How To Do Kettlebell Squats

With just one piece of equipment, you can transform your workout. If you are a novice to the kettlebell, you should start off with the most traditional kettlebell squat to master the technique.

Ensuring that you can handle the kettlebell comfortably is the best way to prevent injuries, especially from certain swinging movements. From there you can up the weight itself or simply try some more challenging movements. 

How To Do Kettlebell Squats

A kettlebell is a great way of introducing resistance to your squats and further engaging your upper body and shoulders. Not to mention your core and legs.

Due to the kettlebell’s design, you can also experiment until you find the most comfortable, or most challenging, grip. Hold it by the horns, the handle, or the bell at the bottom, whichever works best for you for the squat you are performing. 

There are so many variations, so you should never get bored with kettlebell squats. They also provide a well-rounded, versatile, and rewarding workout that you can do pretty much anywhere. Find your form with a few simple exercises as we show you how to do kettlebell squats.

The Kettlebell Squat

We will start with the traditional squat (also known as the goblet squat), as this is the exercise to break you in. So, what are goblet squats

This is just like a squatting exercise with an added weight to the front of your body, particularly a kettlebell. Ideal for toning your glutes and challenging your balance, you may want to keep practicing this move until you get it just right.

Find the most comfortable grip for you; this may be by the horns, the handle, or even upside down. 

With regular practice, the simple move will work your back muscles and help you find your form. This should also improve your posture and build up your confidence to try more complex squats. 

  1. With your toes pointed forward and your feet apart, hold the kettlebell in front of you. You will have your palms facing towards you and your elbows bent.
  2. Keep those elbows close and tight to your body, your back should be flat with your core braced.
  3. Maintain your chest in a lifted position with your spine straight, then bend your knees and squat down. Once your thighs are parallel with the floor, take a quick pause then engage your glutes and rise back up.

The Sumo Squat

What are sumo squats? So-called for its similarity to the pre-match pose of the Japanese sumo wrestlers, the sumo squat is an effective exercise for targeting muscle groups in the lower body. With a wider stance than the traditional squat, you should work your hip adductor muscles too.

This is an ideal squat exercise if you are taller or your hips are really tight. The ideal grip for the kettlebell is by the handle at your chest with both hands, as you should have more control. 

Sumo squats with kettlebells

  1. Stand with your toes turned out at a 45-degree angle with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your core braced, and your back flat, then bend your knees with your hips back. 
  3. Similar to the traditional squat, lower your body until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  4. Ensure your chest does not pull forward by bracing your core, then pause and push back up

The Narrow Kettlebell Squat

If you are looking to work your inner thighs, then the sumo squat is a good option. If you want to go a step further, try the narrow kettlebell squat. You will actually be taking a step in to really test those leg muscles.

  1. Position your feet narrow, somewhere between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Hold the bell (or bottom) of the kettlebell with both of your hands at your chest. The handle should be directly below your chin, then draw your shoulders down by pushing them away from your ears.
  3. With your spine straight, bend your knees, then shift your hips back to lower your body down into a squat.
  4. Once you have reached the bottom of your range of motion, push through and engage your hips to rise back up.

The Kettlebell Squat And Swing

You should be familiar with the classic squat and swing. This movement is a natural progression from the traditional hold, squat, and rise-up exercises. As well as toning your shoulders and your back, your core will be worked too. 

Not to mention your heart rate due to the momentum and explosive swing. This is one movement to advance to, once you have mastered your hold and have full control.

  1. With your feet wider than hip-width apart, have your toes pointed slightly out. 
  2. Hold the kettlebell with both your hands between your legs and ensure your abs are engaged. Check that your back is flat, then squat down.
  3. Take a quick breath in, press down into your feet, then explode up swinging the kettlebell in front of you as your legs straighten. 
  4. Exhale out and return to the starting position while the kettlebell returns between your legs.

Final Thoughts

Kettlebell squats are a simple exercise to learn yet one that proves very rewarding. You can start with a small weight to hone your technique, then discover what works for you.

Perhaps a larger weight for a bigger resistance, or trying out several variations, as there are so many to choose from.

As well as finding your form, kettlebell squats are a good way of regulating your breathing. By inhaling on the way down, then exhaling on the way back up, you should only use a single breath. 

By holding the weight in various positions, you can engage different muscle groups. From your upper body and shoulders to your core, abs, and legs for a complete workout. That also means a big calorie burn in a short space of time.

Regular kettlebell squats can strengthen those key muscle groups and your core, which should benefit other exercises too. This in turn will significantly reduce neck, back, and shoulder pain, which is another great reason to try them.

For one exercise, there is a huge range of versatility and a massive benefit, so grab a kettlebell and get squatting. 

Kevin Harris