Name: Zuzka Light
Occupation: Fitness model, online personal trainer
The has been referred to as “the handheld gym,” and with good reason. It’s basically all you need for a complete strength-and-conditioning program. What other single piece of equipment can help you so effectively develop strong hips, back, glutes, shoulders, abs, and core? Sure, every type of weight and implement has its use, but if I had to choose one piece of exercise equipment to use for the rest of my life, I would choose a kettlebell, hands down.
I discovered kettlebells six years ago, and it was love at first lift. They’ve become a staple of the workouts I present daily on my website, . In 2013, I trained hard and received my Russian Kettlebell cert through , the leading community of kettlebell training and certifications in the United States. Today, I use the “big six” of RKC training—the swing, squat, clean, snatch, get-up, and press—but I also adapt them into unique combinations that allow you to get a unique training effect from even a small kettlebell.
Watch the video – 8:33
What makes the following exercises unique is that they all combine simpler kettlebell moves into a two- or three-part movement. Combining these moves makes them harder to perform—but that’s the whole idea. Try them, and you’ll burn fat, improve your athleticism, and build self-confidence along with muscle.
Embrace the challenge and become a better athlete!
Are you ready for this?
If you’re a beginner and haven’t done challenging kettlebell exercises like the snatch or clean-and-overhead press before, you should definitely master the basics before trying these moves. Don’t let this be the first time you’ve ever tried a kettlebell snatch, because it’s a technical movement that requires your full attention and plenty of reps to nail down.
For the rest of you, grab your medium-size kettlebell—not your monster kettlebell—and an exercise mat. Let’s do this!
Triple Goblet Squat
This is a dynamic combination of a squat, a roll, and an overhead press. From start to finish, the entire movement should be fluid, not segmented or herky-jerky.
Triple Goblet Squat
Here’s how to perform it:
- Stand tall, holding the kettlebell with both hands in front of your collarbone.
- Drop into a squat until your butt is below your knees.
- Roll back into what resembles a reverse crunch (if that kettlebell feels scary over your face during the crunch portion, stop and grab a lighter one). Then return immediately to the bottom of the squat.
- Stand up, squeezing your glutes together, and press the kettlebell overhead in a continuous motion, similar to a thruster. Do 10 reps.
Kettlebell Swing to Pass-Under Squat
This movement is far harder than it looks, because you’re going from using momentum in the swing to a hand-to-hand transition that requires complete control. You don’t want to hit yourself in the leg with the kettlebell, drop it, or let your back get out of position. But this movement is a lot of fun once you’ve nailed down the basic form.
- Push your hips back and reach down to grab the kettlebell on the floor with both hands. Your back should be flat, nearly parallel with the floor.
- Swing the kettlebell up with both arms, and when it comes back down, pass the kettlebell between your legs. Grab it with one hand and bring it back around to the starting position. Try to keep your back as flat as possible during the transition.
- Swing the kettlebell again, only this time, grab it with your other hand at the bottom of the movement, when you bring it between your legs.
- Continue in alternating fashion until you’ve performed 10 reps.
Kettlebell Pass-Under Squat
Clean to Figure Four Squat to Curtsey Lunge to Overhead Press
I know this is a complicated name, but the flow between movements is logical enough that it won’t take you long to nail it. But be ready, because maintaining your balance is really important with this combo!
Kettlebell Figure Four Squat
- Push your hips back and reach down to grab the kettlebell on the floor with one hand, with your thumb pointing behind. Your back should be flat, nearly parallel with the floor.
- Hike and then clean the kettlebell so that it ends up “racked” at your shoulder. Ladies should be careful not to bash the kettlebell into their breast. Rack it to the side.
- Keep one leg tight and stationary while crossing the other leg into a “figure four,” so that your ankle is at the opposing knee.
- Drop into a squat on the standing leg, going only as deep as is comfortable, and then rise back up.
- Drop the leg that was raised diagonally behind you and perform a curtsey lunge.
- Stand up and press the kettlebell overhead in a continuous motion.
- Return to the starting position and perform reps in alternating fashion until you’ve performed 10 reps.
Kettlebell Curtsey Lunge
This is an intense ab exercise that starts with a pull-over into a “clam” or weighted double crunch. Don’t expect to be able to do it for dozens of reps like you can with crunches, though!
- Lie facing up on your exercise mat and grasp the kettlebell behind you with both hands.
- Simultaneously crunch your torso forward, pull the kettlebell forward, and bring your hips up, like you’re doing a double crunch. The kettlebell should end up passing over your knees. Return to the starting position.
- Now do the tornado. Without letting go of the kettlebell, keep your torso stationary and lift your legs up, your butt off of the ground, and twist toward one side. Return to the starting position.
- Keeping your torso stationary, lift your legs up and twist to the other side. Return to the starting position.
- Continue doing a clam followed by a tornado to each side. Try 10 reps. And because I heard you complain, try 20 reps.
Snatch To Surrender Squat
The snatch is a great movement on its own for reps—I had to do 100 in five minutes at my RKC certification—but it can also be a great tool to help you get a kettlebell overhead. Once it’s up there, you can do all sorts of great carrying movements.
A note on snatches: Don’t hesitate to wear wrist protection, so that you’re not banging the kettlebell against your wrist. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any banging, but it’s a good idea to have a backup plan!
- Push your hips back and reach down to grab the kettlebell on the floor with one hand. Your back should be flat, nearly parallel with the floor.
- Snatch the kettlebell so that it ends up overhead. You want to punch through the kettlebell handle at the top, which eliminates the banging on your wrist. Finding this timing takes practice.
- While holding the kettlebell overhead, kneel down, first with the knee opposite the raised arm, and then with the other knee.
- Sit back on your heels, and then sit up again, squeezing your glutes.
- Get back into a lunge position with your opposite leg, then press your lower body up to a standing position.
- Lower the kettlebell under control to the shoulder and park it on the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat until you’ve performed 10 reps.
Kettlebell Surrender Squat
Kettlebell Push-up to Reverse Squat
This is a combo where strict form is necessary, so don’t make the mistake of going too heavy. Use as light a kettlebell as necessary.
However, the lighter the kettlebell you use, the more likely it’ll fall over when you perform a push-up on it, potentially injuring your wrists and leaving you flat on your face. I don’t want that! That’s why it’s important that you to tip the kettlebell over before performing the push-ups on it.
- Assume the top of a push-up position, but instead of putting your palms on the floor, grasp the horns of the kettlebell while it is tipped over on its side. Make sure that your body is in one straight line. Squeeze your glutes and tense your abs.
- Perform a push-up, and immediately jump your feet forward into a deep squat. Once you’re in the squat position, bring the kettlebell between your feet.
- Raise your hips and swing the kettlebell up with your arms fully extended and your back straight. Don’t go all the way to standing, though. Just rise up into a hip-hinge position, where your hips are bent and your lower legs are straight, similar to the bottom of a kettlebell swing. It may sound complicated, but the video shows how simple it is.
- Return to the squat position. Jump your feet back into the plank position, and repeat the entire sequence until you’ve performed 10 reps using strict form.
Kettlebell Reverse Squat
Combining the Combos
If you want to combine these movements into an awesome workout, do at least 10 reps for each one and repeat the circuit three times. You’ll only need a single kettlebell for the whole routine, but you’re going to be sweating like crazy and totally wiped out. Have fun with it!