By Holly Goodwin, Club Trainer & Instructor
Perhaps you are a first time user, or maybe you have dabbled, but then cautiously retreated for fear of injuring yourself… or someone else. Find comfort in knowing that you are not alone! Kettlebells certainly can be very intimidating and could turn any slightly curious gym goer in the opposite direction. I mean really, kettlebells were used to train Russian armies dating back to the 1700’s. Now they are stocked in glamorous gyms and fitness studios all over the country. So, what’s all the fuss? Kettlebells can actually be an amazing addition to any individual’s workout routine. In fact, The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently did a study and found that the average person can burn 400 calories in just 20 minutes with a kettlebell. Which on average is an incredible 20 calories a minute, the equivalent of running a six-minute mile! They are a fun way to build intensity while also increasing strength. I incorporate them into every single one of my client’s programs as well as my own. Here’s why:
Anytime Anywhere (Gym at your Fingertips)
If you have a kettlebell, you literally have a gym at your fingertips. Any exercise performed with a dumbbell can certainly be done with a kettlebell. Plus they are super portable. Many, keep one in the trunk of their car, I keep two in my closet along with my shoes! You can use them everywhere: in parks, at home, or even at the beach. I myself have done many a kettlebell circuit in my living room during a snowstorm. You can train every muscle group and in any modality with a kettlebell. You truly have the convenience of being able to create a great total body workout whenever and wherever you like.
Two Birds One Stone (Endurance & Strength Training all in One)
Typically, many of us tend to break up our workouts into weight training and cardio. What’s so great about kettlebells is the body’s ability to be challenged by both at the same time. Kettlebells demand that you use your strength to maintain form, good posture, and complete the repetition properly – while the design of the bell allows you to move quickly and use momentum, which as a result elevates your heart rate. This allows you to save an enormous amount of time while still getting a comprehensive workout.
The Possibilities Are Endless (Any Movement, Any Body Part)
The possibilities that you have when working out with kettlebells are truly endless. They work both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. With just one bell you can create a killer cardio circuit or you can build a foundation with traditional strength movements, both extremely beneficial. You can move slowly and deliberately with a traditional movement, typically known as aGrind (ex: squat) or use the bell’s momentum to create a fast pace, known as a Ballistic exercise (ex: swing). You can literally perform a movement for every muscle group and in countless ways, with no additional equipment needed!
If you are a beginner, just like with any new workout, start slowly and progress moderately. Begin by just including just one new exercise into your routine with a kettlebell and then add on slowly. Before you know it you will be super comfortable and confidant, having a blast incorporating kettlebells into your exercise routine this year!
Try this basic Kettlebell Workout!
- Kettlebell Dead Lift
- Kettlebell Bent Over Row (single arm)
- Kettlebell Swing
- Kettlebell Press (single arm)
- Kettlebell Oblique Twist
- Complete the circuit 3x by doing 12-15 repetitions for each exercise.
Description of Exercises
Kettlebell Dead Lift
Place the kettlebell in front of your feet Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Bend your torso forward at your waist, bending your knees slightly. Shift your weight slightly into your heels. Grab the bell with both hands, keeping a neutral spine; stand up tall while pushing your hips forward.
Kettlebell Bent Over Row
Place the kettlebell in front of your feet. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Bend your torso forward at your waist, bending your knees slightly. Pick up the bell with one hand and begin to pull it to your stomach, gliding you arm along your rib cage retract your shoulder blade and flexing the elbow. Keep your back straight. Repeat on the left and right side.
Place the kettlebell between your feet and grab the bell with both hands. Push back with your hips and bend your knees to get into the starting position. Make sure that your back is flat and you are looking straight ahead. Swing the kettlebell between your legs forcefully. Quickly reverse the direction and drive your hips forward, allowing the bell to swing straight out. Let the kettlebell swing back between your legs and repeat.
Begin with the kettlebell resting on your on shoulder head, leaning towards your centerline (you should be able to wiggle your fingers and touch your chin), rotate your wrist so that the palm faces inward. This is known as “Rack Position”. Look at the kettlebell and press it up and out until it is locked out overhead. Lower the kettlebell back to your shoulder with control. Remember to keep your core engaged. Repeat on each side.
Kettlebell Oblique Twist
Sit with legs together, knees bent and feet raised several inches. Hold sides of kettlebell handle (known as the horns) with both hands in front of chest. Lean back until your abdominals are engaged. Remember to keep the chest high and your back straight. Twist your upper body to one side, lowering kettlebell almost all the way to the floor, then twist to the other side to complete rep. Remember to keep hips and legs still.