Do you feel intimidated by kettlebells? Want to try a kettlebell workout, but don’t know where to start? Kettlebells can take a little getting used to – their unique shape and weight distribution makes them different than a dumbbell – but with a little practice, you can easily get into the swing of things.
It’s always a good idea to consult a trainer before starting a kettlebell workout, since guidance will greatly reduce your risk of injury. You may also want to first learn the movements and patterns without the kettlebell before adding the weight. That way, you’re not putting yourself into a situation where you can potentially injure yourself without knowing the proper form.
After someone’s shown you the correct form and you’ve practiced the moves a few times, try these beginner exercises and learn what all the fuss over kettlebells is about.
1. Kettlebell Deadlift
Work your hamstrings, glutes and back with this powerful deadlift. Start with the kettlebell in front of you on the floor.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your toes turned out slightly. Squat and pick up the kettlebell.
- Stand, driving through your heels, with your chest up and back straight.
- Squeeze at the top and return all the way to the floor with the kettlebell at your feet.
- Do three sets of 10 reps.
2. Two-Handed Swing
This move will target your shoulders, back, hips, butt and legs.
- Start from the same standing position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the handle of the kettlebell in both hands with your arms in front of your thighs, palms facing in.
- Squat, keeping your chest open and back flat.
- Hinging forward from your hips, swing the kettlebell through your legs behind you.
- Hold onto the outside of the kettlebell handle with both hands.
- Hold it behind one shoulder.
- Bring it behind your head and back to the front of your opposite shoulder, making a halo shape in the process.
- Reverse directions and do the move backwards.
- Do 10 halos in each direction.
4. Lunge Press
This move will target your shoulders, back, arms, abs, glutes and legs.
- Stand straight, holding the kettlebell at chest level with both hands.
- Your arms should be bent and palms should face inward.
- Lunge forward with one leg while you raise the kettlebell above your head.
- Return to a standing position with the kettlebell back to your chest.
- Do 10 to 15 reps for each leg.
5. Figure 8
Hold a kettlebell to your chest with your right hand holding onto one corner of the handle (also called the horn).
- Your feet should be hip-width apart. Lower into a squat.
- Thread the kettlebell through your legs by passing it from one hand to the other.
- Reach behind with your left hand to grab the corner of the horn.
- With your left hand, move it from outside your left thigh back through the middle of your legs.
- Grab onto it with your right hand behind your right leg.
- Keep passing from one hand to the other through the center of your legs, making a Figure 8. Do 10 reps.
6. Clean To Rack
Start with your feet hip-distance apart and your right hand on top of the handle of the kettlebell, palm facing you.
- Squat, lowering the kettlebell below your knees.
- With one motion, stand and curl the kettlebell to your chest.
- Rotate your weight to the right as you do this.
- Lower and repeat for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides.
A few more safety guidelines to remember before starting your kettlebell workout:
- Move with your hips first.
- Don’t slouch.
- Stay tight through your waist and loose in your arms.
- Keep your shoulders in their sockets.
- Don’t hyperextend your wrists.
- Keep your elbows straight
- Learn how to tame the arc: On the way down, think of the kettlebell going back rather than down, so your forearm almost hits your groin like a football hike pass. On the way up, yank at the shoulder instead of pulling at the bicep, as if you’re starting a lawn mower.
Be safe, have fun, and let kettlebells be your new best friend.