No joke: kettlebell workouts can kick your butt. Kettlebells allow you to perform dynamic movements with a swing, and call upon primary moves and stabilizers to control momentum against the forces of gravity. This means that kettlebells have the unique ability to help you develop muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness, balance and flexibility.
A kettlebell is an iron ball with a stable handle. The sides of the handle are called “horns.” The configuration means you can use it in a variety of ways. You can hold the handle with one or two hands or hold the horns with the ball down or up. You can slide your hand through the “window” to grasp the ball from the top. Or, you can grasp the ball with both hands. You can use one kettlebell in each hand or do a total body workout using just one kettlebell.
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Incorporating kettlebells in your workouts will help you:
– Develop stabilizer strength.
Dynamic and rotational movements with the kettlebell call upon primary movers and stabilizing muscles. You’ll control deceleration and acceleration in the face of gravity when you work with a kettlebell. Your entire body, from head to toe, has to work!
– Get a grip that won’t quit!
There is an entire chain of muscles and joints that have to cooperate in your forearms, hands, upper arms and shoulders when you move a kettlebell. This translates to grip strength and better performance when it comes to barbell work, pull-ups, ball handling and anywhere else you may need your hands to be on task.
– Improve joint mobility and increase flexibility.
When you work with a kettlebell, you can swing and rotate forward, backward, to the sides and at diagonals. Moving in various planes of direction is great functional training.
It’s Easy to Learn! Grab a Kettlebell and Start With These 2 Basic Moves:
1) The Kettlebell Swing
You should feel it in your glutes, hip flexors, abdominals, back muscles, arms and elsewhere!
– Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
– Start in an upright position holding the kettlebell with both hands in front of you, palms facing your body.
– Swing the kettlebell to shoulder height. Keep your arms straight, but your elbows soft. Tighten your abdominal muscles, hip flexors and glutes to do a hip thrust at the top of the movement.
– Let the ball swing down between your legs as you bend your knees in a small squat.
2) The Halo
This dynamic movement develops muscles and mobility in your shoulders, abdominals, back, and arms.
– Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
– Grab the kettlebell upside down and hold the “horns.”
– Lift the kettlebell up to your chest.
– Start winding the kettlebell around your head like you are drawing a halo. The ball will face the back of the room, the handles face front as you circle around.
– Switch directions.
Once you’ve mastered those basics, check out this article by the American Council on Exercise for more ideas.