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Are Kettlebells Good For Weight Loss?

There are many tools and exercises you can use for weight loss. Kettlebells are a piece of workout equipment that can help you with this.

Kettlebells can be used for a wide variety of workouts from more cardio-focused exercises to exercises mostly focused on building muscle. This makes kettlebells great for losing weight.

The question becomes more what kettlebell exercises are the best for what part of your weight loss journey. You will also learn how fast you can expect weight loss results from these kettlebell workouts.

Cardio versus HIIT versus Weight Lifting

All forms of exercise can be divided into 3 main categories. These 3 categories are cardio, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting. In terms of what parts of your body they impact you can bucket cardio and HIIT together.

Each workout will inevitably use both your cardiovascular system and muscles. However, usually one of the two really stands out.

The way cardio and HIIT help you lose weight is slightly different from how more muscle helps you lose weight. One or the other can be better depending on the situation.

You can use kettlebells in a cardio, HIIT, and weight lifting way. By knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each category you better understand what kettlebell exercises are best for what part of your weight loss journey.

man using kettlebell in a cardio workout

Weight lifting

Weight lifting helps you burn more calories by increasing muscle mass. How much you weigh is an important factor of how many calories you burn each day. That’s how many weight loss plateaus happen, you lose some weight and you start burning less calories with the same habits.

Building more muscle helps you add healthy weight. A certain amount of muscle also burns slightly more calories than the same amount of fat. This means that by spending a little time building muscle you can increase the amount of calories you burn 24/7.

Cardio and HIIT

Cardio and HIIT help you burn more calories by increasing the intensity and quantity of movement right now.

This makes those kinds of exercise great for short term energy usage. The flip side of the coin is that once you stop doing these kinds of exercise the extra calorie burning will stop fast.

HIIT is basically cardio but faster. So depending on your tempo you are doing one or the other. The higher the intensity of the exercise you are doing, the more calories you burn.

HIIT can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stopped the exercise.

Do this for long term weight loss

So cardio and HIIT are good for fat loss in the next hour or so.

For long term weight loss weight lifting can be a lot more time and effort efficient. You can also do both. The extra muscle will help you get more out of your cardio workout.

Let’s say you want to lose weight with kettlebells in the most time-efficient way possible. The best method would be building muscle initially and then implementing some cardio exercises to speed up the process even more.

However…

Often people forget that your choice of exercise isn’t only about how efficient the calorie burning is.

Kettlebell workouts are not essential for losing weight. If you don’t like them you most likely won’t keep doing them. The same goes for the different exercises you can do with kettlebells. Sometimes giving up some extra calorie burning for more enjoyment is worth it.

man doing kettlebell workout in his garden

Different kettlebell workouts for weight loss

Kettlebells are an extremely versatile workout tool. There are 10’s of different exercises you can do with them, each with a slightly different focus point.

The thing is that to lose weight with kettlebells you don’t need all those exercises. Complexity is the enemy of execution.

It’s not necessary to go over every kettlebell exercise there is. You will only need a select few to lose weight effectively.

Kettlebell muscle building exercises

Mainly in the initial phases of your weight loss journey, you want to focus on the muscle-building exercises you can do with kettlebells. The extra muscle will benefit your long-term weight loss a lot.

These exercises are not exclusively for kettlebells. You can also do them with other equipment like dumbbells and barbells.

You mainly want to focus on the following:

  • Overhead presses and lateral raises
  • Squats and/or lunges
  • Rows
  • Benching

With these exercises, you will train your biggest muscle groups. This allows you to gain a lot of muscle which results in more weight loss.

woman doing weight lifting row with kettlebell

Cardio with kettlebells

There is a wide variety of kettlebell cardio exercises.

While these exercises undoubtedly get your heart beating, most people prefer regular cardio workouts like running, swimming, or rowing.

How good are kettlebells to lose weight?

You have to keep in mind that the amount of calories burned by exercising depends from person to person. Things like age, weight, activity levels,… influence it.

That being said, there are still approximations for how many calories you can burn. You can also see the calories burned for different kinds of exercises to see how all the workouts compare.

For this example let’s imagine that you use kettlebells to do weight lifting exercises.

The following numbers are an estimation for a 155-pound person doing the exercises for 30 minutes (1).

  • Weight Lifting (general): 112 calories
  • Weight Lifting (vigorous): 223 calories
  • Water Aerobics: 149 calories
  • Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 186 calories
  • Stair Step Machine (general): 223 calories
  • Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
  • Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
  • Elliptical Trainer (general): 335 calories
  • Running 5.2 mph: 335 calories
  • Jumping rope: 372 calories
  • Swimming (breaststroke): 372 calories

The thing with these numbers is also that the more intense and the longer you do your exercise, the more calories you will burn. These measurements are great to get an estimation but you can’t rely on them being the exact same for you.

If you use kettlebells as a weight lifting tool its power is not in the amount of calories you burn during the workout. The real calorie burning comes from the extra muscle you build.

On the other hand, if you do cardio exercises with kettlebells you will move more towards the calorie-burning amounts of exercises like rowing, cycling and the elliptical trainer. In exchange, you will most likely build less muscle.

How long does it take to lose weight with kettlebells?

One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000). How long it takes to see weight loss results from kettlebells will also depend on the amount of calories in your diet.

One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intense to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.

If you use kettlebells as a weight lifting tool, 30 minutes could help you burn an extra 2230 calories in 10 days which is about 0.64 pounds of body fat. 30 days 6690 calories and so on…

Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be harmful. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.

Because of the muscle you will gain from kettlebells your weight might not move that much. That does not mean you are not losing fat. If you lose inches but not weight when you start doing kettlebell exercises you are most likely gaining muscle weight and losing body fat weight.

calendar to calculate how long it will take to lose weight with kettlebells

Can you use kettlebells every day?

If you use heavy kettlebells to build muscle you most likely don’t want to use them everyday.

Doing muscle-building exercises every day is usually not the way to go. The way you build muscle is by first breaking muscle down with a weight lifting exercise. And then letting your body repair the muscle with a little extra on top.

That means working out 2 days a week with heavy kettlebells might benefit muscle growth and thus weight loss more than 7 days a week.

Cardio exercises with kettlebells on the other hand can be done more frequently.

How often you should use kettlebells depends on things like how fast you recover, the weights you use, and the kind of exercises you do. This is different for every individual but for most people, this comes down to 2-7 days a week.

Should you use kettlebells for weight loss?

You can use kettlebells to do exercises that are very good for weight loss but these are not kettlebell-exclusive exercises.

There is also a wide variety of exercises you can do with kettlebells. That makes it hard to say whether kettlebells are “good or bad” for weight loss. There are good and less good weight loss exercises you can do with kettlebells.

Doing the right musclebuilding exercises with kettlebells can be very effective. You can burn a lot of extra calories with a relatively low amount of time spent.

Keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what exercise routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.

Can kettlebell exercises help you lose belly fat?

Losing belly fat is more about losing weight overall than doing a “targeted” workout. Since kettlebell workouts help you burn a good amount of calories they can help you lose belly fat as well.