Kettlebells are a powerful tool to develop strength and endurance
Training with kettlebells can help you check off both cardio and strength training with one workout. These dynamic weights have been used for centuries to help athletes gain strength, tone, and increase cardiovascular health.
Kettlebells are different from other weight-bearing workouts because they don’t require a lot of space and increments. You don’t have to have a full rack of different weights to get the full benefits. With just one or two kettlebells, you can have a complete full-body workout routine, which makes them ideal for home workouts.
Kettlebells are also very accessible to people of all fitness levels. Whether you are a fitness junkie or just an occasional exerciser, there is a kettlebell workout suited just for you.
The benefits of kettlebells
Traditional weight lifting uses controlled steady muscle contraction. If you’ve ever done dumbbell strength training, then you’ll know that the key to good form is controlling your breath and keeping your core steady.
Kettlebell form is much different. Exercises for kettlebells utilize movement and momentum to swing, lift, and dip the kettlebells as you follow the routine. This movement gets your heart pumping. As your heart rate goes up, it will work your cardiovascular system and get you breathing heavy.
Even though there is a lot of movement going on in a kettlebell routine, you won’t feel any pounding in your joints. Unlike the static motion of plyometrics, kettlebell routines flow from one move to the next. These smooth transitions are natural for the body and increase your strength and muscle tone without a lot of impacts.
Simply put, you can get a tough cardio and strength workout that won’t strain your joints.
How to effectively use kettlebells
As with all exercise routines, there are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe. Good form is essential for any fitness regimen, especially weight-bearing exercise.
The number one thing to watch out for when you’re swinging your kettlebell is never to round your back. If at any point in your routine you find you can’t keep your back straight, then you are using too much weight.
Maintaining good posture is crucial to having a great workout and keeping your body safe. You may have to experiment a little to find the ideal weight ratio for you. If you’re not sure, there’s an easy way to test the weight and see if it’s right.
Take the kettlebell and hold it out by the handle in front of you with both arms. When it’s parallel to the floor, assess how it feels. If you can hold it up with ease, then the kettlebell is too light. The kettlebell should be just a little bit too heavy to hold comfortably in front of you.
Once you’ve gotten the right weight, you’re ready to work out. It’s that simple!
5 great kettlebell moves
When you’re ready to get swinging, here are five great exercises to do with your kettlebells for a total-body workout.
- Kettlebell row. This move targets your upper back, arms, and shoulders. Start with two kettlebells in each arm. Set them down in front of your feet, bending your knees slightly. Take both kettlebells and pull them upwards toward your stomach. Keep your elbows close to your body and, as always, don’t round your back! Try for 10-12 reps.
- Russian swing. The Russian swing is great for sculpting your shoulders, back, hips, and glutes. You’ll need one kettlebell for this move. Stand up straight, keeping feet hip-distance apart. Grip the kettlebell with both hands, palms down. Swing the kettlebell down under your body and back up, for 12-15 reps. Remember to drive the motion from your hips, not your arms.
- Goblet squat. Take your squat game up a notch with this kettlebell version. Using one kettlebell, stand up straight with the kettlebell in front of your chest. Squat, driving your heels into the ground. Return to a standing position, and repeat for 15-20 reps.
- Kettlebell twist. Work your abs and obliques with this variation on a sit-up twist. Start in a crunch position on your back, with knees bent and feet on the floor. Sit up at a 45-degree angle, holding the kettlebell with both hands at your chest. Remain sitting at this angle for the duration of the exercise. Rotate your torso left to right, twisting at the waist. See if you can do 15-20 reps but be prepared – this is a tough one! If you find your form is suffering, slow down or stop. Always shoot for quality over quantity.
- Kettlebell push-up. Round off your routine by working your chest and back with a kettlebell push-up. This is similar to a regular push-up, with the addition of kettlebells. Grip each handle underneath you in the normal push-up position, and lower your body and push up. It sounds simple, but it’s definitely a challenging move with the kettlebells. Try for as many reps as you can while still keeping good form.
Support your body with good nutrition
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