The Only 4 Kettlebell Exercises You Need for Toned Legs

The kettlebell deadlift is an essential exercise for your hamstrings and glutes.
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Trying to sculpt toned legs? Look no further than the cannonball-shaped kettlebell for a leaner lower body. This weight might look weird compared to a standard dumbbell, but its odd shape is the key to strengthening your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

While you can generally use a kettlebell for most dumbbell workouts, the reverse isn't always true. Because its mass isn't uniformly balanced like other free weights, you can perform more dynamic exercises that are exclusive to the kettlebell — specifically pendulum movements like swings — that are extremely effective for building a powerful lower body and training explosiveness, April Whitney, founder of Smalletics, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

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Kettlebells boast additional advantages over other forms of strength training. "As opposed to machines, which isolate specific muscle groups, kettlebell exercises typically recruit multiple muscle groups as well as the smaller, stabilizing muscles, which can help to create a more functional level of fitness," Whitney says.

In other words, they give you the strength and mobility necessary for everyday movement patterns like lifting a toddler or climbing stairs.

"Kettlebells also have the added benefit of engaging your core and abdominal muscles, which can help build more power in your legs when it comes to energy transfer, such as in sports scenarios like kicking a ball or launching into a sprint," Whitney says.

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Basically, a little kettlebell and some motivation are all you need for limitless lower-body gains. So take your leg day to the next level with these four kettlebell exercises that are essential for a powerful lower body.

1. Single-Leg Deadlift

1. Single-Leg Deadlift
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Activity Kettlebell Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand and hold the kettlebell with your right hand as you balance on your left leg (without locking the left knee).
  2. Roll your shoulders back, engage the lats and pull your bellybutton into your spine, activating your core.
  3. Keep your hips squared and back flat as you lower the kettlebell toward the ground and raise your right leg behind your so it's parallel with the floor.
  4. Squeeze your glutes as you rise back to standing.
  5. Do all your reps on one leg before switching and repeating on the other leg.

2. Kettlebell Step-Up

2. Kettlebell Step-Up
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Activity Kettlebell Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Grab a kettlebell in your left hand and hold it at your side.
  2. Step your right foot onto a bench, stair or chair, pressing through the right heel until you’re in a standing position. Make sure to drive the knee outward, not allowing it to cave in toward the other knee. Your right knee should stay aligned with your right ankle at the top and bottom of the move.
  3. Keep the shoulders down, the chest lifted and the belly button pulled into the spine.
  4. Step back down, lowering slowly and with control.
  5. Do all your reps on one leg before switching and repeating on the other leg.

3. Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift

3. Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Activity Kettlebell Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Place a kettlebell on the floor between your legs and slightly in front of you.
  2. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart with toes turned out to 45 degrees.
  3. Bend your knees and hinge at your hips as you place both your hands on the kettlebell handle. Roll your shoulders back, engaging your lats and core.
  4. As you stand, exhale and squeeze the glutes on the way up.
  5. Slowly lower back down hinging at the hips and bending the knees. Don't set the kettlebell down in between reps but continue straight into the next deadlift.

4. Kettlebell Goblet Squat

4. Kettlebell Goblet Squat
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Activity Kettlebell Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Grab the sides of the kettlebell with both hands and bring it close to your chest, elbows in.
  2. Maintaining a tight core, press your shoulder blades down and back to engage the lats.
  3. Standing with feet hip-width apart with toes slightly turned out, begin to squat by bending your knees. Actively press your knees out as you descend, keeping them in line with your toes. Make sure your chest stays lifted.
  4. Pause when your thighs are parallel to the floor (or however far your mobility allows).
  5. Drive through the heels to return to standing.

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