If I had to pick just one piece of equipment to use for regular workouts, it would probably be a kettlebell. Sure, you can do many of the same exercises with dumbbells, but many that are specific to the “bell”. Some just feel much smoother and functional than other types of weights and will challenge your core strength and balance in a more significant way. That’s why my next tip for a healthier 2018 is….
Fit Tip #20 – Do Kettlebell Workouts
Kettlebells are one of the oldest forms of workout equipment, dating back potentially to ancient Greece, but at least back to around 1700 or earlier in Russia. In fact, kettlebell lifting is the national sport of Russia. These completely cast iron weights with handles allow you to combine strength, cardio, and mobility/flexibility like very little else can. That’s why they’re one of my go-to pieces of equipment, and that applies to myself, my younger athletic clients, and my older, less mobile clients, because they’re easy to adapt.
Kettlebells are basically a large circle or bell-like shape with a large handle on top. You’ll see them in most gyms nowadays, sometimes pure cast iron, other times coated with colored vinyl, which is mainly for floor protection and noise reduction. You’ll also see them a lot in CrossFit and World’s Strongest Man competition. However, as stated previously, lighter and smaller options can be great for exercises like squats and deadlifts with just about any age and fitness level.
Benefits of Kettlebell Training
You can use these two at a time, one-handed, upside-down, and for swinging, the latter two which don’t work with any other type of weight. Here are some other major benefits of using kettlebells:
- Improved core strength & balance
- Many options for functional, full-body exercises
- Allows for unilateral and upside-down stability training
- Improves coordination
- Combines strength training with cardio for a fat-burning, muscle building workout
- Allows for swinging and speed
- High intensity exercise which can be done in short time
- They’re fun!
I tend to incorporate kettlebells a lot because you can build strength while also getting your heart rate up high, and often you’ll hit your core pretty hard at the same time. Which means that these are a great way to help get you fit and healthy!
A kettlebell swing is a great example – this will hit your core, arms, and glutes while using a lot of effort that causes your heart rate to jump up. It can also be good for back pain and spinal decompression. Some other exercises I love them for are
- Get-ups for shoulder stability, core strength and mobility
- Single leg & regular straight leg deadlifts for hamstrings and glutes
- Goblet squats for learning squats and glute work
- Snatches for full body work and cardio
- Farmer’s carries for core strength & grip
The video below will explain some of these details and also show you 4 exercises you can do with them at the end. These exercises are a single leg deadlift with a row, goblet squat, kettlebell swing, and clean and press. Watch to see how to do them.
Try these exercises as a circuit when you’re short on time (or do several rounds for a longer, more taxing workout). You’ll hit your back, legs, shoulders and core. Go lighter if you’re just starting (10-20 lbs) and heavier if you’ve been lifting for a while or are familiar with kettlebells.
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