Since so much of what we read about fitness evolved from bodybuilding, we, the public, end up with a list of exercises that is far bigger than it needs to be when viewed through a strength-training-only lens. Approaching our training with only these six options makes forming plans quite easy.
For the next workout, select the opposing upper movement and a different lower body pattern, and finish with core. Both are quad dominant, but one will boost muscle size, strength, and performance while the other just seems to be a good way to hurt your knees.
A big part of me wants to say handstands represent the best pushing option for body weight training. The flexibility, balance, and strength required to do a good quality handstand are well worth training for.
In addition, handstand push -ups are extremely portable and can be done anywhere (and if you can’t do freestanding reps, all you need is a piece of flat ground and a wall), and won’t destroy the abs or lower body the way one-arm push -ups will. The downside to pressing heavy kettle bells is that as the bell gets larger, it places more and more stress on the shoulder joint as it tries to pull you into external rotation.
It has been used in research studies by Dr. Stuart McGill who found it led to greater core activation. It’s also heavily featured in FMS correctives as a way to increase core, grip, and shoulder stability while minimizing stress on the joint.
The BUP very nearly wins this category, but its downside is the massive CNS recruitment involved. Double jerks also require large degrees of ankle and thoracic mobility.
For many, this degree of upper back flexibility will be difficult to attain, but just like with the handstand, working to achieve this will unlock many more physical abilities. And if you work for extended sets, like in Gregory sport, the degree of strength endurance you can achieve is almost impossible to believe.
Most of the complaints I get from people regarding their shoulders come from them overusing barbell pressing options when they have limited mobility. That means you get all kinds of extra benefits such as glute, ab, and lower back activation while performing it.
However, having your hands fixed to the bar can be problematic for some people and can cause an increase in shoulder issues. When it comes to upper-body pushing exercises, the barbell bench press is probably the most iconic lift of all time.
But the barbell bench press has a reputation for destroying shoulders and elbows, and doesn’t use the core at all because you’re lying down. On the one hand, it allows you to lift more weight and truly develop your pushing strength free of distractions.
He has trained hundreds of athletes and clients up to Olympic and World Championship levels. He is both a black belt and an Iron man and has been honing the craft of training for over twenty years. Having trained alongside industry leaders in everything from Taekwondo to Brazilian Jim Jitsi to boxing, as well as kettle bells, running, triathlon, and weightlifting, Andrew has a wealth of experience to draw from.
Kettle bells, which look like cannonballs with handles, have become a popular strength training alternative to traditional barbells, dumbbells, and resistance machines. Kettle bell exercises 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’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.
Its wider handle makes it easier to grip with two hands (for the classic swing move), and its smoother finish is less likely to injure your skin over time. Dragon Door was the first company to popularize kettle bells in America, which is why the most other brands simply copy that shape down to the millimeter.
If the goal is to learn kettle bell basics and use two-handed techniques, all of these bells are quite suitable, and being budget conscious (finding sales/free shipping) isn’t a bad route. We (Keira and I) have trained more than 800 clients in kettle bell techniques since 2008, and we’ve taught multiple instructor certifications in the US and abroad.
(Most recently, as the coronavirus pandemic forced people to work out at home, significant stock shortages have become the norm.) Their unique shape and functionality give them many of the strength-building benefits of dumbbells while also providing users with the opportunity to do kettle bell -specific drills that involve a lot of movement, like the swing.
The closed-loop handle of a kettle bell offers users a secure grip for movements with both hands. Dumbbells are better suited to doing squats, curls, bench press, cleans, and other exercises that have less kinetic motion.
That means you can fulfill all your workout needs with one simple tool that stows easily in a closet. One important caveat to this endorsement of kettle bell training is that proper technique makes all the difference between effective and beneficial use and potential injury.
You can also consult credible online tutorials, and many trainers will set up a Skype arrangement where you can send videos to them for feedback and coaching. My wife, master ROC trainer Keira Newton, has an awesome YouTube page with all kinds of tutorials/workouts for kettle bells.
In terms of credible resources on kettle bell techniques and workout ideas, here are a few great sources available digitally and/or in print: Dragon Door has the most resources in terms of kettle bell books and DVDs (at least in the “hard style” approach that I use) available.
Finally, Steve Cotter is a master practitioner/teacher of competition kettle bell lifting techniques. While many people recommend women starting with an 8-kilogram bell (about 16 pounds), I think that the two-handed lifts like squats and swings aren’t very well-served by that low weight.
If you want to start modestly, my suggestion would be to get the 13-pound version of our budget pick and then order a larger, higher quality bell once you feel comfortable. With these three, all kinds of single and double kettle bell work is easily achievable and scalable.
Both of these linked pieces reiterate my earlier point about seeking credible instruction before beginning an at-home regimen. Then there is the question about which kind of kettle bell you should buy: cast iron, competition, or adjustable.
Also, a major frustration with adjustable kettle bells is that they don’t offer a wide enough weight range to make them ideal for many. As it turns out, there’s not a huge amount of difference between these things because most of them borrow their design from the Dragon Door ROC.
Dragon Door was the first US company to run kettle bell instructor certifications (taught by famed instructor Pavel Tsatsouline) and have mass distribution in the US (Dragon Door started selling these bells in 2001). Dragon Door bells achieved great acclaim, but their high price point (roughly $120 each after shipping and handling, the highest in our test) invited lots of competition from other companies.
CAP is another popular fitness company that makes a good bell at a lower price point. For example, this Yes4All bell is one of the most popular models on Amazon, but its large, flat face is hard on the wrists in one-handed positions.
Although much more rare, some companies compete by distinguishing their offerings from Dragon Door’s with different designs. Perform Better at one point implemented a screw-on rubber skid plate on the bottom of their bells, but later on scrapped it due to negative customer feedback.
From left: Matrix Elite, CAP Cast Iron Competition, Rogue, Perform Better First Place, Dragon Door ROC. Photo: Anton BrkicOur testing group, which consisted of myself and five members of the high school varsity baseball team I coach, worked with all five bells at the beginner/intermediate level and did only two-handed moves (dead lifts, squats, presses, high pulls, and swings).
In fact, I wouldn’t use the CAP or Rogue bells for high-rep snatching because they have coarse handles and some tackiness from the painted finish. If you order through the company’s website and have a problem, Kettle bells USA will “make it right, period!” by sending a replacement and taking care of return shipping fees.
Photo: Mark Blythe Matrix Elite kettle bell has a slightly different handle dimension and more distance from the ball part of the bell to the handle to create a larger opening for more comfortable two-handed positions. The Matrix bell clearly outclassed the competition for two-handed work, as the smooth, e-coated handle with a wider grip was consistently easy on the hands, even when doing high repetition sets of 20-plus kettle bell swings.
Even when the user advances to the one-handed moves, both two-handed swings and goblet squats should remain essential parts of a kettle bell program. Any flaws in a kettle bell will be exposed when you use just one hand, but the attention to detail in forging a smooth, seamless handle was clearly on display with this bell.
Besides the handle shape, the Matrix Elite (right) looks almost identical to the Dragon Door ROC, which costs anywhere from $30 to $50 more. Photo: Mark BixbyAnother thing that sets the Matrix Elite apart from other kettle bells (including Kettle bells USA's own “classic” line) is the fact that it’s designed to have the same “rack” position (where the round part rests on your forearm) regardless of weight and size.
Most companies use standard molds repeatedly, and inevitably, residue from previous castings creates uneven surface textures like edges or gaps. Finally, Kettle bells USA showed awesome customer service throughout my process of testing.
If you're used to standard Dragon Door ROC kettle bells (or any of its many clones), the Matrix Elite's rack position might feel strange at first, since the ball part sits higher up on the forearm by comparison. If you see the bell offered at full price (with no discounted shipping), wait seven to 10 days, and you should find it available more cheaply.
If the Matrix Elite is unavailable, or if you just want a standard-shaped bell without the wider handle, the Perform Better First Place Kettle bell feels the same in use as the high-end Dragon Door, but costs about 25 percent less. In fact, its dimensions are identical except for the extra half inch of flat base diameter on the bottom of the Perform Better bell.
While Perform Better wouldn’t divulge what process it uses, I noticed that it’s somewhere between a matte powder coat and a glossy e-coat. Reading user reviews (see here and here) that slam performs Better for having noticeable seams on the underside of the handle or other defects isn’t helpful considering the construction specs on their bells currently.
The bell I received from them was really well-made, and it showed no signs of being defective in build or user experience. I contacted Perform Better about this discrepancy, and company reps explained that among other small changes, they’d since switched to a gravity casting process, which creates a more uniform surface, as you recall.
It’s also worth noting that Perform Better frequently has sales on its kettle bells, and while it’s usually cheaper to buy Perform Better bells directly from the company, it's worth checking Amazon and Strongest before buying to find the best deal. If budget is your bottom line, then we’d recommend the CAP Cast Iron Competition Bell.
But unless you really need to save a few bucks, it’s worth investing in our top pick, since these things last forever. In fact, none of the five baseball player panelists said they would pay extra for any of the other bells for the basic routines they were testing with.
The powder-coated CAP (left) and Rogue (center) bells are rougher than the e-coated Dragon Door (right). Photo: Mark Blythe CAP bell has a powder-coated matte finish and a slightly gritty (though it’s evenly dispersed grit) handle to provide a good grip (though a bit on the coarser end of those we tested) and a flat bottom so it doesn’t rock when used for push -ups or rowing moves.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Dragon Door ROC Kettle bell should feel pretty good about itself. Unfortunately for Dragon Door, other companies have been able to duplicate its design at a comparable level of quality for a lot cheaper.
Our first kettlebellpush pull workout starts out with two very important exercises, the row and the push up. The format for this workout is very simple, perform one exercise after the other and then take a rest before repeating.
Beginners should start out with a lighter kettle bell and perform more repetitions whereas those more advanced can increase the weight and reduce the reps. Lean forward approximately 45 degrees and keep your weight back on your heels to load the hamstrings.
The regular push up is a very underestimated exercise for building the chest, shoulders and core muscles. Ultimately the push up is a moving plank exercise so the core needs to be braced throughout and a straight line created from the shoulders to the heels.
If you struggle to keep your body in a straight line without your hips dropping towards the floor then you should practice the plank / shoulder taps exercises instead. The second exercise, the push press, is used to develop brute strength and adds some serious muscle to the shoulders and upper body.
This kettle bell pull push workout is performed as a superset meaning that you complete both exercises one after the other before taking a short rest and then repeating. A weak core or an inability to stabilize in the top push up position will only lead to lower back issues.
A safer way to perform this exercise is to use just one kettle bell and have the other hand on a box, bench or, my favorite, a Paraclete. The kettlebellpush press is the ultimate strength and muscle builder for the upper body.
During the push press the knees are bent very slightly before they are locked out and the buttocks squeezed tightly. The initial pop or momentum that you get from the slight squat enables you to press the kettle bell more easily from the bottom position.
You will be activating most of the muscles in your body with this workout while at the same time balancing pushing and pulling movements. The kettle bell snatch offers a full body exercise that is predominately a pulling movement.
Whereas the Turkish get up is a stabilization pushing exercise that will strengthen your whole body and improve your mobility. The kettle bell snatch is a full body explosive exercise that is based on a pulling movement pattern.
As the snatch is based on the dead lift movement most of the power comes from the hips to start the momentum of the kettle bell. At the top of the exercise punch your hand through the handle to stop the kettle bell flopping over and hitting the wrist.
For those that really struggle with the downward part of the exercise the kettle bell can be lowered slowly as if coming down from an overhead press. As you work your way through the various positions of the exercise you will notice your stabilizing muscles as well as your mobility is challenged.
Deficiencies that are highlighted during the kettle bell Turkish get up will be magnified in other areas of your movement and daily life. Above I have listed 3 kettlebellPush Pull Workouts that you can use to strengthen and condition your upper body.
KettlebellPush Pull workouts are an excellent choice for balancing out your body and ensure that you do not over train one particular area more than the other. But, in the last decade or so, they’ve seen a resurgence in popularity, not least because they are a part of so many CrossFit workouts.
But Tim Ferris says “the two armed kettle bell swing is the king and is all you need for dramatic body recomposition results”. This post will reveal the main kettle bell swing benefits and how to do them correctly.
It takes time to master the kettle bell swing, but once you’ve got it nailed, this exercise has a wide range of benefits. Your heart rate will also soar when you swing a kettle bell, which makes kettle bell swings one of the best strength training exercises for fat loss and weight loss.
Tim Ferris's writes glowingly about the fantastic benefits of the kettle bell swing for rapid fat loss and body recomposition in his New York Times Best Seller The Four Hour Body.” Image Credit Tracy & Mark Ranking Many fitness enthusiasts believe that squats and dead lifts are the kings of exercise.
But Tim Ferris says, “the two armed kettle bell swing is the king and is all you need for dramatic body recomposition results.” Increased cardiovascular fitness Kettle bell swing training is excellent for your heart and lungs, as well as your muscles.
Because they are a full-body movement, kettle bell swings will drive your heart and breathing rate sky-high, which makes them a beneficial and challenging cardiovascular exercise. Kettle bell swings are fast and explosive, while dead lifts are much slower.
Better posture Kettle bell swings are one of the best exercises for undoing the effects of prolonged sitting. Swings work your posterior chain, which are the muscles responsible for holding you upright against the pull of gravity.
Because kettle bell swings involve so many muscles and joints working together and at the same time, there’s a lot that can go wrong with this exercise. But, if you master a proper kettle bell swing, you can enjoy all the benefits this exercise has to offer while avoiding all the risks.
Hold your kettle bell in front of your hips with an overhand grip. Standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs.
Focus on your hip drive to pop the kettle bell upwards, not your arms. Use your lats and abs to stop the weight swinging upward and then let the kettle bell fall back down.
Tim Ferris's Teaches You How To Do The Russian Kettle bell Swing Russian kettle bell swings generally allow you to lift more weight, and they are easier to learn.
However, it’s all too easy to inadvertently shorten your rep range by not swinging the weight high enough, i.e., below shoulder-height. Swinging the weight up until the arms are vertical ensures that each rep is the same, making them easier to judge and quantify.
However, raising the weight so high will increase stress on the lower back, which could lead to injury. The increased range of movement also means you won’t be able to lift as much weight.
But, unless you are training for CrossFit competitions, the Russian swing is potentially the safer one, which may mean it’s the best choice for most exercisers. As recommended by the American Council on Exercise, ACE for short, this kettle bell workout is best done three times a week on non-consecutive days, e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Kettle bell cleans and snatches come close, but they are much trickier to master. Whether you want to burn fat, get fit, or boost your dead lift performance, kettle bell swings will help.
Remember, to get the most from this exercise; you need to do them correctly and give yourself time to recover between workouts. Therefore, it is also an excellent move for a beginner to prepare for a dead lift program.
When performing push -ups utilizing a pair of kettle bells your range of motion is greatly increased, improving chest activation as well as the core activation involved. While maintaining a straight back lower yourself down into the bottom of a push -up.
Place your feet on a high bench and perform push -ups off of your kettle bell handles, resulting in a large increase in range of motion. Invest in a high quality kettle bell or two that’ll stand the test of time here.
In today’s world we spend the majority of our days doing things in front of us with terrible posture. Cubicles) for hours at a time not moving and making the front of our body even tighter.
If You’re Not Doing The Kettle bell Swing, You’re Destined To Stay Fat, Tight & Weak For The Rest Of Your Life! This overuse of the muscles on the front side of our bodies is called “anterior dominance” and it is plaguing our society.
FrequencyExercise TypeIntensityRepetitionsRest up to 7x per week strength training high intensity varies by workout varies by workout Once labelled “hard core”, kettle bells are now popping up in every gym, garage and backyard because of their portability and reputation for fast results. Go into any gym and you’ll see inexperienced exercisers turning a swing into a front squat and shoulder raise exercise further tightening our hips, quads, chest and shoulders and just adding to the anterior dominance issue that I told you about above.
Always making sure your shoulders stay above the level of your hips, “hike pass” the kettle bell through your knees by contracting your lats. When you push your hips back keeping your butt high and your shins vertical, you are hinging.
This is good because most people today are hip flexor and quad dominant (your anterior muscles), so learning how to load and use your posterior chain creates a natural balance between front and back that will help in preventing knee and hip issues. Imagine that you are growing roots through your feet and grab the ground with your entire foot.
Getting proper instruction from an expert so that you can MASTER THE KETTLEBELL SWING is the best thing that you can do for your training regardless of your goal. If you want to build strength, kettle bell swings will forge a grip of steel and will add pounds to your dead lift & squat.
If you want to boost your athleticism, kettle bell swings will make you more powerful and add height to your jump and shave seconds off your sprints. If you want to pack on muscle, swinging a heavy kettle bell will build an intimidating upper back & set of shoulders.
And if you want to shed body fat, swings will incinerate blubber like butter melting in an iron pan. You’ve breached the barbells and dominated dumbbells, but if you’re still steering clear of kettle bells you’re missing out on arguably the best burn at the gym.
Think about a baseball bat, says trainer Jason C. Brown, creator and owner of certification program Kettle bell Athletics. “Kettle bells create a longer lever arm, which requires you to use more force to move an equal weight the same distance,” Brown says.
The general rule of thumb is the more joints involved, the heavier the kettle bell weight you can use. The dead lift is a multi joint move, so the average guy can probably handle 32 kg/70 lbs here to start, Brown says.
When you feel confident that you have the form down sans resistance, reach for a 12 kg/26 lb kettle bell. Since form is so imperative here, Lopez says you shouldn’t move up a weight until you’re able to maintain perfect vertically with your arm, keep the elbow fully locked throughout all 14 steps, and feel comfortable going slow (most people rush due to discomfort).
But because it doesn’t require swinging momentum or extension, a carry has a lower risk of injury than other kettle bell moves, which means you can go a bit heavier. Grab a kettle bell that’s the equivalent of half your body weight to carry in each hand, Brown recommends.
For myself, if training as a separate movement I prefer the jerk to the push press. I use the PP to extend my overhead press just as I might use a drop set. Once I can no longer get another rep with good form I'll apply just enough push to get the bell moving, lock it out and concentrate on the eccentric back down.
I find it to be great exercise on several levels as the amount of push becomes dynamic based on fatigue, so is a whole body movement you can learn to vary it in what feels like very subtle, controlled amounts. Edit to add: I don't consider myself to be very strong overall, at 80 kg body weight I can hit a 32 for about 5-6 clean overhead press and another 4 with a push.
Level 9 Valued Member Elite Certified Instructor There is definitely good instruction on the push press (in addition to the squat, kettle bell dead lift, and swing) within this product.
But some momentum from the squat still carries over to the bell and make the press a little easier. IMO, the main effect is getting comfortable with a heavier weight in the rack and overhead -- more of a disinhibiting effect than an actual strength-building one, if that's a valid distinction.
You can do Push Press with Kettle bell Strong or use RMF both by Geoff Expert. Hello, Sanders 10 sets of 5, as Steve Grades said is a very good idea.
Alternatively if you're feeling really adventurous you could run it Bear style in place of BP. I remember Master SFG Jon En gum has laid out this as one of supplemental drill for military press.
Rack the bell, do a full front squat, and initiate the press just after your knees and hips lock out (don't noticeably pause before press, but don't start pressing before the knees and hips lock out). It's subtly different from a thruster, since it isn't really ballistic. But some momentum from the squat still carries over to the bell and make the press a little easier.
IMO, the main effect is getting comfortable with a heavier weight in the rack and overhead -- more of a disinhibiting effect than an actual strength-building one, if that's a valid distinction. So, I just tried the long push press (deep squat, no momentum at the top) and the bells went up without a hitch.