How to do a proper kettlebell squat

What is the best way to spice up a standard squat? Add a kettlebell (or two) and make them kettlebell squat!

Even if you’ve experimented with adding resistance to your squats before, the kettlebell squat offers a completely different experience, thanks to its unique shape.

“Kettlebells offer a variety of options for holding and positioning when squatting,” says Jordan Duncan, DC, owner of Silverdale Sport & Spine in Silverdale, Washington. “You can hold a kettlebell by the bell (the round part of the kettlebell), the handle (the horizontal part), or the horn (the straight or slightly curved part that connects the handle to the bell).”

According to Duncan, changing your grip, the position of the kettlebell or its proximity to your body can change which muscles are engaged during the kettlebell squat.

(The same principle applies to other kettlebell movements.)

With seemingly endless kettlebell squat variations, you’ll never get bored, And You are bound to get a well-rounded workout.

New to kettlebell squats? “Start with a light kettlebell and make sure you’ve mastered the squat technique before progressing to more challenging weights,” says Duncan.

He recommends starting with kettlebell goblet squats (see below).

Also, be aware of your breathing. “Breathing is very important in kettlebell squats, as is exhalation. You want to perform one breath per squat, inhaling on the way down and exhaling on the way up,” says Duncan.

Here are a few ways to do kettlebell squats.

1. Kettlebell goblet squats

Kettlebell Goblet Squat |  Kettlebell squats

“The kettlebell goblet squat is a simple, effective way to develop the basic squatting movement pattern,” says Duncan. “Holding the bell in front of the body helps increase squat range of motion and improve balance while squatting.”

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes forward.
  • With elbows bent, hold a kettlebell in front of your chest. Keep your elbows close to your body and avoid spreading them out. You can hold the kettlebell by the handle or the horn. Or, hold the kettlebell upside down with the bell.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, bend your knees, push your hips back, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. While you are sitting down, your elbows should cross your inner thighs.
  • Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

2. Kettlebell sumo squat

Kettlebell Sumo Squat |  Kettlebell squats

“Although the sumo squat trains similar muscles as the traditional squat, its wider stance and leg position also emphasize the hip adductor muscles of the inner thighs,” says Duncan.

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes turned out at about 45 degrees.
  • With your arms straight down in front of you, use both hands to grasp the handle of a kettlebell.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, bend your knees, push your hips back, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you sit down, the kettlebell will hang between your legs. Close your core to ensure the weight doesn’t pull your chest forward.
  • Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

3. Double front-racked kettlebell squat

Double front racked kettlebell squats  Kettlebell squats

“Like the kettlebell goblet squat, holding the kettlebell in front of the body helps increase squat range of motion,” says Duncan. “The core muscles are also challenged to stabilize the body with kettlebells in this position.”

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes forward.
  • With each hand, hold a kettlebell in a racked position. (Hold the kettlebell with the handle in front of your shoulders so that the bell rests on the outside of the forearm and the elbow is tucked in close to the torso.) Alternatively, you can hold just one kettlebell for the one-arm kettlebell squat variation.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, bend your knees, push your hips back, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

4. Kettlebell Squat to Overhead Press

Kettlebell squat to overhead press  Kettlebell squats

“This exercise trains energy transfer from the lower body to the upper body, which requires optimal core activation and timing,” says Duncan.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes forward.
  • With each hand, hold a kettlebell in a front-racked position. Alternatively, you can hold just one kettlebell for a single-arm kettlebell squat for an overhead press variation.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, bend your knees, push your hips back, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, and then, as you return to a standing position, push both kettlebells straight up in one fluid motion, locking your elbows and bringing your biceps to your ears.
  • As you move into your next squat, lower the kettlebells to a racked position.

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