Kettlebell lunges are a very effective way to improve strength and increase muscle mass in the legs. Lunges are one of the most effective single leg variations that we have available to us, so if you only have access to kettlebells it is important to use your kettlebells to move through the lunge movement pattern. Thankfully there are a huge variety of variations, lets walk through 8 different kettlebell lunge variations you can use for strength and hypertrophy.
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Kettlebell lunge are an effective way to build strength in the legs and specifically the single leg movement pattern which does differ slightly to bi-lateral squatting, though it has a lot of carry over. Strength training aims to increase the maximal of force a muscle can produce. Using lunges can be a good way to increase this capacity, however barbell back squats will always be much more effective for building maximal strength.
Using very heavy weights with kettlebells can be a little bit awkward, you will quickly find that the most challenging part of the exercise is maintaining the weight in the hands or the front rack position depending on which grip you are using. So although kettlebell lunging can be used for strength training it is by no means optimal for increasing force production (strength) of the legs. The important thing is to not let perfect be the enemy of good, you can get plenty strong doing lunges with kettlebells.
Hypertrophy training with kettlebells in lunge is extremely effective, there is no limitation of carrying the extremely heavy weight as the weight will be much lighter for hypertrophy training. Hypertrophy will require far great repetitions than strength training so gripping the kettlebell by its horns or using the goblet position will always be far superior to using the front rack position which will fatigue much more quickly.
Having the ability to use multiple grips helps develop different parts of the body and can help us to become much more well rounded. For example if we get used to doing heavy Kettlebell Front Rack Squats, they may not challenge our legs enough to improve maximal strength, but our core strength might improve to such an extent that the next time we do a barbell front squat we are able to find it much easier in terms of not rounding the back as the weight gets heavier.
As you can see from the multiple examples in the list above, the kettlebell is a very valuable tool when it comes to lunge variations that are going to help us build mobility and movement virtuosity. These is a huge advantage that kettlebells have, these styles of movement are often performed with a kettlebell over a barbell for example and are on of the main bonuses of using kettlebells consistently.
Full body resistance training is an amazingly effective way to get in great shape while improving athleticism through training just 2-3 times a week. It involves performing movements from multiple movement patterns within one session (squat, hinge, push pull etc). It allows us to design programmes that are comprehensive without being super high volume. They can be written to put emphasis on strength or hypertrophy and are what the majority of athletes will be performing in their training.
Kettlebell lunge variations can easily be added into these session to great effect. Here is an example of a full body resistance training session that incorporate multiple kettlebell lunge variations.
A) Back Squat
5 x 8 @65%
B1) Kettlebell Squat in Lunge
5 x 12 @20kg
B2) DB Bench Press
5 x 10 @30kg
B3) Kettlebell Pull over
5 x 8 @8kg
C1) KB Cossack Squat
3 x 10 @3kg
C2) Suitcase Hold
3 x 30” @28kg
Muscle Group Training
Kettlebell lunge variations can also be easily added into the more traditional body building training layout where the week is split into different muscle groups. This lunge movement would obviously be added to either leg or lower body day.
The best kettlebell lunge variation for beginners is the:
The best kettlebell lunge variations for beginners are the:
The best kettlebell lunges for HIIT style workouts are:
The best kettlebell lunges for hip mobility are:
One huge drawback of using kettlebells for successful training is not lack of exercises, there are hundreds, but the requirement of a large amount of equipment. Most gyms, let alone home gyms, do not have very heavy kettlebells that allow us to create cycles to progress weights with just kettlebells. This is why I always advice using a mixture of equipment. Or being extremely wealthy and designing your own home gym with all the kettlebell variation.
As previously discussed, the kettlebell is hard to use for effective strength training. By this I mean getting the muscles as strong as possible. If you want to build a heavy kettlebell lunge specifically, then this is going to need to be done with a kettlebell. However if you want to have the strongest legs possible, you will need to add the barbell into your routine. If your training for health and wellbeing, a kettlebell can easily be enough stimulus for this training goal.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.