In this position, the base of the kettlebell should be facing the ceiling.

  2. Keeping your back straight squat until your knees are in a 90ᵒ

  3. Power out of the squat ensuring, as you do so, to push the kettlebell high above your head. From the outstretched position lower the kettlebell back to your chest while simultaneously sinking into the next squat.

A kettlebell thruster and seated leg raise HIIT session.

3: Kettlebell alternate arm clean to press cycle

  1. Standing over the kettlebell with a shoulder-width stance (or slightly wider), grasp the kettlebell and, in one fluid movement, swing it back and execute a clean. In this position, the kettlebell should be resting in the nook of your arm.

  2. Taking a shallow dip at the knee use your quadriceps to get a bit of momentum in the kettlebell. Assist the upward flight of the kettlebell with shoulder and arm strength.

  3. From here return the kettlebell back to the original start position but ensure to change hands between the legs so that you can perform the next repetition on the opposite side. Keep the cycle going continuously for 20-seconds.

A kettlebell alternate arm clean to press cycle and press up HIIT workout.

 

HIIT kettlebell workout hints and tips

  • If you haven’t got the fitness to perform the bodyweight exercises after each interval, just take a rest. No shame in that whatsoever.

  • Either print off the snazzy trackers or, as you progress through the HIIT intervals, make a note of the number of sets completed. This, of course, will remind you of how many interval sets you haven’t done yet.

  • To improve fluidity throughout the workout, keep your countdown timer and tally sheet close so that you can quickly tick off the set and reset the next 20-second interval. Alternatively, stop being a cheapskate and purchase a training timer!

  • Following on from the point above, to improve transition speed between exercises ensure to locate all your training tools in one area. This shouldn’t pose a problem because all you need is a kettlebell and floor mat for the bodyweight exercises.

 

Enjoyed this workout? Well then why not get your hands on a whole lot more? The Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits Vol. 1 is packed to bursting with 50 tried and tested workouts!


Circuit training is one of the best forms of physical exercise for maintaining and increasing overall fitness. A well-designed circuit will provide a great cardiovascular workout, strengthening the heart and lungs in the process, whilst also improving muscle endurance and developing functional strength. This unique combination, of fat burning and muscle building, which singular exercises, such as running, cycling, swimming or weights cannot give, will help to sculpt a lean defined physique.

 

(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)

Blog Author

Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.

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