It's official: you don't need a gym, just a kettlebell and 30 minutes to build full-body muscle

The most functional piece of kit.

A woman doing 30 minute kettlebell workouts in the gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

30-minute kettlebell workouts that build serious strength and fitness from home almost sound too good to be true, right? But we're here to tell you that this one piece of kit plus just half an hour of your time is all it takes to smash your fitness goals. 

Let's look at the research: studies have found that kettlebell training can be as effective as traditional weightlifting for increasing strength and power, with a further paper from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, performed on women's football players, found that 20 minutes of kettlebell training three times a week improved VO2 max (a marker of your cardiovascular and respiratory fitness) by 6% in just one month. 

That's a lot of gains from one piece of kit. Not familiar with a kettlebell? Let us explain. A kettlebell is a round ball with a metal handle on top that you will likely have seen in the gym or on Instagram. Used for weight training workouts, you may have seen people using it for kettlebell swings or overhead presses which are both brilliant kettlebell exercises that can easily be done in a 30-minute workout - and we're here to show you how. 

Below, we've rounded up the best 30-minute kettlebell exercises for you to try, whether you're new to the kettlebell game or already work out fairly regularly but feel ready to try a more intense session. While you're here, don't forget to check out our other guide to strength training for beginners and PT-approved kettlebell exercises

These are the best 30-minute kettlebell workouts you can do, according to experts

What are the benefits of using kettlebells?

As with any form of resistance training, the key benefit to using kettlebells is that they will help you build stronger, bigger muscles. One University of Chichister study found that just twelve minutes of kettlebell exercises (done twice a week for six weeks) improved maximum strength by 12%. 

That said, a kettlebell is an often overlooked piece of kit, with many people preferring to deck out their home gym space with dumbbells, or reach for barbells and machinery in the gym. But personal trainer and founder of Ladies Who Crunch Nancy Best reckons that's a mistake. "Kettlebells are brilliantly versatile, as a standalone piece of equipment or as a set for compound exercises," she says. "If you’re short on space, a single heavy kettlebell is a great solution for adding resistance into your training." 

The slightly odd shape of a kettlebell sneakily packs in more benefits, too. The same study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that kettlebells were even more effective at building explosive strength and power. This likely comes down to the slightly unbalanced shape which requires momentum, control and power to lift and improves both coordination and stability. With these powerful moves comes a huge energy burn: one small study from the American Council on Exercise showed improvements in aerobic capacity when performing kettlebell workouts.

"It's also great for beginners - the thicker handles of a kettlebell can be preferable as you learn how to carry or front rack resistance," adds Best. 

Is 30-minutes enough exercise?

We've covered, is 30 minutes of cardio enough. Next up: is 30 minutes of strength training a week enough? The NHS advises people aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week. Kettlebell training would likely be classed as vigorous training, meaning you'd need to do two to three half-hour sessions a week to meet your goal. As a bonus, the workouts will also tick off the NHS-recommended two muscle-strengthening workouts a week as well. 

Of course, you can always do more - but the "best" amount of time training will depend on your goals. "Whether you’re doing hypertrophy training to build muscle, or improving your cardiovascular fitness with conditioning circuits, you can definitely achieve results with a thirty-minute workout. 

"The more important consideration is consistency. I often remind my clients that the best workouts are the ones you can maintain as a habit. For the busy women I teach, it’s far more realistic for them to complete multiple thirty-minute workouts in a week, rather than try to fit in an hour for exercise each day, which often slides and doesn’t happen at all," says Best. 

Do note here: It's important to remember that there's no such thing as one "best" workout. Everyone is going to have workouts that are better suited to their goals, preferences, abilities and bodies - and that's totally fine. What's important is to take the time to workout what kind of movement you want and need, grab your kettlebell, and get moving.

7 best 30-minute kettlebell workouts to try today

1. Full-body kettlebell workout by Workout With Roxanne

What? A kettlebell session that works your full body in half an hour. 

Why? If you're well-versed in kettlebell training, you'll love this. Roxanne guides you through the movements without too much chatter so you can get moving at your own pace but with her motivational guidance.

How long? 30 minutes.

2. One kettlebell full-body workout by Alex Crockford

What? A great full-body blast using just one kettlebell.

Why? This is a brilliant workout for beginners thanks to Alex's great tuition throughout. For more advanced kettlebell users, you can simply up the pace or the weight of your kit.

How long? 30 minutes.

3. Full-body kettlebell workout by Shania Marie

What? Shania showcases five brilliant combo moves you can put together for a slick 30-minute workout.

Why? Coordination is half the challenge with kettlebells - and this workout will challenge your mind and your body with complex but fun moves. 

How long? 30 minutes.

4. Kettlebell HIIT, butt and abs workout by Shona Vertue

What? A great full-body workout with brilliant explainers throughout by Shona Vertue. 

Why? Combining HIIT with strength training makes a brilliant hybrid workout that improves cardio and strength - and all using just one piece of kit. 

How long? 30 minutes.

5. Kettlebell strength and mobility by Kaisa Fit

What? Six new and interesting kettlebell moves that can be put together into a 30-minute circuit. 

Why? Functional workouts are all the rage for improving mobility and joint health while also improving muscle strength - and this workout is just the ticket. 

How long? 30 minutes.

6. 30-minute advanced kettlebell workout by Growingannanas

What? Now you're comfortable with kettlebell training, here's a more advanced circuit to try. Be warned: this one's not for the faint hearted.

Why? Strength! Cardio! Unilateral exercises! Isolation moves! This workout has everything you need for a well-rounded 30-minute training session.

How long? 30 minutes.

7. Kettlebell workout for women by Nourish Move Love

What? A great full-body workout that works through compound and unilateral exercises. 

Why? With brilliant instruction and explanation, this workout will really help you push your body to build strength with limited time, space and kit. 

How long? 30 minutes.

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Chloe Gray
Contributing Health Writer

Chloe Gray is a freelance journalist who writes and talks about health, fitness, and wellbeing through a feminist lens. She was part of the launch team for Stylist magazine's fitness brand, Strong Women, and has written for i news, Women's Health, Red magazine, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, and more. She's all about building mental and physical strength, eating delicious food that fuels you well, and making the fitness industry more accessible and enjoyable. She's also a qualified fitness trainer and research nerd, so you can be sure everything you read is backed by proper science.