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Kettlebell workout for weight loss: 6 full body moves

kettlebell exercises for fat loss

Kettlebells have been used in fitness for a number of years, especially for weight loss. We’ve put together a kettlebell workout for weight loss.

Most of us are familiar with kettlebell workouts. A lot of people enjoy working out with this piece of equipment because it offers a full body workout.  It also blends strength, power, endurance, flexibility and mobility. It’s also a great way of burning fat. In this post, adapted from Steve Cotter’s Kettlebell Training, we’ll give you some excellent kettlebell exercises for weight loss.

What are kettlebells?

Around 15  years ago, no one outside the former Soviet Union knew much about kettlebells. Now, it seems most personal trainers and fitness instructors are using them with their clients.  The term kettlebell comes from the Russian word girya, a cast-iron weight that resembles a cannonball with a handle. It’s this handle that makes training methodology unique. Unlike with traditional dumbbells, the centre of mass of the kettlebell is extended beyond the hand. This allows for fast, swinging motions that combine cardio, strength and flexibility, engaging the whole body at once.

Why use kettlebells for weight loss?

Weight loss workouts used to involve long, slow cardio training, such as running or cycling. In fact, running is still one of, if not the most, common form of exercise for those looking to ‘get fit’. Essentially, it only requires a pair of running shoes and you’re ready.

Although running is definitely effective for weight loss, after a certain point at least some of the weight lost would be muscular. This is because aerobic exercise elevates your levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). The longer you workout for, the more cortisol is released. Cortisol has a catabolic effect on muscle, meaning it can cause the breakdown or wasting of the muscles. Therefore, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is proven to be very effective for burning fat. These short, intense bursts of power repeated several times with little to no rest between sets have a more anabolic or muscle building quality with little or none of the catabolic effects found in long-duration aerobic training.

Kettlebell workout for weight loss

Below is a sample programme of kettlebell exercises for weight loss taken from Kettlebell Training You can either follow the programme exactly or you can change the weight, reps, sets and duration of any exercise to fit your goals. This workout is just to get you started. It gives you more of an idea of what to do in your workouts going forward. With experience, you’ll have more confidence to create some of your own training programmes.

Warm Up

All exercise should involve a warm up. It’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t just involve the workout. But also warming up to prepare your body for the workout. Find out more about warming up in our blog from Aurélien Broussal-Derval Warm-up advice from Aurélien Broussal-Derval.

Around-the-body pass

Duration: 30 seconds in each direction with a light kettlebell.

Around the body pass, kettlebell exercise

This exercise is an excellent way to warm up. It’s especially good for the arms, core and grip. Pass the kettlebell around your body. The hips should stay facing forward throughout. Finally, change the tempo of the movement and switch directions several times.


Duration: 30 seconds in each direction with a light kettlebell.

Halo, kettlebell exercises

The halo is a great exercise for the mobility of the shoulders and neck. A lot of people love the way it makes the shoulders feel and use it as part of their warm up. For this exercise, firstly hold the bell by the sides of the handle at chest height using both hands. Then circle over and across the top of your head and continue the circle all the way around. Finally, the weight should drop lower as it comes behind you and rises again as it moves back up in front.

Kettlebell deadlift 

Duration: 10 reps.

Kettlebell Deadlift, kettlebell exercise

The kettlebell deadlift mainly targets the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. With the weight on the ground, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the kettlebell just in front of you. Keep your chest lifted as you sit back with your hips until your hands reach the handles. Grab the handles with both hands and stand up, pressing your feet into the ground until your body is fully upright.

Goblet squats

Duration: 10 reps.

Goblet Squat, kettlebell exercises for fat loss

The squat is one of the most important strength and conditioning exercises for all round good function and health. The goblet squat uses one single kettlebell. Firstly, hold the kettlebell in front of you, just above chest height, in both hands. Then have your palms facing up and forearms against your body. Squat down and stand up whilst holding the weight in front of you.

These exercises should then be followed by a selection of joint mobility exercises. Rotate all major joints, including shoulders, hips and neck. Perform these by moving your joints in circular motions both clockwise and anticlockwise. Repeat each of these 10-20 times.

Main Session

Single Swing

Duration: Perform each rep for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest before alternating arms. Repeat for 4 sets with 1 minute recovery between sets.

Single Swing, kettlebell exercises for fat loss

The single swing is an essential movement for all the classic lifts. For this exercise stand with your feet hip-width apart. Firstly, place a kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Then sit back with the hips and grab the handle of the kettlebell with one hand. Next, keep the shoulders back and chest lifted as if you’re going to do a deadlift. As you begin to stand, swing the kettlebell between your legs. When the kettlebell reaches it’s endpoint, stand up completely, extending the ankles, knees, hips and torso. Sustain this pendulum swing through the duration of the set.

Single Press

Duration: Perform each rep for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest before alternating arms. Repeat for 4 sets with 1 minute recovery between sets.

Single press, kettlebell exercises for fat loss

The single press is a total upper body movement. It’s the beginning progression for some more advanced overhead exercises. It helps condition the arms, shoulders and back. To perform this exercise bring the weight to your chest into the rack position. This is the starting position for the press. Before pressing up, compress you rib cage on the side of the pressing arm. As you recoil to the downward compression, press the kettlebell directly up until your arm is fully extended. In this position, the ideal position of the hand and shoulder is that the thumb is pointing directly back. When you lower the kettlebell, move your body back slightly. The kettlebell falls directly down the centre and all the way down to the hip and back to the starting position.


Begin your cool down with an easy jog for 10 minutes. Finally, do a series of stretches. The stretching sequence should last for around 5 minutes, each stretch lasting around 30 seconds. These stretches include:

  • Behind-the-back shoulder stretch
  • Shoulder stretch
  • Triceps pull
  • Standing knee-to-chest stretch
  • Standing quadriceps stretch

The workout featured in this post is aimed at those use kettlebell for the first time. However, Kettlebell Training also features a kettlebell workout for weight loss for intermediate and advanced exercisers. It also includes similar workouts for muscular strength and endurance and strength and power training. The full workout can be found below.

Kettlebell Workout for Weight Loss

  1. Around the Body Pass

    30 seconds in each direction with a light kettlebell

  2. Halo

    30 seconds in each direction with a light kettlebell

  3. Kettlebell Deadlift

    10 reps

  4. Goblet Squats

    10 reps

  5. Single Swing

    Perform each rep for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest before alternating arms. Repeat for 4 sets with 1 minute
    recovery between sets

  6. Single Press

    Perform each rep for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest before alternating arms. Repeat for 4 sets with 1 minute
    recovery between sets

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Hi, I’m Hannah, marketing assistant and one of the bloggers here at Human Kinetics Europe. I wasn’t blessed with the coordination to play most sports, but that’s not stopped me becoming a great watcher of them. Particularly when it comes to football! So I’m here to bring you all you need to know about exciting new product releases and the latest in sport, fitness and PE.

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