Workout fatigue is real — not just muscle exhaustion, but also mental tiredness.
It can get pretty psychologically tough doing the same thing over and over and over again, and even though consistency is key for workout success, there’s nothing wrong with a hunger to learn new moves.
Learning new ways to exercise can help keep you motivated when motivation levels generally might be sinking fast. If you’ve gotten your lucky hands on a kettlebell and don’t want to just swing the darn thing until you can safely go back to the gym, you’re in luck — there are plenty of unusual kettlebell moves to learn that can keep you more than a little mentally and physically stimulated.
Because of my undying love for the good old fashioned kettlebell swing, I’ve got to say it one more time: there is nothing wrong if the only move you do with a kettlebell is the swing.
But if you’re figuring, ‘I spent over a hundred bucks and waited a zillion years to get this kettlebell delivered during a global pandemic, I want to learn All The Moves with it’…
Well, that’s valid and I’m not going to argue. Especially when there are so many weird and awesome kettlebell moves to learn.
Like this, but with a kettlebell and therefore with a bit more hip snap
Half Kneeling Swing Chops
You’ll want to use a lighter weight than you would for regular alternating swings, or even side swings.
- Assume a half kneeling position with your left knee out in front, right over your toes.
- Hold the bell by the sides of the handle, next to your right hip.
- Snap your hips straight forward (not tilting off to the side), just like you would with a standing or tall kneeling kettlebell swing.
- Use that momentum to help you sweep your arms and the bell in a backwards chop, bringing the kettlebell up across your body and above your left shoulder.
- With control, “chop” the weight back down to your right hip.
- Reset by squaring your hips if you need to (left hip back, right hip forward) before proceeding to the next rep.
- Keep the movement even on both sides.
This move doesn’t look as hard as it is — the first time you try it out, you’ll be shocked you had such a core-torching exercise at your fingertips.
- In a plank position, set up with a light bell just outside your right shoulder.
- Keeping your hips square, reach under and across your body with your left hand.
- Lift the bell (a bit of dragging it is alright as long as your floor allows it) and pull it through to the left side of your body.
- Reset the bell, and yourself, and then repeat by pulling the bell back to your right side with your right hand.
If you need to learn this movement by raising your hips slightly, go for it — but make sure you’re rising straight up rather than tilting to one side or the other. Think of this as a core movement rather than an arm movement, which will help you keep your hips and torso as steady as can be. If it helps, use the classic trick of imagining balancing a water bottle on the small of your back, and try your best not to let it tip over.
Single-Arm RDL With Row
Depending on your own balance needs, you can keep the lift unilateral or contralateral (with your hand holding the bell on the same or opposite side as your planted foot.
- Hinge down into a single arm Romanian deadlift.
- Only descend until you feel your hamstrings engage — you’re not trying to tap the bell on the ground each time. Once you reach that point, make sure you’re extra stable on your grounded leg.
- Dig in through your planted heel, brace your core extra, and — with your back leg still off the ground — row the weight just like you would if you were doing a single-arm bent over row.
- Lower from the row with control, then hinge back up to standing, bringing your back foot to center again.
- Rinse and repeat the same number of reps on the opposite side.
Looking to develop a powerful overhead squat without a barbell? Or a flawless shoulder press? Perfect squat technique and core strength? Enter the kettlebell Sots press.
- Sink down into the bottom of your unilateral front rack goblet squat — in other words, perform a goblet squat with a kettlebell in front rack position
- Press the bell up from the bottom of your squat.
- Focus on keeping your heels on the ground and on keeping your torso as rigid and straight as possible (as opposed to tilting away from the bell).
Go very light on these to start, because you really want to make sure your form is perfect.
[Related: The complete guide to the perfect Sots press]
This’ll do wonders for your hip rotational strength and core stability — think about what you need to throw a great punch or pull an excellent deadlift.
- Set up like you normally would for a kettlebell clean, except with the bell in the wrong place: instead of starting with the bell close to the instep of your right foot for a right-handed clean, start with the bell close to the instep of your left foot for a right-handed clean.
- By cleaning the bell across your body (instead of just straight up), you’ll be engaging your core in a multi-planar fashion.
Make sure you’re doing the same thing with your feet that you would do with a punch — when you rotate through your hips, your foot should be involved in the movement. When you pull a clean with your right side across the body, then, your right foot should start slightly inverted and end facing front (similar to how it would when you throw a cross, but this time the foot is starting with a slight internal rotation).
Your ankle and hip mobility (and subsequent strength in your lifts) are connected, so make sure you keep them that way through this lift.
Kettlebell Diamond Pushup To Offset Pushup
- Lay the kettlebell on its side with the handle facing the front of your exercise space or mat. Make sure it’s stable and as un-wobbly as it can be — that’ll mean placing it down with the weight and/or company label on the ground.
- From plank position, set up with your hands gripping the outsides of the bell (not the handle), arranging your hands similarly to how you would for a diamond push-up. Depending on your wrist flexibility and the size and particular shape of your bell, you might have to play around with your hand position a bit to make sure the move will be wrist-pain free.
- Sink into a diamond pushup on the kettlebell, spreading your feet wider apart if you need a broader base of support.
- Then move to the offset pushup — keep your left hand on the bell and “step” out with your right hand into a wide-grip pushup position.
- Complete that pushup, then come back to diamond kettlebell center.
- Complete another pushup in that position, then shift out to an offset pushup with your right hand on the bell and your left hand “stepped” out.
- Those four push-ups all equal one rep.
Drop to your knees if you need to (just keep your glutes and core tight) and see how many you can get before failure with good form.
Single-Arm Z Press
- Sit up tall on the ground with your legs out in front of you, as straight as you can.
- Dig your heels into the ground to activate tension through your hamstrings and glutes.
- Bring a light-moderate bell into front rack position, maintaining an upright torso.
- Squeezing your glutes and keeping tension through your core, press the bell up and overhead. Make sure not to lean over to the opposite side — compensating to make the movement easier won’t give you a stronger core, but fighting to maintain square shoulders will make the movement as effective as it can be.
[Related: 4 benefits of the Z press]
Kettlebells don’t have to be all about swings — even though swings are, indeed, amazing. Add some of these unusual kettlebell moves to your repertoire to build up strength and an impressive exercise library of new skills.
Featured image via Flamingo Images/Shutterstock