The Best Total-body, Single-kettlebell Workout

Kettlebell turkish getup 1280
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As trendy as kettlebells have become, many chain gyms don’t offer enough that you can be sure you’ll get a matching pair at a given time (especially if that time is during peak hours). Your best bet then is to do what you can with a single kettlebell. Incidentally, if you train at home and have just one dumbbell that you’ve been using as a paperweight up until now, this workout applies equally to you (kettlebells and dumbbells can be used interchangeably).

How it works

One bell offers a distinct set of benefits from a pair. Your body will have to compensate for the imbalance by recruiting your core muscles more intensely, and working one side at a time will make for longer sets with a greater cardiovascular demand. Done as a circuit, the exercises that follow raise your heart rate even further, making this workout a great adjunct to a strict diet for fat loss.


The workout consists of two circuits. In Circuit 1, you’ll perform the exercises in sequence for six reps each. Complete as many rounds as possible in six minutes, and then rest one minute. Repeat twice more, and then rest two minutes before beginning Circuit 2.

The workout

Circuit 1

1. One-arm snatch
Reps: 6 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.
Hold a kettlebell in front of your thighs with your right hand, and stand with feet between hip- and shoulder-width. Keep your torso as upright as possible, and bend your knees until the weight hangs at mid-shin level—maintain the arch in your lower back. Jump, extending your hips explosively, and raise the weight straight up your body. When it gets to your chest, flip your wrist and “catch” the bell overhead with arm extended.

2. Kettlebell press-out
Reps: 6 Rest: 0 sec.
Hold the weight close to your chest at shoulder-level with both hands on the handle and palms facing each other. Squat down as deeply as you can, and then press the bell straight out in front of you with arms extended. Bring it back to your chest, and repeat for reps while maintaining the squat position.

3. Hard-style kettlebell swing
Reps: 6 Rest: 0 sec.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and the weight on the floor. Grasp the kettlebell with both hands (palms facing you) and, keeping your lower back flat, extend your hips to raise it off the floor. From there, take a deep breath and bend your hips back, allowing the weight to swing back between your legs. Explosively extend your hips and exhale—allowing the momentum to swing the weight up to shoulder-level. Control the descent, but use the momentum to begin the next rep.

Circuit 2

Turkish getup
Lie on your back on the floor holding a kettlebell with your right hand over your chest, arm perpendicular to the floor. Bend your right knee 90° and plant your foot on the floor. Brace your abs, and raise your torso off the floor. Use your left hand for support. Now use your right foot to raise your hips off the floor. Sweep your left leg back, and rest on your left knee.

Come up to a standing position, and then reverse the motion to return to the floor. Note that the foot that rests on the floor changes with the hand that’s holding the weight (when you perform the getup with the left hand, your left foot will lie flat). Perform one rep with the weight in your right hand, and then immediately switch hands and repeat.

Switch back to your right hand, and do two reps. Then do two on your left. Continue adding one extra rep in this fashion until you’re up to five on each side. Without rest, reverse the process and work back down to one rep.

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