Kettlebells are awesome pieces of fitness equipment, that can be used for both functional fitness and bodybuilding. Their ingenuity lays in the asymmetrical design, which forces a more thorough workout and really works your grip strength to the maximum. Most of the mass is in the base and the handle being on top opens up some cool exercises that can't be done with dumbbells alone.
However many people avoid kettlebells as they don't know how to use them or don't understand them at all. So first let's have a look at some of the possible exercises for the humble kettlebell.
These are an excellent kettlebell exercise for the abdominals, as they work the Obliques, Transverse Abdominals and the Rectus Abdominus all together. Keeping your feet in the air rotate your upper body to move the kettlebell from left to right sides of your body. Lower the kettlebell to the ground on each side, but don't let it touch.
Clean and Shoulder Press
Start with the Kettlebell on the floor. Squat over the Kettlebell and hold the handle. Accelerate up with the legs whilst also moving the Kettlebell up the body with the shoulder movement. Rotate the wrist and Kettlebell to the outside of the shoulder. Press the Kettlebell straight up with the Kettlebell resting on the back of the wrist.
Hold the kettlebell by the bell section. Feet flat on the floor holding the kettlebell in a static position use your abdominals to lift you and the kettlebell. Use a weight that challenges you whilst allowing you to crunch smoothly without having to cheat.
The Double Dead Lift Clean
Hold the kettlebell by the handles. Start with the kettlebells out in front at 45 degrees, thumbs facing to the back. Pull the kettlebells behind and between the legs - swing forward extending the hips, rotating the wrist and pull kettlebells to the side into a rack position kettlebells on the outside of the wrist, elbows in.
Squat and High Pull
This is a dynamic exercise letting the kettlebells swing slightly as it moves up the front of the body. Squat down and using hips and legs as you drive through pull, elbows up high and back. Use momentum in the hips and legs to move the kettlebells upwards. Return to the squat position in the second picture and repeat under control.
To start, deadlift the kettlebell into a standing position. To start the movement – push hips forward to gain momentum and swing the kettlebell forwards. Then letting the kettlebell swing backwards bend knees and let kettlebell move between the legs. Push forwards using hip power, legs, back and glutes keeping the arms straight and relaxed. Let the kettlebell swing but stay in control moving the kettlebell to chest height.
Start with the kettlebell on the floor and perform a clean and press (in this case on the right side). Turn the feet to the opposite direction (to the left) 45 degrees. Push the hips to the right. Keeping the arm with the kettlebell straight – rotate through the waist allowing the free hand to move towards the floor. Keep looking toward the kettlebell and go to your own range of movement. Then reverse these movements back to the start position.
Holding the kettlebell by the mass with thumbs around the horns for secure grip. Keep elbows to the side of the head and allow the kettlebell to go down behind the head under control. Straighten the arms again working the tricep muscles in the rear of the arm.
Lunge and Press
Start with the kettlebell to the right side holding by the handle. Take a large lunge step forward with the right leg. Before you complete the lunge, press up with the kettlebell. Return to the start position - change over and complete on the other side. Variations can be performed with opposite hand and leg being used.
Double Kettlebell Squat
Bring the kettlebells into the rack start position with kettlebells to the side. Keeping a straight back, bend at the knees into a squat position. Go down as far as your range of movement will allow staying under control. Return back to the start position.
Kettlebell Side Bends
Start on your side and support your body weight on the elbow. Lift hips keeping them stacked one on top of the other. Keep core and abdominals and back tight. Press up with the kettlebell. Reverse the movement back to the start under control.
Kettlebell Shoulder Press
Hold the kettlebell on the horns, keeping knees bent and good posture, push up with both arms but do not 100% lock out at the top. Lower and return to the start position.
Kettlebell Bicep Curl
Holding the horn of the kettlebell keeping elbows tight to your side, move the kettlebell up towards your face using your bicep muscles to control the movement.
Lay flat on the floor and grip the kettlebell with the left hand. Roll over and grip the kettlebell by the handle with the bell resting on the back of the wrist and come flat on your back again. Press the kettlebell straight up and lock the arm in position. Place your right arm out to the side and the left leg is bent at the knee and move out to the side. Placing pressure on the right arm, using the abdominals curl up and extend the kettlebell into the air. Come up to the elbow then up onto the hand. Bring your right hip up off the floor allowing you to bring the right foot under and onto your knee. Keeping strong abdominals come up into a kneeling position. Standing up focusing on keeping the kettlebell arm straight and above the head at all times. Reverse these movements back to the start position.
These are just some of the more popular exercises, there is a whole host of other exercises that are possible.
Functional Circuit Workout
When partaking in kettlebell training, you'll want to choose a weight according to your ability. You are looking to have the body loaded with resistance to feel the full benefit. Select a weight you can perform each exercise approx 10 times in the correct form. As your functional strength increases you can move up the weight of kettlebells. As your ability improves either increase the weight, increase the repetitions or reduce the rest period. Bear in mind that you'll need a few different weights as some exercises are harder than others.
Perform each exercise below 10 times, that's one round. You can perform as many rounds as you like, but 3-5 is a good number to start with for 5 exercises.
1. Start with the Double Dead Clean - 10 reps.
2. The Swing - 10 reps.
3. Double Squat - 10 reps.
4. Windmill - 10 reps
5. Ab Crunch - 10 reps
6. Rest for 1 minute or until you feel comfortable to continue and repeat.
You can mix any of the above exercises into this simple kettlebell circuit and also add in more exercises to make it even more intense.
Remember to warm-up, cool down and stretch properly.
Prior to workout, ensure you are thoroughly warmed up, raise your heart rate slightly, mobilise major joints and stretch gentle. Do light cardiovascular exercise (i.e. cycle) for approx. 5-10 mins.
Perform 3-5 mins of light cardiovascular work to gradually lower your heart rate and return the body temperature back towards resting levels. Exercise should be rhythmical and of gradually decreasing intensity.
After training, stretch all the major muscle groups. This will aid recovery and return the muscles to their normal length. Developmental stretches can also be done to increase the flexibility of selected muscle groups i.e. the hamstrings (back of thigh).
The other option for workouts with kettlebells is a simple tabata. This is where you perform as many reps as possible of an exercise during a set period of time (normally between 30 seconds and a minute), then you rest for half that time period. So for example 40 seconds work and 20 seconds rest. You can repeat this as many times as you like.
Hopefully this inspires you to start training with kettlebells. They are a fun and unique type of fitness equipment and are very effective! We stock a wide range of vinyl, cast iron and commercial grade kettlebells in our online store.