In fact, they can be used as complementary tools, rather than competitive ones, to help you reach your strength-training goals. Since the exercises that involve them are more static, there's less risk of injury for those without much experience.
They are a great way for beginners to learn the basics of strength training and see improved physical performance. Dumbbells are great for bilateral training —working both sides of the body at the same time, such as in bicep curls or lateral raises.
The ability to swing kettle bells provides training for muscle groups across planes other than vertical (sagittal) and horizontal (transverse). Kettle bells provide a better cardio workout because of the extra movement involved in the standard exercises.
The swinging action of kettle bells creates a fluid movement, which may be easier on the body. Bonus: A kettle bell swing can activate the entire posterior chain of muscles in a way that dumbbells can 't.
A 2016 study even found that kettle bell training is effective in lower back pain treatment. Kettle bells improve functional strength, which is typically defined as strength that is applicable in everyday life situations (like carrying heavy grocery bags).
When crafting your strength routine, choose exercises and equipment that are convenient, safe for you, and that will best help you reach your goals. Learning more about the basics of weight training can help you find your path to a stronger you.
CNN Underscored has interviewed experts to find the best options to help you cope during this uncertain time. As Mondays blend into Wednesdays, the weeks feel both surprisingly fast and excruciatingly long.
For those who enjoyed an active fitness routine pre-pandemic, finding the same energy at home can sometimes feel impossible. Finding dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells and boxing bags is tricky right now but there is good news.
Rather than putting your name on a waiting list or skipping another sweat mesh, you can order these not-so-high-in-demand products instead. Though it may feel a little strange, these hacks will provide the resistance, weight and durability you need to meet your goals — or at the very least stay moving indoors.
Whether you use them to build tone in your arms or to make lunges and squats even harder, they are an effective way to upgrade your workouts. So chances are high you have black beans, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and all sorts of other veggies hanging out in your pantry.
Lauren Jena, the co-founder of CrossFit and the founder of Manifest, suggests pulling these out to work up a sweat. Everything from bicep curls and lateral raises to tricep extensions are easy to pull off while holding cans.
“But more importantly, the cans allow you to practice proper technique, range of motion and continued muscle development.” Rather than sipping out of it, Horsepower Yoga ’s Midwest-area leader, Jay Bernhardt, suggests putting that bottle to good use.
Since some grocery stores, like Whole Foods, have prohibited bringing reusable bags inside, your stash may be collecting dust. Whether you swing them, use them to perform a dead lift or find two smaller ones for arm workouts, they can be a fun way to elevate your fitness level.
“Like the kettle bell, a pot or pan will provide an appropriate weight distribution and ability to rotate the object in your hands,” she explains. Before you start swinging, lifting or rotating, she suggests getting a good grip and ensuring your stance is proper to keep your muscles safe — and working!
“You can also add a bit of extra weight to other body weight movements like squats, lunges and push ups by wearing your filled backpack.” In fact, group fitness instructor Melissa Bonner suggests filling it up with water once you’re finished and using it as a makeshift kettle bell.
It works well because the handle is sturdy, and you can adjust the weight simply by pouring water out. Bonner just recommends sealing the lid with duct tape to be extra safe from spills.
Commonly used in barre classes or as part of a strength-training routine, resistance bands might not seem like much, but they pack a punch. Many fans have scooped them up online, making them tough to secure, so these at-home solutions will mimic much of the same sweat.
But Heather Gun Rivera, a trainer at the Grassroots Fitness Project, suggests using these as an alternative for resistance bands. “There are tons of shoulder and hip mobility options that take advantage of the nonlinear resistance elastic band training provides.”
Your annual trip to the shore may have been canceled this season, but you can still use your beach towel in your workout. As recommended by strength and performance specialist at Strata Integrated Wellness Spa, Tracy Iverson, a long towel closed in a door provides a resistance band-like workout.
“Roll the towel up, place it between your knees in a seated position to work the adductor muscles,” she says. Try this: Linux Home Textiles Sea Breeze Pessimal Beach Towel (starting at $25.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
Linux Home Textiles Sea Breeze Pessimal Beach Towel “To work that lower body with your homemade bands, simply tie them around your legs,” she recommends.
Unfortunately, your go-to studio is closed and finding a boxing bag online is a tall order. If all of this time sleeping in the same bed and not traveling has proven you definitely need a new mattress, don’t throw your old one out, just yet.
As fitness expert and author Shanty Novel explains, a twin-sized mattress or futon pad serves as a great punching bag. Try this: Wayfair Sleep 8” Medium Gel Memory Foam Mattress ($112.99, originally $172; wayfair.com)
Certified personal trainer, author and TV host Geraldo Malaria recommends stowing away clothes and towels inside a carry-on bag. Wearing leather gloves is also recommended — especially for a beginner — to soften the impact of your hands on the surface, he adds.
Jena says while barbells are ideal for bench presses, squats and dead lifts, all those moves can also be done with large sandbags. “Your grips may need to change some, but lifting, pressing, and squatting sandbags can provide you the same strength and fitness development you are looking for from heavier weightlifting,” she adds.
As recommended by International Sports Sciences Association-certified master trainer and founder of Pancakes and Push ups Sloane Davis, taping buckets filled with water or rice on either side of a broom handle creates a barbell solution. Of the 15 exercises in the metabolic workout, only two do not involve the whole body: single-arm presses and seated twists.
More examples of functional exercises you can use are snatches, dead lifts, split squats, lunges and Turkish get-ups. All of these require you to coordinate joints and muscles across your upper and lower body.
When you use it, your muscles must work to lift the weight and stabilize a shifting balance point. For example, in the kettle bell hard swing exercise, the forces pulling against your arms and core are constantly changing in direction and intensity.
The hard swing with a dumbbell isn’t as effective because the load is closer to your hands and the grip is different. This allows you to lift a heavier weight and isolate a specific muscle, both of which build strength.
Start by using a dumbbell, and progress to a kettle bell after you’ve built up more core strength. Yes, workouts can be adjusted to suit your exact fitness level, ability and goals.
Remember this: In general, substitutions and scaling preserve the intended effects of the original workout. Injuries, flexibility issues, training history, day-to-day mindset and energy, and many other factors will influence your decisions.
The CrossFit affiliate community has come up with a tremendous number of creative substitutions to accommodate just about any athlete, and online searches will reveal hosts of modifications for any movement. In general, choose a load that’s manageable for you or use a percentage of the weight prescribed.
Reduce volume to something that reflects your recent activity level; the workout should be challenging but not excessive or overwhelming. You can do this along the ground or you can throw the rope over a bar and hoist the weight to the top.
Sumo dead lift high pulls can take the place of a rowing machine. Because you can ’t throw dumbbells or a bar in the air, use about twice the specified ball weight and do the reps as explosively as possible.
Medicine balls are now widely available, and creative athletes have made their own with relative ease. A word of caution: Controlling volume addresses the risk of rhabdomyolysis in less-experienced athletes or those returning after time off.
Increased volume of eccentric movement (pull-up negatives, for example) correlates to risk of rhabdomyolysis. Support all or most of your body weight while working with similar pressing movements, using assistance or shortening the range of motion.
You can place your hands on the floor and your legs on a bench, ball or counter (bend at the waist), or you can hook your toes over a bar in a stable rack. Finally, if you are comfortable and stable upside down, kick up and practice lowering yourself to the floor slowly and under control to build strength.
A coach/spotter can also help you work the eccentric in this manner, perhaps offering assistance on the concentric portion as well. Explode off the ground as quickly as possible and repeat for the required number of repetitions.
Good mornings (with or without weight) or prone back extensions (supermen). Many other movements will work, such as lying over an exercise ball with your feet hooked under a bench or bar.