You only need 1 kettlebell and 5 moves to build muscle all over, strengthen your core and boost your metabolism

 Man doing kettllebell swing exercise .
Man doing kettllebell swing exercise .

Working out at the gym can be a great way to develop core strength and build muscle all over your body, but it’s not the only way. Instead, you can use this five-move routine developed by a HYROX Master Trainer to build full-body strength — and all you need is a kettlebell.

These weights are a staple at most gyms and fitness centers, but investing in one of the best kettlebells can be a great way to add strength training to your home workouts, especially if you’re tight on space, as you can pick up an adjustable version that combines several loads.

Then, with a kettlebell by your side, you’ll be ready to take on this exclusive workout from HYROX Master Trainer Jake Dearden. Don’t worry if you’ve not joined a HYROX race before — this short workout is designed for all levels and is arranged by the number of repetitions you need to do.

Despite only needing a single weight, you’ll raise your heart rate, work muscles all over your body, and boost your metabolism. And, according to Dearden: “[kettlebells’] versatility makes them perfect for full-body workouts, even with limited space at home.”

How to do Jake Dearden’s five-move kettlebell workout

The routine is arranged as a five-move circuit, where the aim is to hit a specific amount of reps per exercise. Generally, you’re looking to do 12 reps on each round, except for the bent-over rows, where you want to do 6 reps on each side (right and left).

We often recommend high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) workouts, where the aim is to do as many reps as you can in a specific time. However, for Dearden’s session, you want to focus on your form to hit the correct muscles and avoid injury. But that’s not the only benefit.

“[These] kettlebell exercises engage different muscles and require increased wrist motion, allowing you to effectively build strength through progressive challenges. They are ideal for enhancing power and explosiveness with exercises such as swings,” Dearden explains.

1. Single-leg Romanian deadlift

This variation on the Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a great way to work your upper and lower body while engaging your core for balance. Dearden recommends using a heavier weight if you have one to hand as this will challenge your muscles.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hold the kettlebell in the hand opposite to the leg you are performing the RDL on.

  • Shift your weight onto your primary foot, lifting your supporting foot slightly off the ground behind you. If you struggle with balance you can use a rack or even a wall to lean on for support.

  • Begin to hinge at your hips, sending your elevated leg back in line with your body. The elevated leg should remain straight, or with a slight bend in the knee.

  • Lower the kettlebell towards the ground, keeping it close to your body, going as low as your mobility allows. Your torso should lower as your supporting leg lifts, keeping your back straight and chest open.

  • Stand all the way up by squeezing your glutes and hamstrings and return to the starting position.

  • Repeat and once you have performed 12 reps, switch legs.

2. Double kettlebell overhead press

Although this move is designed for two weights, you can adapt it if you only have a single kettlebell to hand; just do 12 reps on one side, then repeat for the other side. However many weights you use, aim for a load that’ll be a challenge by your last few reps.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold each kettlebell by the handle in each hand at your shoulders, with your palms facing in and your elbows bent, the kettlebells should be racked on your shoulders.

  • Press the kettlebells overhead, rotating your hands so that your palms face out straightening your elbows completely. Ensure to keep your core engaged and hips tucked to avoid arching your lower back as you lift your arms.

  • Slowly bend your elbows to lower the weights back down, and reverse the motion to the starting position.

3. Goblet squats

According to Dearden: “For this [squat variation], you can hold the kettlebell either by the handles or the bell, whichever feels more comfortable. Try to aim for a heavier weight.”

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly turned out, holding your kettlebell in both hands at your chest.

  • Engage your core and keep your chest lifted and back flat as you shift your weight into your heels, push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower into a squat.

  • Drive through your heels to stand, and squeeze your glutes at the top. That’s one rep.

4. Bent-over row

“You can perform these as a single-arm exercise, or with two kettlebells using both arms to make it slightly more challenging,” explains Dearden. If you’re new to this move, you’ll use a similar technique to the dumbbell bent-over row, demonstrated n the video above.

  • Hold a kettlebell in one hand. Step the opposite leg forward and bend your knees into a shallow lunge. Hinge forward at the hips to ensure your torso is angled toward the floor and your back stays flat.

  • Keep your body in this position, lift the kettlebell to chest level, and keep your elbow close to your side.

  • In a controlled motion, lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.

5. Kettlebell swings

The kettlebell swing is a classic move that works your whole body and raises your heart rate. As you’ll be swinging the weight behind and in front of you, it’ll challenge your stability too, engaging your core to build mid-body muscle. The aim is to “choose a weight that feels very challenging but you can ensure you get high enough on the swing,” says Dearden.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettlebell handle with both hands.

  • Bend your knees slightly, then hinge forward at the hips to swing the kettlebell between your legs.

  • Stand back up, using the momentum from your hips to swing the weight to chest height. That’s one rep.

More from Tom’s Guide