Is your kettlebell training turning a tad repetitive? While classic moves like kettlebell swings, snatches and goblet squats are stellar exercises, doing the same workouts again and again can become a snooze fest. Not to mention the lack of variety may lead to a fitness rut and a pesky plateau.
If you've exhausted your range of regular kettlebell moves, don't fret. There are endless ways to get creative with a kettlebell. Mix up your weekly routine with these four out-of-the-box, underrated kettlebell exercises from D'Annette Stephens, ISSA-CPT, strength and conditioning coach and owner of DTerminedFitness, LLC, to build strength, improve mobility and maintain muscle mass.
1. Kettlebell Halo
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell handle at chest level.
- Engaging your core, lift the kettlebell and slowly circle it around your head in a clockwise motion until you return to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement in the opposite direction. That's one rep.
The kettlebell halo works your deltoids, rhomboids and trapezius (as well as your core) and is great for shoulder mobility and stability, Stephens tells LIVESTRONG.com.
If you feel resistance in your shoulders, don't force the movement, she says. This may be a sign that you’re lacking shoulder mobility. Instead, start by incorporating shoulder stretches and exercises into your daily routine.
2. Turkish Get-Up
- Lie in the fetal position on the floor, facing your right side. Hold a kettlebell in your right hand, with your arm bent and the kettlebell in the "racked" position, meaning the ball portion is resting against the back of your hand and wrist.
- Roll over toward the left, putting both feet on the floor with your knees bent.
- Straighten both arms upward, pressing the kettlebell straight up over your shoulder.
- Lower your left arm and leg to your left side, both at a 45-degree angle.
- Keep your right arm straight; it should stay extended alongside your ear for the entirety of the movement. Turn your palm inward slightly to help you maintain the proper form.
- Roll onto your left elbow, bringing your right shoulder off the floor. Keep the kettlebell straight over your shoulder.
- Keep your hips on the floor as you straighten your left arm, pushing your torso further upright.
- Reposition your right foot so that you can support your weight on your left hand and your right foot, using core strength to keep your body steady.
- Use your core to lift your left hip off the floor, bringing your left leg underneath you and slightly behind your hips, so that you can kneel on your left knee. The ball of your left foot should be in contact with the ground.
- Shift your torso to get into a lunge, left knee still on the floor. This will bring your left hand off the floor, while the kettlebell remains straight up over your right shoulder.
- Stand up, bringing your left leg forward, so that you end up with your feet hip-width apart.
- Reverse the motion, step by step, to end lying face-up on the floor.
- Carefully bend your right arm and bring the kettlebell back to the floor to complete the rep, using your left arm for an assist as needed.
The Turkish get-up is a dynamic, full-body exercise that improves shoulder and core stability, hip extension and glute activation, Stephens says. Be sure to maintain a firm grip and keep your eyes on the kettlebell while it’s above your head to help avoid injury, she says.
3. Side Swing
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grip the top of a light kettlebell (4 to 8 kg) handle with both hands and place it on the outside of your left hip.
- Engaging your hips and obliques, begin to twist, pulling the kettlebell across your body and upward at a right diagonal.
- Try to keep your hips squared, your core tight and your rib cage pulled down.
- Twist back down, leading with your core, and place the kettlebell at the starting point (outside of the hip).
- Repeat for desired number of reps, then switch sides.
“This anti-rotational core work — i.e., when you resist twisting to one side by maintaining a stable core position — helps strengthen and stabilize your core muscles by placing asymmetrical, unbalanced forces on your body,” Stephens says.
4. Static Straight-Arm Hold
- Start with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell by its handle at chest height.
- Slide your shoulder blades down your back, then press the kettlebell out in front of you until your arms are straight.
- Hold this position for as long as you can maintain proper form.
This simple isometric move places — and sustains — tension on your abs, shoulder blades, glutes, back and chest, Stephens says. Bracing your core and activating your glutes will ensure that you don’t put extra strain on your lower back.