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Only Have One Kettlebell? No Problem!

“What are you supposed to do with just one kettlebell?” my friend recently asked me. She didn’t mean it as a challenge … but I certainly took it as one.

And it was a worthy challenge, too, because I love to keep some minimal equipment workouts in my back pocket for days when I can’t squeeze in a drive to the gym but still want to feel like I took care of my body for the day. I actually keep a few dumbbells and kettlebells in my office for just that purpose.

With dumbbells, we tend to think of them in pairs, but kettlebells are different. A single kettlebell can totally hold its own and give you a solid total-body workout.

Now, back to my friend’s comment. There’s so much you can do with just one kettlebell! I thought of these 12 things right off the top of my head.

The exercises in the video can easily be broken into two total-body workouts like this:

Single Kettlebell Workout 1

Do each exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then go to the next exercise. Complete 4 rounds.

  • Goblet Squats
  • Overhead Alternating Forward Lunges (even rounds use right hand, odd use left)
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Single-Arm Push Presses (even rounds use right hand, odd use left)
  • Upright Rows
  • Toe Taps

Single Kettlebell Workout 2

Do each exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then go to the next exercise. Complete 4 rounds.

  • Overhead Squats (even rounds use right hand, odd use left)
  • Alternating Tactical Lunges
  • Single-Leg Deadlifts (even rounds use right hand and leg, odd use left)
  • Offset Push-Ups (even rounds use right hand, odd use left)
  • Bent Over Rows (even rounds use right hand, odd use left)
  • Farmer’s Carry (even rounds use right hand, odd use left)

How to Choose the Right Kettlebell

So now that we’ve decided that you can, in fact, do a lot of stuff with a single kettlebell, the next question we need to sort out is how do you know which kettlebell to buy if you’re only buying one.

(If you’re looking for a high quality, affordable kettlebell — at any size, vinyl-coated or cast iron — Kristen has really been digging her 35-pounder from ProSourceFit. So much so that FBG is an affiliate!)

Generally, people can handle more weight for lower-body exercises than they can for upper-body work. My advice is to try out a few different kettlebells on the upper-body movements you plan to do — you can probably do this at a gym before you commit to buying your own.

Ideally, you’ll be looking for a weight that you can do 10 or so solid reps of the movement with good form — but the last two reps should still be TOUGH. This will give you room to grow into that kettlebell. Then, there are a few things you can do to make that same weight a bit more challenging for your lower-body exercises:

(1) go faster and be more explosive (but keep your form tight);

(2) slow down the “lowering” phase of the lift; or

(3) add a pause or pulse at the bottom.

That’s right! Burn, baby, burn!

For reference, I used a single 12kg (26.4lb) kettlebell which was fine for me for all the moves in the video. Of course, if you’re newer to free weights, you’d likely want to go a bit lower. I’d say that most people should be fine in the 8-12kg (17-26lb) range for the movements provided above, depending on your comfort level with these movements and handling a kettlebell.

What are your favorite single kettlebell moves? —Alison

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9 Comments
  1. Bikini Body says:

    Wow, perfectly effective workouts. I’m already sweating…
    I found some amazing success stories of women that effectively shaped their bodies in only 60 days. And they combined “don’t diet” and “workout”. I think this could be of additional support and bring some good ideas.

    https://bit.ly/2KFgkUp

    I would be very happy to hear that it helped some of you, too.

  2. Rick Jonie says:

    Should I use supplements to enhance my workouts? I was thinking of using them because of how effective they have been for other people but wanted a reputable opinion on the matter.

  3. Jessy says:

    Such a great post…so healthy

  4. Susan says:

    Great article! I got my first kettlebell last week and have been doing a lot of swings and goblet squats but now I have so many more options!