A 4-Move Lower-Body Kettlebell Workout to Strengthen Your Legs and Butt

If you’re trying to build strength, look no further than the humble-yet-mighty kettlebell. This free weight works similarly to a dumbbell, but its shape makes it a little more versatile, allowing you to do some more dynamic movements. You can swing it, flip it, and grip it from a few different angles. And you can get a great lower-body workout with just one or two kettlebells.

Whether you’re still sort of new to kettlebell training or have been doing it for a while now, this lower-body kettlebell workout from personal trainer Samantha Ciaccia, M.S., P.A.-C., C.S.C.S., is worth a try. It’s meant to improve both muscular strength and power, Ciaccia explains, which are two important fitness skills to focus on.

Strength, of course, has numerous benefits both inside and outside of the gym—strong muscles help you move throughout life more comfortably and efficiently, perform everyday tasks like pushing a heavy door open or lifting a suitcase into the overhead bin, and reach new milestones in your workouts, if that’s what you’re after.

Muscular power, or the ability to move weight in a short amount of time, is key in many sports but it’s especially important to train as we age, Ciaccia says. Power declines quite rapidly as we get older, she explains, and it’s important to maintain if we want to stay active and injury-free for the long haul. “Power training allows an individual to react quickly to a trip and catch themselves rather than falling and potentially breaking a limb,” Ciaccia says. While that may seem like something for future you to worry about, it’s a good idea to incorporate functional exercises into your regular routine to improve your fitness and keep your body ready for whatever life may throw at it.

The lower-body kettlebell workout below will get you moving in a few different ways and strengthen both the front and back of your body. Try it on your next leg day to challenge (and build) your strength and power.

The Workout

What you’ll need: One medium-to-heavy kettlebell. (You can use two kettlebells for the single-leg deadlift if you have two of equal weight, otherwise, you can just use one. More on that below.) If you find you can use a heavier weight for some of the moves (say, the lunge and swing, for instance), go for it. Ciaccia recommends having two different weights on hand if you can, so that you can switch and adjust accordingly.


Do circuit 1 three times, resting for 30 seconds in between each exercise. After the third time through, rest for 60 seconds. Then, do circuit 2 three times, resting for 30 seconds in between each exercise.

Circuit 1:

  • Kettlebell swing — 10 reps
  • Rest 30 seconds.
  • Kettlebell single-leg deadlift — 5 reps each side
  • Rest 30 seconds.
  • Do 3 times.

Rest 60 seconds before moving onto circuit 2.

Circuit 2:

  • Kettlebell clean — 5 reps each side
  • Rest 30 seconds.
  • Kettlebell alternating lateral lunge — 5 reps each side
  • Rest 30 seconds.
  • Do 3 times.

Here’s how to do each move:

1. Kettlebell Swing

  • Make a triangle with the kettlebell and your feet, with your feet at the bottom of the triangle and the kettlebell about a foot in front of you at the top of the triangle.
  • With a soft bend in your knees, hinge forward at your hips, push your butt back, and grab the handle with both hands. Tilt the bell on its side, handle toward your body.
  • Hike the bell high up in your groin area (your wrists should touch high in your inner thigh) and thrust your hips forward aggressively so that at the top of the swing, you are essentially in a standing plank, looking straight ahead, squeezing your core, glutes, and quads.
  • Once the bell reaches about chest height (and not above shoulder height), hinge forward at your hips and push your butt back again, letting the bell drop on its own as you do. You should not feel like you’re using your arms to lift anything. Let your eyes, head, and neck follow so that you don’t strain your neck. This is 1 rep.
  • Do 10 reps.
  • When you’re done with all of your reps, perform a back swing: Bring the bell through your legs but instead of thrusting your hips forward to bring it to shoulder level, safely place it back on the floor.

2. Kettlebell Single-Leg Deadlift

  • Stand with your feet together, holding a kettlebell in each hand in front of your legs (as shown). If you’re only using one kettlebell, hold it in your left hand. This is the starting position.
  • Shift your weight to your left leg. Keeping your back flat and a slight bend in your left knee, hinge forward at the hips, push your butt back, and raise your right leg straight behind your body as you lower the weight toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your left hamstring.
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your left heel to stand up straight and pull the weight back up to the starting position, squeezing your butt at the top. Bring your right leg back down to meet your left, but just let your toes tap the floor lightly—don’t put any weight on your right foot. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 5 reps on your left leg. Then, switch your legs (and switch the weight to the other hand) and do 5 more reps.

3. Kettlebell Clean

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with a kettlebell on the floor between your feet. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower and grab the kettlebell with your right hand, palm toward your body. This is the starting position.
  • Drive through your heels to stand as you pull the weight up to your right shoulder. At the top, your right elbow should be bent and facing the floor, your palm should face forward, and the kettlebell should rest against the back of your forearm.
  • Squeeze your glutes and pause. Then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
  • Do 5 reps with your right arm. Switch hands and do 5 reps with the other arm.

4. Kettlebell Lateral Lunge

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a kettlebell by the handle with both hands at your chest. This is the starting position.
  • Take a big step out to the right. Bend your right knee, hinge forward at the hips, and sit your butt back to lower into a lateral lunge. Keep your back flat and core engaged, and make sure your knee doesn’t move forward beyond your toes.
  • Push through your right heel to return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 5 reps with the right leg, and then repeat on the left leg, for a total of 10 reps.
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