The kettlebell is one of the most popular and useful pieces of equipment in fitness training.
In use by strength training advocates since the 1800’s, kettlebells are renowned for their ability to build both incredible strength and excellent endurance…at the same time!
Today, we’re going to look at some of the top kettlebell WODs and associated fitness tests preferred by CrossFit and kettlebell advocates everywhere.
Grab your ‘bell and let’s get moving!
Table of Contents
The Top 26 Kettlebell WODs
Swing & Jump
Equipment: Kettlebell, jump rope
This was the kettlebell WOD that got me into kettlebell training! The globo gym I went to at a time only had a 35-pound kettlebell designed for one-armed swinging. I got some nasty pinky blisters from my fingers rubbing against the horn edges of that bad boy!
The lighter-than-average weights and simple, single-under movement make it somewhat easy to keep moving through this. As such, this is an excellent WOD for those getting used to high-rep kettlebell swing training.
Equipment: Concept2 rower, kettlebell
We’ve discussed this one in our article on hotel CrossFit workouts and it is still one of my favorite “the next morning” WODs.
Mentally, you know that you “only” have to go for 20 minutes (well, technically 19 minutes) and that you get a sweet, sweet minute of rest each round.
On the flip side, the rowing, swinging, and burpee…ing each round ensures that you’ll (somewhat painfully) sweat out every last bit of “bad stuff” from the night before.
I assume this one is named after one of the greatest Swedish-Russian, He-Man boxers of all time…Ivan Drago.
Drago will work your grip as much as anything else…because…who really wants to do 30 extra reps with each break?
Personally, I think this one might take you a little while and you’ll probably be pretty well smoked, but it shouldn’t be too bad…right?
Another kettlebell WOD with a name that people probably recognize from a movie.
But this time, it’s for real. Those real-life Rangers and Delta Force soldiers had a much tougher go of things on the way to that soccer stadium than anyone giving this kettlebell WOD a try!
Don’t worry if you’re not Ranger or SF-tabbed, though; this one is still plenty hard! And the best part? You get to work A LOT of different kettlebell movements with this one…heck, you have to remain in contact with your ‘bell at all times!
Probably the longest mile you’ll “run” this year!
Equipment: Air runner, pull-up bar/rack, kettlebell
Another kettlebell WOD dedicated to an American serviceman, Strange has a lot of running and a lot of kettlebell work. The pull-ups, lunges, and thrusters here are somewhat niche kettlebell movements and aren’t programmed nearly as often as the more popular swings, snatches, and presses. As such, feel free to break up every set if necessary.
…and remember, a little walkin’ never hurt nobody!
2023 Age Group Quarterfinals WOD 4
(NOTE: This is actually from the 2023 Age Group SEMI-Finals…NOT the quarterfinals)
Equipment: Plyo box, kettlebell, climbing rope,
One of the more recent entries on this list, this CrossFit semi-final WOD featured a couple of kettlebell movements that had never been featured in a high-level competition workout before.
Interestingly enough, many CrossFit commentators were speculating on how athletes were going to handle the boxes…because they were too short (20 inches)!
I wish I had “the box is too short” kinds of problems…
300 Swings Challenge
One of the most classic kettlebell swing workouts, I don’t include a “good times to beat” graphic here because you’re encouraged to “rest as needed” throughout. If you’re new to kettlebells, be sure to actually take this rest!
There are plenty of accounts online of people doing no other training besides the 300 swings a day for weeks.
…and getting excellent results.
Swing a kettlebell for a bit and take the rest of the day off…seems reasonable to me!
The Great Destroyer
Now that is a name for a hardcore kettlebell WOD, isn’t it?!
And to be honest, I can definitely see where it got its name from! Dual anything with kettlebells is tough…I don’t care what the weight is. And with 300 total reps…well…these reps certainly aren’t the same as your 300 kettlebell swings.
You know how I said the Mogadishu Mile WOD would be the longest mile you’ll run this year? Those 2-minute rests will feel like the shortest breaks you have this year…guaranteed.
Equipment: Kettlebell, jump rope
After a host of long, drawn-out CrossFit kettlebell workouts, you get a bit of a break with Megan.
A break as in “the volume isn’t so high, but you better go fast!”
As you’ve probably noticed, you don’t really get a “rest” period in this one so it’s pretty intense from beginning to end.
Thinking about slowing down? Just remember you could be doing The Great Destroyer or Strange right about now…move it!
Tabata workouts are always a lot of fun…especially if you really move it to that last second each round.
(I mean, each Tabata session is less than 4 minutes of work..so…you might as well!)
I suggest you set a manageable number with these and try to hit it every round. If you still got some in the tank come rounds 7 and 8, try to eek out another rep or two. That’s what Tabata is all about.
RKC Deep Six Kettlebell Workout
I apologize that I’ve waited this long to introduce you to the man in the world of all things kettlebell.
The main is legendary has done more to bring kettlebell training to the world than anyone else out there. The Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) was one of the first major workouts he released alongside a book of the same name.
The Deep Six workout introduces you to and works all of the “usual suspects” in the majority of CrossFit kettlebell workouts. If you ever need a refresher on one of these movements, give this one a try.
Equipment: Kettlebells, Concept2 rower
One of those rare CrossFit Games workouts that a decent percentage of the population might actually be able to complete, Second Cut was featured at that CrossFit Games event.
(although, to be fair, if you want to get your best time on the handstand walk, you’re gonna need to find an empty football field or something!)
StrongFirst Simple & Sinister
Pavel has worked for a few different fitness companies over the years and currently heads up StrongFirst. The Simple & Sinister workout (and associated program), is one of the organization’s premier kettlebell WODs, really living up to it’s namesake.
Especially when you get to those Turkish get-ups!
If you’re like me, those swings should be pretty manageable, but that TGU weight is plenty heavy. A heavy TGU every 30 seconds is going to be tough for just about anyone!
Equipment: Air runner, kettlebell, pull-up bar/rack
After a lot of Hero WODs and specialized kettlebell workouts, we come to a classic CrossFit kettlebell workout. Helen is one of the “CrossFit Girls” and is an excellent workout for experienced athletes and beginners, alike.
Intended as more of a sprint WOD, in Helen, you realize how much time can be made up (or lost) during the actual swinging of the kettlebell, itself. For those who want to move a bit faster, actually forcing the bell down after each rep can save you close to a minute over the duration of the workout!
As you might expect, Arnie made our list of the hardest CrossFit workouts.
And for good reason: for most people, the workout borders on the impossible.
Using a 70-pound kettlebell to do swings…tough.
To do overhead squats…lethal.
To do Turkish get-ups…have mercy!
Arnie is not for the faint of heart; I’d wager that most of the CrossFit Games athletes from Second Cut above would struggle with the one.
Equipment: Gymnastics rings, kettlebell
A CrossFit classic…Nate is great! One of the more popular CrossFit Hero WODs, Nate involves the familiar 20-minute AMRAP formula with some higher-skilled movements.
70-pound swings aren’t the easiest, but most people can get through a set of 8…at the beginning of the workout. By the halfway point, don’t be shy about going 4 and 4; your grip will thank you when it’s time to get back up on the rings!
Equipment: Air runner, kettlebell, pull-up bar/rack
Another CrossFit kettlebell WOD classic, Eva is another one of the “CrossFit Girls”. Unlike many of her sisters, though, Eva usually takes a while to get through.
Over the course of Eva, you come close to running a 5K and will accumulate 150 American swings. It’s funny to think that the 150 pull-ups, formidable in their own right, seem like a bit of an after-thought!
Equipment: Paralletes, kettlebells
Don’t feel bad if you don’t happen to have a couple of 203-pound kettlebells around to take this kettlebell WOD on.
(I mean, really, who does?)
That being said, if you happen to be in a gym equipped with these giant cannonballs (plus a pair of paralletes) and feel up to the task…congratulations: you’re taking on a CrossFit Games-level workout!
Not much to say about this one other than you have some really heavy deadlifts and even the much “lighter” weight on the overhead lunges likely requires a reset or two.
Equipment: Kettlebell, GHD
Hansen…as in the tough-as-nails Marine leatherneck (don’t get this one confused with the lame 90’s boy band) is a grinder of a kettlebell WOD. You’ll of course break up the swings a bit and you should pace yourself on the burpees.
Pacing GHDs, though? A little tougher (unless you just enjoy sitting on the top of machine, abs still engaged to stabilize yourself!)
150 of each exercise….seems to be the running theme with many of these kettlebells WODs, eh?
Equipment: Assault Bike, kettlebell
Well, what do you know?! Another kettlebell WOD with 150 reps of each movement!
What’s trickier? The ascending rep scheme makes proper pacing really important here. Think about it: after the second-to-last set, you’re still only 2/3 finished!
The 66-pound kettlebell is no joke, either…even with the objectively “easier” Russian swings.
Equipment: Air runner, kettlebell, plyo box
With a lot of rest each round (and 3 whole minutes at that!), you may as well sprint through this one. That being said, you’ll be over the 140 swing mark by the time you’re all finished with this one.
…and just so we’re clear, that’s close to 140 American swings with a 70-pound kettlebell.
Really enjoy that rest while you’re able to!
Equipment: Jump rope, kettlebell
At first glance, this one doesn’t seem too bad. Just a relatively short, straightforward, AMRAP kettlebell WOD.
But 25 swings each round? Big sets of double-unders? Handstand push-ups (hopefully not to that new standard).
Yeah…I can see how this will certainly become a “turbulent” 12 minutes!
2011 CrossFit Quaterfinals WOD 4
Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, kettlebell, jump rope, barbell, bumper plates
One of the great CrossFit chipper WODs, this is a great workout if you just really enjoy big sets of each exercise!
To be fair, some of you reading this can knock out those pull-ups with just a few breaks and can probably go unbroken with the double-unders.
Those swing and overhead squats, though…yeesh.
If you really want to go fast, consider the active “dropping” of the kettlebell on the descending portion of each rep (like we mentioned in our discussion of Helen). If you go for this, though, remember that you still have 200 reps to go afterwards!
SFG I Kettlebell Snatch Test
One of the most infamous requirements required to attain the SFG I Kettlebell Certification is passing a 100-rep, kettlebell snatch test. This test is tough enough with a 35 or 54-pound kettlebell, but the “1.5 pood” bell, along with rather stringent testing requirements ensure that only the most prepared candidates are able to pass.
Want to put your kettlebell snatching ability to the test? Do this workout.
Rogue Fitness Triple Challenge
Another one of the “challenge” or “test” workouts, this one is another one of the fan favorite Rogue Fitness Challenges. In this case, you’re going for max reps of three of the “secondary” kettlebell movements, mixing muscle endurance with intensity.
These are all movements that have “equivalents” in either unweighted varieties or, in the case with the press, a dumbbell variety. As such, getting adept at these movements will certainly help you if you decide to jump in on this kettlebell WOD.
(Note: DO NOT skip by the video linked below! One of the most impressive videos I have ever seen from the man who came in SECOND PLACE overall!)
Beast Tame & Iron Maiden Challenge
The last of the “challenge” workouts…we got another one from Strong First here!
This kettlebell WOD allows any willing participant to take a shot at completing one repetition of each of the stated movements…with the stated weight.
Take all of the rest you want…you’re gonna need it!
Gosh…after so many 450-rep kettlebell WODs, you’d think that a 3-rep WOD would be a relief.
I don’t think so!
Only somewhere between 150 and 200 people in the world have pulled off this challenge. Hat’s off to you select group of Beast Tamers and Iron Maidens!
Grab Your ‘Bell and Do a Kettlebell WOD
Whether you’re doing kettlebell swings, kettlebell snatches, Turkish get-ups or some other variation of kettlebell movement, if you do enough reps (or use a heavy enough kettlebell!) you’re gonna get worked!
In the past, when I have trained for running events, I have relied heavily (pun INTENDED!) on kettlebell training to help me reach my cardiovascular goals (starting with the Swing & Jump WOD above).
I have helped my Olympic lifting prowess by working the kettlebell snatch and clean and jerk.
And, although I have never hoisted 203-pound kettlebell up, I can assure you that doing so will undoubtedly lead to strength gains.
If you’re interested in cardio gains, explosiveness gains, and strength gains (and really, who isn’t?!) add a kettlebell WOD or two into your training regime!
Been throwing your kettlebell around for a bit and ready to test your progress? Check out our article on the best CrossFit benchmark workouts. Be sure to bring your whiteboard and marker along!