The best kept secret of kettlebell training might be that almost every single kettlebell exercise is great for your legs, butt, and core. Why? Because almost all kettlebell exercises are total body movements.
But that’s not the only reason. Kettlebell exercises are divided up into ballistics (swings, cleans and snatches) and grinds (presses and squats) and both target the legs, butt, and core in different ways.
Ballistic exercises all utilize a hip hinge which recruits the butt and legs to thrust the bell into the air and a strong core to absorb the force as the bell comes back down. You can think about the swing, clean and snatch to help imagine what this looks like. The hip hinge you use for ballistic exercises is deeper than that of a RDL, or even a conventional deadlift, so it uses more glute (or butt) than hamstring, and therefore makes for a really great butt workout.
Grinds use tension in the entire body to squat and press the weight up and down. For example, when you do a kettlebell goblet squat, you don’t just fall back into the squatting position with the bell resting on your body. Instead, you resist gravity, low down with control, and then press back up. All while holding the KB in front of you, working your core. This tension makes all grinds use the core, legs, and glutes.
While all kettlebell exercises are great for your legs, butt and core, the ones that reign king (or queen), are the:
Single Leg Deadlift Hold
Supported Kickstand Deadlift
Dead Stop Swing
Single Leg Deadlift Hold
The single leg deadlift hold is a challenging exercise that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, while also improving balance and stability. By doing an isometric single leg hold, you prep your body for more challenging exercises, while specifically targeting the glutes and legs.
You perform a SL deadlift hold by lowering down into the bottom of a SL deadlift, but instead of focusing on getting the KB to the floor, hang the KB at knee height. Then bend the knee of the grounded leg to get lower, while keeping your chest, hips, and heel in a long line slanting downward.
Wall Supported Kickstand Deadlift
The wall supported kickstand deadlift gets all the benefits of a single leg exercise, without the challenge of balance. Single leg deadlifts target the glutes, specifically the glute medius (that upper butt area everyone wants to work), when you fight to keep the hips square in a single leg balance.
In the wall supported kickstand deadlift you stand with one leg behind you pressing into a wall so the front leg does can do the bulk of the lifting. By pressing the back heel into the wall you’re able to really use the working leg, while removing balance from the equation. This allows you to get a deeper hinge (and more glute engagement) than you would with a regular single leg deadlift which relies heavily on the hamstrings. It also allows you to move a heavier load that you would in a true single leg deadlift.
Dead Stop Swing
All swing are phenomenal core and butt exercises. When performed correctly, the swing recruits the core and uses it to protect the lower back. Dead stop swings are reps where you start with the bell in front of you to hike it, then explode it into the air, absorb it between the legs with a down swing, and instead of popping back into another rep, you park the bell in a dead stop on the floor. By returning to the floor with every rep, you work the glutes but also the quads to help hold you in that deep hinge.
As I mentioned earlier, goblet squats are a fantastic core and leg workout. Even if you don’t move, doing a goblet rack hold is one of my favorite weighted core exercises. The about of core muscle recruitment to hold a kettlebell in front of your chest is huge and you’ll feel your stomach quivering after just 30 seconds.
Combine the goblet rack hold with a squat and you have a great leg exercise. Kettlebell squats are very upright because the weight is in front of you. If you were to lean forward like a back squat, you would fall forward. For that reason, they are very knee dominant and work the quads (the front of the thigh).
See below if you want to combine these four exercises into an awesome leg, butt, and core workout. Don’t forget to watch the YouTube video to learn how to safely do the exercises with proper form.
10 Glute Bridges
10 Single Leg Glute Bridges L/R
20 Dead Bugs
30s Single Leg Deadlift Hold L/R
30 Goblet Rack Hold
8-12 Kickstand Deadlifts on Wall L/R
8 Dead Stop Swings
10-12 Goblet Squats
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