Ask a Trainer: How Can I Use a Kettlebell for Strength Training?

This kettlebell workout circuit will add strength and efficiency to your stride. You don't need much, just this guide, a bit of space, and a kettlebell.

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You don’t need much equipment or a fancy gym to get a full-body strength workout. All you need is some body awareness, guidance, a bit of space, and a kettlebell. Look for a 20–40 pound kettlebell for a man, or a 15–30 pound kettlebell for a woman.

These workouts aim to enhance your balance and stability, using the offset weight to challenge your body dynamically, similarly to what happens in a run. See a video demonstration of these exercises here.

RELATED: Strength Training for Triathletes

Kettlebell Exercise No. 1: Reverse Offset Lunge to Overhead Press with Knee to Chest

Man holding a kettlebell at his shoulder
Step 1

Man lunging down with kettlebell at shoulder
Step 2

Man standing on one leg, raising knee and kettlebell arm
Step 3

For: Quadriceps, Psoas, Hamstrings, Gluteus Maximus, Hip and Core Stability, Deltoids

How: Hold a kettlebell in the front loaded position in your right hand. Make sure the handle is held diagonally in your hand. Take a reverse lunge with your right leg and gently touch your knee on the floor. Drive your left foot into the floor and push off your right big toe to return to a standing position. Bring your right knee to your chest and simultaneously press the kettlebell overhead. Pause in this position for 2 seconds and make sure you stand tall with level hips. Bring your right foot down and repeat.

Do: 1 set of 12 reps per side, then move on to exercise two.

Kettlebell Exercise No. 2: Single Leg Offset Romanian Deadlift to Bent Over Row to Knee to Chest

Man standing on one leg holding a kettlebell
Step 1
Man hinging forward in a single-leg RDL
Step 2

Man in single-leg RDL rowing kettlebell up to shoulder
Step 3

Man standing on one leg with knee up, kettlebell at side
Step 4

For: Hamstrings, Gluteus Maximus, Psoas, Hip and Core Stability, Rhomboids, Trapezius, Latissimus Dorsi

How: Hold the kettlebell in your right hand beside your right hip while standing on your left foot. Slightly bend your left knee and raise your right leg straight behind you. Reach for the wall behind you as you bow. Keep your back flat and stick your chest out toward the ground. Form a capital letter “T” and pause. Row the kettlebell up with your right arm. Squeeze your shoulder toward your opposite hip. Lower the weight, then stand. Proceed to lift your right knee to the ceiling while keeping a level pelvis. Lower your leg, then repeat.

Do: 12 reps per side, then proceed to exercise three. 

Kettlebell Exercise No. 3: Side Plank Kettlebell Pick-Up to Knee to Chest

Man in a side plank with kettlebell on floor
Step 1

Man in side plank rowing kettlebell off ground
Step 2

Man in side plank with kettlebell on ground and top knee lifted
Step 3

For: Hip and Core Stability

How: Lie on your right side and prop yourself up onto your right elbow. Ensure a kettlebell is placed just in front of your torso. Keep your legs straight and stack your feet upon one another. Squeeze your glutes and form a straight line from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Next, pick up the kettlebell with your left arm and squeeze your shoulder blade to the opposite hip. Notice the greater demand on the lower core stabilizers. Make sure your body doesn’t move when you pick up the kettlebell. Lower the kettlebell back to the floor, then push down into the handle with your left hand. Next, bring your left knee toward your torso. Don’t move your body or let your hips drop. Return the leg and repeat.

Do: 1 set of 12 reps per side, then move to exercise four.

Kettlebell Exercise No. 4: High Plank Kettlebell Drag

Man in wide-legged plank
Step 1

Man planking, pulling kettlebell underneath torso
Step 2

For: Core Stability

How: Go into the top of a pushup position with your hands placed on the floor within hip-width apart and your feet placed wider than shoulder-width apart. Round your upper back and tuck in your pelvis. Squeeze your glutes and contract your abs. With a kettlebell placed beneath the right side of your torso, lift your left hand and grab the kettlebell handle. Slowly drag it from right to left without moving your body. Place your left hand down and switch arms. 

Do: 1 set of 12 reps per side, then move to exercise five.

Kettlebell Exercise No. 5: Single Leg Kettlebell Glute Bridge

Man set up for single-leg glute bridge with foot on kettlebell
Step 1

Man in single-leg bridge with foot on kettlebell
Step 2

For: Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings

How: Lie on your back with your knees bent and one foot placed on a kettlebell that is on its side. Place your hands on the floor beside you for balance. Drive your foot into the kettlebell to perform a bridge. Lift your hips up high enough to form a straight line from your shoulders to your knee. Don’t over-arch your low back. Lower your hips back to the floor.

Do: 2 mini sets of 12 per side, then return to exercise one. Complete 3-4 total sets.

Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc, CSCS, CEP is a Strength & Conditioning Coach with 15 years of experience. He’s a co-owner of JKConditioning, a health and fitness business in St. John’s, NL, Canada, a retired competitive runner and a long time contributor to PodiumRunner.