For centuries people have been working out using all sorts of things as weights and other equipment. From rocks and pieces of wood to vibrating bands that were used to shake away the fat, all these types of fitness enhancers had its purpose. Now, this article is not about forcing you into purchasing expensive, brand new equipment, but merely showing you the possibilities of the potential ways to use equipment you might have access to. Whether you go to a gym or workout at home these exercises can be done with one piece of equipment, the kettle bell. For those of you that do not know what a kettle bell is, think of the circus strong man that used a heavy weight with a handle.
Kettle bells have been around for centuries allowing people to increase strength and mobility. Finding this useful item has become very easy in the recent years. You can find kettle bells anywhere from the 99 cents only store to online at amazon. Finding the best deal is always important when building your home gym. There are different styles in material and shape, as well as weight. If you do not have a clue where to start follow these guidelines to get started.
If you are a beginner starting with 5lbs. will ease you into working with a kettle bell. You can either choose from a cast-iron kettle bell, steel, or a heavy-duty plastic style. Some are vinyl coated, color coated and different thickness of handles. Now I know this seems overwhelming and the fact that there are so many options you might think you need several to complete a workout, but having one or two will do the job. Choose one that fits your grip and choose a weight that challenges you, but does not break you.
Now once you have chosen what style and weight works for you, it is time to get started with the workout. Below you will find several exercises that will help you utilize this piece of equipment as well as build strength and flexibility. Follow the exercises in order or mix it up using other exercises. Whatever you choose make sure to take your time and breathe.
Kettle bell Swings: One of the most well known exercises utilizing this piece of equipment is kettlebell swings. This activity targets a lot of the body’s muscles, such as hamstrings, quads, lower back, buttocks, shoulders, lower abdominals, and hips. So, you can say this might be categorized as a full body exercises and for the most part it is. It hits all the muscles we often try to increase. To perform this exercise start with a weight that is challenging for most beginners a 10lb. kettle bell will add enough challenge but can also make it so it does not kill you. Stand with feet a little wider than hip width apart. Squat down bending at your knees while keeping posture in an up right position, while keeping a neutral spine. Swing the kettlebell up off the floor with arms extend throughout the exercise and thrust your hips forward using the momentum to swing the kettlebell up above your head. In one continuous motion allow the weight of the kettlebell, well maintaining control, to bring your arms down and into a squat position to complete one repetition. A few things to remember do not lock out or hyperextend your elbows and knees while performing this exercise. Control your movements by activating your core muscles as well as a fully body activation. As mentioned this exercise is a full body exercise.
Upright Rows: There are two variations to target different muscles both will be explained. If you are looking to utilize your time and effort adding a squat to the upright row can target shoulders, trapezius, quads and glutes. To perform the squat upright row start with feet a little wider than hip width apart and arms extend out. Squat down with chest up and grab kettlebell with hands as you press through your feet to a full standing position, keep shoulders back and down while lifting the kettlebell with both hands up to your chin, while lifting elbows up toward the sky. Keep your chin and chest up with good posture. Release the kettlebell down and arms straight while squatting down back into the starting position. The other variation is exactly the same as the squat variation, but without the squat. Stand with a neutral spine, shoulders back and down with arms straight down holding the kettlebell with both hands. Activate your core muscles and pull up the kettlebell to your chin with shoulders pointed up. Release arms back down into an extended position. Complete 15-20 repetitions and complete 3 sets. Using this activity with the same weight in a circuit training style will definitely burn calories and build muscle.
Straight Leg Deadlift: This exercise will make your hamstring burns along with your glutes and back. This is definitely targeted for your lower body, but it will also make that lower back stronger. To perform this exercise stand with feet hip width apart while holding the kettlebell with two hands with straight arms. Remember to keep a slight bend in your knee. Anytime you are doing any type of exercise when your legs are involved, do not ever lock your knees out this can be detrimental to your knees and possibly cause injury. As you stand with proper posture bend at the waist while pushing hips back without bending knees. Keep spine inline and arms straight as you reach the kettlebell down to ground, trying to tap the bottom of the kettlebell down on the floor. Tighten up trunk muscles and activate hamstrings to come up to standing while thrusting hips forward and tightening up your glutes. This completes one repetition. The goal is to complete 10-15 reps.
Glute Bridge: Since we are on the topic of glutes, this next exercise will have you feeling the burn in those glutes along with strengthening your core. To perform this exercise lie down on your back with legs bent and feet planted firmly into the ground hip width apart. Place the kettlebell on your lower ab and pelvic region by holding the weight in place with both hands. Start by thrusting hips up squeezing glutes at the top and lower down slowly to the starting position for one rep. Complete 20 reps to feel the effect.
Seated Halos: So, after killing our legs it’s time to work your arms again. This activity includes using our shoulders, chest, and triceps and by being in a seated position we work our trunk. Start in a seated position with legs extended in front of you with slightly bent knees. Remember posture is key in every exercise and there is no exception here. Sit in an upright position with core muscles engaged. Grip the kettlebell on each side of the handle with bottom (weight) side up. Start with the kettlebell in front of your face and rotate weight around your head, keeping the weight closely to your head and elbows in. When the weight reaches back to the front of your face, you have completed one repetition in one direction. To complete the exercise, rotate in the other direction. Complete around 10 rotations in each direction and set your goal to 2-3 sets. Be cautious not to hit yourself in the head. This exercise requires body control and muscle activation. Keeping your core engage helps with stability and assist with the movement.
Using this one piece of equipment can make your routine more effective in many ways. These are only a few exercises the kettle bell can be used for. Use these exercises in a circuit style training to really get the heart pumping. Add cardio such as squat jumps, burpees, mountain climbers or box jumps. Any of these options or all can be added to complete the circuit. Remember to always take your time when working with weights for the first time. Always perform each exercise with caution and care. Listen to your body it will help you decide when you are reaching your limits. Drink plenty of water and remember to stretch.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
While studying kinesiology, Amber Arevalos received her certification in nutrition and personal training. After spending 7 years in a sports medicine and physical therapy office, she pursued a career in nutrition while maintaining her passion for yoga and physical fitness. She adapted her skills learned through being a collegiate athlete, and uses her abilities to guide those looking to enhance their health.
Helping her clients reach there goals through nutrition and physical fitness is only part of what Amber has to offer. Having experience in assisting a wide variety of clientele, Amber has gained knowledge through her own journey as well as learning from those she works with. It’s never to late to regain your health!