Beginner Kettlebell Workout

THE BEGINNER KETTLEBELL WORKOUT: how to create an epidemic of squat + shoulder raises*, and how to do it RIGHT!

Beginner Kettlebell Workout

Beginners Kettlebell Workout 'Novicius'

The Ultimate Novice Kettlebell Workout that promotes progression.

On the Internet you’ll find a lot of misinformation if you’re a novice looking for a ‘beginners kettlebell routine’ or ‘kettlebell exercises for beginners’, for example, you’ll have popular men’s magazines telling you that you need to be doing 5 beginners friendly exercises:

  • Kettlebell Deadlift
  • Kettlebell Swing
  • Kettlebell Squat Thruster
  • Kettlebell One Arm High Pull
  • Kettlebell One Arm Clean

Remember, these exercises will come with a 2 paragraph instruction, 3 if you’re lucky, and not one of those refers to the hip hinge. If you’re really lucky, the photos of the exercises will actually match up with the actual exercises described, but it’s quite common that it’s not and perhaps you’ll see a photo of someone pressing a Kettlebell in a “Kettlebell One Arm High Pull”.

 

These guides/articles can definitely not be classified as “kettlebell exercises a beginners guide”, but don’t be disheartened, I will provide you with a true kettlebell beginners workout that includes exercises suitable for novice below, but first.

The above information comes from an actual men’s magazine which a lot of people will have a high regard for and trust the source of, but not only are these not beginners exercises, the descriptions and photos of the exercises are confusing and wrong. Without pointing fingers, here is an explanation of why it’s not a beginners workout nor beginners exercises.

They’re not wrong about listing the Deadlift first, the Deadlift should be mastered first, because it is so similar to the Kettlebell Swing hip hinge movement, but the description does not mention the most important part, the hip hinge movement which will result in the most common mistake people make when starting out with Kettlebells, which is the movement turning into a squat and shoulder raise.

The Kettlebell Swing should never be suggested to a beginner without listing the proper technique or referring to other sources where the novice can find the information to properly understand and learn the most important Kettlebell exercise a beginner needs to learn.

The Kettlebell Squat Thruster is not something that should be included in a beginners program or even suggested until the squat is correct and a simple strict press can be performed with proper arm lockout.

The Kettlebell One Arm High Pull should not be included until the one arm swing is covered.

Like previous exercise, the Kettlebell One Arm Clean should not be included until the one arm swing is covered, and like the Kettlebell Swing, the Clean is not something you can cover in three paragraphs, there are so many intricate Kettlebell Clean details to make sure the client gets it right and does not injure themselves, I could write at least three A4 pages on it.

I would think that any novice kettlebell enthusiast who might stumble on the above article and giving those exercises a go, will quickly put the Kettlebell down and never look back at it because they will have a sore lower back, injured shoulders, banged up wrists and possibly even knees that are hurting.

Without going into more details on the incorrect explanation of the exercises, following is your beginners Kettlebell Workout plus novice exercises to work on and progress from

 

HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
Beginners (Kettlebell) Exercises to Master

 

In a perfect world, or when you’re training with us online, then you would learn to execute the following exercises properly and in that order. So if you’re looking for beginner Kettlebell exercises to work on, I would suggest the following.

1. Hip Hinge Hang Lift
2. Hip Hinge Dead Lift (video)
3. Bodyweight Squat (video) or Goblet Squat (depending on status of technique)
4. Kettlebell Double Arm Swing (video)
5. Kettlebell Double Arm Swing Clean (video)

We would also throw in the Squat Jump and the Plank. The Squat Jump because you need to understand that the Swing is an explosive Hip Hinge movement and you need to push your heels into the ground. The Plank because you would need to learn to pack your shoulders and chest by pulling down and back, furthermore, the plank provides great core strength and also happens to be close to the position you’re in at the top of your Kettlebell Swing.

The Hip Hinge Hang Lift is covered first because it’s the easier version of the Hip Hinge Dead Lift, closer to the Swing movement and allows safe assessment of flexibility. The hip Hinge Dead Lift is covered next because we want you to be able to pick up your weights without hurting yourself, and it’s the natural progression from the Hip Hinge Hang Lift (AKA 3HL).

The Squat because it’s one of the primal movements everyone should know how to do correctly before anything else, plus some progressional movements rely on the squat, we’re also covering it because a lot of people think that a squat is the same as sitting into a chair, while that might not be so bad for non weight bearing exercises, that same technique is going to get you into trouble once you add some weight to your squat.

The Kettlebell Double Arm Swing is the king of Kettlebell Exercises and anyone training with Kettlebells should understand this exercises before progressing to other exercises, especially because a lot of other important exercises depend on the swing movement.

The Kettlebell Double Arm Swing Clean is the next progression and besides the assisted Clean, the easiest clean you can learn. It’s an awesome transitional movement to exercises like the Halo, Front Squat, Lunge and Twist, Overhead Press etc. Learning this movement will allow you to start putting together exciting Kettlebell Complexes that will keep your mind and body entertained for a long time. Without further a due, following is your free beginner full body kettlebell workout.

 

Beginner Kettlebell Workout ‘Novicius’

 

Great workout for practising and improving the kettlebell swing but at the same time still able to give you that workout you’re looking for while not neglecting other parts of the body.

Performed with one Kettlebell.

Exercise #1

Double Arm Swing

Repetitions: 5

Exercise #2

Alternating Halo

Repetitions: 5
Transition: Double Arm Swing Clean

Exercise #3

Double Arm Swing

Repetitions: 4

Exercise #4

Front Squat

Repetitions: 5
Transition: Double Arm Swing Clean

Exercise #5

Double Arm Swing

Repetitions: 3

Exercise #6

Double Arm Overhead Press

Repetitions: 5
Transition: Double Arm Swing Clean

Exercise #7

Double Arm Swing

Repetitions: 2

Exercise #8

Squat Hang High Pull

Repetitions: 5
Transition: Double Arm Swing Clean

Exercise #9

Double Arm Swing

Repetitions: 1

Rest and repeat as required.

*the transitions are mentioned so that you know how to move from the previous exercise into the next.

Set a time and do as many rounds possible, or go for time by setting the amount of rounds to be completed. When setting a time, try and stick to something achievable and safe like 15 to 20 minutes, when setting rounds, stick to about 8 to 10. Gradually increase over time by adding weight, reps, time or more rounds. Perform the workout once or twice a week and keep track of your progression.

When to rest?

Rest before you’re completely fatigued, you can rest in the Double Arm Racking Position, rest the Bell on one of your shoulders or put the Kettlebell down all together and rest.

exhibit. n. 1) photo accompanied with a dead lift


No, this is not the end position of a Deadlift, this is a High Pull.

exhibit. n. 2) photo accompanied with a swing

No, this is not a swing, neither is it a overhead swing as the image is titled, this is a frontal raise.

exhibit. n. 3) photo accompanied with a squat thruster

No, this is not a squat thruster, it could be the racking position one is in while squatting, but, it’s not a proper racking position, the elbows should be tucked in and the fist should be closer to the middle of the chest.

exhibit. n. 4) photo accompanied with a high pull.

No, this is not a high pull, this is a overhead press.

exhibit. n. 5) photo accompanied with a clean.
.
Yes, they got one out of five right, this is indeed a better looking racking position after the clean.

 

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Following is a video of Gloria who performed this beginner workout and sent us the footage. Note, there are some improvements with transitions to be made, in particular into the last swing, but overall, awesome effort.

Exercise Details

Double Arm Overhead Press

Start from the chest, brace the core, squeeze everything tight, slightly pull the head back when pressing up, and gently bring it forward once the Kettlebell is past the head, pull the lats down, slightly pull the shoulder blades together, pull the biceps towards the ears, lock the elbows out and actively but in a controlled manner pull the Kettlebell back down. The grip on the Kettlebell is thumbs around the horns, palms around the Bell, handle pointing down and base pointing up.

Double Arm Squat Hang High Pull

You stop the Kettlebell from the swing by transitioning with a Double Arm Swing Clean, then from the chest you bring the Kettlebell down, arms straight, come into a Squat Hang, come back up fully, slight pause and High Pull with the traps and front delts, the elbows lead and stay above the handle, do not being the hands higher than the elbows, the Kettlebell should not come higher than the chin and keep the Bell close to the chest, it should travel in one straight path up and down.

Double Arm Clean

The double arm clean is covered in this video. Note that on the down phase you should choose the shortest path, i.e. don’t cast the Kettlebell out but guide it down and back.

The other exercises are pretty much covered in the videos listed, if you have any questions at all, do not be afraid to post them below.

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Article written by Taco Fleur
Beginners Kettlebell Exercises and Workout designed by Taco Fleur

Taco Fleur

Kettlebell Head Coach

Taco FleurTaco Fleur is one of the Qualified Kettlebell Head Coaches at Kettlebell Training Education, owner of the popular Youtube channel CAVEMANTRAINING, World Kettlebell Community, has travelled the world, lived in 3 continents, owned 3 gyms in two different continents and has a sincere passion for Kettlebell Training and helping other people understand Kettlebell Training.

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*the first reference to “squat and shoulder raise” refers to the unfortunate zombies that are created by popular magazines and fashionable  “personal trainers” who’ve seen a Kettlebell Swing from a distance and instantly said to themselves “I need to incorporate that in the next workout for my client”, and without proper instruction mistake the most important Kettlebell Exercise for a Squat and Shoulder Raise, while it is a Swing and Hip Hinge.

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