Have you been thinking about getting into shape or already have an exercise plan? It probably has cardio and resistance training. To get the most out of your workout, you should consider body toning exercises with kettlebells.

These standard weights are in most public and home gyms. They are solid with a handle, which makes them look a little like a cowbell, hence their name. Their values usually range between 8-45 pounds.

Who Invented Kettlebells?

Fitness historians believe that the kettle weight variety, also called a girya, were standard weights used for farming in Germany years ago. The farmers could tie ropes or chains on the handled weights and use them to hang things or as a counterweight for other purposes. To show their physical prowess, some farmers may have used them in strength and throwing contests with each other.

Other historians point to similar weights with carved handles from stone by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. These also could have had a practical use as well as a recreational one. Their versions even had graduated sizes and weights.

Most fitness historians credit modern girya exercises to the Russians, namely Dr. Vladislav Krayevsky, in the late 19th century. He was responsible for many of the strenuous activities used by the Russian military, and later the Soviet Union.

From there, girya lifting and throwing became a sports competition for both lifting and throwing. It gained popularity in the 1940s and has been popular ever since. They are used all over the world and are a standard tool for most weight training programs.

Six Maneuvers with Kettlebells


You can buy these bell weights in just about any department store or sporting goods shop. They come in different sizes, and most are ergonomically formed for your hands. Although some brands can be quite expensive, you can find a quality set that will fit your budget comfortably.

As a beginner, start with the smallest weight and eventually work up to the largest weight you can comfortably lift. Giryas are portable and are ideal for a workout indoors or outdoors. Here are six great kettlebell exercises that you can consider trying at home:

1. Kettlebell Squat

Squats are an excellent way to burn fat and tone your whole body. When you add the upside-down bell, you have one of the English Royal Navy’s notorious compound exercises. This exercise will strengthen your glutes and lower body.

• How to Do This Exercise:

Stand naturally on your mat with your legs spread a little wider than shoulder-width. Bend down and grab the weight with both hands.

Bring the weight up smoothly, so it is upside-down in front of your chest. Your palms should be facing each other. Notice that the weight looks like a chalice.

Now, bring yourself into a squat by bending your knees. The weight should be in the same position in front of your chest. Try to keep your back straight and be aware of your breath. Bring your body up to the start position. Repeat these steps for 10-15 repetitions.

2. Kettlebells Windmill

Are you ready to learn a body toning move that builds muscle in your arms, shoulders, and upper back? Once you get the hang of doing this exercise, it will become part of your weight training collection. Take a breather between sets if needed. For this maneuver, you will need two weights.

• How to Do This Exercise:

Stand on your exercise mat with your legs apart and your feet aligned with each shoulder. Put one weight at your right foot and another inside your left foot. Grab a girya with your right hand and stretch it above your head. This place is the first position.

Next, reach your left hand down your right leg while still maintaining the weight about your head.  Use your upper body to raise until the kettlebell in your left-hand reaches your thigh. Hold this position for one breath and slowly lower your body to place your left hand’s weight back to the exercise mat. Your goal is to repeat these steps 8-10 times. Then, switch and work your opposite side.

3. Kettlebell Floor Lifts

If you don’t have a bench press at home or don’t want to wait in line at the gym, here’s another option for you to consider. Burn fat and chisel your arms by lifting two kettlebells overhead. You’ll get just as good of a workout as you would lifting weights from a bench.

• How to Do This Exercise:

Lie flat comfortably on your mat with your legs slightly apart and your arms at your side. Have one girya of the same weight on each side by your arms. Pick a weight up with your right hand, palm facing outward, and extend it over your head.

While holding this position, pick the other weight up with your left hand, palm facing outward, and extend it the same height as the other weight. Both arms should be straight up, so try not to bend your elbows.

While mindfully breathing, bend your left elbow and lower your left arm until your elbow rests on the floor while keeping the weight straight up with your forearm. Your whole arm should make a 90-degree angle if done correctly. Hold this position for one breath.

While raising your left arm back into the starting position, lower your right arm the same way you did the left one. Hold for one breath. Alternate lifting the weights in a smooth motion. Each alternation is a set. Try to do 10-15 repetitions, resting between time if needed.

4. One-Arm Kettlebell Swing

Do you want to include more body toning in your daily workout regimen? Try this one-arm swing that will strengthen and tone your back and arms. You will also feel a fat-burning tug in your core area.

• How to Do This Exercise:

Stand firmly on your exercise mat with your legs slightly spread until your feet are aligned with your shoulders. The weight should be on the floor directly between your feet. This is the starting position.

Bend your knees and use your right hand to pick up the weight. Use your hips and lower body force to swing the kettlebells until your arm is level with your shoulder. Smoothly swing the weight between your knees to the starting position. Do 15-20 repetitions, switch arms, and do 15-20 more.

5. Kettlebell Russian Twist

To keep optimal strength and mobility for years to come, you can’t beat this unique strengthening exercise. It combines the form of a squat with a standing leg lift. Holding a weight at chest height gives your body enough weight resistance to tone your muscles and burn fat.

• How to Do This Exercise:

Stand firmly on your exercise mat while holding the weight with both hands. The handle should be right under your chin with the kettlebell at your chest. This spot is the starting position.

Now, lift your weight across your right shoulder while going into a slight squat with your left leg bent. Your lifted leg should be barely off the mat. Use the strength in your hips, and lower right leg to bring yourself back into the starting position. Pay special attention that you don’t allow your leg to touch the mat.

Do these steps for 10-15 repetitions. Switch legs and do the same steps for another 10-15 reps on the other side.

6. Kettlebell Liberty Stance

You get the perfect amount of weight resistance when you can bring a kettlebell weight from the floor, over your head, and back to the floor again. This exercise is a whole-body workout that you will want to share with your friends. Say goodbye to those love handles and flabby arms.

• How to Do This Exercise:

First, stand on the ground with your feet aligned with your shoulders and your arms at your sides. Place the kettlebells between your feet. Bend down until your thighs are parallel to the mat and grab the girya with your right hand.

Now, use the strength from your hips and knees to lift the weight to your shoulders’ height. Rotate your hand until your grasping palm is facing outward and lift the weight straight above your head. Your elbow should lock for a brief second. If you do this correctly, your stance should be almost like the Statue of Liberty.

Smoothly go into a squat and bring the weight to the starting position. Try to do at least 10-15 repetitions. Rest for a few minutes if needed. Switch to your left arms and do the same steps for another 10-15 times. You can accomplish this move with either kettlebells or hand weights (as in the video).

Final Thoughts on Attaining Whole Body Toning with Kettlebells

These are among the many kettlebell exercises that you can use for your tailored workout. Studies even showed that using the kettlebell can help lower glucose levels as well as get you in shape. Start with low weight, and complete several repetitions. As you master these moves, you can add weight and reps. You will see a more toned body in a few weeks.

Before you attempt these or any other activities, consult with your primary healthcare provider or a certified fitness instructor. You can use these classic old school “farm tools” to build the leaner, healthier body you’ve always wanted.