Is your workout routine a little too routine? If your training has become less than exciting and doesn’t challenge you or get you excited to exercise, maybe it’s time to introduce some new variations to your workout.
Kettlebells are a great addition to any fitness program!
A good kettlebell workout can work those muscles in a shorter amount of time and from a variety of angles. Kettlebell workouts promote cardiovascular and muscular benefits including fat loss, and are very effective in building up your core stability, strength, improving speed and flexibility.
If you are new to training or just adding a few kettlebells to your home gym, they can be great for your budget as well.
Kettlebells come in a variety of weights ranging from 4 kilograms (about 10 pounds) to well over 50 kilograms (over 100 pounds). You should start with a weight that is comfortable to lift without straining but is challenging enough that you can only complete 8-10 repetitions of the basic kettlebell swing. You can start with a single kettlebell or a pair and add additional sizes as you gain size, strength, and experience. Want to know which ones to get? See reviews here of the best kettlebells.
If you’ve never used kettlebells, avoid these common rookie mistakes:
- Don’t use a weight that is too heavy or too light, too heavy will cause injury, especially in your lower back and too light will not recruit muscle fibers and just be a waste of your time. Try that 8-10 rep test, if the weight is too heavy you will struggle and your form will be incorrect. If too light, you will just be swinging the weight around without needing to use your core, and you will probably not break a sweat.
- Use your entire body. The beauty of kettlebells is that most exercises require the use of many muscle groups and multiple joints. The basic swing may look like an arm and shoulder movement, but when done properly with the correct weight it involves (and requires) the use of your thighs, hips, and entire core.
- Watch your sets and reps. You can tailor your training to meet your fitness goals, if you want a more cardiovascular and fat-burning workout do more sets and reps or finish your workout with a max reps set. But don’t swing that little, light kettlebell for 100 reps and think you worked out “hard”. Just like any resistance training use multiple short, heavy sets for size and strength and lighter “volume” sets for general fitness and to fire up your metabolism.
- Wear flat (or NO) footwear. Shoes with heels (like running shoes) increase the angle and pressure on your ankles and tendons. Old school kettlebell training is done barefoot to increase contact with the floor and control. If you prefer footwear or train in a gym that requires footwear, look for a flat shoe with minimal sole padding.
Here are three exercises that every kettlebell workout should include:
Two-handed swing – The basic kettlebell swing is a full body exercise that starts with the kettlebell on the ground between your feet. Keeping your back straight, squat down and grab the kettlebell with both hands in an overhand grip and use your thighs to stand upright. Start to swing the kettlebell until you get a little momentum and then by using your hips, swing the ‘bell to chest height and continue to swing it from between your legs to chest height until you complete your set. Remember to use your legs and hips to propel the weight upward.
Kettlebell Squats – Sometimes call “goblet” squats, hold the kettlebell at chest height, against your chest, many people invert the ‘bell and hold it upside down by the “horns”. Now using only your thighs, lower yourself slowly and deeply down as low as you can without letting you heels raise up off the floor, now stand up and repeat until your set is complete.
Kettlebell Pulls – Sometimes called KB High Pulls, start in the basic swing position but instead of swinging the kettlebell, pull straight up until it (almost) hits you on the chin. If you want to do this exercise correctly and blast those shoulder muscles, don’t use momentum. raise the bell slowly up to face height, squeeze those shoulder blades at the top and then slowly lower back to the start position. Continue until you finish the set.
Kettlebells have been around for a long time, and though they may look simple or obsolete they produce an intense multi-joint, full-body workout. The resulting short kettlebell workouts are extremely efficient at burning calories and building muscle. Get your ‘bells and get to work!
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