Kettle bells can be used for a variety of exercises that improve both your strength and cardiovascular fitness. Russian strongmen in the 1700s developed kettle bells as implements to build strength and endurance.
You’ve probably seen depictions of bare-chested carnival strongmen hoisting them over their heads. Using lighter kettle bells at first allows you to focus on using the proper form and technique for the different exercises.
Aim to add more reps each week, then work toward adding more sets as you build strength. Push your hips backward, and bend your knees to reach the kettle bell handles.
Firmly grip the kettle bells, keeping your arms and back straight. This is an excellent exercise to boost both your muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.
While your shoulders and arms will do a lot of the work, most of the effort should come from the hips and legs. Engage your abdominal muscles and set your shoulders back.
Exhale as you make an explosive upward movement to swing the kettle bell out in front of you. Squats are an excellent lower-body exercise that work your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, as well as your abdominal muscles.
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out slightly. Using your leg muscles, with your upper body still, straighten up to your starting position.
With both hands around the handle, hold the kettle bell close to your chest. Alternatively, you can hold a kettle bell by the handle in one or both hands, with your arms at your sides.
Slowly step forward with your left leg, bending your knee while keeping your right foot in place. A great exercise for working your abs and obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen that run from your hips to your ribs), the Russian twist can also be done with a weighted medicine ball or barbell plate.
When using a kettle bell, be sure to keep a firm grip so that you don’t drop it on your lap. Holding the kettle bell handle with both hands, lean back so that your torso is at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
With your heels a few inches above the floor, rotate your torso from right to left, swinging the kettle bell slightly across your body. When you’ve completed your repetitions, return to your starting position.
When your chest is even with the kettle bell handles, exhale and push your body back up to its starting position. Hold a kettle bell by the handle so that it rests against the outside part of your shoulder.
There are many benefits to working out with kettle bells, for both men and women, across all age groups. According to a 2019 study, a kettle bell workout is a highly effective way to improve your strength, aerobic power, and overall physical fitness.
Compared to resistance circuit-based training, the same study found that a regular kettle bell workout is just as effective at improving cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength. A 2013 study reported that participants who completed an 8-week kettle bell training session saw noticeable improvements in their aerobic capacity.
Kettle bell exercises have the ability to restore muscle mass and improve grip strength in older adults, according to a 2018 study. According to Harvard Health, kettle bell exercises can also help improve your posture and balance.
You typically use your core muscles more with kettle bell exercises than with dumbbells or barbells. If possible, ask a certified personal trainer at your local gym or fitness center to show you the proper form for kettle bell exercises.
Stop immediately if you feel sudden or sharp pain. A little mild soreness after a workout is normal, but you shouldn’t feel sudden, sharp pain while working out.
Kettle bells can take a little getting used to, but working out with them is a highly effective way of improving your muscle strength and cardio fitness. The key is to start slow and, if possible, with the help of a certified personal trainer.
Getty Images When you're new to working out, or to strength training in general, there's something really intimidating about facing a weight room or even a set of dumbbells (if you can even manage to find them right now). Enter the kettle bell, a type of dumbbell that's round (like a bell) and has a handle, making it easy to lift and carry around.
Our Health & Wellness newsletter puts the best products, updates and advice in your inbox. The way the bell is shaped allows you to train power, endurance and strength all in one little piece of iron,” says Lauren Kan ski, certified personal trainer and founder of the K Method.
Getting started with a kettle bell workout may seem as easy as picking one up and swinging it around -- but that can lead to injury. Keep reading for Kan ski's advice on how to get started with a kettle bell workout routine below.
Getty Images If you've never worked out with kettle bells, it's important to start with a lightweight model so you don't hurt yourself while you learn the basics. Even though the weight you use will depend on your personal fitness level and background, in general Kan ski recommends starting with an eight to 10 kg (about 17 to 22 lbs) kettle bell for workouts that involve any overhead movements and 10-14 kg (22-30 lbs) for beginners who want to learn how to do kettle bell swings (instructions below).
“The biggest thing for beginners is to learn how to hold the bell and work on that grip strength.” The standard kettle bell grip is similar to how you would grab a bag of groceries.
According to Kan ski, one of the biggest mistakes she sees people make is jumping right into more advanced moves like swings and snatches before they're ready. Master these three moves from Kan ski and you'll be off to a solid start with your kettle bell fitness routine.
Your core stabilizers fight hard through the squat to keep you balanced,” Kan ski says. Start with the kettle bell in the front racked position -- sits at your chest, cradled in your bicep, with the horn (handle) underneath your clavicle.
Start holding a kettle bell in each hand by your sides, keeping them off your thighs. Start with the kettle bell about an arms' length away from your body, resting on the ground.
Brace your core, grip the bell and throw it between your legs like you're hiking a football. Then quickly extend your hips forward to fling the bell in front of you, while keeping your shins vertical.
The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile. Buy a DVD or sign up for a kettle bell class at the gym to learn how to do the moves safely.
It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Hall are huge fans of kettle bell workouts. You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast-paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettle bell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups.
Most kettle bell workouts include squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that work your abs and other core muscles. The kettle bell is used as a weight for arm exercises like single-arm rows and shoulder presses.
Lunges and squats are among the most popular moves in a kettle bell workout. Your tush will be toned by using the kettle bell for added weight during lunges and squats.
Using a kettle bell for a dead lift helps tone your back muscles. The kettle bell is an effective weight that will build muscle strength.
You may want to buy DVDs or sign up for classes to learn the basics of a kettle bell workout. Yes, if you take a class or pick a DVD that's for beginners and use a lighter kettle bell.
Depending on the program, you may be getting both your strength training and your aerobic workout at the same time. If you choose a kettle bell that is too heavy or if you have poor form, you are likely to lose control of it.
This can lead to a serious injury to your back, shoulders, or neck. Start out with an experienced trainer who can correct your technique before you hurt something.
Adding a kettle bell to your existing workout is great if you want to burn more calories in less time. This type of high-intensity workout is not for you if you would rather do a more meditative approach to body sculpting, or if sweating isn’t your thing.
With your doctor’s OK, you can include kettle bells in your fitness routine if you have diabetes. Muscle burns energy more efficiently, so your blood sugar levels will go down.
Depending on the workout, you may also get some cardio to help prevent heart disease. Using kettle bells in your workout puts some serious demands on your hips and back, as well as your knees, neck, and shoulders.
If you have arthritis or pain in your knees or back, then look for a less risky strength-training program. If you have other physical limitations, ask an experienced instructor for advice on how to modify your workout.
If you worked out with kettle bells before becoming pregnant and are not having any problems with your pregnancy, then you will likely be able to continue using them -- at least for a while. Talk to your instructor and your doctor; they might suggest switching out your kettle bells during your last trimester.
Fitness Dos and Don'ts: Test Your Knowledge on Getting in Shape Imagine you’re a soldier posted at a foreign military base.
Pavel Tsatsouline, the “father of the kettle bell”, focused his entire career on the Eastern strength approach. Here’s what I learned from trying one famous method of daily kettle bells training called “Greasing the Groove”.
Ask 100 coaches, and you’ll hear a divide on everyday training: Everyday training can help or hinder you depending on the type of exercise, duration, and your recovery.
Age Environment Sleep Fitness level Diet Stress Genes & epigenetics Supplementation Activity outside the gym Work Deliberate recovery practices Each factor impacts your recovery and ability to train intensely.
Most famous for his always leave one in the chamber philosophy of strength training, Pavel introduced the world to a concept he called “Greasing the Groove.” Greasing the Groove (GTG) is a micro-workout approach to every day kettle bell training.
Instead of long dedicated blocks of all-out workouts, Pavel prescribes light sessions every day. Sessions with long rests between sets, and stopping well before failure.
Best of all, light, every day kettle bell training doesn’t require recovery. Greasing the groove can stand alone as a complete workout, or layered on top of an existing routine for faster results.
Training frequency Workout intensity Volume Recovery If this all seems too confusing, Pavel designed a great program for everyday Kettle bell Training called Simple & Sinister (Amazon).
He gives you daily kettle bell routines and lays out the common rookie (and veteran) mistakes. While exercising, the moment your form slips up just a tiny bit, STOP.
I can trace back most of my injuries to ignoring poor form cues. For the best results, perform 70-250 kettle bell swings daily before breakfast when hormones and enzymes are primed to burn stored body fat.
For an average strength lady, Pavel recommends 16 kg for KBS and 8 kg for TGU. I’ve found that I can complete a workout of Kettle bell Swing and Turkish Get-Ups in just about 10 minutes.
Most people begin noticing big results and improvements in 2-4 weeks. Cardio and strength benefits begin earlier, while goals like weight loss can take a little longer to show.
Every time you enter the room, hit a few kettle bell swings. The Eastern workout approach is the antithesis of the way I trained.
I started GTG and reclaimed 15 hours previously consumed by the gym. Paradoxically, swinging kettle bells kept me consistently near full strength while I continued to build muscle.
I no longer spent 90 percent of my weeks recovering from monstrous personal-record setting workouts. I hack my workouts with an incredible technology I wrote about called blood flow restriction training.
Every day I make a point to get a few minutes of a little exercise “snack”. Most of the workouts progress from one exercise to the next in circuit format without the need to put the kettle bell down or even change the weight.
Good joint stability will prevent injury occurring from unexpected movements during sports and from daily life. The Kettle bell Turkish Get Up, shown below, is the perfect exercise to improve joint stability as well as condition the full body.
Most of the dynamic kettle bell exercises are based around the hips and the buttocks where the majority of power is generated for most sports. Sports that use explosive jumping will greatly benefit from many of the hip based kettle bell exercises.
As the kettle bell is swung down and in between the legs the body has to decelerate the weight in order to reverse its momentum and send it back up to the top of the swing again. Eccentric exercises develop large amounts of strength in the body because the muscles are always stronger lengthening than they are shortening (concentrically).
You also get a double conditioning effect as the body is required to work twice as hard both concentrically and eccentrically during movements. Once you have mastered the basic movements you can flow from one exercise to the next keeping your heart rate elevated and using 100’s of muscles at a time.
Kettle bell workouts are excellent for strengthening and conditioning major muscle groups. Free weights received an upgrade when kettle bells were introduced in fitness circles around the world.
What makes kettle bell exercises special compared with other programs is the total-body workout you achieve in just one short session. One of the major advantages to using kettle bells is the fact that they engage groups of muscles in one exercise.
It's important to always use the proper form in order to fully engage the entire group of muscles and to avoid injury. A study reported in 2011 in the “Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health” showed that strength training can reduce a person's back pain while also preventing rein jury.
A workout that engages the core muscles as well as the upper back is the kettle bell row. To perform the kettle bell row, hold a bell in each hand and stand with knees bent and your butt in a seated position.
The chest, shoulders and arms are a group of muscles that specific kettle bell exercises engage together. The lower-body kettle bell workouts will engage these muscle groups and also improve posture and strength.
Hold the kettle bell handle with both hands at eye level while keeping your back straight. Squat down to the floor and go as low as your body will allow without your knees extending past your toes.
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These sections are best read in order but feel free to jump around to the information you’re specifically looking for Enjoy ;) A kettle bell is a cast iron weight shaped like a bowling ball with a thick suitcase-style handle.
Kettle bells first appeared in Russia over 100 years ago., and were used in fairs and markets to balance scales when weighing heavy objects. The Russian military began using them within their training regime because they work the bodies’ energy systems simultaneously.
They actually have pretty decent article on the benefits of kettle bells that can get you some extra additional information. Legs: Lunges and squats are some of the most popular moves in a kettle bell workout.
Glutes : Tighten and tone by using the kettle bell for added weight during lunges and squats. Weight-bearing exercises increase bone density and make the muscles in the body stronger.
With older athletes, or people who are just starting a workout program, focusing on proper form and choosing an appropriate weight for your fitness level is crucial. So rather than moving to a heavier kettle bell you can complete more reps or change the exercise to a more difficult one.
You can get a great strength and endurance workout without necessarily having to use the heaviest weight you can find. You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast-paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettle bell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups.
It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Hall are dedicated fans of kettle bell workouts. Whether your main focus is strength or endurance, the kettle bell will fit the bill.
The kettle bell alternates periods of intense contraction and controlled relaxation to give you a superior workout that combines both strength and endurance training. It's round shape lends itself to unique exercises and its odd center of gravity forces you to stabilize your muscles to create explosive movements with the bell.
It’s also a good tool for helping teach Olympic lifts safely with a small learning curve. It’s much easier on the wrists and shoulders to rack kettle bell cleans and to hold for front squats than it is to use a barbell.
The main muscle groups that are involved and strengthened the most with the basic kettle bell swing motion are the hamstrings, glutes, quads and abs. When learning how to “clean” the kettle bell, people often experience some banging of the bell on the backside of the wrist.
If you are new to strength training or have small hands, check to see if the kettle bells you are comparing have different handle sizes for different weights and buy accordingly. Wrap one hand around the handle to make sure the tips of your fingers are only a couple of inches from your palm.
Your kettle bell shouldn’t be too heavy or too light; you should be able to press it over your head with control and stability, but with some resistance. The 4 kg may not be heavy enough to provide a solid weight lifting effect for most women.
When it comes to kettle bells proper breathing is so important and often overlooked in most exercise studios. Focus on quickly squeezing your glutes and thrusting your hips forward to create momentum that will launch the bell into the air.
Explosive power from your butt will protect your lower back, not hurt it. Working out with a kettle bell gives you what fitness pros call a “functional” workout.
However, when performed incorrectly it is also a movement that can create back, hip, or knee injuries. Be sure to squeeze the glutes and quads every time you swing and tighten the abdominal muscles as if you are bracing hard for a punch.
Swinging correctly will make you stronger and more flexible than ever before, however incorrectly performing the movement can create or increase back strain or pain. Swings, high pulls, and lifts such as snatches and cleans, originate out of a squat position, and keeping good form is essential to avoiding injury.
Remember this checklist and use it as your guide for getting into the right start position for all your kettle bell exercises: Make sure the area immediately surrounding you is clear and you have room to swing and move freely.
Don’t wear running shoes with a high, cushioned platform; you could roll your ankle. Ultimately learning in person is the best scenario, but a quality DVD is definitely sufficient if that is your only option.
Our patented Dark Iron Fitness lifting straps are made of durable cowhide suede and are the perfect accompaniment to kettle bells. Their numerous benefits include strength gain, endurance, flexibility and weight loss.
Many of the movements and skills required in CrossFit focus on learning to have fast and effective hips. Dumbbells have a tight center of gravity and mainly utilize the major muscle groups.
A kettle bell’s odd shape and off-center mass forces you to use muscles that mimic real-life activities. Its odd center of gravity forces you to do more work involving your stabilizing muscles to create explosive movements with the bell.
Enjoy the ease of use and appreciate that such a unique weight can help streamline other exercises you already do. Always practice correct form and safety in all exercises, but be content in the fact the kettle bell is one of the safer weights to work with.
If you have previously been avoiding barbell exercises due to safety concerns, look into the kettle bell alternatives. The kettle bell alternates periods of intense contraction and controlled relaxation, to give you a superior workout that combines strength, as well as endurance.
Other exercises such as the windmill, and single leg dead lift, also build flexible strength. The kettle bell stimulates tremendous abdominal contraction because of the explosive conditioning movements.
The fact you can work your core indirectly, just through the dynamic aspect of kettle bells, is truly amazing. They enable you to increase your strength, build up speed as well as your endurance level at the same time.
This gives you a great strength and endurance workout in a shorter amount of time. So rather than moving on to a heavier kettle bell you simply complete more reps or change the exercise to a more difficult option.
If you find yourself becoming bored with traditional exercises or having to be in the gym, consider using kettle bells. This is especially valued by physical therapists because kettle bells actually teach you to move in a way that is better, stronger, and safer.
Unfortunately, many of us today lose some of our basic movements as a result of sedentary occupations and lifestyles. That’s what happens when we don’t move our bodies with the full range of motion or become used to certain unhealthy postures (like sitting in front of a computer all day).
They are terrific for overall fat loss, improving lean body mass, and helping teach proper use of the hips (important for speed and power sports). They are so effective that serious lifters should definitely consider them as a way to enhance and supplement their barbell or dumbbell workouts.