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5 Kettlebell Exercises For MMA Fitness

5 Kettlebell Exercises For MMA Fitness

So these days whenever you walk into a fight gym you always hear a new customer, or potential trainee ask “What disciplines do you train out of your school?” The owner or head trainer may reply “We offer boxing,” or “We offer Jiu Jitsu,” or “We offer Muay Thai.” Kettlebell exercises and strength and conditioning are rarely the central focus.

These are all the general bread and butter answers, but today I want to talk about the discipline of Strength And Conditioning, or more specifically some strength and conditioning involving kettlebell exercises that are essential for your MMA, Combat, and Military athleticism.

Kettlebell Exercises For MMA, Combat, And Military 

1. Kettlebell Exercises: The Kettlebell Swing:


Over my career in training athletes for MMA and fight training the kettlebell swing has proven to be a bulletproof movement. There is no question it’s absolutely crucial for training you to learn how to generate force rapidly. The quick burst of the hip snap and the core stability that is necessary to drive the arc of the kettlebell in the swing is perfect for simulating the element of striking in a fight scenario.

The movement is perfect for developing the similar work capacity of striking on an opponent in intermittent burst through the duration of a fight round. The natural work to rest cycle of throwing punches, elbows, knees, and kicks while also backing off in order to prepare to strike again is very similar to you cranking out several sets of kettlebell swings.


Begin the kettlebell swing movement with your feet at shoulder width distance apart. Firmly ground your feet and hinge your hips back to grab the handle of the kettlebell with a firm grip.

Grab the handle and rotate your fist so that your knuckles are pointing towards the sphere of the kettlebell to secure your grip. Next, hike the kettlebell like a football between your legs firmly pushing your wrists into your groin.

Once you hike the kettlebell simply stand tall with double extension of your knees and hips to lock out your body at the top of the swing movement. From here hike the bell between your legs at your groin again as you hinge your hips and slightly bend at the knees to load up for the next swing rep.


Perform the kettlebell swing on a regular basis to develop good work capacity. Use it either as a main training implement for the day, or as a supplement to your lower body training days. Perform 5 to 10 sets of 15 to 20 reps depending on your goals for a respective training day.

2. Kettlebell Exercises: Kettlebell Snatch


The kettlebell snatch is the next progression in the evolution of kettlebell training for you after mastering the kettlebell swing. It is a powerful movement to generate tremendous dynamic core strength along with leg drive and shoulder stability.

The snatch is both a violent and smooth movement to execute with the kettlebell at the same time. It is great for helping you to develop a bone crushing grip while also aiding that whole element of force production, particularly when looking at being able to execute more forceful punches and elbows for your MMA and Combat fight performance.


For the sake of discussion let’s assume you’re performing the kettlebell snatch with your right hand. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Grab the kettlebell with your right hand. Firmly grip the handle towards the left horn of the bell and once again roll your knuckle towards the sphere of the bell.

Next, like the swing hike the bell between your legs with your wrist firm into the top left side of your groin. From here double extend at the knees and hips to straighten your body and propel the kettlebell all the way up to above your head. Keep the sphere of the kettlebell close to your body during the ascent to lock it out overhead.

Make sure to allow the bell to smoothly corkscrew around your wrist as you ascend it to the locked out position. Once overhead simply allow the kettlebell sphere to corkscrew around the wrist in the opposite direction in the descent to hike it between the legs again to set up the next repetition.


Once again make sure to work at practicing the kettlebell snatch with some regularity. Once you’re proficient with the technique perform 5 to 10 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions on each arm with a moderately heavy resistance depending on the day’s training goals.

3. Kettlebell Exercises: Turkish Get Up (TGU)


When talking about MMA, Combat, and Military performance the TGU is invaluable. In terms of being optimally functional human beings we must possess the ability to get up off the ground. If we’re talking about fight and combat performance we must be able to do this with supreme confidence and ability.

Not only should you be capable of getting up off the ground with athletic ability, but in terms of combat and fight performance you should be able to possess a high level of ground based agility as well. The TGU will provide this to you in a big way.

In addition to this the TGU can be varied and you can perform it with a kettlebell, a dumbbell, or a sandbag. This exercise is going to be a versatile option for your on the ground training.


The TGU is a complex movement. For the sake of discussion let’s assume you’re performing this movement with the weight in your right hand.

Start out in the cradle position as you can see me demonstrating in the video. Roll over onto your back pressing the bell towards the ceiling while bending your right knee and keeping the left leg straight. Maintain a wide base keeping your right and left leg wider than your hip width.

From here roll onto the your right elbow and then up to your right hand locking out the elbow. Next, lift your hip off the ground by extending your right hip.

From here pull and scoop your left leg up underneath your body resting on the knee. That knee should be directly in line underneath shoulder and arm with the weight overhead. Keeping your eyes on the weight from here lift your hand off the ground and windshield wiper the left leg to straighten up your stance in the lunge position in order to stand up.

Once you have gotten to your feet simply reverse course to get back to the ground and switch arms in order to execute the next repetition.


The TGU can and should be a regular part of your strength and conditioning program. You can program this in a couple days a week and obtain tremendous strength and function from the movement. Once proficient at TGU’s then perform 5 to 10 repetitions on each arm either as a supplemental lift to your leg day, or as a complete training session all by itself. Of course you can scale the intensity of weight depending on the day’s goal.

4. Kettlebell Exercises: Goblet Squat


This movement is terrific at prying the hips and helping you to groove into a quality squat pattern. Squatting is essential for all athletic movement and when it comes to fighting and combat performance this is an absolute must to include into your strength and conditioning to ramp things up.

Since the weight is loaded at the front of the body it acts as a counter weight to stabilize your body when descending into the hole of the squat. This will optimize mobility of your ankles, knees, and hips. Optimal mobility equates to leg power and greater leg power equates to more powerful strikes involved in punching and kicking.


Stand with your feet at shoulder width. Hold the kettlebell at your chest gripping the horns (sides of the handle) with your elbows pointing down towards your knees. Allow the kettlebell to rest at your chest like you’re holding a goblet.

From here brace your midsection and hinge your hips back as if you’re sitting on an invisible chair, or bench. As you hinge the hips break at the knees and track your torso down so that your elbows ideally touch the insides of your knees for optimal ROM. From here simply stand up fully extending the knees and hips.


Goblet squats can be a regular part of your MMA, Combat, and Military fitness. As a stand alone workout try performing 6 to 8 sets of 15 reps with a moderately heavy weight. As a preparatory movement for you try performing the goblet squat with a lighter weight and focus on settling the knees and hips into the base of the squat prying on the ankles for 2 to 3 sets for a slow 5 to 6 repetitions.

5. Kettlebell Exercises: Kettlebell Halo To Reverse Lunge 


The kettlebell halo to reverse lunge is a tremendous stability drill for the hips and shoulder girdle. The ability to move and stabilize while dropping into a reverse lunge is challenged by circling the bell around the head.

This is highly beneficial for scenarios that involve you grappling and having to wrestle and wrangle an opponent getting up off the ground, or while taking them to the ground. Having strong legs and strong, yet mobile shoulders is going to be crucial for you in such a situation.


Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the horns of a kettlebell with the bell upside down with the sphere of the bell facing towards your head.

From here reverse lunge with your right leg going back breaking at the knee keeping it directly in line under your hips. As you descend into the lunge circle the kettlebell around your head moving it in a clockwise direction going left.

To coordinate this remember the halo motion of the bell goes in the direction of the leg that is in front of you. So in this description you will circle the bell over the left leg as it’s in front of you.


Perform 3 sets of 5 to 7 repetitions on each leg during your lower body strength days.

The Takeaway From These Kettlebell Exercises 

There is one thing that is for certain about these kettlebell exercises. These movements are tried and true and they’ll give your MMA fitness and performance a kick ass upgrade. Implementing and being proficient at performing these kettlebell exercises for MMA and Combat will enhance your performance in the ring, or in a potentially dangerous scenario. The best way for you to improve performance is to mimic movements that simulate the athletic and fight scenarios that may arise.

What kettlebell exercises are you currently using in your MMA, Combat, or Military strength and conditioning?

What kettlebell exercises do you want to learn more about?

Do you think you might have overlooked the usefulness and effectiveness of kettlebell exercises in your personal strength and conditioning program? 

Do you want to learn more about how to really leverage kettlebells as an MMA fitness training implement?

Also if you want to learn how to tie these together then make sure you check out my brand new 90 Day MMA Strength And Conditioning Program right here below! I guarantee it’ll get you into the best shape of your life, or I’ll give you your money back no questions asked.


It’s changing lives already!


Related Articles:

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3 Push Up Variations To Give You Knock Out Punching Power For MMA And Combat

3 Dynamic Kettlebell Movements For Optimal Mobility

4 Point Hip Stretch Series: Squat Prep Your Hips

5 Unique Strength Drills To Enhance MMA Performance And Serious Fitness

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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