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How to Do a Windmill Exercise: 7 Pro Tips, Benefits, Muscles Worked

If you’re looking for a basic kettlebell move that’ll light up your: 


- Core 


- Shoulders 


- AND your glutes


…the windmill exercise may be exactly what you’ve been missing in your routine. 


Not only does it have a boss name…but this workout move is easy to complete from home or at the gym, and it provides a compound exercise for multiple muscle groups at once. 


The only caveats? This isn’t necessarily a move for beginners. 


Also, there are lots of minute details to pay attention to when it comes to your windmill exercise form. 


So, while this IS an exercise with loads of benefits, it’s worth reading up on good form and pro tips before you dive right in! 


That’s why we’re happy you joined us here. Everything you need to know to ACE this exercise is right in this article! 


Today, we’ll explore: 


- Windmill Exercise How To


- Windmill Exercise Pro Tips 


- Windmill Exercise Benefits 


- Windmill Exercise Muscles Worked 


How to Do a Windmill Exercise 

The basic windmill exercise motion may look simple, but there’s a lot to pay attention to. 


Let’s break it down. 


1) Grasp a kettlebell in your right hand. 


2) Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 


3) Using the handle, push the kettlebell up into the air, keeping your wrist, elbow, and shoulder stacked in line with each other–and your palm facing forward. 


4) Your left arm should hang naturally at your side with your palm facing forward. And just like that, your arms will make a windmill! 


5) As you raise the kettlebell, turn your head and neck to the right to look up at the kettlebell, keeping your eyes on it at all times throughout the windmill exercise. 


6) Turn the left foot about 90 degrees to the left side, causing a slight rotation in your torso. 


7) Now push your butt back and to the left side, forming a side hinge at your hips. 


8) As you do this, keep your knees soft but straight. A slight bend in your left leg is okay to avoid your knee locking out. 


9) Keep your back in a flat and in neutral position and your core braced. 


10) As you hinge back, slide your left arm down the front of your left leg. Go as low as you can without compromising form. 


11) At the bottom of the motion, squeeze your glutes to return back up to the standing position. 


12) Repeat for 5-8 reps. Then, switch sides. 

 

Windmill Exercise: 7 Pro Tips 

Okay, that’s how to do a windmill exercise in 12 easy steps. 


As you can probably already tell, this exercise is a little finicky. You have to pay attention to SO MUCH all at once during the motion. 


BUT reading these 9 pro tips can help you focus on all the right areas of your form. 


Kettlebell Windmill Exercise Pro Tip #1: Keep Looking Up! 

Keep your eyes on the prize. 


A statement that applies to not just life but also…the kettlebell windmill exercise! 


That’s because as you perform this exercise, you’re gonna want to make sure you look up at that kettlebell the entire time! 


Why so? 


Not just because we’re obsessed with kettlebells. But looking up during the windmill exercise actually helps rotate your body as you stretch from your left hip to your right shoulder. 


The rotation that takes place across your spine and body during the windmill exercise is a unique motion, and one of the major benefits of this move! 


So, keep your eyes on the prize AKA the kettlebell to maximize that rotation! 


Kettlebell Windmill Exercise Pro Tip #2: Keep Your Torso Linear

As you turn your head to look up at the kettlebell, your spine and torso will naturally rotate from your left hip to your right shoulder. 


BUT…even as your back tilts towards your right side, your spine MUST remain flat and neutral–not bent or curved


Keep your torso linear–from shoulders to hips! 


Kettlebell Windmill Exercise Pro Tip #3: Keep Opposing Shoulder Down 

You might feel a tendency during the motion of the windmill exercise to raise your non-working shoulder. 


But when you do this, you will also offset the natural rotation that should take place across your body. 


So, keep your non-working shoulder down in a natural position


Kettlebell Windmill Exercise Pro Tip #4: Work On Your Hinge

The hinging motion is super common in the workout world, but it’s a tough motion. This is part of why I said this is not a move for beginners. 


If you do a windmill exercise with a trash hinge, you’re actually not getting the benefits of this exercise. 


So, to accomplish this, focus on these tips! 


- Try to avoid JUST folding at the waist. 


- Instead, focus on pushing your butt back and keeping a flat back throughout the motion. 


- You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings rather than just in your waist


- Another tip that can help specifically for the hinge in a windmill exercise is to think about loading the rear hip on the non-working side as you go down–keeping most of your weight on this back leg and hip. 


Kettlebell Windmill Exercise Pro Tip #5: Don’t Overload the Weight 

No need to go crazy with the weight here. 


It’s super important to keep a straight line from your shoulder to your elbow to your wrist during a windmill exercise. 


And when you go too heavy with the weight, the tendency will be for your arm to deviate off this straight line because of the weight being too heavy. 


This is partially why I recommend actually starting WITHOUT WEIGHT before you do anything. 


Get the form down first as you just learn the exercise. 


THEN: Once you feel super confident in your form, you can start to add in kettlebell weight that allows you to work your muscles while still keeping proper form! 


Kettlebell Windmill Exercise Pro Tip #6: Squeeze Those Glutes! 

The windmill exercise isn't just for your shoulder or your core. 


If you squeeze those glutes as you raise your body back up to a standing position, the windmill exercise will really hit your glutes too! 


One way to help remember this is to imagine the windmill exercise being a sort of sideways deadlift. 


For a deadlift, we’d always want to engage our glutes on the way up. It’s the same when it comes to the windmill exercise. 

 

Kettlebell Windmill Exercise Pro Tip #7: Keep That Core Tight

Core tight = form right! 


Well, it’s not that simple because there are a million other things to think through with the windmill exercise. 


BUT having a tight core can VERY MUCH contribute to your form looking pristine during your windmill exercise. 


A tight core keeps you balanced and stable, and it helps you avoid bending your torso throughout the exercise. 


Windmill Exercise Benefits

While there may be tons to think about when it comes to form, there are also TONS of benefits to adding this exercise to your routine. 


If you ask me, it’s worth the learning curve. 

 

It’s a Multi-planar Exercise 

One of the most unique aspects of a windmill exercise is that it’s multi-planar! 


And you may be saying, “It’s a what now?” But hang tight. 


There are three planes of motion your body uses to move throughout the day AND when you exercise. 


They are: 

Frontal: Side to side 

Longitudinal: Front and back

Transverse: Rotationally 


Most exercises tend to involve front and back motions. 


But what makes the windmill exercise so special is that it actually takes your body through all planes of motion! In this way, you get maximum flexibility for your muscles with one exercise. 


Hard to beat. 


It’s a Unilateral Exercise 

Because you work just one side of your body at a time with the windmill exercise, you’re able to really identify muscular imbalances throughout your body. 


In fact, as you perform the motion, you may find that one shoulder in particular is a bit wobblier than the other. 


That’s totally okay, and this tends to happen with our bodies since we really favor our dominant side. 


The best solution? Unilateral (one-sided) exercises like the windmill exercise. 


Daily Function

How many times in a day do you bend down to pick something up? 


If you’re anything like me, this motion happens ALL DAY LONG–whether it’s picking up your cat, getting your phone that you just dropped, or bending to pick up your child’s toys on the ground. 


The windmill exercise naturally mimics this motion. 


As a result, it naturally builds up your ability to bend over safely and with extra balance and strength! 


Minimal Equipment 

Because all you really need for a windmill exercise is a kettlebell or a dumbbell, this move is easy to perform either at home or at the gym. 


Stronger Shoulders 

Shoulder stability is naturally enhanced through the windmill exercise, so this makes it a great exercise option if you’re looking to improve shoulder stability and strength! 


Better Hip Mobility 

Not only is the windmill exercise a great opportunity to work on your hinge (which everyone should be doing)–this move simultaneously helps your hips become more mobile and flexible! 


Work Your Core & Obliques 

Your core and oblique muscles get lit up with the windmill exercise–making it an amazing choice if you’re looking to hit more than just one muscle group at a time! 


Windmill Exercise Muscles Worked 

As you now know, the windmill exercise is a compound exercise–meaning it works multiple muscle groups at the same time. 


This means you’ll get more bang for your buck when you add this move in to your workout routine. Here are the windmill exercise muscles worked: 


- Shoulders 

- Core 

- Hip extensors 

- Glutes

- Hamstrings 

- Adductors 

- Calves 

- Trapezius 

- Rhomboids 

- Triceps 

- Forearms 

 

Level-Up Your Windmill Exercise Game! 

Now let’s say you’ve mastered your windmill exercise. 


- You have all the pro tips down. 


- You know proper form. 


- And you’re looking like a boss at the gym as you windmill! 


Ready to level up? 


Try a two-kettlebell windmill exercise! Here’s how you do it! 


1) Hold a kettlebell in BOTH hands. 


2) Then, after hoisting up the working hand with a kettlebell, hinge back and slowly lower your non-working hand down your leg as usual. 


3) Only this time, you’ll hold a kettlebell of equal weight in this non-working hand. 


What does this accomplish? 


By adding this extra weight in this hand as you go down, you load up the weight worked by your core and hamstrings. 


More Resources on Kettlebell Training

Kettlebell training in general is proven to help improve: 


 - Weightlifting performance [1] 


- Explosive strength 


- Postural control [2] 


- Balance 


- Core strength 


- Endurance [3] 


And the great news is: Windmill exercises aren’t the only kettlebell exercise out there that I’d recommend checking out. 


Here are some of our resources about some other BEST kettlebell exercises: 


Articles 


Kettlebell Around The World Abs: Forget About Crunches


Gorilla Rows: Get an Enormous Back When You Work These Muscles


5 Kettlebell Ab Workouts to Sculpt a Functional Core


Videos 

Suitcase Carry Exercise For Bulletproofing The Lower Back


2 Spinal Stability Exercises For Serious Core Strength


What I Learned From 3 Months Of The Suitcase Carry Exercise [RESULTS]


If you found this article helpful, don’t hesitate to hit up the rest of our blog OR our YouTube channel. 


It’s our goal to produce THE BEST resources on fitness and health for back pain relief in the world. 

 

Windmill Exercise FAQs


What does the windmill exercise work?

The windmill exercise primarily works your shoulders, core, glutes, hamstrings, and hip extensors. BUT there are plenty of other muscles that get involved with this compound exercise. 


How to do a windmill exercise step by step?

Follow the steps in this article for a step-by-step approach to the windmill exercise. But to sum it up, you’ll want to raise a kettlebell up with one arm while simultaneously hinging back at the hips and bringing the opposite arm down your leg and toward your foot. 


Is windmill a flexibility exercise?

YES! The windmill exercise contributes to overall flexibility, and it helps your body work on rotation. 


What are the benefits of windmill exercise without weights?

Performing the windmill exercise without weights is a great way to build up to the regular exercise. Since the form of this exercise is so finicky, this is a great way to learn the motions. 


If you’re just not up to using weight overall, you’ll still get the benefits of flexibility that come from the windmill exercise. 


What is an alternative to the windmill exercise?

The Turkish get-up has many similar benefits to the windmill exercise, but it’s even more complicated to perform. 



Sources: 

[1] https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2013/02000/Article.26.aspx 


[2] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/1743288X14Y.0000000163 


[3] https://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/62284 

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