The kettlebell is an overlooked tool for strength and conditioning. Kettlebell training is very beneficial to most of us, whether you are looking to lose weight, get lean or just get stronger.
They are the perfect addition to any home gym as they do not take up a lot of space and can also be substituted for barbell movements.
Deadlifts can be done with two kettlebells, a front squat can be replaced with a goblet squat and a kettlebell swing is a great alternative for a clean and jerk.
They are generally beginner-friendly as most movements aren’t too complicated. They also offer users an easy confidence-building way to start incorporating weight training into their regime.
We are going to be looking at how you can include the kettlebell training into your exercise routine.
The versatility of the kettlebell is unmatched. You can do presses, pulls, squatting-type movements, and dynamic work.
As a general recommendation women should start with an eight or 12 kg kettlebell and men with 16 kg and 24 kg.
Here are some of the most beneficial kettlebell movements to get you started.
- The kettlebell swing
The swing is the foundational kettlebell movement.
It builds strength and explosiveness and is one of the top exercises for burning fat, as they utilize your entire body and are very metabolically demanding.
Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and the knees slightly bent. Hold a kettlebell with both hands with the palms facing down.
Keep the back straight and sink back into the hips to pull the kettlebell back between the legs under the hips.
Lift your chest, quickly push the hips forward, and pull the knees back to swing the kettlebell up in front of the body.
Allow the kettlebell to come up to chest height before pulling it back down between the legs and slightly sinking back into the hips to prepare for the next repetition.
Tip: the strength to move the weight should come from the legs and hips, not the shoulders.
- The kettlebell deadlift
If you are a beginner to deadlifting, using a kettlebell is a good place to start. If you are more experienced there are many variations that you can use to make the movement more challenging.
Keel a neutral spine and eyes on the horizon. Your hips should hinge as opposed to squat and your lats should be engaged.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly turned out. The kettlebell should be placed between your feet. Hinge at your hips – like you are shutting a car door with your butt.
As you reach for the kettlebell, keep your lats engaged and your spine neutral. Press through the floor and stand up.
- The goblet squat
Another great introductory exercise for beginners who are just starting to incorporate weights into their training.
Not only does this movement strengthen your legs and core but it also helps build correct technique and improves mobility.
Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold the kettlebell directly in front of your chest.
Keep the elbows close to the rib cage and the back straight while lowering into a squat.
Continue lowering until the hips are below the knees, then push both feet into the floor and to return to the original standing position.
- The suitcase carry
Although this seems like a pretty basic exercise, there are many benefits to performing this movement.
The walking forces you to maintain focus and balance of your core.
Hold one kettlebell in each hand and allow the arms to rest along the sides of the body so the kettlebells are next to each hip.
Keep your back straight and walk a specified, pre-determined distance; after covering the distance turn around and return to the starting point.
You can switch things up and use a single kettlebell which makes the exercise more difficult as your body fights to stabilise the uneven load.
- The figure eight
The figure-eight is another full-body, integrated exercise that can be incorporated into your workout routine.
Ace fitness has a great explanation of the movement.
Stand with both feet wider than shoulder-width apart, grip a kettlebell with the left hand, and bend the knees to squat down until the thighs are parallel to the ground.
Reach the right arm behind the right leg and pass the kettlebell under the right leg, passing it from the left hand to the right.
Swing the kettlebell around the outside of the right leg with the right arm and in towards the inside of the left leg while reaching the left arm around the outside of the left leg.
Complete the figure-8 by passing the kettlebell from the left hand to the right under the left leg. Continue passing the kettlebell from one hand to the other for a desired number of repetitions.