When you don’t have much time or exercise equipment at your disposal, it can be tough to squeeze in a workout. No worries, though: We’ve got an awesome kettlebell circuit that will hit your entire body in just 20 minutes—no fancy machines required.
This five-move routine is super efficient and functional, in part because it targets your whole body instead of honing in on just a few muscle groups. Full-body training tends to be a more functional way of training, since so much of day-to-day life—from walking the dog to carrying a basket of laundry to wrangling a squirming toddler—involves lots of different muscle groups working together simultaneously.
“I personally always do a full-body workout,” certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, MA, coach at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, tells SELF. These full-body workouts can deliver a good bang-for-your-exercise buck since many times they involve compound moves that work multiple muscle groups at once—meaning, you don’t need to do a whole bunch of exercises to hit all those muscles.
The following full-body kettlebell circuit, which Jamison created for SELF, is especially efficient because it alternates between upper-body and lower-body dominant exercises, which gives half of your body time to actively recover while the other half works. This cuts down on the overall workout time because you don’t have to rest as much in between moves, says Jamison.
Another plus of this routine? It can build well-balanced, total-body strength, thanks to moves like the renegade row and Romanian deadlift that target your posterior chain (backside muscles) as well as exercises like the chest press and forward lunge that fire up your anterior chain (frontside muscles). Think of a muscle, and it’s pretty likely that this workout targets it: You’ll hit your quads, hamstrings, and glutes in your lower body, as well as your back, biceps, chest, shoulders, and triceps in your upper body. Your core will also be working too, not only in the sit-up to press—what you may consider an “abs exercise”—but also in the other movements as well, as it fires to keep you steady as you lunge, hinge, row, and press.
Want to give this full-body kettlebell workout a try? Just make sure you do a quick warm-up first so you don’t jump in with cold, tight muscles. Taking five minutes to do moves like the world’s greatest stretch, single-leg glute bridges, and monster walks with a mini-band can do the trick, says Jamison.
With that, let’s head into this awesome kettlebell circuit that will smoke your entire body in just 20 minutes. Here’s everything you need to know.
What you need: Two sets of kettlebells: one light set for the chest press, renegade row, and sit-up to press, and one medium set for the alternating forward lunge and Romanian deadlift. If you don’t have kettlebells, use dumbbells instead. You may also want an exercise mat for comfort.
- Romanian deadlift
- Chest press
- Alternating forward lunge
- Renegade row
- Sit-up to press
- Perform each move for 30 seconds, then rest 30 seconds before moving onto the next exercise in the circuit. After all five moves are completed, start again from the top. Try not to take extra rest in between rounds (though of course take breaks as needed if you feel like your form is slipping or you can’t catch your breath).
- Complete the circuit four times total.
Demoing the moves below are Angie Coleman (GIF 1), a holistic wellness coach in Oakland; Salma Nakhlawi (GIF 2 and 4), the founder of StrongHer Girls and is a strength coach; and Amanda Wheeler (GIF 3 and 5), host of the Covering Ground podcast.