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Best Kettlebell Movements

author
Bob Roberts
• Saturday, 03 October, 2020
• 13 min read

When used correctly, kettle bells are extremely effective training tools for providing total-body strength and conditioning. As with any technical movement, lift, or skill, proper coaching is required to maximize the benefits.

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Contents

It's a two-for-one exercise, meaning you're able to combine strength training and cardiovascular conditioning into one efficient movement. Though it looks easy to perform, the swing can take a significant amount of time, practice, and coaching to perfect.

It teaches you to move fluidly, and when you add the external load (a kettle bell) it requires strength, mobility, and skilled movement. It's a powerful full-body exercise that requires attention to detail and a respect for human movement.

The unique shape of a kettle bell and offset handle allow you to press in the natural plane of motion relative to your shoulder joint. You just feel like you have more power to press efficiently with a kettle bell, mostly because of the more natural plane of motion.

Similar to the kettle bell swing, the clean is another explosive exercise for total-body strength and conditioning. The difference here is that the kettle bell finishes in the rack position as opposed to being projected horizontally away from your body.

The kettle bell snatch is physically demanding and technical, but offers outstanding total-body strength and conditioning benefits. It can help transcend athletic performance to new levels, build explosive strength, and forge strong, powerful shoulders.

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The snatch requires proper technique, explosive hip power, and athleticism. This exercise should not be attempted until the kettle bell swing hip-hinge pattern and explosive hip drive are established.

Though watching videos is helpful, the best way to learn how to correctly do these challenging movements is to work with a certified kettle bell instructor. There are a number of very simple principles that you need to understand in order to design the BestKettlebell Workout.

By including these 5 basic movement patterns ensures that you use as many muscles as possible in the body, which in turn would mean expending maximum energy. Of course every workout should be designed for your individual needs but these principles give you a very good foundation.

The squat is a knee dominant exercise that uses most muscles of the body but in particular the buttocks and thighs. As with the Kettle bell Squat the Lunge is a knee dominant exercise but it involves more balance and focuses in on the buttocks more intensely.

The dead lift pattern hits the buttocks and hamstrings more aggressively but also focuses in on the back and core muscles. You need good core muscles to dead lift properly so get your technique right before adding too much weight.

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(Source: redefiningstrength.com)

You can also use the single leg dead lift for a more static based exercise that will help improve your core synergy. Whichever option you choose try to aim at targeting the mid and lower back rather than the area just around the upper shoulders.

You can perform this exercise with one kettle bell or 2 and include a clean with every repetition for a full body movement but this will not be as shoulder intensive. The reason for this is that pressing overhead requires good shoulder stability to avoid injury and this must be developed first, the best way is with the Get Up or the Windmill.

So now we have our 5 basic kettle bell movement patterns all we need to do is put them together for the bestkettlebell workout. We've all turned up to the gym, short on time and motivation, only to find every piece of equipment we need for our workout isn't free.

Faced with this scenario, you have two options: ditch the workout and go home or find a piece of versatile equipment that is underused and undervalued by most of the gym-going community. Packing the same weighty punch as dumbbells, kettle bells are likely to be found in a dusty corner of the gym.

Much like the humble rowing machine and versa climber, most gym bros steer clear of the cast-iron 'bells, helping you get an effective, time-efficient workout in, without having to worry about your kit getting pinched. This and the growing popularity of sports such as CrossFit and Strongman have helped drive kettle bell training and workouts into the mainstream.

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On top of this, owing to their design, kettle bells are one of the easiest weights to move around during your workout in a short timeframe and can be stored away easily, from your car boot to your garden shed or garage. “Kettle bells give you the opportunity to move athletically with additional resistance from a variety of angles and more challenging positions,” explains Jon Lewis, a personal trainer with fitness outlet Industrial Strength.

Not only that, but exercises such as kettle bell swings can help increase your heart rate, burn extra fat and tone muscle, but where they really come into their own is in building strength throughout your posterior chain. As these are your body’s biggest muscles, you’ll also torch calories,” says Rob Blair, PT at The Commando Temple.

Additionally, kettle bells are an incredibly useful tool for those looking to build their base of strength and mobility, so if you're struggling with your barbell back squat, for example, utilizing the kettle bell goblet squat is a good way of practicing proper form with a safer exercise that can then be upgraded as your strength increases. Well-suited for swings, presses and carries, kettle bells also lend themselves to more dynamic movements, where a dumbbell or barbell may be more difficult to use.

Usually, kettle bell workouts are built on a high-rep range, meaning that several muscles are worked at once and, if kept at a consistent pace, can offer similar aerobic benefits to HIIT training. Similarly, by performing kettle bell circuits three times a week, you’ll pump up your VO2 max by 6 per cent in just under a month, according to the NSA’s Sac Report.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research also found that kettle bell training contributes to a healthier lower back, owing to the loading and movement patterns. “Kettle bells are arguably one of the most versatile bits of equipment you can find in a gym,” says Sam Wrigley, a London Bridge-based PT.

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(Source: redefiningstrength.com)

“This exaggerated flexion and extension at the hip puts a lot of force through the lower back.” When it comes to getting injuries from poor form, the “arching of the back and not engaging the glutes in an overhead press or folding in a goblet position” can put you at risk of busting your lower back. Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and bend your knees to grab the kettle bell with both hands.

Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height. Initiated by a powerful hip thrust from your hamstring and glutes, opting for heavier weights (once the move is mastered, of course) for up to 90 seconds a set will vastly improve your anaerobic fitness, accelerating your heart-rate and ignite a fat-burn that the bench press can only dream of.

Instead, by combining a front squat with an overhead press, you're transforming a drab move into a compound, multi-joint exercise that demands full-body power. In one swift movement, slightly jump off the ground and raise your arms to extend above your head.

Land softly on your feet with your knees bent as though you're doing a squat and extend your arms straight above you shoulder-width apart. Powerlifting moves needn't be restricted to barbells bending under crippling weight loads.

Instead, the kettle bell clean and press offers the opportunity to increase grip strength, become stronger in overhead movements (your shoulder press will thank you) and will help you learn the lesson of maintaining a rigid core during all lifts. Plus, the researchers found that participants performing the kettle bell snatch usually maintained 86 to 99 per cent of their maximum heart rate, making it an essential move for easy weightless.

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Drive through the heel and bring yourself back up to standing position, without letting your leg touch the floor. Functional and an easy gym brag, the kettle bell pistol squat is the king of mobility moves.

Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, clasping a kettle bell in each hand in front of your chest with palms facing each other. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat, keeping the kettle bells in the same position and ensuring you don't round your back by tensing your glutes throughout.

Keep your arms strong and walk short, quick steps as fast as possible. Ideal for building grip and plugging onto the end of a tough workout, farmer's walks also pack heavy-duty muscle onto your upper-back while fighting lower-back pain and being a useful conditioning tool and fat-loss.

Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height. Increase the demand you place on the shoulder stabilizing muscles by doing kettle bell swings with one arm.

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You will find that there is a natural progression when it comes to training with certain kettle bell exercises so it is important to start at the beginning. If you decide to jump to the more advanced KB exercises without building up your fundamental skills first than your technique and kettle bell moves will suffer and there is a high chance of injury.

Here are a list of exercises with a kettle bell starting with the fundamental and most important at the top. Muscles used: Shoulders, Core Summary: Great warm up exercise that helps to acclimatize you to the kettle bell.

Muscles used: Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Fundamental kettle bell exercise that strengthens most muscles in the body but in particular the Glutes, Hamstrings and Quads. An excellent starter exercise to practice before moving onto the kettle bell swing.

Muscles used: Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: A tricky exercise that will help to balance out the left and right side of your body. Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: The king of all kettle bell exercises.

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Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Slightly more challenging for your core muscles and shoulder stability than the two handed swing. Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Keep the kettle bell moving from one hand to the other as you swing.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: One of the most important kettle bell exercises. Challenge your core and mobility as you stand up and lie back down again, all while holding the kettle bell.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Rather than starting from the ground you begin standing up with this version of the Turkish Get Up. Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Holding the Kettle bell upside down you perform a regular squat.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: The same as a regular squat but holding the kettle bell with just one hand in the racked position. Muscles used: Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Fundamental exercise for your Buttocks that will also help improve your mobility too.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Biceps, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Works into the back of the upper body and is also challenging for the core muscles due to the rotational forces caused by the kettle bell. Muscles used: Shoulders, Biceps, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: A row performed at the side of the body.

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Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: The clean takes the kettle bell from the floor to the racked position in one smooth movement. Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Improve your Clean technique and strengthen your wrists and core muscles with this exercise variation.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Fast and dynamic this kettle bell exercise will elevate your heart rate quicker than almost all other exercises. Muscles used: Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Develop strength and flexibility with this lateral movement.

Muscles used: Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Tough strength based kettle bell exercise that will also improve your hip flexibility. Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Excellent for improving your mobility and challenging your stability as you add a twist into the regular lunge.

Muscles used: Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Tough version of the lunge that really overloads the movement pattern. Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Core, Glutes Summary: Challenge your core and Glute activation by pressing a kettle bell overhead while in the half kneeling position.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Putting two of the big exercises together you achieve a movement that takes the kettle bell from the floor to the top of the press. Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: If you struggle with the overhead press then you can make it slightly easier by adding a push into the movement to take the kettle bell out of the sticking point.

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Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Challenging exercise that will condition the body from head to toe as well as your heart and lunges. Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: During this kettle bell exercise your feet never move but you do overload the one side of your body.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: More difficult variation of the lunge that works the upper body as well as the lower body. Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Tough combination of moves that uses a double hip bend making the movement very demanding.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Challenge your core muscles and shoulder stability as you perform the lunge while holding the kettle bell overhead. Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Even more difficult than the variation above.

The walking movement places even further demands on your core and shoulder stability. Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Good shoulder exercise as well as developing your core and hip mobility.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Take the swing to a whole new level as your drive the kettle bell overhead using almost every muscle in your body. Requires good timing and a high level of kettle bell skill to master this exercise.

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Before even attempting this exercise you should be able to perform a good solid plank for at least 60 seconds. Muscles used: Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Start moving your feet as you swing to add another dimension to this classic kettle bell exercise.

Requires good timing and the ability to swing well to perform this exercise safely. Muscles used: Shoulders, Triceps, Core Summary: Great core and grip strength as well as body alignment is needed to press the kettle bell overhead while in the upside down position.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Obliques and core, Latissimus Doris, Trapezium, Forearms Summary: A very practical kettle bell exercise that works hard into the core muscles as the body tries to maintain upright alignment. Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: The ultimate leg exercise that will challenge your strength, flexibility and balance.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Challenge the lunge movement pattern by passing the kettle bell between your legs during each step. You can make the exercise easier by using the weight of the kettle bell to help pull you up.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: A personal favorite of mine. Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Great for challenging your balance but more importantly your core strength as you clean the kettle bell standing on only one leg.

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Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Funky kettle bell exercise that takes some getting used to. Muscles used: Core and Abs Summary: A core intensive kettle bell exercise that will help to mobilize the upper back and thoracic spine at the same time.

Muscles used: Shoulders, Back, Core, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings Summary: Very advanced kettle bell exercise that takes the swing to a new rotational level. The kettle bell swing, Turkish get up, goblet squat and the clean and press are some of the most popular.

Kettle bell training can activate hundreds of muscles per movement, improve your cardio and strengthen your entire body, all without you even moving your feet.

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Sources
1 www.webmd.com - https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/kettlebell-workout
2 www.atemi-sports.com - https://www.atemi-sports.com/what-muscles-kettlebell-swings-work/
3 hashimashi.com - https://hashimashi.com/kettlebell-swing-benefits/