The Best Kettlebell Exercises For Beginners

by admin on August 19, 2011

Perusing the fitness/health/exercise section at the local bookstore last weekend, I stumbled upon a new kettlebell training guide I’d never seen before …

There were a huge variety of kettlebell exercises in the book – I’m talking like hundreds.

Sounds cool at first – lots of variety, lots of different kettlebell exercises to  impress your friends, etc. …

The problem, though, is that with this much exercise variety, it’s almost impossible to learn all the moves correctly in any reasonable amount of time – especially if you’re a kettlebell beginner.

I can’t tell you how many folks I’ve trained that have started with kettlebells in this info-overload, learn-many-exercises-but-master-none, no-real-structured-program fashion, and upon meeting with me and being put on a steady diet of swings and TGU’s for a month or two, have seen their progress go through the roof!

So, that being said, the best kettlebell exercises for beginners are the swing and the Turkish get up. In this article, I’m going to talk about exactly why these exercises are the best for beginners, explain how to do them, and give you a sample beginner kettlebell workout.

Why the swing and the Turkish get up are the two best kettlebell exercises for beginners

In the HardStyle kettlebell system, everything is built upon mastery of the swing and the Turkish get up. The swing is the ‘base’ balistic exercise, and the get up is the ‘base’ grind.

And this makes perfect sense when you analyse the rest of the basic kettlebell moves (the goblet squat, the clean, the press, and the snatch). For example, in the clean and the snatch, the ‘bottom’ position is identical to the swing; so if you don’t really, really have the swing down, your clean and snatch are going to be jacked up.

The Turkish get up is fantastic for strengthening your wrists, conditioning your forearms, and building the necessary shoulder mobility and stability for doing a great press and snatch. If you can’t lock out the ‘bell overhead at the top position of a get up properly, you sure as heck won’t be able to while you’re doing a clean or a snatch.

How to perform the Turkish get up and the HardStyle swing

Here are two videos I made that show you how to do the swing and the Turkish get up:

Also, here are more detailed descriptions of each exercise that I covered in previous blog posts:

The Kettlebell Swing

How To Do A Turkish Get Up

Sample swing and Turkish get up workout

The best workout you’ll find that uses these two exercises is Pavel’s Program Minimum from Enter the Kettlebell. If you don’t have the book yet, and you’re a beginning kettlebell trainee, I highly, highly recomend you pick up a copy.

(For a ‘sneak peek’ of the Program Minimum, check out this blog post from fellow RKC Adrienne Harvey: Variation on Program Minimum)

In short, the best kettlebell exercises for beginners are the Turkish get up and the swing. All other basic kettlebell exercises are built upon these two, so make sure you take your time to master and perfect them before moving on to more advanced drills; you’ll be glad you did.  Good luck and keep training hard -


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sal Renda August 22, 2011 at 4:34 am

Hey Forest, I have a problem with TGU – the weight of the KB I exercise with is 16kg/35lbs (it was given to me). The other movements are fine with no struggle. Can I use a light dumbbell since no other KB’s are available to perform this exercise? What is your opinion using a dumbbell ?(…or bite the bullet and purchase a litter KB? Sal


admin August 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Using a dumbbell is okay to start … you do miss out on some of the prep benefits of the TGU for other KB exercises, though … so it depends on your goals.

If you’re just looking to do swings and tgu’s – the DB is fine. If you want to progress to other more advanced kettlebell moves, bite the bullet and get a smaller KB.

Hope that helps!



Sal Renda August 26, 2011 at 2:10 am

I just read your double kb circuit and realize I must purchase a second 35lbs kb and a smaller one as well. And yes, my goal is to progress for other advanced kb moves. Thanks for the help. Sal


rich sadowski November 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Maybe a silly question. What is the breathing sequence on the kettlebell swing?


admin December 1, 2011 at 12:40 am

In through the nose on the way down and out through the mouth as the weight comes up.

Hope that helps Rich!



Ray Harris January 15, 2013 at 6:30 am


I want to focus my training on doing just kettlebell swings (for fat loss, getting/staying lean & cardio conditioning) and I have a question: is there any difference between the hardstyle swing & the “regular” swing? Or are they one and the same? Thanks! Ray


admin January 15, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Ray -

Great question. There are def. some things about the hardstyle swing that make it unique –

Here is an article I did on the topic that may help:




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