A very wise man once said, “You are only as strong as your weakest link.” What if that link was the area below your belt? There’s a better than average chance that is the case because a lot of people suffer from this ill fate. What’s with all this fear? Fear is overrated. Fear is for the weak. Be strong, think strong, and you’ll get strong.
Maybe a little direction is all you need. The good news is, by doing a killer kettlebell workout on the reg, you can achieve greatness! Follow this routine like a baby duckling follows its momma and you’ll be groovin’ in no time.
Be warned: these exercises lean towards advanced and will require you to use kettlebells. If you’re new to them, it’s highly advisable to meet up with a certified professional who has a proven track record in training people. It’s always safety first!
Swings work great as a warm-up, and they also pulverize your posterior chain, which includes your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
Place two kettlebells on the floor, an arm’s reach in front of you. Stand with your feet parallel and toes facing forwards. Make sure your stance is wide enough that you can fit both kettlebells between your legs.
Grasp the handles and tip the bells backward as you “sit in a chair,” so to speak. Make sure your shoulders are higher than your hips, your hips are higher than your knees, and your shins are about perpendicular to the floor. Tighten your lats and pull your shoulders inward, which is called packing your shoulders.
Rip the kettlebells off the floor and pass them back between your legs. Fire your hips forward as hard as you can to move the kettlebells up. Let them come to a stop with your arms about parallel to the floor.
Keep your arms straight and let the kettlebells fall back down in an arcing motion. Collapse your arms against the sides of your stomach as you hinge your hips and push the weights back. You should have no space between the bells and your crotch when you do the back part of the swing. Just don’t hit yourself in the genital area! Repeat the motion by firing your hips forward.
Every time you do a swing and your arms are parallel to the floor, forcefully contract your abs, glutes, quads, and lats.
Perform sets of 10, 12, 15, 20, 20, 15, 12, and 10 reps. This is a pyramid scheme and, unlike other pyramid schemes, this one won’t leave you penniless and disgruntled.
Double front squats
If you’re worried about crushing your cervical spine to a pulp with barbell squats, a pair of kettlebells can save your day.
Place the bells on the floor and get in the same starting position as you would for swings. Grasp the handles, lean back, and rip them between your legs. Now do a forceful hip snap and keep your elbows tight to your sides as you twist the weights and move them gently to the back of your forearms.
Try to time this right so you don’t crush your arms. Let the kettlebells rest outside your chest with your wrists perfectly straight. Just for the record, this is called the “rack position.” Space your feet shoulder-width or slightly wider apart and slowly descend by bending your knees.
Fix your gaze up at a 45-degree angle and keep your back as straight as possible. Do not hinge forward at the hips. Act like your back is sliding down a wall. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor and your elbows are just inside your knees, stand back up to a fully extended position and repeat.
Aim for 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps. If you decide to go really heavy, crank out 5 sets of 5 with solid form.
Drop lunge/reverse lunge combo
You’ll only need one kettlebell for this drill. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and the bell between your legs on the floor. Go into a squat to grasp the handle with your hands side by side and stand up as you hoist the bell to chest level.
Wrap your fingers around the inside and place your index fingers over the curvature of the handle on the top. Press the weight tight into your chest and pin your elbows tightly to your sides. Keep the kettlebell locked in this position as you step back at an angle behind your body with your right foot.
Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you do this and drop into a lunge with your legs in a crossed position. Stop when your front thigh is parallel to the floor and your back knee is just above the floor. Stand back up in a steady motion, step back to your starting position, and perform the same motion again, leading with your left foot.
Come back to your starting position and now step straight back with your right foot into a reverse lunge. Follow the same rules with your leg positions. Keep your front thigh parallel to the floor and your back knee directly above.
Step back to your starting position, repeat with your left leg, then perform the entire drill over again, starting with a drop lunge.
Perform 5 sets of 5 reps and remember, one rep is done when you’ve completed a drop lunge and reverse lunge with both sides.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (SLRDL)
This drill will also require one kettlebell. Not only will the SLRDL devastate your glutes and hamstrings, but it will also exponentially improve your balance.
Grab a moderately heavy kettlebell with your right hand and stand up straight with it at your side. Lift your left foot off the floor, bend your right knee slightly and keep that bend throughout the movement.
Hinge forwards at the hips and let the kettlebell lower towards the floor in front of your foot. Keep both arms straight and parallel to each other as you do this and also keep your shoulders square to the floor.
As you bend down, kick your left leg up in the air behind you and make sure to keep a straight line from your heel to the back of your head. Once you feel a good stretch on your right hamstring, slowly rise back up and bring your left foot close to the floor by your right. Repeat the whole sequence, then switch sides.
Ideally your hovering foot stays off the floor at all times, but if you need to place it down to re-establish your balance, go for it. Do 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps with each leg.
Summing it up
The fun thing about this workout is that you’re working your lower body while also hitting your abs and getting a substantial calorie burn. If you want to turn the caloric expenditure up another notch, feel free to integrate sets of swings into your practice between exercises. Do this workout every three days so that you don’t demolish your muscles.