Posted 05 January 2015 by Arnav Sarkar

Kettlebell training for a leaner

stronger, better physique

Kettlebell training for a leaner, stronger,
better physique.

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If you love to train hard, then you will love kettlebell training. If you don’t know what a kettlebell is, it’s high time you found out. A kettlebell is a weight training equipment that is shaped like a cannonball with a handle attached to it. Originally from Russia, it’s now a popular tool which is used all over the world by people to become stronger, fitter, and leaner.

Compared to a barbell or dumbbell, the biggest difference is that in a kettlebell the weight is off-centre. This makes your core and grip work a lot harder than it would with standard weights. In fact, it is often said that even a 20-minute kettlebell workout can provide better results than many other protocols that have you working out for 60 minutes or more. It’s also a great tool that can fit in any corner of your home, so you do not have to worry about space.

Basic Kettlebell Exercises


1. One-arm swing

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a grip on the handle close to the thumb side.
  • Exhale and swing the bell back between the legs.
  • Reverse the motion and swing it up and forward while inhaling on the way up.
  • Rely more on your legs, glutes and back to do the work, rather than relying solely on the arms.


2. Clean

  • Start like the one-arm swing, and swing the bell behind you.
  • On the way up, open your palm and insert it into the handle.
  • Finish with the bell resting close to your body and your palm inserted in a 45 degree angle into the handle. This position is referred to as the ‘rack’.
  • Drop the bell for the next rep by turning the palm up and letting the bell drop back into the swing.


3. Overhead Press

  • Clean a kettlebell in the rack position.
  • Press it up overhead in one motion till your elbows lock out.
  • Drop it back into the rack position to do the next rep.


4. Snatch

  • Start like the one-arm swing.
  • On the way up, open your palm and punch straight up and lockout the hand overhead in one motion.
  • Make sure to insert the palm into the handle in a 45 degree angle.
  • Reverse and drop the bell down by leaning back and turning the palm up to let the bell go back in a swinging motion.


5. Squat

  • Clean a kettlebell in the rack position.
  • Push the hips back and squat down.
  • Make sure to keep the back straight and chest up.
  • Reverse the motion by standing back up using your leg muscles.


6. Row

  • Place a kettlebell in front of you and bend over with a straight back.
  • Hold the kettlebell handle and pull it up to your stomach.
  • Make sure to arch your back and not let it round during the movement.
  • Lower the bells back to the starting position in control and repeat.


Putting it all together

When you begin training in some of the exercises like cleans and snatches, you might initially find that you end up banging your forearms with the bells crashing into it. This will be eliminated with practice therefore it is necessary to avoid doing too many reps of such exercises in the beginning. Instead, do a few reps often to learn the proper form without harming yourself. Once you have mastered these moves, you can then include some more variety with exercises like lunges, alternating swings, floor presses, windmills, Turkish get-up, etc.

Like with other exercises, if you continue lifting the same weight for the same number of reps, you will not improve your strength or see muscle growth. It’s important that you move onto heavier kettlebells and do more reps in order to increase your overall strength and lean muscle mass.


Workout routines

If you have been training with other forms like traditional weights, running or bodyweight exercises and you want to add kettlebells into your training routine, then you can gradually start with swings. Do about 2-3 sets of 10 reps at the end of your normal workouts. Once you are good with swings, keep adding an exercise from the basic kettlebell exercise list to your regime.

However, if you’re currently not following any training program and want to start fresh with kettlebells or want to switch over to an all kettlebell workout, then do the following program:


Kettlebell Workouts:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • One arm clean and press: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
  • 1 arm bent-over rows: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
  • 1 arm front squats: 2 sets of 10 reps
  • One arm swings: 2 sets of 15-20 reps

After two weeks, add another set to all the exercises.

Once you get fairly comfortable and good with this basic workout, then start doing more challenging kettlebell workouts like doing circuits, complexes, high repetition snatch or clean and press workouts, etc. The options are limitless, and they are all fun and rewarding but also brutal at the same time. 

Written by: Arnav Sarkar

Arnav is a strength coach and fitness whose style of training is based on simplicity and sensibility over fad and short term methods.



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