Athletes: Pickup a Kettlebell for Strength Training, Mobility, and A Killer Workout
What a kettlebell is, and how to use it for maximum fitness and athletic gains.
For athletes, training can become a chore and for that reason, it’s important to mix things up. If you’re an athlete looking for a brisk calorie burn, a whole body workout, and/or a time-effective solution for strength training, look no further than kettlebells.
Kettlebells, the iron or steel cannonballs with handles you’ll see near free weights at gyms, have been around since the early 1700s. Russian weightlifters adopted the weights (which were apparently first used as counterweights for weighing food at markets) as a tool for increasing strength, balance, flexibility, and even endurance. (FYI: Lifting kettlebells has since been deemed the national sport of Russia!)
Pick one up, and you’ll notice that the center of its mass extends beyond the handle (contrary to dumbbells). These weights are portable, small, and are incorporated to workouts with a variety of movements, including swings, throws, and holds.
Now, back to the perks.
Calorie burning? You bet — up to 20 calories per minute for example, in a study of a 20-minute snatch workout designed by the American Council on Exercise to study the effects of such a workout.
Whole-body workout? Yes, total-body moves tap into the lower body, upper body, and core muscles — targeting big muscle groups like the posterior chain as well as stabilizing muscles (such as in the hands).
Time-effective functional training? Yep! Kettlebell workouts tap into resistance as well as cardiovascular training. What’s more, they test your balance and flexibility with range-of-motion requirements that mimic activities of daily lifting. That’s a lot of bang for your kilo!
Another accolade? One of the world’s fittest vegans, Rich Roll, uses kettlebells as part of his training, and Tim Ferriss (author of, among others, the Four Hour Workweek and Four Hour Body) has been a long-time proponent.
How To Do A Kettlebell Swing
This essential kettlebell move will help build muscular strength, increase power, improve balance, and boost cardiovascular stamina. Focus on quality over quantity, being sure to select an appropriate weight for your strength.
Tip: To find the right weight, try holding a ‘bell by the handle, and raise it in front of your chest, with your arms parallel to the ground. Is that easy? Grab something a little heavier; this move shouldn’t be comfortable. That said, beginners should start light and slow!
- Think of your hips as a hinge.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with your chest up.
- Squat down to grip the ‘bell with your palms facing you.
- Stand up, pulling the kettlebell up, as you raise your chest up, engage your core, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your arms loose.
- Shift your weight into your heels and squat slightly, hinging at the hips, moving your glutes down and behind you. The kettlebell will swing between and behind your legs.
- Explode from your hips, swinging the weight up through your legs. As you extend your arms and swing the ‘bell, contract your core, squeeze your glutes and snap your hips. Shoot to swing the bell to chest height.
- Let the weight fall with control, and hinge at your hips. Activate your legs, bring weight into the heels of your feet, and leg the ‘bell to swing back between your quads.
4 Noob Mistakes To Avoid
- Lifting too much with poor form. Fix: Practice each move without the kettlebell before jumping in. Once you get the correct technique, you can add reps, and shorten the recovery time between sets, and then add weight as needed.
- Relying on your upper body. Fix: Use your whole body, keeping your back flat and your glutes engaged.
- Moving too fast. Fix: Use controlled movements, not momentum, to move — this will strengthen muscles safely and avoid pulling or straining your muscles.
- Running out of gas. Fix: Take PowerUp a few hours before your workout, and let the power of PurePower’s Performance HempTM combined with Green Tea extract, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane mushroom and other botanicals work their magic in your system.
- Calling it a kettleball. Fix: Say it with us, “Kettlebell. Kettlebell. Kettlebell.”