Monday, October 12, 2015

Seven Great Kettlebell Exercises You Should be Doing

The Kettlebell Swing, although an extremely effective exercise, can be over-programmed.  So, if you find yourself reaching for the kettlebell for only the ever-popular swing, we're going to put seven more exercises in your grab bag in the next 6 minutes.

If you haven't heard us say it before, the kettlebell is easily in our top six list for equipment that brings great results, takes minimal to moderate skill to implement from day one, and is so versatile you can grab it every day for a month worth of training and not repeat an exercise.

Here's seven great exercises that are just a bit out of the mainstream but will keep your interest level peaked and your gains coming on.  Let's get at it...

  • Goblet Squat - One of the most effective exercises for any athlete is the squat.  It dials in at one of the most basic fundamental movements yet it is not easily mastered.  Proper depth and body position is critical to reap the most benefit so keep a careful eye on your form.  The Goblet Squat is the perfect adaptation to the "air" squat.  This movement is performed with both hands on the kettlebell and elbows down at the sides.  Keep the kettlebell 'locked' in place as you lower and raise your body in the squat.  The kettlebell brings a high level of intensity to this popular movement.  And it's easy to incorporate into your grab bag.
  • The Kettlebell Halo - A bit out of the norm, the kettlebell halo is one of those movements that is amazing for strength and flexibility in your shoulders yet does not require a heavy load.  While holding the kettlebell handle with both hands near where the handle meets the bell, move the kettlebell clockwise from the front rack position under the chin, around the head following your jaw line, then behind the head, and returning to just under the chin.  The key to keeping this exercise as effective as possible is to keep the head stationary and move the weight rather than your head.  After moving the kettlebell clockwise, reverse directions.  A lightweight kettlebell is all you need here to keep it effective.
  • Overhead Squat - Another variation on the squat that adds interest and intensity is the Overhead Kettlebell squat in which the kettlebell is held overhead with a straight arm as the body lowers into the squat and raises up again.  The kettlebell is held overhead and centerline to the body while moving throughout the range of motion of the squat.  Once you've got the single arm version mastered, try the double kettlebell Overhead Squat but keep the weight light at first.
  • Turkish Get Up - One of our all-time favorites, the Turkish Get Up requires quite a bit of practice to execute correctly.   The movement begins on your back, moves through arm-supported one leg kneel, deep lunge position, to standing, then returning to the deep lunge, the one-arm supported one leg kneel then finishing agin on the back.  All the while the kettlebell is kept overhead.  One of the keys to success in the Turkish Get Up is to always keep your eyes fixated on the kettlebell from ground to overhead and back down.
  • Figure Eight - I have yet to see this exercise inserted into mainstream programming yet it really is intense, and focuses well on the core.  From the top of the single arm deadlift position, the kettlebell is passed between the legs and caught from behind by your other hand.  Instead of immediately passing back through the legs again, the kettlebell now swings around the hip [right arm-right hip, left arm-left hip] to the front of the body as you stand fully upright.  While half-squatting, grab the kettlebell while it swings back between the legs with the opposite hand.  While standing, the opposite hand now swings the kettlebell around the hip to the front of the body, ready to be caught again on the swing back between the legs.  The path of the kettlebell forms a figure eight and thus the name.  If this exercise proves a little too daunting at first, simply forego the pass between the legs and pass instead in front and behind.
  • Russian Twists - From the top of the sit up position, place a moderate to lightweight kettlebell next to your hip.  Grab with both hands and move the kettlebell from one side to the next, touching the ground only briefly.  To enhance the difficulty, keep the feet up off the ground the entire time.  To lessen the difficulty, keep the legs flat on the ground and extended in a vee.
  • The Kettlebell Windmill - done with either one or two kettlebells, one kettlebell is held overhead and the other at the hip.  While keeping the overhead arm locked and upright, move the opposite arm slowly and deliberately down the same side leg [left arm-left leg] all the while keeping your eyes fixed on the kettlebell which is overhead.
One of the biggest keys to consistently training is to add variety and interest to your programming.  The kettlebell is one of those versatile tools that can really keep you from boredom if you let it.  The kettlebell swing is a perfect exercise and should definitely be in your monthly or weekly mix, but adding these seven exercises above will help you get even more out of your training and your investment.  The kettlebell ranks a close #1 in our book for all the versatility it brings.  If your home gym is lacking in the kettlebell department, stop in and see us for some great deals on this great tool.

Have another great use for the kettlebell you'd like to tell us about?  Chime in and share.