Swinging Off the Pounds
When you combine the full-body power and strength-building elements of kettlebells, you get a balanced, fat-scorching cardio workout that is over before you know it.
Kettlebells are a unique training tool. Normally, we are warned against using momentum or swinging our weights, but with kettlebells, that's exactly the goal. Becuase of the kettlebell's shape, its weight is unevenly distributed, requiring your stabilizer muscles to work that much harder to perform each exercise. This not only calls upon additional muscles; it also improves your functional and athletic performance. Kettlebell training will send your heart rate sky high, making it a high intensity form of cardio. It also provides resistance training for the entire body, allowing you melt fat and carve insane definition.
Because of the kettlebell's unique shape, however, proper form is imperative for both the effectiveness and the safety of your workout.
While you can do a wide variety of traditional exercise with a kettlebell, there are a some exercises you can only do with a kettlebell. The kettlebell swing is the most basic movement, and one of those most effective. And of course, one of the most fun!
Begin with a kettlebell in both hands, your arms extended toward the ground, knees slightly bent. The kettlebell should hang between your legs with your arms tight to your body. This is your starting position.
To begin: Keeping your back straight, shoulders down and arms close to your body, push your hips as far backward as you can.
Once you have maximum tension in your hamstrings, snap your hips forward, squeezing your glutes to drive the kettlebell forward, away from your body.
The kettlebell should swing at least to chest height. It may take a few swings to get it there as you build your momentum.
Allow the kettlebell to swing back to your hips, rocking your hips backward to absorb the momentum.
Push your hips backward and immediately move into your next swing.
Things to Remember:
- Getting the kettlebell as high as possible is not the goal.Proper form is the goal. If done right, the kettlebell will simply move as high as how hard you thrust your hips.
- These aren't squats, so instead of thinking of moving up and down with your legs, the motion is front to back with your hips. If you don't feel a stretch in your hamstrings, you are bending your knees too much.
- Always drive through your hips, keeping your back straight and your chest lifted. To achieve this, remember to keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down away from your ears.
- Keep your arms long and let them hang, letting gravity pull the kettlebell toward the ground. Don't pull up on the kettlebell or bend your elbows (unless the exercise you are doing calls for it). Your arms are along for the ride; they do not generate any force themselves.
- The swing is explosive. Each and every rep should generate power.
- From the basic swing, you can build and manipulate movements to create different workouts. Kettlebell exercises are generally done in a HIIT circuit, keeping rest periods short and your heart rate high. Try a quick circuit of 20 kettlebell swings, 20 one-arm kettlebell swings (1 set with your right arm, 1 set with your left), and 20 kettlebell goblet squats, 5 times through as fast as you can. For the kettlebell goblet squat, grip the diagonal horns, and hold the kettlebell at chest height with your elbows out. Let your elbows touch touch your knees at the bottom of each squat, then shoot back up!
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