Short on equipment? Look no further for some great results due from minimal equipment as these lifts only require a kettlebell. Sure they may look a little different to many, but we’re willing to do things that no one else does so we can look like no one else does.
Follow these exercises as a functional workout all together or throw them in to your normal routine to improve overall functional fitness.
Exercise #1: Slow Shoulder Press
We all love the shoulder press but we’re going to bump up the stability and mobility a notch here with this version. This is more focused on form and making sure the scapula is retracted correctly and the traps are not stabilizing the shoulder too much throughout the movement. The hand placement for your grip will also play a role in how much weight you can actually move correctly.
- Grab 2 kettlebells and start in position where the bell is over your hands
- Once stabilized, make sure the traps are taken out of the movement as much as possible and focus on using the front delts to drive the weight up
- Don’t lock out at the top but stop for a 1 second squeeze then slowly lower the weight back down to ear-level
Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15
Exercise #2: Kettlebell Pushups
A variation of the regular pushup motion, using the kettlebells will allow you to go beyond your normal range of motion on these. You’ll also have to use arms and core to help stabilize the unsteady surface on which you’ll be performing these. Don’t cheat yourself- be sure to go all the way down and all the way up for full muscle stretch and contraction.
- Set up two kettlebells at the same place where you’d normally do a pushup (shoulder-width)
- Place hands on the bell handles and brace your core to get self in starting pushup position
- Slowly lower yourself down to as close as you can get your chest to the floor
- Press yourself back up to the top and repeat
Sets and Reps: 4 x 15-20
Top Tip: For added burn, try switching up your hand placement for an even more intense exercise.
Exercise #3: Overhead Lunges
The walking lunge is a great functional workout as it helps improve posture as well as walking/running motion. Throw in some weight overhead and this is sure to spell disaster on your quads, hamstrings and glutes. You will not only feel this in your legs but also in your arms, shoulders and core from all the stabilizing this will require to keep yourself at bay.
- Grab 2 kettlebells and place them overhead with the bell over to of your hands
- Keep the shoulders pinned back and down then start into your lunges
- Slowly step one leg out in front minding that the knee does not go over the front toe
- Activate the glutes/hips to get out of the hole and on to the next rep
Sets and Reps: 3 x 10-12 on each leg
Exercise #4: Rope Pulls
Rope climbs are one of the greatest upper body strength builders but not everyone or even every gym has a full rope-to-ceiling attachment for you to use. So what’s the next best thing you can get your hands on? Rope pulls with a kettlebell. This will look absolutely ridiculous, especially with you hauling in your own heavy duty rope to the gym but you’ll for sure be reaping the benefits. Here’s the setup:
- Tie one end of the rope to the handle of the kettlebell and place over the top of Smith machine in top position
- Sit on the ground with the open end of the rope in your hands
- Start to pull down and back and raise the bell all the way from the ground to the top of the Smith
- Slowly lower the weight back down and repeat
Sets and Reps: 4 x 10-12 ascents/descents
Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to go heavy on these. If worried about failure, set up a pad underneath the kettlebell so if dropped it won’t damage the gym floor.
Exercise #5: Kettle Throws
With all of the previous movements probably been done or at least seen before to some extent, the following exercise will increase your imagination on what a workout can consist of. Throwing kettlebells: there’s no rhyme or reason on how to do it as long as you get the weight from point A to point B is all that matters in this case. Keep your form tight and get to moving some weight!
- Set up by starting in athletic stance and holding a kettlebell by the handles
- Either swing from between the legs or on either side of your legs to throw
- After thrown, go retrieve the bell and repeat
Sets and Reps: 1 x 50 yards
You may not have a gym that’s easily accessible or even the gym equipment at home to get in a full workout, but as you can see, all you need is a couple of kettlebells. You may get some funky looks if you’re at the gym doing this but who cares? You’re here to build muscle and that’s it!