Kettlebells may be the best way to build more powerful legs. They are the perfect tool for developing strength and speed (the two elements of power), and their imbalanced design engages the entire body, giving you a workout that also tests your stability.
I could write a book about the countless ways you can use kettlebells to develop the muscles in your lower body. But if I had to pick two kettlebell leg exercises that offer the most power-building bang for your exercising buck, I’d choose the Kettlebell Overhead Rear Lunge and the Kettlebell Squat.
Kettlebell Leg Exercises
Kettlebell Overhead Rear Lunge
It may sound complex, but this move is fairly easy to perform, and it offers many benefits. The overhead position of your hand as it holds the kettlebell engages your entire upper body. The muscles in your shoulder, core, chest, arm and forearm must be engaged to maintain stability as you move. Athletes looking to improve their wrist and grip strength will like this exercise a lot. For an added twist, try holding the kettlebell straight up, as opposed to letting it sit behind your wrist. This will engage the wrist more and require extra stabilization by the upper body.
To perform the move:
- Perform a Clean and Jerk to get the kettlebell above your head
- Maintain a fully extended arm with a slight bend at the elbow to stabilize the kettlebell
- Step back with the leg opposite the arm holding the kettlebell
- Lower the back knee to slightly above the floor
- Bend your front leg, keeping the knee above or slightly behind the toes as you move
- Step forward with your rear leg to return to standing position
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Squats are a great exercise for targeting the hamstrings and glutes. When performing the move, keep your head up and choose a focal point to maintain good form. Stability is key here.
- Lift two kettlebells to your shoulders
- Allow them to rest on the outside of each straight wrist and support the weight against your arms
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes out slightly if that feels more comfortable
- Bend at the knees while lowering your hips and butt back, as if you were going to sit
- Keep your core tight and your knees in line with your feet
- Lower your hips until your thighs are slightly below parallel with the floor
- Press up to return to standing, raising until your knees are slightly bent
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Add these two exercises to your leg routine, and you’ll notice results. And there’s no reason to put the kettlebells down after finishing these lifts. Nearly any exercise you perform with a barbell can be performed with kettlebells, providing an extra challenge to the secondary, supportive muscles in your body that keep you stable. Strong stabilizers are the key to developing total body strength.