24 Feb 7 best kettlebell exercises
Kettlebell exercises are a great alternative to ordinary free weights because of their unusual shape, and they can help build cardiovascular fitness as well as strength.
Like any piece of gym gear you need to know how to use a kettlebell effectively, so here are seven great exercises to help you get the most out of your workout.
Before you embark on more complex moves or higher weights, make sure you master some simple movements so you get a feel for how kettlebells work.
Even if you have done plenty of free weights, kettlebells are different because the weight is off centre. You won’t find a better exercise than the basic kettlebell swing for getting used to your new gear.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, and hold the kettlebell handle with both hands, palms facing you. Make sure your arms are in front of your body, then lower your body bending your knees and driving your hips back. The key is to then drive your hips forwards and swing the kettlebell up with straight arms towards shoulder height. Control the swing back down, and ensure your core is keeping you stable throughout.
This might be the simplest kettlebell exercise ever invented but is incredibly effective if you do it well and regularly. It also helps to get you used to handling and lifting the kettlebells.
You simply pick up a kettlebell in each hand and walk as far as you can in a set period of time. Maintain a good posture, with your back straight core engaged.
You can do this in a studio area, so you can walk around its perimeter or back and forth along a line, but you can also do it anywhere as long as you’re careful.
The exercise requires your body to work hard while doing natural movements, so you should feel the benefit even if you’re not a farmer!
The windmill is a slightly more complex movement, but really shows how a kettlebell exercise can work you in ways that other free weights cannot.
As with the swing, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, but this time hold a kettlebell in just your right hand. Point your feet at 45 degrees to the left, then push the kettlebell straight overhead and lock your elbow. Look up at the weight and move your hips to the right, then reach down with your left hand to touch your left foot.
The easiest way to balance this exercise is to do 10 reps on each side, rather than swapping the weight after each rep.
The sumo squat makes the most of the kettlebell’s design, as this exercise is much more awkward if you try to do it with ordinary dumb-bells.
Position your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, then keep your back straight and chest up as you reach down and hold the kettlebell between your legs with both hands.
Bend your knees and push your hips back so you squat as low as you can, then push through your heels so your hips move forwards and you return to the start position.
You might find you knees start to pull in, so work hard to resist this movement.
The best kettlebell exercises will test and improve your balance and stability, and the Turkish Get-Up is a good example of this.
This exercise is deceptively complex, especially as you start it lying down on your back. You will use your core to help you climb to a sitting then standing position, and then you reverse the movements so you are on your back again.
The movements are much easier to understand if you watch an expert do it, but the key is to be precise and careful in your movements.
Remember to keep your working arm extended fully above your head and your elbow locked.
Single leg deadlift
All kettlebell exercises require good form to be effective and safe, and that is particularly the case when you do a the single leg deadlift.
Start standing up with the kettlebell in one hand, then bend forward on one leg with the other leg straight out behind you and the kettlebell hanging down from your shoulder. Then return to a standing position.
The key things to good form on this exercise are to have a slightly bent knee, keep your working shoulder away from your ear, and engage your core muscles so you are stable with a straight back.
Kettlebell combined row and press
Once you are comfortable with the kettlebells, the combined row and press is an exercise which demands even more in terms of strength and co-ordination.
Select two equal kettlebells and position yourself in the press-up of position, with hands shoulder-width apart holding the handles and feet together.
Perform a press-up, but at the top of that movement pause and do a one-arm row by lifting one of the kettlebells up to your shoulder while you balance on the handle of the other one.
Lower the kettlebell and then repeat the row movement with your other hand, and complete the press-up movement.
You can find many, many more kettlebell exercises, but these are a great starting point for your workout. If you don’t use kettlebells already, ask your personal trainer if they’re appropriate for you and how you can get started.