Kettlebells and body-weight exercises present a marriage made in heaven -- if your idea of heaven includes low-tech circuit training with a high-impact workout that is guaranteed to torch calories and make you fitter. Either exercise modality creates a sleek silhouette and a strong cardiovascular system. And the synergy of the two increases the challenge and has inspired leading fitness trainers to try their hand at creative combos for you to try on your own.
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Kettlebells and body-weight circuits can be used for building strength if you go with heavy weights and low reps or for fat loss with lighter weights and high reps. For fat loss, you’re best off alternating each type of exercise, or each type of circuit, with little rest in between, advises Timothy Bell, founder of Jungle Fit personal training. Instead of performing Turkish get-ups with heavy weights, go for high reps with of the swing with a lighter kettlebell. The combinations are endless, Bell notes, so keep your body guessing with new approaches and attempts to beat your personal best.
Timothy Bell’s Sample Workout
Take your vitamins and go to bed early the night before you try Bell’s sample body-weight and kettlebell circuit for weight loss, because it’s a humdinger. The trainer recommends that you warm up with five minutes of jumping rope. Each circuit consists of a minute of the single-arm kettlebell push press, burpees with pushups, single-hand swings, alternating hands at the 30-second mark, mountain climbers and the goblet squat, each performed without any rest in between. Repeat three to five times, Bell suggests, with a minute of rest between circuits.
Craig Ballentine’s 10 x 20 Circuit
Certified strength and conditioning specialist Craig Ballentine, author of “Turbulence Training for Fat Loss,” advocates brief, potent circuits rather than long, boring cardio sessions for maximum fat loss. You can try his 10 x 20 circuit -- five kettlebell exercises, five body-weight exercises, 20 reps of each -- rest for one to two minutes, and repeat twice to effectively wipe yourself out. The kettlebell exercises include the squat, two-arm swing, single-arm high pull, one-arm swing and one-arm row. The body-weight exercises consist of pushups, walking lunges, mountain climbers, close-grip pushups and stability ball leg curls -- to work the hamstrings.
Lauren Brooks’ Conditioning Focus
If you prefer timed intervals to counting reps, you can try the conditioning workout designed by kettlebell trainer and author Lauren Brooks. A gym-specific interval trainer makes these effortless. Brooks recommends a circuit consisting of push presses, two-handed swings, jump squats and high pulls, all with the kettlebell, with 30 seconds per exercise and a 30-second rest between each. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat the circuit two or three times. Follow with a second circuit of the same pattern, but in this one, perform one-armed swings or snatches with the kettlebells, burpees with a pushup optional for your body-weight option and the double farmer’s walk with your bell.