The kettlebell is a powerful strength-building tool that bridges the gap between strength and stamina. A kettlebell workout provides both a wide variety of classic strength-building exercises and of cyclical high-velocity movements; together, the benefits of this one simple tool can take your conditioning to the next level.
Kettlebells are odd-shaped objects. When negotiating classic strength movements with the kettlebell, that awkwardness will translate into increased levels of strength as well as resilience that you won’t find with other free-weight implements. Handling kettlebells requires significant levels of joint control and stability. This makes them extremely valuable as a tool for injury prevention. The durability you can develop from kettlebell training will not only create loads of strength and functionality, but it will also safeguard against orthopedic injuries throughout your lifetime.
But probably the most magical (and difficult!) aspect of kettlebell training is in the series of movements from which kettlebell sport training was created. These exercises are derived from the classic lifts found in the sport of Olympic-Style Weightlifting. However, in kettlebell training they are done cyclically for very high repetition counts and can take you to your cardiovascular and stamina limits. Here, we will give an introduction to the concept of cyclic repetition training, but we’ll keep you within your limits to promote good technique while you learn the movements.
Here is a series of classic strength-builders as well as a taste of cyclic high repetition exercises that will test your stamina and mental toughness.
The snatch is the quintessential fast lift with a kettlebell and comprises one of the primary events in kettlebell sport competitions. Get your lungs, shoulders, and back ready for one of the most grueling and powerful weightlifting moves out there!
– Place kettle bell in one hand at arm’s length with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart
– Begin the same hip-hinging motion described above for the KB swing
– Explosively open your hips to send the kettlebell out and up
– At approximately chest level, pull your elbow up and back and “flip” the kettlebell over to smoothly land on the back of your forearm
– As the kettlebell rotates, punch your arm straight through the kettlebell handle and guide it to arm’s length overhead with your bicep covering your ear
– Once the kettle bell is locked overhead, begin the next rep by letting the kettlebell fall and flip over your hand and back into your initial hip-hinge motion
– Absorb the force of the falling kettlebell and connect powerfully into the next rep
– Your breath should be drawn in quickly as the kettlebell falls toward your hips; then expel your air with equal force as the kettlebell explodes forward out of your hips
Complete five sets of 15-20 repetitions. For a more challenging workout try 30 seconds of snatching on your right arm followed by a 30 second rest, then commence 30 seconds of snatching on your left arm followed by 30 seconds of rest and repeat for five rounds on each arm.
Kettlebell Front Squat
The kettlebell front squat is a supremely tough squat variation as it places tremendous strain on the core and upper back musculature. This adds a powerful core connection to an already unsurpassed strength exercise choice.
-Place kettle bells in front rack position. Front rack position is where your hand is inside the kettlebell handle with the kettlebell “ball” resting (or, “racked” as the name suggests) on the top of the forearm and upper arm.
-Set your feet approximately shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly turned out
-Breath in and brace your abdominals. Also, inflate your chest to create a stable platform for the kettle bells
-Push your hips back and break at the knees simultaneously. Descend until your hips are slightly below the knees (or to whatever depth you can reach that is stable)
-Once depth is achieved, drive your legs through the floor until you are back to standing position
-Complete three sets of 8-12 repetitions before increasing kettle bell weight. Note: The repetition tempo should be slow and controlled on the “down” phase and strong and quick on the “up”.
The kettlebell press takes a classic strength builder and adds a massive trunk and shoulder stability element to it. For a strong midsection and resilient shoulders look no further!
– Place the kettlebells in Front Rack position. (as described above)
– Set feet approximately hip width apart.
– Breath in and brace abdominals and chest.
– Drive both kettlebells to an overhead position where elbows are locked and biceps cover the ears.
– Once lockout is achieved and stable, return kettlebells to slowly to front rack position.
Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
The windmill will simultaneously challenge flexibility, balance and core strength.
– Place single kettlebell in overhead position with the “ball” side resting on the back of the arm.
– Set feet approximately shoulder with apart with toes turned slightly away from ketllebell arm.
– Breath in and brace abdominals
– Push hips sideways moving toward the direction of kettlebell arm.
– While creasing to the side reach free arm in from of the closest foot and slowly feel for the floor while you descend.
– Once fingers tough the floor (or as deep as you are stable), return to standing position.
Complete 3 sets of 6-10 repetitions. Due to the extreme balance challenge all phases of all reps should be performed in a slow and controlled manner. For an added challenge to your flexibility and control, try to place unweighted palm flat on the floor before ascending to standing.
The swing is our first look at the “fast” lifts done with kettlebells. It is a necessary pre-requisite to all other fast lifts listed below.
– Stand with kettlebell hanging at arms length and feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
– Hinge your hips back and pull the kettlebell back with momentum
– Drive hips open explosively to send kettle bell forward at arms length to approximately chest level
– Allow gravity to send kettlebell down and back into hip hinge and catch and repeat
– Breath should be drawn in quickly as kettlebell falls toward hips and then expel air with equal force as kettle bell explodes forward out of hips
Complete 5 sets of 15-20 repetitions, or try 20 sec of kettlebell swings followed by 40 seconds of rest for 10 rounds for a more challenging workout.
Complete these workouts with good technique before increasing kettle bell weight.