Wondering what those round, cannonball-like pieces of
equipment are lingering on the side of the gym? Those are kettlebells and you
better get acquainted with them if you want to step up your fitness game! From
improving your day-to-day life to increasing your athleticism, there are a lot
of hidden benefits that are stored away in those cast-iron balls.
Focuses on Your Whole Body
One of the most popular kettlebell exercises is the
kettlebell swing. “With just one or two kettlebells you can get in a great full
body workout that addresses both strength and cardiovascular components
in a short amount of time,” says Annie Brees, personal trainer and certified
kettlebell instructor. Instead of just targeting one muscle group, you work
multiple groups when mastering the kettlebell swing. Here’s what you need to
Getting into position:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Plant your feet firmly into the ground.
- Keep your gaze straight ahead of you.
- Place the kettlebell 6-8 inches in front of you.
- With a flat back, packed, tight core, hinge forward from the
- Grip the kettlebell with both hands with your fingers.
Keep a loose grip.
- Inhale deeply, keep your weight on your heels, and hike
(like a football) behind you.
- Drive through your hips and exhale as this naturally brings
the kettlebell higher.
- Continue swinging for desired number of reps or time and
always make sure your form isn’t compromised.
- To end the swing, let the kettlebell passively swing forward
as you place it on the ground.
Brees also stresses that you do not want to squat while you
swing and if you find yourself swinging too high (higher than eye level) then
you should consider heavier kettlebells.
The amount of weight you want to start with all depends on
your weight, age, health and fitness. Most women will possibly want to start
with an 8kg kettlebell (17.6 lbs) and most men will maybe want to start with a
16kg kettlebell (35lbs), says Steve Cotter, president and founder of the
International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation (IKFF).
Strengthens & Conditions
Marco Garcia, StrongFirst certified kettlebell instructor
and personal trainer stresses that learning the proper technique from a
professional is important so you don’t injure yourself. While working with
kettlebells can make you feel like a Spartan as the weeks go by, Garcia adds
that form is vital in order to prevent any injury and to maximize your results.
Once you have proper technique, increase weight in order to increase your strength
and make your workout even more intense.
“Kettlebells combine the benefits of resistance (strength)
training with cardiovascular conditioning (aerobics), making it one of the most
time-efficient all-in-one workouts available,” says Cotter.
Reduces the Risk of Injury & Enhances Athleticism
Just in case your forgot, technique is key. Just because
you’re swinging a kettlebell to and froe, doesn’t mean you’ll get the results
you want. If you are focused on strengthening and/or building more muscle, you
will want to focus on finding kettlebells that are challenging, but still manageable
to lift so you can complete a certain number of sets and repetitions without
breaking your form.
Being committed and consistent with your kettlebell workouts
is another factor to focus on in order to reap the benefits kettlebells have to
offer, according to Cotter. Kettlebell exercises also allows a high-intensity
and aerobic exercise all at once without pounding your ankles, knees and hips the
way running or other aerobic exercises do.
“There are quite a few people I have met over the years who
have lost 30, 60, even 100 pounds of unwanted bodyweight through using solely
kettlebells. There can be dramatic body composition changes because of the
unique design of the kettlebell,” says Cotter.
Feel the Burn
Depending on the intensity of your kettlebell workout, you
can expect to burn anywhere from 700 to 1,000 calories per hour on average,
according to Garcia. However the amount
of calories you burn is highly variable depending on the amount of weight
you’re using and the intensity of the workout. What makes kettlebells so unique
is its shape which enables you to perform moves such as snatches and swings
that would otherwise be difficult with a regular dumbbell. These unique moves
will have your heart rate beating faster in just a short amount of time.
“Kettlebells are a great tool for
developing strength, increasing cardiovascular endurance
and flexibly, improving balance and enhancing core strength,” says
So next time you’re at the gym, pick up that kettlebell,
check your form and start swinging!