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Kettlebells are a Great Tool for Strength and Endurance



Kettlebells have become increasingly popular in recent years as a tool for strength and endurance training, especially among women. These uniquely shaped weights offer a versatile and effective workout that can help build both muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance.


Here at Fintello, we are huge advocates of using kettlebells because kettlebell exercises are particularly beneficial for maintaining the health of the posterior chain.


So, what sets these exercises apart from their emphasis on mobility and coordination?


Let's look at what kettlebells are and how they are beneficial to a woman's muscle strength and endurance.



The Shape of Kettlebells


The distinctive shape of kettlebells is what sets them apart from traditional dumbbells and barbells. Kettlebells are essentially weighted balls with a handle attached to them, making them ideal for swinging and other dynamic exercises that work the entire body. The offset handle allows for a variety of grips and positions, which can help target different muscle groups and increase the intensity of your workout.




Kettlebell Training for Strength


Kettlebell training can help build strength in a number of ways. The swinging and ballistic movements used in kettlebell exercises engage multiple muscle groups at once, making them a highly efficient way to build overall strength. The constant resistance and momentum of the kettlebell also provide a unique challenge that can help build grip strength, core strength, and explosive power.


The unique shape and design of kettlebells also allow for a wide range of exercises that can target specific muscle groups. Exercises like the kettlebell swing, Turkish get-up, and goblet squat can all help build lower body strength and endurance, while exercises like the kettlebell clean and press and bent-over row can target the upper body.


Using both hands on the handle is a great way to learn essential kettlebell movements, but it has its limitations. The fast pace of these movements can make it difficult to establish a mind-muscle connection. One-hand (unilateral) kettlebell exercises can be a more effective way to focus on this connection.



These exercises are great for testing strength at low reps, as controlling the weight with only one hand is more difficult. The body is challenged to resist twisting while maintaining hip and shoulder stability, engaging the core and grip strength as well. One-hand kettlebell swings, for example, test shoulder and hip stability on one side.


Unilateral movements also open the door for kettlebell flows - similar to yoga with weights. These flows connect movements seamlessly, reflecting an understanding of how each movement relates to the next. They recruit the same muscles in the posterior chain, working the hamstrings, glutes, lats, shoulders, and core.


For example, the Turkish Getup is the king of kettlebell flows, as it requires communication with the entire posterior chain. The entire flow demands constant stability and balance, with a focus on hip mobility and core engagement.


For these reasons, it's a popular finisher for any workout.


For advanced kettlebell users, practicing these movements with dual grips can further test strength. This involves executing the single-hand movements with two kettlebells simultaneously, requiring more focus on balancing the body and coordinating each side.



Kettlebell Training for Endurance


In addition to building strength, kettlebell training can also help improve cardiovascular endurance. Many kettlebell exercises are designed to be performed for high repetitions or for a set period of time, which can help improve muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness. The combination of strength and endurance training can also help improve overall athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury.


One of the most popular kettlebell exercises for endurance is the kettlebell snatch. This explosive movement requires a combination of strength, speed, and coordination, making it an excellent way to improve overall fitness. Other endurance-building kettlebell exercises include the kettlebell swing, goblet squat, and farmer's walk.



When it comes to kettlebell workouts, using both hands on the handle is best for high-rep sets. This type of exercise challenges your speed and endurance, while also providing a lighter load on the posterior chain due to the dual-hand grip. However, not all bilateral exercises are slow-paced - the kettlebell swing, for example, activates the fast-twitch muscles in the hips and allows for completing more reps in less time.


If you're looking to optimize your high-intensity kettlebell training, EMOM (Every Minute, On the Minute) training can be highly effective. This involves completing a designated number of reps at the beginning of each minute, testing both physical and mental endurance as well as form.


During the rest period between sets, focus on improving your form for the next round while also catching your breath. Beginners can start with 10 sets of 10 reps of kettlebell swings for their EMOM practice.



The Benefits of Kettlebell Training


An orange sketch of a 5kg kettlebell and a yellow comment bubble that says "benefits". The background is black.

So, as you can see, there are many benefits to incorporating kettlebell training into your fitness routine. Here are just a few quick reasons on why you should incorporate kettlebells in your next training:


Time-efficient: Kettlebell exercises can be done in a short amount of time and still provide a full-body workout.


Versatile: Kettlebells can be used for a wide range of exercises that target different muscle groups and fitness goals.


Low-impact: Kettlebell exercises are generally low-impact, making them a great choice for anyone looking to avoid high-impact activities.


Portable: Kettlebells are relatively small and easy to transport, making them a great choice for anyone who wants to work out at home or while traveling.


Fun: Kettlebell training is and challenging way to improve your fitness and challenge yourself.



Kettlebell Circuits for Cardiovascular Endurance


Kettlebell circuits offer fantastic low-impact workouts that can increase your muscle and cardiovascular endurance tremendously. Below we provide 3 sample kettlebell circuit workouts we often use at our studio. These circuits follow the “45 on 20 off” model.

  • Exercise #1 (45 seconds)

  • Rest (20 seconds)

  • Exercise #2 (45 seconds)

  • Rest (20 seconds)

  • Exercise #3 (45 seconds)

  • Rest (1 minute)

  • Repeat

  • Complete 12 rounds of the entire circuit.



Circuit 1: KB Goblet Squats, Rows, and Swings



Who doesn’t love a good circuit training? Circuit training with kettlebells are highly effective because it is both a form of HIIT and strength training. You will definitely notice your endurance build up the more you do this!


(Pro tip: When you see “KB”, know that it stands for kettlebell).


This circuit will be 45 on 20 off. When you hear “45 on 20 off”, that means that you will perform the exercise for 45 seconds straight and have 20 seconds to rest before moving on to the next exercise. Set a timer on your phone to help you complete the workout. Personally, I love using the app IntervalTimer because I can set up the intervals for the circuit and not have to worry about pressing start and stop the entire workout!


Aim to continue the exercise for the full 45 seconds and rest only when designated. However, it is best to perform the exercises with proper form and continuous breaks, rather than the full 45 seconds with awful form. If you notice your form is not great, take the time to correct yourself and perform the exercise effectively. We do not want anyone getting hurt! Ouch!


Once you have completed the workout, start again from the top. You will perform 12 sets of the entire circuit.

The Workout

Kettlebell Goblet Squat: 45 seconds

Rest 20 seconds

Mountain Climbers: 45 seconds

Rest 20 seconds

Kettlebell Upright Pull: 45 seconds

Rest 20 seconds

Kettlebell Swing: 45 seconds

Rest 1 minute

Repeat circuit 12 times

[Want to try these at home? See our guide to the best kettlebells you can buy]


Kettlebell Goblet Squat Form

Begin with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Hold the kettlebell upside down with both hands at chest height. Keeping your chest lifted and back flat, push your hips back and lower your body into a squat. Make sure your knees stay in line with your toes and don’t collapse inward. Push through your heels to stand back up, squeezing your glutes at the top.



Two photos of a physically fit white woman wearing all black holding a kettlebell. She is demonstrating how to do a goblet squat.


Mountain Climber Form

Begin in a plank position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Keeping your core tight, bring your right knee to your chest while maintaining the plank position. Return your right leg to the starting position and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating legs for a set amount of time.


Kettlebell Upright Row Form

Begin in an athletic stance with your feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell in front of you. Squat down, keeping your back flat, chest up, and core tight. Reach down and grab the handle of the kettlebell with both hands. Drive your feet into the ground and stand up explosively, pulling the kettlebell up towards your chest. As you pull, keep your chest up, back flat, and core engaged. Once you reach the top, slowly lower the kettlebell back to the start position.


Two photos of a physically fit white woman wearing all black holding a kettlebell. She is demonstrating how to do an upright row.

Kettlebell Swing Form

Begin with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Hold the kettlebell between your legs with both hands, making sure your back is flat and your core is tight. Drive your hips forward and explosively swing the kettlebell out in front of you. Keep your arms straight and your shoulders back. As you swing the kettlebell back through your legs, use your hips and glutes to drive the kettlebell up. Allow the kettlebell to swing back and forth, keeping your arms straight and core engaged. That’s one rep.



Circuit 2: KB Russian Twists and Shoulder Presses



In this circuit, you will go by the “45 seconds on 20 seconds off” structure. As a reminder, that means you will perform each exercise for 45 seconds with 20-second breaks in between.


Once you have completed the workout, take a 1-minute break and start again from the top. You will perform 12 sets of the entire circuit.


Not only is this an excellent way to get your cardio in, but you will also be improving your core strength. Many of these movements require core engagement. Do not forget to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze!


The Workout

Burpees: 45 seconds

Rest: 20 seconds

Kettlebell Russian Twists: 45 seconds

Rest: 20 seconds

Skaters: 45 seconds

Rest: 20 seconds

Kettlebell Shoulder Press: 45 seconds

Rest: 1 minute

Repeat circuit 12 times


Burpee Form

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart; then, squat down and place your hands on the floor; next, kick your feet back into a push-up position; and finally, jump back up to the starting position.


Kettlebell Russian Twists Form

Begin by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a kettlebell in both hands, with your arms extended in front of you at shoulder height. Keeping your core tight, twist your torso to the left, then back to the center. Twist to the right, then back to the center. Continue alternating sides for a set amount of time or reps.


Skaters Form

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Jump to the left, bringing your left foot behind your right and landing on the ball of your foot. Immediately jump back to the right, bringing your right foot behind your left and landing on the ball of your foot. Continue alternating sides for a set amount of time or reps.


Kettlebell Shoulder Press Form

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in each hand. Keeping your core tight, press the kettlebells overhead until your arms are straight. Lower the kettlebells back to the starting position. Continue pressing the kettlebells overhead for a set amount of time or reps.


Two photos of a physically fit white woman wearing all black holding a kettlebell. She is demonstrating how to do shoulder presses.


Circuit 3: KB Squat n’ Press, Reverse Lunges, and Crazy 8’s



This exercise is performed following the “45 seconds on 20 seconds off” model. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds and take a little rest for 20 seconds. I know 20 seconds only is a little bit of time to catch your breath, but this will build endurance! 45 seconds on 20 seconds off circuits are amazing forms of cardio and strength training.


Form is so crucial, especially if you want to move up in weight. Before you ever do increase weight for exercises, make sure that your form is absolutely perfect. If you perform exercises incorrectly, you can have annoying lifelong injuries. We do NOT want that. If you want to exercise for the rest of your life, you have to be smart about it.


The Workout

Shoulder Taps: 45 seconds

Rest 20 seconds

Reverse Lunges (hold kettlebell on the side of the leg that is stepping back): 45 seconds

Rest 20 seconds

Kettlebell Side Bends: 45 seconds

Rest 20 seconds

Kettlebell Squat n’ Press with Single Arm: 45 seconds

Rest 1 minute


Shoulder Taps

Begin in a plank position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Keeping your core tight, tap your left shoulder with your right hand. Return your right hand to the starting position and tap your right shoulder with your left hand. Continue alternating sides for a set amount of time.


Kettlebell Reverse Lunges

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell on the side of your leg that is stepping back. Step backward with your right leg, bending both knees to a 90-degree angle. Push off with your right leg and return to the starting position. Step backward with your left leg and repeat. Continue alternating legs for a set amount of time.


Kettlebell Side Bend

To perform this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell in one hand. Be sure to keep your core tight and your back straight. Begin by bending at the waist to the side with the kettlebell. Keep your hips square and your torso upright as you reach the kettlebell down towards the floor. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.


KB Single Arm Squat n’ Press

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in one hand. Squat down and press the kettlebell overhead. Return to the starting position. Squat down and press the kettlebell overhead on the other side. Return to the starting position. Continue alternating sides for a set amount of time.


Three photos of a physically fit white woman wearing all black holding a kettlebell. She is demonstrating how to do a single arm squat and press.


Get Swinging:


So, hopefully, by now you agree with us that kettlebells are a unique and effective tool for building both strength and endurance. Their distinctive shape and design allow for a wide range of exercises that can target different muscle groups and fitness goals. And whether you're looking to build overall strength, improve cardiovascular endurance, or just add some variety to your fitness routine, kettlebell training is definitely worth considering.

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