Top 80 Kettlebell Exercises

Paul’s List of the Top 80 Kettlebell Exercises on the Planet broken by category and sorted by difficulty.

I’ve been coaching kettlebell exercise for over a decade.  And while there are more than 80 kettlebell exercises to choose from, more options aren’t necessarily better.  The internet and YouTube are full of stupid exercises that are either (a) unsafe to do, (b) inefficient, or (c) should be done with an alternate piece of equipment.  The 80 kettlebell exercises you see below represent the best exercises that can be done with kettlebells.  Should you feel otherwise, I humbly implore you to leave a comment below.  Your comments and feedback can only improve the overall quality and depth of this post.

Are There Really 80 Kettlebell Exercises?

It depends on how to count variations.  Many kettlebell exercises will have one or more well-documented variations that are safe and effective to do.  The Turkish Getup has 3 variations.  How big of a change does the exercise need to have for it to constitute a separate exercise altogether?  I gave each kettlebell exercise a different number if I felt the variation would require additional coaching to train a member.

What Kinds of Kettlebell Exercises are there?

  • Kettlebell Squats
  • Kettlebell Deadlifts
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Kettlebell Cleans
  • Kettlebell Presses
  • Kettlebell Snatches
  • Getups
  • Kettlebell Lunges
  • Rows
  • Miscellaneous
  • Kettlebell Complexes
  • Dual Kettlebell Exercises

Where Can You Learn These Kettlebell Exercises?

We teach kettlebell technique in Personal Training, CrossFit TRX, and CrossFit Metcon classes.

What Weight Kettlebells Should you Buy?

Beginner Men: 12kg (25lbs), 14kg (31 lbs), and 16kg (35 lbs).  Advanced men swing up 24kg kettlebells in our classes.

Beginner Women: 10kg (22lbs), 12kg (25 lbs), and 14kg (31 lbs) Advanced women in our gym swing up to 20kg kettlebells in our classes.

If the starting weights listed is too heavy for you, you are not ready to use a kettlebell.  Buy some 10lb, 15lb, and 20lbs dumbbells to strengthen your body before starting with kettlebells.  Kettlebells require a certain minimum mass size to work.  In my experience, a person that cannot swing 22 pounds, probably should be attempting to swing it.

What are Kettlebells Used For?

Conditioning.  Kettlebell exercises are frequently done in volumes of 50-100 reps.  For this reason, you don’t need a kettlebell that is as heavy as a dumbbell or barbell.

Corrective Exercises.  Many kettlebell exercises are also correctional in nature.  Such as the good morning or suitcase deadlift.  Generally, you don’t need very heavy weights for corrective exercises.

Grip Strength.  Kettlebells are excellent in strengthening your grip.

Coordination.  Kettlebells (and Clubbells) are probably the best exercise tools in the gym for building coordination.  Kettlebells sequence nicely — allowing you to chain exercises together into complexes.  Training with kettlebells will help improve your overall coordination.

Shouldn’t Exercise # Be Done with a Dumbbell?

There are some exercises we listed that are better done with an alternate piece of equipment.  We listed the preferred piece of equipment in parentheses.  Does that violate rule (c)?  No… there some exercises can that can be done with a kettlebell, it’s just that sometimes the dumbbell is simply better overall.  For each category of exercises, we explained whether a dumbbell can / should be substituted.

About the Order of the Kettlebell Exercises

For all kettlebell exercise category, I’ve listed the kettlebell exercises in a specific sequence.  They are listed in order of increasing complexity/difficulty to learn.  Having taught thousands of students over the past decade, I know which exercises are more easily learned than others.  Some require more advanced mobility and timing.  My advice is to learn an exercise from each category and progress to the next one.  E.g. a Round-Robin approach.

The Top 80 Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell Squat

For the most part, kettlebells are superior to dumbbells in all squat exercises.  While you can make a dumbbell work, the loading of the exercise is almost always better with a kettlebell.

  1. Kettlebell Goblet Squat | Dumbbell Goblet Squat
  2. Front Squat (one Kettlebell or Two Kettlebells)
  3. One Arm Overhead Squat
  4. Rolling Deck Squat (Candle Stick)
  5. Pistol Squat

Kettlebell Deadlifts

The kettlebell deadlift is a great teaching tool for the conventional barbell deadlift.  Because 100 pounds is the general maximum weight a kettlebell should be before it gets too expensive or too unwieldy to be useful, the Kettlebell deadlift is always a beginner exercise.  Whereas the suitcase deadlift and single leg deadlift remain excellent at all fitness levels.  Both can be done with a dumbbell, but the kettlebell remains the superior choice in equipment.

  1. Deadlift
  2. Suitcase Deadlift
  3. Contralateral Single-leg Deadlift
  4. B-Stance Deadlift

Kettlebell Swings

The swing is the key exercise of the Kettlebell.  It cannot and should not be replicated with any other exercise.  If you don’t have a kettlebell, you shouldn’t waste your time doing a swing.

  1. Two hand swing
  2. One Hand Swing
  3. Alternating Swing overhead exchange or lateral exchange
  4. American Swing
  5. American Swing to Broad Jump
  6. Flip Swing to Goblet Squat (Horn hold) or (Bell hold)
  7. Flip Swing to Step Back Lunge (Horn hold) or (Bell hold)
  8. Lateral Swing

Kettlebell Cleans

The Kettlebell clean has many variations — each with their own nuances.  The kettlebell clean serves as a gateway movement to get from the floor into the guard.  For this reason, it is a key movement to learn to build combinations.  The dumbbell clean is similar to the American Kettlebell clean.

  1. Twist (EZ) Clean
  2. Russian Clean
  3. American Clean
  4. Alternating Clean
  5. Lateral Clean
  6. Technical Clean
  7. Flip Clean
  8. Alternating Flip Clean

Kettlebell Presses

The key to a good Kettlebell is keeping your shoulder internally rotated such that you keep your elbow tucked in.  Kettlebell presses sequence well with the kettlebell clean.  As compared to a barbell or dumbbell press, the kettlebell press is a weaker exercise.  Managing the weight behind your arm puts uneven force on your forearm.  The bottoms-up press and bent press are some special kettlebell-only exercises that should be every athlete’s repertoire.

  1. One-Arm Strict Press
  2. One-Arm Pushup Press
  3. Thruster
  4. Split Jerk
  5. Bottoms up Press
  6. Z-Press
  7. Bent Press

Kettlebell Snatches

The Kettlebell Snatch is probably the most complex movement the Kettlebell has to offer.  Unlike the barbell snatch, the kettlebell builds endurance and strength.  While the barbell snatch is not a good exercise for building muscle, the kettlebell snatch is.  While CrossFit may have made the American Kettlebell Snatch famous by doing it w dumbbell — the Russian RKC Hard Style Snatch which is the game-changer.

  1. Spin (EZ) Snatch
  2. Russian Snatch
  3. American Snatch
  4. Alternating Snatch
  5. Lateral Snatch
  6. Technical Snatch

Getups

The Getup – is a sequence of small functional movements.  A powerful test of stability and strength the Getup challenges the core and the lunge.  Variations 3 and 4 are Paul’s favorite.

  1. Turkish Getup RKC
  2. Turkish Getup no-posted-arm step through variation
  3. Turkish Getup no-posted-arm rotation variation
  4. Half Getup
  5. Russian Situps
  6. Russian Glute Bridge

Lunges

The Kettlebell is a great tool for lunge work as it provides the athlete with several variations to change the difficulty.  The standard lunges can be done with a kettlebell or dumbbell safely.  The Figure 8 and Around the Back to Lunge can only safely be done with a Kettlebell.There are 6 main types of lunges:

  1. Step Forward Lunges
  2. Step Back Lunges
  3. Lateral Lunges
  4. Walking Forward Lunges
  5. Walking Backwards Lunges
  6. Step-Ups
  7. Figure 8 Lunge
  8. Around the back to lunge catch

Any of these variations can be done with a kettlebell in of these positions:

  1. Below the waist
  2. In the Guard
  3. Overhead

In addition, the side of the kettlebell can be altered:

  1. Unilateral
  2. Contralateral
  3. Dual Kettlebells

Rows

There are four main rowing exercises you can do with a kettlebell.  The upright row is the only exercise that can’t also be done with a dumbbell.

  1. Contralateral Single leg Row
  2. Dual Single Leg Row
  3. Bench Row
  4. Upright Row

Miscellaneous

There are 10 key kettlebell exercises that fit nicely into a main category.  The windmill is probably the most famous, but it’s not a simple exercise to master.  The armbar is one of the better rotation control exercises on the planet.  Learn it.

  1. Farmers Carry
  2. Lateral Side Bend
  3. Russian Twist
  4. Good Morning
  5. Crush Curl
  6. Windmill
  7. Renegade row
  8. Two-Hand Anyhow
  9. Armbar
  10. Bent Armbar

Kettlebell Complexes

Kettlebells and Clubbells are unique in that they can be sequenced together into complexes.  Complexes can be two exercises or ten.  Here are five of my favorites.

  1. Single Arm Swing to High Pull
  2. Sumo Deadlift High Pull
  3. American Clean to Burpee
  4. Turkish Getup into Windmill
  5. Contralateral Clean to Lunge

Dual Kettlebell Exercises

Dual or double kettlebell exercises are very challenging for beginners.  They also can cause damage to the bells themselves if a member allows them to clank together.  We only recommend dual kettlebell exercises for our most advanced members.

  1. Dual Alternating Kettlebell Snatches
  2. Dual Bilateral Kettlebell Snatches
  3. Dual Kettlebell Strict Press
  4. Dual Kettlebell Push Press
  5. Dual Alternating American Kettlebell Clean
  6. Dual Bilateral American Kettlebell Clean
  7. Dual Alternating Russian Kettlebell Clean
  8. Dual Bilateral Russian Kettlebell Clean
  9. Dual Kettlebell Criss-Cross Swing

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