2 Intense Kettlebell Workouts for Women

STACK Expert Joe DiStefano prescribes a kettlebell workout for women with exercises that focus on core stability, hip function and knee stability.

Kettlebell Exercise for Women

There are no better tools for training the human body than the body itself with a kettlebell or two. But because of anatomical differences, kettlebell workouts designed for women shouldn't be the same as those for men.

Women have a larger "Q-angle," or a sharper sloping of the thigh bone inward from the pelvis down toward the knee. Though these proportions help with child-bearing, they also create more instability at the knee and can make women more susceptible to knee injury.

To counter this predisposed risk, the workout I've put together includes single-leg exercises and exercises that focus on core stability, hip function and knee stability, such as the Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift.

Women also typically have a slightly more anteriorly tilted pelvis (or an increased forward slope of the pelvis). This leads to more weight distribution toward the balls of the feet, which can overwork the hamstrings and build more strength in the quads than in the glutes. (Women who wear high heels exacerbate this by contributing to ankle mobility problems.)

For these issues, I've included core stability exercises such as Bear Crawls and glute-focused movements such as Kettlebell Swings.

Lastly, compared to men, women almost always carry more of their body weight below their center of gravity than above it. This means they often have to work harder to build upper-body strength. This starts by strengthening your grip, as you can only be as strong as what you can hold onto. Workouts that involve Kettlebell Farmer's Walks are a great way to tackle this mission along with focusing on the fundamentals such as Push-Ups and Pull-Ups.

So here are two kettlebell and bodyweight workouts that will undoubtedly increase your strength and fitness.

Women's Kettlebell Workout 1

Circuit A, repeat 3x. Rest 1 minute per round.

1a) Get-Up to Elbow, 5 per side.

  • See this video example and perform the exercise only on your elbow.
  • Lie on the ground with your right arm locked straight and facing up toward the ceiling.
  • Hold your left arm 45 degrees at its side and pressing into the ground.
  • Lock your left leg straight with your right knee bent and your foot pressing flat into the ground 45 degrees at its side.
  • Maintaining a tall and open chest, drive weight in your right foot and your left elbow as you rotate your weight onto your left elbow, lifting your right shoulder from the ground.
  • Slowly return to the start position and repeat. Under the supervision of a coach, progress toward a full Get Up in time, eventually adding external load.

2a) Eccentric Push-Ups, up to 10.

  • Hold strict push-up form with a tight butt, neutral spine and neck and lower yourself to the ground as slowly as possible.
  • "Cheat" your way back to the top position and repeat.
  • If you can already do absolutely flawless Push Ups—i.e., chest to the floor each rep with elbows pending past 45 degrees—do your max number of those, then revert to eccentrics to finish the set.

3a)  Kettlebell Dead Swings, 8 reps.

  • Begin with a kettlebell three feet in front of you.
  • Hinge at the hips, reach and grab the kettlebell.
  • Engage your breath and your core as you drag the kettlebell beneath you, using your lats.
  • Extend your hips forcefully, projecting the kettlebell in front of you.
  • Allow the kettlebell to return, decelerate it to the start position and reset.
  • Consider each rep as its own "set."
  • Progress to performing 2 and 3 reps per set.

Circuit B: Repeat 3x, rest 1 minute per round.

1b) Kettlebell 1-Arm/1-Leg Deadlift, 5 per side

  • Hold a kettlebell in your left hand and stand only on your right foot.
  • Tighten your entire body head to toe, and slowly reach your left leg behind you, ensuring you maintain a straight line from ear to ankle.
  • As you approach a "T" position, squeeze your glutes and drive yourself back to the start position.

2b) 1-Arm Kettlebell Farmer's Walk, 50 feet

  • Hold a heavy kettlebell in your left hand at your side and without compensation walk 50 feet.
  • Switch hands and repeat.

3b) Forward Crab Iso, then walk 50 feet

  • Hold strict crab form with your hands facing backward, your chest open, your neck straight, and with a neutral spine for 30 seconds, then walk up to 50 feet.

Women's Kettlebell Workout 2

Circuit A: Repeat 3x, rest 1.5 minutes per round.

1a) KB Swings, 20 total reps, broken into sets of 6 or fewer with 10 to 20 seconds of rest per set.

Perform the same set-up as the Dead Swings, just perform up to 6 repetitions per set.

2a) Jumping Pull-Ups, 20 total reps plus 1 second over the bar and 2 seconds down per rep. Break into sets as needed to maintain perfect form.

  • Set up a plyo box beneath a pull-up bar so you can easily reach the bar with extended arms.
  • Jump slightly as you perform a Pull-Up until your chin is over the bar.
  • Hold, and control the negative. Repeat.

3a) Reverse Bear Crawl, 100 feet

  • From a baby-crawl position, set your shoulders back and keep your head and neck neutral.
  • Lift your knees one inch off the floor and, without allowing your butt to move side to side.
  • Crawl backward for 100 feet.

Circuit B:

1b) 2-Kettlebell Front Squat, 10 reps + 60-second iso hold with handles touching.

  • Squat with two kettlebells in a rack position at your chest with the "ball" resting on your forearms and your hands gripping the handles.

2b) Burpees, 30 reps.

  • Lie on the floor, palms to the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Peel your body off the floor into a push-up position and quickly jump your feet to your hands, stand, and jump 6" straight into the air. Repeat.

3b) 2-Kettlebell Farmers Walks, 100 feet

Holding a heavy kettlebell in each hand at your side, cover 100 feet of ground without putting them down, while maintaining a tall posture.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock