Regardless of your specific goals in the gym, kettlebell training can get you there. You can swing, snatch, and clean kettlebells quickly to increase power output. Row and press heavy kettlebells (like you would any free weight) for more strength and muscle. Or, if you’re looking to get leaner, pair a series of kettlebell movements together to burn body fat.
Kettlebell circuits for fat loss are especially efficient. As with all circuit training, you’ll be moving from exercise to exercise with as little rest as possible in between. A unique advantage of circuit training with kettlebells lies in the explosive, full-body nature of so many kettlebell moves. Sure, you can perform a few dumbbell exercises back to back to back, but the dynamic and explosive nature of kettlebell exercises will have you breaking a more intense sweat.
The Best Kettlebell Circuit for Fat Loss
This workout may look short — and sure enough, it won’t take longer than 20 minutes — but short doesn’t mean ineffective. The point of circuit training is to combine efficiency and intensity. You don’t need many exercises for a workout to be effective. If you’re new to kettlebell training, make sure you know how to perform all of these moves with impeccable form before moving forward.
Directions: This one is simple. Complete the three movements below with as little rest as possible between exercises. Rest for 90 seconds between rounds. Complete three to four total rounds. If you have the time and energy, feel free to add another round or two.
- Alternating Kettlebell Swing: 45 seconds
- Kettlebell Squat Clean and Press: 20 seconds per side
- Kettlebell Goblet Squat: 45 seconds
Make it Harder
Do you have solid form, an extra kettlebell, and are looking to up the ante? Try performing each move with two kettlebells instead of one. You’ll still get a lot of unilateral training benefits, because the bells aren’t connected like a barbell is, but upping the total weight will increase the intensity and therefore potential calorie burn.
So…What Makes This a Fat Loss Circuit?
In general, a strength circuit means transitioning from exercise to exercise as quickly as possible. You want to rest as little as possible between moves. You might perform a certain number of repetitions of each exercise before moving onto the next move. Or, you might do each exercise for a prescribed amount of time or a certain number of reps every minute on the minute (EMOM). Either way, you’ll emphasize movement quality and speed.
With kettlebell circuits, you’ll up the ante on a regular circuit, because these moves tend to already be more explosive.
If you’re performing a circuit of dumbbell rows, biceps curls, and tricep extensions, for example, you’re sure to get stronger. Your heart rate will jump, too, due to the minimal rest. But circuit training with kettlebells really increases the potential for fat loss. Why? Because kettlebell moves are often compound rather than isolation exercises, and they tend to be explosive.
With kettlebells, you’re more likely to program circuits with compound, power-based exercises like swings, cleans, and push presses. The more full-body and explosive your exercises are, the harder your heart and muscles will work. As a result, you’re more likely to burn more calories, which is likely a big part of your plan if you want to train for fat loss.
While dumbbells are also excellent strength training tools, the offset nature of kettlebells makes them especially great for creative conditioning workouts. Because they’re off-balance as a training implement, your stabilizers will be much more challenged when using kettlebells. Plus, their shape makes them great for explosive, power-building exercises — which is exactly what you’re looking for when lifting for fat loss.
Benefits of This Kettlebell Circuit
Circuits in general are a great tool for any type of body composition-focused training. Whether you’re looking to pack on muscle, make your body stronger, internally improve your cardiovascular system, or decrease body fat, circuits can help get you there. Ditto with kettlebells — they’re excellent implements for pretty much any training goal. Combine both kettlebells and circuits, and you’ve got a combo that’ll give Gen Z and TikTok a run for its money.
Increase All-Around Strength
If one of your goals is to lose body fat, you don’t want to throw strength-based training out the window. Building full body strength is a great way to increase your confidence in your body and yourself overall — which is often a major goal that might manifest in a desire to look a certain way.
Not to mention, increasing strength will likely help you build some muscle. Doing so is a great way to sustainably bolster any fat loss goals you might have. Muscles require a lot of energy from your body — so the stronger your muscles are, the more calories your body may burn day-to-day to maintain them. This can assist with your fat loss goals.
It’s a Time-Saver
You might not have the time, desire, or emotional energy to spend long periods devoted to steady state cardio. And even if you’re looking for a shorter form of working out, high intensity interval training (HIIT) may be quite intimidating. A kettlebell circuit with only a few moves may be more accessible to many lifters who want something short and effective — but not so intense that it’s a turn off.
This Circuit is Low-Impact
Kettlebell circuit training is sure to get your heart rate up. It’ll help improve your cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and strength. In doing so, you’ll be able to get closer to any fat loss goals you might have. And with kettlebells, you won’t have to worry about the high impact nature that comes with a lot of other fat loss-oriented programming.
Whether a program calls for steady-state jogging or HIIT, it’s likely to have a high impact on your joints. Folks with plantar fasciitis or knee aches and pains might want to avoid jogging because of the repetitive stress. A similar logic applies to many HIIT sessions that call for high-impact moves like box jumps.
With kettlebells, you can get in a workout that challenges you intensely without having a heavy impact on your joints. Your feet will remain in one place the whole time, sparing you the potentially jarring impact on your joints.
Cultivates Mental Resilience
Many times, when people are working out with a primary goal of losing fat, the potential joys of actual movement can get lost. Because changing your body composition can be such a mentally and physically arduous process, it can be a demoralizing experience that runs the risk of focusing more on an imagined “end” result than celebrating your journey as a whole.
Working out with kettlebells can help shake your focus up. Since these workouts are neither traditional, repetitive, nor lengthy cardio sessions, you might be able to focus on the fun of getting to play with an unconventional instrument. And while the movements can certainly be intense and difficult, they’re low impact on your joints — meaning you may not feel as potentially beat up as you might with something like running.
Because these workouts are quicker, you may also feel more powerful as you complete them. The sensation of getting stronger and being able to more easily lift a weight you couldn’t a few weeks ago may help inspire you to keep growing.
How to Program This Kettlebell Circuit for Fat Loss
Perhaps you’re looking to add an extra 15 to 20 minute circuit into an already-existing strength or hypertrophy routine. In that case, slip this kettlebell fat loss circuit in after a moderately-heavy training session. If you’re used to more cardio-based workouts — and depending on your recovery needs — you can do this circuit up to three or potentially four times a week.
You might also be focused on lifting heavier and want to use this workout as a supplement to your strength gains. In that case, you’ll need to focus more intensively on recovery — so add this workout after lifting only two or three times a week. Use weights that are heavy enough to get your heart rate up but light enough to not tax your muscles too much. You don’t want to eat into your recovery needs.
And if you’re building your entire fitness routine around workouts like this, alter your workout frequency based on your experience level. New to kettlebells, cardio, or both? Performing this circuit once or twice a week should do the trick, and you can build up gradually as desired. If you’re a little more experienced, try three, four, or even five days a week if this is the only workout you’re focusing on.
How to Warm-Up for a Kettlebell Circuit for Fat Loss
Just because you’re not performing that many movements with this circuit doesn’t mean you don’t have to warm up. To really get the most out of such a fast, intense workout, you’ve got to warm up thoroughly. You’ll lubricate your shoulder joints for those overhead presses, mobilize your hips for swings and squats, and get your heart ready to work hard.
- Cat Cow: 2 x 30 seconds
- Scapular Push-Up: 2 x 15
- Scapular Wall Slide OR Band Pull-Apart: 3 x 15-20
- Inchworm to Hip Opener: 3 x 10-15
- Paused Kettlebell Deep Squat: 2 x 20 seconds
More about Kettlebell Training
If you’re ready to get lifting with kettlebells, you’re ready to bring your best game. Using kettlebell circuits for fat loss might mark the beginning of your journey with kettlebells. Or, you might already be an experienced kettlebell athlete looking to up your game even further. Whatever your situation, you can check out these kettlebell training articles to add the next level of skill to your training — and your gains.
- The Complete Guide to Kettlebell Training for Beginners
- The Best All-Around Kettlebell Training Program
- 10 Questions You’ve Always Had About Kettlebells, Answered
Featured Image: Artem Varnitsin/Shutterstock