When gyms (and just about everything else) shut down in early 2020, did you invest in at-home fitness equipment? Thousands of Americans were clamoring to get their hands on dumbbells, weight plates and kettlebells early during the Covid-19 pandemic, driving fitness equipment sales to increase more than 1000% from 2019, according to eBay.com data.
Perhaps you went to Target or Facebook Marketplace in the hopes of finding a pair of dumbbells, only to be left with a selection of kettlebells (if you were lucky to see anything other than empty shelves!). Whether the kettlebells in your living room are gathering dust or you’re curious about working with kettlebells at the gym, use this blog post as a guide for how to safely and effectively make the most of this versatile tool.
What Are The Benefits Of Kettlebell Training?
Using kettlebells can help simplify your workout routine because you typically only need one or two kettlebells for a workout, and you can hit every major muscle group in the body during a kettlebell workout. In particular, kettlebells are excellent for strengthening your posterior chain – the glutes, hamstrings, etc – and because these are the body’s biggest muscles, kettlebells can deliver a calorie-torching workout.
Depending on the number of reps and the amount of rest between sets, kettlebell training can also count as cardio training. Popular kettlebell exercises, like kettlebell swings for example, raise your heart rate while building strength.
Additionally, many kettlebell exercises including the kettlebell press which we go over below, are done unilaterally – one side at a time. Unilateral work can help improve your balance and strengthen the stabilizer muscles in your core.
Basic Kettlebell Safety
Before you get started with kettlebell training, there are a few important safety tips to go over.
- Remove all rings, watches and other jewelry from hands and wrists before beginning a kettlebell workout.
- Wear shoes with a flat sole, or perform kettlebell movements in socks so you can feel the ground.
- Make sure to grab the correct weight. Keep in mind that most kettlebell weights are listed in kilograms. 1 KG = 2.2 lbs. Typically, women will start with a 10kg, 12kg or 16kg kettlebell while men usually start with a 16kg, 20kg or 24kg kettlebell.
How To Kettlebell Goblet Squat
The first move in our kettlebell workout is the Goblet Squat. To perform a kettlebell goblet squat, begin by picking up the kettlebell with both hands and holding it right below your chin. Remember to keep your elbows in close to your body, and be careful not the rest the kettlebell on your chest but to hold slightly away from your body.
With your feet in shoulder-width position, squat down, aiming to bring your elbows down to the inside of your knees. Then, drive away from the ground to stand up nice and tall. That’s one rep!
How To Kettlebell Deadlift/Hip Hinge
The hip hinge that is performed in the kettlebell deadlift is a foundational movement for other kettlebell exercises like the swing, the clean and the snatch. When you are performing the hip hinge correctly, you should feel your glutes and hamstrings fire up. You should not feel pain in your lower back while performing this movement.
Begin by standing directly over the kettlebell. Reach down to grab the kettlebell. Hinge your hips backward, keeping your shoulders higher than your knees and hips higher than your knees. Drive through your feet to stand up tall. That’s one rep!
How To Kettlebell Press
You may need a lighter kettlebell for this movement than you used for the goblet squat and deadlift. Once you’ve selected a weight that you feel comfortable pressing overhead, begin by picking up your kettlebell with both hands and bringing it up to one of your shoulders. This is the kettlebell racked position. When you’re in this position, straighten your wrist to ensure your knuckles are facing the ceiling.
From here, engage your core, squeeze your butt and press the kettlebell straight overhead, keeping your bicep close to your ear when your arm is fully extended. Bring the kettlebell back to that racked position before pressing overhead again. Once you’ve completed the set on the first side, bring the kettlebell to the ground, lift again with both hands and bring the bell to the racked position on the opposite shoulder. Perform the press for the same number of reps on this side of the body.
Related: Strengthen your abdominal muscles with this beginner’s core workout
20 Minute Kettlebell Workout
This kettlebell workout will give you a total body workout using just one or two pieces of equipment in 20 minutes:
10 Kettlebell Goblet Squats
Plank – 30 seconds
10 Kettlebell Deadlifts
10 Kettlebell Presses (5 on each side)
Reduce reps by 1 in every round (9 reps of each movement, 8 reps of each movements, etc) until you reach 1 rep of each movement. Keep the plank at 30 seconds each round. This workout should take you about 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
Related: Looking for more workouts? Try this total body dumbbell workout
Post written by FFC Contributor Natalie Casper. Video and workout courtesy of FFC Senior Fitness Director Sarah Ashenden.