You’re probably here because you read through part 1 and part 2 of our Kettlebell Muscle Building Series and your ready to try out some muscle building kettlebell workouts yourself! Well no worries! We’ve got you covered with these workouts below! If you’ve somehow landed on this page without reading the other two articles, go ahead and check them out; we’ll be here when you get back! If you’re ready to get started, go ahead and grab your favorite kettlebell and we’ll review some key points. After that, we’ll dive right into the workout!
The Basic Science Behind Kettlebell Muscle Building
Before we dive into the specifics, let’s just briefly review the science behind kettlebell muscle building. Remember, your body builds muscle because it feels the need to. This means you have to apply a great enough training stimulus (by having enough intensity and volume) so your body adapts. The kettlebell can be particularly effective at eliciting a training stimulus for a few reasons. First, kettlebell training primarily focuses on compound movements, which engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously (helping us dial in adequate volume in our training). This results in increased muscle activation and a more significant potential for growth compared to isolated exercises. Also, kettlebell workouts often incorporate both strength and cardio elements, promoting fat loss and muscle definition, and triggering hormonal responses necessary to add that additional muscle (see part 2 for more details!). These essential elements make kettlebells an excellent tool for building lean, functional muscle.
Key Principles of Kettlebell Muscle Building
Every solid work is driven by principles. By following the right principles, we are more likely to achieve results, because we know why a program is working, rather than just blindly following a workout. To make sure you’re building muscle with kettlebells, you’ll need to follow these fundamental principles:
Progressive Overload: Building muscle requires progressively challenging your muscles. This can be done, in general, by increasing weight, working at more disadvantageous leverages (e.g. an incline bench press tends to be more challenging than a bench press at the same weight because of the decreased leverage relative to your pectoral muscles), or increasing reps. Start with a weight that is manageable but still challenging. As you get stronger, gradually increase the weight to ensure continuous muscle growth, once you can hit 12-15 reps of any given exercise, it’s time to increase the weight, or in the case of the kettlebell, you can also choose a more challenging exercise (check out some advanced movements here!)
Here are some helpful examples of how to achieve progressive overload outside of increasing the weight lifted:
- Increase Repetitions: Instead of adding more weight, you can increase the number of repetitions for a particular exercise. For instance, if you’ve been doing three sets of 10 reps with a specific kettlebell weight, try doing four sets of 12 reps with the same weight. This increased volume will create an overload on your muscles.
- Reduce Rest Time: Shortening the rest intervals between sets can intensify your workout without changing the weight. By minimizing rest time, you challenge your muscles to adapt to a higher level of fatigue, promoting muscle growth.
- Variety in Exercises: Incorporate a variety of kettlebell exercises into your routine. These can include swings, squats, presses, and Turkish get-ups, among others. Changing your routine prevents plateaus and ensures all muscle groups are targeted. By working through a variety of exercises, we ensure balanced muscular development and diminish the possibilities of progress slowing due to a weakness in a particular muscle group. For example, your overhead press might be lagging because your triceps are weak, thus robbing your delts of some added stimulus for muscle growth. By varying exercises (enough, but not too much), we ensure that your muscles continue to grow in a balanced way.
Proper Form: Form is crucial in kettlebell training. Ensure that you’re using correct technique to avoid injury and maximize muscle engagement. If you have to go lighter, go lighter- the gains will come. Remember, the easiest way to make consistent gains, is to workout hard without getting injured. That will ensure gains for the long haul.
Rest and Recovery: Muscle growth happens primarily during rest, not during the workout itself. During your workout, you provide the stimulus for growth, and during your rest is when the new growth occurs. Allow adequate time for your muscles to recover between sessions. Overtraining can hinder muscle development and increase the risk of injury.
Nutrition and Hydration: Proper nutrition is essential for muscle growth. Consume a balanced diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated to support muscle function and recovery. (check out a more detailed breakdown of nutritional basics for fitness here.)
The 14-Day Kettlebell Muscle Building Program
Now that you understand the principles behind muscle building, are you ready to get to some kettlebell muscle building! We’ll put these principles into action with a 14-day kettlebell muscle-building program. Remember to warm up before each workout and cool down afterward. Listen to your body, and adjust the weights and repetitions as needed (remember, you are going for a weight where you can just barely complete the workouts with good form). The workouts are organized as a series of movements, to be completed with 15-30 seconds rest between each movement. After completing all the listed movements, that’s considered one round. Rest for 60-90 seconds, then repeat for another round. You can use these workouts as a finisher to your existing workout by doing them for 3 rounds, or use them as their own workouts by performing 7-10 rounds! Feel free to mix it up too! The beauty of kettlebell training is that, since it is full body, you will be engaging multiple muscle groups, so making sure you’re isolating certain muscles becomes a non-issue! Get ready to see some gains!
Day 1-3: Full-Body Basics
- Kettlebell Goblet Squats: 10 reps (rest 15-30 sec, then…)
- Kettlebell Swings: 15 reps (rest 15-30sec, then…)
- Kettlebell uneven push-ups: 10 reps each side (rest 60-90sec, that a round!)
- (repeat for a number of rounds- 3 for a workout finisher, or 7 to 10 for a full workout!)
Day 4: Rest and Recovery
Day 5-7: Upper Body Focus (follow the rest/round format of day 1-3)
- Kettlebell Rows: 3 sets of 10 reps per arm
- Kettlebell Press: 3 sets of 8 reps per arm
- Plank with kettlebell pull-through: 3 sets of 30 seconds
Day 8: Rest and Recovery
Day 9-11: Lower Body Power
- Kettlebell Deadlifts: 10 reps
- Kettlebell Lunges: 12 reps per leg
- Russian Twists: 15 reps per side
Day 12: Rest and Recovery
Day 13-14: Full-Body Challenge
- Turkish Get-Ups: 5 reps per arm
- Kettlebell Swings: 20 reps
- Single Arm Kettlebell Push Press: 15 reps per arm
How to Perform Each Exercise
Of course we wouldn’t leave you with a workout without explain how to do the exercises! In fact, if you want more in-depth instructions, you can scroll over some of the exercises to get an in-depth tutorial! We’re adding more all the time!
Kettlebell Goblet Squats:
- Hold a kettlebell close to your chest with both hands.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lower your body into a squat position by bending your knees and hips.
- Keep your back straight and chest up.
- Push through your heels to stand back up.
- – Place the kettlebell on the ground in front of you.
- – Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- – Bend your knees and hips to grab the kettlebell with both hands.
- – Swing the kettlebell between your legs, then explosively swing it up to chest height.
- – Use your hips and core to power the movement.
Kettlebell Uneven Push-Ups:
- Start in a plank position with your hands under your shoulders.
- Place one hand on top of a sideways turned kettlebell (so its handle is leaning on the floor). The other hand remains on the floor.
- Lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest nearly touches the ground.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels.
- Push back up to the starting position.
- If needed, perform on your knees.
- Hold the kettlebell in one of your hands.
- Brace your core, and hinge at the hips, so you are leaning forward about 45-60 degrees
- Pull the kettlebell towards your hip, keeping your elbow close to your body.
- Lower it back down with control.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- Hold a kettlebell in one hand at shoulder height.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Press the kettlebell overhead until your arm is fully extended.
- Lower it back to shoulder height.
- Repeat on each arm.
Planks with kettlebell pull through:
- Place a kettlebell by your side.
- Get into push-up position, but with your forearms on the ground and elbows under your shoulders. The kettlebell, should be right next o your waist on the floor on one side of your body.
- Lift your body off the ground, balancing on your toes and forearms.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels.
- Hold this position, while dragging the kettlebell from the side its on to the other side of your body. For example, if you start in plank position with the kettlebell on your right side, use your left arm to pull it through underneath your body to your left side. Switch arms and repeat for the duration of time.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a kettlebell between your feet.
- Bend at your hips and knees to lower your body and grab the kettlebell with both hands.
- Keep your back flat and chest up.
- Stand up, lifting the kettlebell with you.
- Lower it back down with control.
- Hold a kettlebell in one hand at your side.
- Step forward with one leg into a lunge, bending both knees.
- Push off the front foot to return to the starting position.
- Repeat on each leg.
- Do 3 sets of 12 reps per leg.
Kettlebell Russian Twists:
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent, feet lifted, and heels lightly touching the floor.
- Hold a light kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest.
- twist side to side in a controlled manner, aiming to touch the kettlebell to the floor lightly on either side.
- Return to the center and twist to the other side.
- Lie on your back with a kettlebell in one hand, arm extended toward the ceiling.
- Bend one knee and plant the same-side foot on the ground.
- Use the opposite hand to prop yourself up to a seated position.
- Continue to stand up while keeping the kettlebell overhead.
- Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
- Single Arm Kettlebell Push Press
- Begin standing with about a 20 degree bend in your knees, holding the kettlebell at shoulder height with one hand, resting the kettle on the space between your front delt and clavicle.
- Explosively push the kettlebell overhead while straightening your legs.
- Lock out your arm at the top.
- Lower the kettlebell back to your shoulder and repeat.
The Rewards of Kettlebell Muscle Building
Completing this 14-day kettlebell muscle-building program will undoubtedly leave you feeling stronger and more confident. You’ll experience several benefits, including:
Increased Muscle Mass: Over the course of two weeks, you’ll begin to notice some increased muscle definition and size, especially in your core, legs, and upper body.
Improved Strength: Kettlebell training enhances overall strength, making daily activities easier and more manageable, as well as improving your performance in other gym exercises.
Enhanced Endurance: The combination of strength and cardio in kettlebell workouts boosts your endurance, allowing you to sustain higher-intensity efforts for longer.
Fat Loss: Kettlebell training can help shed excess body fat (due to its continuous movement, it is ideal for HIIT workouts). Losing more body fat helps reveal newly developed muscle beneath.
Functional Fitness: Kettlebell exercises mimic real-life movements, promoting functional fitness that benefits your daily life. By working through various planes of movement, and varying speeds, kettlebell training helps build more overall resiliency.
Incorporating kettlebell training into your fitness routine is a smart choice for anyone looking to build muscle efficiently and effectively. The science behind it, the principles to follow, and the 14-day program provided in this article offer a comprehensive guide to kick start your muscle-building journey.
So, don’t hesitate—grab a kettlebell, follow the program, and experience the remarkable muscle-building benefits that this versatile tool can provide. Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or just beginning your fitness journey, kettlebell training IS going to help you towards your fitness goals! So go ahead and grab your kettlebell and build some serious muscle! As always, check out our other articles for more knowledge and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, we’re here to help you achieve your goals!