Despite fatigue, your nervous system has grown accustomed and better-suited for the engagement required to move and control external weight. While many of these exercises act as a great general warm up —offering circulation, mobility, and joint prep— they focus primarily on the engagement and proprioception required to move a kettle bell effectively and fluidly.
You can begin this exercise with a lighter weight to preserve the intention of smoothly moving the bell through space while maintaining control and stability. Imagine you are a rigid tether ball pole with the kettle bell moving evenly in a circle around your waist.
Go both ways: Bodies are intelligent and will automatically choose the direction that feels more easy and natural. The figure eight requires a similarly stable and static body with movement only from the arms and kettle bell.
Repeat this continually on both sides, drawing a figure eight between your legs with the kettle bell path. The halo offers a further opportunity to move and control the kettle bell weight while maintaining a strong and stable midline.
The halo also offers a complete upper body warm up and thorough joint mobility and prep for the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Begin with the kettle bell in front of your face, holding it by the horns as you would for a goblet squat.
Begin with something light and prioritize a smooth kettle bell path and fluid joint rotation. Strive to begin with the kettle bell in front of your chin, move it just above your shoulders past your ears, and let it pass across the base of your neck.
Stable midline: Stand tall and engage your core, legs, and butt to maintain your position and posture. Avoid these common faults by clamping down on all your core muscles through you torso, butt, low back, and upper legs.
Kettle bells do not pose a significantly heavy load to your system, but moving them effectively through space requires a completely unique skill set and awareness. Use these exercises as a warm up to optimally prepare your system for more intense kettle bell work.
Building a warm up based on principles of proprioception, engagement, and awareness will help you develop as a more capable swinger and an all-around more integrated mover. They are excellent tools for developing strength, power, stability and stamina, as well as overall health.
Proper warm — up prior to an exercise session can increase power and mobility, and reduce the risk of injury. I assume that you have an awareness of your own fitness level and will exercise the common sense to tailor any workouts accordingly.
I also bear no responsibility for brain damage suffered as a result of the terrible music in these videos. Room to Swing: An open area with a flat surface, generally free of obstacles.
Dirt, packed sand, rubber floor matting, and lawn work well. Cushioned soles do not work well as your feet may shift during dynamic movements.
Workout clothes: should be loose and provide ample movement in the hips. As stated above, moving the kettle bell involves accelerating it and decelerating it through space.
The picture on the top is a proper catch, with head up, eyes level, chest up and lower back strongly curved. Below that on the left is a picture of a low back injury waiting to happen.
The first is a proper press, with head up, torso upright, midsection tight, shoulders sunk in their sockets. Warm — up for these exercises should focus on activating the muscles of the core to maintain posture, and the muscles of the rotator cuff to keep the shoulder firmly engaged in the socket throughout the range of motion (ROM).
My warm — up routine involves seven exercises which progressively increase in difficulty and intensity of activation of the targeted muscles. Pay close attention to the performance points and concentrate more on perfecting your form than on “getting through” the exercise.
This exercise activates the muscles of the midsection to maintain an upright posture and a strong lumbar curve; and the muscles of the rotator cuff to keep the shoulders tightly engaged at the top of their ROM. Begin with your feet shoulder width apart, bent over with your back straight, resting hands on knees.
Reach for the sky with both hands, interlocking your fingers, and trying to drive your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Hold the top position, flexing all your muscles as you breathe out strongly under tension for 5 – 10 seconds.
Knees straight but not locked, muscles of the legs contracted firmly. Glutes contracted to drive the hips forward, directly about the heels.
Hands intertwined, elbows locked, shoulder blades squeezed to the rear. Do not thrust head forward, draw shoulders back so that they are directly in line with hips and heels.
This exercise primes and activates the muscles of the low back and midsection, as well as stretching the hamstrings and activating them to fire strongly in the bottom of a swing. Begin with feet together, heels and toes together, legs straight and knees locked.
When bending down, actively contract the abs to drive hands and chest as low as they will go. Concentrate on keeping your hips low when you come to flat back.
Keep hands at your chest, or reach behind you and feel the flexion in your low back. This exercise primes the muscles of the core to control the angle of the hips and low back through their full ROM.
It also activates the rotator cuffs to protect the shoulders under load through their full ROM as well. Knees should be locked, hips engaged, core tight, and shoulders drawn into their sockets, shoulder blades drawn back and together, chest forward and head up with eyes ahead.
Drive the hips down to the ground, contracting the glutes and low back, relaxing the abs. Push the chest up and out, sink the shoulder blades back and stretch the head up.
Actively contract your abs to bend your hips toward your thighs, and your chest toward the ground. The point of this is to generate total body tension throughout the range of motion.
Imagine someone punching you in the stomach and sides the whole time and keep your midsection tight. Stand tall with legs straight but now locked, glutes contracted, hips engaged and directly over heels, midsection firmly engaged, chest up, shoulders relaxed, head up and eyes forward.
Begin the movement by bending slightly at the waist so that your hips move back behind your heels. Slowly, in a controlled fashion, continue to drive your hips back, keeping your chest as upright as possible.
Continue to bend at the waist keeping your low back flat. At the bottom of your squat your heels should be flat, knees bent to maximum, shins almost but not quite vertical, low back flat or only slightly curved, core tight, chest up and arms extended forward for balance.
Keeping your core tight, engage your glutes and drive your hips backwards. At the same time keep your chest upright and flex your low back to keep it flat and return to the good lumbar curve.
If you think about bending your knees they will come forward of your toes, which will prime your legs to engage the muscles of the quads rather than the more powerful glutes. Using your hands like a karate chop to push back on that crease where your leg joins your torso can help reinforce this (see pictures above).
You should feel like you are going to fall over backwards if your hips are fare enough back. This is more a flexibility issue than strength for most people, so it takes time to teach your muscles the new movement pattern.
It builds on the squat's activation of legs, hips and midsection, by adding the resistance of the kettle bell, and necessitating the stabilization of the shoulder girdle. The handle should be parallel to a line drawn between the heels, just about mid foot.
When you are low enough to grasp the kettle bell handle, grip it firmly with midsection contracted, arms straight, elbows locked, shoulders firmly engaged in the sockets, head up, eyes forward. Your hips should be far enough back that the kettle bell is the only thing preventing you from falling backwards.
Lift the kettle bell by, contracting your core and glutes while breathing out strongly under tension. Pause at the top of the movement and contract legs, mid-section and upper body strongly and thoroughly.
Concentrate on shooting your hips back, keep your core tight as if you were taking a punch in the gut. The kettle bell needs to be heavy enough that it can actually counter the weight of your hips behind your heels.
When you drive upwards to lift the kettle bells, flex the core first, and then the glutes. Imagine that someone has placed a walnut between your butt cheeks, and you are going to smash it by pinching it with your glutes.
This exercise engages the shoulders throughout their full ROM under very high resistance. The core and legs must also be engaged firmly to maintain posture.
Your thumbs should be inside the loop of the handle with index fingers against the ball. Lift the bell as a dead lift, but give it a little thrust with your hips and rack the kettle bell against your chest, handle down, ball up.
Turn the kettle bell around your head, keeping your elbows tight and close. Keep the kettle bell close to your head, but do not drag it across your shoulders, chest or back.
It engages every muscle in the body, especially the midsection and the shoulder girdle, lifting the kettle bell in an irregular movement pattern. This forces the arms and midsection to stabilize the weight at every angle of movement.
Shoulder sucked in, elbow locked, wrist perfectly straight. Resist this by curling the hand forward, flexing the muscles of the front of the forearm.
Draw up the knee on the same side as the kettle bell and plant your foot as firmly as you can. Flex the core to drive the chest up so that you rise up on one elbow.
Keep the arm straight and upright, shoulder tight, elbow locked, wrist straightened by contracting the muscles of the forearm. If the kettle bell starts to get off center, and you feel it pull at your shoulder, dump it.
Take the straight leg, the one on the opposite side from the kettle bell, and sweep it back under your hips so that it is behind you. Press off with the downward hand, and brace the core until you are in a kneeling position.
You should feel the line of force running from the kettle bell hand to the opposite knee. This exercise is easiest if you try to pose apically at every point.
Before you begin your kettle bell workout it is important to perform some kettlebellwarmup exercises. Your kettlebellwarmup exercises do not need to be complicated and understanding why you are performing specific movements will help you remember them.
It is best to take a systematic approach to your joint mobility starting at the top and working your way down to your ankles. Warming up the shoulders is very important before you start your kettle bell workouts.
Poor shoulder mobility will force your upper and lower back to over compensate often resulting in overuse and injury. It is common to see people leaning backwards in order to hold the kettle bell straight overhead.
If you get a sore lower back when pressing overhead this is probably due to a lack in upper body mobility. Spend a few minutes working through these shoulder warm up exercises paying particular attention to the areas that feel restricted.
Most people have poor upper back mobility due to extensive periods of sitting and general lack of movement. Here’s a list of the upper back warm up exercises detailed in the video above:
As this area is often restricted spend as much time as it takes to really loosen up the upper back. I would also recommend spending extra time on this area during the day and also in the evenings.
Limited mobility in the elbow can affect the movement in the shoulders and wrist due to compensations. As you can imagine kettle bell training works the wrist joint hard.
Limited movement in the wrist joint can be due to excessive flexion or extension based exercises. Office workers may also experience wrist issues due to hours spent on a computer keyboard.
Work through the wrist warm up exercises pushing the joint a little harder towards areas of restriction. Similarly, if you are not able to move well through your hips then you force excessive movement through your knees.
Bad knee joints is often a result of poor hip mobility. The kettle bell swing is the perfect example of an exercise that uses the hip hinge movement pattern.
Along with the upper back warm up this area is very important for general movement in daily life. So if you feel your mobility is restricted in the hip area then work on this movement throughout the day too.
If you struggle with knee joint issues then you will need to look at your hip and ankle mobility to see if any compensations are being made. I find many people struggle with knee pain due to a lack of strength in the legs and hips so this too should be another focus.
Deep body weight squats, mentioned later, will build up the legs and help protect against knee pain. You can hold onto a chair, post or door frame if necessary to assist in the deep squat movement.
As many of us now don’t walk on uneven ground it is important to work through the ankle joint pushing into any restricted areas. Now that your joints are nice and mobile you can move onto more specific movement based warm up exercises.
The second swing preparation exercise is the basic hip bridge which helps to activate the buttocks. Remember to push from the heels and squeeze the Glutes nice and tight at the top.
Do not overextend from the lower back, you should finish in a nice straight line as you can see below. The yoga squat will work nicely into the upper back as well as the hips and legs.
The lunge pattern requires good single leg strength as well as hip mobility. A great warm up exercise to gradually open up the hips.
You should now how performed a full body mobility routine, focusing on the areas that are most restricted. The kettle bell slingshot a great kettlebellwarmup exercise for the shoulders, arms and grip
It also focuses the mind as you start to pass a weight from one hand to the other around your back. Next it’s onto the Halo, a great movement for strengthening and increasing shoulder mobility.
By taking the kettle bell around the head you warmup the whole of the upper back as well as the shoulders. Now get your hips moving and increase your buttock activation with the kettle bell good morning exercise.
Keep your back nice and flat as if performing a kettle bell swing or dead lift movement. Don’t forget to breathe out on the way down and keep your abs nice and tight.
If you have heavy overhead pushing or pulling in your workout I would also recommend that you replicate that exercise but with a lighter kettle bell first. The kettlebellwarmup is a chance to improve your joint mobility as well as replicate the same movement patterns you will be using during your workout.
Next, you move on to more specific warm up exercises that focus on the movement patterns used within your workout. Finally, finish by introducing the kettle bell and performing some general kettlebellwarmup exercises.
Your whole warm up should take no longer than 10-15 minutes and is a good time to work on your weaknesses and assess how you are feeling that particular day. But our current Western lifestyle of constantly sitting and very little physical activity has made our bodies immobile and prone to injury.
But if you life an active lifestyle already, then warming up for 30 minutes before your workout isn’t necessary. The hollow hang will decompress your spine and open up the spaces between your vertebrae to allow your nervous system to function optimally for strength training.
Incorporating Neck Nods will loosen up your neck and shoulder area for overhead movements and exercises like Presses, Snatches & Jerks. Having a strong and good functioning center is KEY to getting stronger with kettle bells.
Hollow Hang x 30s Jump Rope x 30s Prying Goblet Squat w/Neck Nods x 30s Dead Bug x 30s