The Top 5 Fat-Burning, Muscle-Building Kettlebell Exercises For Busy Men Over 40
Since time is at a premium, let’s jump right in, shall we?
After training “regular folks” along with the occasional athlete, military special operator, and first responder with kettlebells for the last 21+ years, I’ve noticed that there are 5 STAND OUT kettlebell exercises that transform men’s bodies from soft and weak, to lean, hard, and strong, and usually with less effort than “traditional” exercises.
This is especially older guys, who may have high mileage and lower anabolic hormone levels, which these exercises appear to reverse.
What you may notice is the glaring absence of the Kettlebell Swing.
It’s a great exercise in all forms (2-hand, 1-hand, Hand-2-Hand), but if you can do the first 4 on the list, there really is no need for them. And that’s because, they don’t directly work the upper body, especially the pressing muscles, which most of us guys are interested in.
[*NOTE: The modern kettlebell exercise regimen is based on the Swing. So make sure you are proficient with this exercise before moving to the 5 on this list.]
I’m a BIG fan of these exercises because of my background in Olympic Weightlifting, in which we compete in the Snatch and the Clean + Jerk.
Weightlifters are the Alpha Predators of the Strength Sports World -
The perfect blend of raw strength and explosive power that’s unmatched anywhere else.
(Yurik Varndanyan, 7x World Champ, Olympic Champ)
(David Rigert, 6x World Champ, Olympic Champ)
You can disagree with me, but you’re wrong. ;-]
The Double Clean + Press is a valuable exercise that uses every single muscle in your body.
In fact, Sig Klein, old time strongman, called the 2-Dumbbell Clean + Press the “One Best Lift” and claimed that the early 20th Century European weightlifting champs owed their strength, power, and muscularity to this lift.
So, if it’s good enough for Sig and those guys, well…
Plus, when you do it for enough reps it stokes the fires of your metabolism, burning a bunch of calories, while training your heart and lungs at the same time.
That means it’s good for your heart health and your waistline and helps you defeat the “battle of the bulge.”
There’s a “magical” effect on body composition that results from combining an explosive lift (Clean) with a slow/ grind lift (Press):
Simultaneous muscle growth/strength gain and body fat loss (known as recomposition).
The Double Clean + Push Press is a close number 2.
A Push Press is a Press that you “cheat with” by using your legs. You first dip your body with a quick knee bend, and then straighten your legs quickly, driving the kettlebells up over your head.
It allows you to make heavier-than-you-can-press KBs start feeling light, so you can press them.
Plus, the extra dip and explosive drive with your legs jacks your heart rate up… So, “bonus conditioning” for you.
(A worthy substitute for the Double Kettlebell Clean + Jerk, which most desk jockeys can manage due to stiff thoracic spines developed from years / decades of sitting.)
The Double KB Front Squat is really the foundational double KB lift.
I cover the exact reasons why in great detail inside my video series, Kettlebell STRONG!, but suffice to say, it teaches you how to stay tight under a pair of KBs while making your whole body tremendously stronger.
It punishes your midsection (in a good way) and it makes your abs “automatically” work. And as a result of this “reflexive abdominal contraction,” for some guys, it creates access to long lost hip mobility, restoring squat depth…
… and training the legs in ways that have been unimaginable for a decade or more.
For most, the DFSQ is a more-than-sufficient replacement for any barbell squat.
If you don’t believe me, go squat a pair of 32kg KBs for 20 reps.
The Snatch is my hands-down favorite “power” exercise.
Power is a quality we lose as we age, along with the important fast-twitch muscle fibers. (These are the ones that help us run faster, jump higher, and lift heavier.)
That “power failure” makes us more prone to slipping, falling, and breaking a hip.
Fortunately, we can reverse both the “power failure” and the fast twitch muscle loss with the Snatch.
Plus, we can create wicked levels of conditioning using it, which boosts our daily energy levels, and whittles body fat off the midsection.
The Goblet Squat is a great “squat restoration” exercise that pries open and “greases” rusty hip and knee joints when performed correctly.
It also helps build the “hinge” pattern necessary for your kettlebells ballistics like the Swing, Clean, and Snatch. It is a worthy alternative to the Double Kettlebell Front Squat.
Honorable mention goes to the Turkish Get Up.
Every one over the age of 40 needs to practice getting up and down off the floor and the TGU is THE exercise to help you do just that.
Plus, it’s a fantastic shoulder restoration exercise from years of heavy bench press abuse.
Now, this list goes without saying that you should have built a fairly strong “kettlebell foundation” with Swings (and Turkish Get Ups - which is why this didn’t make the top 5).
Now, what kind of kettlebell workout is best using these exercises for those of us over 40?
NOT one like we did as kids in our late teens and early to mid-20s.
And that’s because we have more responsibilities, higher stress levels, and less time than we did back then.
That’s why I recommend this program here.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
About Geoff Neupert
Geoff has been training both himself and others with kettlebells since 2002. He’s a former StrongFirst Certified Master Instructor and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist. He’s been in the strength & fitness industry since 1993 and has worked as a personal trainer, Division 1 strength and conditioning coach (Rutgers University), a personal training business owner, and an education provider. He had over 25,000 hours of one-on-one personal training between 2001 and 2013, when he stopped training people in person. He has trained people from all walks of life, from middle school athletes, to military special operators, to arthritic grandmothers in their 70s.
Geoff has authored multiple books and training programs, including, Kettlebell Muscle, Kettlebell Burn 2.0, Kettlebell Burn EXTREME!, Kettlebell Express!, Kettlebell Express! ULTRA, Kettlebell STRONG!, The Olympic Rapid Fat Loss Program, Six Pack Abs 365, The Permanent Weight Loss Solution, and Pressing RESET: Original Strength Reloaded. He was the co-creator of Original Strength Systems, a movement restoration certification program. Geoff has presented workshops on advanced kettlebell training, body maintenance and restoration, and Olympic lifting all over the world, including the US, Europe, SE Asia, and Australia.
Geoff currently trains clients online and lives in Colorado with his beautiful wife and his two children who are growing like sunflowers.