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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

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                    Amanda Light

                    Wife, Mom, Writer

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                    Published on July 13, 2018

                    13 Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for The Last Trimester

                    13 Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for The Last Trimester

                    Practicing yoga during pregnancy is a great way to nurture you and your baby. It can also help you cope and prepare both your mind and body for any pregnancy demands and challenges that you may face especially during the third trimester.

                    Yoga during pregnancy helps you to create space for both your baby and your internal organs. However, make sure that you only do what feels right and works, avoid muscle strains and extreme pressure exercises.

                    There are plenty of yoga techniques that can help you to prepare for labor in the 3rd trimester. Before you try out yoga, make sure you talk to your doctor. This way, you may know the do and don’t during this stage. The following are some of the common yoga exercises to try out during the third trimester.

                    1. Birth prep exercises

                    This mainly entails simple exercise designed to reduce pains and aches and can as well as help position the baby in a good pelvic alignment. Include this technique in your workout rest brakes, warm-up, and as part of your daily poses.

                    Here’s an example of it:

                    2. Cat cow

                      This is a great pose for lengthening your spine and strengthen your core muscles.[1]

                      This pose is a great technique for all pregnancy stages. It will help strengthen your belly as the pregnancy continues to grow.

                      This asana also relieves the back and allow a better circulation of spinal fluids and blood.

                      Practice belly breathing when performing this pose. It will aid in calming your mind and reducing morning sickness.

                      It should be done about 5 times for best results.

                      3. Warrior II

                        This technique is great for strengthening your core and legs and as well as lengthen your spine. Even though this technique is a little bit challenging, it is said to help alleviate backaches during pregnancy.

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                        4. Bridge pose

                          This pose is convenient if you want to open up your hips and strengthen your glutes, core, and hamstrings.[2] Also, it can be practiced in all the trimesters.

                          Begin on the side and roll to the back as you move your body into a bridge pose. This helps avoid stressing your rectus abdominals.

                          Avoid this exercise if you feel uncomfortable on your back.

                          5. Cobblers pose (Baddha Konasana)

                            This technique is said to improve the health of the reproductive system.[3] During pregnancy, it aids in opening up the pelvis, therefore ensuring an easy and fast labor.

                            It is also said to calm the mind and improve blood circulation. This yoga practice can be performed as follows:

                            • Sit on a mat and stretch out your legs.
                            • Fold your knees and bring your feet at the center.
                            • Then straighten your back.
                            • Using your palms hold your feet for a few seconds.
                            • Release.
                            • Repeat this about 4 times.

                            6. Warrior I

                              This technique helps you explore your upper body. It helps to open up your chest and strengthen your legs. This technique helps restore the health of your spine and help make space for the growing uterus.

                              Also, it helps your mind relax and stay focused and maintain balance. It can be performed as follows;

                              • Place your feet apart in a hip-width position.
                              • Pivot on the left foot.
                              • Make your right foot to face forward.
                              • Lower the pelvis, then assume a lunge.
                              • Look forward and lift your arms above your head.
                              • Hold that position as long as possible.
                              • Release the pose.
                              • Repeat the process with the left foot forward.

                              7. Corpse pose

                                This technique aims at relaxing your body and mind.[4] It boosts your energy instantly and hence it’s convenient for battling any fatigue during the pregnancy.

                                Also, it helps in fighting off any side effects of pregnancy such as pain, morning sickness, and nausea. This pose can be performed as follows:

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                                • Lie on your back.
                                • Let your palms rest beside you while facing upwards.
                                • Close your eyes and then relax- your arms should be alongside your body.
                                • Breathe.

                                8. Spiraling movement

                                This entails moving your pelvis in circular motions and moving your hips. These movements help to massage down the baby’s head onto the cervix.

                                Also, these movements helps you keep your pelvis mobile and relaxed while loosening your muscles and ligaments.

                                You may consider using a fitness ball to help in the movements.

                                9. Child’s pose

                                  This is a resting pose. It helps to focus on your breath, breathe more deeply, and also it’s a good position to rest between labor contractions.[5]

                                  This is a great position that will help you find peace and promote a healthy and a happy pregnancy. It’s safe for all trimesters.

                                  Relax and move your knees apart, then rest your head on your fists, hand, or on the floor. You should avoid this position if your pubic symphysis is sore or open. Relax in this position, eyes closed.

                                  10. Chanting

                                  Making your own sounds during pregnancy and birth is a powerful way to regulate your breathing, it enables you to focus and relax as you deal with the pain that is associated with pregnancy and labor.

                                  Practicing voice sounds can help you open up and have an easier and more comfortable labor. You can do this as follows:

                                  • Sit comfortably.
                                  • Close your eyes.
                                  • Placing your index fingers on the lobes of your ears, take a deep breath.
                                  • Exhaling slowly, make gentle humming sounds.
                                  • Do this 5 to 10 times.
                                  • You can also do this while lying down with arms by the side of the body.

                                  11. Standing hip rotations

                                    This moves will help strengthen your pelvis as well as relax.[6] You can do this as follows:

                                    • Stand with feet wide apart but comfortable.
                                    • Slightly bend your knees.
                                    • Place your hands on your hips and rotate your hips.
                                    • Try to keep your upper body still.
                                    • Focus on rotating the hips and the belly.
                                    • Inhale while moving your hips forward and exhale while moving them backward.
                                    • Do this as many times as you wish.

                                    12. Tree pose

                                      This is a balancing technique. It helps strengthening your legs and core. It also improves posture and alleviates back pain. How to perform this pose:

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                                      • Feet on the ground, shift your weight forward and backward until you gain balance.
                                      • Shift your weight to one foot.
                                      • You can also lift one of your foot to your ankle to gain balance.
                                      • Bring the foot higher to your inner thigh.
                                      • Put your hands in a prayer position.
                                      • Hold this for 5 breaths.
                                      • You can also raise the arms above your head.
                                      • Repeat with the other leg.

                                      This technique is safe for all stages during pregnancy.

                                      13. Meditation

                                      Over the years, meditation has been used to manage a lot of conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety, and much more.

                                      During the last trimester of your pregnancy, meditation can help to move gracefully as you approach labor. It will help you ascertain a more peaceful state of mind by avoiding stress and anxiety especially if you are giving birth for the first time.

                                      Develop the habit of practicing meditation on a daily basis.

                                      Guidelines for pregnancy yoga

                                      There are some poses, however, that you should avoid while pregnant. They include plank cross, locust pose, boat pose, plow pose, and much more. Consult with your doctor on the best exercises.

                                      Here’re some guidelines you need to know before practicing yoga:

                                      1. Do what feels right.

                                      Starting yoga especially in your last trimester can be challenging while it’s really important in preparing both your mind and body for labor and pregnancy-related demands.

                                      To avoid accidents or extreme positions, you should practice yoga poses with the guidance of a trained tutor.

                                      When choosing which yoga poses to perform, listen to your body and do what you feel comfortable doing. Since all women do not have the same challenges and experience during pregnancy, avoid doing poses that your friends are doing if they don’t feel right to you.

                                      2. Do fewer poses.

                                      In case you are into physical exercises, it’s important to soften your training to avoid harming both your body and the health of the baby. Also, avoid long hours of training. You can talk to your doctor to guide you on the most convenient techniques to practice.

                                      During pregnancy, your body tends to have higher temperatures and it may feel hotter than usual. It’s recommended to avoid practicing yoga in a heated environment. Perform these techniques in a suitable environment with fresh and adequate ventilation.

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                                      3. Don’t get distracted.

                                      Reduce distraction while practicing yoga. For instance, a telephone can interfere with proper meditation.

                                      4. Stay comfortable.

                                      Wear loose and comfortable clothing.

                                      5. Do not eat before yoga.

                                      Practice yoga on empty stomach. Most techniques are effective in the morning.

                                      6. Always warm up for a few minutes.

                                      You can walk around, loosen your joints, move your limbs and warm up your muscles.

                                      7. Stay hydrated.

                                      Make sure that you are well hydrated especially when practicing challenging and sweaty poses. Dehydration, especially during the last trimester of your pregnancy can have severe sequences such as false early labor or preterm labor.

                                      Yoga techniques are the best kinds of workouts to try out during pregnancy. Especially if practiced together with mild exercises such as walking, it can help the expectant mother deal with both emotional and physical changes with ease.

                                      Also, it will help mothers feel relaxed and stay in shape during the last trimester of pregnancy.

                                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                                      Reference

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