Forget big weights — all you need is 1 kettlebell and 20 minutes to build lower body muscle

Man performing a kettlebell lunge
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You may have thought that a strong set of quads, sculpted glutes, and muscular calves are made with a barbell and lots of weight plates. But shifting big weights isn't the only path to a strong and defined lower body You can get a great pump just by using a kettlebell, and we’ve found five exercises to do just this.

A significant part of building muscle is resistance training and progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing the resistance or workload placed on muscles over time to continually challenge them.

Working with a selection of the best kettlebells — whether that be using your own at home or working with this weight style in your local gym — is a great way to start building progressive overload into your exercise regime. 

Kettlebells can easily be modified to suit different fitness levels, making them suitable for beginners who may be unfamiliar with strength training or have varying levels of strength and mobility. 

But what kettlebell exercises are best for building lower body muscle? Fitness trainer Kat B shared five lower body kettlebell exercises on her Instagram which you can view below and try out yourself.

What is the lower body kettlebell routine? 

Using a kettlebell size of your choice you will perform each exercise for 12 reps and repeat the circuit three times over. Allow yourself short breaks in between each exercise and a one minute break in between each circuit. 

Kettlebell squat to lunge

In Kat’s demonstration of this exercise, she is standing with her feet shoulder-width apart. She holds the kettlebell with both hands between her legs and bends into a squat.

She then rises from the squat and sends one leg back into a backward lunge, holding the kettlebell with the hand on the same side and bringing it down to where here knee is in the lunge. Repeat the process for 12 reps on each side.

Kettlebell B-stance deadlift

Holding a kettlebell in one hand, Kat steps the leg on the same side back into a staggered stance with her heel off the ground. Her front foot sits flat on the ground. She then engages her core, locks her shoulders and hinges back at the hips, pushing her glutes backward.

Keeping her front knee slightly bent she lowers the weight down close to the floor. Finally, she comes back up to the start position, by pushing her glutes forward. Repeat for 12 reps and then repeat on the other leg. 

Kettlebell squat to kneel

Kat starts in a squat position with her knees bent and the kettlebell held by both hands in front of her chest, Kat lowers her knees to the ground one by one so she is kneeling on the floor. Then she steps back up into the squat position and repeats. 

Kettlebell curtsy lunge

Planting one foot firmly on the ground while holding a kettlebell close to her thigh, Kat extends her other leg slightly out past her hip and points the toe of that foot. 

She then steps that latter foot back into a curtsy lunge before lifting back into the starting position. Complete 12 reps on one side before doing the same with the other side.

Kettlebell resistance band squat

Moves like this make owning one of the best resistance bands very beneficial as they help you control the movement of a squat slightly better. In the video, you can see Kat has one wrapped around her lower thighs.

She is standing with her feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell held in both hands between her legs. Here, she bends into a squat and then repeats for 12 reps. 

What are the benefits of this workout? 

Kettlebells are an effective tool for building strength, endurance, and muscle mass. The dynamic nature of the kettlebell exercises, such as the squat to lunge and curtsy lunge, requires stabilization from various muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. 

This helps in improve muscle strength and boosts your balance and coordination. Plus, adding unilateral movements like the B stance deadlift and squat to kneel can help address muscle imbalances and strengthen the stabilizing muscles around the joints, which can reduce the risk of injury. 

Kettlebell exercises often involve a combination of strength and heart-raising cardio training, leading to greater calorie burn and improved cardiovascular health. The versatility of kettlebells allows for a wide range of exercises, making them suitable for individuals of all fitness levels.

So, whether you're a beginner or an experienced gym-goer, you can tailor your workout to suit your specific goals and abilities. Additionally, kettlebells are compact and portable, making them convenient for home workouts or on-the-go training sessions.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.