If your workout is starting to feel stale, it might be time to incorporate some new moves. Have you tried kettlebells?
Whether you’re hoping to refresh your at-home workout with anew piece of equipment or just brush up on your strength training, we love that kettlebells are a surefire way to elevate gains.
Kettlebells have beenused for strength training over the past few centuries, and for good reason — this versatile piece of equipment makes it easy to workout far beyond the gym. If you’re looking for something that can challenge your body, is easy to transport, and even easier to incorporate into your workout, look no further than the kettlebell.
What Are Kettlebells?
Kettlebells are weights that are made up of a bell — a ball-shaped weight — and a handle that is connected to the weight by the “horns.” Kettlebells are different from dumbbells in that the center of gravity is offset, whereas dumbbells are equally weighted.
This gives the kettlebell more versatility. It can be grasped by the handle, horns, or bell end. The many ways you can grip a kettlebell make it perfect for squats, rows, swings, and much more.
The Benefits of Using Kettlebells
No matter where you are in your fitness journey, a great kettlebell provides you with plenty of workout benefits, including:
Improved Muscle Activation
The off-centered quality of the kettlebell offers you the benefit of increased muscle activation — so you can make the most of your strength training workouts. Kettlebells also require stricter form than their dumbbell counterparts — meaning you’ll need to focus harder during a kettlebell workout. With better form and muscle activation, you’ll see faster results.
Especially in exercises that require you to use your entire body to lift the weight from the floor to overhead — like a press and snatch. You'll elevate not only the demand on your muscles but the demand on your heart. Because of this, kettlebells can serve as an elemental piece of equipment in your fitness program. From squats to overhead presses, the kettlebell can quickly help you ramp up your at-home workouts.
A Stronger Core
Beyond better form, kettlebells are a powerful tool when it comes to firing up your core muscles. Your core will need to be squeezed tightly to avoid leaning or misaligning your ribcage during overhead lifts. When you execute swings, squeezing your core will help stabilize your back muscles and protect your spine.
Better Grip Strength
The shape of the kettlebell, paired with the offset weight, requires your hand, fingers, and forearms to do more work than they would with a dumbbell — all of which promote greater grip strength. Athletes of all kinds can benefit from improved grip strength in both their cardio and strength training regimens.
One of the most appealing qualities of the kettlebell is its portability. Whether you’re looking to work out in your living room, on your patio, in the park, or at the beach, the kettlebell can go with you practically anywhere. Unlike dumbbells, you only need one or two kettlebells to build a great workout program.
How to Use Kettlebells in Your Workout
When you invest in great kettlebells, there is no shortage of ways to incorporate them into your workout — from start to finish. Try using kettlebells in a variety of ways, including:
In Your Warm-Up
No matter where you are in your fitness journey,a thorough warm-up is essential to avoiding injury and muscle imbalances. If you’re not looking to overhaul your entire workout program with kettlebells just yet, your warm-up is a great place to get started.
For weightlifters, using a kettlebell during your warm-up is a great way to enhance mobility and practice the grip exchanges you need to perform perfect barbell lifts. Without the extra weight, you can focus on form and maintaining proper technique before lifting heavy.
For example, kettlebells are the perfect addition to a pre-workout goblet squat, overhead press, or light swing to warm up your entire body.
During Your Full-Body Strength Training
Kettlebells lend themselves to workouts that cover all major muscle groups. To achievea total body workout with your kettlebell, make sure to incorporate the major strength-building motions, including:
In Your Circuit Training
If you love using kettlebells during your warm-up and strength training, consider building a full cardio andstrength training circuit using your kettlebells! To get started, you can add them between barbell sets or overhaul your barbell workout program.
7 Basic Kettlebell Workouts
If you’re just getting started with beginner kettlebells, try these basic kettlebell workouts to fire up your body from head to toe:
1. Goblet Squat
To achievea goblet squat with your kettlebell:
- Start by holding the kettlebell by the horns.
- Open your chest by squeezing your shoulder blades together and downward.
- Don’t forget to tuck your elbows — your forearms should be perpendicular to the ground.
- Turn out your feet, and stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Breathe in — think about filling your belly with air.
- Drive your feet into the ground and squat.
- Keep your torso upright throughout.
- Only squat as low as you can without creating an undercurve with your tailbone.
- Squeeze your glutes and breathe out as you return to your starting position.
2. Overhead Press
To complete a one-armedoverhead press with your kettlebell:
- Start by standing tall.
- Hold the kettlebell by the handle at your shoulder level.
- Drive your feet into the floor.
- Breathe into your belly while engaging your glutes and core muscles.
- Make sure your chest is open and you are standing tall with a straight spine.
- Press the weight overhead — keep your abs and glutes engaged as you breathe out.
- Be aware of any arch in your back or flare in your ribs. Both are signs of improper form.
- Keep your gaze straight ahead to avoid hitting yourself with the weight!
- Slowly lower the kettlebell back to the starting position.
Don’t worry about achieving a fully straightened arm right away. Instead, focus on your form. You may only reach a 90-degree angle with your arm — which is a great place to start! If you’re having trouble lifting the kettlebell with proper form, try afloor press instead. A floor press is similar to a bench press but completed with one arm. Once you’ve finished your set, repeat on the other side.
3. One-Arm Row
To utilize a kettlebell for yourone-arm row:
- Place your kettlebell on the floor and stand in a staggered stance.
- Fold at the hips so that your back is at a 45-degree angle.
- Rest your elbow on your front leg. For example, if your right leg is forward, rest your right elbow on your right knee.
- Reach for the kettlebell with your opposite hand.
- Fill your belly with a deep breath and open your chest.
- Squeeze your core muscles and row the weight back.
- Aim the weight for your hip.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the motion while breathing out.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Once you’ve finished your set, repeat on the other side.
4. Chest-Loaded Swing
Thanks to YouTube and social media, kettlebell swings are perhaps the most popular exercise to do with a kettlebell. However, you should always exercise caution when trying swings. They require precise technique and careful training. To achieve abeginning kettlebell swing:
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Grab the kettlebell by the horns, and pull the bell towards your chest.
- Open your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Think about looking at a spot on the floor about 10 feet in front of you to keep a straight spine.
- Drive your feet into the ground as you take a deep breath.
- Hinge your body at the hips, as you would with a deadlift.
- Keep your spine long.
- Squeeze your glutes and tuck your tailbone under as you return to the starting position.
This kettlebell swing — though not as flashy as others — is the perfect place for kettlebell beginners to start. This exercise, when done correctly, helps you build the form you need to achieve more complex swings.
The deadlift is an essential part of any kettlebell workout. To properly executea classic kettlebell deadlift:
- Place the kettlebell on the floor.
- Stand directly over your kettlebell with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees and hinge at the hips.
- Drive your feet into the floor as you bend over to grab the kettlebell.
- Grasp the kettlebell handle with both hands.
- Open your chest and engage your core muscles.
- Think about setting your gaze a few feet ahead of you on the ground.
- Breathe into your belly.
- As you drive your heels down, squeeze your glutes and lift to a standing position.
- Slowly lower down to your starting position.
One of the most important benefits of the kettlebell workout is learning how to activate your muscles and use proper form. That is where thekettlebell halo comes in! This exercise is perfect for building core strength and learning how to manipulate the kettlebell with confidence. To properly achieve the halo:
- Start by standing shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the kettlebell upside-down and by the horns.
- Drive your feet into the ground, think about lowering your ribcage, and open up your chest.
- Slowly draw a halo around your head with the kettlebell.
- Move slowly to avoid hitting your head and face!
- Maintain a strong core and good posture throughout.
- Draw full circles and alternate directions each time
7. Half Get-Up
Another great beginning exercise to master is the half get-up. While your goal might be to executethe Turkish get-up, the half get-up is a great place to start without risking injury. Even better,the half-get-up still offers incredible core strengthening benefits. To perfect the half-get-up:
- Lie with your back on the floor and hold the kettlebell by its horns.
- Place one foot flat on the ground while leaving the other extended.
- Take a deep breath and fill your belly.
- While engaging your core muscles, lift the kettlebell toward the ceiling with one arm.
- Perform a sit-up by following your kettlebell upwards.
- Use your opposite arm to help push off from the ground.
- Once you’ve lifted your torso to a 45-degree angle, you can return to the starting position.
- Once you’ve mastered the first half of the exercise, you can drive your hips from the ground to complete a half plank before lowering down to your starting position.
Choosing a Kettlebell
When choosing a kettlebell, there are several factors to consider. For example, you’ll want to select a kettlebell that is the appropriate weight for your fitness level. Another important consideration is grip width — choose one that fits comfortably in your hand to avoid burning out your grip. Great kettlebell products to consider include:
Vinyl kettlebells provide you with the boost in cardio and strength training you need — with added protection for your at-home gym floor. Vinyl kettlebells are available in a wide range of weights and grip widths.
With an appealing matte black finish, cast iron kettlebells provide a classic kettlebell look that many athletes love. These kettlebells feature top-notch grips that hold chalk well during your workout. Cast iron kettlebells come in a variety of weights and grip-widths to match your workout needs.
If you’re building an at-home gym, a kettlebell rack is the perfect way to keep your growing kettlebell collection organized and out of the way of pets and children.
Need Help Finding the Perfect Kettlebell?
If you need assistance picking out the best kettlebell to build your home gym, thefitness equipment experts atG&G Fitness can help. Whether you’re looking tobuild a home gym from the ground up or simply add a new piece of equipment, G&G Fitness will connect you with the perfect product —contact us today!