Kettlebells Are Your Best Friend
Depending on how long you have been active in the fitness community, you may have heard of Kettlebells. I honestly have never met a piece of equipment that is as functional as it is compact. If you are tired of the same old gym routine of barbells and dumbbells then I think it is time to give Kettlebells a try. These horned cannonballs will give you a run for your money no matter what level of fitness you are at. I talk about building strength and conditioning often, but these are a key to my current fitness routine.
More Than Just Swings
If you have ever seen anyone use a kettlebell or have used on yourself then you may have seen the classic Kettlebell swing. There are even a few variations of that one simple movement. The American Swing, which allows you to go overhead and achieve a full range of motion. As a helpful tip doing kettlebell swings helps familiarize you with Kettlebell weight and coordination. The swing is something you should do to begin your kettlebell mastery. Most fitness programs do not even scratch the surface of Kettlebell work. Most of what we see in those programs is Swings and more swings. Maybe you will have snatches and clean and presses programmed in, but we have mostly seen swings.
Kettlebell mastery is the same as barbell mastery. It takes time, effort, and a little bit of coaching. Which is why we mainly see swings. I mean think about how long it took you to understand the snatch with a barbell. It will take a similar amount of time with the kettlebell. Cleans and Snatches share the same basic principles, but the kettlebell sits in different areas. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is very easy to get injured from holding the Kettlebell wrong.
Over time in our workout lives we tend to favor one muscle or one side. Barbell work does not really help balance you out as much as you might think. A kettlebell will show you your weaknesses and help to fix them. You might have a shoulder mobility issue that does not stand out until you use a piece of equipment that tests that side. A kettlebell will balance you out while also helping coordination. Always remember that a proper warm up needs to be in full effect before starting a workout. Warm muscles are safe muscles.
Let's Talk Exercises
From metcons to strength sessions the Kettlebell has you covered. We cannot stress enough how convenient the Kettlebell is. Small and heavy speaks to us in a way nothing else can. Don't get us wrong we love Barbells, but kettlebells are so sweet. Remember what I said about Kettlebell swings? Well those are a great exercise, but there are many more. Some you have have not heard of, or maybe you have.
Bottoms Up Press: This exercise will test your grip strength and start building up healthier shoulders. Typically it is done at a light weight. You essentially grab the horns and point the Kettlebell towards the ceiling while keeping a 90 degree bend in your elbow.
Halos: Grab the horns of the kettlebell on each side. Keep it near your face and rotate the kettlebell around your head. Rinse and repeat and go both ways to ensure muscle balance.
Slingshots/ Hip Halos: We have heard this called by many names. All your doing is keeping your body straight and swinging the kettlebell around your body switching hands as the kettlebell passes your back. Just think of it as trying to create a force field with a Kettlebell.
There are a plethora of exercises out there, but those will give you a great base to begin with whether you are new or a seasoned veteran. You can never have too much variety in your equipment use.
Many of our barbell veterans may be thinking. Why use a Kettlebell for cleans or deadlifts when a barbell is more effective. That is a fair point to make, but consider this. Why do we do accessory work in the first place? If you are a lover of barbells we are not trying to convince you to turn your back on them, they are great pieces of equipment. Think of the kettlbell as a different way to supplement your training, it's a more practical and functional way of doing accessory work. If you plateaued on a lift you might be lacking strength in one area of your body that a kettlebell will help target or find. Everyone has a weak body part the trick is finding out which one. For me it is my left shoulder that is normally the case for most people. Kettlebell work has helped balance it out and strengthen the shoulder joint while also building up my conditioning. I honestly do not see a drawback.
Learn Something New
Knowing how to use many pieces of equipment is always a great idea. If you are stuck in a rut in your current fitness routine using a new piece of equipment is the best way to get back into a good rhythm. Routines are great, but they can have their own drawbacks. A new piece of equipment can be anything, it does not have to be a kettlebell. We just reccomend it because we love that specific piece of equipment. As always pick three movement and make an AMRAP out of them. It does not have to be anything complex.
I will list a few workouts that you can do to break up your routine without killing your lungs.
7 Minute AMRAP
10 Left arm KB Snatches
10 Right arm KB snatches
20 Two handed Kettlebell swings
5 Minute AMRAP
10 Right Arm KB Overhead Squat
10 Left Arm KB Overhead Squats
10 Halos (5 each direction)
3 Minute AMRAP
Kettlebell Swings (as many as you can do in 3 minutes)
With Your New Found Love
Now that we have stated our case for the kettlebell we hope you go out and try something new. Keeping your fitness varied also keeps your gym experience fun. The kettlebell adds a new challenge to your life that you will learn to appreciate over time.