Kettlebell Exercise

Kettlebell exercises have become increasingly popular as a weight loss tool over the past several years.  There are good reasons for this.  First, many of the kettlebell exercises recruit multiple muscles.  In doing so, you get a very efficient muscle-building and fat-burning workout.  Second, with the unique shape of a kettlebell, they lend themselves to different exercises that challenge your muscles in a different way.  It is always a good idea to change up your workouts every 6-8 weeks to "confuse" your muscles.  Third, they are extremely simple to use.  The most basic of exercises with kettlebells can be learned in just minutes.  Plus, if you can think of a movement in your daily life (starting a lawn mower, putting items on a shelf above you, twisting & turning) you can simulate/enhance those movements with a kettlebell.  There are a number of other good reasons to use these nifty pieces of equipment.  Click here to learn more.

Kettlebell Exercise History

According to Wikipedia.....

Kettlebells were developed in Russia in the 1700s, primarily for weighing crops. It is said that these farmers became stronger and found them useful for showing off their strength during festivals. The Soviet army used them as part of their physical training and conditioning programs in the 20th century. They had been used for competition and sports throughout Russia and Europe since the 1940s.

Kettlebell Exercise Examples

As I mentioned above, kettlebells are simple to learn how to use.  Once you master the basics, the sky is the limit in terms of the exercises that you can do with them.  I will list a few basics and then some of the more advanced movements that can be done.

Basics Movements

The Swing - This is the most basic of all the movements and many of the more advanced movements are built upon this.  Place yourself in an athletic position (knees bent, back straight) with the bell in both hands hanging between your legs.  Thrust upward aggressively with the bell bringing it up so your arms are horizontal to the floor.  Tighten your gluteal and thigh muscles to support the thrust (recruitment of hips, thighs, arms, shoulders, back and hands).  Lower in a controlled fashion and repeat.  Add heavier bells or reps as you get stronger.

Overhead Swing - Similar to the Swing, but the bell is raised above the head before lowering.

Slingshot - Done with a single bell...stand upright with our legs together, pass the bell around your body and "hand it off" to your other hand so you complete a full circle around your body (imaging the basketball drill where the ball is doing the same thing). 

More Advanced Movements

Slingshot Figure 8 - Similar to the Slingshot, partially squat and pass the bell in a figure-8 pattern between your legs.

Snatch - Can be done with one or two bells.  Start with the bell(s) on the ground between your bent legs.  Explode into a Swing motion bringing the bell above your head and hold it there stable.  Then lower to the ground and repeat.

Squats (with a number of variations) - Hold a bell in each hand in what is known as the "rack position" (bell resting on your forearm with elbows bent against your chest/ribs).  Squat so your thighs are parallel to the floor (adjust as your health and conditioning allow).  Vary by adding an overhead press as you stand back up or as you come down to the squat position.

For many more movements, see Wikipedia's page or see YouTube for videos of the exercises.

As you can see, there are so many uses for kettlebells.  This alone makes them a very effective and economical tool for strength training and weight loss.  They can be used by beginners and advanced lifters alike.  They come in a variety of sizes, colors and coatings.  I highly recommend adding a few (or several) to your equipment list.

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