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The At-Home CrossFit Workout You Can Do with Just a Kettlebell

Whether you've been to a CrossFit box (a.k.a. gym) or not, chances are you've had a taste of the workout's AMRAP (as many reps as possible) formula in your high-intensity classes. There's good reason why many studios crib from CrossFit—its mix of functional moves and HIIT is truly body-changing. (Don't believe us? Just look at these seriously fit chicks of CrossFit.) "In any given CrossFit workout, you'll do gymnastics, weight lifting, and explosive exercises that will make you strong for life, and you'll do them either as heavy or as quickly as you can," says Jared Stein, the cofounder and head coach at WillyB CrossFit in New York City. Working out this way, you push your fitness level past any flatline and see the kinds of muscle definition that inspires an extra shot of confidence.

If you've been too intimidated to try it, you should know that you don't have to belong to a box or work out with a spotter to do CrossFit. (Here are 12 other myths about CrossFit.) What makes a workout CrossFit is the programming. A traditional WOD (workout of the day) includes three elements: a warm-up, strength or skill work, and a metabolic conditioning (or metcon) portion.

"Just as much thought goes into programming the warm-up as the metcon portion," Stein says. The strength or skill part of the workout is done slowly and is intended to help you to build strength and to practice something you may not be great at. Then the metcon involves functional exercises strung together at a nonstop pace to get you to work at your max. "Add those three components together, and your body learns how to move better, builds absolute strength and endurance, and improves explosiveness,” Stein explains. Basically, it turns you into a fit machine—and that goes for any person of any age and any ability, Stein adds.

Stein created a classic CrossFit-style workout you can do at home—all you need is a kettlebell (or a dumbbell). The warm-up moves, like wide climbers, will work your core as they engage muscles such as your shoulder girdle to prep you to hoist weight in a safe way. The strength portion consists of a single supermove: a kettlebell snatch (moving the weight from the floor to overhead in a fluid motion) into a squat. “You’ll improve your balance and coordination as you build total-body power,” Stein says. (It's one of the most effective kettlebell exercises).

You’ll finish with the metcon, which is 21 reps of three simple exercises (kettlebell swings, burpees, and goblet squats), then 15, then nine—with no built-in rest. “See how hard you can go until you finish,” Stein says. “It’s tailored so that right when you hit the point of total exhaustion, you’ll be at the finish line.” (If you need a breather at any point, take one breath and count to two-Mississippi, then pick back up.)

Keep tabs on how heavy a kettlebell you use for the snatch and then how quickly you work through the metcon. “By week three, you’ll be so impressed by your progress on every level of fitness, you’ll be hooked on it,” says Stein. You’ll also tighten up every inch from head to toe for a fierce body that’s ready to take on all the fun and sweat of summer. 3, 2, 1...go! 

How it works: Start with the warm-up. You’ll do three rounds for quality, meaning that you’ll move slowly and with exceptional form. Next, do the strength portion of the workout. Lastly, finish with the metabolic conditioning part, where you’ll do four rounds of the circuit as quickly as you can and without rest. Stein recommends 12 pounds for beginners and 24 for more advanced exercisers.

Total Time: up to 45 minutes

You will need: Kettlebell(s)

1. Jumping Jacks

A.

Stand with feet together and arms by sides to start. Jump feet wide as you swing arms wide to sides and then overhead, palms facing forward. Immediately jump back to start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

15

2. Inchworm

A.

Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms by sides to start. Fold forward from hips, reaching fingertips to floor. 

B.

Keeping a soft bend in knees, walk hands forward until body comes to plank position. Reverse the movement. Return to start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10

3. Squat Jump

A.

Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms by sides.

B.

Squat to start, swinging arms in front of you for momentum.

C.

Jump as high as you can. Land softly in start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10

4. Wide Climbers

A.

Start on floor in plank on palms.

B.

Step left foot up to outside of right hand. Pause. Return to start. Switch sides, repeat.

Sets:

2

Reps:

5

Mistakes and Tips:

Repeat this circuit twice.

5. Kettlebell Complex

A.

Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with kettlebell on floor between feet, arms by sides. Shift hips back, hinge flat torso forward from hips, and grab kettlebell by handle with right hand with an overhand grip. Hike kettlebell back between legs above knees to start.

B.

In one fluid motion, stand, extending ankles, knees, then hips as you pull the weight up, flipping the kettlebell at shoulder height so bulk of the weight rests on top of wrist.

C.

Press weight over head with palm facing forward. Reverse the movement to start. That's 1 snatch. Do 1 more snatch.

D.

Keeping the kettlebell overhead, do 5 squats. Rest for 10 seconds. Switch sides, repeat. That's 1 set. Rest for 30 to 45 seconds. Do 2 sets.

Sets:

2

Reps:

2 snatches + 5 squats per side

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: After the second snatch, bring the kettlebell to your chest and hold it with both hands. Do 5 squats. Switch sides, repeat.

Scale up: Use a heavier weight.

6. Kettlebell Swing

A.

Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and about a foot behind a kettlebell, arms by sides. With soft knees, hinge flat torso forward from hips reaching to grab kettlebell by handle with both hands with an overhand grip.

B.

Hike kettlebell back between legs above knees to start.

C.

Snap hips forward, swinging kettlebell up to between shoulder and eye leve. Swing kettlebell back to start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

21

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Use a lighter kettlebell.

Scale up: Do American swings, swinging the kettlebell overhead each time.

7. Burpee

A.

Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms by sides. Crouch, plant hands on floor.

B.

Jump feet back to plank position and immediately lower chest and thighs to floor.

C.

Push body up to plank, hop feet toward hands, then jump as high as you can, clapping hands over head.

Sets:

1

Reps:

15

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Crouch, plant hands on floor, then step feet back to plank position and immediately lower chest and thighs to floor. Push body up to plank, step feet toward hands, then stand.

Scale up: Do your burpees next to the kettlebell and instead of jumping up, jump laterally over the weight each time.

8. Goblet Squat

A.

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding kettlebell upside down by the bell with both hands at chest with elbows pointing downward to start. 

B.

Squat. Return to start.

Sets:

3

Reps:

9

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Do air squats.

Scale up: Go heavier and move faster.

Repeat this circuit 3 times as quickly as you can.

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