Kettlebells & Their Role In Functional Training

16 Dec 2019 – written by Emily Kitchin

So we have all heard of functional training but what is it?

Functional fitness training is designed to adapt and develop the body to perform everyday activities safely, efficiently, and with ease. Functional fitness is comprised of a number of different components, strength, agility, flexibility, mobility, and conditioning but is not limited to just these.

The idea behind functional training is to progress and refine movements that we use in everyday tasks.

How does functional training fit into your life?

Whether it’s our jobs, sport or everyday tasks we all perform hundreds of movements a day; it could be unloading boxes, carrying shopping to the car, picking our children up or just standing up and sitting down. We are all following these repetitive movement patterns and if performed incorrectly we are all capable of injuring ourselves.

So how could you approach the idea of training for these tasks?


Kettlebells are just one of the ways to train functional fitness, they have been around since the 17th century but have recently increased in popularity and with good reason.

They are relatively cheap in comparison to other pieces of fitness equipment; the humble kettlebell retails at around £2.50 a kilogram and you really only need one kettlebell to perform hundreds of exercises that can improve your range of movement, strength, balance, and coordination, just look up Kettlebell workouts and you'll be reutrned with hundreds of ways to utilize them.

They are portable, and easy to store and can be used in a number of different environments to suit your lifestyle, at home, the gym or even on the beach.

How can they improve function?

Kettlebell workouts consist of Squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, swing, walk and rotate.

Properly performing these exercises will strengthen the posterior chain, increase grip strength, balance and coordination. Increased resistance will build strength in everyday movements preparing you to lift, carry or move heavy objects, lowering the risk of injury.

Kettlebell complexes are a fun and challenging way to increase your cardiovascular fitness without spending hours on static machines like treadmills, freeing up time in your day.

The combination of weighted and plyometric movements that can be short sharp and heavy or flow inducing eccentric focused combinations can be eEasily scaled to suit any ability both in weight and complexity.

How much weight should I use?

It’s always best to start with a lighter weight and work on perfecting your form.

Only use the weight you feel comfortable with, the rule of thumb seems to be for swings and other two-handed moments go a little bit heavier 16 to 20 kilograms for men and 8 to 12 kilograms for women. And for single-arm or overhead movements, a good starting point is around 6 to 10 kilograms for men and 4 to 8 kilograms for women. As you get stronger you can increase steadily increase your weight.

Our advice

Invest in yourself, start with the basics and have fun.