2 Must-Try Kettlebell Complexes

Kettlebell Complex

Just about anyone can crank out serious lifts with dumbbells and barbells. But to really stand out on the field, you need to stand out in the weight room. At your next lifting session, try switching out your dumbbells for some kettlebells.

Kettlebell training is the real deal. The weight displacement of the bell forces your body to engage more stabilizing muscles for each movement. This allows you to work through a larger range of motion focusing on the targeted muscles. No other form of weight training allows you to perform such a high level of repetition ballistic work (e.g., Snatches, Swings, Cleans, and Jerks). (See also The Advantages of Kettlebell Training.)

The following two kettlebell complexes will help you build some serious muscular endurance. Because the movements also keep your heart rate up, they deliver a nice cardio-conditioning bonus. The Kettlebell Complexes may be used to finish off a weightlifting session or performed on a standalone basis.

Tips to keep in mind 

  • Make sure you find the right weight for you. Kettlebells can be difficult to control, especially for beginners, so it's important to choose the correct weight. A good starting point for most men with a standard strength base is a 25-pound kettlebell. For women with the same standard, I recommend a 15-pound kettlebell.
  • Maintain form. Both of these kettlebell complexes feature variations of Olympic lifts, Snatches and Cleans. These are technique-based exercises, and proper form is crucial for effectiveness. The best way to add more weight to your lifts is to refine your technique until it's perfect. Move up in weight after you have your form down pat. (Review Master Basic Kettlebell Olympic Lifting Technique.)
  • Mix it up. Kettlebells offer a variety of ways to improve strength and conditioning. Play around in your workout by alternating between heavy and light kettlebells; using two bells instead of one; and performing complexes over a 15- to 20-minute period instead of designated sets.
  • Always perform a warm-up before moving into a kettlebell complex. (Try this Ultimate Kettlebell Warm-Up.)

Kettlebell Complex One

Kettlebell Swing

Sets/Reps: 5x10

  • Assume athletic quarter-squat stance holding kettlebell between your legs
  • Keeping your arms straight, drive through your heels and explode up with your hips to bring kettlebell to chin level in front
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement
  • Return to start position with control and repeat rhythmically

One-Handed Swing

Sets/Reps: 5x5

  • Assume athletic quarter-squat stance holding the kettlebell in one hand with the weight between your legs
  • Hold your opposite arm out to the side for balance
  • Keeping your arm straight, drive through your heels and explode up with your hips to bring the kettlebell to chin level in front
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement
  • Return to start position with control and repeat rhythmically
  • Once you have competed reps on one side, switch to your opposite hand and repeat. This will complete one full set.

One-Handed Snatch

Sets/Reps: 5x5

  • Assume athletic quarter-squat stance holding kettlebell in one hand with the weight between your legs
  • Hold your opposite arm out to the side for balance
  • Keeping your arm straight, drive through your heels and explode up with your hips to bring the kettlebell to shoulder level in front
  • As the kettlebell rises to your shoulder, rotate your hand and punch straight up; use momentum to keep the weight locked out overhead
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement
  • Once you have competed reps on one side, switch to your opposite hand and repeat. This will complete one full set.

One-Handed Swing

Sets/Reps: 5x5

One-Handed Clean

Sets/Reps: 5x5

  • Place the kettlebell between your feet
  • Bend down to grab the kettlebell, pushing your butt back and keeping your eyes looking forward.
  • Clean the kettlebell to your shoulders by extending through your legs and hips as you raise the weight up; your wrist should rotate as you do so
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement
  • Return the weight to the starting position
  • Once you have competed reps on one side, switch to your opposite hand and repeat. This completes one full set.

Front Squat

Sets/Reps: 5x5

  • Assume athletic stance with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Rest a bar across the front of your shoulders with a clean grip
  • Keeping your back straight and your knees behind your toes, sink your hips back and lower into squat position until your thighs are parallel to the ground
  • Explode up by driving through your heels and extending your knees and hips to return to start position

Kettlebell Complex Two

Kettlebell Swings

Sets/Reps: 6x10

One-Handed Snatch

Sets/Reps: 6x10

Front Squat

Sets/Reps: 6x10

One-Handed Clean and Press

Sets/Reps: 4x20

  • Assume athletic stance holding the kettlebell in one hand just above your knees
  • Keep your back flat, chest out and shoulder directly over the kettlebell
  • Explosively extend your hips, knees and ankles while simultaneously shrugging with a straight arm
  • Pull the kettlebell up, keeping the weight close to your body
  • Drop the kettlebell under and catch it at the shoulders in a quarter squat; drive up to athletic stance
  • Press the kettlebell overhead, keeping your chest up and shoulders back
  • Lower the kettlebell with control to your shoulder, then to your thigh to return to starting position
  • Once you have competed reps on one side, switch to your opposite hand and repeat. This completes one full set.

Push-Ups

Sets/Reps: 6x10

Want more great kettlebell complexes? Try: 


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: KETTLEBELL EXERCISES | EXERCISE | CLEAN | LIFTS | STANCE | SWING | SNATCH | KETTLEBELL | KETTLEBELL SWING