Kettlebell Workout

Another great piece of exercise equipment is the kettlebell. But it might be a bit intimidating, especially if you have never used one before. Below is a lineup of some great strength and cardio moves that you can do with a kettlebell, at home or in a gym. They are available at most fitness equipment stores so if you are looking to add something to your home gym this may be just what you need. Be sure if you are just starting to use a kettlebell not to start with too much weight, and focus on lifting, moving, and maintaining stability by using your core and your entire body, not just your arms. Your back needs to be stabilized, so maintain an awareness of supporting it and making sure you are steady on your feet. A good kettlebell weight for most women to start with is 8 to 12 pounds. Men can try from 15 to 25 pounds, depending on their fitness level. If you choose a lighter weight, you may move more quickly and do these exercises as a set and then repeat them together one or two more times for more of a cardio circuit routine. Remember to maintain control in the release of these movements as well.

1. Single Arm Lift with “clean and jerk” movement: Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp a kettlebell in one hand and swing it up and into the crook of your elbow so it is pinned close to your hip, keeping your wrist straight, pause. Then dip down to load your legs as you push the kettlebell up past your shoulders to hold it with an extended arm. Your legs can straighten as the arm extends straight to the ceiling, but be sure to not lock out the joints. Maintain control with the core and legs as you slowly lower the kettlebell to your side.  Do 10-15 reps on each side.

2. Swing-and-press: From a standing position with feet more than shoulder-width apart, grab the kettle bell with one or both hands.  Swing it between your legs, keeping your spine in a neutral position by engaging your abdominals. Draw the bell up and as the weight reaches shoulder level your hips should come forward, and you can straighten your legs and press the weight up to the ceiling. In the top position, your arm should be in one straight line next to your ear, palm facing out. Pause at the top before letting the weight lead the movement back down between your legs. If you are using one hand to lift, switch sides and then repeat with 15 to 20 for each side. If using both hands you can continue with more reps if needed.

3. Kettlebell Deadlift (using two kettlebells) : Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides, and place a kettlebell next to each foot. Engage your core and abdominals and keep your shoulder blades engaged and stable. Push your hips backward and hinge your  body forward. As you grab and lift the kettlebells, maintain stability in your knees and lift up,  straight your legs, extending your knees without locking them out. Repeat 10 to 15 repetitions.

4. Kettlebell Push-ups: Grasp the handle of each kettlebell and come into full or bent-knee plank position. Make sure to stabilize with the wrists by keeping them straight. Engage the shoulders onto your back and avoid locking into your elbows. Slowly lower your body toward the floor until your chest is level with your hands, elbows coming out to the sides. Slowly press your body back up. Repeat up to 15 or 20 times, dropping onto your knees to alternate and modify as needed.

5. Kettlebell Single-arm Row: Start in a plank position, with one kettlebell beneath the left shoulder.Open up your feet to help stabilize your body. Grasp the kettlebell in the left hand and slowly perform a row movement, lifting the kettlebell toward your left shoulder. Hold it in the raised position briefly before lowering it back toward the floor. Make sure that you do not rotate your torso throughout the movement. You can switch to the other arm for one complete rep on both sides, or do your repetitions on one side and then repeat with the opposite arm, whichever is most appropriate for your strength level.