12 Best Kettlebell Leg Exercises | Leg Workout

12 Best Kettlebell Leg Exercises | Leg Workout

Feb 13, 2024

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Build Strong, Sculpted Legs with These 12 Essential Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebells provide a uniquely effective way to tone, strengthen and sculpt your legs. The offset center of mass challenges your muscles in new ways compared to barbells and dumbbells.

In this article, we will cover the top 12 kettlebell exercises to work your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves for strong, shapely legs.

Why Use Kettlebells for Leg Training?

Kettlebells offer many benefits for leg training:

  • Hit all major leg muscle groups including quads, hamstrings and glutes
  • Build muscular strength, endurance and explosive power
  • Enhance balance, coordination and core stability
  • Provide exercise variety beyond squats and lunges
  • Convenient, efficient training tool for home or the gym

Let's review the top 12 kettlebell leg exercises to include in your workouts.

1. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings build tremendous strength in your posterior chain including the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. They also deliver cardiovascular benefits when performed continuously.

How to: Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width holding the kettlebell with both hands. Hinge at the hips to swing the kettlebell between your legs. Thrust your hips forward and swing the kettlebell up to chest height in a fluid motion. Control the descent.

2. Goblet Squats

Goblet squats allow you to go deep with proper alignment. They target the quadriceps, glutes and core stabilizers. The kettlebell helps improve squat technique.

How to: Hold a kettlebell at chest height close to your body. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a deep squat. Keep your weight on your heels and keep your chest up. Drive through your heels back to standing.

3. Bulgarian Split Squats

These demanding one-legged squats build strength while reducing muscular imbalances. They effectively work the glutes, quads and hamstrings unilaterally.

How to: Place one foot on a bench behind you. Hold kettlebells at your sides or in the goblet position. Squat down until your front thigh is parallel to the floor, keeping your torso upright.

4. Single Leg Deadlifts

Challenge your balance and stability while working the glutes and hamstrings with single leg deadlifts. Your core will have to work hard to keep you steady.

How to: Stand on one leg, hinge at the hip and lower the kettlebell toward the floor while extending the other leg behind you. Touch the floor then drive through the front heel to return upright.

5. Racked Kettlebell Squats

Racked front squats allow you to use heavier loads with great technique. They build immense lower body power targeting the quadriceps and glutes.

How to: Clean two kettlebells up to shoulder height. Squat down, keeping your elbows high and knees behind your toes. Drive upwards through your heels back to the start.

6. Kettlebell Back Squats

Traditional back squats with kettlebells in the "horns" position engage the leg muscles much like a barbell back squat. Great for building strength.

How to: Clean the kettlebells into the racked position, then flip your wrists so the handles are on the outsides of your shoulders. Squat deeply through the heels.

7. Sumo Squats

The wide stance and toes pointed outward in the sumo squat heavily recruits the inner thighs and glutes. The kettlebell helps you descend slowly with control.

How to: Take a very wide stance with feet turned out. Push your hips back while keeping your chest up and core braced as you squat. Drive through the heels back to standing.

8. Sumo Deadlifts

The sumo deadlift stance focuses the demand on your glutes and hamstrings rather than your lower back. Build a shapely behind!

How to: Take a wide stance with toes angled out. Hinge at the hips to lower your hands outside your knees and grab the kettlebell. Drive through your heels, squeezing your glutes to stand upright.

9. Walking Lunges

Walking lunges are a demanding functional exercise that tones your quads, glutes and hamstrings while challenging your balance and core stability.

How to: Step forward into a lunge, lowering your back knee toward the floor. Explode back to standing, bringing the back foot forward into the next rep.

10. Kettlebell Wall Sits

Wall sits build tremendous endurance and strength in your quads, inner thighs, glutes and calves. Use a kettlebell to increase the challenge.

How to: Hold a kettlebell at your chest and lower into a seated position with your back against the wall. Maintain this isometric hold for 30-60 seconds.

11. Kettlebell Step Ups

Step ups isolate each leg to improve stability, balance and coordination. They target the glutes, quads and hamstrings while blasting your heart rate.

How to: Hold kettlebells at your sides or in racked position. Step onto a box or bench and drive through the lead heel to straighten the leg, squeezing your glute. Repeat on the other side.

12. Turkish Get Ups

The Turkish get-up is famous for its ability to reveal weaknesses! This full body movement builds exceptional balance, stability and coordination.

How to: Start lying down, pass a kettlebell overhead and follow detailed steps to move from the ground into a standing position stabilizing the kettlebell the entire time.

Kettlebells enable challenging, effective and fun training for your lower body. Mix up your usual squats and lunges by incorporating some of these dynamic kettlebell leg exercises into your next workout routine! Your legs will thank you.

Let me know if you have any other favorite kettlebell exercises for sculpted legs!

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Frequently Asked Questions about Kettlebell Leg Training

Leg workout with kettlebell?

Kettlebell leg workouts are very effective for sculpting and strengthening the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Excellent kettlebell leg exercises include lunges, squats, deadlifts, step ups, swings, goblet squats and single leg deadlifts.

What are the best kettlebell leg exercises?

Some of the best kettlebell leg exercises are goblet squats, single leg deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, sumo squats, kettlebell swings, and Turkish get ups. These exercises target all the major muscles in your lower body.

How to do a proper kettlebell deadlift?

Keep your back straight, hinge at the hips, and brace your core. Drive through your heels keeping the kettlebell close to your body as you lift and lower it with control.

What is the best kettlebell to use for leg exercises?

For most leg exercises a 16 or 20 kg (35-45 lb) kettlebell for men and 8 or 12 kg (18-25 lb) for women allows a challenging workout without compromising form and technique.

Should I do kettlebell lunges for quads and glutes?

Yes, kettlebell lunges are fantastic for strengthening your quadriceps and glutes. Try walking lunges up and down your hallway or reverse lunges for variation.

How do kettlebell goblet squats work the legs?

By holding the kettlebell close to your chest, goblet squats force you into proper upright form, working your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves as you lower into the deep squat.

What muscles does the kettlebell deadlift work?

Just like its barbell counterpart, the kettlebell deadlift targets the posterior chain including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back gripping muscles. It finishes by squeezing your glutes at the top.

Can kettlebell lunges replace leg extensions?

Yes, lunges and split squats are superior leg exercises compared to leg extensions because they work your leg muscles through a fuller range of motion while enhancing balance and core stability.

Are kettlebell thrusters a full body exercise?

Yes, the combination of a deep squat followed immediately by an overhead press makes thrusters an excellent full body kettlebell exercise working your legs, core, shoulders and arms explosively.

How much weight should I use for double kettlebell front squats?

When starting double kettlebell front squats, we recommend 10 lbs (4 kg) for women and 15-20 lbs (8 kg) for men to allow you to master the technique without strain.

What muscles does the kettlebell single arm deadlift work?

Primarily this unilateral exercise targets your glutes, hamstrings and core stabilizer muscles to balance yourself against the load in one hand.

How do side lunges with a kettlebell target my glutes?

Standing side lunges emphasize your glutes and outer thighs because they force your body to move laterally with the additional challenge of stabilizing an offset load.

How do I stop my front knee from caving in on kettlebell lunges?

Focus on pushing your weight through your front heel and keeping your core engaged to better stabilize your hips and knees. You can also place your back foot on a slider.

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My Journey with Kettlebell Leg Training

I've been strength training for years, but kettlebells took my leg workouts to a whole new level. The first time I tried goblet squats, I knew kettlebells were no joke!

Finding the Right Kettlebell Weight

When I started incorporating kettlebell training, I had to put my ego aside and not go too heavy on those first kettlebell cleans. My trainer warned me: leave your ego at the door! I started with 12kg which felt manageable but still challenging on exercises like single leg deadlifts and lunges.

Wobbling through Lateral Lunges

I’ve done many sets of forward and reverse lunges, but my first try at a lateral lunge with a kettlebell nearly took me out! Having to stabilize that offset load from side to side forced me to engage my core and ignited my glutes and inner thighs. What a great exercise!

Discovering New Glutes and Hamstrings

Kettlebell swing? More like kettlebell slay! Swings hit my posterior chain in a way no other exercise ever had. And doing sets of heavy swings left my glutes and hams pleasantly sore for days. This quickly became my favorite part of leg day!

Turkish Get Ups: Not as Easy as They Look!

I'd seen the Turkish get up (TGU) performed gracefully many times. But that exercise is extremely deceptive in its simplicity. My first attempts were shaky at best. TGUs revealed weaknesses in my shoulders and core that no other move ever has. I both hated and loved them!

Embracing the Wobble

With challenging exercises like single leg deadlifts and Bulgarian split squats, I had to get comfortable with a little wobble and uncertainty on each rep. But that enabled more muscle activation and forced me to stabilize with my core. Once I embraced the wobble, I started seeing superior leg results.

So in summary, be ready to get humbled and work muscles you never knew you had with kettlebells! What are your favorite kettlebell leg exercises?

I’d love to hear about your experiences too!

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Kettlebell Exercise (KB) Tips from a Trainer

Kettlebell exercises offer an excellent way to boost lower body strength and overall fitness. Moves like kettlebell swings, goblet squats, and Turkish get-ups provide a comprehensive workout for your legs, glutes, and core.

During kettlebell workouts, it's crucial to maintain proper form to maximize effectiveness and reduce the risk of injury. Engage your core muscles, keep your back straight, and focus on driving through your heels during movements.

The kettlebell clean is a popular exercise, involving lifting the kettlebell from the ground to shoulder height in one smooth motion. It targets upper body, core, and lower body strength.

For a challenging leg workout, incorporate kettlebell lunges and reverse lunges. These exercises target the glutes, quads, and hamstrings while engaging core muscles for stability.

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Alternate legs and perform an equal number of reps on each side to maintain balance. Focus on driving through the heels and keeping a slight bend in the knees to protect the lower leg joints.

Including kettlebell deadlifts and sumo squats can strengthen the hamstrings and quads, providing a well-rounded lower body workout.

Don't shy away from heavier kettlebells as you progress. Gradually increasing weight helps build strength and muscle mass over time.

Using A Pink Kettlebell ripl fitness

Overall, kettlebell exercises are a valuable addition to any fitness routine, offering dynamic movements targeting multiple muscle groups. Incorporate them into your workouts to improve strength, stability, and overall functional fitness.

Consult with a trainer or fitness professional if you're new to kettlebell workouts to ensure proper form and technique.

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PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Legs Training Guides:

Leg Press Machine Exercise | Ultimate Leg Press Workout Guide

The Best Leg Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

8 Best Landmine Exercises | Landmine Leg & Lower Body Workout

Easy Wall Exercises For Legs | Wall Workout

8 Best Hack Squat Alternatives That Target Your Quads

10 Single Leg Exercises to Build Explosive Leg Strength

Best 10 TRX Leg Exercises For Lower Body | TRX Leg Workout

Best 18 Calisthenics Leg Exercises | Calisthenics Leg Workout

9 Compound Leg Exercises | Best Compound Exercises For Lower Body