This 20-Minute Kettlebell Ladder Workout Will Give Your Legs and Butt the Ultimate Burn

This kettlebell ladder workout will get your heart rate up while building strength in your quads, glutes and core.
Image Credit: BartekSzewczyk/iStock/GettyImages

No, we're not talking about actually climbing up and down a ladder with a kettlebell in hand. Ladder workouts involve doing a series of strength exercises with ascending or descending reps, using the same load the entire time.

For example, if you start the first round of a kettlebell ladder workout with 6 swings, 6 cleans and 6 squats, you'll add or subtract 2 reps for each exercise for the next round. Some ladder workouts involve ascending reps, while others use descending reps.

To add challenge to any ladder workout, you can go up and then back down the ladder, or vice versa. For instance, you might do 6, 8, 10, 8 and then 6 reps.

The benefit: Kettlebell ladder workouts are an incredibly effective way to increase your heart rate while building strength and athletic skills. With ladder workouts, short recovery short periods give you just enough time to catch your breath and reset for the next round, while the rep scheme is low enough that you can prioritize great form. And by using a kettlebell, you can make use of high-intensity dynamic movements like those swings and cleans.

To get started, sculpt and strengthen your lower body, including your quads, glutes and core, with this 20-minute kettlebell ladder workout.

Try This 20-Minute Kettlebell Ladder Workout

This ladder workout is all about descending: Complete 15 reps of each exercise for the first round, then 13, 11, 9 and 7 (subtracting 2 reps for subsequent rounds). If you want to up the challenge and have more than 20 minutes to spend on your workout, next do the ladder in reverse to climb back up to 15 reps of each move. Rest up to 2 minutes in between rounds.

Move 1: KB Swing to Clean

JW Player placeholder image
Region Lower Body
  1. Place two medium to heavy kettlebells on the ground a few inches in front of your feet. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hinge your hips back, holding the kettlebell handles with a loose grip. Pack your shoulders back and down.
  2. With your shoulders above your hips and your back flat, hike the kettlebells between your legs.
  3. As you straighten your legs to stand, use power from your legs and hips to punch the kettlebells up to chest height as you pull your elbows back to clean the weight to a front rack position.
  4. The kettlebell handle should be stacked above your wrists.
  5. Complete 15 reps for the first round, then 13, 11, 9 and 7, subtracting 2 reps for each round.

Move 2: KB Lateral Lunge to Knee Raise

JW Player placeholder image
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell with the bottom-up by your chest with both hands.
  2. Keeping your chest proud, take a big step to the right and bend your right knee, pushing your hips back. Your left leg should be straight and the left foot parallel with your right.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and push off of your right leg to come back to the center.
  4. As you return to stand, drive your right knee up toward your chest.
  5. Then, bring your right leg back down and repeat on the other side.
  6. Complete 15 reps for the first round, then 13, 11, 9 and 7.

Move 3: KB Surrender Squat

JW Player placeholder image
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell with the bottom-up by your chest with both hands.
  2. Hinge your hips back and lower your butt as if you're sitting into a chair.
  3. From here, draw your right leg back and then your left, finishing in a tall kneeling position.
  4. Reverse the motion by bringing your right leg forward, followed by your left, to return to the squat position.
  5. Squeeze your glutes and press your heels into the ground to stand back up.
  6. Continue to alternate legs with each rep, and complete 15 reps for the first round, then 13, 11, 9 and 7.

Tip

As you get into the tall-kneeling position, alternate your legs. Go down with the right leg and come up with the right leg. Then go down with the left leg and come up with the left leg.

Move 4: KB Curtsy to Forward Lunge

JW Player placeholder image
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell with the bottom-up by your chest with both hands.
  2. Put your weight in your left leg and step back and to the side with your right foot.
  3. Bend both knees into a curtsy.
  4. Squeeze your glutes, brace your core and press down on your left foot to come back to the center.
  5. Next, take a big step forward with your right leg and lower down into a lunge, forming a 90-degree angle with your front and back legs.
  6. Alternate sides, and complete 15 reps for the first round, then 13, 11, 9 and 7.

Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here —we've got something for everyone.