Gabby Dawn Allen’s Kettlebell Leg Workout Builds Strength And Boosts Fitness

Woman performs lunge holding kettlebell under her chin. She is in a living room.
(Image credit: miljko / Getty Images)

You know a kettlebell workout is tough when you can easily split it up into two workouts that would both be challenging in their own right. That’s what you have with this kettlebell leg workout created by fitness coach and PhD nutrition ambassador Gabby Dawn Allen.

You only need one kettlebell for the session, which starts with a sets and reps section to build muscle, before going into a circuit to develop your muscular endurance, boost your cardio fitness and burn fat. As mentioned, you could do each section as a workout by itself, or power through both for an epic legs workout, although unless you never skip leg day or are happy to deal with DOMS, you may wish to start with fewer sets, and add reps and sets gradually when you repeat the workout.

Kettlebell Leg Workout Overview

Section One

  1. Two-handed clean and paused squat 4 x 8
  2. B-stance Romanian deadlift into reverse lunge 4 x 8 each side
  3. Single-leg hip thrust 4 x 8 each side
  4. Lunge 1 x 12 each side

Section Two

Complete four rounds of the following.

  1. Kettlebell swing x 12
  2. Reverse lunge x 10 each side
  3. Thruster x 8

Kettlebell Leg Workout Warm-up

Allen has suggested this warm-up for the workout, which involves doing each of the following for 20 seconds. This gym warm-up routine will also get you ready for the workout.

  1. Dead bug
  2. Glute bridge
  3. 4-point kneel wrist circles
  4. World’s greatest stretch
  5. Plank
  6. Low squat hip opener
  7. Reverse lunge with reach up
  8. Star jump
  9. Squat hold
  10. Butt kicks
  11. High knees

Kettlebell Leg Workout Section One Form Guides

1 Two-handed kettlebell clean and paused squat

Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 60sec

“This should be one fluid motion,” says Allen. “The kettlebell does not need to return to the floor for every rep but must come to a dead stop before performing each clean. Keep the bell close to you and it should move up and down in a vertical pattern. The power comes from your core, your hamstrings and your glutes. 

“Holding the bell in both hands with a slight bend in your knees, hinge forwards from your hips. Drive through your glutes to stand up straight, creating the power to shift the weight up to your chest as your hands slide down the horns of the bell. Do not lean back—brace your core and you will stand tall—and don't lock your knees. 

“Keep the bell close to your chest and keeping the chest up, lower into your squat. Hold at the bottom of the squat for a second if you can! Focus on your weight going through the middle to back of your foot—you should be able to wiggle your toes without losing balance. Push the floor away and drive up to standing, lower the weight and repeat.”

2 B-stance Romanian deadlift into reverse lunge

[The video above demonstrates the B-stance Romanian deadlift portion of the exercise.]

Sets 4 Reps 8 each side Rest 60sec

“Hold the kettlebell in one hand,” says Allen. “Step the opposite foot to the hand holding the bell back to around half the distance of your lunge. Practice without the bell first if you’re unsure of foot placement. 

“Bend your front knee a little, and roll your shoulders down and engage your lats. Your weight should mostly be in your front heel—you’re using the back foot for stability. You can rest your other hand on a wall if you need some extra assistance. Keeping the bell close to your shin, hinge forwards, sending your butt backward. You will feel your glutes elongate. Once you’ve reached your full hinge, drive through your glutes to standing. Do a big squeeze at the top without pushing your hips forward. Then step your rear foot back into a reverse lunge, letting the bell come to the outside of the front leg. Keep your core strong so you don’t lean! Push through your front foot and bring the rear foot back to the B-stance.”

3 Single-leg hip thrust

Sets 4 Reps 8 each side Rest 60sec

“Sit on the floor and rest your back, just below your shoulder blades, on a bench, chair or something stable,” says Allen. “Lift the kettlebell onto your hips, raise your hips so your body is in a straight line from knees to shoulders, and slowly walk your feet out to your starting position. Your foot placement dictates the focus of the exercise. If your shins are vertical when your hips are lifted, it will be glute-focused, if your feet are further away it will be more hamstring-focused. Too close will rely on the quads. I always aim for a vertical shin. 

“Lift one foot off the floor. The kettlebell should be on the hip of the foot that’s down. Slowly lower your hips towards the floor. Your hips should remain square as if you still had both feet down—if it's too much just put the foot down. When your butt is just above the floor, drive through your heel back up to the starting position. Squeeze your glutes throughout the exercise and even harder at the top! Lower over the count of two, take a count of one to get back to the top and hold for a count of one at the top.”

4 Lunge

Sets 1 Reps 12 each side 

“Hold the bell by the horns and keep it close to you,” says Allen. “Tuck your elbows in and brace our core. Step one foot forward into your lunge, aiming for the knee to stay in line with the foot and over the ankle—try not to push too far forward over the foot. If you can, tap your back knee down to the mat. Drive through the front foot to stand tall and then go on the other side. The more you focus on holding your core, the better this will be for you. Try it with just bodyweight if you need to.”

Kettlebell Leg Workout Section Two Form Guides

Complete four rounds of the following, resting for 45 seconds between rounds.

1 Kettlebell swing

Reps 12

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart,” says Allen. “Hinge forward, push your hips back and slightly bend your knees as the bell moves between your legs.” Push your hips forward to stand up and swing the bell up. “The power to bring the bell back up in front of you comes from your glutes—not the shoulders! Tuck your elbows in so the weight is likely to come only up to belly button height. Keep your core braced, don’t lean back as the kettlebell comes up, and squeeze your butt cheeks.”

2 Reverse lunge 

Reps 10 each side

“On your last kettlebell swing, catch the bell and step one foot backward into a reverse lunge,” says Allen. “Protect your lower back by hugging that bell in tight! Drive through the front heel and push off through the back foot to come back to standing and switch legs.”

3 Thruster

Reps 8

“This begins with exactly the same motion as your squat earlier, but this time with no pause at the bottom,” says Allen. As you rise from the squat use the momentum to press the kettlebell straight up. “Think about pushing the floor away and exploding upwards, which will give you the force needed to push the weight up above your head.”

If you need help choosing, our guide to the best kettlebells for home training can help. And once it’s delivered, you can get stuck into this full-body kettlebell workout, kettlebell abs workout and kettlebell HIIT workout

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.