A full body workout may sound like a complicated thing, but it needn’t be. This workout uses two moves and one kettlebell, yet it works all the muscles intensely nevertheless. One could also say this is a minimalist kettlebell workout, as distilled as it gets, that builds muscle and torches fat.
The idea for this 2-move full body kettlebell workout came from Pavel Tsatsouline, the man behind StrongFirst. He introduced SPETSNAZ training techniques from the former Soviet Union to US Navy SEALs workouts, as well as those of the Marines and other armed forces in the US. In an interview with Joe Rogan, he mentioned his workout routine only consists of two exercises: kettlebell swings and dips.
Working out at home can save you lot of money but even the best home workout can take up time. This full body kettlebell workout uses only two exercises and one piece of home gym equipment. Use this 2-move wonder to Get fit and build muscle at home or in the gym, using only the best kettlebell you can find, and perseverance.
What makes this 2-move full body kettlebell workout effective?
Why those two exercises? First of all, both of them are compound movements and use many muscles at the same time, unlike bicep curls, for example. They also work most muscles in your body: the kettlebell swing is essentially a barbell deadlift alternative that uses more explosive movement, while the bodyweight dip compliments the kettlebell swing perfectly as it works the triceps and the shoulders most.
These two exercises also make Pavel's workout a super-simplified push-pull workout; it combines a pull movement, the swing, with a push movement, the dip. Our version puts a twist on this because not only we all want big arms and pecs, we also want to use the least amount of equipment and having a multi-gym equipped with a dip station is not considered minimalist, in our books anyway.
So, instead of dips, we'll do push ups as they work the triceps, the core and the pecs perfectly, maximising the results in the shortest amount of time. In case you need to polish up your knowledge on pushups, take a look at out how to do push ups guide. Push ups are also just as good as bench press anyway, according to science.
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Warm up, cool down and nutrition
Efficient muscle building very much depends on eating correctly. During workouts, you overexert your muscles and in order to help them repair quickly, you'll need protein. This constant cycle of damaging, resting and repairing your muscles will eventually lead to muscle growth.
Protein should be supplied from a variety of sources including lean meat, fish, eggs, green vegetables, tofu, nuts and so on. Additionally, you can use protein powder shakes, beef/vegan jerky and protein bars to have some protein on the go or post-workout.
Neither kettlebell swings, nor push ups are beginner exercises so you'll need to warm up at least a little bit before you start your workout. You'll need your core to be engaged for both exercises so doing a few core exercises in advance can help. Doing a full core workout is not essential but recommended, maybe every other day. Shoulders definitely need warming up: resistance band lateral raises and squats are a great way to your heart pumped and joints mobilised.
After the workout, do some stretching to relax the muscles. Adding on a few cool down exercises are also a great way to burn extra calories: your heart rate is higher after working out so even stretching burns more calories than just being done on its own. Using a percussion massage gun, such as the Hyperice Hypervolt, can shorten down the cooldown period significantly.
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How to perform this 2-move full body kettlebell workout
Depending on your fitness level and time you would like to spend exercising, do one exercise for 30-60 seconds with 15-30 seconds break in between exercises. For a good burn, try to do 3-4 rounds back to back plus a little warm up and cool down: that takes roughly 10 minutes.
If you want to make this workout time-efficient, perform the exercises back to back for 60 seconds (30 seconds of kettlebell swings followed by 30 seconds of push ups) then rest for 15-30 in between sets. Do it as many times as you can before fatigue sets in. Drink plenty of water before, during and after the workout.
To introduce some structure, you can try the ladder-method: gradually increasing the length of the exercising while reducing the length of the breaks.
Start with your legs a little bit over shoulder with apart, kettlebell resting in between your legs, spine neutral, core engaged. Reach down and grab the kettlebell with both hands, keeping the back straight, bending the knees and holding your body balanced with your core, glutes and quads.
Swing the kettlebell back in between your legs and pull it up about chest high, keeping the back straight all the way through. It's paramount to keep your shoulders open as much as possible throughout the movement. Your hips function as a hinge and you rock back and forth on this hinge while the spine stays neutral. Let Eric Leija demonstrate this:
When you finished with the swings, set the kettlebell down correctly by swinging it back in between your legs one last time and as you swing it forward, you lean back slightly and place the bell down as the momentum stops. This takes some practice and be careful not to lean back too much as you can fall on your butt.
Starting position is arms extended and shoulder-width apart whilst you are facing the floor. Make sure your palms are directly under your shoulders on the floor. Core and glutes engaged, back straight. It is very important to keep the core engaged all the way through the full motion. Don't let your hip drop and 'sag in the middle' or push your bum out as you bend your elbows.
Another very important aspect of doing push ups is the position of the elbows. Don't let them stick out, keep them tucked in a 45-degree angle. Bringing them closer would work the triceps more, flaring them out is just bad form.
Focus on the muscles you want to work throughout the exercise, not just on the way up but also as you lower your body. Keeping the muscles under tension for longer means they are worked harder and harder work, as we all know, will deliver results quicker.
T3's how-to exercise guides
- How to do push ups: from easy press ups to the best push up variations to work pecs, triceps and delts
- How to squat right: the barbell back squat is the best exercise for a toned butt and strong legs
- How to deadlift correctly: a full body workout in one move for stronger arms, back and legs
- Overhead press: how to perform this classic exercise for big arms and quick shoulder gains
- How to do barbell rows the right way: why bent over rows are great to build big back and strong arms
- How to do thrusters: this squat variant is a leg day staple AND a one-move full body exercise
- How to use an ab roller: get a six pack FAST with this cheap home gym staple
- Chin up vs pull up: what's the difference, muscles worked and WHAT IS THE BEST ONE?
- How to do ab crunches for beginners: the best stomach exercises to tone up
- How to bench press effectively and safely: this classic exercise will build a massive chest and big arms and shoulders too
- How to do hardstyle planks: try this plank variation for quicker summer body six-pack gains
- How to do burpees: master this much loved/hated full-body cardio exercise easily
- How to do Navy SEALs burpees: the HARDEST burpee variation will build muscle and burn fat at the same time
- 3 common exercises you're doing wrong and how to fix them