With kettlebells becoming increasingly more popular among fitness fanatics it only seems to make sense to investigate which kettlebell exercises are the best for fat loss.
I’ve narrowed it down to “only” three.
Let’s take a closer look at each kettlebell exercise and the reasons they made the top 3.
1. The Kettlebell Swing (and all it’s variations)
The Kettlebell Swing is the most basic, most fundamental kettlebell exercise. It is the exercise that all the other kettlebell exercises are based upon, or built off.
That’s because the kettlebell Swing teaches you how to “hinge” or “fold” at your hips instead of using your lower back.
This is critically important for safety reasons – if you hurt your lower back you can’t move, and if you can’t move, you can’t burn calories. And if you can’t burn calories, you can’t lose fat! (Makes sense, right?)
But there’s a lot more to the kettlebell Swing than the safety concerns – protecting (and also strengthening) the lower back.
Because the Swing teaches you how to hinge at your hips, you learn how to use your body’s most powerful muscles – you posterior chain.
Your posterior chain – your gluts (butt), hamstrings (back of your legs), your calves, and your lower back – is responsible for helping you walk, run, jump, and climb stairs or hills.
Here’s why that’s important for fat loss – the more you focus on the posterior chain, the more your using muscles that require your body expend a ton of calories (burn fat).
AND, the stronger you make your posterior chain, the more calories you can burn during each and every kettlebell workout.
Pretty cool, huh?
You bet your posterior chain it is!
And that’s why the kettlebell Swing is the #1 kettlebell exercise for burning fat.
2. The Kettlebell Snatch
This is like the suped-up big brother of the kettlebell Swing. It’s more technically demanding than the Swing and it requires more upper body strength and more leg power than the Swing.
The kettlebell Snatch requires more effort to perform. You have to accelerate the weight faster to get the kettlebell to travel up over your head. That requires more energy, and therefore more calories are burned.
And that’s why it’s such a great kettlebell exercise for fat loss.
In fact, a recent study found that when performing very specific intervals, the Snatch allowed you to burn 1200 calories per hour!
To put that in perspective, running burns an average (between men and women) of 112 calories per mile. If you can run 6 miles in an hour, you’re only burning approximately half as many calories as you could be with the kettlebell Snatch!
3. The Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
If the Kettlebell Snatch is the “big brother” to the kettlebell Swing, then the Kettlebell Clean and Jerk is the “grand daddy” of all kettlebell fat burning exercises – especially if you use two kettlebells instead of just one.
Here’s why – it’s more complex and you can use heavier kettlebells than you can for the Snatch.
To perform the kettlebell Clean and Jerk, you first must lift (clean) the kettlebells to your shoulders. Then, using your legs, you drive the kettlebells over your head to the lockout position, rebending your legs to catch them.
To put into perspective just how difficult this exercise is and therefore why it’s such a great fat burning exercise, the late Dr. Mel Siff, a world-renowned sports scientist, calculated that a maximum effort Clean and Jerk performed with a barbell cost 14.26 calories to perform (10% of running one mile)!
At first glance, that may not seem like much, but consider this – it only takes about 5 seconds or less to perform a maximum Clean and Jerk. Now compare that to how long it takes to run one mile and you’ll see that is a huge energy expenditure in a short amount of time!
(One mile typically takes the average man 8 minutes to run or 480 seconds. A maximum Clean and Jerk uses 10% of the calories it takes to run that mile in 1% of the time! WOW! That’s a HUGE return on investment!)
So now that we know that, imagine how many calories you can burn performing multiple sets and reps with the kettlebell Clean and Jerk. I can’t provide an exact number for you, but you can bet that based on all of our previous numbers that it’s going to be very, very high!
And that of course is GREAT news for anyone looking to burn fat!
Putting The Top 3 Kettlebell Exercises For Fat Loss Into A Routine
Ok, now that we know all that, how do you apply it – how do you put together effective kettlebell routines that will guarantee that you burn fat?
It’s quite simple really.
Start with what you know.
If you’re a “kettlebell newbie” – start with the Swing.
Take your time and perform Swings three times per week, on alternate days.
Here’s a sample of what a kettlebell workout might look like for you:
Monday – Wednesday – Friday
- 2 Hand Swings – perform for 20 minutes.
- Do as many reps as you can with good form then rest.
- Do as many sets as you can in that 20 minutes.
If you’ve been using kettlebells for awhile and are familiar with the Swing, move on to the Snatch.
Here’s what a sample kettlebell routine might look like for you:
Monday – Wednesday – Friday
Monday – perform as many sets of 10 Snatches as possible in 20 minutes
Wednesday – perform Snatches for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Do as many rounds as possible. Seek to add more rounds each week.
Friday – perform your choice of Swings for 60 seconds. Rest for 60 seconds. Do as many rounds as possible. Seek to add more rounds each week.
And if you think you’re ready for the Big Leagues, here’s a sample kettlebell workout that revolves around the Clean and Jerk:
Monday – Wednesday – Friday
Monday – perform as many sets of 10 Clean and Jerks with a single kettlebell as possible in 20 minutes
Wednesday – perform as many sets of 5 Clean and Jerks with a pair of kettlebells as possible in 20 minutes
Friday – perform as many sets of 15 Clean and Jerks with a light kettlebell as possible in 20 minutes
So there you have it – the top 3 kettlebell exercises for fat loss – what they are, why they work, and some sample kettlebell routines to get you started.
If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, more detailed, something more “step-by-step” for fat loss than check out these kettlebell exercises/routines.