How To: Exercise with Kettlebells

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World Health Gym Calgary

It seems like a new fad that everyone is exercising with kettlebells. Truth is, they have been around for a long time; originating in Russia hundreds of years ago. For those of you who have never seen one, it can be described as a cannonball with a handle.

What Are the Benefits of Kettlebells?

Kettlebells help teach the body how to explosively move a load through space using the whole body, but mainly the hips.  The kettlebell is different from a dumbbell because its weight is not distributed evenly around the handle. Their ability for functional fitness training appeals to all fitness levels, ages and genders.

Kettlebells offer:

  • Cardio without the boredom of using an elliptical, treadmill or stepper
  • Functional strength
  • Improved mobility and range of motion
  • Fun and varied, never boring
  • One compact, portable device
  • It’s safe
  • Full-body conditioning
  • Big results by spending less time in the gym. Kettlebell training involves multiple muscle groups and energy systems at once
  • Increased resistance to injury
  • Increased strength without increase of mass.
  • Enhanced performance in everyday functioning
  • Major calorie burning (The American Council on Exercise found participants burned approximately 20 calories per minute)

To ensure a good workout with a kettlebell, there is one main thing to remember: Since you are trying to use the momentum of the bell to make the movement more natural, it’s crucial to use sufficient weight to create a slight counterbalance in the body.

When any of these movements are done it is important to keep a flat back with shoulder blades retracted.  This will help strengthen the posterior chain of the body as well as teach the body proper posture in the most basic day-to-day activities.

Goblet Squat

Hold a kettlebell upside down with the sides of the handle in your palms.  Keep the weight about 4-6 inches off the body and perform a squat.  Keep the kettlebell at chest height the whole duration of the squat, making sure the back stays flat.

Two-Hand Swing 

Hold the kettlebell by the handle with both hands and set the feet shoulder-width apart. Deadlift the bell up to a standing position with the glutes squeezed.  Start the movement by shifting the hips back and slightly bending the knees until the bell is in between the knees.  From there we use the lats to pull the bell back under the butt, and then simply stand by snapping the hips back to our upright position which will pop the kettlebell out in front of you.  Let gravity pull the kettlebell back down between the legs and repeat the movement.  Let the momentum of the kettlebell pull you back to the bottom position.

One-Hand Bent Over Row 

Hold the kettlebell in one hand and take one step back with the same leg as the hand with the bell. Bend forward and rest the open hand on the knee in front, pull the bell from the hang position up to the side of the body without twisting the torso.  Lower the weight back down to the bottom and repeat.

Two-Hand Overhead Press 

Hold the kettlebell upside down with hands on the side of the handles.  Using both hands, press the bell straight up overhead keeping the kettlebell in line with the forearms.  The press is over when the kettlebell is overhead and in line with the spine.

Two-Hand Squat Thruster 

Combine the goblet squat and the two-hand overhead press.  From the bottom of the squat, thrust the weight through heels up and throw the weight overhead.

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