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Kettlebell Workouts For Women

Looking for a piece of kit you can use for a full body workout that builds muscle and burns fat? Look no further than the humble kettlebell.

While they are often overlooked in favour of dumbbells and barbells for strength training, and cardio machines like the cross trainer for getting the heart racing, kettlebells can be used for strength, conditioning, power, and endurance workouts -- so whether your goal is to tone up, lean down, or simply improve your health and fitness, this cast-iron ball with handles can help!

In this blog, we look at the benefits of kettlebell exercises for women, answer some questions around kettlebell training, and share three women's kettlebell workouts.

Jump straight to the workouts

What are the benefits of kettlebell workouts for women?

Kettlebells are cast-iron weights which are shaped like a ball with a handle on top. The shape lends itself perfectly to explosive, dynamic movements like the kettlebell swing, clean and snatch, and squat to single overhead press, but it can also be used for many typical weightlifting exercises including rows, bicep curls, deadlifts, and skull crushers.

Holding a kettlebell feels very different to holding a dumbbell as the centre of gravity is different. While a dumbbell will feel the same weight no matter where you hold it, a kettlebell will feel heavier or lighter depending on whether the ball is under your hand, or above it.

Training with kettlebells offers women (and men!) loads of health benefits, including:

  • Improves core strength

    Explosive movements come from the core, which means kettlebell workouts do an excellent job of working your core -- without a single sit up in sight! Core strength has so many benefits, from stronger lifts, to improved posture.

  • Works the stabilising muscles

    The centre of balance with kettlebells is very different to that of a dumbbell or barbell, so performing the same exercises requires a greater use of your stabilising muscles. Pair that with the fact that many kettlebell specific moves use explosive movements that use these muscles too, makes it an excellent tool for building a more balanced, stable body.

  • Builds strength, power, and endurance

    Explosive exercises recruit more muscle fibres, which is a key component in building strength. This means using kettlebell exercises can translate to good strength gains, even when using lighter weights. They stimulate fast-twitch muscle fibres to a greater degree too, which helps to improve power and endurance.

  • Improves your coordination

    Exercises like kettlebell swings rely on you controlling dynamic movement paths. This builds proprioception (awareness of where your body is) and mind-muscle connection, both which can help to improve your balance and coordination.

  • Gets your heart racing

    Dynamic, explosive movements do an excellent job of getting your heart rate up and strengthening your cardiovascular system, which makes ladies kettlebell workouts an excellent alternative to cardio. It also makes kettlebell workouts a great way to torch a lot of calories in a workout.

It’s not just the physical benefits that make using kettlebell for women workouts so good. These workouts tend to be fast paced, and fun! Plus, it’s easy to perform these workouts with a friend if you want to double up your exercise as a social event!

Kettlebells are also less in demand than other free weights, which means it’s easier to get your workout done in a short period of time, even during peak hours at the gym. 

Are kettlebell workouts good for beginners?

Kettlebell exercises are typically dynamic, full body movements that allow beginners to build functional, full body strength and improve their heart health. They come in a huge range of weights, which means most people can find a suitable kettlebell for their level of fitness and progress as they get stronger.

Using one piece of equipment for a full workout can also feel less daunting for beginners, which makes kettlebells an accessible way for beginners to get into strength training. It helps to build a strong foundation of strength, which will translate into using free weights and resistance machines.

What kettlebell weight should I start with?

The amount of weight you should lift will depend on your strength, as well as what muscles you are working. For women who are just starting out, 6 -- 8kg is a good aim for exercises like kettlebell swings, rows, and goblet squats. For upper body exercises like bicep curls or single overhead shoulder press, try starting out with 2 -- 4kg and go from there.

Beginner Kettlebell Workout For Women

For this kettlebell women's workout for beginners, do 3-4 sets of 10 reps for each exercise. Aim for a 30-45 sec rest between each set.

  1. Kettlebell Deadlifts

    • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands, palms facing your body.
    • Keeping your back straight, bend your legs to lower the kettlebell towards the ground, stopping when you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
    • Squeeze through your glutes as you return to standing.
  2. Kettlebell Squats

    • Stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out, holding a kettlebell at chest height.
    • Keeping your core tight and back straight, sink your hips down to the floor until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
    • Push through your feet to drive your hips back up until you are standing, keeping your chest strong and kettlebell at chest height throughout.
  3. Kettlebell Row

    • Holding a kettlebell in your left hand by your side, take a step back with your left leg and lean your torso forward.
    • Place your right hand on your right thigh for support, and then use your lats to drive back your left elbow towards the ceiling until your bicep and forearm are at a 90 degree angle.
    • Slowly lower the kettlebell back to your side.
    • Repeat for reps then switch sides.
  4. Kettlebell Upright Row

    • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in both hands in front of your legs.
    • Pull the kettlebell up towards your chest by driving your elbows up towards the ceiling.
    • Pause before returning back to the starting position.
  5. Kettlebell Reverse Lunge

    • Stand straight holding the kettlebell in front of your upper chest.
    • Step your left foot back and lower your left knee towards the ground, stopping when your right knee is at a 90-degree angle.
    • Push through your left leg until you are back to standing.
    • Repeat on the other side.

Lower Body Kettlebell Workout For Women

This kettlebell workout is perfect for any female looking to strengthen and tone their legs and glutes. Do 3-4 sets of each exercise with a 45 second rest in between.

  1. Sumo Squats -- 10 reps

    Sumo squats follow the same movement as a standard squat, but with a wider stance:

    • Hold a kettlebell at chest height and stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart.
    • Step your left foot out to the side and turn your toes around 45 degrees away from your body.
    • From here, follow the above instructions to complete the squat.
  2. Reverse Lunge -- 10 reps per side

    PureGym Personal Trainer Dan shows another way to hold a kettlebell during a reverse lunge. This is slightly more advanced than the variation above as it alters the balance of the move.

  3. Romanian Deadlift -- 12 reps

    The Romanian deadlift focuses more on glutes and hamstrings than traditional deadlifts. You can see more deadlift variations here.

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands, palms facing your body.
    • Keeping your back straight, hinge forward at the hips to lower the kettlebell towards the ground. Stop when you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
    • Pause before straightening back up, making sure to squeeze through your glutes as you push your hips forward.
  4. Lateral Lunge -- 10 reps per side

    Lateral lunges work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, as well as your adductors and abductors.

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width, holding a kettlebell at upper chest height.
    • Take a big step out to the right and then lower your body until your right knee is around 90 degrees.
    • Push back up through your right leg and return your foot to the middle.
    • Repeat for your reps and then switch sides.
  5. Plié Calf Raise -- 12 reps

    • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and toes facing outwards, holding a kettlebell in both hands in front.
    • Slowly raise your heels until you are standing on the ball of both feet.
    • Pause before returning back to starting position.

Kettlebell Exercises For Women

Want to incorporate kettlebell exercises into your existing workouts? Try adding some of these kettlebell moves to your routine.

  1. Kettlebell Swings

    • Stand with your back straight and feet around shoulder-width apart.
    • Half-squat down and pick up the kettlebell with both hands, palms facing your body.
    • Keeping your core tight, straighten your legs and drive your hips forward, using the momentum to swing kettlebell to chest height.
    • As you swing the kettlebell down between your legs, return to the half-squat position. That's one rep.
    • Complete the required amount of reps.
  2. Kettlebell Lunges

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a kettlebell in both hands in front of your chest. 
    • Step forwards with your left leg and lower yourself down by bending both knees, until your left knee is at a 90 degree angle. 
    • Push through your left heel until your are back to standing. 
    • Repeat on the other leg.
  3. Kettlebell Squats

    Follow the instructions we've shared already, or find a different squat variation to try here.

  4. Kettlebell Stagged Stance RDL

    The staggered stance RDL has all the benefits of unilateral exercises, but without the need for extremely good balance that a one-legged RDL has.

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell in your left hand.
    • Step your left foot back and bend the knee, and adjust your balance so the right leg is doing most of the work.
    • Hinge forward at the hips to lower the kettlebell to the floor, or until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
    • Drive your hips back to standing, making sure to squeeze your glutes.
    • Repeat for your reps and switch legs.
  5. Kettlebell Marches

    This move works your core, shoulders, and upper back.

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell above your shoulder so that it rests on your forearm.
    • Use your other arm for balance if needed.
    • March on the spot for a set time or number of reps, making sure to get your thighs as high as possible.
    • Swap so you're holding the kettlebell in the opposite hand and repeat.
  6. Kettlebell Row

    Follow the instructions we've shared above, or find more row variations here.

Feeling inspired to try more kettlebell exercises? Why not try this full body kettlebell workout. Or for more explosive exercises, you can also give medicine ball exercises a go!

Ready to start your fitness journey? Find your nearest PureGym and join today.

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