Kettlebell exercises are making a comeback in the fitness industry - they are right up there with HIIT and yoga. This high-intensity workout can help rev metabolism back up. We've also recently learned in the past few years how important it is for women to do strengthening exercises, which increase lean muscle tissue and bone mass.
Even though kettlebell exercises are considered high-intensity, they are easy to incorporate into your routine at home or at the gym, as you can be very flexible according to your limitations. If you feel muscle soreness after starting a new routine, make sure you aren't doing too much too soon, and add some magnesium citrate to ease muscle pain.
If you aren’t familiar, a kettlebell is a cast iron ball with a handle (often called "the horns") attached to the top of it. Due to its design, training with kettlebells is different than training with dumbbells because the weight of a kettlebell is not distributed evenly. This creates the need to counterbalance and stabilize during your workout, leaving no muscle forgotten. Kettlebells make a great tool for functional training, which utilizes movements in day-to-day activities, like bending, squatting and lifting.
One of the basics of kettlebell training is the kettlebell swing. The kettlebell swing we do today is a variation of the traditional Russian kettlebell swing. It makes an amazing addition to any strength training routine because it is no impact (as opposed to running or jumping) and can build some serious muscle while improving your cardiovascular strength and endurance. In addition, by strengthening these large muscles and increasing muscle mass, our bodies will burn more calories while simply at rest. Due to the nature of the swing, the heart rate increases, getting in all of that heart-healthy cardio. It checks all the boxes!
We’re throwing it into our weekly routine. Here is how:
*As always, start with a proper full body warm up first!
First, pick out the right kettlebell weight for your fitness level. If you’ve never used one before, start lighter than you think! Women can start with one in the 12 or 16-pound range, and men shouldn’t start with more than 25 or 35 pounds. You can always increase the weight later.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettlebell handle with both hands. Make sure to keep your shoulders pulled back and down to avoid rounding your back.
- Bend your knees slightly, then hinge at the hips to swing the kettlebell between your legs. Keep your arms straight while you project the kettlebell up and away from the body.
- Stand back up as you swing it to chest height. You really want to push through the hips here, while engaging the glutes.
- That's 1 rep. Do 20.
- Grip the horns with the ball on top and hold it at chest height.
- Stagger your feet, with one foot in front of the other, bending at the knees.
- Lift the kettlebell and circle it around your head to the left, creating a halo shape. Remember to keep your abs engaged the whole time.
- Return to the starting position and circle the kettlebell to the right.
- That's 1 rep. Do 10. Then, repeat with the other leg forward.
Chest Loaded Swing
- Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell by its horns, pulling the bottom of the bell into your lower sternum. Draw your shoulder blades together and down, keeping a straight back.
- Bend at the hips, keeping a long spine with your tailbone tilted slightly up. Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, stand up, extending your hips and squeezing your glutes, tucking your tailbone under as you push energy forward through your hips.
- That’s 1 rep. Do 20.
Clean to Rack
- Begin with your feet hip distance apart. Hold the top of the handle with your right hand, palm facing you. Squat and lower the kettlebell below your knees.
- In one motion, stand and curl the kettlebell to your chest, allowing the weight to rotate toward your right. This is “rack” position. Lower and repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
- That’s one rep. Do 20 on each side.
- Starting in a squat position, thread the kettlebell through the middle of your legs. Reach behind you with your left hand to grab onto the other corner of the handle.
- Then move the kettlebell around the outside of your left thigh and thread it back through your legs. Now, grab onto it with your right hand behind your right leg.
- Move the kettlebell around your right leg so it's once again in front of you and in your right hand. It’s just like drawing a basketball in between your legs. This completes one rep.
- Do 10 reps.
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart and arms extended slightly out to your side. Hold a kettlebell in your left hand at one corner of the handle.
- In a fluid motion, swing it behind you and reach your right hand back to grab it on the other side of the handle.
- Keep the motion fluid as you swing it to the front of you and grab it with your left hand. The kettlebell should be forming a circle around your body. Make sure to keep your abs engaged, and a slight bend in your knees this entire time.
- Each circle is one rep. Repeat 10 times, then reverse and repeat 10 times.
Complete this routine two times through, 2-3 times per week. Or, feel free to throw it in your routine whenever you feel like switching it up. With these, kettlebell exercises, you will be looking like a pro at the gym in no time, even if you are a beginner.
Written by Hannah Aylward
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