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11 Workouts You Can Do With a Kettlebell
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never set foot in a gym before or if you live and breathe workout culture – a kettlebell workout will benefit you either way. Unlike some forms of exercise, which depend on skill level, the kettlebell is for everybody.
However, not everybody knows the ins and outs of this piece of equipment or the correct way to utilize it. That’s where your friends at Jack City Fitness come in. Plenty of our coaches swear by kettlebell workouts, and are thrilled to show our partners just how much can be accomplished with this simple tool.
What Is a Kettlebell, Exactly?
Before we delve into the different types of kettlebell workouts, let’s cover the basics.
A kettlebell is made from either cast iron or steel. Around the size of a bowling ball or cannonball, this hefty piece of equipment always features a large handle. Its distinctive shape creates unevenly distributed weight, which allows for effective, specialized movement – and works out multiple muscles at once. The kettlebell is particularly popular for workouts that require explosive moments. Generally, athletes work with a kettlebell to gain strength and improve their endurance levels.
The kettlebell actually began life in Russia, under the name girya – back in the 18th century, it was a popular circus prop utilized by “strongmen.” Its popularity spread across Europe and eventually reached the English-speaking world, where it took on the name “kettlebell.”
Today, people are far more likely to see a kettlebell at the gym than in a circus big top – and it’s a much more versatile piece of equipment than you may think. The kettlebell lends itself to all kinds of exercises and routines, no matter what your experience or fitness level may be. You’ll build strength, burn calories, and optimize your workout. Plus, there’s no handlebar mustache or striped romper required.
Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners
Yes, beginners can absolutely engage in kettlebell workouts! Some gym newbies might find that the kettlebell is actually easier and more enjoyable to use than traditional dumbbells or hand weights. Because of the unique weight distribution of the kettlebell, you will have a different range of motion than you would with other weights. Just be sure to go easy on yourself in the beginning – there’s no reason to lift heavier weights than you can manage. Most beginners do well with a starting weight of 10-15 pounds.
There are plenty of kettlebell exercises that are suitable for beginners, but we’ve narrowed it down to five.
Squats are a classic workout for any athlete. Though they can, of course, can be performed without weights, many choose to include a kettlebell in their squat routine. Doing squats with a heavy ball in tow will add increased resistance and work your muscles.
To properly perform this squat, grab your kettlebell by the sides and hold it to your chest. Plant your feet on the floor shoulder-width apart and allow your toes to turn outward a bit. Drop your bottom and bend at your hips and knees into a squat in a fluid motion, keeping your kettlebell at your chest. Use the power from your heels to propel yourself back up to the starting pose.
The secrets to kettlebell swings? According to trainer Jessica Sims, the biggest keys are to engage your bum muscles and use your hips to swing the kettlebell, not your arms.
To perform this swing, use both your hands to grab the handle of your kettlebell. Stand with your feet planted apart and knees slightly bent. Lean forward from the hips and it’s swing time. Allow the kettlebell to curve between your legs. Return to an upright position – your hip movement should help you bring the ball back up to chest level.
We love this particular exercise – it’s not only incredibly effective, but it’s fun to perform! Even the name makes us smile.
To perform a flutter kick, put out a yoga mat and lay on your back. Hold your kettlebell from the bottom using both hands. Lift it so that the weight is just over your shoulders. Then, peel your shoulders and the upper portion of your torso off the mat. After that, you can slightly raise your legs and begin to alternately kick them in a “flutter” motion.
Want to work on core strength and work your chest and shoulders at the same time? Try the halo. Begin in a standing pose with your feet planted shoulder width apart. Grab your kettlebell by the handle and flip it upside-down so the ball is facing upwards. Hold it to your chest. Then, lift it up to your face and, working towards your left, move it around your head while also revolving it – the handle should be face-down when it reaches the back of your noggin. Repeat on the other side.
This simple exercise is a great way to work your abs and core muscles. It also uses a second piece of equipment – a box, step, or even just a chair or stool can do the trick. The key is to use something that will allow your knee to bend at a 90-degree angle when you step up.
To perform these steps, grip your kettlebell by the handle to your chest. Using your left foot, step up onto the box. Bring your right knee up to your chest. Step back down one leg at a time, then switch legs and repeat.
Kettlebell Exercises for Mid-Level Athletes
If you’ve graduated from beginner status but aren’t ready to call yourself a pro, there are still plenty of kettlebell exercises to keep you on the path to glory.
Kettlebell Push Press
There are lots of presses in the world of fitness, but the kettlebell push press is one of our favorites. It’s a great way to build up your arm muscles, and it’s just plain impressive – instead of one kettlebell, this exercise uses two!
To perform the kettlebell push press, stand on the floor with your feet planted a shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell (by the handles) in each hand, with your palms facing outwards and your arms bent enough that the weights are at your shoulders. Bend your knees slightly and come back upright, lifting the kettlebells over your head as you do so – keep those arms straight when you do this. Gently bring your hands back down to the starting position and repeat.
Sure, we’ve all done push-ups before, but what about kettlebell push-ups? This two-kettlebell workout is a lot of fun to practice, is a super effective way to work your body, and is sure to impress your gym buddies, too.
To perform these pumped-up push-ups, grab two kettlebells and place them on a yoga mat or towel (you don’t want them slipping). Then, grip the handle of each kettlebell and perform push-ups the same way that you normally would.
If you’ve mastered the kettlebell swing, it’s time to try a figure 8.
Plant your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Hold the handle of your kettlebell with one hand. Slightly bend your knees and move your hips forward slightly to pass the kettlebell through your legs. Grab it with your free hand from behind your body. Return to standing while bringing the weight to your chest. Draw your other hand to the kettlebell to keep it stable and safe.
Kettlebell Exercises for Pros
You’ve done the work and now you’re a fitness pro. However, even the most experienced athletes benefit from learning new workouts and training tips.
Presumably named for all the heavy lifting required in a barn, the Farmers Walk is a deceptively simple exercise – it’s easy to learn, but takes a lot of strength and skill to perform.
To try the Farmer’s Walk, grab two kettlebells and hold them each by the handle, with your arms straight down. Engage your core, stand up nice and tall, tuck those shoulders back, and get into the best posture you can manage. Take several steps forward, then turn around and walk back. Small steps are better here.
Hoping to bring new strength to your delts and triceps? The overhead press is a great way to do this. The key is starting in a proper rack position; hold the kettlebell firmly by the handle across your palm, close to your engaged core. Make sure your posture is flawless before you begin; that’s the ticket to a proper rack.
Seated Russian Twist
This exercise is also called the “Kettlebell Kayaker.” Whatever name you use, the concept remains the same. This workout will do wonders for your core muscles, as well as your obliques.
Sit on the floor or your yoga mat and bring your knees up to a 90-degree angle. Have a kettlebell next to you, ready to go. Rock backwards while lifting your feet off the mat; only your sit bones should be touching the ground. Grab the kettlebell with both hands and lift it over your abdomen. Tap the kettlebell to the floor on each side of your body; you should move your shoulders along with this movement, but keep your hips and legs stock still. Be sure that your core is engaged this entire time and that your posture is upright and straight.
Maybe you’d like to try some kettlebell exercises with a dedicated coach. Excellent. Perhaps you’d prefer a different style of strengthening and muscle-toning workout. That’s great, too. The truth is, when you come to Jack City Fitness, the workout world is your oyster.
At Jack City Fitness, athletes are a part of a larger family and community. To us, the athletes who come into our fitness centers and work with our coaches are much more than members – they’re our partners. And being a Jack City partner will open your world up in ways you didn’t even imagine.
Curious? Give us a call or drop us a line! We’d be delighted to chat with you about your fitness history and goals – in fact, we’d rather discuss that with you in person. That’s why we invite all of our potential partners to come and visit us at our Boise fitness center. Onsite, we can really get to know you and learn about your fitness needs and goals. We’ll also invite you to tour our facility, try out a free fitness consultation, and even take a sneak peek at some of our workout classes. Once you’ve signed up, all of those classes are at your disposal. You’ll get 24/7 gym access, as well as the opportunity to work with any of our coaches, either in fitness or nutrition. We also offer custom options, like online workout sessions as well as training for sports teams or small groups.
Ready to be the kettlebell champion and the strongest version of yourself? We can’t wait to help make that a reality. Call (208) 999-1111 today to come and see what you’re truly made of!