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Kettlebell Deadlift starting position

21 Best Kettlebell Leg Exercises (Video Demonstrations)

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We don’t blame you for looking up the best kettlebell leg exercises. 

After all, kettlebells are a great alternative to other free weights such as dumbbells and barbells if you are looking to change up your routine and boost your overall strength and muscle gains. 

OriGym’s 21 best kettlebell leg exercises list will not only help you to avoid or overcome a plateau in your training by making your routine more dynamic, but it will also help you to progress to the more challenging leg exercises out there that are only suitable for those who have been training for a while. 

Are you an experienced gym goer looking for an extra leg day challenge? If so, you’ll be glad to know that we even have a bonus exercise at the bottom of our list, and it’s not for the fainthearted… 

But before we jump right in, if you’ve ever considered fitness coaching as a career choice, be sure to check out our Award Nominated Personal Training Diploma here, or download our free course prospectus for more information on the range of courses that we offer. 

Kettlebell Leg Exercises for Hamstrings

#1 - Kettlebell Deadlift 

Set Up: To complete this kettlebell leg exercise, you will need a single kettlebell that you are comfortable lifting, and a stable surface to work on, such as an exercise or yoga mat

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Deadlift leg exercise

  • Stand with your feet positioned just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Place the kettlebell between your feet in a central position. 
  • Push your hips backwards and bend your knees carefully as you bend down to grip the handle of the kettlebell with an overhand grip. There should be a slight bend in your elbows, but your arms should be extended. 
  • Ensure that your knees stay behind your toes. 
  • Your back should be straight, and your head should be in line with your spine. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Deadlift starting position

  • Inhale, and ensure that your core is tight before you begin. 
  • With your weight on your heels, drive your body and the kettlebell upwards until you are standing upright, but keep your knees soft. Exhale as you do so, and ensure that your arms remain extended throughout the movement. 
  • Once you reach the top position, pause for two seconds. Inhale.
  • Exhale as you return to the starting position, your knees staying behind your toes and your back and hips staying properly aligned. 
  • Repeat the exercise. 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, glutes, trapezius.  

Secondary Muscles: Quadriceps, abdominals, obliques, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, calves, forearms. 

 

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#2 - Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift

Set Up: You will require a single kettlebell of a weight that you are comfortable working with for this exercise, as well as a stable surface to work on. For any of the deadlift variations on our kettlebell leg exercise list, you may also find that weightlifting shoes will improve your comfort. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift starting position

  • Place your feet to be just over shoulder-width apart, and have the kettlebell on the floor between them, slightly closer to the arm that you are going to lift it with. 
  • To grab the handle of the kettlebell, push your hips backwards to bring your extended arm (and torso) towards it. Keep your chest up and your head and back properly aligned as you do so. 
  • Hold it with an overhand grip, and ensure that there is a slight bend in your elbow. 
  • Your knees should be positioned to sit behind your toes. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your head is upright with your neck in line with your spine.

Execution: 

Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift leg exercise

  • Before you begin the exercise, inhale and ensure that your core is braced. Check out OriGym’s guide on how to engage your core if you are unsure on how to do this properly. 
  • Drive the kettlebell upwards, your weight on your heels, until you are standing upright. Remember to keep a slight bend in your knees in the top position. 
  • Hold your position for two seconds, and inhale before you continue. 
  • Exhale as you return to the starting position, paying particular attention to good form. 
  • Repeat for your desired number of repetitions! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings. 

Secondary Muscles: Quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors.

#3 - Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift 

Set Up: To complete this leg exercise with a kettlebell, you will need one bell that you are comfortable lifting with one side of your body at a time, as well as a stable surface to work on. It is one of the best single leg kettlebell exercises to perform if you’re stuck at home and a kettlebell is your only piece of equipment, and you can always check out OriGym’s home workout generator if you’re looking for ways to boost your home workouts! 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift starting position

  • Stand with your feet positioned at around hip-width apart, with your weight balanced on the opposite foot to your working arm. 
  • With your working arm, you should be gripping the kettlebell with an overhand grip. 
  • Your opposite arm should be extended outwards to aid your balance. 
  • By pushing your hips backwards and raising the leg on the same side as your working arm, bring the kettlebell and your torso towards the floor. 
  • Once the kettlebell is touching the floor, your back is straight, and your neck is in line with your spine, you are ready to complete the lift.  

Execution: 

Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift leg exercise

  • Engage your core, and inhale before you begin the exercise. 
  • Bring the kettlebell and your torso upwards by driving your weight through your heel (the foot that is placed on the floor). Pay particular attention to your alignment and overall form, and exhale as you complete the movement. 
  • Once you reach the top position, pause for two seconds and inhale.
  • Exhale as you bring the kettlebell back down to the floor, ready to complete the next repetition. Ensure that there is a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the movement. 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, glutes, lower back. 

Secondary Muscles: Quadriceps, calves, hip flexors. 

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#4 - Kettlebell Good Morning 

Set Up: To complete the kettlebell good morning, one of the top kettlebell leg exercises, you will only need one kettlebell. You should ensure that you start with a lighter weight if you are a beginner to this exercise, as it can be particularly dangerous to perform with poor form. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Good Morning starting position

  • Stand with your feet at around hip-width apart.
  • Grip the kettlebell inside of your palms, or by the horns if you cannot manage this, and ensure that it is in a stable position. 
  • Bend your knees slightly, and ensure that your back is straight. Your neck should be in line with your spine. 
  • You are now ready to begin the exercise. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Good Morning leg exercises image

  • Tighten your core, and inhale before you start. 
  • Exhale as you hinge forward at the hips, slowly, until your torso is at a 45-degree angle in relation to the floor. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Driving your weight through your heels, bring your hips forward as your torso returns to the starting position. Pay particular attention to keeping good alignment and form, and ensure that you have ‘soft knees’ at the top of the movement. 
  • Repeat!

Kettlebell Good Morning Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings.

Secondary Muscles: Glutes, lower back. 

#5 - Kettlebell Windmill

Set Up: You will require one kettlebell to perform the standard variation of the windmill, which is one of the more intermediate single kettlebell leg exercises. You should start with a lighter kettlebell until you master this exercise, as it is pretty advanced. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Windmill starting position

  • Begin with your feet positioned just over shoulder-width apart, and with your knees soft. 
  • Clean the kettlebell into the rack position with your working arm, and then press it upwards so that it is in the overhead clean position. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine. 
  • Your opposite arm should be extended out to the side to aid your balance. 
  • You are now ready to begin the exercise. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Windmill leg exercises image

  • Inhale and ensure that your core is braced before you begin. 
  • Keeping the kettlebell in a stable overhead position, use your opposite arm to lead you in twisting so that your face, torso and the palm of your working hand are facing inwards, mirroring the movement of an actual windmill. 
  • Once your hand touches the floor, pause for two seconds and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you reverse your movement and move back into the starting position. You should ensure that your neck and back are properly aligned at all times. 
  • Repeat the exercise! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, deltoids, obliques, abdominals. 

Secondary Muscles: Triceps, lower back, glutes. 

#6 - Kettlebell Double Windmill 

Set Up: You will need two kettlebells that you are comfortable working with, preferably of a lighter weight since this is one of the most advanced kettlebell leg exercises out there. It should only be attempted by those who are experienced in performing a range of kettlebell exercises, which you can find in our list of the 17 best kettlebell exercises: beginner & advanced if you are looking to widen your ability. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Double Windmill starting position

  • Begin with your feet positioned just over shoulder-width apart, and ensure that you have ‘soft knees’ (they shouldn’t be locked out).  
  • Grip each kettlebell with an overhand grip, and stand tall with your arms extended. 
  • Clean one kettlebell into the rack position with the arm that you want to be in the overhead clean position for this particular set, and then press it upwards. 
  • Have your opposite arm extended, the kettlebell resting just in front of your thigh (the one that is opposite to the arm in the overhead position). 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine.  
  • You are now in the correct starting position. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Double Windmill leg exercises

  • Brace your core, and inhale. 
  • Whilst one kettlebell is in a stable overhead position, use your opposite arm to lead your body in twisting so that your face, torso and the palm of your working hand are facing inwards. Just like with the standard version of this exercise, this should mirror the movement of an actual windmill. 
  • Once the kettlebell in your extended hand touches the floor, pause for two seconds before inhaling. 
  • Reverse the first movement that you completed until you are back in the starting position, exhaling as you do so. Your neck and back should be properly aligned at all times. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, deltoids, obliques, abdominals. 

Secondary Muscles: Triceps, lower back, glutes.  

#7 - Kettlebell Two Handed Swing 

Set Up: For this version of the kettlebell swing, which is a hightly effective kettlebell leg exercise, you will need two kettlebells of equal weight. You may also find it better to use an exercise mat to provide a more comfortable and stable surface to work on. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Two Handed Swing starting position image

  • Start out by standing with your feet positioned at just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Grip the kettlebells with a neutral grip (your palms facing inwards), and allow them to hang loosely with your arms extended. 
  • Bend your knees slightly, and ensure that your back is straight and your neck is in line with your spine. 
  • You are now ready to begin the exercise. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Two Handed Swing for legs

  • Inhale, and make sure that your core is properly engaged. 
  • Swing the kettlebells backwards between your legs, keeping your grip loose so that the pressure is shifted away from your arm muscles. 
  • Exhale as you hinge your hips forward, engaging your glutes and driving the kettlebell upwards. The power should come from your lower body, and not at all from your arms. 
  • The kettlebells should swing to chest height, and you should guide them in swinging back between your legs before you repeat the next repetition. Inhale at the bottom of the movement.
  • Repeat for your desired amount of repetitions! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, glutes.

Secondary Muscles: Quadriceps, abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, latissimus dorsi, lower back, deltoids, forearms. 

#8 - Kettlebell Lateral Swing 

Set Up: You will need one kettlebell that you are comfortable working with to complete this exercise, one of the more effective single kettlebell leg exercises, and you may find it more comfortable to execute if you also use an exercise mat. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Lateral Swing starting postition

  • Stand with your feet at just over shoulder-width apart, a slight bend in your knees.
  • Grip the kettlebell with a neutral grip (your palm facing inwards), and hold it with your arm extended. Hold it relatively loosely, but tight enough to ensure a stable grip and a safe wrist position. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is aligned with your spine. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Lateral Swing exercise for leg muscles

  • Inhale and engage your core.
  • Swing the kettlebell towards the opposite leg to your working arm, twisting your torso as you do so to gain some momentum. Your opposite arm should twist upwards in the same direction, and both arms should form a 90-degree angle. 
  • Exhale as you swing it back upwards in the opposite direction - the kettlebell should reach face-height, while your opposite arm should sit around hip-height as it helps you to balance.
  • The power should come from your lower body only when you hinge your hip, and never from your working arm. 
  • Allow the kettlebell to swing back down into the bottom position, and inhale before you complete the next repetition. 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, deltoids, glutes. 

Secondary Muscles: Quadriceps, abdominals, obliques, latissimus dorsi, lower back, forearms. 

Kettlebell Leg Exercises for Quadriceps 

#9 - Kettlebell Lunge 

Set Up: This exercise requires two kettlebells of equal weight, as well as a comfortable flooring to work on. It is one of the most effective leg exercises with a kettlebell to try out if you are looking to build lower body strength and stability. 

Starting Position: 

best kettlebell exercises for legs lunge image

  • Stand with your feet close together, just under hip-width apart. 
  • Hold the kettlebells with an overhand grip, but with your palms facing inwards. 
  • Stand with your back straight, your neck in line with your spine, and your arms extended by your sides. 

Execution: 

lunge kettlebell exercise for legs

  • Inhale and tighten your core before you make a start. 
  • Lunge forward with one leg, ensuring that your knee stays behind your toes and exhaling as you do so. 
  • Your back knee should stop before it touches the floor, and both knees should fall into a 90-degree angle. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you drive yourself upwards from your front heel, and then stand with your feet together again. 
  • Repeat the rest of this set with the same leg, and then switch! 

Kettlebell Lunge Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, lower back. 

#10 - Kettlebell Reverse Lunge 

Set Up: You will need two kettlebells to complete this kettlebell leg exercise, just as you do for the standard kettlebell lunge. You may also find the exercise easier to complete if you use an exercise mat for added stability and comfort. 

Starting Position: 

how to do Kettlebell Reverse Lunge image

  • Stand with your feet close together; they should be just under hip-width apart. 
  • Use an overhand grip to hold the kettlebells, and ensure that your palms are facing inwards. 
  • Ensure that your back straight, your neck is in line with your spine, and that your arms are extended by your sides. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Reverse Lunge for legs image

  • Engage your core muscles before you begin the exercise, and be sure to inhale.
  • Exhale as you lunge backwards with one leg, ensuring that your front knee stays behind your toes and that your back knee stops before it touches the floor (you don’t want this to happen). Both knees should be at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you drive yourself back upwards into the starting position, the majority of your weight shifted onto your front foot. 
  • Repeat! 

Kettlebell Reverse Lunge Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, lower back. 

#11 - Kettlebell Lateral Lunge

Set Up: You will need a single kettlebell that you are comfortable with lifting in a goblet hold to complete this movement, a challenging leg exercise with a kettlebell to perform. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell exercises for legs Lateral Lunge

  • Begin with your feet positioned in a wide stance; just over shoulder-width apart is an ideal distance. 
  • Grip the kettlebell around the bell rather than the horns (in a goblet hold), and hold it in front of your chest in a central position. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine before you begin.  

Execution: 

Kettlebell Lateral Lunges exercise image

  • Inhale, and ensure that your core is properly engaged before you begin the exercise. 
  • Exhale as you step out with your right leg, bending it to a 90-degree angle (keeping your knee behind your toes) whilst keeping your left leg straight; your knee should be locked out. 
  • Pay attention to keeping the kettlebell in a stable position, and pause for at least two seconds. Inhale before continuing. 
  • Exhale as you drive yourself back up into the starting position, using your right leg as the power source. 
  • Repeat with your left leg!

Kettlebell Lateral Lunge Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps, glutes. 

Secondary Muscles: Hamstrings, groin. 

#12 - Kettlebell Walking Overhead Lunge 

Set Up: To perform this exercise, one of the more difficult kettlebell lunge variations, you will require a set of two kettlebells of equal weight, as well as a set distance marked out for you to walk along. Start with 100m if you are a beginner, and work your way up to 400m. If you want to perform an alternative to this exercise that involves a carry, check out our guide on farmer's walk benefits; the movement is less complicated so it may suit those looking for a regression!

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Walking Overhead Lunge image

  • Stand with your feet close together; they should be just under hip-width apart. 
  • Clean the kettlebells into the rack position, and then press them upwards into the overhead clean position. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine before you begin the exercise. You should also make sure that there is a slight bend in your elbows. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Walking Overhead Lunge exercise for legs

  • Inhale, and ensure that your core is nice and tight. 
  • Lunge forward with your left leg, exhaling as you do so. Your knee should end up at a 90-degree angle, and should be positioned securely behind your toes.
  • Your back knee should also be at a 90-degree angle, and should stop before it touches the floor. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you drive yourself upwards, using your left leg as the power source and simultaneously bringing your right leg forwards to meet it in the top position, as if you are walking forwards. Inhale. 
  • Exhale as you lunge forwards with your right leg, repeating the same movement. Both knees should be at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Inhale, and pause for two seconds. 
  • Drive yourself back up into the starting position, using your right leg to do so and bringing your left leg forwards to meet it in the top position this time. Exhale as you do so.
  • You should now have made two steps forwards. 
  • Continue this pattern until you reach your destination, and repeat for your desired number of sets! 

Kettlebell Walking Overhead Lunge Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps, deltoids. 

Secondary Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, calves, upper and lower back.

#13 - Kettlebell Lunge with Rotation 

Set Up: When it comes to kettlebell lunge variations, this is one of the most effective kettlebell leg exercises that adds an element of functional training into your workout. To perform it, you will require a single kettlebell. Using an exercise mat is optional. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Lunge with Rotation starting image

  • To assume the starting position, begin with your feet just under hip-width apart. 
  • Hold the kettlebell in front of your chest with a goblet hold, in a secure and central position. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Lunge with Rotation image

  • You should inhale and ensure that your core is properly engaged before you attempt this exercise. 
  • Exhale as you lunge forward with your right leg, ensuring that your knee stays in a safe position behind your toes and ends in a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement. 
  • Your left knee should also reach a 90-degree angle, but it should not touch the floor. 
  • Once in the bottom position, keep your core engaged and twist your torso over to your right-hand side. 
  • Pause for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you twist your torso back to a central position, and simultaneously drive yourself back into the top position with your right leg as the driving force. 
  • Repeat for your desired number of repetitions, then repeat for another set on the opposite side!

Kettlebell Lunge with Rotation Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Hamstrings, abdominals, obliques, glutes. 

#14 - Kettlebell Bob and Weave 

Set Up: To complete this exercise, you will need a single kettlebell that you can comfortably grip by the horns. You will also need enough space to perform the bob and weave movement. 

Starting Position: 

 Kettlebell Bob and Weave image

  • Begin with your legs positioned to be around hip-width apart. 
  • Hold the kettlebell by the horns, your palms facing inwards, and ensure that it is in a central position in front of your chest. 
  • Your back should be straight, and your neck should be aligned with your spine. 
  • Ensure that there is enough space around you to safely perform the exercise. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Bob and Weave leg exercise

  • Inhale, and ensure that your core is tight. 
  • Exhale as you step outwards with your right leg, so that your legs are positioned in a wide stance. Drop your hips backwards as you do so, as you would during a squat, and ensure that your knees stay behind your toes.
  • Quickly drive yourself upwards with your right leg, continuing to step towards your right-hand side until you are in the top position once more (but one step out to your right). 
  • Inhale, before reversing the movement so that you are back in the original starting position. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors. 

Secondary Muscles: Hamstrings, abdominals, trapezius, back stabilisers, shoulder stabilisers. 

#15 - Kettlebell Goblet Squat 

Set Up: To perform this exercise, you will need access to a single kettlebell that you’re comfortable with gripping in a goblet hold. 

Starting Position: 

kettlebell leg exercises goblet squat

  • Stand with your feet positioned just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Grip the kettlebell in a goblet hold just in front of your chest; it should be in a central position. 
  • Your back should be straight, and your neck should be in alignment with your spine. 
  • You should have ‘soft knees’ (they should not be locked out). 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Goblet Squats exercise image

  • Engage your core, and inhale before you begin the exercise. 
  • Exhale as you squat down by dropping your hips backwards, and keeping your knees behind your toes. Your weight should be shifted onto your heels. 
  • Pause for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you drive yourself back into the top position, keeping your weight on your heels, your core engaged, and your glutes engaged throughout the movement. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Hamstrings, glutes, calves. 

#16 - Kettlebell Front Squat 

Set Up: To complete this variation of the kettlebell squat, you will need a set of kettlebells that you are comfortable working with, as well as a stable surface to work on. 

Starting Position: 

kettlebell leg exercises goblet squat

  • Stand with your feet positioned just over shoulder-width apart, and make sure you have ‘soft knees’. 
  • Grip the kettlebells with an overhand grip, and clean them into the rack position; they should be positioned just in front of your chest. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Front Squat muscles worked image

  • Tighten your core and inhale before you begin the exercise. 
  • Exhaling as you do so, drop your hips backwards (paying particular attention to the alignment of your upper body) and squat down, keeping your knees behind your toes. 
  • Hold your position for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • With your weight shifted onto your heels, drive yourself back into the top position, exhaling as you do so. 
  • Both your core and glutes should be engaged throughout this phase of the exercise. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, calves. 

#17 - Kettlebell Overhead Squat 

Set Up: To complete this exercise, you will require two kettlebells of equal weight that you are comfortable working with in the overhead position. Be cautious and select a lighter weight if you are new to the exercise, as it would be incredibly dangerous to lift too heavy and compromise your form. 

Starting Position: 

best kettlebell leg exercise

  • Position your feet to be just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Grip the kettlebells in an overhand grip, and clean them into the rack position. 
  • Carefully press them into the overhead position, keeping a slight bend in your elbows at the top of the movement. 
  • Stand tall with your back straight, and ensure that your neck is in line with your spine before you begin the exercise. 

Execution: 

leg exercise kettlebell

  • Before you begin the exercise, inhale and properly engage your core. 
  • Exhale as you move down into a squat position by dropping your hips backwards. You should keep your knees behind your toes, and ensure that your neck and your spine stay properly aligned. 
  • Once you reach the bottom of the movement, pause for two seconds and inhale before driving yourself upwards again, keeping your core and glutes engaged, and your weight on your heels. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, calves, lower back, triceps, shoulders, abdominals. 

Kettlebell Leg Exercises that Work the Full Body 

#18 - Kettlebell Deck Squat 

Set Up: You will require a single kettlebell that you are comfortable working with, especially since this exercise trains core strength as well as the lower body. You will also need an exercise mat to soften your landing during the second phase of the exercise. We would recommend starting with a lower weight since this exercise is complex compared to the previously mentioned kettlebell squat variations. If you're looking for an even more challenging exercise, take a look at OriGym's how-to guide on the sissy squat.  

Starting Position:

Kettlebell Deck Squat muscles worked

  • Stand with your feet just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Grip either side of the body of the kettlebell securely, and hold it just in front of your sternum; your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, your chest and shoulders are upright, and that your neck is in line with your spine. 

Execution:

Kettlebell exercises Deck Squat image

  • Tighten your core and inhale before you start. 
  • Squat down by dropping your hips backwards, paying particular attention to keeping your back straight and your upper body properly aligned. 
  • Continue to squat down until your glutes meet the exercise mat, and roll out and backwards onto your back in one fluid movement before extending the kettlebell behind your head. You should keep a slight bend in your elbows to avoid locking out your arms completely. Exhale as you do this. 
  • Pause for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you reverse the movement that you just made, shifting your weight onto your heels and you roll back onto your feet. Drive yourself upwards into the top position, keeping proper alignment and your knees behind your toes. 
  • Repeat for your desired amount of repetitions! 

Muscles Worked:

Primary Movers: Quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals, glutes. 

Secondary Muscles: Obliques, adductors, lower back. 

#19 - Double Kettlebell Clean and Press

Set Up: To perform this variation of the kettlebell clean and press exercise, you will need two kettlebells of equal weight along with a stable surface to work on. 

Starting Position: 

Double Kettlebell Clean and Press muscles worked

  • Place the kettlebells on the floor in front of you, and stand with your feet positioned to be at around shoulder-width apart. 
  • You should have ‘soft knees’, your back should be straight, and your neck should be in line with your spine. 
  • Grip them in an overhand grip, and pull them up so that they are suspended just inside your knees. 

Execution: 

Double Kettlebell Clean and Press exercise image

  • Ensure that your core is properly engaged. 
  • Inhale sharply, then exhale as you clean the kettlebells into the rack position; pay particular attention to driving your wrists upwards through the handle, so that you do not bash your wrists with the bells at the top of the movement. 
  • Inhale, and then exhale as you press the kettlebells into the overhead position, keeping a slight bend in your elbows to maintain a good level of resistance. 
  • Pause for one second, then carefully bring the kettlebells back down into the rack position in a slow and controlled motion, exhaling as you do so. 
  • Bring the kettlebells back down into the original starting position ready for your next repetition! 

Muscles Worked:

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glutes, deltoids, triceps, biceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Trapezius, latissimus dorsi, lower back, middle back, hip flexors, forearms. 

#20 - Kettlebell Bottoms Up Clean 

Set Up: For this exercise, one of the most popular CrossFit kettlebell leg exercises, you will need a set of two kettlebells of equal weight, as well as a stable surface to work from. You may want to use a lower weight than you would for the regular double kettlebell clean and press, as the grip used in the top position allows for less weight. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Bottoms Up Clean muscles worked

  • Stand with your feet at just over shoulder-width apart, the kettlebells positioned on the floor in front of you. 
  • Hold them by the handle in a neutral grip (palms facing inwards), and lift them so that they are suspended just inside of your knees. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, your neck and spine are aligned, and that you have ‘soft knees’. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Bottoms Up Clean image

  • Make sure that your core is properly braced. 
  • Inhale sharply, and drive the kettlebells backwards between your legs. 
  • Hinge forwards at your hips to drive the kettlebells upwards, exhaling as you do so. Use the momentum created by your hips to move the kettlebells, and none from your arms.
  • Once the kettlebells reach chin height, inhale. 
  • Exhale as you allow them to drop back down into the bottom position, ready to swing back between your legs in one fluid motion. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, glutes. 

Secondary Muscles: Hip flexors. 

#21 - Kettlebell Snatch 

Set Up: To complete this exercise, you will need a light set of kettlebells to begin with (if you are not yet accustomed to the movement), and a stable surface to work on. 

Starting Position: 

best kettlebell leg exercises

  • Ensure that your feet are positioned just over shoulder-width apart, and that the kettlebells are in a central position in front of you on the floor.
  • Grip them by the handle with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards), and pull them upwards until they are suspended between your legs. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck and spine are aligned.
  • Make sure that you have ‘soft knees’ (so that they are not fully locked out).  

Execution: 

top kettlebell leg exercises

  • Ensure that your core is tight. 
  • Drive the kettlebells backwards between your legs, and inhale sharply.
  • Exhale as you hinge your hips forwards and drive the kettlebells upwards with the momentum. 
  • Rather than driving them into the rack position, they should travel upwards in one fluid motion; ensure that your elbows remain close to your torso during the lift to keep the movement controlled. 
  • Once the kettlebells are in the overhead position, pause for two seconds and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you repeat the movement, bringing the kettlebells back down into the starting position and driving them back between your legs to perform another repetition. 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes.

Secondary Muscles: Abdominals, deltoids, trapezius, 

*BONUS EXERCISE - Kettlebell Thrusters 

Set Up: You will require a set of kettlebells of equal weight to complete this exercise, one of the most popular CrossFit kettlebell leg exercises, as well as a stable surface to work on. We would certainly recommend starting out with a lighter load for this exercise as it is one of the most advanced kettlebell leg exercises out there. 

Starting Position: 

Kettlebell Snatch muscles worked

  • Stand with your feet positioned at just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Make sure that the kettlebells are placed just in front of you on the floor, in a central position. 
  • Hold them by the handles in a neutral grip, and clean them into the rack position (your palms should be facing inwards). 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine. 

Execution: 

Kettlebell Snatch image

  • Engage your core, and inhale. 
  • Drop down into a squat, ensuring that your knees stay behind your toes; exhale as you do so. 
  • Inhale. 
  • Driving your weight through your heels, explode upwards in a powerful motion, pressing the kettlebells into the overhead position simultaneously. Keep your elbows close to your torso as you do this, so that they are in a stable and safe position, and exhale. 
  • Drop back down into a squat, bringing the kettlebells down into the rack position as you do so. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Quadriceps, deltoids. 

Secondary Muscles: Hamstrings, glutes, triceps. 

Sets, Reps and Rest Gaps for a Kettlebell Leg Workout

If you’re looking to put together an effective workout made up of kettlebell leg exercises that will help you to reach the results that you are looking to achieve, the first thing that you should do is optimise the sets, repetitions and rest gaps. 

Failing to do so could lead to a plateau in your training, or worse; completely different results to the ones that you are looking to get! 

To keep things nice and simple, here are the basic rules that you should stick to when putting together your workout.

benefits of kettlebell leg exercises image

To train for strength:

You should perform 1-5 repetitions for 2-3 sets with a kettlebell that is heavy enough to allow you to reach muscle fatigue at the end of each set, but not so heavy that you are straining through the repetitions with poor form. 

Your rest gaps should be 90 seconds-3 minutes

To train for hypertrophy:

Perform 6-12 repetitions for 3 sets with a kettlebell that is heavy enough to pose a challenge, but you shouldn’t be training to failure as you would do during strength training. 

Your rest gaps should be 60-90 seconds

To train for muscular endurance:

You should perform 12+ repetitions for 5 sets with a lighter kettlebell that poses a slight challenge, but you should find it relatively easy to work with. 

Your rest gaps should be 30-45 seconds

Benefits of Kettlebell Leg Exercises VS Using Other Free Weights

crossfit kettlebell leg exercises

Regardless of what your end goals are, incorporating kettlebell leg exercises into your leg day routine is never a bad idea. 

Many of those looking to build muscle mass shy away from functional strength exercises as they believe that they won’t get them the results that they are looking for, but the truth is that the most effective programmes for building strength and muscle mass will include a range of exercise forms. 

That being said, we’ll still take a look at the benefits of kettlebell leg exercises compared to those that use other free weights, like barbells or dumbbells, as this will prove how useful they can be as an individual exercise form!  

#1 - Kettlebells Leg Exercises are Great for Building Explosive Strength 

Are you looking to improve your explosive strength, or training to improve your performance within a certain sport? 

If so, you’ll be glad to know that there are certain kettlebell leg exercises that are almost exclusive to the kettlebell that are incredibly useful for this, ‘kettlebell swings’ being a great example. 

In their study; ‘Kettlebell Swing Training Improves Maximal and Explosive Strength’, Jason P. Lake (PhD) and Mike A. Lauder (MA) state as part of their conclusion: 

It would appear that kettlebell swing exercise provides a stimulus that can simultaneously improve cardiorespiratory fitness, maximum strength, and explosive strength, offering a useful alternative to strength and conditioning professionals seeking variety for their athletes.

From this statement, we can draw that kettlebell exercises are useful for supporting each of these things alongside barbell and dumbbell exercises, thanks to explosive functional movements like the kettlebell swing. They are a powerful alternative, and will keep the resistance that your muscles have to work against varied and therefore more challenging to keep up with. 

During the hip hinge that is involved in the kettlebell swing, the hip flexors, knee joints, and the posterior chain are trained through a powerful and explosive movement. It is difficult to find exercises that do this all at once, especially when looking at compound strength training exercises. 

Notice the phrasing ‘useful alternative’ for those looking for ‘variety for their athletes’. It is clear that kettlebells are effective in supporting other forms of exercise that contribute to reaching an optimal level of strength, which leads us to our next point… 

#2 - They Improve Performance in Other Weightlifting Exercises 

leg exercises with kettlebell

It is clear here through our last point that the kettlebell is a driving force in providing a beneficial and unique method of training for those looking to improve their explosive strength. However, what we haven’t quite covered yet is the fact that it will also allow the user to train their maximum strength when it is paired with other pieces of strength-based equipment. 

Leg exercises performed with the kettlebell such as the kettlebell swing will support the user’s performance in powerlifting movements, as well as their performance during competitive sports. 

This is due to the fact that various muscles within the posterior chain muscle group are targeted through these exercises, and this is one of the main groups employed to lift barbells during deadlifts and back squats (two of the most popular Olympic weightlifting movements). 

Kettlebell leg exercises including variations of the deadlift and the back squat will train this muscle group from a different angle, as well as the muscle groups specifically within the legs, since kettlebells have an off-set centre of mass. 

They will therefore help the user to overcome any strength-related weakness by adding more variety to their training, and help them to build a stronger base for the more challenging and heavy lifts. 

#3 - They are Great for Training the Stabilising Muscles 

leg kettlebell exercises

We mentioned the fact that kettlebells have an off-set centre of mass above, and this links in with the point that we are about to make; they are incredibly effective for training the stabilising muscles within the lower body. 

While the primary ‘movers’ that the user is trying to target through their training programme are important to work, the stabilising muscles are equally as important to target when trying to increase overall strength as they are responsible for supporting the body throughout these movements. 

Without this foundation of support, the body would not be able to lift as heavy and would also be left susceptible to injuries that could be easily avoided otherwise. 

When compared to working with one barbell, working with two separate dumbbells at the same time through an exercise will increase the capacity that the stabilising muscle must work at, as they must work to stabilise two separate free weights rather than just one. 

Working with two kettlebells will switch this up a notch, due to the fact that they are also two separate free weights, and their off-set centre of mass (that we mentioned earlier). 

Exercises like the double kettlebell lunge or the two-handed kettlebell swing will target the stabilising muscles even further, as well as the primary movers, and help the user to build a stable base for other exercises. 

#4 - Kettlebell Leg Exercises Keep your Workout Routine Varied 

single kettlebell leg exercises

We have touched upon this within our previous points, but it is true that including leg exercises with a kettlebell as part of your leg day routine will keep it varied and therefore help you to achieve better overall results, whether they are physical or strength-related. 

In conclusion, when it comes to the benefits of kettlebell leg exercises VS using other free weights, the truth is that it's best to utilize a variety of training methods if you want to make significant progress and push yourself past any plateaus in your training, which can occur when you stick to the same exercises and difficulty level for an extended period of time. 

Have you only been completing barbell deadlifts, squats, and lunges on leg day? If so, you should consider mixing things up with some kettlebell windmills, single leg deadlifts or thrusters for example.  

This will ensure that your workout is versatile in terms of the muscle groups that it is targeting and the areas that it is training; it will strike a good balance between working the primary movers and the stabilising muscles. 

It will allow you to load up heavy with the barbells, but also focus on targeting stabilising muscles alongside this through compound kettlebell movements. This will improve your performance in a short amount of time, and help you to push through any plateaus. 

Conclusion

Now that you’re armed with 21 of the best kettlebell leg exercises out there, including kettlebell thrusters which are absolutely lethal, we have no doubt that you’ll be making immense progress over the coming weeks and months. 

Remember to create a workout plan that follows a pattern of progression, and be sure to use progressive overload if you are looking to increase your muscular strength and hypertrophy in particular. 

Got a burning passion for fitness that you’re not sure what to do with? Check out OriGym’s Level 4 Personal Training qualification, or download our course prospectus here to find out if 

  1. Lake, J.P. and Lauder, M.A., 2012. Kettlebell swing training improves maximal and explosive strength. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(8), pp.2228-2233.

 

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Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Enthusiast & Blogger

Abbie is a work-hard, play-hard fitness junkie turned blogger. She loves a scenic run and a good upbeat exercise class. You can usually find her on the front row of a spin class on a Saturday morning.

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