The Best Kettlebell Exercises For Women

Woman sits next to kettlebell in gym
(Image credit: Getty Images / martin-dm)

If there’s one piece of equipment you need to be using, it’s a kettlebell. It might look an awkward shape, with its round bell and handle, but a kettlebell is ideal for improving power and strength.

Using the kettlebell requires plenty of core stability – whatever move you’re doing, the muscles of the core will be fired up. This in turn can help with posture.

Kettlebell workouts help to build up wrist and forearm strength too, more so than when using other free weights, which tend to travel in straight lines.

Another great benefit of the kettlebell is that it requires very little space to store and allows for an effective, full-body workout with just one piece of equipment. You’ll also find affordable models in our round-up of the best kettlebells.

To help you get started, we’ve explained how to do six moves that will get you used to the weight and, when combined, work the entire body. Aim for 10 reps of each move, resting for 30 seconds between moves. Repeat the entire circuit five times in total. Ensure that you warm up your body for five minutes beforehand with some full-body dynamic stretches as well as some moves to raise your heart rate such as star jumps, lunges and squats.

Goblet squat

Goblet squat

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Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold the bell, rather than the handle, in both hands, in front of your chest. Bend your knees, push your hips back and lower. Maintain a flat back throughout and keep your gaze forwards. When your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as close as you can get), push through your heels to return to standing. 

Kettlebell swing

Kettlebell swing

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The key to this exercise is the hip drive. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell handle in both hands with your arms hanging down in front of you. Keep your knees slightly bent as you hinge at the hips and swing the kettlebell between your legs. Then thrust your hips forwards, and use the momentum to swing the kettlebell up to eye level. Control the descent of the kettlebell and go straight into the next rep. Maintain a flat back and keep your gaze forwards throughout.

Kettlebell Romanian deadlift

Kettlebell deadlift

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Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding the kettlebell handle in both hands in front of you. Hinge at the hips, push your bottom back and lower the kettlebell, keeping it close to your legs. When the kettlebell is just past your shins, push through your heels and come back up to standing, squeezing your glutes at the top.

Kettlebell sit-up with press

Lie on your back on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the bell of the kettlebell in your hands with the weight just above your chest. Lift your upper body into a sit-up, and as you do so, press the kettlebell up overhead. Then lower the kettlebell back to your chest as you lower your torso back to the floor.

Kettlebell halo

Kettlebell halo

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This is a great upper-body move. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold the kettlebell upside down by the handle. Start with the kettlebell just in front of your chest, then slowly lift the kettlebell and circle it around your head, and return it to chest height. Then repeat, circling in the opposite direction.

Kettlebell lunge/reverse lunge

Women lunging holding kettlebells

(Image credit: Getty Images / Lumi Images / Patrick Frost)

Stand holding the bell of the kettlebell at chest height, step your right leg back and bend both knees until they’re at a 90° angle, with the right knee just hovering above the floor. Press through your left foot to return to standing, then step the right leg forwards and lunge again, bending both knees to 90°. Press through your right foot to return to standing. Perform the same move on the left side, all the while keeping your back flat and your gaze forward.

Lucy Gornall

Lucy is an experienced health and fitness journalist, and was formerly health editor for TI Media’s portfolio of women’s titles. Lucy qualified as a level 3 personal trainer with Train Fitness in 2016, and also holds qualifications in pre- and post-natal fitness, as well as in nutrition for exercise.