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.
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.
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. 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. Make sure your left knee doesn’t extend over your toes.
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.
If possible, ask a certified personal trainer at your local gym or fitness center to show you the proper form for kettle bell exercises. Kettle bells tend to swing, so get used to the feel and movement in your hands before using one.
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.
They were first used by Russians as counterweights when measuring out goods, and then some old-timey strongmen started to juggle, press, and swing them around for entertainment. There’s probably more to it than that, but that’s essentially how the kettle bell became a staple in gym culture.
Although we don’t recommend dressing up in loincloths and haphazardly tossing weights overhead, there are many benefits to a good kettle bell workout. For one, the thick handle that attaches to the cast iron base will challenge your grip more than a dumbbell or barbell.
This means you can perform more explosive and dynamic movements with kettle bells compared to their iron counterparts. You also can get a lot of work done in a tight space, so kettle bells are perfect for small home gyms or apartments.
They’re ideal for explosive exercises that work major muscles, burn body fat, and build power. They also add a new dimension to classic moves like chest presses and flies.
This extra muscle activity means your body burns more calories. Couple that with exercises that target the whole body, and you have a formula for significant fat loss.
Choose a weight that allows you to complete 12-15 reps for each exercise. Read articleWorkout Routines With minor tweaks and subtle changes to your exercise form, you can be sure to finish your chest training on a high note...
Use this routine to build strength and burn fat now, and develop the requisite stability and mobility to graduate to more advanced exercises at a later date. Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing one set of each in sequence without rest in between.
When you’ve completed the entire circuit, rest 1–2 minutes, and then repeat for 3 total rounds. Take a deep breath into your belly and twist your feet into the ground (imagine screwing them down without actually moving them) and squat, keeping your torso upright.
Place the kettle bell on the floor and take a staggered stance with your right foot in front. Rest your right elbow on your right thigh for support and reach for the kettle bell with your left hand.
Stand tall holding the kettle bell in one hand at shoulder level. TIP: “Don’t get fixated on achieving a full overhead lockout right away,” says John Wolf, Innit’s Chief Fitness Officer.
“Just going to where your elbow is bent 90 degrees and holding it isometrically is a ton of work for most people.” If you need to arch your back, causing your ribs to flare in order to lock out your arm overhead, you’re not training the shoulder effectively. Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettle bell by its horns, pulling the bottom of the bell into your lower sternum.
Draw your shoulder blades together and down (“proud chest”) and cast your eyes on a spot on the floor approximately 15 feet in front of you. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, extend your hips and squeeze your glutes, tucking your tailbone under as you lock out.
Set up as you did for the shoulder halo but hold the kettle bell by the handle at arm’s length and make circles around your hips. An open space filled with heavy iron, benches, cable setups, and if you're in a big box, plenty of cardio stations and machines.
You get the same unilateral capabilities you get with a dumbbell, and the shape of the kettle bell make them an even better option for single-arm, multi-joint movements like cleans and snatches. There's also an entirely distinct training modality that has gained popularity thanks to the utility of kettle bells: the flow.
This simple, incredibly effective movement is a great way to build shoulder stability while working the core. Try the exercise for 10 to 20 reps per side to start before adding extra features, like the kneeling position in the video or even a squat, for more of a metabolic impact.
Goblet Pulse Squat Crush your legs with a little bounce with this dynamic exercise. Your upper body will get a challenge, too, since you'll be using your arms and bracing your core to keep the kettle bells in the racked position.
Try 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps, lowering down into position slowly and pausing at the bottom to create a ton of tension. Turkish Getup This multi-part movement takes some time and coordination to master, but it's an effective full body exercise once you nail every step.
Keep the weight light to start (run through the first few times without any), then add heavier loads as you progress. If you're bold, set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes, then alternate 5 reps per arm for the whole period.
Since you can easily hold and maneuver the implement, you can use it as a load for some traditionally body weight movements. Perform 4 sets of 12 reps of all or any of the moves individually, or hit them back-to-back as a circuit with no rest as a workout that will torch your whole body.
Take the longer approach with this routine designed to ramp up your metabolic conditioning. Brett Williams, NASA Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men's Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running.
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