Kettlebells have been around for centuries, and some of the earliest illustrations of old-timey strongmen depict men in singlets hefting some huge homemade kettlebells. But even these icons of iron were flawed in their technique, and if chiropractic medicine had been around in the 1800s, all these guys would have been regular customers. Because while kettlebells are incredible, versatile tools, they are also some of the most abused when it comes to form, and on any given day in any gym in the world, you can see some truly heinous, YouTube-worthy versions of kettlebell moves that would make you millions if caught on camera.
So it’s simply not enough to just pick up a kettlebell and start swinging it around — you could get injured (or injure someone else) and will definitely look odd. “When used properly, the kettlebell builds muscle and burns fat using functional, total-body, non-impact movements that give your knees and joints a break,” says kettlebell expert Madison Doubroff, NASM, director of fitness at Bionic Body in Hermosa Beach, California. “It’s one of the most impressive tools for boosting agility, balance, endurance, stamina and strength simultaneously.”
Doubroff broke down five of the most effective (and most slaughtered) kettlebell exercises, highlighting the most common errors, then detailing the how-to on proper form and function.
Before you launch into the workout, spend some time learning the exercises, practicing them until you can get a sense of proper form. And if you do know these, go through each description and see whether you’re doing the movements correctly. Master these moves and you’ll be a star strongwoman on YouTube and beyond — even without the requisite singlet.