Adding kettlebells to your weight lifting regime is a great way to keep things interesting. The movements used in kettlebell workouts require a lot of focus to keep the kettlebell balanced, this can make it more enjoyable than just counting reps. Originally from Russia, kettlebells were used to keep the army in shape, they are truly a time tested piece of equipment. The benefits of ketllebell workouts are many and varied.
The following exercises are very effective and can help you reach your training goals faster.
The kettlebell windmill exercise is a great exercise to improve not only your strength but also you balance and flexibility. You should do this exercise at the start of your workout to warm up. First you need to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and the kettlebell should be between your feet. Step back so that your right leg is behind your left leg. Without bending your knees, bend down and pick up the kettlebell with your right hand, your palm facing down.
Using the muscles in your upper thighs and core, lift the kettlebell to shoulder height. Bring your elbow into your body so that the kettlebell rolls around and rests on your forearm. Now while keeping your eyes on the kettlebell, straighten your arm, pushing it up towards the ceiling. Now put your left hand to your inner left thigh. Keeping your back straight and bending at the hips, slide your hand down as far as is comfortable. Then, bending your knees slightly, move back to a standing position using your core muscles to take the weight. The arm holding the kettlebell should be kept straight, perpendicular to the ground, while bending down and straightening up. You can repeat this five times before switching sides.
When doing the kettlebell swing, again stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Bending your knees slightly, lean forward and pick up the kettlebell. You should stare straight ahead of you the whole time. Using both hands with your palms facing downwards lift the kettlebell over your head and inhale, then as you exhale bring the kettlebell down and behind your legs. The power to move the kettebell should come from your hips, abdomen and upper thighs. You should aim to do between twenty and fifty reps depending on your fitness level. Complete five sets leaving a one minute break between each set.
Another way to swing the kettlebell is side to side, this is an especially good exercise for sports like golf. Using both hands, hold the kettlebell out in front of you. Your arms should be straight out with your elbows locked. Swing the kettlebell from your left to right side. As you do this lift your heels and begin to lean forward. As you swing the kettlebell from side to side you should start moving towards the ground so that eventually you are swinging the kettlebell at the same height as your ankles. Your gaze should be fixed ahead of you foar the whole movement. Make sure the power for this exercise is coming from your hips. After moving back up again repeat the exercise ten times. You can do five sets, again leaving a minutes break between each set.
Common mistakes when doing the kettlebell swing
The kettlebell swing is difficult exercise to get right, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. If you have lower back pain or sore hips after a workout then your technique needs to be improved.
Here are some common mistakes people make when doing the kettlebell swing:
- Swinging the kettlebell too low. The lowest point of the swing should be about the same height of your knees. Don’t go any lower than this.
- Not swinging the kettlebell low enough. This is a problem I had that left me with sore hips. If you are not swinging low enough you will move your legs and hips to try to avoid the kettlebell hitting into your legs. Aim for knee height when swinging the kettlebell.
- Going to high on the upswing. If you swing higher than chest height your lower back will arch inwards. If you have lower back pain this could be the reason.
- Having your knees too far forward. Your knees should never go past your toes. If you have knee pain this is likely where you are going wrong.
- Pushing the hips forward. Since you drive the kettlebell from your hips it can be tempting to push them forward at the top of the swing. Your back should remain straight.
Once your technique starts to falter you should stop immediately. Don’t push for ‘just a few more’. Swinging a heavy weight around with poor technique is a recipe for disaster. If you do this then at best you will end up with aches and pains after every workout and at worst you will seriously injure yourself.
There are plenty of kettlebell exercises so choosing which to do depends on your exercise goals. Because of the kettlebells simplistic design it is very flexible in the number and types of exercises you can do with it. The exercises described here are the basic kettlebell exercises, any other exercises you add to your kettlebell workout should be chosen based on your training goals.