If you’re like most people, you started your fitness journey with cardio. But after running, swimming, and biking your heart out, you’re now ready for a new challenge.
You’re ready to begin strength training.
Strength training is an excellent addition to your exercise routine because it builds muscle strength and improves your balance and coordination, both of which help you perform everyday activities more safely and efficiently.
As always, we recommend starting small when it comes to tackling a new fitness challenge. And in the case of kettlebell training, we mean that literally.
The little ‘bell that could
Don’t let a kettlebell’s diminutive size fool you. According to a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the average person can burn up to 400 calories in just 20 minutes of kettlebell training—the result of being a full-body workout.
Kettlebell workouts also develop hip hinge, a fundamental movement that will help you perform more advanced exercises such as deadlifts and barbell squats.
To get you started, we’ve gathered four beginner-friendly kettlebell exercises.
Muscle Trained: Hips, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lats, Abs, Shoulders, Pecs
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and place the kettlebell about one foot past the tip of your toes.
- Bend your knees slightly so you can lower your hip. In this position, both your back and your thighs should be at a 45° angle.
- Lift the kettlebell with both hands in an overhand grip. Swing it between your legs until it almost touches your glutes.
- Use the force of your hips to propel the kettlebell into the air.
- At the top of your swing, you should be standing more or less straight. Your arms and the kettlebell should also be directly perpendicular to your chest. At this point, the kettlebell is almost weightless, which is why your kettlebell grip should not be too tight.
- Allow the kettlebell to swing down between your legs again. Make sure that you resume the position indicated in step two, keeping your core tight the whole time. Remember never to curve your back during the entire duration of your swing.
- Repeat for three sets of 10 repetitions.
An SFG Kettlebell Instructor candidate performs a 2-hand kettlebell swing for correction/critique… Standards to look for: 1. The back is neutral. The neck is slightly extended or neutral on the bottom of the swing. 2. The heels, toes, and the balls of the feet are planted and the knees track the toes.
Kettlebell Goblet Squat
Muscles Trained: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Grab a kettlebell by the side handles and position it just under your chin.
- Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart, toes slightly pointed out before you attempt your squat. While keeping your back straight and your core tight, push your hips back as if you were to sit on a chair. Try to get your hips below the knee.
- Remember to always drive your knees outward while driving with your heels when coming up from your squat. The movement should be slow at descent and explosive as you rise.
- Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
The squat is fundamental to natural human movement. It represents a major deficiency in our capacity if we are not striving to at least become proficient with it, if not mastered. While most people squat, few perform it optimally. Along with building strong legs and core, incorporating kettlebells adds an element of upper body work into the mix.
Kettlebell Ground to Overhead
Muscles Trained: Glutes, Hamstrings, Shoulders, Back
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Position a kettlebell between your feet.
- Bend your knees slightly and lower your hips as if you were to sit on a chair. Grab the kettlebell with both hands.
- While keeping your back straight and your core engaged, lift the kettlebell and begin your ascent. Pull the kettlebell to chest level then push it overhead until your arms lock out. Keep your head up and look straight ahead.
- Use your arms to control the kettlebell’s descent back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10 repetitions.
How to do a ground to overhead with a kettlebell. www.brianseelos.com
Kettlebell Lunge Press
Muscles Trained: Legs, Shoulders, Back, Arms, Abs, Glutes
- Grab a kettlebell with your right hand and stand straight. Then, bend your arms to bring the kettlebell close to your shoulders.
- Lunge forward with your left leg and raise the kettlebell overhead at the same time. Make sure that your knee does not extend past the tip of your toes—your left leg should more or less form a right angle.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10-15 reps on each leg.
How To: Lunge with Kettlebell Press To reduce the risk of injury, it is very important to do exercises properly. This video explains how to lunge with kettlebell press with proper form. More videos coming soon (every Tuesday and Thursday) so make sure to subscribe to my channel and check out www.koegelfitness.com.
Before you get swinging…
To avoid injuries during workouts, always warm up first—do some light cardio and perform some stretching exercises. Check out this warmup routine from Muscle and Fitness for more detailed instructions. You can also mimic the kettlebell movements you’re about to do, but without the kettlebell.
Also, don’t feel embarrassed about using very light weights at first. Your goal as a beginner is to master proper form, not to impress other people.
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