Kettlebell Exercises: Tips and Tricks
Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle
A Kettlebell is a fantastic exercise tool.
It has recently become extremely popular in recent years as it is used quite heavily in C rossFit. Kettlebells are not a new fitness tool though, there are traces of evidence that they were created by the Ancient Greeks, however it is the Russians who claim they created them in the 1700s.
So, Why Use Kettlebells?
Kettlebells are similar to dumbbells AND most any exercises you can use dumbbells for you can also use kettlebells, But kettlebells offer more than traditional dumbbells because of their unique shape. If you are just looking to increase strength and build muscle mass, kettlebells may not be the best tool for you, but if you are looking to burn fat, increase power endurance, and increase strength then kettlebells are a great tool. While you can use kettlebells and dumbbells interchangeably for arm curls, deadlifts, and lateral raises, the key in kettlebells is using them unlike you would use dumbbells.
While traditional weights are about low reps and higher weight, kettlebells are about lower weight with a higher number of more explosive repetitions. Remember that kettlebells are labeled in kilograms instead of pounds, so women will typically start with 8 or 16 and mend 16 or 32, and it never hurts to start lower and work your way up.
Tips For Proper Use of Kettleballs
- Follow proper movement progressions: Don’t try something new before you have mastered the move before it.
- Maintain a neutral spine: Bad posture will increase your risk of injury.
- Keep an athletic stance: Too wide of a stance can injure your knees and hips.
- Control your motions: Kettlebells can be extremely dangerous projectiles for you or anyone or anything around you.
- Don’t grip too tightly: Keeping a relaxed grip will lessen the likelihood of injuring your hands, wrists, and elbows.
- Wear proper footwear: Running shoes are for running, flat soled shoes or going barefoot will help you maintain balance.
Great Starter Kettlebell Moves
Kettlebell Dead Lift
Target: Legs, glutes, arms, back, abs
How To: Stand with the kettlebell between the feet on the floor. Squat down and grab a hold of the handle with both hands while the back remains flat. Engage the core, tighten those glutes, and keep the arms extended as the body rises on up, kettlebell and all! Aim for 12-15 reps, maintaining proper form throughout.
Two-handed Kettlebell Swing
Target: Shoulders, back, hips, glutes, legs
How To: Stand up straight, with feet a bit wider than hip-distance apart. Grab hold of the handle with both hands, keeping the palms face down and arms in front of the body. Maintain a slight bend to the knee and drive the hips back, lowering the body — but not too low, this isn’t a squat! Then, in a fluid motion, explosively drive the hips forward while swinging the kettlebell, keeping the glutes and core engaged. Remember: The motion should come from the hips (not the arms!) as the body returns to standing. Lower the weight back down between the legs while lowering again, and keep this swinging motion going for 12-15 reps (or more — depending on those kettlebell capabilities!).
Two Arm Kettlebell Row
Target: Back, arms, shoulders
How To: Grab two kettlebells for this one. Place them in front of the feet and bend the knees slightly. Next, bend over to grab both kettlebells and pull them towards the stomach, keeping the elbows close to the body and the back straight. Lower the weights, repeat for 12-15 reps max, feel like a champ.
Kettlebell High Pull
Target: Shoulders, arms, glutes, legs
How To: Turn those toes out 45 degrees with feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Place the kettlebell on the ground between both legs and begin to squat while keeping the core engaged, and grip the kettlebell handle with one hand. Then, using force from the hips, push through the heels to rise to standing, pulling the kettlebell upwards while the elbow drives up. Lower back down and switch arms. Shoot for 10-12 for each arm.
Target: Arms, back, abs
How To:Start with legs a bit wider than hip-width distance apart, and lower yourself into a quarter-squat position. (Keep that back straight and chest up!) Grab the kettlebell with the left hand and swing it around the outside of the left leg and then back between the legs. Next, pass the kettlebell to the right hand and swing it around the outside of the right leg. Keep this motion going, similar to the classic basketball drill! Can you do a minute straight? (Be sure to switch directions half-way through!)
Target: Back, arms, abs, obliques
How To:Keep feet shoulder-width apart, and hold the kettlebell in front of the body, arms extended at chest level. Swing the kettlebell behind the back with one hand, then reach back with the opposite hand to grab it, swinging the kettlebell to the front of the body. Continue round n’ round for 8-12 reps, then switch directions!
Target: Legs, butt, back
How To: Start with the kettlebell between the feet. Begin to swing upwards: Shrug the shoulders, pulling the body and bell up to the shoulder. The bell should end in the “rack” position: resting on the forearm, which is tucked close to the body, the fist at your chest. Bring the weight back down to the floor and repeat for 10-15 reps.
Kettlebell Power Plank with Row
Target: Abs, arms, back
How To: Think of this move as the fancy plank. Start in a plank position, but with hands grasping two kettlebell handles. Then, lift one kettlebell up so it reaches the hip — remember to keep the elbow in! Lower back down and repeat with the opposite arm. Do 6-8 on each side, or until you feel the burn!