Firstly for those who are thinking – ‘What on earth is she talking about” … I will wind back a tad and explain the basics.
Nope – it’s got nothing to do with a cuppa so you can put your gown, slippers and English breaky box away (sorry). You are going to need a water bottle and a gym towel if anything!
Kettlebells are the cannonball shaped ‘weights’ with a large looped handle, much like the gas stove top kettles, and are amazing tools to get you fitter and leaner in less time.
If you have ever looked at them and thought ‘nope that’s not for me’ or ‘Swing it? You have got to be kidding?’ then this is the perfect place to start.
The best thing about kettlebells is that they are aimed to appeal to all levels of fitness, a variety of ages and both genders…and they can really be fun. I actually sometimes enjoy the thrill of trying not to haul the thing over the other side of the room accidently and smash the mirrors. There have been some close ones.
The major difference between traditional weights and kettlebells is that while you try to avoid the ‘swinging cheating momentum’ with dumbbells (yep I am talking about that girl with the insanely heavy bar in pump doing what looks more like a belly dance than a bicep curl), kettlebells are all about creating and controlling the momentum. By swinging the kettlebell in different patterns, and then controlling the momentum to change directions, you are working your big muscles groups such as your legs and butt and also your smaller stability muscles like your abs.
They are also great for your posture, as you use so many muscles groups in conjunction means your core has to stay engaged 360 degrees to stabilise each and every movement. Your back and abs should stay straight and any forward bending should come from your hips or legs rather than an arched back. Remember form is MORE important than the weight you lift.
According to Myatt Murphy, author of the book Push, Pull, Swing, “Kettlebells actually require less wrist, shoulder, and upper-back flexibility than barbells or dumbbells. Kettlebell exercises [also] hit the muscles most men and women often neglect, such as the hamstrings, glutes, core and lower back. Strengthening these muscles leads to improved flexibility, posture, and energy levels”
The Kettlebell workout
Unfortunately you WILL need a kettlebell for this circuit so it’s not something you can do from the comfort of your lounge room – of course unless you have a kettlebell that is.
There are 7 exercises in this circuit. Try and do 8 -10 reps of each exercise without stopping to complete ONE round. Rest for 1-2 minutes at the end of each round. If you feel light headed – take a breather and walk around but just make sure you keep moving. Then complete 4 Rounds in total!
- Kettle bell swings 6-8kg
The swing is the most basic of the kettlebell movements but technique is very crucial to gain any benefit from the move. Start with the kettlebell in both hands hanging between your legs with a lose grip. Drive your hips forward forcefully, making the kettlebell float to shoulder height no higher whilst engaging your core and tightening your glutes and thighs. Then swing the kettlebell back down between your legs and repeat.
- Goblet squats 6-10kg
Stand in a wide squat position with the kettlebell in both hands. You can either hold the handle and let it hang between your legs like the swing position or you can cup the bottom of the kettlebell with both hands and hold it against your chest. Keeping your back straight and knees turning out following the line of your little toe, perform a deep wide squat and return to standing. Repeat
- Military press single arm 4-6kg
Standing in the neutral spine position, feet shoulder width apart, hold the kettlebell in the one hand hanging over your wrist and resting on your shoulder. As you straighten/press your arm upwards you will perform a fist pump action with a little arm twist if required for comfort. Bring the arm back to shoulder position and repeat.
- Reverse curtsey lunge 6-8kg
Standing feet at shoulder width hold the kettlebell at the handle with both hands and bring it up to chest height holding it against you. Take one large step backwards with your left leg crossing it behind your right. Bend your knees and lower your hips until your right knee is parallel to the floor. Keep your torso upright and your hips and shoulders as square as possible. Return to start and repeat with the other leg.
- Single arm bent over row 6-8kg
You need a bench for this move. Standing alongside a flat bench place your left knee and hand on the bench as if you were on all fours (twos). Keep your back flat and hold the kettlebell in the other arm letting it hang just off the ground palm facing in. Engage your core, glutes and back muscles while keeping the natural curve in your spine to protect your back. Think about sticking your bum up/out. Pull your arm up to the side of your chest by bending your elbow. Pause for a moment and squeeze your shoulder blades together before returning it to the start position.
- Tricep pull overs 4-6kg
Lie on your back on the flat bench holding the handle of the kettlebell with both hands leaning on your thighs. Lift your arms straight up to above your head keeping a slight bend in the elbows. From here extend the kettlebell and your arms with a 90 degree bend to the top of the bench behind your head. Hold for a moment and keeping that 90 degree bend pull the kettlebell back over to chest height and repeat.
- Russian twists 6-8kg
Sitting on the floor hold the kettlebell by the handles and rest it on your thighs. Keeping your back straight and core engaged learn back to a 45 degrees angle and hold the kettlebell with elbows bent just above your thighs. Using the momentum of the kettlebell twist your body to the left keeping your hips and legs as square as possible and your torso upright. Hold for a moment before returning to the centre and twisting to the right. Repeat. For an extra burn try lifting your feet sightly off the floor and hold them there whilst you perform the reps.
Make sure you cool down and stretch after every workout to avoid injury and help your muscles relax. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Next time you are at the gym – add one or all of these kettlebell moves to your routine. You will see how fun and versatile kettlebells can really be!