Are you looking to mix up your workout with something new? If you’re after a fat burning and strength conditioning session then look no further! Training with kettlebells will test your endurance and stamina while being easy to perform and incredibly versatile! They torch calories and are perfect for newbies and seasoned pros alike. Read on to find out exactly why kettlebells are an effective workout!
What is a Kettlebell?
Kettlebells are cast-iron ball-shaped weights with handles that come in a variety of weights. They are designed to be held in one or both hands while performing a variety of exercises. Kettlebells are used by people of all ages and abilities to combine cardio, strength, flexibility and endurance training.
Why Use Them?
1. Challenge yourself by shifting your centre of gravity
Using a kettlebell will change your centre of gravity so your core muscles will have to constantly be firing to stabilise you. No matter which part of the body you’re focusing on, you’re bound to get a full body workout!
2. Strengthen your grip and forearms
Kettlebells have thicker handles than dumbbells, so you’ll naturally improve the strength of your grip (and your forearms) when you use them!
3. Cardio workout
Kettlebell workouts involve a lot of movement, so your body is forced to use more effort just to complete the exercise giving you a great cardio workout too. That means you’ll be smashing your strength and cardio workout in one session… less time at the gym means more time at home with friends and family!
4. No need for a fancy gym membership or expensive training equipment
If you don’t want to go to a gym for your workouts, having a few kettlebells in various weights could be almost everything you need to complete your fitness goals. They are so versatile that you’ll be able to train every muscle group and they take up very little floor space.
You can do the workouts in the comfort of your own home (if you’re careful) so it’s far cheaper than a yearly gym membership or buying an exercise bike or treadmill.
Mistakes To Avoid:
1. Going too light
Many people are unsure when it comes to kettlebells, so they tend to go lighter than if they were using traditional weights like dumbbells and barbells. Going lighter on your weights makes your workout obsolete – you won’t be activating your muscles and getting the most out of your time.
Try out the different weights before you settle on one. Try doing a classic kettlebell swing (more on that later) with a weight you think you can lift, and 1 or 2 kettlebells that are heavier. If you can do the move with proper form but still feel sufficient resistance as you use it, use that weight. You’ll probably surprise yourself and be able to lift a heavier weight than you first thought!
2. Complicated moves
Kettlebells allow are a huge variety of different exercises and to challenge the user some of them can be quite complex. If you are unsure of how to complete an exercise, don’t do it (especially if you are just beginning your training). Using a kettlebell means you’ll naturally use more muscles, compared to other types of training but you risk injury if you perform the move incorrectly.
Learn the basic kettlebell exercises first and work your way up to the harder stuff. Always ask for help if you are unsure as this will prevent injury and help you get the most from your workout.
3. Too many reps
While training on your feet with a heavy kettlebell, your body will be using multiple muscle groups to lift the weights and stabilise you, which means your body will get tired quicker than usual. If you aim for too many reps you may hurt yourself by overperforming the move with form that faults as you fatigue.
Aim for much lower reps while you get used to this form of training. Aim for about 5 reps per set to begin with and build up from there as you and your body adjust to the training.
4. You use the same form as dumbbell training
In most kettlebell exercises it’s okay to use the same form as you would do with dumbbell training. However, some moves will need adjustment in technique to allow for the difference the weight has on your centre of gravity. While some motions may look similar, some moves will require different timing and positioning.
If you’re not totally sure what the proper form is, ask a trainer for help, especially with the more advanced moves as you don’t want to hurt yourself!
Beginner Kettlebell Workout:
Learn the basics and get your kettlebell training started with these beginner exercises
Hold the kettlebell by the sides of the handle and keep your elbows close to your torso. Hold the weight in front of your upper chest so that your hands are inline with your neck.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, tense your core and squat as low as you can. Return to the starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Place the kettlebell on the floor next to you with the handle parallel to you.
Place your left hand and knee onto a bench (or any stable surface) and pick up the weight with your right hand. Keeping your shoulders square, your back straight and your elbow slightly bent, squeeze your triceps and back muscles to lift the weight so that your arm is bent at a 90-degree angle, then slowly lower back to your starting position. Repeat for 3 sets of 5-8 reps on each side.
Hold a kettlebell in each hand, take a wide stance with one foot in front of the other and slowly hinge at the hips to lower yourself down so that your front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold for a moment and then raise back up before repeating. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps per side.
Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the top of the kettlebell with both hands. Bend your knees slightly then hinge at the hips to swing the kettlebell between your legs (this is an explosive move so put some power behind it, use your glutes to power the weight forward). Stand up as you swing the kettlebell up to chest height and repeat the swings. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.
If you practically live in the gym and love helping other people, becoming a personal trainer could be the perfect career choice for you!
[Read this to find out why becoming a personal trainer is worth it]