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The Top 5 Kettlebell Exercises You Should Master

If you are new to kettlebell training you may not know where to start. Below we will go over a few basic points about kettlebells and five kettlebell workouts you should get comfortable with.

A kettlebell workout isn’t like other types of strength training routines you may have tried. It provides a more holistic type of exercising that targets several muscle groups at once.

That makes kettlebell workouts an excellent option if you want to optimize your physical activity if you’re pressed for time. You’ll maximize your workout for the better health benefits.

You’ll recognize many of the classic weightlifting moves with some novel differences in form and technique.

You’ll also find a more functional component to these exercises that many other types of workouts lack.

That fact alone sets the kettlebell apart. Let’s discuss what it involves with some great moves to get you started.

Why You Should Use A Kettlebell

The kettlebell has a long history that goes back to the days of Russian strongmen in the early 18th century. The kettlebell’s purpose then is the same as it is now: to build strength.

But the kettlebell takes it one step further. It combines the health benefits of strength training along with ways to incorporate aerobic and flexibility workouts.

Because of that, you get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to calorie burn. You can expect about 20 calories per minute, depending on your gender and workout intensity.  

That puts it far above other activities like bicycling and even rollerblading. The best kettlebell exercises often mimic natural movement patterns, unlike some weight lifting machines like the shoulder press.  This helps promote the idea of functional fitness. 

The Best Kettlebell Exercises

You need to follow the same precautions with a kettlebell as you would with weights. That means proper form and technique to avoid injury.

And as with any new workout, start out slow to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

You should begin with a weight that is realistic for your ability. A kettlebell exercise focuses on repetitions which brings the aerobic factor into play.

You should begin your workout with some gentle aerobic activity that focuses on the muscles in your back, hips, and legs.

The routine for each of these exercises is the same. You’ll perform a few reps then take a brief rest before repeating the process again.

Aim for two to three sets of 10 reps for each one. Then, rest before beginning the next move.

Kettlebell Deadlift

The deadlift targets the muscles in your lower back, hips, and knees. It will also engage your spine and upper back.

It’s a basic move that is ideal for kettlebell beginners. Begin by placing a kettlebell of equal weight on your left and right sides.

Bend down with your knees and grasp the weights. Then, stand up again with the kettlebells in hand with a smooth movement. You use your lower body by doing a hip hinge.  Make sure you keep your back straight.

You can also perform this exercise using one kettlebell. Bend down, making sure that your knees point in the same direction as your feet.  Hold the kettlebell with both hands and again make sure to keep your back and arms straight and you are powering up with the lower body strength.

You should use your breath to help you through this exercise. Don’t hold your breath to avoid spikes in your blood pressure.

Instead, inhale when you start and exhale as you lift. Breathe in again as you return to the starting position.

Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing

The two-arm kettlebell swing or Russian swing is a basic kettlebell move which will prepare you for more challenging exercises.

It’s essential to master this one first. It targets many of the same muscles as the deadlift while engaging your arms and shoulders.

You’ll need one kettlebell for this body exercise. Start as if you were going to do a deadlift. You want to make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Then, bend forward at a hip hinge and grab the kettlebell with both hands.

Swing the kettlebell forward, keep your arms straight, and bend your knees. Raise to the level of your chest, letting the pendulum movement bring the kettlebell back to your body.  While the movement pattern dictates a swing, you need to ensure that you have control over the kettlebell at all times.  The swing is purposeful.  Use the muscles and avoid letting momentum take over the kettlebell swing.

Kettlebell swings are a fundamental move and is probably one of the most popular kettlebell workouts that you will see.  It’s important to have proper form here.  If you swing the kettlebell with too much weight or without your feet shoulder-width apart, you could do some serious damage to your back.  Make sure you perfect your technique.

Kettlebell Farmer’s Walk

The farmer’s walk may seem like a mundane kettlebell exercise, but you’ll appreciate your effort next time you have to bring in the groceries.  This goes back to how kettlebells help us with functional fitness. 

It’s a functional movement which is a hallmark of kettlebell exercises. In addition to your back and hip, this move will also engage the muscles in your hand.  You are looking at a full body workout with this one.

This kettlebell workout is a compound exercise that involves more than two joints.

Begin with a kettlebell on either side of you. Squat down and grasp each one. Stand up while keeping your back straight. Then, walk for a specific distance or number of laps.

This kettlebell training is harder than it sounds, especially if you walk for several minutes. Be sure to maintain proper posture as you complete this move.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

The squat might not be a favorite exercise, but it certainly is a beneficial one. This move targets the muscles in your thighs.

Because it is a large group, you’ll burn a lot of calories to keep up with the fuel they’ll need. You can do this exercise with one or two kettlebells.

Beginners should start with one kettlebell for the classic goblet squat.

Begin standing up holding a kettlebell in both your hands at chest height. Your legs should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart.

Exhale as you bend your knees, making sure to keep your back straight as you lower your body. Inhale as you return to the starting position.

To use two kettlebells, follow the same sequence, holding one in each hand at shoulder height.

Kettlebell Clean and Press

The kettlebell press is another basic move that will help you build strength for other exercises such as the snatch and the clean and jerk.

This kettlebell exercise will target your shoulder and arm muscles while engaging your spine for balance. You’ll need one kettlebell.

Begin standing up holding the kettlebell in one hand at shoulder height with your elbow bent. Make sure your back is straight.  This is a single arm workout.

Extend your one arm out to your side. Lift the kettlebell above your head. Pause briefly at the top and lower it to the starting position. Repeat the sequence with the other arm.

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Kettlebell Workouts for the Win

Using a kettlebell is an excellent way to build strength in your shoulders, back, hips, and legs.

They provide the additional benefits of functional moves that can make an impact on your everyday life.

The best kettlebell exercises will give you a solid foundation for more complex techniques that will challenge you in many more ways.

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