13 Best Kettlebell Leg Workout Ideas for a Strong Lower Body

Fitness trainer explaining kettlebell leg workout
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Do you want to improve your strength, conditioning, stamina, and physical toughness with workouts? Then, try a kettlebell leg workout to achieve your goals.

Kettlebell exercises are the perfect lower body/leg exercises for anyone who wants to build their lower body strength, power, cardiovascular and functional fitness. It is one of the best strength training [1]HARVARD T.H. CHAN: Evidence mounts on the benefits of strength training exercises for your back and leg muscles. 

Although kettlebells are commonly associated with upper-body exercises, they can be just as effective for working out your legs. In fact, a kettlebell leg workout is a great way to build strength and power in your lower body, as well as improve your overall conditioning and stamina.

During a kettlebell leg workout, you challenge your lower body and, sometimes, your entire body using the different exercise types. From kettlebell swings to squats and lunges, we have put together 13 variations of kettlebell leg workouts that will work every muscle in your lower body. 

So, if you’re looking to build a strong and powerful lower body, these kettlebell leg workout ideas are perfect for you!

13 kettlebell leg exercises

Kettlebell leg workouts help to strengthen your lower body more than any other workouts. It helps build muscle mass all over your body but especially around your glutes, quads, and hammies. Plus, kettlebell exercises are extremely versatile and help spice up your usual exercise routine. 

While there are several adaptations and variations of the kettlebell exercises, even the basic kettlebell swing can do wonders for your leg muscles and your entire lower body. The kettlebell leg exercises we have given below are incredibly dynamic and are bound to provide considerable benefits to your upper body as well.

Here are the 13 best kettlebell workouts for a strong lower body:

1. Kettlebell swings

Target muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, erectors, trapezius, rhomboids, deltoids, and abdominals

Steps to follow

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Place the kettlebell before your feet.
  • With a slight knee bend, pull your shoulder blades back and down and brace your core.
  • Hinge your hips backward and torso forward. Keep a straight back while maintaining your slightly bent stance.
  • Breathe in to grab the kettlebell. Breathe out, tighten your glutes and hamstrings and push your hip forward as you rise to a standing position.
  • The kettlebell should swing naturally and reach up to your shoulder height before you swing back down.
  • Breathe in and let the kettlebell drop between your legs while hinging your hips back. 

Summary – Kettlebell swings are excellent strength exercises that are great for building muscle and strength as well as for improving cardiovascular health [2]Better Health: Resistance training – health benefits. So, you can call this as kettlebell HIIT workout too. In addition, this kettlebell workout develops and strengthens glutes and hamstrings.

2. Stiff-legged deadlift

Target muscles: Glutes, lower back, hamstrings, forearms, calves, and quads

Steps to follow

  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding kettlebells in both hands or hold one kettlebell with two hands.
  • Keeping your core engaged, hinge at the hips and bend your torso until the kettlebell is almost touching the floor.
  • Reverse the motion by contracting your glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position.

Summary – The kettlebell stiff-legged deadlift is a great movement to work your posterior chain muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

3. Kettlebell rack squat

Target muscles: Glutes, hip flexors, and quadriceps

Steps to follow

  • Hold a single kettlebell in each hand in a racked position (with the bells in front of your shoulders and wrists neutral).
  • Your elbows should be bent and tucked in.
  • Brace your core, hinge your hips backward, and bend your knees to a squat.
  • Raise your hips using your quadriceps and glutes to return to starting position.

Summary – This lower body kettlebell workout helps with strength and power building. It targets your glutes, hip flexors, and quadriceps. It’s also a core kettlebell workout that’ll help stabilize your weight and build muscle. You need to use two kettlebells or one for this workout.

4. Kettlebell bulgarian split squats

Target muscles: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glute muscles, and calves

Steps to follow

  • Stand in front of a bench with your back turned to it.
  • Hold kettlebells in both hands or just one in both hands in front of you at chest height.
  • Place your right foot on the bench for balance.
  • Brace your core and lower yourself into a squat position while bending your left leg and lowering your right knee to the ground. 
  • Press through your front foot and contract your glutes as you lift yourself to a standing position
  • Switch to the other side, and repeat.

Summary – This kettlebell variation of the traditional Bulgarian split squat works on the quadriceps, hamstrings, glute muscles, and calves, improving your muscular balance, stability, and coordination.

5. Kettlebell sumo squat

Target muscles: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glute muscles, adductors (inner thighs), calves, and hip flexors

Steps to follow

  • Hold a kettlebell in your hand at chest height.
  • Stand with your feet between 8 to 12 inches apart.
  • Breathe in and hinge your hips backward, bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat position.
  • Brace your core and spine in a neutral position.
  • Breathe out as you lift your body to the starting position, push through your feet, engage your glutes and reverse the motion.

Summary – The kettlebell sumo squat is a kettlebell squat variation that helps you maintain proper form in your body and makes your glutes and quad muscles more pronounced.

6. Kettlebell goblet squat

Target muscles: Glutes, calves, hamstrings, core, and quadriceps

Steps to follow

  • Stand with your feet apart at a distance slightly more than your hip width. Angle your toes out.
  • Grab a kettlebell in both hands in front of you at chest height and bend your elbows.
  • Brace your core, hinge your hips backward, bend your knees to a squat and hold the equipment to your chest.
  • Maintain your upright chest as you squat and lower your hips to the ground.
  • Hold the goblet squat position for few seconds.
  • Breathe out, squeeze your glutes, and press through your feet to return to starting position.

Summary – The kettlebell goblet squat [3]National Academy of Sports Medicine: HOW TO PERFORM GOBLET SQUATS FOR STRONGER GLUTES is a great exercise for beginners. It works the glutes, calves, hamstrings, core, and quadriceps. Kettlebell exercises like the goblet squats are excellent in helping you maintain proper squat form and prevent butt wink, which is dangerous.

7. Single-leg deadlift

Target muscles: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, ankles, and the core

Steps to follow

  • Stand erect, holding a kettlebell in the right hand. 
  • Shift your weight to your left leg and adjust your balance. 
  • Slightly bend the left leg, lean forward, simultaneously lowering the kettlebell toward the ground. 
  • Raise the right leg off the floor and straighten it behind you.
  • Try to balance your free arm with the movement or let it rest at your waist.
  • Pull your body back to a standing position using your glutes and hamstrings while keeping the kettlebell close to your leg.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

Summary – This is one of the leg exercises to try when working out with kettlebells. It helps define your lower body muscles and improves the strength of your core and back.

8. Kettlebell back squat

Target muscles: Core, hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves, and lower back muscles

Steps to follow

  • Stand with your feet apart at a hip distance. 
  • Hold kettlebells in both hands, with each piece of equipment resting on the back of your shoulder, your clenched palms facing forward, and elbows pointing down.
  • Lean your hips backward, bend your knees and lower your body to a squat. Keep your spine neutral and chest upright.
  • Move your body down till your thighs are parallel to the floor 
  • Lean into your feet, contract your glutes, and push your hips forward as you raise your body to stand.

Summary – This kettlebell workout works all your lower body and your core. You can use one kettlebell or two, depending on your fitness level.

9. Sumo deadlift

Target muscles: Quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, trapezius muscles, erector spinae, and glutes

Steps to follow

  • Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold the kettlebell under your hip.
  • Breathe in, brace your core and bend your knees in sync with your shin.
  • Lean your hips back, keep your chest upright and your spine neutral.
  • As you lower your hips, keep the kettlebell close to your body. 
  • When your thighs are parallel to the floor, press through your feet and raise your body to return to the starting position.

Summary – This is similar to sumo squat. It helps relieve your lower back stress and is especially good for people who experience stiffness in back. In addition, it improves the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors, core, calves, and back muscles. 

10. Kettlebell forward lunge

Target muscles: Gluteus maximus, adductors, glutes, and quads

Steps to follow

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell in your right hand using an overhand grip.
  • Step forward with your right leg, bending your knees and lowering your hips towards the ground.
  • Stop when your right thigh is parallel to the ground, and your left knee is an inch above the ground.
  • Push through your right heel to return to the starting position. 
  • Switch the kettlebell to the other hands and repeat with your left leg.

Summary – The kettlebell forward lunge is an exercise that focuses on working your glutes and quads while also improving your balance.

11. Kettlebell reverse lunge

Target muscles: Quads, glutes, adductors, and hamstrings

Steps to follow

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell in your right hand using an overhand grip.
  • Step backward with your right leg, bending your knees and lowering your hips towards the ground.
  • Stop when your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your left knee is an inch above the ground.
  • Push through your right heel to return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg.

Summary – The kettlebell reverse lunge is an exercise that activates and strengthens your glutes and quads. It improves the mobility in your hips and also works your balance and coordination.

12. Kettlebell walking lunge

Target muscles: Calves, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and core muscles

Steps to follow

  • Get to a standing position and hold kettlebells in both hands. 
  • Keep your feet wide apart at hip width and brace your core. You could also hold it in a goblet or racked position.
  • Step forward with your right foot.
  • Maintain your braces core, bend your knees, and lean your left knee towards the ground. Stop before your knee touches the floor.
  • Lift your left foot off the ground, and move it forward as you did for the right foot.
  • Keep alternating steps as you move forward for each lunge.

Summary – This workout involves you performing the basic walking lunge with kettlebells. It helps to work your calves, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and the core.

13. Kettlebell step-up

Target muscles: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core

Type 1 – Steps to follow

  • Hold two kettlebells in both hands while standing. Place a bench, step, or plyo box in front of you. 
  • Step onto the bench in front of you using your right foot. Push through your right heel and glute, raising yourself to straighten your leg.
  • Clench your glutes while bringing your left foot to meet the right one on the bench.
  • Lean into your right knee, step down your left foot and bring your right foot to meet the left on the ground.
  • Repeat with the left foot on the step.

Type 2 – Steps to follow

  • Hold a kettlebell in your left hand while standing. Place a bench, step, or plyo box in front of you. 
  • Step onto the bench in front of you using your right foot. Push through your right heel and glute, raising yourself to straighten your left leg without letting it rest on the bench.
  • Now step down on your left foot and repeat the movement.

Summary – Kettlebell step-up works your glutes, hamstrings, and quads while improving your balance, coordination, and stability. It also helps strengthen your core muscles.

1-week kettlebell leg workout plan

If you want to start your kettlebell leg exercises and have no idea what exercises to do, this plan will guide you.

Days Exercise
Monday10 kettlebell swings
10 kettlebell sumo deadlift
10 kettlebell walking lunges
TuesdayRest/other fitness activities
Wednesday12 kettlebell single-leg deadlift
12 kettlebell sumo squats
12 kettlebell back squats
ThursdayRest/other fitness activities
Friday10 kettlebell forward lunges
10 kettlebell reverse lunges
10 kettlebell goblet squats
SaturdayRest/other fitness activities
Sunday15 kettlebell step-ups
15 kettlebell swings
15 kettlebell Bulgarian split squats

Tips to follow for a safe kettlebell workout

Kettlebell leg exercises can be powerful and dynamic lower body exercises if done right. You need caution with kettlebell workouts so you don’t harm yourself while performing them. For example, you could get blisters, torn hands, bruised wrists and forearms, toe injuries, elbow tendonitis, or lower back pain from using kettlebells incorrectly.

Kettlebells are cast iron balls which means they’re weighty, and you need some safety tips to help you exercise.

  • Choose the right kettlebell. Ensure that you can handle the weight and size. Start with a lighter kettlebell if you are new to kettlebell training.
  • One-piece metals are also better than two-piece models because they can break apart.
  • Breathe properly during your kettlebell training. 
  • Don’t forget to brace your abdominal muscles.
  • Be conscious of your surroundings to prevent yourself from swinging the kettlebells. You could hurt yourself or others or destroy property around you.
  • Keep your back in the neutral position and prevent it from absorbing the kettlebell force, or you may risk hurting your back.
  • Ensure you hold the kettlebells properly. A poor grip can be dangerous.
  • Avoid overtraining and know when to rest.

Conclusion

Kettlebell leg exercises are beneficial not only to your legs but to your whole body. However, you should ensure you follow safety rules when you exercise and not over-exercise as it may cause more harm than good.

Get the right kettlebell whose size and weight you can work with, find a good trainer to guide you through your kettlebell training, and exercise away!

References

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