Walk into your gym and take a look around the walls or perhaps in a corner – chances are you’ll see some kettlebells sitting around.
Most people using kettlebells will simply swing them around – what is the purpose of all these exercises? We’ve all wondered when we first saw them in use, but there’s actually science.
Lots of kettlebell exercises are ballistic. They provide excellent dynamics. Forget about the classic controlled movements you are familiar with – fire up your heart and muscles with something different.
Here are 5 essential kettlebell exercises and a few concepts about such workouts.
Understanding the basics of kettlebell
The kettlebell first gained notoriety in Russia and has gained notoriety over the last decade all over the world. Why? Simple – this is a different type of training that brings in dynamic movements.
Kettlebell training will target pretty much every muscle out there, not to mention different aspects related to fitness – from balance and agility to strength and endurance. Besides, they also make for a great form of cardio exercise after your workout sessions, your heart will also thank you in due course.
Why is this workout so popular?
People appreciate it because of its challenging profile. Besides, you only need one or two pieces of equipment, so you can also purchase them if you are setting up a gym in your backyard. The good thing about this sort of equipment is their affordability, which also goes for other small weights. For instance, you can find a wide spectrum of budget adjustable dumbbells out there.
Some exercises imply moving a weight from one hand to another, swing it around, or move it laterally while you try to stabilize your body. Other types of movements need power from your hips and legs, meaning you can integrate all of your muscle groups in a workout.
Top 5 kettlebell workouts
Here are a few exercises guaranteed to give you a good workout.
The kettlebell deadlift is a classic and implies replacing the bar with a kettlebell – keep your hands together then.
Get the kettlebell on the floor, right in front of you. Your feet should be apart – slightly wider than the shoulder width. Squat down and grab the kettlebell. Stand up and push through your heels. Meanwhile, the back and chest must not move – keep everything straight.
As you reach the top, squeeze your butt. Return the kettlebell with the same type of movement. This exercise will work on your back, hamstrings, and glutes. Another exercise you can do as an alternative to this one is the sumo deadlift, you can do sumo deadlifts with a smith machine as a step up from kettlebell deadlifts since they are harder than kettlebell deadlifts and easier than regular deadlifts.
Video: Kettlebell Deadlifts
Here is a video demonstration on how to do kettlebell deadlifts
You’ll need a couple of kettlebells for this exercise – grab one in each hand. Grip them firmly and lift them. Bend your elbows and keep hands by your shoulders. Elbows must point out, while kettlebells will rest on the outside of your forearms.
You don’t need to move the arms during this exercise – the idea is to add a bit of extra weight to your classic squats, but also to work on other muscles. If you have been doing squats everyday, then you should be in a better position to nail the right form for the move.
Squat down, then move back up. As you move up, you have to push your arms up until they are perfectly straight. You go down along with the kettlebells and up in the same movement.
The exercise will help you build your quads, as well as target your glutes, hamstrings, and shoulders. You can do regular squats or wall sits to work the same areas and if you find this exercise to be hard.
Video: Squat Thrusters
Here is a video demonstration on how to do squat thrusters properly
This exercise is so basic, yet so efficient for your arms, and shoulders. You can also add it to your other essential core exercises, especially for those of you who want to get abs in a couple of weeks. It is suitable for both beginners and advanced users. You need to stand, hold the kettlebell with both hands and move it around your head.
As you reach the other side, the movement continues while arms change their positions. When you rotate the kettlebell, one of your arms should be going up, while the other one is bent over your head.
The idea is to perform this exercise with a rhythmical motion. Start slowly and gain speed later on – you don’t want to drop the kettlebell.
Video: Kettlebell Halos
Here is a video demonstration on how to do kettlebell halos properly
Kettlebell good mornings are among the 5 essential kettlebell exercises you can perform to warm up or as part of an actual workout. Grab the kettlebell with both hands and keep it against the upper back.
Basically, your arms will be bent while holding the kettlebell against the back. Once secured, you can start hinging the body forward from the hips. Meanwhile, focus on keeping the back straight.
Breathe out as you go down.
Video: Kettlebell Good Mornings
Here is a video demonstration on how to do good mornings using a kettlebell
Make sure you can perform regular squats before moving on to this exercise. The point is to squat well in a perfect motion while having a kettlebell by the chest.
The squat is extremely important and will use most muscles in your lower body, but it will also target your balance and a few upper body muscles.
Make sure you go down enough – thighs should be parallel with the ground. If you can go lower, even better.
Hold the kettlebell with both hands by your chest.
Video: Goblet Squats
Here is a video demonstration on how to do goblet squats
Still unsure about the effectiveness of kettlebells?
Do Kettlebell Exercises Really Work?
Absolutely. The kettlebell is basically a weight and tcan be added to either your calisthenics or other weight workouts. It has a differently shaped handle when compared to dumbbells, for example. Find your way around it, and a well-performed exercise will always work.
How to Choose Your Kettlebell Weight?
It depends on your goals. You need something light for agility, as well as something heavy to build muscle. Chances are you’ll need kettlebells of different weights overtime.
Is 30 Minutes of Kettlebells Enough?
Yes, if you perform an intensive workout. Again, your goals dictate the duration of your workout, but half an hour without many breaks will make a good difference.
In the end, it’s obvious why kettlebells are so popular today. They provide more variety to your workouts and allow more explosive movements. Variety is great when challenging your muscles. Furthermore, kettlebells can be implemented to work on any muscle group.
They are light enough to work your shoulders after chest day without risking injury, they help hit your core and lower body, and are great for your arms - especially when you want to work your biceps and triceps on the same day. Besides, the unique shape makes kettlebells fun to work with.
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