Beginner Kettlebell Program

If you have one kettlebell and are just getting started with kettlebell training then you need a good beginner kettlebell program to follow. The IKU™ Beginner Kettlebell Program is designed to take someone from the ground up with absolutely no prior experience to training with the kettlebell comfortably, safely, and effectively.

The program is based on the 4 basic simple but highly effective kettlebell exercises that work full body:

  1. Kettlebell Swing
  2. Kettlebell Squat
  3. Kettlebell Press
  4. Kettlebell Row

A beginner’s kettlebell program doesn’t need to be more difficult than that. There is a whole video below that covers how to perform these exercises.

Beginner Kettlebell Workout

The kettlebell workout is:

1.) Kettlebell Double-Arm Hip Hinge Swing

Perform the kettlebell exercise for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds

2.) Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Perform the kettlebell exercise for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds

3a.) Kettlebell Strict Shoulder Press (on one side)

Perform the kettlebell exercise for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds

3b.) Kettlebell Strict Shoulder Press (on the other side)

Perform the kettlebell exercise for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds

4a.) Kettlebell Bent-Over Row (on one side)

Perform the kettlebell exercise for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds

4b.) Kettlebell Bent-Over Row (on the other side)

Perform the kettlebell exercise for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds

1 minute of rest

Repeat for a total of 4 cycles

The video above explains how to perform these kettlebell exercises. For detailed follow-along videos, technique breakdown, how to avoid common mistakes, what kettlebell weight to start with, when to go up in weight, the full program, and to make sure you are doing things correctly, check out the beginner’s workout bundle.

Kettlebell Starting Weight

As a kettlebell beginner, you need to start with a kettlebell weight that is not going to injure you and will allow you to perform the exercises comfortably. The answer to the right kettlebell starting weight, unfortunately, is not as easy to figure out. There is a general recommendation for weight when it comes to kettlebell starting weight for men or females and that is 26lbs/12kgs for females and 35lbs/16kgs for men.

The problem is that the recommendation can be too heavy or too light. There is a lot more information required to figure out what kettlebell weight to start with. The best solution is to get a good quality adjustable kettlebell (not a cheap solution) or at least 2 or 3 different sized/weight kettlebells. If you can afford to get 2 kettlebells then for females the recommendation is 26lbs/12kgs and 17lbs/8kgs for females, and for men that would be 35lbs/16kgs and 26lbs/12kgs.

If you can afford to get 3 kettlebells of different weights then the recommendation is 35lbs/16kgs, 26lbs/12kgs, and 17lbs/8kgs kettlebell, and for men that would be 44lbs/20kgs, 35lbs/16kgs, and 26lbs/12kgs kettlebell. However, if you’re male and you want to focus on mobility then it’s best to swap the 44lbs/20kgs for a 17lbs/8kgs kettlebell.

These recommendations are based on the beginner workout that’s covered above.

For a kettlebell swing the weight should be heavy enough to provide good resistance as it’s a ballistic exercise, which means it’s to be performed fast with a lot of leg drive to propel the weight forward. When the kettlebell is too light a common kettlebell mistake of raising the weight with the arms occurs.

In summary, for the beginner workout, the following kettlebell weight recommendations are made:

Buying One Kettlebell

26lbs/12kgs kettlebell for females and 35lbs/16kgs kettlebell for men.

Buying Two Kettlebells

26lbs/12kgs and 17lbs/8kgs kettlebells for females.
35lbs/16kgs and 26lbs/12kgs kettlebells for men.

Buying Three Kettlebells

35lbs/16kgs, 26lbs/12kgs, and 17lbs/8kgs kettlebells for females.
44lbs/20kgs, 35lbs/16kgs, and 26lbs/12kgs kettlebells for men.

Beginner Kettlebell Warm-Up

Whether you’re a beginner or not, you always want to make sure that you perform a good warm-up before your kettlebell workout. There are many different warm-ups that you can perform and even some dynamic stretches are good for a warm-up, but here are some of the most basic exercises to use in your warm-up:

  1. Jumping jacks
  2. Squats
  3. Thoracic rotations (alternating)
  4. Hip hinges

There is a video further below that covers the finer details of these exercises used in a beginner’s kettlebell warm-up. You can program these bodyweight exercises in your warm-up as:

30 seconds of jumping jacks
30 seconds of squats
30 seconds of alternating thoracic rotations
30 seconds of hip hinges

Perform 3 to 4 rounds of the warm-up routine.

As you start the first round of your warm-up the intensity should be in the low to medium range and as you progress through the rounds of your warm-up you should increase the intensity/speed.

The two blocks of 30 seconds of work are more intense with the jumping jacks plus squats and then the intensity drops with the thoracic rotations and hip hinges, this drop in intensity allows you to keep going for the full 6 minutes because the intensity is up and down.

If you prefer to work by repetitions rather than by time then the following is a good number of repetitions in the warm-up:

12 jumping jacks
6 squats
4 alternating thoracic rotations
6 hip hinges

Perform 4 to 6 rounds of the warm-up routine.

Kettlebells For Mobility

Having a good warm-up and workout is great but if you want to incorporate everything that you can to maximize your gains and stay injury-free then it’s vital you include some mobility work in your training. You can use these kettlebell mobility exercises during your rest time, for example, you could increase the 1 minute of rest in the workout to 2 minutes and turn it into active recovery work, i.e. hiding the work that most people find boring so that it becomes fun and you don’t even think about it.

If you don’t include the mobility work in your workout then you can spend time on this after your workout and before your cooldown, or mix things up and make it your cooldown.

The following kettlebell exercise is excellent for improving shoulder mobility.

Kettlebells Starting Out

How do I get started with kettlebells?

  1. Buy a good kettlebell or a pair of different kettlebell weights
  2. Stick to the basics and fundamentals of kettlebell training
  3. Spend time on learning the technique
  4. Perfect the form and technique for the basic exercises
  5. Identify your goals and make sure you understand how to use kettlebells to reach those
  6. Leave your ego at the door

When you’re starting out with kettlebells you need a beginner kettlebell routine that has a basic workout, warm-up, and mobility work, and all that is covered in the kettlebell program above. The next thing that you need is to learn how to kettlebell clean. When you perform the kettlebell squat or kettlebell press you need to get the kettlebell up to the chest in a racking position. To do this you need to learn how to clean.

The following video covers all the super important aspects of kettlebell training that you need to learn:

  1. Cleaning a kettlebell (bringing it from below the hips into a racking position)
  2. Hook grip
  3. Grip transition
  4. Loose grip
  5. Racking

These are by far the most important things that you should focus on as a beginner. We see it quite often that people neglect these points and they’ll start using gloves, forearm protection, knee sleeves, and so much more which will prevent the person from progressing and enjoying kettlebell training.

When you learn the points above you will discover that you can do 1,000 reps unbroken in one workout of the clean or snatch and not have one blister or issue with your hands. People who do not invest time in the above will also experience other common kettlebell injuries like sore lower backs, shoulder pain, forearm bruising, blisters, ripped hands, excessive calluses, and more. All of these issues can 100% be avoided by investing some time/money.

How To Stay Injury-Free With Kettlebells?

There are two ways to interpret this question. How do you prevent kettlebell injuries? How do you use kettlebells to prevent injuries? When you use kettlebells incorrectly you can experience injuries. When you use kettlebells correctly you are injury-proofing yourself and you will prevent injury in general, not just with the kettlebell. Some of the common kettlebell injuries are:

  • Forearm bruising
  • Shoulder/chest bruising
  • Wrist injury
  • Elbow tendon injury
  • Tendinitis
  • Blisters or ripped hands
  • Back injury
  • Etcetera

All of these injuries can be avoided by avoiding the common mistakes of kettlebell training. Our beginner program does just that.

Kettlebell Beginner FAQ

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