Book health & wellness appointments instantly

Kettlebell exercise

Swinging the kettlebell through a series of controlled movements engages nearly every muscle of the body.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: August 15, 2012

The kettlebell is a specially designed weight used for cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training. An effective and (somewhat) portable tool, the kettlebell can be used at home, with a personal trainer, or in group exercise classes.

The secret behind this cast-iron instrument, which looks like a bowling ball with a handle on top, is that the weight is centered below the handle, requiring good balance and core control.

Benefits of kettlebell exercise: The kettlebell is famous for providing its users with a quick and effective workout. Swinging the kettlebell through a series of controlled movements engages nearly every muscle of the body— especially the abdominals, butt, hips, shoulders, lower back and thighs. The kettlebell is said to work wonders for the arms and abdominal muscles.

Who kettlebell exercise is best for: Workouts involving kettlebells can be challenging, as these specialized weights add an element of both strength training and cardiovascular exercise to a workout. Kettlebells can be used by anyone seeking to build muscle, increase endurance or lose weight.

Getting ready: Many trainers advise against stretching prior to a kettlebell work out. Instead, warm up by swinging the kettlebell, building up momentum.

Calories burned: One study proved that kettlebell workouts could burn up to 20 calories per minute, adding up to 400 calories after 20 minutes of exercise.

Celebrity Devotees

Many celebrities have embraced the kettlebell. Some of these familiar faces are Claire Danes, Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Sylvester Stalone and Katherine Heigl. Heigl discovered the wonders of the kettlebell while preparing to film the 2009 rom-com The Ugly Truth. Lance Armstrong is another ardent kettlebell fan, using the weight when he's not cycling through the hills of France.


Using a kettlebell improperly, or choosing one that is too heavy, can lead to physical injury. Kettlebells vary in weight, ranging from four to 175 pounds.

Who shouldn't do it: Individuals with severe back or shoulder problems should not use a kettlebell. Women who are pregnant should consult a physician before adding kettlebells to their training program.

Find expert fitness instructors near you