Kettlebells, an exercise tool that looks like a cannonball with a handle, offer the potential for a dynamic, calorie-burning workout in a short amount of time. The number of calories you burn in a kettlebell workout depends on your intensity level and how you use them.
Like Any Old Weight
Lift a kettlebell like you do dumbbells or barbells and you'll burn calories like you do in any traditional strength-training workout. If you are new to kettlebells, you may master straightforward moves such as rows, shoulder presses and deadlifts first. While these help you build muscle over several months, which can offer a slight metabolic boost, you don't burn a ton of calories during the actual exercise session. In a 30-minute typical weightlifting session using kettlebells, you'll burn about 112 calories if you weigh 155 pounds. Expect a 90-calorie burn if you weigh 125 pounds and 133-calorie burn if you weigh 185 pounds.
Where's the Sizzle
Do the traditional weight exercises with a kettlebell as a circuit, meaning you do a set of each exercise back-to-back with little or no rest, and burn about 30 calories more. Amp up your calorie burn even more by using the kettlebell to do dynamic exercises that require you to fire up the whole body. A study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise found that people skilled in kettlebell training who executed kettlebell snatches using approximately 26-, 35- and 44-pound bells burned an average of 272 calories in a 20-minute workout. These subjects kept their snatch rate at a high cadence, progressing to an all-out rate several times during the workout. Using lighter bells and working at a level substantially below your near-max heart rate will yield a much lower calorie burn.