The Top 5 Kettlebell Exercises You Should Master

If you are new to kettlebell training you may not know where to start. Below we will go over a few basic points about kettlebells and five moves you should get comfortable with.

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A kettlebell workout isn’t like other types of strength training routines you may have tried. It provides a more holistic type of exercising that targets several muscle groups at once. That makes it an excellent option if you want to optimize your physical activity if you’re pressed for time. You’ll maximize your workout for the better health benefits.

You’ll recognize many of the classic weightlifting moves with some novel differences in form and technique. You’ll also find a more functional component to these exercises that many other types of workouts lack. That fact alone sets the kettlebell apart. Let’s discuss what it involves with some great moves to get you started.

Why You Should Use a Kettlebell

The kettlebell has a long history that goes back to the days of Russian strongmen in the early 18th century. Its purpose then is the same as it is now: to build strength. But this piece of exercise equipment takes it one step further. It combines the health benefits of strength training along with ways to incorporate aerobic and flexibility workouts.

Because of that, you get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to calorie burn. You can expect about 20 calories per minute, depending on your gender and workout intensity. That puts it far above other activities like bicycling and even rollerblading. Kettlebell exercises often mimic natural movements, unlike some weight lifting machines like the shoulder press.

Kettlebell Exercises

You need to follow the same precautions with a kettlebell as you would with weights. That means proper form and technique to avoid injury. And as with any new workout, start out slow to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). You should begin with a weight that is realistic for your ability. Kettlebell exercises focus on repetitions which brings the aerobic factor into play.

You should begin with your workout with some gentle aerobic activity that focuses on the muscles in your back, hips, and legs. The routine for each of these exercises is the same. You’ll perform a few reps then take a brief rest before repeating the process again. Aim for two to three sets for each one. Then, rest before beginning the next move.

Deadlift

The deadlift targets the muscles in your lower back, hips, and knees. It will also engage your spine and upper back. It’s a basic move that is ideal for beginners to these workouts. Begin by placing a kettlebell of equal weight on your left and right sides. Bend down with your knees and grasp the weights. Then, stand up again with the kettlebells in hand with a smooth movement.

You can also perform this exercise using one kettlebell. Bend down, making sure that your knees point in the same direction as your feet. You should use your breath to help you through this exercise. Don’t hold your breath to avoid spikes in your blood pressure. Instead, inhale when you start and exhale as you lift. Breathe in again as you return to the starting position.

Two-Arm Swing

The two-arm swing or Russian swing is a foundational move which will prepare you for more challenging exercises. It’s essential to master this one first. It targets many of the same muscles as the deadlift while engaging your arms and shoulders.

You’ll need one kettlebell for this one. Start as if you were going to do a deadlift. Then, bend forward at the hip and grasp the handle of the kettlebell. Swing it forward, keeping your arms straight, and your knees slightly bent. Raise to the level of your chest, letting the pendulum movement bring it back to your body.

Farmer’s Walk

The farmer’s walk may seem like a mundane exercise, but you’ll appreciate your effort next time you have to bring in the groceries. It’s a functional movement which is a hallmark of kettlebell exercises. In addition to your back and hip, this move will also engage the muscles in your hand. It is a compound exercise that involves more than two joints.

Begin with a kettlebell on either side of you. Squat down and grasp each one. Stand up while keeping your back straight. Then, walk for a specific distance or number of laps. This exercise is harder than it sounds, especially if you walk for several minutes. Be sure to maintain proper posture as you complete this move.

Squat

The squat might not be a favorite exercise, but it certainly is a beneficial one. This move targets the muscles in your thighs. Because it is a large group, you’ll burn a lot of calories to keep up with the fuel they’ll need. You can do this exercise with one or two kettlebells. Beginners should start with one for the classic goblet squat.

Begin standing up holding a kettlebell in both your hands at chest height. Your legs should be hip distance apart. Then, exhale as you bend at your knees, making sure to keep your back straight as you lower your body. Inhale as you return to the starting position. To use two kettlebells, follow the same sequence, holding one in each hand at shoulder height.

Press

The press is another basic move that will help you build strength for other exercises such as the snatch and the clean and jerk. This one will target your shoulder and arm muscles while engaging your spine for balance. You’ll need one kettlebell. Begin standing up holding it at shoulder height with your elbow bent. Make sure your back is straight.

Extend your other arm out to your side. Then, lift the kettlebell above your head. Pause briefly at the top and lower it to the starting position. Repeat the sequence with the other arm.

Using a kettlebell is an excellent way to build strength in your shoulders, back, hips, and legs. They provide the additional benefits of functional moves that can make an impact on your everyday life. These exercises will give you a solid foundation for more complex techniques that will challenge you in many more ways.

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TFT Editorial Team

TFT Editorial Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see "TFT Editorial Team" this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.