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13 Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workouts

By Greg Brookes
13 Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workouts

Bodyweight exercises offer the perfect match to any kettlebell workout.

When used correctly they can help warm up and prepare for your kettlebell workout, strengthen core muscles, balance out movement patterns and challenge your cardio.

If you are looking for a way to add variety to your workouts while at the same time adding many additional benefits that you cannot achieve with kettlebells then these exercises are for you.

Here are 13 bodyweight exercises you should use along with 13 kettlebell and bodyweight workouts:


Bodyweight Exercises to Improve Mobility

In todays modern world most people suffer with a mobility issue of some sort, whether it’s a tight upper back from office work or limited hip mobility from a lack of movement.

Bodyweight exercises offer an excellent way to open up restricted joints to help improve movement skills.

Here are 3 bodyweight mobility exercises to add to your kettlebell workouts:

1 Bodyweight Yoga Squats

Bodyweight Yoga Squat Exercise
Bodyweight Yoga Squat

The bodyweight yoga squat is possibly my favourite warm up exercise and superb for mobilising most of the body.

I begin all my kettlebell classes with the yoga squat because you achieve so much in just one exercise.

The yoga squat will open up your hips, back, knees, shoulders and ankles, and strengthen your hamstrings, quads and glutes.

Regular practice of the yoga squat will lead to improved movement and less compensation through the kinetic chain.

Fundamentally the Yoga squat is a regular deep overhead squat except you add a straightening of the legs at the bottom of the movement.

Many will struggle to fully straighten their legs when in the bottom position while keeping their hands on the floor, however, with time this flexibility will improve.

How to Use: you can perform yoga squats at any time of the day as a quick loosener or as a warm up before your kettlebell workout. Another alternative is to super set the Yoga Squat with a kettlebell exercise like this:

Kettlebell and Bodyweight workout 1:

  1. Kettlebell Swing x 10 reps
  2. Yoga Squat x 5 reps
  3. Rest and repeat

Want more? Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing

Watch the Bodyweight Yoga Squats exercise below:


2 Bodyweight Hip Openers

Bodyweight Hip Openers Exercise
Hip Openers

The bodyweight hip opener exercise is another exercise that I use at the beginning of all my kettlebell classes.

Similar to the Yoga squat this bodyweight exercise manages to achieve so much with just one exercise.

The hip opener exercise will free up the hips, back, and shoulders, while at the same time strengthening the legs and shoulder stabilisers.

Start the exercise from a push up position before taking a large step forwards to the outside of the hands. Just holding this deep lunge position with the hands on the floor will have huge benefits on opening up the hips.

Next to add an upper back element, take one hand and reach upwards.

Throughout the entire exercise the back knee should not rest on the floor.

How to Use: an excellent warm up exercise to use at any time and unlike the yoga squat this exercise is based on the lunge movement pattern.

Bodyweight and kettlebell workout 2:

  1. Kettlebell Goblet Squats x 10 reps
  2. Hip Openers x 6 reps alternating sides
  3. Rest and repeat

Want more? 7 Kettlebell Squat Variations

Watch the Bodyweight Hip Openers exercise below:


3 Bodyweight Cossacks

Bodyweight Cossacks Exercise
Bodyweight Cossacks

The bodyweight Cossack exercise will help to open up the hips and lengthen the hamstrings and adductors.

Unlike the previous two bodyweight mobility exercise the cossack works in the frontal plane, moving sideways.

You will strengthen the legs and glutes during this exercise.

The legs should be kept straight throughout the movement and with each repetition sink deeper and deeper towards the floor.

Keep your chest up as you move side to side to prevent yourself from falling forwards.

The Cossack exercise can also be performed with the addition of a kettlebell but I prefer to use it without, just allow your natural bodyweight to drop you down into a deep position.

How to Use: cossacks are a great warm up exercise for any lateral movement that you may be performing in your kettlebell workout. You can also use Cossacks as part of a superset workout like this:

Kettlebell bodyweight workout 3:

  1. Kettlebell Clean and Press x 10 alternating reps
  2. Cossacks x 10 alternating reps
  3. Rest and repeat

Want more? How to Clean without Banging Your Wrists

Watch the Bodyweight Cossacks exercise below:

 

Bodyweight Exercises for Core Training

A weak core means an inability to control your pelvis when you perform movements and exercises.

A lack of control of your pelvis will mean excessive bending at the lower back and ultimately lower back pain or worse.

Along with the mobility issues mentioned above poor pelvic stability is one of the most common issues I see when working with clients.

Below are 4 bodyweight core exercises to add to your kettlebell workouts:


4 Bodyweight Shoulder Taps

Bodyweight Shoulder Taps Exercise
Shoulder Taps

The bodyweight shoulder taps exercise is one of my favourite core and shoulder stabilisation exercises.

Both core and shoulder stabilisation exercises are important for any type of resistance training.

Holding the top position of a push up without your hips sinking towards the floor shows an ability to stabilise your pelvis. Adding a shoulder tap puts you onto one arm and challenges your core more dynamically.

When in the top position of the kettlebell swing you need to brace your core muscles and prevent your pelvis from moving too far past the midline, exactly the same position that is trained in the shoulder taps position.

The kettlebell renegade row uses the same position too when rowing the kettlebell back towards the hip.

The shoulder taps exercise also strengthens the shoulder stabiliser muscles in a closed chain pattern. The kettlebell Turkish Get Up is an open chained exercise but you can see the practical carry over to this exercise when lying on your back.

How to Use: add as a core activation exercise prior to your kettlebell workout or as a warm up for the kettlebell turkish get up. Alternatively, superset with a kettlebell exercise being careful not to overload the core muscles required for the kettlebell exercise.

Bodyweight and kettlebell workout 4:

  1. Kettlebell Lunge x 16 alternating legs
  2. Shoulder Taps x 10 alternating reps
  3. Rest and repeat

Want more? See 16 Kettlebell Lunge Variations

Watch the Bodyweight Shoulder Taps exercise below:


5 Bodyweight Dead Bugs

Bodyweight Deadbug Exercise
Dead Bugs Exercise

The bodyweight dead bugs exercise with improve your ability to control your pelvis during movement.

One of the most common causes of lower back injury is the pelvis rotating backwards during movement.

A strong core can prevent lower back injury during dynamic exercises including the kettlebell swing, snatch, clean and more.

The dead bugs exercise needs to be performed slowly and with laser focus on the position of your pelvis during movement.

Starting with both arms and legs in the air concentrate on flattening your lower back onto the floor. Next, moving alternate arms and legs drop them towards the floor.

Your lower back should maintain contact with the floor throughout the entire exercise.

Beginners can practice just moving one arm or one leg but as soon as the lower back starts to arch the movement must be stopped.

How to Use: as with the shoulder taps exercise you can use the dead bugs exercises as a core activation exercise prior to a kettlebell workout or super set it with a kettlebell exercise.

Kettlebell and Bodyweight workout 5:

  1. Kettlebell Goblet Squats x 10 reps
  2. Dead Bugs x 10 alternating sides
  3. Rest and repeat

Watch the Bodyweight Dead Bugs exercise below:


6 Bodyweight Bird Dogs

Bodyweight Bird Dog Exercise
Bird Dogs

The bodyweight bird dog exercise will strengthen the back extensors and improve shoulder stability.

All of my new clients will perform the bird dog at some stage in their programming.

Again mastering the bird dog exercise demonstrates an ability to control the pelvis while the arms and legs are being moved.

Failure to perform the bird dog exercise well will only result in poor core activation or lower back issues during kettlebell exercises.

Beginners will also experience fatigue in the shoulders when performing this exercise as they struggle to stabilise the movement throughout the rest of the body.

Keep your core muscles braced as you extend the leg and activate the buttock muscles.

Again the goal here is to control the pelvis and prevent any excessive arching in the lower back.

How to Use: you can use this bodyweight exercise as a core strengthening movement or mix it up with a kettlebell exercise like this:

Kettlebell bodyweight workout 6:

  1. Side Lunges x 5 reps each side
  2. Bird Dog x 8 alternating reps
  3. Rest and repeat

Watch the Bodyweight Bird Dogs exercise below:


7 Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift

Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift Exercise
Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift

The bodyweight single leg deadlift exercise will help strengthen the full body for improved body alignment and muscle activation.

The deadlift is an important movement pattern and one that is used frequently in kettlebell training.

The kettlebell swing, clean, high pull, and snatch all use the deadlift movement pattern to some degree.

The bodyweight single leg deadlift helps develop the all important hip hinge movement and correctly integrates the rest of the body during the exercise.

As with the previous three core exercises maintaining good pelvic position through glute and core activation is important.

When practicing this bodyweight exercise try to get as long as possible from heel to finger tips. You can reach towards a wall or post in order to give you some direction and security should you feel like falling.

Keep your weight back on your heel to load the hamstrings and fight to keep the back foot pointing towards the floor.

How to Use: this bodyweight exercise makes a great warm up for most leg based kettlebell exercises but can also be practiced in between kettlebell sets like this:

Kettlebell and Bodyweight workout 7:

  1. Kettlebell Push Press x 5 reps each side
  2. Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift x 3 reps each side
  3. Rest and repeat

Want more? Complete Guide to the Kettlebell Overhead Press

Watch the Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift exercise below:


Bodyweight Exercises for Balancing the Body

Kettlebell training goes a long way to strengthening the whole body but there are a few movements that cannot be achieved with kettlebells.

Horizontal pushing exercises and vertical pulling movements are generally absent from most kettlebell workouts.

Just adding a few additional exercises will help to balance out your body and prevent any potential muscle imbalances that could occur.

Here are 2 bodyweight movements you should add to your kettlebell workouts:

8 Bodyweight Push Up Variations

Bodyweight Breakdancer Push Ups Exercise
Breakdancer Push Ups

The bodyweight push up is probably one of the most famous exercises and an important addition to your kettlebell workouts.

Working on horizontal pushing exercises using kettlebells is not easy, you can lie on your back and press the kettlebells over your chest but range is seriously limited due to the floor.

A far better choice for chest development and core training at the same time is the push up.

There is no excuse to ever get bored or get to a position where the push up becomes too easy because there are so many variations.

No matter which push up variation you choose the most important part of the movement is to keep your body straight and to prevent your hips from dropping towards the floor.

A poorly performed push up will see the back arch and pelvis rotate backwards.

How to Use: you can add the push up to your kettlebell workouts to balance out horizontal pushing deficiencies like this:

Bodyweight and kettlebell workout 8:

  1. Kettlebell Swing x 20 reps
  2. Push Up x 10 reps
  3. Repeat 10 times, reducing the push ups by 1 rep each round

Watch the Bodyweight Breakdancer Push Up exercise below:


9 Bodyweight Pull Up or Chin Up Variations

Chin Ups Home Exercise
Chin Ups

The bodyweight pull up or chin up is the second exercise that completes the necessary missing movement patterns that cannot be achieved with a kettlebell.

With kettlebell training you have the overhead pressing movement but you do not have an overhead pulling movement to balance out the body.

The Chin Up, with the palms facing towards you, is the easier variation which focuses on the back and biceps whereas the Pull Up, palms away, is more difficult and isolates the Latissimus Dorsi muscles.

Beginners can practice either variation by attaching a band to the bar and placing one foot on the loop to assist in the movement or use a box and just perform the lowering aspect of the exercise.

How to Use: pull ups and chin ups are huge full body exercises that should be mixed in with your kettlebell workouts. You can mix them into your workouts like this:

Kettlebell bodyweight workout 9:

  1. Kettlebell Thrusters x 5 reps each side
  2. Chin Ups or Pull Ups x as many reps as possible
  3. Rest and repeat alternating chin ups and pull ups each round

Bodyweight Exercises for Extra Cardio

Kettlebell exercises are by their very nature very cardiovascular but if you want more, then these bodyweight exercises are for you.

Care should be taken when adding too much cardio to a strength based workout that you do not sacrifice good exercise form as you start to fatigue.

Start out steady and build up the additional cardio, always stopping when you start to lose good technique.

Below are 4 bodyweight cardio exercises to add to your kettlebell workouts:

10 Bodyweight High Knees

Bodyweight High Knees Exercise
High Knees

The bodyweight high knees exercise will raise your heart rate quickly and create a great rotational strengthening from shoulder to hip.

This bodyweight exercises is simple, run in place pumping the arms quickly and lifting the knees nice and high.

Stay light on your feet throughout the exercise with your weight on the balls of your feet.

Care must be taken by those with weak calf or hamstring muscles as well as achilles tendon issues.

How to Use: you can mix in this bodyweight exercise with your kettlebell workout in order to ramp up the cardio aspect of the workout.

Bodyweight and kettlebell workout 10:

  1. Kettlebell Clean and Press x 5 reps each side
  2. High Knees x 30 seconds
  3. Rest and repeat

Watch the Bodyweight High Knees exercise below:


11 Bodyweight Fast Mountain Climbers

Bodyweight Fast Mountain Climbers Exercise
Fast Mountain Climbers

The bodyweight fast mountain climbers exercise will challenge your cardio and core muscles at the same time.

Stay light on your feet as you alternate between one foot and the other in between your hands.

The shoulders also get a great workout during this exercise as they work hand to support the body and stabilise.

How to Use: add to your kettlebell workout to increase the cardio aspect of the workout like this:

Kettlebell and Bodyweight workout 11:

  1. Kettlebell Goblet Squats x 10 reps
  2. Fast Mountain Climbers x 50 reps
  3. Rest and repeat

Watch the Bodyweight Fast Mountain Climbers exercise below:

 

12 Bodyweight Squat Thrusts

Bodyweight Squat Thrusts Exercise
Squat Thrusts

The bodyweight squat thrust exercise is a challenging legs, core and cardio exercise.

Beginners should not attempt this exercise due to the large demands on dynamic core stability.

Only when you can stabilise in the push up position and perform the fast mountain climbers exercise listed above should you progress to this exercise.

From the push up position jump both feet forwards and backwards so your knees land in between your arms.

The core must be braced tight so the hips do not drop towards the floor and injure the lower back.

How to Use: mix in with your kettlebell workouts as a bodyweight core, leg and cardio exercise.

Kettlebell bodyweight workout 12:

  1. Kettlebell Turkish Get Ups x 4 alternating reps
  2. Squat Thrusts x 20 – 50 reps
  3. Rest and repeat

Want more? Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

Watch the Bodyweight Squats Thrusts exercise below:


13 Bodyweight Burpees

Bodyweight Burpees Exercise
Burpees

The bodyweight burpee exercise is our final full body cardio, legs and core exercise.

If you find the burpee exercise difficult then you are not ready for it.

Beginners should first master the three bodyweight exercises listed above: high knees, fast mountain climbers, and squats thrusts, before attempting the burpee.

Core stabilisation during the jumping backwards and forwards of the feet is often a challenge for beginners.

There are lots of variations of the burpee and ways to make the exercise more or less challenging. You can add a jump to the top part of the burpee and a push up to the bottom phase too if you wish.

How to Use: burpees offer a great full body exercise for increasing the cardio and core element of your kettlebell workout. As they are based upon the squat movement pattern you need to be careful what exercises you mix them with.

Kettlebell and Bodyweight workout 13:

  1. Kettlebell Swing x 10 reps
  2. Burpee x 10 reps
  3. Rest and repeat

Watch the Bodyweight Burpees Exercise below:

 

Conclusion

Adding bodyweight exercises to your kettlebell workouts can have huge benefits.

You can use bodyweight exercises to improve mobility and as a warm up, as a core strengthening option, to help remove any workout imbalances and to ramp up your cardio.

Above I have listed 13 bodyweight exercises for you to try with your kettlebell workouts.

I’ve also includes 13 bodyweight and kettlebell workout examples for you to see exactly how to use these exercises.

Practice the bodyweight exercises carefully and be careful not to lose exercise form especially when you start to fatigue.

Take care and enjoy the exercises.

Want more bodyweight exercises?

51 Bodyweight Exercises Download PDF

Have you mixed any of these Bodyweight exercises with your kettlebell workouts? Let me know more below….

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    1. Michael Avatar
      Michael

      Very informative, thank you!