Kettlebells are a very versatile tool for building muscle, increasing power, and shedding body fat. Like most training programs, building muscle is highly dependent on (1) load/intensity, (2) overall training volume, (3) rest periods, and (4) recovery.
In this article, we have designed three different kettlebell circuits to build muscle (lower body, upper body, and total body). If you are to perform all three within the same week, it is suggested to have a rest day or active recovery session between to allow for ample recovery so that you can attack each workout to the fullest.
Workout 1 – Lower Body Kettlebell Circuit for Building Muscle
The below workout is designed to build lower body muscle mass. This is an effective workout to target the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus and minimus, and spinal erectors.
The first part of this workout should be done in order, completing all set and reps per exercise before moving onto the next. Rest periods should be 45-90 seconds between sets. It is important to remain in control of the entire range of motion, keeping tension on the active muscles. Lastly, loads should be moderate to heavy to induce enough training stress and stimulus.
- Double Kettlebell Front Squat – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Single Leg Kettlebell RDL – 3 sets of 12 reps per leg
- Double Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squat – 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
Finish the session with this burnout finisher. Complete all repetitions of the goblet squats before moving on to the kettlebell swings. Challenge yourself week to week by beating your best time to completion. It is recommended that you keep the loads moderate and to avoid going too heavy, as the emphasis should be on longer sets to accumulate high amounts of metabolic build up in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Suggested loads below.
- Double Kettlebell Front Rack Walking Lunge x 100 steps (20kg for men, 12lg for women)
- Kettlebell Russian Swing x 100 reps (32 kg for men, 24kg for women)
Workout 2 – Upper Body Kettlebell Circuit for Building Muscle
The below workout is designed to build upper body muscle mass. This is an effective workout to target the pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), latissimus dorsi (back), trapezius, biceps, forearms, and triceps.
The first part of this workout should be done in a circuit fashion, resting 45-90 seconds between exercises. Loads should be kept moderate to heavy to stimulate enough training volume and stress. Complete the below list of exercises in a circuit fashion, resting 45-90 seconds between exercises and 2-3 minutes between rounds (complete all exercises to equal on round).
Complete 5 rounds of:
- Double Kettlebell Clean x 8 reps
- Double Kettlebell Push Press x 8 reps
- Strict Weighted Pull-Up x 8 reps
Finish the session with this 12-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) muscle building workout. Perform the exercises and reps below in a cyclical fashion, resting as needed. The goal here should be to move, accumulate muscle fatigue, and keep the rest periods as short as possible. The loads should be moderate to heavy, assuming proper technique and form under fatigue.
- Kettlebell American Swing x 10 reps
- Bodyweight Push Up x 20-30 reps
- Double Kettlebell Front Rack Walk x 40 meters
Workout 3 – Total Body Kettlebell Circuit for Building Muscle
This workout is nothing fancy, but it delivers an insane amount of volume. We start out by performing the “Armor Complex” in an every minute on the minute (EMOM) fashion. Rest periods are kept pretty short (about 30-45 seconds) while the loads are kept as heavy as possible. This will help to deliver ample volume and stimulate human growth hormone (HGH) production. Once you have completed the 20-minute EMOM, take a few minutes to gather yourself and prepare for the second part of the workout.
Complete 20 rounds of the Armor Complex. This is to be done in a 20-Minute EMOM (20 sets), starting light and working up to heavy sets. Complete the Armor Complex every minute:
- Kettlebell Cleans x 2 reps
- Kettlebell Strict Press x 1 rep
- Kettlebell Squats x 3 reps
The second part of this workout is done off the clock, meaning you will move through it at a manageable pace, resting as needed in between sets (still, rest period should be no longer than 90 seconds between exercises).
- Kettlebell Shrugs – 4 sets of 20 reps. *After each set of shrugs, perform one minute of a double kettlebell farmer’s carry.
- Kettlebell Push Up – 4 sets to failure
Want More Workouts?
Take a look at some of our top kettlebell and functional fitness workouts below, and let us know what you think!
Featured Image: Mike Dewar, via Martin Romero Photography