If you’ve been thinking about using kettlebells but have been a little nervous to pick one up, you’re not alone. “Kettlebells definitely can look intimidating! I mean…they’re literally cannonballs with handles,” says Lore McSpadden, certified personal trainer and owner of Positive Force Movement, a gym in Rochester, New York, that’s committed to working with people who have historically not felt welcomed by the fitness industry. McSpadden says while not everyone absolutely has to use every type of strength-training equipment, for some, getting past that first bit of kettlebell intimidation can be motivating.
“I have, time and again, seen people who were initially intimidated by kettlebells develop familiarity with various kettlebell movements, and then from there, expertise. The process of going from intimidation to expertise is incredibly empowering,” McSpadden says. And when you think about it, they add, that sort of growth is what we take with us from the gym into real life. “To embark on such a journey inevitably increases a person’s awareness of their self-efficacy, which builds a healthy self-regard that will be there for them whenever they encounter intimidating conversations or situations in life outside of the gym.”
Plus, that cannonball with handles is a quite useful tool. “The kettlebell is an excellent option for many people who are interested in building strength, conditioning, and/or mobility safely and sustainably,” McSpadden says. It’s best known for its use in explosive movements—like the kettlebell swing—that help you build strength and power, while increasing your heart rate at the same time.
If you’re hoping to add kettlebells to your routine, these lower-body kettlebell exercises below are a great place to start. While they specifically target muscles in your lower half—like the glutes, hamstrings, and quads—they also recruit other muscle groups throughout your body. Specifically, your core has to engage throughout to keep your body stable as you do these compound movements.
As you do these lower-body kettlebell exercises, always keep form top of mind and listen to your body. “Prioritize quality over quantity,” McSpadden says. “Only train with weights that enable you to use safe form and technique. If you have a rep that is noticeably slower than the previous reps or that doesn’t feel as engaged, end the set. There isn’t a rep or a weight in the world that is worth injuring yourself over,” they add. Those are good words to live by when it comes to any exercise or workout!
Our model, Sarah Taylor, is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and plus-size model in Toronto. She teaches classes in-person at her studio, Fitness by Sarah Taylor, and offers online programs as well.