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3 High-Intensity Kettlebell Circuit Workouts

We've talked about bodyweight movements and the TRX suspension trainer, but the poor old kettlebells have been largely left out. Today, that's going to change. Below, you'll find a series of kettlebell progression workouts ranging from beginner to advanced. Enjoy!


What You Need To Know: Start with the beginner workout and move up every 4-6 weeks, or as you feel comfortable. Perform each workout in AMRAP - as many reps as possible - style, with 10-15 minutes as your goal. Keep your rest breaks short and sweet. Perform 3-5 rounds of each workout.

Circuit 1: Beginner

1) Floor Press x5/side

This isn't necessarily an easier version of the bench press, it's just a nice variation. Lay flat on the floor with both knees bent (the video shows one - your choice) and grip a kettle bell with one hand. Similar to any pressing movement, press upwards to lockout, and then bring your arm back to the floor. Make sure to keep your hips aligned and neutral, and don't let your elbow flare out - aim for about 45 degrees.

2) Deadlift x5

For the most part, the KB Deadlift is similar to the normal Deadlift. Settle into a shoulder-width stance, squat down, and hold a kettlebell between your legs. Push your feet into the floor, squeeze your glutes, and explode upward. Avoid excessive rounding of your back by pulling your shoulder blades together and pushing your chest out. The more knee bend you can get, the better.

3) Bent Row x5

Similar to the barbell bent row, you can use a pair of kettlebells. Hold one in each hand and set your feet into a shoulder-width stance. Slightly bend your knees, them bend your torso forward. Keep your back straight and pull your shoulder blades down and back. Now, row! As with the Deadlift, be careful of any lower back rounding. Oh, one more thing - no jerking. Be realistic about your weight selection.

4) Rack Position Step Up x5/side

In barbell terms, this is closest to a step up with a front squat grip. Stand in front of a low box with a kettlebell in each hand. Hold them in the racked position, up at your shoulder. Place one foot on top of the box, and drive upward. Don't let your back leg do the work. Squeeze the glute muscles of your front leg throughout the movement. Drop back to the floor slowly and repeat. The way the kettlebells are held will make you want to lean forward - don't let it happen.

5) Twist x5/side

Sit on the floor with your torso at 45 degrees and feet flat on the floor with bent knees. Hold a kettlebell at your chest. Now, maintaining your torso angle, twist to one side and drop the kettlebell to the floor, tapping it slightly. Twist to the other side using the same motion, and repeat. For increased difficulty, cut your base of support by holding your feet in the air.


Circuit 2: Intermediate

1) Clean x5/side

The Kettlebell clean is best learned by demonstration, so pay careful attention to the video. The twisting motion you see in the video is the most important part of the movement. As with any other explosive motion, use a slight knee bend - almost like a reflex - to increase momentum. As the Kettlebell comes upwards, keep it close to your body - pretend you're zipping up a jacket. Allow it to twist around until it settles in the crook of your arm.

2) Goblet Squat x5

The goblet squat is identical to the normal squat you're used to except for one detail: position of the weight. Rather than hold the weight on your back, you'll hold it at your chest. Use both hands to do this and settle into a shoulder-width stance. Push your butt out, break at the hips, and drop into a nice, low squat. With the weight in front, you may feel like you're going to fall forward. Focus on pushing your hips out and back, and look straight ahead to combat this.

3) Pass Around x5

This one is a bit of an oddball. Hold a kettlebell in both hands at your chest. Raise the kettlebell up and to the left until it's right next to your left ear. Now, follow a line from ear to ear and bring the kettlebell to the right of your right ear. Finally, bring it back to your chest. To make this movement work well, keep your elbows in and tight, and don't let the KB rise too far above your ears - this limits the range and difficulty.

4) Suitcase Deadlift x5/side

It's all about resisting rotation. Set your feet shoulder-width and hold a kettlebell in one hand, outside of your stance. Hinge your hips and slowly drop to the floor, lowering the kettlebell as close to the ground as possible. Make sure you don't let the weight pull you to that side. This is the start position. Now, just like the Deadlift from the previous workout, explode upward to a standing positon.

5) One Arm Swing x5/side

The kettlebell swing is all about the hip hinge. Straight back, slight knee bend, butt out and back. When the Kettlebell is in the lower position, be extremely careful not to round your lower back. As you swing it upwards, explode forward with your hips and aim for face level. The only difference between this and the normal swing is that you're holding the KB with only one hand. Pay attention to your body position - don't sway to one side.


Circuit 3: Advanced

1) Bottoms Up Press x5/side

The bottoms up position features the kettlebell upside down, with the bell pointing to the sky. As you'd expect, this increases the balance and coordination demand greatly. Start by holding a KB in this position, just in front of your shoulder. With your eyes locked on the kettlebell, press upward, just like a shoulder press. Slowly lower it back to the start and repeat. If you're having a hard time with the bottoms up position, walk across the gym and back a few times to help you get the hang of it.

2) Bulgarian Split Squat x5/side

This is one of the more difficult lunge variations, but it's now or never. Position a bench or small box behind you, face away from it, and allow one foot to rest on top. Pick up a pair of kettlebells (you can do these one-handed, but it will increase the balance and strength demands), and hop a few steps out with your lead leg. Now, just like a split squat, drop your back knee to the floor. Stay upright and keep your back straight. Drive up, back to the start, and repeat.

3) Renegade Row x5/side

Watch the video carefully. Do you notice how he shifts his weight to the side that's rowing? That's all you need to know to perform this one correctly. As you shift sides, push your hips in the same direction. When you actually perform the row, don't let your hips tilt - both sides should remain even and stable. Maintain a nice plank position throughout the movement.

4) Single Leg RDL x5/side

If you've never seen this exercise before, it's best learned via visual demonatration - pay attention to the video. If you know how to hip hinge, you'll pick it up quickly. If not, just remember to keep just a slight bend in your knees, a straight and flat back, squeeze your glutes, and hinge at the hips. Start with a modest weight until you have the technique down well.

5) Get Up x1/side

Watch and learn. The Get Up is a multi-step movement that places a huge emphasis on technique. Major sticking point: sweeping the leg. If you have a trouble at this point, focus on your hips - they need to be high and open. When you first start working with this exercise, tuck away your pride and cut the weight entirely. Once you have the basic technique down, slowly add and increase resistance.

**The information on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Before starting any new exercise program we recommend consulting your doctor first.**