15 Minutes and a Kettlebell Are All you Need for a Great Workout

Men doing renegade rows with kettlebells
Men doing renegade rows with kettlebellsxavierarnau / Getty Images

Sometimes we just don’t have the time or resources for a complete workout. But it’s easy to make the most out of an ill-equipped gym space or being being pressed for time. A single kettlebell at the appropriate weight can be a saving grace. Doing these exercises back to back as a circuit will help keep your conditioning in check when times are tough.

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Perform the first three exercises as a circuit, with 15-20 seconds of rest between exercises. To kick things up a notch, turn these lifts into a kettlebell complex, where no rest is taken between exercises, and the weight isn’t allowed to even be put down at all.

Aim to minimize the amount of rest time between circuits or complexes. See how many you can perform in the 15-minute time window.

Goblet Squat – 12 reps

The goblet squat is a good way to emphasize proper squat form, since you’re able to counterbalance with the load. Focus on a complete range of motion, and feel free to pause at the bottom of each rep for added difficulty.

Kettlebell Swing – 25 reps


Kettlebell swings are a smart way to ramp the heart rate up while keeping the posterior chain involved in a knee-friendly fashion. It’s important to maintain the hip joint as the dominant moving section. Just be careful to maintain a flat back, and don’t squat down at the bottom of the lift — that defeats the purpose. Your hands should graze the insides of your thighs just before you extend the hips to launch the weight back up.

Single Arm KB Clean & Press – 10 reps/arm

The key here is to pretend there’s someone standing right in front of you. Use a hip drive to launch the weight from a full hang position up to the rack position, but keep the bell close to the body the entire way up. Once it’s at shoulder level, press the weight to full extension overhead.

The moves in this second group of exercises are best setup in a circuit fashion (rest) and not a complex fashion (no rest), as they require big changes in body position and setup. 

Turkish Getups – 5 minutes (alternating arms)

The Turkish getup will leave your whole body sore. It addresses shoulder strength, core strength, and
lower-body mobility. Performing this exercise for time rather than for reps
allows you to pace yourself, while getting serious cardiovascular benefits.

Kettlebell Single Arm Thrusters – 10 reps/arm

For some people, the kettlebell clean may be too technically advanced, so the single arm thruster can be a suitable alternative. Holding the bell in the rack position (thumb on sternum, elbow at side, kettlebell resting in the crook of your elbow), go into a deep squat with your opposite arm held straight out for balance. It’s going to make you want to twist, but use your core to stay straight. Push out of your heels and, in one motion using the momentum you’ve just generated from the squat, drive the loaded arm overhead to full extension. Lower the weight back to the rack position and repeat.

Single Arm Kettlebell Row – 15 reps/arm

Using a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell for your upright row means you can probably pull the weight back further, getting a better contraction out of your back. Just assume a staggered stance and rest one hand on the dumbbell rack (or any other stable surface about waist height). Row with the other hand and get all the same benefits.

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