It’s not often that a single piece of fitness equipment is significant enough to have its very own post- but kettlebells are just that cool (and so are foam rollers, we talked about those back in September).
If you were to have just one weight- it should be a kettlebell. Why? Let’s talk about that:
First off, the weight in a kettlebell is unevenly distributed. This means that every lift is just a little bit different. Your body has to keep guessing and compensating, your muscles don’t get the opportunity to *just* rep and coast through, your body HAS to stay active and engaged throughout your entire workout. This is a really good thing- your body has a tendency to do just enough. Need to get through 20 reps with a dumbbell weight? Your muscles will figure out the least amount of energy needed for that movement by about rep 5, they may be working, but not at full potential. <- And you know what that means- a lot of effort for little payoff, or, even worse, the dreaded “plateau.” However, since kettlebells aren’t centered, all of your muscles have to work the WHOLE time. This means, if done properly, you can do more with less- more results, fewer reps.
Second, kettlebells are a bit of an all-in-one kind of tool which makes them great for living room workouts. This is especially helpful for the people who can’t make it in the gym every day, but want to continue their workouts at home. Or, similar story, people who are just in a stage of life where they can’t make it into the gym at all right now- life happens, we know this. We use kettlebells in many of our fitness classes as well. They’re a great all around weight.
Before we tell you how to use them: let’s talk about form.
The uneven distribution/makes your muscles work harder feature is great- BUT the kettlebell HAS to be used properly. Because each lift is a tiny bit different, you have to work harder to keep your form steady as well. Improper form during lifts such as the Kettlebell Swing can cause serious injury to your lower back and other muscles. You absolutely have to use those core muscles and some serious mobility skills to keep your lower back safe during kettlebell workouts.
See those three red dots on the figure? These are your three points of contact; focus on keeping these three points in line and your core engaged. Otherwise your lower back is going to feel like you spent all weekend loading a moving van.
Now, for the infamous kettlebell swing exercise: note how strong and aligned this guy’s back is! The well performed kettlebell swing movement targets your lower back , shoulders, glutes, hips, and hamstrings, all in one move. Your goals with this move are to increase power, increase muscular endurance, increase aerobic capacity (when doing higher reps with less weight), and/or increase anaerobic capacity (when performing lower reps with heavier weight, with 60-90 seconds rest between sets).
Perform the rep just like the picture shows: place the weight about a foot in front of you, grab the handle and swing the kettlebell back through your legs, then forward to a goal of shoulder height from the floor, then return the weight to the ground (being sure to maintain those three points of contact the whole time).
Want advice on other moves to do with a kettlebell weight or someone to check your form? Or maybe you need advice on weight and repetitions? Come talk to us!
We wish you good health,
Columbia Basin Racquet Club