Kettlebell Movements for Beginners: Abs, Booties, and Thighs — Oh My!

russian twist pic 2

Starting Position of Russian Twist

russian twist pic 1

How to cross over your body for the Russian Twist

The only thing better than kettlebells is… MORE KETTLEBELLS

And y’all know how much I love kettlebells! Since it’s summer (and we have a little more free time to exercise), I thought it’d be fun to break down some great kettlebell movements so you all can try them yourselves and share in my joy.

I’m planning to hash these posts over a series of weeks — so get ready to dedicate some time to a new, healthier you!

This week I picked three of my personal favorites; the Russian Twist, Windmill and Single Leg Deadlift (SLDL). Each of these work on a different body part, giving you an full body workout in about 20 minutes!

Russian twists are a fantastic ab burner and super simple to do. Sit with the kettlebell on your lap and then lean back so that your feet come up off the floor. Now you should be balanced on your butt with no other part of your body touching the floor. I like to hold the bell upside down with the large ball part facing up towards the sky, but that’s just my personal preference. Now comes the hard part, while keeping your feet off the floor bring the bell to the left side of your body and then to the right. Each time the bell goes from one side of your body to the other counts as one repetition. For a beginner I recommend sets of 20 or 25, and as you get stronger you can increase the reps!

windmill pic 1

Starting position of Windmill

windmill pic 2

Bottom position of Windmill

The windmill is a great way to stretch your back and hamstrings. It will also build strength in your shoulders and back. This movement requires some balance and body awareness to be able to execute it correctly. The starting position is standing up straight with the bell in the overhead position. Feel free to start with whichever hand you choose right or left. The arm that has the bell in lockout is also the side that you will need to pop your hip and then bend towards the opposite foot. It is very important that you go slow and always keep your eye on the bell. You need to make sure you know where the bell is at all times so that you don’t injure yourself. The goal is to reach your free arm all the way down to the your foot to achieve the total stretch. However, this may take time to develop the strength and flexibility to do the full movement. The rule is always just go as far as you can if you can’t go all the way down don’t you’ll still get a lot out of it if you only reach down to your knee! And remember, it’s okay to start off with a lighter weight and then work your way up! Improvement is important.

SLDL pic 1

Top of Single Leg Deadlift. Note the left foot or “free foot” is not actually touching the floor.

SLDL pic 2

Starting position for SLDL

The final movement for this week is the single leg deadlift or (SLDL). This is a great movement for toning your booty and thighs! Unlike the Russian Twist and Windmill, the SLDL is meant to be done with a much heavier kettlebell. There are really only three steps to this movement. First, start with the kettlebell close to your right foot and then bend from the hips and lean down to grab the handle. Now, it’s very important that as you stand up you keep your back tight and chest up. Remember you’re lifting with your leg not your back! Now that you have a hand on the bell stand up but the trick is not to put your free leg down keep it hovering above the ground this is a single leg deadlift after all. If you’re doing it correctly you will feel it in your butt and hamstrings.

These three movements are great for all levels — beginners or advanced — and you can combine them to make a pretty great workout. If you’re interested in trying kettlebells or you’re just looking to learn more about how I train the Windmill, SLDL and Russian Twist are a great way to start!

Now it’s time for you to show me your progress! Show me how your doing and be sure to use #LifterLaura! As always, you can keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter!


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