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What’s the deal with kettlebells? It seems like every experienced gym rat is obsessed with perfecting their kettlebell swings while the rest of us watch with curiosity while slogging away on the treadmill.
Kettlebell training is gaining in popularity thanks to the unique combination of fat burning and strength gains that this type of fitness training delivers. Although kettlebell training is the exercise de jour, it’s not a fitness fad. In fact, kettlebell training has a long history dating back to the invention of kettlebells, which were developed in Russia in the 1700′s.
Thinking of throwing around a kettlebell or two as part of a new fitness routine? Not so fast. Unlike other forms of free weight training, using kettlebells requires extra attention to spinal alignment, balance, and full body mobility.
DailyBurn trainer Cody Storey encourages new kettlebell trainees to pay attention to the basics of the using kettlebells, including how to pick up a kettlebell while protecting the lower spine. Before you start a kettlebell routine, take some time to make sure that you know that basics: the lingo, the correct weights, and some introductory movements.
Before you start
Before you start kettlebell training, there are a few things to remember:
1) Kettlebells may look intimidating, but anyone can add kettlebells into their normal workout routine with the proper instruction. Proper instruction is the key. Don’t bust a move without learning how to align your hips and spine during the movement, or you’ll bust your back!
2) Kettlebells add intensity to workouts. Unlike free weight training that relies on a steady, controlled movement to squeeze and release muscles, kettlebells are often used in acceleration and deceleration movements. Your muscles work harder to control the weight by speeding up and slowing down the movement of the kettlebell. Therefore, you may find yourself a little extra sore the day after starting a kettlebell routine, no matter how fit you think you are.
3) Kettlebell training is a lifelong practice. Just because you struggle the first few workouts to get the movements down doesn’t mean that you’ll never get it right.
Got that? Cool. Now, let’s get geeky for a minute.
How kettlebell training enhances strength and burns calories:
Kettlebells train motor skills, agility, and balance. Kettlebells also train the posterior kinetic chain of the body. This includes the muscles, tendons, and ligaments on the back of the body, including the glutes, the hamstrings, the erector spinea, and the calves. This is one of the best reasons to train with kettlebells: most people concentrate on training the parts of the body that they can see: the chest, abs, biceps, and quads. But your body is a 360 degree living organism that moves across multiple planes!
By working on the posterior of your body, you’ll develop greater power and speed.
Know your kettlebell lingo:
Because kettlebells have a long tradition on the other sie of the world as a training tool, there is some old school lingo that goes along with this training style.
Pood - This is a Russian measurement used for kettlebells. 1 pood =36 lbs.
Turkish Get-up – A full body advanced kettlebell move that you should not be attempting until you have trained extensively with kettlebells.
Kettlebell swing – An introductory kettlebell move that utilizes the hips and legs as a counterweight to balance the swing of the kettlebell between the legs.
You can find more terms here.
How to choose the correct weight for the job:
If you are new to kettlebell training, start by using a smaller weight than you think you can handle. This is because you’ll be engaging smaller stability muscles to accelerate and decelerate the weight. Start with a kettlebell that is 5 to 10 lbs lighter than the dumbell size you use for exercises that engage similar body parts.
Practice getting the movement right before you increase the weight of the kettlebell.
Image credit: http://www.kettlebellnorway.no/
How to pick up a kettlebell effectively:
According to DailyBurn trainer Cody Storey, to pick up a kettlebell, “you need to keep your back flat.” He continues: “Set the kettlebell between your feet. With a flat back, reach down in between your thighs, the go ahead and stand up. Squeeze your glutes when you get to the top”.
Remember to squat down to reach the kettlebell; never bend over and pick it up with a curve in your back.
Cody Storey’s Kettlebell Moves
In Cody Storey’s Complete Kettlebell Circuit, he teaches proper form for the following moves. String them together, and you have a fat blasting, body sculpting workout that will increase your strength and muscular endurance.
Turn the kettlebell with the handle side down and stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart. Holding the kettlebell, drop into a squat and squeeze your glutes to return to standing position.
Hold a kettlebell in front of your chest, and grip the kettlebell firmly. In one controlled circular motion, sweep the kettlebell around your head, being careful not to strain your neck or hit your head with the kettlebell. Pause when you return the kettlebell to starting position, and reverse directions.
Lie on the floor in sit-up position, while holding a kettlebell over your head. Complete a sit-up while pulling your arms toward the front of your body, until the kettlebell almost touches your legs at the top of the movement. Slowly return to reclining position, while bringing the kettlebell back above your head in a controlled movement.
Stand with your legs a little further than hip distance apart, and bend at the hips. Pick up a kettlebell with both hands and grasp by the handle, and snap your hips forward while swinging the kettlebell upward. When the kettlebell stops over your head, control the deceleration of the kettlebell and swing it under your legs while bending at the hips.
Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip distance apart, and hol a kettlebell by the handle in rack position. Press the kettlebell straight up until your arm is straight, while keeping your wrist straight. At the same time, keep your abs tight and twist to the opposite side, while bending your opposite arm at the elbow and tilting at the shoulder. Come back to center, and lower the kettlebell back to rack position.
Don’t be afraid of the almighty kettlebell. Although kettlebell moves look intimidating when you are watching the pros sweat out a complex kettlebell routine at the gym, you can practice introduction to kettlebell training moves with Cody Storey on DailyBurn at home.
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