A workout is a workout is a workout, right? The answer is not exactly. Just about any physical activity does good things for your body, but some workouts – like kettlebell workouts – are more efficient than others. Kettlebells provide an effective and efficient way to burn calories and achieve a strong, toned physique. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a workout using kettlebells can burn up to 20.2 calories per minute—that’s over 1,200 calories per hour, which is double the amount of calories burned from cardio or running for the same amount of time! Twice the calorie burn in half the time spent is certainly a bold claim, but according to ACE that’s what kettlebells can offer your training routine.
Kettlebell workouts focus on strength training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that focus on larger muscle groups like your back, chest, shoulders, arms, thighs, and glutes, providing a more intense workout than standard weight training. This is because the more muscles required to perform an exercise, the more calories you burn. Depending on how hard you push yourself during your kettlebell workout as well as your body weight and fitness level, you can expect to burn anywhere between 10 to 40 calories per minute. Add in the resistance training from a kettlebell workout and you get a fat- and calorie-burning session that tones and tightens at the same time.
In addition to burning lots of calories, adding kettlebell exercises into your routine is an effective way to not only build muscle, but also improve overall health, strength and fitness levels while toning your physique—all from one simple piece of equipment!
Kettlebell workouts such as swings, squats, presses, snatches, lunges, cleans, jerks, and windmills are great for burning calories and meeting your fitness goals. Kettlebell swings are a great exercise to start with since they engage several muscles and involve intense cardio movements. Swinging the kettlebell back and forth uses muscles in the arms, core and legs while increasing your heart rate. For those looking to add higher intensity intervals into their workout routine, combining exercises such as burpees with kettlebells can be incredibly effective in burning more fat and achieving results quicker. Here is a bit more information on a few of the different exercises you can do with a kettlebell:
Swings: Also known as the kettlebell swing, Russian swings or hip hinges. Kettlebell swings can be done with either one or two hands depending on what feels most comfortable. You begin standing with knees slightly bent in a semi-squat position while holding the kettlebell in front of you between your legs. Keeping your back flat and core engaged throughout the entire movement you then swing the kettlebell up with momentum until it reaches chest height before allowing gravity to pull it back down again. It’s essential to keep good form and control over the entire movement to avoid any injuries.
Squats: This is another great exercise for burning calories while building strength in multiple muscle groups at once including quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes. Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart while holding the kettlebell close to your chest with both hands keeping palms facing each other throughout the entire movement. Keep your core tight throughout before slowly pushing hips back while bending knees into a squatting position until they form 90-degree angles before returning back up again.
Presses: Kettlebell presses are an effective exercise for targeting the shoulders, triceps and upper chest muscles. This exercise is also great for strengthening the core muscles as it requires balance and stability in order to correctly execute the movement. To perform a kettlebell press, start by holding a kettlebell in each hand with your palms facing away from your body. Press the weights up in an arc-like motion until they reach shoulder height before slowly lowering them back down to the starting position.
Snatches: Kettlebell snatches are a highly effective full-body exercise that target the arms, back, shoulders and core. This movement requires explosive power, agility and balance which makes it the perfect exercise for more advanced fitness enthusiasts. To perform a snatch correctly you must first begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and holding a kettlebell in one hand between you. From here you must explosively thrust the weight up and around your body until it reaches overhead before finally catching it in the opposite hand. A study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise found that people skilled in kettlebell training who executed kettlebell snatches using approximately 26-, 35- and 44-pound bells burned an average of 272 calories in a 20-minute workout.
Lunges: Kettlebell lunges are an excellent exercise for targeting the lower body, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. They involve stepping forward with one leg while keeping the other planted behind you and then lowering your body until both knees form 90-degree angles. This intense movement requires strength and balance in order to be completed correctly, so be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the entire motion.
Cleans: Kettlebell cleans are a dynamic exercise that works the upper body, core and lower body. This movement requires explosive power to lift the weight from the ground to shoulder height while maintaining balance and control throughout the entire movement. To perform a kettlebell clean correctly, start by holding the kettlebell with both hands between you, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. From here, explosively thrust the weight up and around your body until it reaches chest height before catching it in a bent arm position.
Jerks: Kettlebell jerks are a powerful exercise for targeting multiple muscle groups including the arms, shoulders, chest, core and legs. This movement requires explosive power to lift the weight from shoulder height to overhead while maintaining balance and stability throughout the entire movement. To perform a jerk correctly, start by holding a kettlebell in each hand with palms facing away from your body and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. From here, explosively thrust the weight up and overhead while straightening your arms until they are fully extended before catching it in an overhead position with arms locked out.
Windmills: Windmills are a great exercise for targeting the core, while also working the arms, shoulders, and glutes. This movement requires strength and balance to lift one weight from the ground to over your head while keeping the other planted firmly on the ground. To perform a windmill correctly, start by standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and holding a kettlebell in one hand. From here, explosively thrust the weight up until your arm is fully extended above your head while keeping the other arm planted firmly on the ground.
How Many Calories Are Burned?
How many calories burned per move depends on you as an individual and your fitness level and goals. The average person burns around 700-935 calories per hour with a kettlebell workout. It is also important to keep in mind that you must stop and let your body rest when it needs it, don’t go too crazy all at once.
Squats- Do this workout with kettlebells for 15 reps and you can expect to burn around 25-35 calories depending on intensity levels.
Presses- This can be done for 10 reps per set and you can expect to burn around 15-20 calories with each set.
Snatches- Repeat this workout for 10 reps per set and you can expect to burn around 20-30 calories.
Lunges- Do this training for 12 reps per set and you can expect around 30-40 calories to be burned.
Cleans- Lower the weight back down to the starting position and repeat this motion for 10 reps per set and you can expect to burn around 20-30 calories depending on intensity levels.
Jerks- Lower the weight back down to shoulder height and repeat this workout for 10 reps per set and you can expect to burn around 25-35 calories depending on intensity level.
Windmills- Reverse this motion to return to the starting position and repeat this movement for 10 reps per set and you can expect to burn around 20-30 calories depending on intensity levels again.
According to a study from a Southeastern Louisiana University, a 12 minute Kettlebell workout burns more calories than doing all-out cardio for the same length and duration of time. They found that the 12 minute training burned 145 calories compared to cycling sprints, which only burned 122. This is just one example of how kettlebell training can show more efficient results of calories burned than cardio such as cycling.
By incorporating kettlebell training like the ones listed above into your routine, it’s very possible to lose weight and improve muscle tone quickly. These type of kettlebell exercises are also incredibly effective at burning a number of calories as well as building strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. Many of these exercises that are performed with kettlebells are intense and you’re forced to exert a lot of energy. Because this process requires more energy, you will be able to burn plenty of calories which translates into losing body fat.
Imagine you’re at the gym, moving along through a 30-minute elliptical workout at a moderate level of intensity. On the other side of the gym, another woman is powering through a 12-minute kettlebell routine at high intensity, with little to no rest! Which one of you will burn more fat and calories? Even though you probably burned more calories during your elliptical workout, the woman doing the all-out kettlebell exercise is more likely to torch more fat and calories overall.
So, as you can see not only is a kettlebell workout an effective way to burn calories and meet your fitness goals, but they also help build strength and endurance in multiple areas of your body too! With just 30 minutes of regular exercises with a few different moves included like those mentioned above you could easily be looking at burning 400 plus calories every single workout session – now that’s impressive!