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How To Do Kettlebell Exercises

Kettle bells, which look like cannonballs with handles, have become a popular strength training alternative to traditional barbells, dumbbells, and resistance machines.

author
Maria Johnson
• Wednesday, 18 November, 2020
• 13 min read
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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 can create a full-body workout using just kettle bells, or you can pick and choose specific kettlebellexercises to add to your strength training regimen. Using lighter kettle bells at first allows you to focus on using the proper form and technique for the different exercises.

Fitness experts suggest using kettle bells with the following weights if you’re at an intermediate to advanced level with your strength training: 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.

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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.

Slowly bend both knees so that your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Using your leg muscles, with your upper body still, straighten up to your starting position.

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.

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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.

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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. 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. Another benefit of doing kettlebellexercises is that you can work several muscle groups simultaneously with a single kettle bell.

Kettle bells are also small enough to use anywhere, and you typically don’t need much space to do a variety of kettlebellexercises. The key is to start slow and, if possible, with the help of a certified personal trainer.

But for some weighted moves, especially ones that require an explosive movement, kettle bells reign supreme. You can also hold them by the handle or the bell (the round part of the weight), which allows you to get a different range of motion depending on the kettle bell exercise you're doing.

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Plus, the shape of a kettle bell lets you work your muscles a little differently than a traditional dumbbell, Jessica Sims, a NASM-certified personal trainer at the Hitting Room in New York City, tells SELF. When you take a class with kettle bells, or any other new type of equipment, it's normal to feel a little lost.

Oh, and a quick lesson on the lingo: The “ball” refers to the heavy sphere at the bottom, and the handle is the part attached to it. The handle is also referred to as the “horns,” and can be gripped at the top, on the sides, or near the base where it meets the ball.

Some below kettlebellexercises are more beginner-friendly than others, Sims says, but even if you've swung a few kettle bells around before, the most basic ones are great to have in your repertoire, and are easy to advance by just opting for a heavier weight. Adding a kettle bell increases the resistance your body has to work against to stand back up, challenging your muscles even more.

In addition, holding the kettle bell close to your chest helps you nail proper form. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly, gripping the sides of the kettle bell handle with both hands at chest height.

They also secretly challenge your core, since you have to keep your abs tight to avoid arching your back. Sims says to choose a heavier weight with a dead lift—since you're not bending your elbows at all, you're mostly using your glutes, which are likely the strongest muscles in your body.

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Hinge at your hips and push your butt back as you lower your torso and the weight toward the ground. “Make sure that you don’t let the kettle bells swing, keep them stable by your side like actual suitcases,” Sims says.

Push through your heels, putting most of the weight on the back foot, to return to the starting position. Adding weight to a sit-up adds an extra challenge for your core, and the press at the top works your shoulders and arms, too.

For these sit-ups, Sims says you can either keep your knees bent or put them in butterfly position, depending on what feels comfortable for your hips. Start in a sit-up position, lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.

Kettle bell swings are great for your butt, legs, and lower back, Sims says. You can probably go heavy here, but she suggests nailing the technique with a lighter kettle bell before adding too much weight.

To perform a swing with proper form, you have to “thrust your hips aggressively to get the kettle bell up, don't use your arms,” Sims explains. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettle bell handle with both hands.

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Bend your knees slightly, then hinge forward at the hips to swing the kettle bell between your legs. Stand back up; use the momentum from your hips to swing the weight to chest height.

Your form here should be similar to a traditional dead lift, except your legs should be wider than shoulder-width distance and your feet should be turned out a bit. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and toes angled out.

Switching to one-handed swings isolates one side at a time, which makes it harder and helps improve stability. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettle bell handle with one hand.

Bend your knees slightly, then hinge forward at the hips to swing the kettle bell between your legs. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettle bell handle with one hand.

Bend your knees slightly, then hinge forward at the hips to thread the kettle bell between your legs. Bring your now-empty hand to meet the weight at the top of the movement (so you don't slam it into your chest).

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Grasp a kettle bell in each hand, palms facing out, arms bent so the weights are resting at each shoulder. Bend your knees just a few inches, and as you stand back up, press the weights straight up overhead.

To protect your lower back and make sure you're using your triceps, don't arch your back, Sims instructs. The key here is to straighten your arm completely at the top—that'll let you work the triceps through a full range of motion. Grip the kettle bell by the ball at the base of the handle with both hands and raise it directly overhead.

Keeping your elbows close to your ears, lower the kettle bell behind your head to neck level. The trick is to keep your core tight and hold your torso stable as you rotate your arms and the weight.

Lift the ball to eye level and slowly circle it around your head to the left. Hold the kettle bell handle in your right hand with your arm hanging straight at your side.

Holding a kettle bell above your head at the top of a crunch challenges your core and lower abs—so does the flutter motion of your legs. Start with the weight above your shoulders, and to make it more difficult, bring it a little behind your head, Sims says.

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Make sure to keep your core super tight and lower back flat on the ground. If your back comes off the ground, or you feel any strain, bring your legs up a couple more inches.

Stand in front of a box or step, holding a kettle bell by the handle with both hands at your chest. Crew Performance Zip-Front Sports Bra (jcrew.com, $45), Cotton On Body Pocket Crop Tight (, $35), and Puma Fierce Evoking Women's Training Shoes (, $120).

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.

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.

Unfortunately, this exercise is often performed incorrectly, which will limit your results as well as any further progressions that are based on this basic movement. The kettle bell goblet squat isn't just a leg exercise; it's another total-body juggernaut that offers more mobility—the ability to move easily so you can safely train with heavier loads—and improved conditioning.

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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.

For strong, resilient shoulders, improved hip and trunk strength, and enhanced mobility, the Turkish get-up is essential. Once you can do the first three exercises —and have demonstrated appropriate shoulder mobility and stability—the kettle bell press is another exceptional movement to learn.

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. If you don’t already know, kettlebellexercises are one of the most underrated forms of muscle building methods out there.

The fact that they are known as one of the most versatile gym equipment should be a clue to there effectiveness in building muscle and getting stronger. Because of the kettle bell ’s shape, you can push, pull, and swing it like nothing else, and unlock a new branch of exercises that are pretty much impossible without it.

Follow these six kettlebellexercises to add more muscle, melt more fat, boost your endurance, and move better. You’ll improve your body quickly and build the foundation for every other kettle bell exercise.

Stand feet shoulder-width apart with the kettle bell between your legs and the handle inline with the bony part of your ankles. Squeeze the handle hard, pull your shoulders backward, and crush your armpits.

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The kettle bell swing is a fantastic exercise to strengthen your body and burn a ton of fat. It develops tremendous power in your hamstrings, glutes, and core, which will improve your other lifts like the squat and dead lift.

Start with the kettle bell dead lift first —it will build a great foundation and teach good technique. Then, hike the kettle bell back between your legs like a center in football and explosively drive your hips forward.

At the bottom of the swing, your torso is too upright and your knees are too far forward: It looks like a squat. With a correct swing, the kettle bell should reach around the height of your belly button or chest, no higher.

Use it as a power exercise early in your workout or at the end as a brutal finisher. The push press is a phenomenal, explosive move that sculpts big shoulders, huge traps, and ripped triceps.

It also builds tremendous core stability and forces you to generate power from your lower body, transfer it up the kinetic chain, and out through your arms, which is integral in every sport. Lower yourself into a very partial squat and explode upward with your legs while driving your arms overhead.

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At the top, make sure your biceps are next to your ears and your wrists are flat, not bent backward. It’s also a safe and efficient way to bring the kettle bell to the rack position for your overhead exercises.

Then, hike the kettle bell back between your legs like a center in football and explosively drive your hips forward. Memorize the feeling, and then swing it between your legs and return to the rack position.

Use it as a power exercise early in your workout or at the end as a brutal finisher. Because it travels more distance, the snatch builds more power than the swing or clean.

Then, hike the kettle bell back between your legs like a center in football and explosively drive your hips forward. Use it as a power exercise early in your workout or at the end as a brutal finisher.

This is a phenomenal dynamic exercise that blasts your obliques, strengthens your shoulders, and activates your hips too. Use it early in your workout to light up your core, warm up your joints, and increase your flexibility.

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Sources
1 www.healthline.com - https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/kettlebell-workout
2 www.self.com - https://www.self.com/gallery/beginner-kettlebell-moves
3 www.bodybuilding.com - https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-6-best-kettlebell-exercises-you-need-to-do.html
4 www.muscleandfitness.com - https://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/full-body-exercises/get-ripped-these-six-must-do-kettlebell-exercises/