Kettlebell Lunges are an extremely powerful exercise for developing strong legs and buttocks (glutes).
The kettlebell lunge is also a great exercise to improve single leg strength as well as developing mobility in the hips which is excellent for sports and general movement skills.
Plus, get ready for a huge cardio workout too when you start using the kb lunge. Before progressing onto any kettlebell lunge variations it is important to have developed lunge strength by practicing without any weight at all.
In other words, master the movement first before loading it with a kettlebell. A poor lunge technique will only be magnified when adding extra load and will result in faulty movement patterns that are harder to rectify at a later date.
Here are 16 Kettlebell Lunge variations for you to try depending on your current skill level:
What Muscles Do Lunges Work
Regardless of whether you use a kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, powerbag or other type of weighted object, lunges are a very important exercise for building strength and mobility.
Primarily the muscles worked by the lunge are:
- Gluteus maximus
- Gluteus medius
- Rectus Femoris
- Vastus Lateralis
- Vastus Medialis
- Vastus Intermedius
- Biceps Femoris
- Adductor Magnus
The muscles used may vary slightly depending on the lunge variation but ultimately the buttocks, hamstrings, quads, adductors and calves are usually activated.
You will also get muscle activation in the core muscles and many smaller stabilising muscles.
Kettlebell Lunges for Beginners
1 Kettlebell Racked Reverse Lunge
The kb reverse lunge is the best variation to begin with, you can hold the kettlebell with both hands if necessary or in the racked position with one hand.
Watch a video of the racked reverse lunge below:
2 Kettlebell Racked Forward Lunge
The forward lunge variation is more demanding than the reverse lunge and there is a tendency to ride the lunge forwards so be sure to step and then lunge downwards.
Return back to the standing position by pulling from the rear leg rather than pushing back from the front foot.
3 Kettlebell Cossack Lunges
A great introduction to the side lunge with a kettlebell is the cossack lunge variation, great for opening up the hips. Caution should be taken at first to not drop down too deeply as the stretch on the inner thigh can be intense.
So, start steady and increase the depth of the movement as you warm up.
4 Kettlebell Bob and Weave
The bob and weave is a side lunge variation that is less taxing on the legs and glutes but a little more cardiovascular because the movement can be performed quicker.
Just like the cossack lunge variation the depth of the movement should be increased slowly as the muscles warm up.
Watch the kettlebell bob and weave variation below:
Kettlebell Lunges for Intermediates
5 Kettlebell Static Lunge and Press
When you feel ready you can add a press to the standard lunge variation to create a full body movement as well as increase the cardiovascular output.
The static variation is excellent because it focuses the movement into a simple up and down and anchors the feet in position, this enable more repetitions in less time increasing the cardio.
For complete beginners you can remove the press part of the movement and hold a kettlebell in both hands or one in each hand by your sides.
Watch the kettlebell static lunge and press variation below:
6 Kettlebell Reverse Lunge and Press
A slight upgrade from the static lunge and press this variation is more dynamic and can be performed with both the reverse and forward lunge variations.
A very cardiovascular and full body exercise that is hard to beat.
Watch the kettlebell reverse lunge and press variation below:
7 Kettlebell Tactical Lunge
I must admit I’m not a great fan of the tactical lunge but thought I’d add it in just for you to experience for yourself.
The reason I never use this movement with my clients is because it can often lead to bad lunge technique during the passing part of the exercise.
Give it a try but be careful with your back position during the movement.
Watch the kettlebell tactical lunge variation below:
8 Kettlebell Bulgarian Lunge
One of my favourite lunge variations and excellent for building single leg strength and developing the glutes.
The rear leg can be raised onto anything from a step or medicine ball to a swiss ball or sofa.
Excellent for those with foot problems because the rear foot can be pointed away taking the stress off the toes.
9 Kettlebell Side Lunge
If you play sports and want to improve your cutting and movement skills then the side lunge is very valuable.
The kettlebell side lunge will develop strong legs and glutes in the lateral movement pattern.
Work on improving your depth of movement as your strength and mobility increases.
Watch a videos of the kettlebell side lunge below:
10 Kettlebell Lunge with Rotation
The lunge with rotation is a technical movement that is another excellent variation for those involved in sports.
Care must be taken to separate the two movements or it can become a combination of neither, so ensure you get a good deep lunge in before making the rotation.
Watch the kettlebell lunge with rotation variation below:
11 Kettlebell Overhead Kneeling Lunge
Holding a kettlebell overhead for a period of time is demanding on the shoulder stabilisers but it is important before working on heavy pressing exercises.
The Turkish Get Up is perfect for working on complete shoulder stabilisation as well as so many other things but the overhead kneeling lunge is a great introduction to overhead exercises.
12 Kettlebell Double Lunges
If you really want to overload the lunge pattern as well as seriously taxing your cardio then the kb double lunge exercise is for you.
You can hold the kettlebell with two hands, one hand in the racked position or one in either hand by your sides.
A superb kettlebell lunge variation that I use a lot in my more advanced kettlebell classes.
Watch the kettlebell double lunge variation below:
Kettlebell Lunges for Advanced
13 Kettlebell Overhead Lunge
Holding a kettlebell overhead and lunging backwards or forwards is demanding on the shoulder stabilisers.
The kb overhead reverse lunge variation is the slightly easier variation and the one that you should practice first.
Ensure you keep your arm locked and shoulder down and in its socket throughout the full movement.
14 Kettlebell Overhead Walking Lunge
A slightly more advanced variation of the standard overhead forwards and backward lunge variations.
A great option for if you are training outside where you can walking lunge for a certain distance and then perhaps walk back with the kettlebell by your side.
Watch the kettlebell overhead walking lunge variation below:
15 Kettlebell Side Lunge and Clean
The most technical lunge variation that I’m offering on this list.
You need to be able to side lunge properly as well as clean well in order to get the most from this exercise.
Timing is paramount and so is a good solid core and back position.
Watch the kettlebell side lunge and clean variation below:
16 Kettlebell Jumping Lunge
If you are involved in ballistic, power or jumping sports then this is one lunge option for you.
Please be very careful with this exercise and don’t even consider this as an option until you have mastered all the other variations above including the basic bodyweight jumping lunge.
The kettlebell lunge is a hugely beneficial exercise for developing strong, powerful legs and buttocks as well as full body conditioning and mobility.
Basic leg strength and mobility needs to be developed first before progressing on to kettlebell lunge variations.
Once you have the leg strength and movement skills then you can work your way through all the lunge variations above.
You can also progress to double lunges by holding 2 kettlebells, one in each hand either in the racked position or down by your sides.
Have fun and enjoy all the great benefits that kettlebell lunges can offer.
Have you tried any of these kettlebell lunge variations? Let me know below…
Kettlebell Lunges are an extremely powerful exercise for developing strong legs (quads and hamstrings) and the buttocks (glutes).
There are 2 basic holding positions for performing the lunge, racked against the chest, or the goblet held with both hands. Once in position you can lunge forwards, backwards or to the side.
Work on improving the depth of the movement as your strength and mobility increases.