5 Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 09, Jan 2014
After finishing my cardio training this morning, I headed toward the Captain’s chair for some abs workout. Did the first set, then this elder man, looking very serious and worried, came closer and asked me why am I doing abs workouts, if there’s no belly fat going on there?
I replied that today was abs day, and I was happy to see him doing crunches and lateral bends as well. There’s nothing better than staying active and feeling completely sore, in the morning, from yesterday’s workout.
And when it comes to physical activities, there’s always a way where there’s a will, whether you’re an elder person, an overweight one, an extremely busy individual working 24/7 or a beginner who wants to get in shape or sculpt a toned and strong body.
I already gave you some workout suggestions in the HIIT and CrossFit articles, so if you lack ideas, you can always find high intensity interval training and CrossFit routines online, and it’s a nice way to get started. Still, if you’re the type of person who’d rather spend their free time on the couch than do anything cardio-related, here’s another recommendation: kettlebell workouts.
Why should you try kettlebell exercises?
1. They were invented by Russians, so you’ll get strong, really strong.
2. Kettlebells are extremely versatile and unlike dumbbells, they change their center of gravity during the routines, so they require more force and coordination from your muscles. For this reason, the kettlebell training is classified as functional fitness, this term being used for exercises that mimic movements done in our daily activities.
The kettlebell is a heavier replacement for the grocery bag or overstuffed briefcase. It is harder to handle than the classical dumbbells, because of its shape, so during a workout session you’ll burn more calories, work more muscle groups, build more power and strengthen your upper and lower body at the same time.
The exercises are pretty similar to those involving dumbbells, but there are also new movements so you can create complex and entertaining workouts. Moreover, your core will be constantly under an increased load, so if you want stronger abs and back muscles, this is definitely a must try.
3. Working out isn’t only for people who want to bulk up or lose weight. You can be fit and healthy and still do your daily workouts, as once you start, they become your lifestyle! So if your purpose is to tone up, kettlebells are a good choice, as long as you stick with lighter weights.
If you want to put on mass and build pumped muscles, go for heavier kettlebells, and if you want to drop weight, incorporate these cute fitness tools into your HIIT session. I’m sure you’ll love them, even if you’re the type of person whose only workout is lifting the kettle for pouring tea or coffee in their favorite cup before heading to office.
Was weight loss among your New Year’s Resolutions? Replace the kettle with a kettlebell and don’t stop until you’re done with the 5 exercises below!
This is a basic movement everyone should try when starting with kettlebells. Put your hands on the handle, keep your feet hip width apart and bend your knees. Hinge from your hips to swing the weight between your legs, then bring it toward your chin. Keep the momentum in the swing and repeat for 1 minute.
Tip: involve your glutes and lower body, instead of doing the movement from your shoulders, as this will burn more calories and work your muscles more efficiently.
2. Single arm squat
To perform the kettlebell squat correctly, you need to start in the rack position: your right elbow should be by your side, the weight in front of the right shoulders and the palm facing in. Hips should be pushed back and knees bent, in a typical squat position.
From here, you can simply lower your thighs and glutes and stand back up, or squat, lower the kettlebell below your right knee, then stand and curl the weight to your chest, allowing it to rotate toward your right side. Repeat for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Tip: you can replace this exercise with kettlebell sumo squats.
3. Shoulder press
Start standing or in the rack position, with the weight in your right hand, or grab the kettlebell with both hands. If you’re doing the press standing, push the weight straight overhead and slowly lower it back down, to the initial position. If you’re starting in the rack position, lower into a squat, then straighten your legs and press the right arm overhead. Return to the rack position and repeat for 30 seconds on each side.
These are done like regular lunges, but you’ll start from the rack position and grab the kettlebell with your right hand, lunging for 30 seconds for each side. To make it a bit tougher, you can do walking lunges, and twist between steps.
5. Kettlebell windmill
The windmill is excellent for your core and shoulders. Start with the kettlebell overhead, feet apart as seen in the picture and keep the right arm straight. Push your hips to the right and slide the left hand down the left leg, just like you do in regular windmills. Then reverse, return to the starting position and repeat for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat for another 30 seconds.
This workout can be done at home and the only piece of equipment is a kettlebell. Also, the movements are basic and target all your major muscles, so until you get more used to this form of training, you can stick with simpler exercises.
Repeat each exercise three times and limit the breaks between sets to 10-15 seconds, to keep your heart rate elevated and force your body to burn more calories. The routine above shouldn’t take you more than 25 minutes, even if you never worked with a kettlebell before.
Ready to give it a try? Good luck and sore muscles!