Workout Tips

10 Kettlebell Rules to Follow for Maximum Gains

When training with kettlebells, follow these guidelines.

by CSCS
Man Swinging Kettlebell
Corey Jenkins / Getty

“Kettlebells are popular because they are extremely effective and efficient and don’t take up much space,” says Max Shank, a fitness author and the owner of Ambition Athletics (maxshank.com).

Shank’s love affair with kettlebells isn’t unfounded. Ask a room full of fitness experts why they like kettlebells so much, and you’re bound to get a host of overlapping answers, ranging from their ability to build strength, power, and mobility to their versatility as a fat-burning, physique-carving wonder tool. But to get those benefits, you have to make sure you're utilizing this Swiss Army knife of gym equipment properly.

Get the most out of the kettlebell with these 10 commandments below, and check out these effective kettlebell workouts that cater to every level of fitness fanatic.

Kettlebell Commandments

1. Avoid “squatty” kettlebell swings, in which the swing looks more like a squat than a hinge.

2. Similarly, when doing KB swings, drive the bell with your hips, rather than lifting it with your arms.

3. Make sure your setup is technically sound. Start with the bell away from you, hinge at the hips to move it, and keep your arms in tight.

4. To generate the most power during two-handed KB swings, use a bell that is about a third of your body weight.

5. Be self-aware: If your form looks and feels ugly when you’re doing it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

6. Focus on single-kettlebell exercises and workouts before jumping up to double-kettlebell moves and routines.

7. Maintain a well-aligned, neutral spine as you perform bending-pattern moves, such as swings, cleans, and snatches.

8. Always stay in control of the kettlebell.

9. Don’t progress to the “cool” lifts too early. If you can’t perform a solid kettlebell swing, you’re not ready for double-KB snatches.

10. It’s “kettlebell.” One word.

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