The Benefits Of A Kettlebell Workout

Kettlebell Exercise Is Great For Getting Healthy

Kettlebell Exercises For HealthThe Kettlebell Workout: An Extremely Effective Method Used For Exercise, Sport And Weight-loss.

A kettlebell is a piece of exercise equipment usually made out of cast-iron or cast steel. It looks like a cannonball that has a handle attached to the top of it.

Kettlebells come in a variety of weights and sizes. They can be used when performing ballistic exercises which combine strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training.

Some popular kettlebell exercises include lifts, lunges and shoulder presses. The kettlebell is becoming more popular in recent times due to the wide variety of muscle groups that can be worked on with it and its relatively low cost.

The modern kettlebell is a descendent of the Russian girya, a metal weight used in the 18th century primarily for weighing crops. In the 19th century, circus strongmen began using them in their acts.

In the late 19th century in Russia and Europe, the kettlebell began being used for recreation and strength competition. The first competitive kettlebell lifting contest or girevoy sport is said to have taken place in 1885 and coincides with the foundation of ‘Circle for Amateur Athletics’. Kettlebell is an English term for the apparatus that came into use early in the 20th century.

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Kettlebell Weight

Kettlebells commonly weigh 12, 16 or 24 kilograms. The center of the kettlebell’s mass extends beyond the hand. This facilitates swinging or ballistic movements.

See the chart below for a guide on which weight is correct for you when starting out with kettlebell training.

Your ConditionSexRecommended Starting Kettlebell Size
Out of shape or older ageMale26 lb. (12 kg)
Female15 lb. (6 kg)
Average or good shapeMale35 pounder (16 kg)
Female18 pounder (8 kg)
Good shape, experienced in weight trainingMale44-pounder (20 kg)
Female26-pounder (12 kg)

Kettlebell exercises are used for wrist, grip, arm and core strengthening. Its unique shape creates an unstable force when handling. This is important to the effectiveness in swing and release moves in kettlebell exercises.

The haltere in Classical Greece, ishi sashi or Indian clubs and an instrument used in China by Shaolin monks are similar in weight, movements and function to the modern kettlebell.

Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell exercises are used to build endurance, strength in the shoulders, lower back and legs and increase grip strength.

Doing basic movements with the kettlebell like swing, clean and jerk and the snatch create a full body kettlebell workout that mimics farm work, shoveling and many other real world activities.

The exercises typically involve many repetitions. Their holistic nature means several muscles are engaged simultaneously and continuously for several minutes with short breaks. The kettlebell exercises combine aerobic exercise with high-intensity interval training.

Effects Of A Kettlebell Workout

Studies have shown that a 20 minute kettlebell workout burns 13.6 calories per minute aerobically as well as 6.6 calories per minute anaerobically. It is the equivalent of running at the pace of a 6-minute mile.

Due to the high number of repetitions in a kettlebell workout, it is recommended people start slowly in order to build muscle endurance, provide joint support and prevent injury.

Done properly, kettlebell workouts can improve range of motion and mobility, increase strength and provide many health benefits.

People with a weak core, back or shoulder problems should use great caution when doing kettlebell workouts.

Kettlebell Movements

There are a number of common movements that are uniquely suited for working out with the kettlebell. They can be done using one or two kettlebells. They include:

The Kettlebell or Russian Swing, the American Swing, Circular Swing, Figure-8 Swing, High Pull, Clean, Circular Clean, Alternating Clean, Snatch, Pushup, Strict Press, Floor Press, Sots or Squat Press, Push Press, Helping Hand Press, Bent Press, Arm Bar Floor Press, Jerk, Thruster, Squat, Deck Squat, Lunge press or Tactical Lunge, Pistol squat, Deadlift, Carry, Row, Renegade or Plank row, Lunge, Lateral lunge, Lateral lunge, Slingshot, Slingshot lunge, clean, Halo, Arm bar, Squat Get-up, Windmill, Russian Twist and Farmer’s Walk.

We will explore these exercises further in the future.

Holding The KettlebellHow To Hold A Kettlebell During Workout

There are many different ways to hold a kettlebell during workouts. Sometimes multiple kettlebells are held in one hand using lighter kettlebells.

For movements requiring rack or overhead positions, the kettlebell is held in the open palm to create a greater stabilization challenge. This is sometimes referred to as the waiter hold.

Holding the handle of the kettlebell upside-down is called the bottom-up hold. This helps people stay tight while pressing. Holding a kettlebell by the horns, bottom-up in the rack position with two hands, is used in goblet exercise variants.

Kettlebell Lifting Styles

There are four basic lifting styles for kettlebell training. They are the Hard Style, Girevoy or Fluid Style, Crossfit and Juggling.

  • The Hard Style builds power and strength and focuses on the duality of tension and relaxation. Its roots are in Gōjū-ryū Karate training and powerlifting.
  • Girevoy or Fluid Style is used in preparation for the sport of competitive kettlebell lifting. It’s part of a training regimen that focuses on strength and endurance.
  • Crossfit kettlebell training is the use of kettlebell training in a Crossfit curricula. It employs modified forms of several kettlebell movements.
  • The Juggling kettlebell training style is where practitioners catch and release, spin and flip the kettlebell in a variety of manners all around the body.

A Kettlebell Workout For Beginners

The following are two simple kettlebell exercises that improve strength, endurance and power.

These beginner-friendly kettlebell moves will sculpt strong muscles from every angle. Use a kettlebell weighing 8 to 12 pounds (3.6 to 5.4 kgs).

It’s very important when starting out not to use a kettlebell that is too heavy as it will increase the chances of injury.

Here’s our guide to the top 20 kettlebell exercises.

Man Performing Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing

Two-Handed Swing

This targets your back, butt, hips, legs and shoulders.

Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold the handle of kettlebell in both hands with your palms in and your arms in front of your thighs.

Bend forward with your flat. Swing the kettlebell through your legs behind you. As you swing the kettlebell forward, rise into a standing position and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder high straight out in front of you and return to starting position. Do 10 reps.

Woman Performing Kettlebell Lunge Press

Kettlebell Lunge Press

Lunge Press

This targets your abs, arms, back, butt, legs and shoulders.

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold the kettlebell handle with both hands in front of your chest while keeping your elbows at your sides and your palms in.

Thrust the kettlebell straight up into the air over your head as you lunge forward with your right leg. Bend your right knee until your left knee touches the floor. Return to the start position and lunge forward with your left leg.

Repeat 10 times with each leg, thrusting the kettlebell into the air each time.

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