Anyone who’s been even remotely in touch with the fitness world for the past few years, has probably experienced people raving about kettlebells. You also may have noticed that kettlebells are not only used by professional athletes but also by individuals who are new to weight training. There must be a reason everyone is incorporating kettlebells into their workouts, right?
What are the benefits of using kettlebells in your workout routine and why should you consider using them?
Kettlebells are fantastic for at-home workouts because they don’t take up very much space at all (as opposed to those thousand pound, cumbersome machines at the gym). Training with kettlebells is an efficient and economic workout that is results-driven. Kettlebells have great health benefits; the workouts promote fat loss and muscle gain. This is especially true for development of the muscles in your back, which will reduce lower back pain: an issue many of us have! And last, but definitely not least, using kettlebells reduces your overall training time.
The kettlebell is a portable tool which is relatively easy to carry around and use everywhere you go, without taking up much space. It can substitute the whole gym allowing you to save time and money. Dan John, highly accomplished power athlete and coach has famously said, “With this kettlebell in my bedroom I can prepare myself for the Nations.”
Before you start kettlebell training, you should know how to properly pick up the bell reducing the possibility of injury. If you have never used a kettlebell before, do not use explosive movements that require momentum. It is better to start with practicing hinging at your hips, without the kettlebell and then move onto adding a kettlebell.
It is vital to learn the form first and feel the kettlebell’s flow. Let’s look at a fundamental kettlebell exercise: the kettlebell swing. This exercise is a very explosive movement that requires power, speed, and balance. Above all, good form and technique are fundamental.
The kettlebell swing is a brilliant way to get a full body workout at home. It targets the muscles of the core and lower body, including glutes and hamstrings, as well as the upper body muscles, including shoulders and lats.
Before performing the kettlebell swing it’s important to practice a technique known in kettlebell training as hiking. Hiking means started from a hinged position, and using the momentum to “hike” the bell, aka using the power of the swing to bring it up to shoulder or eye level, then actively bring the bell back through the legs on the backswing. This adds load to the posterior chain, as opposed to using the upper body; and teaches the body to brace for the load and maintain tension.
Once you get the flow, you can use a lightweight kettlebell to start.
Kettlebell Swing Form Tips:
- The back is neutral, neck is slightly extended or neutral
- The heels, toes, and the ball of the feet are planted and the knees track over the toes
- While the shoulders are packed the kettlebell handle passes above the knees during the backswing
- The arms are straight in the bottom position
- The body forms a straight line on the top of the swing; the hips and knees extend fully, the spine is neutral
- Match the biomechanical aspect of movement and the breathing
- The abs and glutes visibly contract at the top of the swing.
Try doing 3 – 5 sets of 10 reps.
Kettlebells can help you to achieve your fitness goals whether you want to lose fat, build muscle, or improve lower back strength.
With kettlebell training you can improve fat loss because of the enormous versatility, which provides an increased calorie burn. Additionally, this style of training will help you increase metabolism by creating dense muscle mass. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that you could burn, 20.2 calories per minute by performing a swing, which is “off the charts” and equivalent to running a 6-minute mile. So, if you are looking to burn fat, the kettlebell swing could be the best choice for high intensity interval training.
If your goal is to build muscle mass, kettlebell training is for you. It can help you improve core strength due to the constant need to engage the core muscles. Performed properly, kettlebells work stabilization muscle fiber and prevents muscle imbalance by working your muscles evenly. Dr. Krayevskiy, the father of kettlebells, took up training at the age of forty-one and twenty years later, he was said to look fresher and healthier than at forty.
Anyone who wants to build physical strength and resilience should challenge oneself with kettlebell workouts. Kettlebell bracing is superior for spinal stability, and too, strengthens back muscles by conditioning the muscles both statically and dynamically. Consequently, kettlebell exercises improve low back strength through engagement of posterior muscles when performed with proper form.
Kettlebell training allows you to reduce overall training time. Because kettlebell training fires up multiple muscle groups at once with ballistic movement. Ballistic movement is defined as "...muscle contractions that exhibit maximum velocities and accelerations over a very short period of time." Ballistic movements exhibit high firing rates, high force production, and very brief contraction times. That helps the body to move as one functional unit. It involves maximum reps done for time, so doing a Kettlebell swing allows you to work on your total body getting cardiovascular training, muscular endurance and strength. With ballistic movement, you will build muscle, lose fat and get stronger in as little as a 30 min workout.