Kettlebell Training

February 10, 2022

Tony Salerno

Kettlebell training is a popular method of strength training that targets specific muscles in many unique & fun ways. You can create an entire full body program along with a great cardiovascular workout with just a few different sizes of kettlebells. The neat thing about kettlebell workouts is that they can be performed by not only athletes, but the general population as well.

 

One widely known kettlebell exercise across the fitness community is the kettlebell swing. The swing can be performed with one or two hands, or alternating, swinging up and down. On the upswing, the kettlebell should reach about to eye level, and on the downswing, it should swing in between your legs, but not too far. A good way to train your neuromuscular system is to put a foam roller right behind your back when performing the swing. If you knock the foam roller over, you are going too far. You can perform the kettlebell swing with straight, slightly bent legs, in order to prevent hyperextension at the knees. This gives way to a slight hamstring stretch on the downward phase, followed by a powerful swing/jerk motion, utilizing our fast twitch fibers.

 

Another way you can perform this exercise is with a deeper bend at the knees, more so contracting your hamstrings and gluteus muscles. Because of the versatility of the kettlebell, the swing is not limited to just between the legs. You can perform a lunge swing, following the same movement patterns, with the difference of swinging the kettlebell to the right on a left leg lunge, and to the left on a right leg lunge. This “lunge swing” exercise is to be performed with caution at first, as our nervous system, which is the first to adapt to any training program, is still learning the movement.

 

Another potential kettlebell swing exercise is the side lunge “golf swing”. As many fitness gurus know, there are three planes of motion humans can move through. The sagittal, frontal, and transverse plane. Effectively utilizing all three of these planes will maximize our performance in the gym and in anthetic events. The side lunge swing is performed in the frontal, or often referred to as the lateral plane. When performing this exercise, start in a side lunge with the kettlebell out in front of you. Using your core muscles, swing the kettlebell to either the right or the left, depending on your bent leg. This will replicate a golf swing. Be very careful not to hit your knee with the kettlebell when swinging it, however. It is very important that you swing the kettlebell far enough away from your knee in front of you to avoid collision. Another way to prevent this is to slightly turn your squatting leg into external (outward) rotation. This will minimize the chance of the kettlebell hitting your patella (sesamoid knee bone).

 

There are many other exercises besides the swings that can be performed such as: goblet squats, deadlifts, rows, farmers carries, snatch’s, cleans, and front squats, just to make a few. Just about any dumbbell workout can be performed with a kettlebell. Kettlebells tend to present challenges in certain exercises because of the weight distribution. For example, on a shoulder press, it is advisable to keep a strong grip on the handle to ensure proper activation of not only your deltoids (shoulder muscles), but your wrist flexor muscles (grip muscles). When you press the weight up in the air, the weight distribution of the kettlebell poses a great challenge for our wrist flexors to remain activated. If the weight is too much, or our technique is slightly off, the kettlebell will turn over and fall against your hand, no longer being secured by your grip.

 

The kettlebell farmers carry can help improve our grip strength tremendously. Grab one or two heavy enough kettlebells, and walk in a straight line, or safely around your gym. As you proceed on your walk, make sure you retract your shoulder blades and activate your thoracic (upper back) muscles. These muscles (rhomboids, trapezius and others) help to maintain our spinal structural integrity. Make sure you are gripping the kettlebell with a great deal of force. As you return to your starting blocks, if you picked a great amount of weight, you will be ready to just about drop it to the ground. You will notice that your posture will feel a lot more sturdy immediately as your postural muscles have just been activated for a great deal of time. This exercise is great especially for people who live a sedentary lifestyle.

 

Kettlebell workouts are a great way to spice up your routine in the gym. There are hundreds of exercises to choose from that can work your entire body in a very different way. If you are serious about your training and improvement in the fitness world, learning a few kettlebell workouts would be well worth your time.

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