Kettlebells are a great tool for strength training. Yes, for many exercises they’re totally interchangeable for dumbbells or other weights. But for some weighted moves, especially ones that require an explosive movement, kettlebells reign supreme.
Why? The way they’re shaped makes them much easier to swing around. You can also hold them by the handle or the bell (the round part of the weight), which allows you to get a different range of motion depending on the kettlebell exercise you’re doing.
Plus, the shape of a kettlebell lets you work your muscles a little differently than a traditional dumbbell, Jessica Sims, a NASM-certified personal trainer at the Fhitting Room in New York City, tells SELF. “The weight is distributed differently than a typical dumbbell so it works different muscles doing the same movement,” she says. It also requires more wrist motion, so your wrists and forearms get a little extra work.
When you take a class with kettlebells, or any other new type of equipment, it’s normal to feel a little lost. The following kettlebell exercises will teach you how to grip and use kettlebells to do some basic—and really effective—exercises. Start with a light weight, like a 10- to 15-pound kettlebell (4 to 6 kilograms). Once you start to feel comfortable with the moves, you can progress to something heavier.
Oh, and a quick lesson on the lingo: The “ball” refers to the heavy sphere at the bottom, and the handle is the part attached to it. The handle is also referred to as the “horns,” and can be gripped at the top, on the sides, or near the base where it meets the ball.
Some of the below kettlebell exercises are more beginner-friendly than others, Sims says, but even if you’ve swung a few kettlebells around before, the most basic ones are great to have in your repertoire, and are easy to advance by just opting for a heavier weight.
Ready to reap the benefits of the mighty kettlebell? Master these kettlebell exercises—demonstrated by Sims herself—and add your favorites into your routine.