Top 5 Ways to Incorporate Kettlebells into Your Workout
“Kettlebells” are more than just the name of an unnecessary & obnoxious invention I created to let you know your tea is ready (my Kickstarter campaign is totally going to take off… you watch!). They are also fun little molded balls of weight perfect for incorporating functionality into your fitness routine anytime, anywhere. Kettlebells can strengthen your joints, improve your mobility & range of motion, enhance your cardiovascular health, provide a variety of training muscle stimuli, encourage a fun new way to view your fitness, and mimic everyday movements whilst reducing potential for injury. From warm-up to full routine and transitional exercises in-between there truly is no limit to what these weighted wonders can do for you! Let us count the ways, shall we? Well, at least 5 of those ways.
1. Work Them into Your Warm-Up
Kettlebells are great for getting your blood flowing and posture aligned as well as your joints, tendons, and ligaments juiced up for whatever activity you’ve got planned. If you’re uninitiated, then there are 4 movements that come to mind that would be perfect for you to check out and start with:
- Slingshots – These are great for warming up your shoulder mobility and cuing your core to get ready for work. You simply keep your arms extended while you swing a kettlebell around your body with an easy momentum swing up to shoulder height every front rotation. Rep Count: 10-20 (both directions)
- “Hand Cuff” Good Mornings – This movement takes away a lot of lower back stress traditional “good mornings” can cause while keeping your shoulders roll back and spine delightfully straight. These are also amazing for warming up your back, hips, and glutes for some of the bigger movements kettlebells have to offer (which you’ll read more about when we get to the conditioning portion of this thang). Just hold the kettlebell behind you and maintain this position as you lean forward as far as you’re comfortable. Stand back up with an emphasis on keeping your core tight and repeat! Rep count: 8-12
- Turkish Get Ups – If you’re looking to mimic a motion we all do every single day, only harder then look no further than the Turkish get up. You are literally laying down while holding up a kettlebell and then getting into standing position before laying back down the same way you got up… all while keeping the kettlebell elevated. It covers all planes of movement, engages every fiber in your body, and has a bit of a “fun” factor since you have some much to focus on! Rep count: 5-10 (each arm)
- Windmills – Similar to the Turkish get up only you get to stay standing while highlighting your lateral movement. Keep the kettlebell elevated with 1 arm while hinging at the waist sideways in an attempt to touch the outside of your ankle with your other arm (only go down as far as able). Look up towards the kettlebell at the bottom end of the motion and straight forward at the top end. Rep count: 5-10 (each side)
2. Find the Balance
Another fun challenge is to see what your balance skills are when it comes to kettlebells. You could check out planks or push-ups with the kettlebells as handles. How about “bottom’s up” shoulder presses (hold the weight by the handle and keep the bottom upright the whole time) while balancing on 1 leg. Don’t forget 1 legged deadlifts and V-sit pocket transfers! Your creativity is the limit, champ!
3. Put on a Variety Show
Don’t be afraid to replace current exercises in your arsenal with similar kettlebell movements. Add them to your walking lunges or start rocking out goblet squats on the regular for example. Use kettlebells instead of dumbbells for your shoulder presses as another example. Use your imagination regarding the stuff that’s part of your regular workout and don’t be afraid to do some good old Google research if you need additional ideas for how to kick your own butt, kettlebell style.
4. Upgrade Your Conditioning Routine
If you dug the warm-up section that we laid out above and are also a glutton for punishment (aka pumping up the challenge) then these are the all-stars when it comes to stepping it up a notch. The goal with these total body exercises is to keep your heart rate riding high, your sweat faucets turned all the way on, and include the entirety of your body in a bid to becoming a conditioning machine.
- Snatches – Hold your kettlebell with 1 hand, hinge at the waist, “hike” motion the kettlebell between your legs, and then thrust your hips forward powerfully as you swing the kettlebell into a tuck position at your shoulder. Swing it back down the way it went up and repeat! Rep count: 10-15 (each side)
- Clean & Press – The same as the “snatch” only add a shoulder press into it! Rep count: 8-15 (each side)
- High-Pulls – The same as the snatch only navigate your swing momentum into a high shoulder row. The kettlebell doesn’t go higher than your shoulder and you want to focus on leading with your elbow, squeezing your rear shoulders/back muscles at the peak. Keep it quick so as not to overstrain! Rep count: 8-15 (each side)
- Thrusters – A goblet squat but with 2 kettlebells instead of one and an explosive shoulder press at the top of the motion. Rep count: 10-20
- Swings – Same start position as the snatch only with 2 hands on the kettlebell. When you thrust upward keep your arms fully extended instead of tucking them. You can swing to shoulder height or all the way above your head depending on your range of motion, desired challenge level, and comfortability with the movement. Let the kettlebell’s own momentum naturally fall back to the start and repeat! Rep count: 10-20
5. Short Circuit Yourself
Take everything we’ve talked about thus far and put them into any order you see fit. Mix and match, explore, and find out what combination of kettlebell movements match up with your goals. Pick the exercises, set the reps, commit to a certain number of rounds, and then… execute. This methodology allows you to easily decide how much kettlebell incorporation you want in your life while keeping it efficient and fun. Sure, it may be hard… but if it were easy it wouldn’t be special.