Kettlebell Kings: 9 Top Exercises to Revolutionize Your Running Performance

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

If you’re aiming to enhance your overall running prowess and become a better runner, it’s time to shift your focus to training those running muscles for improved strength, core stability, balance, and endurance.

The solution? Kettlebells.

These versatile training tools are just what you need to level up your running game, helping you run with more strength and speed while torching calories along the way. Kettlebell exercises are renowned for being among the best for full-body strength and conditioning, making them a perfect fit for runners.

The beauty of kettlebells lies in their efficiency—they deliver a killer workout in under 20 minutes. What’s more, kettlebell training won’t bulk you up but will instead build strength in essential running areas like your glutes, legs, and core.

In this article, we’ll explore the top 9 kettlebell exercises tailored for runners, providing three workout routines that will have you swinging, lifting, and pressing your way to the next level of running excellence.

Are you ready to take your running to new heights? Let’s dive in!

1. The Cardio Blaster Workout

This workout will have you sweating and panting for a breath in no time, and it’s ideal if you are looking to improve your power and speed while also improving endurance in your muscles.

Just pace yourself here and make sure to pick a relatively lightweight because you will be doing a lot of reps with each move.


Kettlebell Swing

Begin by holding the kettlebell with both hands using a two-handed, overhand grip. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, toes pointing slightly outward.

To perform the swing exercise, bend at the hips until the kettlebell is hanging between your legs. While engaging your core muscles, swing the kettlebell up by explosively extending through the hips and knees. Allow the weight to swing back to the starting position. This completes one rep.

Aim to do 16 to 20 reps to complete one set and aim for three sets.


Kettlebell Snatch

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell with an overhand grip. Squat down until the kettlebell is positioned between your feet.

Explode up out of the squat and drive the weight overhead by pulling it along a vertical path in front of your body in one fluid motion. Pause momentarily at the top.

Lower the kettlebell down to the starting position. Perform 16 to 20 reps on each side to complete one set. Aim to do three sets of this exercise.

You can refer to the provided YouTube links for visual demonstrations of these exercises.


Kettlebell Thruster

Begin by grabbing two kettlebells, one in each hand, and clean them up to shoulder height by extending your legs. This is your starting position.

To perform the thrusters, squat down while holding the kettlebells in your hands pause for a second. Then, reverse direction and stand up by pressing through your heels and extending your arms overhead. This completes one rep.

Aim to perform 12 to 16 reps to complete one set. Aim to do three sets of this exercise.

2. The Strength Builder Workout

For strength, do this workout. Make sure to pick a really challenging weight and perform the exercises in a slow and controlled manner.

Proper form is king here. This routine will help you build muscles all over your body with an emphasis on the glutes, quads, and core, key running muscles.

Kettlebell Front Squat

Hold two kettlebells in front of your shoulders.

Assume an athletic stance with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, squat down by bending at the hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Pause for a moment at the bottom of the squat. Then, stand back up by pressing through your heels and extending your knees and hips. Maintain a straight back and keep your knees pointed in the same direction throughout the movement.

This completes one rep. Aim to perform 10 to 12 reps to complete one set. Aim for three sets of this exercise.

Kettlebell Deadlift

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with the kettlebell on the floor between your legs.  Pull your shoulders back, engage your core, and squat down to grab the kettlebell. Lift the kettlebell while keeping your chest high and squeezing your glutes.

Pause for a moment at the top of the movement. Squat down and lower the kettlebell to the floor to complete one repetition.

Aim to perform 8 to 10 reps to finish one set. Aim for three sets of this exercise.

The Turkish Get-up

Begin by lying face up on the floor while holding a kettlebell in your right hand, with your arm fully extended above your chest. This is the starting position.

To perform the Turkish Get-up, lift the kettlebell toward the ceiling as you roll up onto your left elbow by driving your right foot into the floor. Push yourself up to a standing position, keeping the kettlebell lifted overhead.

Stand tall with the kettlebell locked overhead, maintain a straight back, and pause for a moment. Reverse the movement back to the starting position, and then switch sides.

Perform 6 to 8 reps on each side to complete one set. Aim for three sets of this exercise.

3. The Core Ripper Workout

Kettlebells are so famous because they are some of the best core exercises there is. Therefore, here are 3 core moves to help you sculpt your core and build a strong midsection.

Kettlebell Plank with Row

Assume a plank position with your back straight, core engaged, arms straight, and hands grasping two kettlebell handles. Take a deep breath, then raise one kettlebell up until it reaches your hip.

Pause for a count of three at the top of the movement, then lower it down. Switch sides to complete one repetition.

Perform 10 to 12 reps to complete one set. Aim to do three sets of this exercise.

Kettlebell Windmill

Start by holding a kettlebell with your right hand and lift it up overhead while locking the arm and keeping the elbow straight, with your eyes on the weight throughout the movement. Turn your left foot out at a 45-degree angle.

Hinge at your hips until you can touch your left foot or the floor with your left hand. Pause for a moment at the bottom of the movement. Lift back to the starting position while keeping your legs straight, and the kettlebell lifted overhead.

Change sides to complete one repetition. Aim to perform eight reps to complete one set. Aim for three sets of this exercise.

Russian Twists

Sit on the floor with knees bent, feet about hip-distance apart, and core engaged.

Next, hold the weight with both hands at chest level, lean back, lift the legs off the floor, then rotate your torso from right to left, lightly tapping it to the ground with each rep.

Do eight reps on each side to complete one set.

Aim for three sets.

Featured Image Credit – Ville Cotimaki via Flickr

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