Kettlebell weights are growing in popularity amongst weight training equipment. This is because many people have achieved great results by incorporating them into their current workouts which may include things like suspension training, machine cardio fitness, and more.
What are Kettlebell Weights?
Generally described as a cannonball with a handle, these kettlebell weights originated in 18th century Russia; some sources even mention their use in the ancient Greek empire. They first served as a reference weight to measure goods during trade, but soon after were recognized as a strength measurement test. The shape of the kettlebell requires more work from your core and glute muscles due to a non-centralized center of gravity.
Benefits of Kettlebell Training
One of the important aspects of kettlebell exercises is their ability to increase both strength and fitness at the same time. This type of training elevates your heart and lung activity and, therefore, is an effective tool for improving your fitness. What about those of us who are more interested in developing strength? If you think weightlifting is the only option, then you’re mistaken. The ballistic nature of kettlebell training is the essence of its many benefits, such as:
- Fat burning effect with explosive exercises that recruit more muscle groups than most other exercises. Similar to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a good kettlebell workout will increase the metabolic load on your body – in other words, you will turn into a fat burning machine. The consensus is that a good workout can burn 20 calories per minute.
- Improved stability and strength in the two largest muscle groups: the back muscle Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) and the butt muscle Gluteus Maximus (Glutes). That’s not all that gets worked whilst using kettlebells; shoulders, lower back, and hip flexors are all activated and play an essential part in any movement or exercise with the kettlebell.
- Enhanced joint mobility and a better range of motion. Since joint injuries are the most common and notorious, kettlebell training will protect your joints from the stress and impact that can be caused by other styles of exercise.
- It’s an excellent full body workout for those of you short on time since you can squeeze in a gruesome session in less than 15 minutes.
If you’ve just started working out, then you should know that strength takes time to build, especially with kettlebells. Choosing a comfortable weight for you is the first step for a correct start in the kettlebell world. Typically, women play it very safe and pick a weight that is very easy for them (at least after some time), while men usually over-estimate their strength.
Kettlebell Sizes For Women
For the first few months, it is best to stick with 6Kg or 8kg (13.2lbs – 17.6lbs) for most exercises, until your form becomes perfect. Once you have mastered correct posture and safe form, you can consider increasing your kettlebell weight up to 12 Kg (26.5lbs). In practice, most of you will be able to use the heavier weight during lower body exercises, so if you’re purchasing the kettlebells for home use, you can get a range of 3 weights, 6 Kg, 8 Kg, and 12 Kg.
Of course, by no means am I saying stop at 12 Kg, you must keep on progressing to see better results.
Ladies, also keep in mind that using a heavier weight will never make you bulky, which is a popular excuse for some to avoid doing any exercise involving weight.
Kettlebell Sizes For Men
The recommended starting weight is 10kg – 16kg (13lbs – 35.2lbs). This may seem too easy for some of you, but bear in mind that a mixture of elements like strength, power, mobility, stability, cardiovascular fitness and good endurance are all required to perform a good workout with kettlebells. Since the average Joe lacks mobility, flexibility, and endurance, it is vital to start with the lower weights to master the form of your exercises.
Be careful with moving too rapidly with weight escalation as this can cause injuries (Rotator cuff being the most common). Don’t worry about lifting the heaviest weight for now – focus on form and then build strength on that.
What should be your next aim? The sky’s the limit! Although this applies to women too, men will generally find they progress faster to a medium-heavy range (20-24 kg).
Kilogram to pound chart
Most popular Kettlebell Exercises
We can’t emphasize proper form enough. This is why beginners are advised to follow the “Mechanics, Consistency, Intensity” progression. By beginning to learn the mechanics of the move and then performing it slowly a few times, the technique will be acquired and you’ll be ready to include these exercises in your fitness routine.
Kettlebell Swing (Russian swing)
This foundational exercise is the easiest to start your kettlebell journey. In standing, place the kettlebell in front of you with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Grab the kettlebell and swing it backward, between your legs, then drive your hips forward to swing it up to eye level.
Kettlebell Clean and Press
This exercise can be learned easily but make sure to learn it completely with one hand at a time. We will be performing this exercise in two parts:
- Place the kettlebell on the ground in between your feet, closer to the side you are lifting with.
- Grip it with one hand and curl it up to chest level:
- Your thumb should be pointing towards you by now and your fist is right under your chin.
From that position rotate your palm and press the kettlebell overhead without allowing your back to arch. To perform the reverse part, simply rotate your hand inward and putting the kettlebell down.
Kettlebell Turkish Get Up
A more advanced exercise is the Turkish Get Up. Here, it’s best to use a light weight to learn the movement. Start on your back with the kettlebell placed close to your right shoulder. Keep your foot flat and bend the right knee, before grabbing the kettlebell and pressing it with your hand, elbows locked. Now lift your hips and slide your left foot underneath you as if you’re kneeling on your left knee. Then quickly shift your weight onto the other leg and stand up whilst keeping the kettlebell in an overhead position.
Double Kettlebell Front Squat
Many of the same guidelines used for a regular squat apply here, but the double kettlebell front squat poses a challenge even for experienced lifters who have never worked with kettlebells before.
Start by cleaning the kettlebells while placing feet shoulder-width apart and toes turned out ten degrees. Imagine digging your heels into the floor while sitting straight down. A good form means that your knees should remain aligned with your ankles and never move forward past your toes. When you’re at the bottom position, keep your core tight and press your heels like you’re digging them into the ground and stand up.
A popular Kettlebell exercise for women is another variety of the squat, which builds the glutes, hamstrings, and thighs like no other.
Place feet shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell in front of your chest. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees and lower your hips until they are almost below knee levels. Stand up, contracting your glutes once back at the start position.
Men looking for explosive strength and flexibility can benefit from a full kettlebell workout, but one of the most popular kettlebell exercises for men is the kettlebell snatch. Remember that this is an advanced swing, so the same principles of kettlebell swing apply here. Don’t attempt this exercise unless you are already comfortable doing the Russian swing.
Start your movement exactly as a swing, but as the kettlebell is at overhead position, perform a slight corkscrew with the hand. The main driver of the kettlebell is the hips and not the arms. At the end of the movement, keep your elbows locked, shoulder blades retracted and core tight.
Where to buy Kettlebells
CAP Kettlebells on Amazon
Now that you’re willing to give this new workout a try, you’re left with one unanswered question: Where to buy kettlebells? Believe it or not, apart from finding them underneath your gym’s dumbbell rack, there are many stores that sell them.
If you want to get them right now as you’re reading, open a new tab and visit Amazon to find a large collection available.CHECK THEM OUT
Dragon Door Kettlebells
Dragon Door also sells high quality dumbbells, you can find their products in many gyms and fitness bootcamps.CHECK THEM OUT
Another company is Ader kettlebells which sell steel kettlebells with a good range of products and weights. Visit their store to pick your favorite.
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There you have it – a quick guide to help adopt a new workout program and maybe purchase a new addition to your home gym! Focus on your form and soon you’ll be creating your own programs and workouts that will build your strength and flexibility like no other.