Kettlebells, those odd weights that look like cannonballs with handles, are the distilled essence of workout equipment, all business, and no-frills.
They are excellent for building functional strength, improving cardio, and increasing flexibility.
All you need is a single kettlebell with the right weight for you. Most women use one of the 17 to 35-pound models, while men usually go for the 35 to 70-pound models.
Before you pick one, experiment with some different sizes.
If your goal is to build strength, you want one that will let you do from 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 reps each.
If endurance and toning are more what you’re after, you want a weight that will let you do from 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 30 reps.
Read on to learn how to do the most essential kettlebell exercises.
Swings are one of the best exercises for beginners because they make use of momentum to help the exercise along.
They also provide an excellent full-body workout.
To do a basic kettlebell swing:
- Stand with your feet a little more than hip-width apart.
- Hold the kettlebell with both hands, with your palms down.
- Bend your knees a little, lower your body a little, and drive your hips forward explosively, swinging the kettlebell up.
- Swing the kettlebell up to just above your head, then let it swing down between your legs.
- Keep the kettlebell swinging like this until you finish your reps.
If you want to develop your strength more, do a one-handed swing.
This one starts with the kettlebell at your side instead of in front of your legs.
Figure 8 Leg Pass
The figure 8 leg pass is excellent for developing your core and building endurance.
Bend your hips back a little, and keep your knees about halfway folded.
Hold the kettlebell in your right hand.
Pass it around the front of your right knee, between your legs, into your left hand, around the back of your left knee, around the front of the left knee, and back between your legs to your right hand.
Keep moving it like this in a figure 8 pattern for as long as you can.
The one-armed press is an excellent upper body workout.
Begin by standing up, holding the kettlebell at shoulder level in one hand with your palm facing forward.
Set your feet firmly and brace your abs.
Press the kettlebell straight overhead vertically.
Then lower it back into the starting position.
Stand with your arms lowered, your feet together, and your kettlebell in one hand.
Raise that hand until it is level with your shoulder, and hold it there for a moment.
Then lower it straight back down.
This exercise works your arms and your stabilizers while developing your balance.
The goblet squat is a good workout for your lower body.
Start by holding your kettlebell in front of your chest using both hands.
From there, just do standard squats while keeping the weight in this position.
The kettlebell snatch is a very demanding exercise, but one that develops incredible total-body, explosive strength.
Hold the kettlebell in one hand, with your arm hanging down and the kettlebell near the floor.
You will be slightly crouched in this position. There are two parts to this move.
The first is to explore the kettlebell upward until it is about at shoulder height with your arms bent.
Then punch your arm out so that the kettlebell is overhead and your arm is out straight.
Reverse these motions to bring it back down.
You should be proficient at one-armed swings before you try this exercise.
Using nothing but these exercises, it is possible to build incredible strength and a high overall fitness level.
If you are not already training with a kettlebell, you should consider starting.