Kettlebell Training: How To Incorporate Them Into Your Program!

This article will discuss easy to common exercises and training programs incorporating kettlebells, without neglecting any of your other training. Learn more about how you can use them.


While kettlebell training has been around for quite some time, it's just starting to become mainstream here in the U.S. I receive many inquiries on how to use them - what exercises can be done with them, and how to incorporate them into one's training routine. The great thing about kettlebells is their versatility.

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While there are many movements specific to the use of these training tools and their Russian origin, they can be used for much more than that. Bodybuilders, athletes, and general fitness enthusiasts can largely benefit from incorporating kettlebells into their training regimen.

This article will discuss easy and common exercises and training programs incorporating kettlebells - without neglecting any of your other training.

Have You Ever Trained With A Kettlebell?

Yes, I Love Them!
Yes, But Not My Thing.
Not Yet, But Planning To Try Them!
No, I've Never Seen Them At The Gym...
No, Not Interested.

What Are Kettlebells?

kettlebell A kettlebell is a cast-iron weight that resembles a cannonball with a thick handle. Performing exercises with kettlebells requires a lot of stabilization, strength and mobility.

It makes any exercise harder and more effective, but also makes it safer by keeping the weight close to your body and allowing you to move through a more natural range of motion.

I began using kettlebells in my training about 4 months ago, when I was already well into my prep for NPC Nationals. After explaining my physique and performance goals to my trainer, Dylan Thomas, we mapped out a plan to incorporate this unique piece of equipment into my training regimen.

What Does NPC Stand For?
NPC is an acronym for "National Physique Committee, Inc." Visit their website at

Alissa Carpio RKC Dylan Thomas
Click Image To Enlarge.
Alissa Carpio Training With
RKC KB Instructor Dylan Thomas.

By adding kettlebells into a training program that also included high volume and basic core lifts, I was able to make significant gains in both size and strength, all while dieting for competition. My physique is the most complete now that it's ever been since I began competing three years ago.

I also greatly improved my aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, allowing me to perform a more polished fitness routine at Nationals.

What's The Difference Between Aerobic And Anaerobic?
Aerobic means "involving or improving oxygen consumption by the body". Aerobic exercise, therefore, enhances respiratory and circulatory efficiency by improving oxygen consumption. Aerobic movements require oxygen to generate force, and enlist slow-twitch muscles for activity over sustained periods of time (minutes to hours). Examples of aerobic exercise includes cardio, jogging, cycling, and running marathons.

Anaerobic, on the other hand, literally means "without oxygen". Anaerobic exercise, then, does not require oxygen to generate force. Anaerobic movements use fast-twitch muscles for short bursts of intense activity lasting only brief durations of time (ranging typically from a few seconds to up to a minute). Examples of anaerobic exercises includes isometric holds, sprinting and high-intensity weightlifting.

What Exercises Can I Do With Kettlebells?

Pretty much anything that you can do with a dumbbell or barbell, you can do with kettlebells. Just a few examples include:

There are also many traditional kettlebell-specific exercises that, once learned properly, can greatly assist in achieving your fitness goals.

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How Can I Add Kettlebells To My Training Program?

You can incorporate kettlebells into your training by using them to perform the exercises listed here. A great way to start would be to substitute 1-2 exercises per body part with kettlebells.

Be creative, and use them to add variety to almost any common free weight or machine exercise. Below are some examples:

Correlation Between Traditional & Kettlebell Exercises.
Traditional Exercise Kettlebell Equivalent
DB Shoulder Press KB Military Press
One-Arm DB Row One-Arm KB Row
Seated Cable Row Double Bent-Over KB Row
Standing BB Press KB Clean And Press
BB Front Squat KB Front Squat
Incline Bench Press Incline KB Press On Stability Ball
DB Alternating Curl KB Alternating Curl
BB Stiff-Legged Deadlift KB One-Legged Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Kettlebell Exercise Demonstrations

Kettlebell Double Row

Kettlebell Double Row Kettlebell Double Row
Click Image To Enlarge.
Kettlebell Double Row.

Kettlebell Front Squat

Kettlebell Front Squat Kettlebell Front Squat
Click Image To Enlarge.
Kettlebell Front Squat.

Kettlebell Incline Bench Press

Kettlebell Incline Bench Press Kettlebell Incline Bench Press
Click Image To Enlarge.
Kettlebell Incline Bench Press.

Kettlebell Pyramid Deadlift

Kettlebell Pyramid Deadlift Kettlebell Pyramid Deadlift
Click Image To Enlarge.
Kettlebell Pyramid Deadlift.

Kettlebell Russian Military Press

Kettlebell Russian Military Press Kettlebell Russian Military Press
Click Image To Enlarge.
Kettlebell Russian Military Press.

Can I Use Kettlebells For Every Exercise?

While this is definitely possible, the weight limitations of kettlebells make some traditional core exercises superior. Squats, deadlifts, military press and bench press are just a few core basic exercises that are known for size and strength gains. Because of this, I would never completely eliminate them from your training program.

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Where Can I Buy Kettlebells?

There are a number of online retailers who offer kettlebells. While the initial cost is high, the possibilities are endless when it comes to exercise variety and training protocol, so kettlebells are a great investment. Be sure to pick a kettlebell that has a contoured, slightly rounded handle for ease of movement, and is heavy enough to offer you a challenging resistance workout.

Most women begin with a 26-pound kettlebell, while most men begin with a 35-pound or 53-pound kettlebell. I recommend going with the lighter weight set at first to familiarize yourself with the equipment and exercises. Once you get comfortable with the movement and your strength increases, you can go up to the next heaviest set.

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Where Can I Get More Information On Kettlebell Training?

In addition to's excellent kettlebell training articles, you can visit the following websites for more information: