This short sharp kettlebell workout will help you lose weight and tone up while also improving strength and muscular endurance.
Wait, training with a kettlebell can do all that?
It can do all that and more!
In the Hungry4Fitness 6-Week Kettlebell Training Programme, we talk about the many health and fitness benefits that kettlebell training can confer. By way of brief example, regular kettlebell training can help forge functional fitness including whole-body strength and general physical robustness.
The list of benefits ascribed to kettlebell training is long (for a comprehensive overview of this list see our other article: 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Kettlebells). But chief among these benefits is weight loss. When we exercise with a kettlebell a wide range of muscle groups are engaged. To power, these muscles more fat is burned as fuel.
In addition to burning fat and facilitating weight loss, kettlebell training has been shown to fire up the metabolism. Even a short 10-minute kettlebell HIIT session will elevate your heart rate and leave your metabolism running hot for up to 30-minutes after exercising.
It’s for these reasons why, when training with a kettlebell, you get much more bang for your buck.
How it works
Once you've completed the full-body warm-up, work through the nine exercises in the grid below. You’ll notice that this workout has been designed to include all levels of fitness: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Select the appropriate level for you then, after setting your training timer, attempt to complete all the repetitions in the shortest time possible.
The moment you finish the final rep stop the clock and make a note of your time. Give it a week then have another go at the workout but see if you can be your original time. This will act as a motivational stimulus that should increase your training intensity.
10 x 200-metre row sets (if you do not have access to a rower you can substitute this exercise for either the X-trainer or skipping). In between each 200-metre row set perform 10 kettlebell swings.
Kettlebell weight loss FAQ
Can you lose weight with kettlebells?
Yes, you can lose weight when training with kettlebells. However, the fat-burning effectiveness of kettlebell training is increased if:
You train with kettlebells regularly – 2 to 4 times per week
You vary your training intensity
You incorporate cardiovascular exercises into your kettlebell routine – try this kettlebell cardio workout
You improve your nutritional habits by transitioning to a plant-based diet
Are kettlebells good for losing belly fat?
No exercise targets belly fat. And any ‘health’ or ‘fitness’ guru that says there are exercises that specifically target belly fat, is a barefaced liar.
There’s only one thing that targets belly fat and that’s liposuction.
Kettlebell training, along with an inclusive exercise routine and transition to a plant-based diet, will certainly help reduce overall body fat.
What weight kettlebell should I buy for weight loss?
High-intensity, high-volume training – such as HIIT, EMOM and AMRAPs – is more effective at promoting weight loss. Lighter kettlebells are more suited to this type of training.
Trying to work through a HIIT session with a heavy bell will quickly induce fatigue. This will prevent – or seriously impede – you from sustaining the necessary output to burn fat.
With that said, if your kettlebell training ambition is to lose weight and improve muscle tonality, you’d be wise to select a medium-weight bell. But what’s a medium weight?
That’s tough to determine exactly. And the only way to find out for sure is to train with a range of different weight kettlebells. Ideally, though, a medium weight should be physically taxing but not so taxing that you're left exhausted after 10 swings.
How many calories does 20 minutes of Kettlebells burn?
Probably not as many as you might think. Not satisfied with that answer? The problem is the number of calories burned during a 20-minute kettlebell workout depends on the intensity at which you train.
If you approach your kettlebell workouts the same way as you would a conventional gym workout – resting between each set – then you will not burn many calories. Why? Because 30- to 50% of the workout will be spent resting. And the body doesn’t burn many calories at rest.
However, if you engaged in a 20-minute, non-stop high-intensity kettlebell workout which included classic whole-body exercises – such as swings, snatches, and cleans to press – then you will burn some serious calories.
What are the best kettlebell exercises for weight loss?
The best kettlebell exercises for weight loss are always going to be the classic movements such as the swing, snatch, clean and jerk, and the fabled long cycle. The reason why these exercises are better at burning fat is that, unlike some of the contemporary static adaptions (single-arm kettlebell row and, god forbid, kettlebell biceps curls), they stimulate the major muscle groups while also activating the cardiovascular system.
The 5 best kettlebell exercises for weight loss
Clean and jerk
For a tutorial on any of the 5 exercises above follow the link: 10 Killer Kettlebell Exercises.
How to use a kettlebell for weight loss
To maximise the weight loss, fat burning effects of a kettlebell workout you must aim to:
Train at high intensities
Take few rests (better still don’t rest); and
Maintain a voluminous output for 10- to 30-minutes.
In addition, the exercises that you select are important. If your 20-minute high-intensity kettlebell workout included single arm rows, bicep curls and peck flys, the weight loss effects will be severely impeded.
Because, in short, these exercises are crap. They’re crap because they’re static and they isolate a narrow range of muscle groups.
Traditional Russian kettlebell exercises, by contrast, are super-functional, whole-body developing behemoths that build strength, stamina and a cast iron physicality.
Enjoyed this circuit? Has it left you hungry for more? Click on the image below and get your copy of the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits Vol. 1.
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!)
Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.