Everybody is talking about the kettlebell. There are thousands of workouts and exercises for beginners, intermediate and advanced user.
Kettlebells are all the craze, and probably you have seem them coming to a gym near you. They are generally met with a degree of caution and confusion by the average gym goer. Those that dare to approach them will inevitably attempt to move them in the same way as a dumbbell. Hence, I have observed gym folk curling them, doing Kettlebell laterals with them and swing them around in some mighty bizarre ways! Kettlebells are an excellent strength and conditioning tool when used correctly.
This article will hopefully set you off in the right direction so as you can start using kettlebells in your training.
Here’s a beginners guide to kettlebells, kettlebells training for beginners included:
You need to knowe that there are two different types of kettlebell: cast and competition style.
Cast, as their name suggests, are literally a solid moulding and therefore change size as they increase in weight. Because there are no set criteria for these bells, there are literally hundreds of different variations. They range from very good to extremely poor in general design and quality.
The other variation, competition bells, are designed to a similar specification. These are all consistent in size and the differences in weight are all down to the degree of steel used in their construction, some are simply more solid than others. I reccomend to start with cast ones, and then move on to the competition ones!
Here’s how to start your kettlebells training:
Here is a list of exercises that you will need to master if you want your kettlebell training to start off in the right direction:
- The Swing
- The Turkish Get Up (TGU)
- The Goblet squat
- Rack Position
- The Deadlift
- The Clean
- The Press
Those are the six lifts (plus rack) that you need to master before you look at snatches or jerks or move onto double kettlebell work.
Let’s see how every exercise is done:
– The Kettlebell Swing
This is where you will master the hip hinge and learn how to use the powerful muscles of your posterior chain (Glutes, hamstrings, back extensors) to generate powerful force production to move the kettlebell in an explosive manner. It is the antithesis to all the sitting down the majority of us do all day.
How to Do:
- Place a kettlebell slightly ahead of your feet.
- Your stance should be wide enough for the kettlebell to fit easily between your legs but not too wide. It should feel very athletic.
- Then think about pushing your hips back as if sitting back on to a bench making sure that you hinge at your hips whilst maintaining a straight back position although not upright. Think about trying to touch a wall two foot behind you with your backside. Your shoulders should be back and down. You will then be in the correct starting position. If you’ve got it right then you should be feeling a stretch in your hamstrings. I like to compare the position to a wicket keeper as he is readying himself for a bowler.
- Keeping your head in a neutral position, swing the kettlebell back between your legs as if you are passing a football to someone behind you. Get a good connection with your forearms against your inner thighs and quickly reverse the direction and drive though with your hips explosively taking the kettlebell straight out to a chest high position. Concentrate on projecting the kettlebell forwards as opposed to upwards. Tighten your glutes hard as you stand upright. Really concentrate on ‘snapping’ your hips through.
- Let the kettlebell swing back between your legs under its own momentum and repeat, but make sure you really load up your hamstrings by picking up the momentum at the bottom of the swing and driving the kettlebell back between your legs, get this right and you will stand up with greater speed and power.
- Remember you are not using the deltoids to lift the kettlebell. This is primarily a hamstrings, glutes and lower back exercise. If you experience any shoulder fatigue, your technique is wrong.
– The Turkish Get Up
This excellent exercise and will relentlessly challenge shoulder stability, co-ordination, core strength, flexibility and cardio! A lot of bang for your buck with this one. For the purpose of description, I am describing a right handed TGU. You will also need to practice this movement with no weight initially.
How to Do:
- Lie on your back with a kettlebell positioned to the right of you and roll round to your right to face the kettlebell. Grasp with two hands and then roll back bringing the kettlebell to a position above your head. Once it’s steady remove the left hand. From this point on, keep the arm locked, do not take your eyes of the kettlebell and keep a strong straight wrist.
- Bend your right leg to a right angle and pull it in as close to your backside as possible. Keep the left leg straight and try to lengthen it as much as possible. Now actively pull your shoulder back into its socket by retracting your shoulder blade.
- Now Imagine you have a pole projecting out of your opposing hip, in this case the left. Sway the arm towards this pole to produce some momentum. As you do so attempt to get up on to your left elbow using abdominal strength. Get it right and it should be fairly effortless. Remember to not allow your right leg to collapse inwards as you do this, keep it strong and upright.
- Once up on your elbow, push up onto your left hand. This should be at an angle of 45 degrees to the ground.
- Now push your hips upwards as high as possible. You should have a straight line from the kettlebell right down to the opposing hand that is in contact with the floor. From this point, sweep your left leg round and back underneath you, finishing up on your knee. The knee should end up in a position whereas you are able to so perform a lunge. Then simply straighten up your body. You should now be in the lunge position. Your eyes should still be focused on the kettlebell.
- From here, squeeze the handle of the kettlebell hard. As you rise, grunt hard and maintain high intra-abdominal pressure. Stand up with the kettlebell, bringing both feet together. Lean back into the kettlebell as you stand. At this point which is the completion of the upward part of the movement, your eyes should be looking straight ahead. Pause and prepare to reverse the movement.
- To reverse, drop back down to your left knee. Then place your left hand down.
- Raise your hips and then move your left leg back to the starting position. Drop, carefully back down to a sitting position, then your elbow and finally back down to a lying position.
- From here adopt a two-arm grip on the kettlebell and roll back round on your side to release the kettlebell. Remember the lift is not completed until the kettlebell is properly rested on the ground.