20 Minute Kettlebell Workout for Runners

First off, I just want to express my appreciation for the thoughtful and respectful conversation that emerged in the comments of yesterday’s post on Whole30 and running.  One of the primary reasons I write is because I enjoy having conversations that promote critical thinking, considering various points of view, and learning from one another. So thank you all!

After a lengthy technical (and rather nerdy) breakdown on why all runners should do tempo runs and yesterday’s post, I thought I’d spare you from another day of my verbose tendencies and share with you today a quick and effective 20 minute kettlebell workout for runners. 

I have discussed numerous times on this blog why strength training is beneficial for runners. In addition to the overall health benefits, strength training boosts your metabolism, improves your running form, and decreases your risk of injury. Whether you perform bodyweight exercises or lift weights, strength exercises are so vital for healthy and fast running that you should include strength training even during marathon training

The kettlebell offers even more benefits for runners, which is one of the reasons I favor it for my own strength training. Studies have even found that consistent kettlebell training improves your aerobic fitness 

For these exercises, all you need is a single kettlebell; I used a 15-pound kettlebell for this workout. For this 20 minute kettlebell workout, perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps of the exercises. You should execute each move slowly and carefully, as not to injure yourself or decrease the efficacy of this workout. Rest for one minute between each set. 

20 Minute Kettlebell Workout for Runners

20 Minute Kettlebell Workout for Runners

Kettlebell Swing: Hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your body. Your feet should be slightly wider than hip-width apart. Hinge at your hips while keeping your back flat and then engage your core and glutes to explosively swing the kettlebell with extended arms to shoulder height. This is not an arm-based exercise – the movement should come from your hips. Watch this video for more detailed explanation on how to safely do a kettlebell swing

Off-Set Kettlebell Step-Up: Find a step or an exercise bench and stand in front of it. Hold the kettlebell down my your side in your left hand. Step your right foot onto the bench and press through your heel as your straighten your right leg so that you are standing upright on the bench. Reverse the movement to return to start; once you completed all reps, switch to perform the step up on your left leg with the kettlebell in your right hand. 

Kettlebell Squat with Single Arm Press: Hold the kettlebell in your right hand and stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Bend your arm and raise your kettlebell so that the kettlebell is resting by your right shoulder (rack position). Lower your bottom down and back until your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle; pause, and then slowly raise up. As you return to the starting position, fully extend your arm to press the kettlebell straight up above your shoulder. Once you complete all reps, repeat with the kettlebell on left side. 

Reverse Lunge with Kettlebell Halo: Hold the kettlebell upside down by the handle (so the round part is facing up) with both hands in front of your chest. Step your left leg back into a reverse lunge. Hold the lunge and use both hands to circle it to the left of your face, back around your head to the right, and to the front (do this move slowly so you don’t hit yourself in the head). Once the halo is completed, step your left foot forward to return to start. Repeat all reps for your left leg, and then lunge with your right leg, circling the halo in the opposite direction. 

Plank to Twisting Row: Get into pushup position, with your back flat, arms directly beneath your shoulders, and abs engaged. Hold the kettlebell in your right hand, with it resting on the ground beneath your shoulder for start position. Pull the kettlebell up towards your shoulder and twist your right shoulder to your left, so that your torso rotates as you raise the weight. Pause, and then lower to start. Complete all reps on your right side before switching to your left. 

Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer, so please consider that when you adapt any strength workout. Always heed to the cues of your own body; if an exercise does not feel comfortable, do not continue to do it. Additionally, this post contains an affiliate link, which costs you nothing extra but supports This Runner’s Recipes. 

What’s your favorite go-to strength workout right now?
How is your week going so far?

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29 Responses

  1. As you know, Pure Barre is my current jam and has been for well over a year now (gosh, maybe almost 2 years now!). I really love it because it’s complicated and challenging without overwhelming me because i never liked strength training. i used to do kettleballs in the gym, i should try it again when i am in there.

    1. I need to try Pure Barre again – I did Barre 3 for a while and it is such a challenging but never exhausting workout! And it complimented running, Pilates, and kettlebell so well. You should give it a try! 🙂

  2. Another great post and workout! As always, super appreciate the technical explanation and the amount of knowledge that you are demonstrating. Kettlebells can be super effective, like you said, but it is imperative that people use them properly!

    1. Awww, thank you Susie! And I agree – SO important that people know to use them right. I can’t explain all the technical details (that’s where personal trainers like you do best), so I hope that people practice with caution!

  3. I love using Kettlebells and have been doing more of KB workouts in my strength classes at least 1-2 times per week. I think my new gym has kettlebells so I’ll have to pin this to do there one day soon!

    1. They are so valuable for a home gym – I’ve had a KB as part of my home gym for years and it’s so convenient for lifting weight at home. I think I paid $15 or $20 for my KB at Target, which is a lot cheaper than some other strength training pieces. Thanks for pinning and I hope you enjoy the workout! 🙂

  4. I’d be so nervous swinging around the kettleball having had that back issue last week, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I’d like to try it someday. My week is kinda crappy, quite honestly. Andrew is getting over pneumonia and now Callum has it, and he didn’t sleep a wink last night. I slept on the hard floor beside his crib, and now I woke up with a chest cough. Happy birthday to me.

    1. This is just based on my own experience, but I found that kettlebells helped strength my back and hips. I used to get lower back twinges that would take me off of running for a day or so, but the last time that happened was right before I started using KB. You should try them! I found starting with a 7-10 lb bell helped me master form so I didn’t hurt myself.
      I’m sorry to hear you’re having a rough week – that really stinks and you must be so frustrated and tired 🙁 Poor Callum and Andrew – please don’t you get sick! Praying you all feel better and sending you hugs and birthday wishes! xoxo 🙂

  5. Kettlebells are one of my favorite pieces of equipment at the gym! My old apartment had a gym with a great set, and I can’t wait to move into a house and buy them right away. They’re SO useful! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Gretchen! They’re the best for a home gym! I’ve kept a kettlebell in my apartment for years because it doesn’t take up a lot of space and I can squeeze in quick strength workouts easily in any room (as long as I’m away from any screens – I still get nervous about swinging that thing!). Plus they’re so cheap compared to barbells or dumbbell sets – I think I got mine at Target for $15 or $20.

    1. Awww, thank you, Lindsay! Part of the short post was because I (finally) updated my old 2010 mac to el captain and that left me computer-less for a better part of a day! Thankfully swinging around a heavy kettlebell is great stress relief, haha!

  6. You don’t have to sell me on strength training! I’ve seen HUGE gains in my running–both endurance and speed over the past 2 years since I started strength training with my coach. I don’t understand why so many runners won’t try it. It’s amazing.

    1. It is amazing! We both should convert more runners to loving strength training! I’m glad you’ve seen such great results from it – and I bet all the lifting you do will really help you out on the hills of Big Sur!

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