Perfect Your Kettlebell Workout (No Matter Your Fitness Level)  – Articles

There are many different pieces of fitness equipment in Life Time facilities. Some of the traditional equipment that members have access to includes Barbells, Dumbbells and various machines (cardiovascular as well as resistance-training options). But as a Personal Trainer, I notice that many members have questions about the more nontraditional equipment, like Suspension Training (e.g., TRX), ViPRs, Kettlebells, Foam Rollers, Stability Balls, BOSUs and Resistance Bands. 

This article will highlight the Kettlebell and explain what it is, plus describe four common exercises and three workout options (beginner and advanced) to go with the exercises.

The Kettlebell is similar to a Dumbbell and originated in Russia. It looks like a cannonball with a handle on it. In the early 2000s, it gained popularity in the fitness industry as a piece of equipment that offers the following benefits:

  • Cost-effective. Usually you only need one for an effective workout.
  • Portable. It can be used inside as well as outside and are easy to transport.
  • Progressive strength training. Sizes range from 8 kg (17.6 lb.) to 48 kg (105.6 lb.) and sometimes larger.
  • Cardiovascular training. Many exercises are total body and can be very dynamic in movement.
  • It trains the stabilizer muscles because of its odd shape.
  • It’s nice to use for circuit training as it is easy to transition from exercise to exercise very rapidly.
  • It’s a nice alternative to Olympic weightlifting if person have mobility issues.
  • It can be a nice change of pace from using traditional equipment.

Around 2010, the kettlebell’s popularity declined a bit. However, it looks like the demand is increasing again, especially with classes like Kettlebell Kombine being offered at Life Time clubs and similar variations at other facilities.

Here are four basic and effective exercises to get you started.

 

1. KETTLEBELL SWING

The Swing is an exercise that is a hinge-movement pattern. It is technically a total-body exercise as it is dynamic, but it will primarily target the glutes and hamstrings. If you are short on time, this is probably one of the most effective exercises there is. 

 

Setup

  1. With the Kettlebell in front of you, place both hands on it by hinging at your hips, making sure your back is straight and there is minimal knee bend.
  2. In an explosive manner, snap the Kettlebell back between your legs while keeping your back straight and maintaining the slight knee bend.
  3. Again, in an explosive manner, snap the Kettlebell forward until it reaches shoulder height.
  4. Repeat steps 2–3 until the desired number of reps is met.

Cues

  1. Inhale on step 2 and exhale on step 3.
  2. The majority of the movement is done at the hip joint with minimal movement at the knee joint.
  3. Keep the back straight (no rounding at the back) the whole time.
  4. Squeeze your glutes on step 3.
  5. Keep the neck in a neutral position during the entire exercise.

 

2. KETTLEBELL 1-ARM PRESS

The 1-Arm Press is an exercise that is a push-movement (vertical push) pattern. It targets the muscles of the shoulder. However, if using a significant amount of weight, many other muscle groups like the quads, glutes, core and back have to engage to stabilize the body.
 

Setup 

  1. Grab a Kettlebell and bring it to shoulder height.
  2. Make sure your wrist is straight and squeeze the quads and glutes.
  3. Press the Kettlebell overhead with a slight rotation on the way up.
  4. Bring the Kettlebell back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat steps 2–5 until the desired number of reps is met. 

Cues 

  1. Brace the core during the exercise (imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach and you are trying to resist it).
  2. Keep the neck neutral during the entire exercise.
  3. Squeeze the opposite hand hard during the pressing movement.  It sounds funny but it will make you more stable and strong.
  4. Start with your non-dominant hand and match (don’t exceed) the number of reps with the dominant hand. 

 

3. KETTLEBELL GOBLET SQUAT

The Goblet Squat is an exercise that is a squat-movement pattern. It targets the muscles of the quads and glutes.

Setup

  1. Grab the Kettlebell by the handles and hold it in front of your chest.
  2. Sit down and back (imagine there is a chair behind you) by simultaneously bending your knees and hips until the tops of your legs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Extend your knees and hips until you are back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat steps 2–3 until the desired number of reps is met.

Cues 

  1. Brace the core during the exercise (Imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach and you are trying to resist it).
  2. Keep the back in a straight line as you do the exercise.
  3. Keep the neck neutral during the entire exercise.

 

4. KETTLEBELL 1-ARM ROW

The 1-Arm Row is an exercise that is a pull-movement (horizontal) pattern. It works the muscles of the back as well as the biceps.

Setup 

  1. Get into a staggered position with your feet pointed forward, making sure your hips and shoulders are square.
  2. Hinge at your hips until your back is in a 45-degree angle. 
  3. Place the non-working hand on your knee and grab the Kettlebell with the other hand.
  4. Pull the Kettlebell up to your hip by driving your elbow back by simultaneously bending your shoulder and elbow.
  5. Extend your arm, bringing the Kettlebell back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat steps 4–5 until the desired number of reps is met. 

Cues 

  1. Make sure your shoulders and hips are square, with your back straight the entire time you do the exercise.
  2. Keep your neck neutral while doing the exercise.
  3. Start with your non-dominant hand and match (don’t exceed) the number of reps with the dominant hand.

 

Regarding a workout using the above exercises, there are three options below. One workout is for beginning exercise enthusiasts, the second is for person at the intermediate level and the third is for advanced gym-goers.

Hopefully this article was informative about the Kettlebell and gives you some new ideas on how to include it in future workouts. If you have questions, feel free to comment, talk to a Fitness Professional at your club and look for Kettlebell Workout Workshops that may be offered at your club in the future. 

 

In health, Corey Grenz — Program Specialist and Master Trainer — Life Time, Chanhassen 

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.