So another advantage of the kettle bell swing is the large amount of muscle recruitment you get from the exercise. As you drive the kettle bell up using the hips and legs you recruit a large amount of muscles in the back of the body.
The kettle bell swing is different because it strengthens the posterior chain, improving your upright posture which in turn pulls your shoulders back and reveals the chest. With a strong emphasis on desk jobs and computer work many people spend too much time seated.
The kettle bell swing helps to combat this by strengthening the abs as you lock into the upright position. The abs work hard at the top to prevent the body from over extending backwards, similar to a vertical plank position.
During the swing the lower back should also be kept in a static (isometric) position so the movement can be generated by the hips. The kettle bell swing uses 100’s of muscles in one movement, is very cardiovascular without the need to move your feet, improves your posture and burns lots of calories.
If you experience pain when you lean forward or bend backwards then the kettle bell swing is not for you. We live in a world of infinite knowledge, yet we rarely stop to think about the dangers of such innovation.
Well, maybe not that many, but in this day and age of strength and conditioning the kettle bell is turning into a standard training tool among coaches and trainees. If you ’re new to the kettle bell and want to jump in with both feet, three full body workouts hitting each movement pattern per week is plenty.
The conventional gyms and department stores of the world would have you believe that a 10lb kettle bell is all a man needs and a 5lb is plenty for a woman. Well, my friend, I hate to burst your kettle-bubble, but if you want to see any benefits from the bell you need to challenge yourself.
99% of the time (a statistic I just made up to prove a point but is still going to be high) trainees go too light. There’s no set standard per se as each person is different, but here’s a good guide for non-injured, healthy men and women:
Challenging yourself is important, but if you ’re breaking form for the purposes of lifting a certain weight, then the potential harm outweighs any good could be doing. If I had a nickel for each time I’ve seen someone attempting a technical move like the snatch at a conventional gym with zero knowledge of the movement outside of watching a video I’d be a rich man.
Finding a reputable coach in your area or absorbing instructional videos will do your body good. Juggling, intense movements, and programs with a ton of volume can look enticing, but if you ’re not ready for it take a step back.
Check out the Durability channel on Innit Academy On Demand to work through tight areas and open up new movements. Double kettle bell work, heavy one arm swings, bent presses, goblet squats, and incredible flows will do far more than get your heart pumping.
A powerful routine that will build incredible strength AND conditioning is utilizing the kettle bell (or a few) for a strength-geared circuit. For example, you can perform a press, goblet squat, renegade row, and one arm swing.
This gives you PLENTY of room for growth since you can’t change the weights easily. Between get-ups, arm bars, windmills and sots presses kettle bell deliver amazing strength, but also incredible mobility from your hips to your shoulders and everything in between.
You can incorporate challenging movements as a warm up or what I do is pick the toughest ones based on my body’s abilities and spend a whole session playing with them. For example, I’ll incorporate a longer mobility warm up and then hit multiple sets (never to failure) of sots presses and deep goblet squats using lighter weights.
Because of the position of the kettle bell even simply pressing it will pull your arm back a bit further stretching your lats and opening up your shoulders a hair more. Your glutes and hamstrings are your power source for building hip speed and explosive strength.
This can be alternated with heavy and lighter weights and aiming for 50-200 reps (not necessarily at once). Sets can be broken down and performed ladder-style, on the minute, or pair them with a calisthenics move like push ups for a more robust session.
A strong grip is more useful than the mainstream fitness world gives it credit. The off-center placement of the bell gives the kettle bell an advantage over other tools as it forces you to keep a flexed forearm while in the rack and overhead position.
Combine that with kettle bell flows, juggling, and ballistic movements to strengthen your grip from every angle. Eventually, you can try tougher routines and juggling complexes to unleash the power of the bell.
Most strength training is done with trunk flexion and extension with the occasional rotational movement medicine ball throw. Squats and dead lifts are awesome, but when you combine powerful movements with the likes of rotational swings, lateral punches, and 360 snatches you ’ll build strength from a multitude of angles.
Strength in motion (what we’ve dubbed the outside the box thinking and kettle bell flowing) is almost meditative. There are no sets and reps. You just move, and this allows you to explore different ranges of motion, planes, and movement patterns.
If you ’re a coach or group class leader kettle bells are fantastic to lead clients through a plethora of movements that will deliver strength and conditioning in record time. If you ’re a solo practitioner nothing beats the simplicity of one or two bells and some fresh air.
Some simple complexes and movements can help you continue on your strength quest without skipping a beat and minus the tons of equipment and weight needed. An easy way is to limit your tools to a kettle bell and club or mace, a suspension trainer and your body to build a high-functioning physique without all the fluff.
This will help you take your kettle bell abilities to the next level and help you unlock your imagination for some fantastic, out of the box strength and conditioning sessions. Today, they have become a very popular and trusted part of many fitness regimes, with participants claiming that kettle bells improve endurance and strength, whilst at the same time, burning calories.
They are advertised as offering a great way to stay in shape, whilst being fun at the same time, compared to ‘normal’ workouts. People spend a lot of time using different forms of exercise to reach their goals, such as losing fat, building muscle or working to improve or maintain fitness levels.
This was confirmed by a study directly comparing the two-handed kettle bell swing with modern intensity treadmill walking (Thomas et al. 2014). Whilst the movements involved in kettle bell training act as a cardio exercise, the fact that a weight is being lifted at the same time, also works your muscles.
Studies have found that this form of exercise improves power, endurance (Pinocchio, 2010) and maximum strength (Lake and Lauder, 2012). Another advantage of working and strengthening your muscles is that it increases your metabolism, meaning you can burn fat all day after your workout.
This combination of cardio and strength training, allows you to get the best of both worlds and reap the benefits that both offer in one challenging kettle bell workout. Another specific benefit of kettle bell movements is that these can work all of your major muscle groups at once and can achieve remarkable results in less time.
The high number of calories that can be burned with this training is accredited to it being a total body movement exercise (Forward, 2010). In this way, it is hailed as being superior to other kinds of weight training, due to forcing your body to work as a unit with every swing or lift.
As kettle bell training involves a lot of movement, it is important to perform the exercises correctly, ensuring your back is straight, shoulders are relaxed and head is in a neutral position. This is a remarkable advantage of kettle bell training, as having a strong core is important in everyday life, particularly for balance and posture.
Osteoarthritis is the most common kind of arthritis, which is caused by the breakdown of cartilage that the body eventually cannot repair, often in older age. A study found that joints subjected to heavy impact are relatively free of osteoarthritis in older age (Verkhoshansky and Sight, 1998).
Thus, the ballistic exercises using a kettle bell, such as the swing, snatch, jerk and clean, appear to be highly beneficial and strength your joints, promoting protection against osteoarthritis in older age. Making lifestyle changes, such as incorporating regular exercise into your routine along with a healthy diet, can keep your heart and arteries in good condition and reduce blood pressure and its associated risks.
Studies have found that kettle bell training can be a good form of exercise, which can lower blood pressure (Jay, 2009). With it being both a cardio and strength workout, it can assist in the control of and help to prevent high blood pressure, and therefore reduce the dangers to your health.
Whilst it does promote a healthy lifestyle, if you do have high blood pressure, always ask for advice from your doctor first before you start any new physical regime. There has been an increase in the number of adults developing Type 2 Diabetes, due to living an unhealthy lifestyle and being overweight.
Whilst there is no cure for Type 2 Diabetes, blood glucose levels can be managed to minimize the risk of health problems that can develop. In particular, a recent study found that kettle bell training could improve glucose clearance in young, sedentary males (Greenwald, 2014).
In conclusion, training with kettle bells is advantageous not only in meeting individual fitness goals but also in protecting against medical conditions.