Kettlebell workout

7 Epic Kettlebell Exercises For Building Lean Muscle

8 min read


02 May 2024

Grab your cheat sheet

  1. The muscle growth-boosting benefits of kettlebells
  2. 7 epic kettlebell exercises you need to try
  3. Level up your training efforts with Crazy Nutrition

Are you curious about kettlebells? You’ve come to the right place because we’re gonna tell you how to use them to build some serious lean muscle.

Kettlebells are one of the most underrated ways to build muscle. Not only are most kettlebell movements satisfying to perform (if not a little gruelling)—they’re also a super efficient way of working the major muscle groups.

Yes, a solid kettlebell workout will help you build lean muscle, condition your body, and help you achieve a petty show-stopping physique.

Intrigued? Then read on, my friend. 

The muscle growth-boosting benefits of kettlebells

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s take a quick look at the body-boosting benefits of regular kettlebell training.

Everyday strength. The functional kind

Kettlebell workouts aren't just about pumping iron. No, they'll help you get strong in ways that actually help you in real life—think lifting, swinging, and carrying stuff without breaking a sweat.

By being primed to take on slightly heavier-duty everyday tasks with ease, you’ll be less likely to get injured while moving with more energy. As a result, you’ll reach your muscle-building goals faster.

One bell, many muscles

Forget about a gym full of fancy equipment. With just one kettlebell, you can hit every muscle group from head to toe. It's like having a whole gym in the palm of your hand—talk muscle-boosting about efficiency.

Cardio and weight training in one neat package

Who needs a treadmill when you're regularly doing kettlebell training? These swinging weights can crank up your heart rate and get that blood pumping, giving you a killer cardio workout while you're sculpting those lean muscles. It’s a double-treat training package.

Pure core 

Kettlebell workouts are like a constant game of ‘keep your balance.’ With every swing and lift, your core muscles have to engage to the max to keep you stable with every single rep. 

Not only will this help you sculpt your abs and improve your posture, but you’ll also put your muscles through their paces—packing on a healthy amount of muscle mass in the process (the lean kind!).

Gargantuan grip strength

Have you ever noticed how kettlebells feel a little awkward to hold? That's because they're secretly challenging your grip strength and forearm muscles. Commit to a regular kettlebell workout, and before you know it, you'll be opening jars like a superhuman.

Read: How to improve endurance and level up your workouts

7 epic kettlebell exercises you need to try

Woman working out with kettlebells

Now that you know the benefits of a good old-fashioned kettlebell workout, let’s get down to brass tacks.

Without further ado, let’s look at the seven epic kettlebell exercises you should be doing to build muscle.

Are you ready?

The serious staples….

1. One-handed kettlebell swing

This is, without a doubt, kettlebell swings are one of the world’s most iconic of them all. Yes, the swing is fun, it feels good, and you’ll look cool when you’re performing it—triple bonus.

Why it’s good…

One phrase (that we made up): Maximum bang for your muscle-building buck. Yes, the one-handed kettlebell swing will work every major muscle group in one epic movement. It’s one serious kettlebell exercise—simple as that.

How to perform it…
  1. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with the kettlebell in front of you and in between your feet.
  1. Reach down for your kettlebell with a straight back and hinge forward slightly. Grip your kettle bell and lift slightly so it’s hovering above the floor. Make sure your thumb is pointing towards your body.
  1. Engage your core and swing the kettlebell under your legs slightly before swinging back upwards while pushing yourself into a standing position. Keep your arms straight, your knees flexed, and swing up until the kettlebell is level with your chest.
  1. Keep your core engaged and controlled as you bring the kettlebell to the starting position. Repeat until failure. Take a breather and switch hands!

2. Kettlebell clean and jerk

A variation of the classic clean and jerk, this super dynamic exercise is an essential part of any muscle-boosting kettlebell workout.

Why it’s good…

With swinging and pushing elements to the movement, the kettlebell clean and jerk will condition your whole body. It’s also a muscle-building powerhouse that works the likes of your glutes, quads, hamstrings, abs, tris, and back.

How to perform it…
  1. Adopt the same starting position as the kettlebell swing. Make sure your knees are flexed and your free hand is by your side.
  1. Perform a kettlebell swing, but as you reach a standing position, roll your wrist so the palm of your hand is facing outwards and rest the kettlebell by your shoulder.
  1. Bend your knees slightly, engage your glutes and core, and press your kettlebell above your head until your arm is fully extended. Hold for a few moments.
  1. Return to the starting position in a smooth, controlled movement and repeat until failure. Change hands. Oh, and if you’d like to ramp up the intensity, you can use both kettlebells at the same time (just make sure you get some practice first).

3. Kettlebell goblet squat

Kettlebell goblet squat

As one of our favorite muscle-building exercises, goblet squats get the job done when it comes to workout out the lower body and core. Think of them as regular squats x 10!

Why it’s good…

The goblet squat is, without a doubt, one of the best exercises for building lean, mean quad muscle. It’ll also give your glutes, core, and lower back an excellent workout in one powerhouse move.

How to perform it…
  1. Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out slightly. Hinge your back forwards a little and flex your knees.
  1. Squat down with your back straight and grip the kettlebell with one hand. Push up to the starting position. Carefully turn the kettlebell upside down and grip the bottom with both hands as if you’re clasping a call.
  1. Hold the kettlebell at chin height and close to your chest. Hinge your back forward slightly and squat down as far as you can in a slow, controlled movement.
  1. Push back up to the starting position and repeat until failure as many times as you see fit.

4. Kettlebell lunges

When it comes to sculpting lean lower body muscle, lunges are life. Throw a kettlebell weight or two into the mix, and you’ll hit those lower-body muscle gains like a boss.

Why it’s good…

Did you know? Studies show that performing lunges with a full range of motion can actually boost your metabolism.

Oh, and if that wasn’t reason enough to throw kettlebell lunges into your training session, performing these dynamic exercises regularly (with proper technique) will improve your balance while helping you to build muscle in your glutes, abs, and major leg muscles.

How to perform it…
  1. You’ll need two kettlebells for this. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your kettlebell on the floor either side of you. With a straight back, bend down into a squat, grip your kettlebells— and push up into a standing position.
  1. Look straight ahead and take one giant step forward with your preferred foot. Lunge far enough forward that your back knee touches the floor while your front leg and foot are at a 90-degree angle. Hold the floor position for around five seconds, keeping your back straight.
  1. For a full range of motion, reverse your lunge back into your original standing position in one smooth movement (don’t rush it). Repeat with the opposite foot, alternating the movement until you feel the burn.

Read: Morning Workout Vs. Evening Workout: Which Is Best?

The big-hitting bonus moves…

The four kettlebell moves we’ve just covered will complement your training plan by helping you to stimulate muscle growth while conditioning your body from head to toe.

If you start getting into the swing of things (sorry), here are some big-hitting bonus moves to help you smash your fitness goals.

5. Kettlebell military press

First up, we have the kettlebell military press. This powerful move will level up your workout by helping you to build muscle (the super-conditioned kind) in your major shoulder muscles, triceps, and core.

It’s a little like a clean and jerk, but once you get into the standing position, this beast of an upper body move focuses on the press rather than a whole body movement.

Here’s how to perform this epic compound movement…

6. Double kettlebell front squat

Another effective move for building muscle by keeping tension in your lower body, the double kettlebell squat is a beast of a strength training move.

This big-hitting movement offers all of the body-boosting benefits of the goblet squat, but it will double the intensity (as well as the muscle-building workout rewards!).

Here’s how to get the job done…

7. Double kettlebell clean

Another double kettlebell movement is designed to improve your core stability and help your muscles grow. This weighted clean will whip your whole body into shape.

It’s almost like a miniature swing, but it commands more control and precision. The result? Lean, mean muscle, solid posture, and added flexibility.

Here’s how to bust out this triple-threat body-booster the right way…

Read: 10 Tips to Optimize Your Rest Days

Level up your training efforts with Crazy Nutrition

Now that you know all about the best kettlebell moves for building muscle, we bet you’re revved up and ready to go.

Here at Cray Nutrition HQ, we’re dedicated to helping fitness lovers just like you smash their training goals.

Here’s how we do it…

Tiptop training fuel

We’ve developed a treasure trove of supplements designed to help you get the most out of every single training session.

From high-quality protein powder and muscle-boosting mass gainers to performance-boosting pre-workouts and beyond—we’ve got everything you need to succeed.

Crazy Nutrition

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