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The Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts You Might Not Know (+8 Exercises You Should Try!)

The Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts You Might Not Know (+8 Exercises You Should Try!)

Ever get tired of doing endless cardio? Don’t want to build too much muscle lifting heavy weights? Believe it or not, there’s a perfect happy medium and it’s called the kettlebell. Research is starting to find that a combination of weight training and high intensity cardio puts our bodies in fat melting mode while also adding healthy muscle tone which can be accomplished using kettlebell exercises.

How Kettlebells Are Different from Dumbbells

The kettlebell first originated in 18th century Russia and is a ball of cast iron with “horns” that shape into a handle. The handle is what is used the most, but the horns are useful when different holds are needed, like during squats for example. So what’s special about a kettlebell compared to dumbbells and other weight training tools? A kettlebell’s weight is not distributed evenly like it is with dumbbells. This creates the need to counterbalance and stabilize your body during kettlebell exercises, which are amazing for core strength, balance, and coordination.

    What’s even more interesting is that a 2013 study[1] done by the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse over a period of eight weeks showed that athletes (with experience in strength training) not only had their strength improve, but core strength jumped by 70%. Also, aerobic ability increased 13.8% and balance improved by leaps and bounds. This is not only valuable for the everyday Average Joe, but also for people who may lack balance and strength, like older adults and the physically challenged.

    Benefits of Kettlebell Exercises

    There are tons of awesome benefits that come from doing kettlebell exercises. Kettlebells are known to improve overall strength, core power, balance, flexibility, and coordination while also melting fat and sculpting healthy and lean muscles. Because a kettle bell has an off-set center of gravity, usually about 6 to 8 inches away from your grip on the handle, it is harder to control. So, any kettlebell exercises are going to require strict and controlled form and body mechanics.

    Here are a few other benefits of including kettlebell exercises into your fitness routine:

    • Combines Strength and Cardio – Perform ballistic exercises that combine strength, cardio, and flexibility training.
    • Improves Functional Strength – Targets multiple muscle groups that help with everyday tasks and daily life.
    • Compact and Portable – Only need one or two to train you entire body and are easy to store away.
    • Fun and Versatile Workouts – Kettlebell exercises offer a wide range of movements that target every muscle group for a total body workout.

    Time to Experience How It’s Like to Exercise with a Kettlebell

    Are you ready to give it a go? You won’t be disappointed! First a kettlebell and then get to work. Below are some of the biggest and most important moves in kettlebell training that will target your entire body. Let’s go!

    1. Russian Kettlebell Swing

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      via Real Simple

      Targets: Shoulders, back, hips, glutes, legs, core, arms, shoulders

      The Move: Stand up tall with your feet a little wider than hip width apart. Pick up the kettlebell by the handle with both hands, palms facing your body. Now, keeping your knees slightly bent, drive your hips backwards, dropping the kettlebell between your legs. With an explosive motion, drive your hips forwards swinging the kettlebell in front of your body while also keeping your glutes and core tight. Keep this swinging motion going for a total of 12 to 15 reps, and remember to use your hips, not your arms to swing the bell.[2]

      2. Kettlebell Goblet Squat

        via MyFitnessPal

        Targets: Legs, glutes, back, core

        The Move: Hold the sides of the kettlebell handle (the horns) in both hands directly in front of your chest. With your feet hip width apart, bend into a squat keeping your knees behind your toes and weight on your heels. Once your legs are parallel to the ground, drive upwards with your heels into a standing position. Repeat for a total of 12-15 reps![3]

        3. Kettlebell Lunge Press

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          via Greatist

          Targets: Shoulders, back, arms, abs, glutes, legs, core

          The Move: Stand up straight with the handle of the kettlebell held by both hands in front of your body. Step forward into a lunge with your left leg while simultaneously raising the kettlebell with the right arm towards the ceiling. Feel the burn everywhere! Return your legs to standing while lowering the kettlebell back to your chest. Aim for 12-15 reps per leg…ouch!9[4]

          4. Kettlebell Sumo Upright Row

            Targets: Back, legs, shoulders, arms, core

            The Move: Start with your feet a little wider than hip width apart and the kettlebell on the ground between your feet. Lower down into a squat to pick the kettlebell up by the handle with both hands (knuckles towards the floor). Push up through your heels to standing while raising the kettlebell up to your chin using your arms and shoulders. Lower back down to start and repeat for 12-15 reps.[5]

            5. Kettlebell Russian Twist

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              via Trimmed & Toned

              Targets: Abs, obliques

              The Move: Sit on the floor with your feet in front of you. Hold the kettlebell to your chest, and raise your feet off the floor (and keep them in the air!) Start by twisting from side to side, and if your ambitious, tapping the kettlebell on the floor on each side of your hips. Your abs will be on fire after about five of these! Keep going for a target of 15-20 reps.[6]

              6. Single-Arm Kettlebell Press

                via Bodybuilding.com

                Targets: Chest, arms, core

                The Move: Lie flat on the ground with your knees bent (best for back support). Grab the kettlebell by the handle in one hand with your palm facing your body. Slowly push the kettlebell towards the ceiling while rotating that hand to face towards your feet. Return to starting position and aim for 12-15 reps per arm.[7]

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                7. Single-Arm Kettlebell Split Jerk

                  via Bodybuilding.com

                  Targets: Shoulders, chest, back, legs, core

                  The Move: Start this advanced move by cleaning the kettlebell to your shoulder ending with your palms facing the front.[8] Then, bend your knees slightly and explode the kettlebell upwards over your head into a split jerk position.[9] Balance your arm and body before any further movement! Return to standing position while the kettlebell stays over your head. Carefully, without hitting yourself in the head (yeah, it happens) lower the kettlebell towards starting position. Repeat and aim for 4-6 reps per side.

                  8. Single-Arm Kettlebell Snatch

                    via Greatist

                    Targets: Shoulders, chest, back, core

                    The Move: Start with your kettlebell on the floor between your feet, which should be hip width apart. Grasp the handle, and explode up off of your toes pulling on the kettlebell until it is level with your chest (elbow should be tucked in). At this point, push the bell up over your head to complete this move. Steady yourself before lowering back down to starting position. Repeat for 4-6 reps.[10]

                    Don’t Forget to Warm up and Stretch Before Trying the Kettlebell Exercises!

                    Make sure you are warming up and stretching before using some of these explosive and bigger moves, as you don’t want to injure yourself. Always watch a video to help with proper body mechanics and to perfect each move in order to get the best out of these kettlebell exercises. And of course, enjoy the crap out of this fun and versatile workout method!

                    Reference

                    More by this author

                    Amanda Light

                    Wife, Mom, Writer

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                    Last Updated on April 2, 2020

                    10 Quick Easy Workouts To Lose Arm Fat At Home

                    10 Quick Easy Workouts To Lose Arm Fat At Home

                    Flabby arms are something a lot of us have to tend to. If you find yourself buying a sweater or cardigan to go with your tank top or usually opt for the long-sleeved dress, then you’re not alone. Usually a result of genes, general excess fat or just ageing, it seems difficult to lose arm fat. The fat in our arms accumulates mainly around the triceps – the muscles on the back of your upper arm – and are prone to getting flabby if not exercised regularly.

                    What we eat can also play a part in the extent of the jiggle so eating a good, healthy balanced diet as well as keeping well hydrated can put you on the right track. Resistance exercises are the most effective way to blast that underarm fat as well as strengthen, shape and tone your muscles. You can always go down to the gym and work up a sweat but who has time for that? If you want a convenient and quick alternative then you can easily manage an effective routine in the comfort of your own home. All you need is a set of dumbbells and you can start toning up those bingo wings with these 10 easy workouts.

                    1. Tricep dips

                    shutterstock_251341681

                      Works: Triceps

                      • Hands must be positioned shoulder width apart on a secured chair or bench.
                      • Position your bum in front of the bench with feet hip-width apart on the floor and legs bent.
                      • Straighten out your arms a little, keeping a slight bend from the elbow so to put more emphasis on the tricep and less stress on the elbow.
                      • Keeping your back close to the bench, slowly lower your body so that your arms are at a 90-degree angle.
                      • Once in this position slowly push off your hands back to the starting position.
                      • Do 10-15 reps.

                      2. Bicep curls

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                      shutterstock_314080697

                        Works: Biceps and shoulders

                        • Start off with your feet hip-distance apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing out.
                        • Starting with your left arm, bend your elbow to slowly bring the weight up to your shoulder holding the position for 5 seconds.
                        • Slowly release the elbow and straighten your arm back down to the starting position.
                        • Repeat the moves on the right side.
                        • Complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps for each arm.

                        3. Push ups

                        shutterstock_326069966

                          Works: Triceps and Deltoids

                          • Lying face down, place your hands on the floor roughly shoulder-width apart.
                          • Tuck your toes under and gently lift your body up, pushing through your hands and making sure not to lock your elbows.
                          • Slowly bend your elbows bringing your face roughly 2-3 inches from the ground.
                          • Slowly push back up through your arms. If this is difficult then do the same move but keeping your knees on the floor.
                          • Repeat 10-15 times.

                          4. Tricep Kickbacks

                          shutterstock_314080715

                            Works: Triceps

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                            • Place a weight in each hand and kneel down onto the floor with your toes tucked under.
                            • Bend your upper body forward from the hips up and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle.
                            • Extend both your arms backwards while your palms are facing each other.
                            • Feel the tension in the triceps and return to the starting position.
                            • Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

                            5. Plank

                            shutterstock_298755041

                              Works: Chest, Shoulders, Biceps and Core

                              • Start face-down on the floor, resting on your forearms and knees.
                              • Step your feet out so that they are slightly apart and come into the plank position.
                              • Make sure your body is straight, parallel to the floor and your bum is tucked in.
                              • Pull your abs in and hold the position for as long as you can. Try to aim for 20-30 seconds and build up to a minute.
                              • Repeat 3 times.

                              6. Tricep Extensions

                              shutterstock_314080343

                                Works: Triceps

                                • Stand on a mat with your feet hip-width apart.
                                • Hold one dumbbell with both hands behind your head, bending the elbows.
                                • Bring the weight towards the ceiling, straightening your arms above your head.
                                • Lower back to starting position.
                                • Complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

                                7. Lateral Arm Raises

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                                ab891e2e702b8027b704791ef556d0ce

                                  Works: Deltoids

                                  • Stand with feel hip-width apart. With arms down the side of your body, hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing in.
                                  • Starting with your left side, inhale and slowly raise your arm so that it’s parallel to the floor. Make sure not to lock your elbow by keeping a slight bend.
                                  • Make sure your arm is straight and palm is facing the floor.
                                  • Exhale and slowly bring your arm back down to your side.
                                  • Repeat on the right side.
                                  • Do 10-15 reps on each side and two sets.

                                  8. Overhead Press

                                  shutterstock_314080298

                                    Works: Shoulders

                                    • Stand up, lining your feet with your hips and hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing out.
                                    • Bring the weights to your shoulders.
                                    • Keep your core muscles tight and straighten your arms above you.
                                    • Slowly bring your arms back down to your shoulders.
                                    • Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

                                    9. Bent Over Row

                                    shutterstock_275943536

                                      Works: Triceps and Biceps 

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                                      • Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
                                      • Bend your knees and and then bend your upper body forward from the hips making sure you keep your back nice and straight.
                                      • Make sure your hands are straight and placed under your shoulders.
                                      • Bend the elbows back while lifting your arms towards the sides of your chest, pulling your shoulder blades towards each other.
                                      • Slowly lower the weights in a controlled movement and feel the tension at your triceps.
                                      • Repeat 10-15 times.

                                      10. Skull Crushers

                                      Skull-Crushers

                                        Works: Triceps

                                        • While holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie on your back with your knees bent.
                                        • Slowly raise your arms so they are above your chest, making sure your elbows are straight but not locked.
                                        • Slowly lower both arms toward your head, bending your elbows to 90 degrees as the dumbbells reach the mat. Aim to lower your weights so they are on either side of your head  with elbows bent and pressing in toward your head (being careful not to hit yourself in the face).
                                        • Lift your arms back to starting position.
                                        • Complete 2 or 3 sets, 10-15 reps each.

                                        Featured photo credit: Maddi Bazzocco via unsplash.com

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