There are so many ways to stay in shape that it can be challenging to find the one best suited to you. When working out it's essential to find a balance between cardio and strength and conditioning training. If you find running too difficult or you’re not a strong swimmer, then using a kettlebell is a great way to get your cardio workout in, along with toning your muscles. This article will take you through the benefits of a kettlebell along with some killer kettlebell workouts.
What is a Kettlebell?
The first kettlebell was used in Russia in the 18th century as a type of metal weight, to weigh crops. In the late 19th century, they began to appear in circus’s and were the main tool used by strongmen. The term kettle bell has been used since the early 20th century as the weight bears a resemblance to a teapot without a spout.
The kettlebell is made up of two main parts. The handle which curves down, with the corners being known as the ‘horns’. The handles connect to the round shaped ball which makes up the main weight of the kettlebell. Its unique design provides an unstable force and is the key to effectiveness in the kettlebell.
Benefits of Kettlebells
A kettlebell is a great all-rounder that combines cardio, strength, and flexibility training. To use a kettlebell, you must move your whole body. The swinging will raise your pulse and make it an effective cardio workout. The strength training is reflected in the weight of the kettlebell, and the stretches within each exercise will help increase your flexibility.
Large range of exercises
You will never be bored when using a kettlebell. There are so many options and different movements to try when using a one that it will always be different.
Can be used in Yoga exercises
Yoga is a beneficial workout, but many find it difficult to hold the poses for any length of time. Using a kettlebell will help with keeping the pose and help you stretch more naturally.
As you exert a lot of energy when using a kettlebell, it is beneficial to burning a lot of calories and helps build muscles. It is one of the best fat-burning tools out there.
Various muscle groups targeted
Unlike barbells, which work on specific muscles, a kettlebell, depending on the exercise, works muscles from all over your body, including glutes, hamstrings, hips, core, back, shoulders, and forearms. Using a kettlebell will give you a full-body workout every time.
Now that we know some of the benefits of using a kettlebell in your workout, here are a few killer kettlebell exercises to get you started.
Killer Kettlebell Workouts
The Kettlebell Swing
The kettlebell swing is an exercise that builds strength, posture, cardio capacity, and athletic ability. It's essential to choose the right weight, one that you can swing with good form. Contrary to popular belief, the swing comes from the legs, hips, and glutes instead of the arms, as many may think. It is the force of your hips that will throw the weight upwards.
To complete a kettlebell swing, place the weight on the floor between your feet, squat down with your feet on either side and grab the handle. With both hands on the kettlebell, stand up with your back straight and shoulders back. To initiate the swing, throw the kettlebell back through your legs, driving forward with your hips, squeezing the glutes, as the kettlebell moves upwards.
The Kettlebell Squat
The kettlebell squat is an excellent exercise for strengthening your lower body. It's an excellent exercise for beginners as the kettlebell helps keep you balanced and shifts the weight from your back to the front of your torso, meaning there is less strain on your spine.
Stand up straight, holding the kettlebell by the horns of the central bell part itself, with your feet about shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly out. Drive your bum back, knees out, keeping your chest up and squat to just below parallel, then come back up, squeezing your glutes as you go.
The Kettlebell Deadlift
It is a great all-round exercise that will help you build muscles while improving your athletic performance. The deadlift is a hinge movement instead of a squat movement meaning you break at the hips rather than the knees.
To perform a good deadlift, you should keep a neutral spine. Imagine you have a tennis ball underneath your chin to keep your neck neutral, so you shouldn’t always be looking straight ahead. It will help keep the core engaged.
To perform the deadlift, place the kettlebell between your feet, feet about shoulder-width apart, hinge at the hips as if you're pushing your bum back — you should feel the tension on your hamstrings. Holding onto the kettlebell with both hands, engage the lats and core and stand up, squeezing the glutes as you come up.
The Kettlebell Clean
It is another full-body exercise that you can use for both strength and conditioning. It is a slightly more technical exercise but is beneficial when executed correctly.
Place the kettlebell on the floor between your feet, squat down with one arm extended out to the side, the other hand grabbing the kettlebell. Pull the weight to elbow height, keeping it close to your body, drop your elbow underneath it to catch the kettlebell at shoulder height, to soften the kettlebells landing, slightly bend your knees into a squat and stand up straight.
Need a quick workout?
Why not combine these four exercises into a 15-minute workout. Do each of the four exercises for 60 seconds each, then take 60 seconds rest, so you're working for 4 mins and resting for 1 minute. Complete this three times for a great workout in 15 minutes!