Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Kettlebell - Moving Beyond the Swing

Variation in training is what keeps us motivated and improving.  With some tools, finding the inspiration to put them to use in different ways can be tough.  Take the jump rope for instance - stellar at what it does but it doesn't offer much beyond it's obvious use.

One of the training tools that we've found on the completely opposite end of the spectrum is the kettlebell.  Before you make your way to the gym you can literally think of 10 ways to use it.  A garage gym with a few of these ingeniously simple yet devastatingly effective tools is well equipped.

The ever popular two-handed kettlebell swing can dominate programming and although the movement is an excellent training exercise, we can be reaching for this fantastic tool much more often if we think outside the box.

Five Exercises to Keep Your Kettlebell Training Varied

The Goblet Squat - to add an intensity to the squat that may catch you off guard, hold the kettlebell cradled closely to the chest with two hands and squat as usual.  Want to crank up the intensity a few notches?  Grab another kettlebell and hold both of them in the front rack position while executing the squat.

Static Kettlebell Holds - There are many variations but here's a few to try.  Static holds can be done overhead, in the front rack position or at your sides.  Add intensity by increasing weight or by adding a second kettlebell.  Holds are a great idea too for those partner WODs.  While one partner is working, the other is in active rest by holding a kettlebell in a static hold.  Or, use them during EMOMs when the work set is done to add intensity to the rest periods.

The Seated Shoulder Press - We are all guilty of bouncing a bit at the bottom of a challenging shoulder press to get the weight overhead.  And it's also easy to move up on our toes during the movement.  When the weight is super challenging, we can move entirely out of a safe body position just to get that weight locked out overhead.  To greatly reduce the amount we can 'cheat' and to keep the body in a much less compromised position, perform kettlebell shoulder presses while seated.  If you don't have a bench handy, sit on the floor with your legs forming a "V" or straight ahead.  With your button the floor, bouncing at the bottom of the press is virtually eliminated.

The Kettlebell Lunge - Barbell Lunges either in front rack or behind the neck work you like noting else.  Run through a 21-15-9 WOD with barbell lunges and 400M runs and see how well you take the stairs later in the day.  Swapping out that barbell with one or two kettlebells held in the front rack does a great job with this movement as well.  To add intensity and variation, hold one or two of the kettlebells overhead.  To lessen the difficulty, hold two kettlebells at your sides.

The Turkish Getup - Move the kettlebell from the floor to overhead then back down with your starting position flat on your back.  With a challenging weight, stringing together even five or more of these together can leave you gassed.

So, if the standard two handed kettlebell swing has been the mainstay of your training, the next time you set foot in the gym use your kettlebell in a way that you haven't before.  That change in routine will keep you motivated.

Pick up a few kettlebells for your gym and keep your training varied.