If your workouts are stale, perhaps it’s time to add kettlebell exercises into your routine!
Kettlebells are great for cardio, strength, and flexibility training. It’s an integrated whole body exercise modality that dynamically activates multiple muscles simultaneously with every exercise.
What is Kettlebell Training?
A kettlebell, not to be mistaken as a “kettleball”, is a cast-iron weight shaped like a ball with a handle attached to the top of it. This design makes kettlebells different from training with dumbbells due to the kettlebell being unevenly distributed in weight. This creates the need for your core to counter-balance and stabilize more to maneuver the bell. Furthermore, you can’t cheat by using momentum improperly with dumbbell movements! Kettlebells utilize creative movement while controlling momentum.
Kettlebells originated decades ago in Russia and were used as a measuring weight for the local markets. Families would also use these weights to toss around as ‘play’ or exercise time. Over time, the kettlebell evolved into a widely used form of exercise modalities that we use today. There are so many exercises and combination of movements that can be performed using the kettlebell.
Kettlebell movements are dynamic, sometimes ballistic, and utilize momentum from the power derived from your core and hips. Coordination of movement and timing is important to develop in order to control the bell efficiently.
The concept of kettlebell training is to hold the kettlebell by the horn (handle) with either one or both hands to perform a variety of movements such as swings (swings, chops, dynamic rotations), presses (clean, snatch, push & press), or pulling motions (high pull). The movements can move through all planes of motion with biomechanical safety and good form as a priority. Movements can transfer from hand to hand as the weight swings up, down, around, or as you move laterally. This requires complete core engagement and stabilization recruitment throughout every exercise!
Kettlebells offer dynamic and functional movements that target all aspects of fitness; strength, cardio, endurance, balance, agility, power, and flexibility.
It’s challenging, efficient with training time, works multiple muscles simultaneously, and you only need one bell to swing around for a workout! What’s not to love?
The weight and size of a bell can be deceiving. Some bells look heavy but may be light, and vice versa. There are many different brands of bells, so make sure you are familiar with this factor. Kettlebell can range from 5 to over 100 lbs.! When choosing a kettlebell weight, consider 3 factors:
- Fitness strength level
- Exercise of choice
Honestly, the weight of the bell will be determined by how your body is able to move through the exercises with proper form. Some motions, such as swings, may require a heavier weight to be able to feel the momentum, control the bell in space, and be able to drive the hips through the motion for power production. If more stationary movements are performed, a lighter weight may be more appropriate to control the exercise. This is especially important when first learning kettlebell form.
Basically, depending on the exercise and the size of the bell, a few swings could become a great cardio challenge and send your heart rate soaring! Or a few good slow presses can create some fast, impressive gains in muscle strength and tone. It all depends on how you’re working the bell!
Use it to your advantage and improve from there!
Benefits of Kettlebells
There are so many benefits associated with kettlebell training. Here’s a few to review…
- Time efficient
- Improves coordination
- Improves posture & alignment
- Functional & weight bearing
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Builds strength & muscle definition
- Increases flexibility & range of motion
- Improves lower back functional strength
- Improves balance, power, agility, & speed
- Low risk of injury when using proper form and correct weights
- Protect athletes from injuries by training the eccentric deceleration of the movement.
- It’s unique & fun!
Love / Hate Bell Relationship
There could be a love/ hate relationship with you and your bell. I say this because if proper movement skills are not learned initially, the exercises could be performed using the wrong muscles and an injury could occur. This could cause one to “hate” or fear using a kettlebell.
If you are new to this type of training, I suggest taking a class or getting some guidance from an experienced trainer to learn proper form when performing the exercises. There is a learning curve that takes time to perfect. Try to learn a few movements to practice so that the mind begins to connect to the body. Coordination is developed when learning these exercises. It takes patience to learn the timing of new movement skills. Trust me – if you learn how to perform the exercises correctly you will love adding kettlebells into your workout!
I absolutely love incorporating kettlebell movements to challenge a workout. Here are some of my favorite exercises for you to try.
Be sure to check out the video to see a demonstration of how these exercises are performed.
Kettlebell training is not only a great workout, but it’s also diverse in the movement possibilities of how you can incorporate them into your workouts. It targets all major muscle groups and delivers a total body workout in an efficient amount of time.
Grab a bell and start swinging yourself fit! In no time you will feel stronger, look defined and lean, and develop a sense of accomplished empowerment that will radiate from within!
May the force of the bell be with you,