Who’s pumped for the weekend?! Any exciting plans? I mentioned yesterday that I’d post my most recent kettlebell workout for you guys today, and here it is!
As always, before you attempt it, remember that I’m not a personal trainer so please check with one if you’re unsure on technique and all that jazz. In case you’re unfamiliar with kettlebells, they challenge the body differently than your average dumbells because the weight is concentrated underneath the handle and horns. Before I go on, let’s start with a little anatomy lesson shall we?
Since the weight is concentrated in the body of the kettlebell, your muscles need to work harder to stabilize and counter the weight’s momentum. Oh, and don’t just assume these little gems are just for building strength, because you can get a pretty wicked cardio workout with them too. Moves like the swing I’ll describe in a minute can fire your heart rate up very quickly!
I’ve specified below which muscles each exercise works the most, but the beauty of kettlebell moves is that they tend to work multiple muscle groups. This means you can get a great workout without spending a ton of time in the gym, which is fab because I know your time is precious! 🙂 My workout consisted of the following:
Kettlebell swings: This move requires you to generate power from your hips, core, legs, glutes and back to swing the kettlebell out in front of you. In the first half of the move, these large muscles contract so that you can explode and swing the kettlebell outward. On the way down, the same muscles are forced to stabilize and control the weight as the kettlebell changes direction.
For some guidelines on setting up and performing the swing, check out this source, and if you’d like a demo, have a look at this:
Figure-8’s: This move with work the abdominals and hamstrings as you weave the kettlebell around your legs in a wide stance. (It’s just like doing figure 8’s with a basketball, a trick I learned when I was about 9 and thought I was a pretty big deal. Oh childhood….) Anyways, I digress. Figure 8’s look a little something like this:
Clean and presses: I strongly advise taking off any watches or bracelets because the kettlebell will likely smack against them and it is very painful! (I’ve had the bruises to prove it… you’ve been warned!) The move starts out with the kettlebell on the floor and a wide stance. Starting with one hand (for example, your right), you pick up the kettlebell by the handle with an overhand grip. As the legs straighten, the kettlebell body flips over in your hand and is ‘caught’ near your right shoulder and back of your right wrist/forearm. (The ‘flip’ is similar to the way you would turn your wrists under when doing a clean and press with a barbell). Bend slightly at the knees to help absorb the kettlebell’s weight.
Next, the legs bend (just like a shallow squat), then extend as you straighten your right arm and push the kettlebell up towards the ceiling. Then bring it back down to shoulder height (just like the step before), and lower it back down to the starting position. After finishing all reps on the right side, switch to your left.
Sumo squats: Just like your usual squat, this move works all of the large leg muscles including your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Your stance is wide with toes pointed outward and the goal is to try and sit back with a tall spine and your bodyweight in your heels as you squat down. Lower the kettlebell to just above ground level, then change direction and come back up. Like any squat, you don’t want to have your knees coming any further forward than your toes because this can cause some very nasty injuries.
(If you ask me, this girl’s knees might be just a little far forward, but it’s the only photo I could find!)
Renegade rows: This move is basically a single-arm row in high plank or push-up position. Just like a regular row, the lats (muscles in your upper back) are the main ones worked. One common error with this move is that people tend to let the hip on the side that is doing the rowing turn upward. The goal is to try to keep the hips square facing the floor while performing the single-arm rows with the kettlebell handles in your hands. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this one can be made easier by taking your feet out wider than you would in regular plank pose.
Double kettlebell windmills: This one will leave your obliques singing for quite a while! It can be done with a kettlebell in each hand, but you can modify the move if you want to and only hold one in the arm like so:
In the double kettlebell move, the feet are positioned at 45 degree angles (pointing in the same direction, for example to the right), with the left arm extended upward and the right at your side. Keeping the kettlebell in the extended (left) arm locked at the top, the abdominals, hamstrings and glutes engage as the kettlebell in the right hand lowers down toward the right foot, then return to the starting position. It looks similar to the single-kettlebell windmill in this video, which is very appropriately titled “How to lose your lovehandles“:
After completing all of the right-side bending reps, you would switch up the arm positions so that the right arm is up and locked, and the left is down at your left side.
Now for the specifics… how many and how heavy?
The workout below shows the number of sets and reps that I did. I’ve indicated weights just to show the difference for each move – ie. you can use a lot more for the sumo squats than for windmills. Having said that, if you’re brand new to kettlebells or weight training, try starting with something light – 10lbs maybe – and work your way up as you get more comfortable. By doing the exercises in this order, you don’t need to hoard tons of different kettlebells at once. This would likely annoy the other folk at your gym that want to use them, and we don’t want that!
Set 1: 12 kettlebell swings (20-25lbs), immediately followed by 20 figure-8’s (20-25lbs)
Set 2: 12 clean and presses with each arm (18-20lbs), immediately followed by 12 sumo squats (40-50lbs)
Set 3: 12 renegade rows with each arm (15-18 lbs), immediately followed by 12 double-kettlebell windmills on each side (15-18lbs).
Don’t forget to do lots of stretching after, especially for your biceps, upper and lower back. Sound like fun? 😉
Alright bloggies, I’m out for the weekend. I hope you have a great one and I’ll see you back here on Monday! But first, I want to know….
- What are you doing this weekend?
- Do you have any workout post requests? Fire them my way and I’ll get on ’em for you! 🙂