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What Are The Best Kettlebell Exercises

author
Christina Perez
• Friday, 09 October, 2020
• 14 min read

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.

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Contents

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.

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.

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. We've all turned up to the gym, short on time and motivation, only to find every piece of equipment we need for our workout isn't free.

Faced with this scenario, you have two options: ditch the workout and go home or find a piece of versatile equipment that is underused and undervalued by most of the gym-going community. Packing the same weighty punch as dumbbells, kettle bells are likely to be found in a dusty corner of the gym.

Much like the humble rowing machine and versa climber, most gym bros steer clear of the cast-iron 'bells, helping you get an effective, time-efficient workout in, without having to worry about your kit getting pinched. This and the growing popularity of sports such as CrossFit and Strongman have helped drive kettle bell training and workouts into the mainstream.

On top of this, owing to their design, kettle bells are one of the easiest weights to move around during your workout in a short timeframe and can be stored away easily, from your car boot to your garden shed or garage. “Kettle bells give you the opportunity to move athletically with additional resistance from a variety of angles and more challenging positions,” explains Jon Lewis, a personal trainer with fitness outlet Industrial Strength.

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Not only that, but exercises such as kettle bell swings can help increase your heart rate, burn extra fat and tone muscle, but where they really come into their own is in building strength throughout your posterior chain. As these are your body’s biggest muscles, you’ll also torch calories,” says Rob Blair, PT at The Commando Temple.

Additionally, kettle bells are an incredibly useful tool for those looking to build their base of strength and mobility, so if you're struggling with your barbell back squat, for example, utilizing the kettle bell goblet squat is a good way of practicing proper form with a safer exercise that can then be upgraded as your strength increases. Well-suited for swings, presses and carries, kettle bells also lend themselves to more dynamic movements, where a dumbbell or barbell may be more difficult to use.

Usually, kettle bell workouts are built on a high-rep range, meaning that several muscles are worked at once and, if kept at a consistent pace, can offer similar aerobic benefits to HIIT training. Similarly, by performing kettle bell circuits three times a week, you’ll pump up your VO2 max by 6 per cent in just under a month, according to the NSA’s Sac Report.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research also found that kettle bell training contributes to a healthier lower back, owing to the loading and movement patterns. “Kettle bells are arguably one of the most versatile bits of equipment you can find in a gym,” says Sam Wrigley, a London Bridge-based PT.

“This exaggerated flexion and extension at the hip puts a lot of force through the lower back.” When it comes to getting injuries from poor form, the “arching of the back and not engaging the glutes in an overhead press or folding in a goblet position” can put you at risk of busting your lower back. Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and bend your knees to grab the kettle bell with both hands.

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Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height. Initiated by a powerful hip thrust from your hamstring and glutes, opting for heavier weights (once the move is mastered, of course) for up to 90 seconds a set will vastly improve your anaerobic fitness, accelerating your heart-rate and ignite a fat-burn that the bench press can only dream of.

Instead, by combining a front squat with an overhead press, you're transforming a drab move into a compound, multi-joint exercise that demands full-body power. In one swift movement, slightly jump off the ground and raise your arms to extend above your head.

Land softly on your feet with your knees bent as though you're doing a squat and extend your arms straight above you shoulder-width apart. Powerlifting moves needn't be restricted to barbells bending under crippling weight loads.

Instead, the kettle bell clean and press offers the opportunity to increase grip strength, become stronger in overhead movements (your shoulder press will thank you) and will help you learn the lesson of maintaining a rigid core during all lifts. Plus, the researchers found that participants performing the kettle bell snatch usually maintained 86 to 99 per cent of their maximum heart rate, making it an essential move for easy weightless.

Drive through the heel and bring yourself back up to standing position, without letting your leg touch the floor. Functional and an easy gym brag, the kettle bell pistol squat is the king of mobility moves.

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(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, clasping a kettle bell in each hand in front of your chest with palms facing each other. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat, keeping the kettle bells in the same position and ensuring you don't round your back by tensing your glutes throughout.

Keep your arms strong and walk short, quick steps as fast as possible. Ideal for building grip and plugging onto the end of a tough workout, farmer's walks also pack heavy-duty muscle onto your upper-back while fighting lower-back pain and being a useful conditioning tool and fat-loss.

Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height. Increase the demand you place on the shoulder stabilizing muscles by doing kettle bell swings with one arm.

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You can use kettle bells for just about anything, from high-rep HIIT workouts to low-rep heavyweight slogs, and they’re especially good for compound moves like swings and squats. Next time you go the gym, grab a kettle bell and try some of these beginner, intermediate and advanced exercises, selected and explained by us, as well as Mitch Lawrence and David Temple, PTs and Multipower ambassadors.

Hold the handle with your hand by your chin, elbow out to the side and the bell resting on the top of your forearm by your armpit. “Grasp the kettle bell handle with both hands with your palms facing towards you and arms in front of your body.

Lower your body by slightly bending your knees and driving your hips back. Explosively drive your hips forwards and swing the kettle bell with straight arms towards shoulder height, keeping your glutes and core engaged.

Push your hips backwards and bend your knees to squat as low as your range of motion allows you to. Pull the kettle bell into your hip and then lower it until just before it touches the floor with your arm fully extended.

Pause, then push through your front leg, squeezing your glutes, to return to standing. Repeat the movement on the opposite side so you’re moving the bell in a figure of eight patterns.

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(Source: www.pinterest.com)

“Grasp the kettle bell handle with one hand, palm facing towards you, and your arm in front of your body. Explosively drive your hips forwards and swing the kettle bell with a straight arm towards shoulder height, keeping your glutes and core engaged.

If you’re looking to bulk up your chest then we urge you to take a step away from the bench press and give the kettle bell incline fly a try instead. The exercise isolates the chest muscles and allows a greater range of motion than the bench press, so you can work the pecs from new angles to force growth.

You can, of course, use dumbbells for your flies, but the shape of the kettle bell keeps the weight on the outsides of your wrists, so you can maintain the correct angle in your elbows to truly test your chest muscles. Plant your feet firmly, bend your elbows slightly, and slowly lower the kettle bells out to the sides.

Lie on your back on the floor with a kettle bell held in your right hand, arm extended and directly overhead. Bend your right knee, plant the foot and twist your right shoulder up so your weight is on your left elbow.

Lower, bending at the knees and sitting your glutes back until your thighs are parallel to the ground. As you reach an upright position, press the kettle bells up using the momentum generated from the squat to assist you.

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Start in the raised plank position with your hands on the ground directly underneath your shoulders and your arms extended. Ensure your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your heels and your core is braced.

If you start to lean or tilt as you pull through, then slow the action or reduce the weight of the kettle bell. “With the opposite leg to the arm holding the kettle bell, take a big step backwards and lower your knee towards the ground until it is parallel to the floor, but not touching.

“Simply pick up some heavy kettle bells,” says Temple, “hold them at your sides and walk as far as you can.” “Start in a press-up position, hands shoulder-width apart and grasping the kettle bell handles, with your feet together,” says Lawrence.

Once your thighs are parallel to the ground drive through your heels and extend your legs and hips so that you return to the start position.” Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding two kettle bells overhead with arms extended and a straight back.

Then, in a controlled manner, lower your back towards the ground, bringing the kettle bells towards your chest as you do so. Then contract your abs and bring your torso into the upright position again while extending your arms above your head to return to the start.

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Kettle bells, which look like cannonballs with handles, have become a popular strength training alternative to traditional barbells, dumbbells, and resistance machines. Kettlebellexercises often involve several muscle groups at once, making them a highly effective way to give your arms, legs, and abs a great workout in a short amount of time.

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.

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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. 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.

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(Source: muscletransform.com)

When using a kettle bell, be sure to keep a firm grip so that you don’t drop it on your lap. Sit with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor.

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.

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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. 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.

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Sources
1 www.muscleandfitness.com - https://www.muscleandfitness.com/routine/workouts/workout-routines/kettlebell-workout/
2 www.menshealth.com - https://www.menshealth.com/uk/building-muscle/a758657/the-7-best-kettlebell-exercises-to-build-muscle/
3 www.healthline.com - https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/kettlebell-workout