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Kettlebell workouts – From Basic To Advanced Moves

Kettlebell workouts facilitate ballistic, full body movements, which means they get your heart rate up and keep you in a fat-burning zone the whole time. In this way, you get a cardiovascular exercise as well as a strength training one.

Kettlebells are cast-iron cannonball weights with a handle used for strength training. The advantage of working out with kettlebells is that you’re not just working the legs or the arms—the kettlebell forces you to engage multiple parts of the body (hips, glutes, and core) to execute the move.

Because of this killer combo of cardio and strength training, a kettlebell workout is the pinnacle of productivity. And all you need is a kettlebell and determination.

kettlebell workouts

The Basic of Kettlebell Workouts Moves

The following are the basic moves and the foundation of any kettlebell workout. They also work the important muscle groups: glutes, hips, and core.

The Deadlift

The first move here—the deadlift—puts you in the body position that is the basic setup for all your major essential moves. Let’s break it down.

Performing the Deadlift:

  • Straddle the kettlebell. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart.
  • Lower backwards and down, leading with the hips and glutes and letting your knees follow (as if you were sitting back into a chair), while grasping the kettlebell with both hands.
  • Look straight ahead, engage the core, and stand up tall, driving through the heels, keeping your arms fully extended the entire time.
  • Squat back down, leading with the hips and glutes, keeping the weight in your heels.
  • Lower the kettlebell back down to the floor until you’re back in your starting position.

The Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing

The swing is your first ballistic exercise (meaning the first moving exercise). Essentially, it’s the deadlift position, plus a swing from back and front.

Performing the Two-Arm Swing:

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder width distance apart, putting the weight into your heels. Pretend as if you have the kettlebell on the ground between your feet.
  • Lower down, pushing your hips and glutes back first (as if you were sitting back into a chair), then make as if to reach for your imaginary kettlebell.
  • Look at the ground in front of you, again making sure the weight is in the heels. Make sure to keep a flat back, with a straight spine lining up all the way from the base of your spine to the base of your neck.
  • Finally, pretending as if the kettlebell is in your hand, swing it backwards, generating some momentum. You want to bring it high, right in between your legs.
  • Using that hip snap, driving through the glutes and core, drive the kettlebell forward as you stand up tall, driving through the heels.
  • Don’t stop at the top, but let gravity take the bell down and back through the legs. Crease at the hips and go back to your starting position. If you were to do many repetitions of the exercise, you would let the bell fall back down and through the legs, generating force by starting with a backwards swing.

The Clean

The clean is another ballistic movement. It’s important to keep this movement as tight to the body and as controlled as possible. Don’t jerk the kettlebell around with your arm strength. Generate the movement through the hip snap.

Performing the Clean:

  • Set up as you would for the swing, but place the kettlebell handle vertically between your feet. (Don’t forget to keep the weight in your heels throughout this exercise.)
  • Grab the kettlebell with your thumb facing the back of the room, as always engaging the core and glutes. Use the hip snap to bring the kettlebell to waist height.
  • Bring the kettlebell to your right shoulder by pointing your elbow out to the side in that direction. As you do this, the kettlebell will transfer so that it’s resting on the back of your hand and forearm. Bring the kettlebell to rest on your right shoulder. This is what is called the “racked position.”
  • As you return the kettlebell to the ground, let the bell fall and rotate the wrist so that when you return to your starting position, your thumb is again facing the back of the room.
  • When you are doing many repetitions of the clean, do not return the kettlebell to the ground after each one. Instead, let the bell swing backwards between your thighs and move on to your next repetition. You can also alternate sides with the clean by performing an alternating swing in between cleans. The sequence would be: clean, swing, alternate hands at the top of the swing, then clean on the other side.

Clean and Press

After you activate the hips, glutes, and core for your perfect clean, press that bell to the ceiling to work the lats and engage the arms.

Performing the Clean and Press:

  • Perform a clean, and rack your kettlebell.
  • Stand tall with the weight in the heels, engage the core, and press the kettlebell to the ceiling until your arm is fully extended, the wrist is straight, and the bicep is in line with the ear.
  • Still engaging the powerhouse (your hip and core muscles), return the kettlebell to your racked position.

Turkish Getup

It may take a bit of time to get the hang of the Turkish getup but once you do, you’ll quickly reap the benefits of this total body exercise.

Performing the Turkish Getup:

  • Lay on your back with the kettlebell in your right hand. Bend your right knee and place your foot flat on the floor.
  • Place your left arm on the mat. Push the kettlebell to the ceiling until your right arm is fully extended. Keep your gaze focused on the weight.
  • Raise up on your left elbow, engage the core, and push the heel of your left hand to left your hips as you sweep your left leg back and under you.
  • Come to a lunge position and then transfer your weight so that you can come into a standing position, keeping the right arm fully extended and the wrist straight.
  • Lower back down to the floor in reverse order.
  • Once you’re fully on the floor, lower the elbow to the mat and push the kettlebell to the ceiling again for your next rep.

The Advanced Of Kettlebell Workout Moves

The more advanced moves require a greater range of motion and therefore more control from the core and greater power from the hip snap.

The Snatch

The snatch is a definitive movement in kettlebell training. It is a full body exercise in which your range of motion spreads from floor to ceiling. You start in basic swing formation, but your goal is to not just get the kettlebell to eye level, (as with the swing) but completely overhead. Therefore, you must generate more power. In this kettlebell workout, you’ll really start to understand the power of the hip snap. Let’s break it down.

Performing the Snatch:

  • Set up as you would for the swing, but have the kettlebell handle sitting vertically between your feet. (Don’t forget to keep the weight in your heels throughout this exercise!)
  • Grab the kettlebell in your right hand, as always engaging the core and glutes. Backswing the kettlebell in between your legs to get some momentum.
  • Use the hip snap to bring the kettlebell in front of your body, then lead with your elbow as you raise your arm, fully extended, overhead with a straight wrist.
  • Allow the kettlebell should flip over the top of you hand so that it goes from being on the inside of your palm to resting on the back of the hand and forearm (as in the clean) just before the top of the movement.
  • Let the kettlebell pass again in front of your body on the way down and then swing backwards through the legs for your next rep.
  • As with the other exercises, you can perform a swing and change hands at the top of that swing movement in order to alternate sides without resting in between.

Nutrition

After a Workout

When and what you eat immediately after a workout is crucial to recovery. In order to get back recover as quickly as possible, be sure to hydrate and eat a blend of carbohydrates and protein within 15 minutes of exercising.

Tips of Nutrition

  • Throw a banana or fat-free chocolate milk in your bag for convenience and a quick boost.

If You’re Trying to Lose Weight…

Studies show that people who have more muscle mass will burn more calories, even at rest. That doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Your workout plan and your nutrition plan should complement one another. Perhaps “plan” is the key word here. If you don’t plan your meals, you’re much less likely to make the right choices when you’re absolutely starving.

Tips for Losing Weight:

  • Write down what you eat. It might surprise you how much the crackers you grab when preparing your kids’ lunches or the few glasses of wine you have with dinner really add up.
  • Tell your friends and family what you’re trying to do. Instead of having them inadvertently sabotage you by asking you out for burgers and pizza, you can bring them on as allies who can support you and hold you accountable. And who knows, you might even inspire them.
  • Do a variety of exercises. If you only do your kettlebell workouts, it’s inevitable that they’ll become boring. Mix up the kettlebell routine with new classes at the gym, running outside. Don’t let it get stale, or you’ll be inclined to quit.
  • Weigh yourself. You don’t have to get on the scale every day, but once a week is a good way to assess. You may find that you don’t hate the scale so much when it starts to tell you how your hard work is paying off.

What Next On Our Website?

Continue to read more in depth information about kettlebell workouts. We recommend to you to check out our pages here:

Resources:

All about kettlebell on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettlebell

5 Responses to “Kettlebell workouts – From Basic To Advanced Moves”

  1. This is a good list of exercises. I would say, however, as a trainer…you want to be sure to keep your head and neck in a neutral position rather than strain it looking up or down…you want to always stay in that neutral position to avoid injury.

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