18 Great Benefits of Kettlebells

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: February 27, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Christiana Mikesch, CPT
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Regular gym goers and people looking to lose weight often incorporate kettlebell exercises into their workouts just because they are useful and have numerous benefits for both strength and cardio.

However, choosing the proper kettlebell exercises and performing appropriate kettlebell workouts are prerequisites for achieving the benefits of kettlebell training.

Based on my experience as an industry veteran and certified personal trainer, I curated a list of 18 kettlebell benefits after conducting proper 29-hour research, both online and offline.

All the benefits are backed up by trainees and clients who actually participated in various kettlebell workouts and routines, so don’t take these benefits for granted.

Quick Summary

  • Kettlebell benefits include improved total-body conditioning, core strength, enhanced body awareness, better fat-burning processes, increased hip explosive power, increased range of motion, and many more.
  • To experience benefits from kettlebell workouts, you must choose proper exercises and use adequate programming methodologies to get the most out of the routine without getting injured or lowering your performance.
  • One of the best ways to help the body burn fat is to stay in the aerobic zone of exercising, which is between 35 and 50% of your maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2 max).
  • Based on years of training clients, I consider kettlebells to be one of the most efficient and dynamic tools for achieving fitness goals, from weight loss to muscle building.

Top 18 Benefits of Kettlebells

People lifting up kettlebells at the gym

Many assume kettlebell benefits are solely from swings, a misconception shaped by industry trends.

However, kettlebell training offers more. It robustly builds core muscles, demanding significant stabilization from hip and abdominal muscles.

In my experience as a fitness trainer, I've seen clients not only shed fat and gain explosive strength through kettlebells but also enhance joint mobility and develop a stronger posterior chain and grip.

Read below for the 18 best kettlebell benefits for improving your overall physique, health, strength, power, cardiorespiratory fitness, and more.

"Maybe your gym has an entire rack of kettlebells just waiting for you to get swinging. Or you’re working out from home and you’ve got a trusty kettlebell by your side in your living room. Wherever you’re training with kettlebells, you’re bound to get stronger, become a better overall athlete, and fight off sticking points in your barbell lifts."

- Alex Polish, Certified Personal Trainer

1. All-In-One Total Body Conditioning Tool

A person conditioning his body with a kettlebell

Most kettlebell exercises create a full-body workout, targeting the lower body, upper body, and core musculature.

Kettlebells are the best all-in-one total body conditioning tool since they are functional and allow for multiple exercises and their variations to hit all body muscles.

The benefits of kettlebells include the diversification of full-body workouts, which is one of the principles of building strength and power.

Kettlebell presses and rows are excellent for building upper body strength, while kettlebell swings, squats, and deadlifts are great for enhancing lower body strength.

All kettlebell exercises will additionally build core and grip strength as a function of whole-body kettlebell workouts.

2. Improves Core Strength & Stability

Kettlebell exercises, both bilateral and unilateral, significantly boost core strength and stability.

They're gaining traction in rehabilitation for enhancing core stability, which is vital for injury recovery and prevention in athletes and the elderly.

As a fitness trainer, I've observed how kettlebells not only fortify core stabilizers but also reinforce hip and shoulder muscles, crucial for full-body stability.

Research from the North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy confirms that kettlebells elevate athletic performance by bolstering core strength and stabilizing various muscle groups [1].

3. Enhances Body Awareness & Coordination

A person working out with a kettlebell behind his back

Kettlebell training boosts body awareness and coordination by engaging proprioceptors and the vestibular system, which are crucial for balance.

This is supported by the National Library of Medicine research [2].

In my training experience, kettlebells promote complex movements involving multiple joints and muscles, enhancing both physical and mental well-being by reducing stress and improving cognitive functions.

Varied kettlebell workouts are key to improving coordination, which includes hand and leg patterns.

This heightened awareness and coordination led to more efficient movement and reduced injury risk.

4. Improves Balance & Stabilizer Muscles

Kettlebell workouts enhance overall balance and build essential stabilizer muscles for complex movements.

As free weights, kettlebells challenge balance, particularly in unilateral exercises, demanding increased body stability.

From my training experience, they strengthen knee stabilizers like quadriceps and gluteus medius, hip stabilizers including glutes, shoulder muscles such as deltoids and rotator cuffs, and significantly bolster abdominal muscles, leading to improved core stabilization.

5. Serious Fat-Burning Workouts

A couple doing kettlebell workouts

According to studies published by the National Institutes of Health, kettlebells are excellent for changing your body composition and especially burning fat if performed with the correct dosage and rest intervals [3].

One of the best ways to help the body burn fat is to stay in the aerobic zone of exercising, which is between 35 and 50% of your VO2 max (maximum rate of oxygen consumption).

You can easily achieve this with kettlebell swings if you pick the proper weight, set adequate rest intervals, and allow recovery between the sets.

When compared to other strength training equipment like dumbbells or resistance bands, kettlebells offer unique benefits due to their shape and the dynamic nature of the exercises, which can lead to more effective full-body workouts

6. Great Non-running Cardio Alternative

Kettlebell workouts offer cardio versatility, allowing for varied and enhanced cardio routines. They serve as an effective non-running cardio option when the intensity is properly managed.

In my experience, kettlebell exercises at lower intensities primarily use oxygen for energy, benefiting the cardiorespiratory system.

Alternatively, high-intensity interval training with kettlebells creates an oxygen debt, as noted in BMC Sports Science research, leading to increased oxygen consumption post-workout and a higher aerobic threshold [4].

7. Develops Explosive Hip Power & Speed

A person holding up a kettlebell for workout

Studies published by Research Gate show that kettlebell swings are excellent for improving your explosive hip strength and speed [5].

Kettlebell swings will teach your body to produce power for hip-hinge or extension movement patterns, which are clearly present in all track and field sports.

You must use proper external resistance, sets, reps, and rest intervals to develop hip power and explosive hip strength with kettlebell swings.

Programming for strength and power requires you to do 4 or more sets per muscle group, 1–5 repetitions (87.5% + of your one rep max), and include rest intervals between 2 and 5 minutes.

8. Increases Range of Motion (Mobility & Flexibility)

Kettlebells are excellent for increasing your joints’ range of motion and muscle flexibility.

Free weight movements like kettlebell exercises will allow additional freedom of motion in the shoulder, hip, and ankle joints.

This freedom of motion will stress your body, and your body’s response will increase the range of motion for its respective joints.

Kettlebell swings, for example, will develop flexibility in posterior chain muscles such as the hamstrings and glutes.

Related Article: Best Mobility Exercises

9. Builds Lean Muscle

A person building muscle with kettlebell workouts

Kettlebell exercises like presses, cleans, deadlifts, and squats effectively increase lean muscle mass.

Tailored for athletes in disciplines like swimming or cycling, kettlebell training focuses on crucial muscle groups and movements.

In my experience, it excels at building functional strength, which is essential in sports and daily activities like carrying groceries.

Unlike isolated exercises, such as a 150 kg barbell bench press, kettlebell movements, like a single-arm kettlebell bench press, offer more practical strength, directly enhancing sports performance and real-life actions.

"There is no time like the present to get started on your Kettlebell Sport journey, when most gyms are temporarily closed, and many of us are being asked to shelter in place. As a power endurance sport, Kettlebell Sport can improve both your GPP and your mental toughness, helping you stay strong and sane during these uncertain times."

- Keka Schermerhorn, Certified Personal Trainer

10. Develop a Strong Posterior Chain and improve posture

Kettlebell training effectively develops strong posterior chain muscles such as biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, glutes, and erector spinae.

Posterior chain muscles are responsible for keeping your posture in the correct position, lowering the chance of postural injuries.

Posterior chain muscles, such as the glutes and erector spinae, are responsible for balancing your body and keeping your posture in the correct position during standing, walking, running, and all other similar activities.

11. Improves Grip Strength

A person lifting up a kettlebell with a firm grip

The kettlebell farmer walks and the rest of the exercises are essential for improving grip strength.

Studies by Clinical Interventions in Aging show that kettlebells significantly benefit your grip and forearm strength, which is one of the predictors of a long and healthy life [6].

Grip strength is especially important for real-life activities and everyday situations such as carrying heavy bags, moving the sofa from the living room, and similar activities.

12. Improves Weaknesses & Muscle Imbalances

Unilateral kettlebell exercises are extremely useful and important for improving your muscle weaknesses and correcting postural muscle imbalances.

If you have functional scoliosis, you must strengthen one side and stretch the other to negate the effects of this specific postural deformity.

Kettlebells are excellent to include in your unilateral sessions for strengthening the necessary side to correct postural deformities such as functional scoliosis.

13. Trains You to Move Better (Multiplanar Exercises)

A person working out with a kettlebell at a home gym

Kettlebells will train you to move better if you incorporate kettlebell movement in all three planes of motion. Planes of motion include the sagittal, frontal, and transverse.

Sagittal kettlebell movements include calf raises, biceps curls, triceps extensions, good mornings, Romanian deadlifts, and similar.

Frontal kettlebell movements include side lunges, kettlebell lateral raises, and similar activities.

Transverse kettlebell movements include multiplanar lunges, kettlebell Russian twists, kettlebell Turkish get-ups, and similar exercises.

14. Low Risk, High Reward (Safer and More Effective)

Most kettlebell exercises, if taught with proper technique and form, are low-risk but high-reward in terms of the aforementioned kettlebell benefits.

You can perform a vast corpus of kettlebell exercises safely and experience benefits in cardiorespiratory fitness, strength gains, and range of motion freedom.

However, you must hire or be taught by a professional or certified personal trainer who will teach you how to perform kettlebell movements correctly and safely.

15. Improves Joint Health

A person stretching their joints outside

Kettlebells will improve your joint health if you stress them adequately during kettlebell workout sessions.

You can significantly improve the health of your ankles, knees, and hips with basic and advanced kettlebell exercises such as swings, squats, and deadlifts.

Upper-body kettlebell exercises will improve the health of your wrist and shoulder joints, which is extremely important in sports requiring high shoulder output.

Related Article: Best Joint Supplements

16. Simplifies Your Training

You can simplify your training by performing every exercise with the kettlebell.

Almost all exercises with free weight can be performed using a kettlebell, which simplifies the whole preparation phase for kettlebell workouts and allows for more energy to be spent working out.

This is important because a significant amount of energy goes into setting the weights, machines, resistance bands, and gym equipment before starting to work out.

17. Compact and Portable

Close up shot of a row of kettlebells

Kettlebells' compact and portable nature makes them ideal for space-efficient home gyms, especially for those on a tight budget.

They can be easily moved to different rooms or outdoors, complementing other equipment like pull-up bars.

For instance, while pull-up bars focus on pulling exercises, kettlebells can be taken outside for a comprehensive push/pull workout in the fresh air.

Related Article: Portable Home Gym Equipment

18. Versatile Workouts

Kettlebells are one of the most versatile functional fitness equipment, allowing for different upper-body, lower-body, and core workouts.

You can easily diversify your workouts by implementing the kettlebell and slightly modifying exercises.

You can even hold the kettlebell in a few different ways (holding the base, regular hand grip, or reverse handle grip) to further increase the versatility of your workouts.

FAQs

What Happens if You Do Kettlebells Everyday?

You will build lean muscle mass, grip strength, and core strength if you do kettlebells everyday.

However, even though a kettlebell is a perfect tool for an entire body workout, you should not only isolate one specific cardio or strength training method but do it repeatedly every day due to injury risk and monotony principle.

Can I Get in Shape With Just a Kettlebell?

Yes, you can get in shape with just a kettlebell. The benefits of kettlebell training include exercising multiple muscle groups simultaneously, which helps you build muscles, lose fat, and improve your cardiorespiratory fitness in a matter of weeks.

Should I Get 1 or 2 Kettlebells?

You should get 1 kettlebell if you are on a budget and are okay with mostly performing unilateral variations of popular exercises, which are the best for building stabilizer muscles.

However, two kettlebells are for you if you want to make your kettlebell swings harder and introduce variety with progressive overload to your kettlebell workout.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096147/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4637916/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30243898/
  4. https://bmcsportsscimedrehabil.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13102-019-0130-z
  5. www.researchgate.net/publication/365267002
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6778477/
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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