4 Swing-Free Kettlebell Exercises That Won't Hurt Your Back

They may look funny, but kettlebells have the potential to be a total game-changer for your at-home workout routine. Incorporating the iron weights into your training can help torch calories and build essential strength in a short amount of time, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Grab a kettlebell for your next at-home strength training workout. (Image: SrdjanPav/E+/GettyImages)

But contrary to popular belief, the kettlebell swing is not the move to start with: It's a technical skill as much as an exercise, says Mike Perry, owner of Skill of Strength, a performance-based training facility in Chelmsford, Massachusetts and an instructor with StrongFirst. A coach with kettlebell certifications can teach you how to do the move correctly and help you lower your injury risk at home in just a few sessions.

Until you've had that coaching, it's best to try safer moves with kettlebells at home, Perry says.

A Swing-Free At-Home Kettlebell Workout

Try this four-move workout from Perry for a swing-free session. Start with kettlebells in two or three weights so you can use different weights for different exercises and also grow into them. Consider starting with bells of 12, 16 and 24 kilograms; if you're feeling strong, go with bells of 16, 20 and 28 kilograms.

To do this workout, perform each move for four sets of eight to 12 repetitions each, resting one minute between moves.

Move 1: Kettlebell Goblet Squat

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out from parallel.
  2. Cup the ball of the kettlebell in both hands in front of your chest with your elbows pointing down.
  3. Push your hips back to initiate the squat. Bend your knees to descend until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, keeping your chest up and your weight on your heels.
  4. Press back up to standing.

Move 2: Lunge

  1. Stand holding the kettlebell as you did for the goblet squat.
  2. Take a large step forward with your right leg, descending as you step until your knees form 90-degree angles.
  3. Press through your right foot to stand back up.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Move 3: Bent-Over Single-Arm Row

  1. Place your left knee on a bench, chair or the couch, bend your torso forward and place your left hand on the surface to support your body.
  2. Reach down and grab the kettlebell with your right hand, returning to this position where your body is parallel to the floor.
  3. Pull your right arm up until your hand reaches the side of your chest.
  4. Lower the weight back down and repeat.
  5. Do all your reps on this side, switch sides and repeat.

Move 4: Bottoms-Up Carry

  1. Hold the handle with a straight wrist, the ball of the kettlebell above your hand at shoulder level, pointed toward the ceiling.
  2. Your hands should be facing each other at your shoulders, with your elbows close to your chest.
  3. In this position, walk slowly a short distance down and back.
  4. Perform one or two walks per set.
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