The kettlebell is my absolute favorite piece of equipment I have ever come across in all the years I’ve been working out. It’s so simple: an iron ball with a handle on top. Yet with its simplicity, the effects and gains that can come from this manly ball of steel are absolutely profound. Explosive speed, muscular endurance, functional strength, full kinetic synchronicity…these are all things you will gain from using a kettlebell.
I won’t bore you with the history of this thing, you can find that with a google search, and who want’s a history lesson anyways? We wan’t results here at MetaHuman, so that’s what I’ll give you. When people first pick up a kettlebell they often have terrible technique and end up hurting themselves. The goal here isn’t to play doctor with ourselves, it’s to get optimal overall strength, conditioning and speed. This entry will address all of those things and at the same time take you through 9 of my favorite kettlebell exercises. These specific exercises range from very easy to somewhat advanced so if you’re new to kettlebells, this is perfect for you, if your a savvy veteran, stay tuned for later blog entries with more complex movements.
Let’s get down to it.
The kettlebell swing is the most basic, and most important kettlebell workout you can learn. The kettlebell swing is so vital because it can simultaneously burn fat, construct muscle, and improve your cardiovascular fitness all at once.
- This is all in the hips, if you’re feeling this in your arms than you’re doing it wrong. Kettlebell swings move on a pendulum like momentum.
- Keep your back straight. If you begin to slouch you can seriously hurt yourself.
- When you swing downwards, keep your back sraight and move your butt backwards like a deadlift instead of bending like a squat.
- As you push upward on the kettlebell swing, your glutes and abs should be tight and your knees straightening out.
- Breathe in on the downswing, out on the upswing.
Here is a great video showing proper posture:
Kettlebell Lawnmower Rows
A great workout for your back and shoulders, for this one you’re going to want to use two kettlebells in one hand. This is pretty straight forward and one of the easier exercises when it comes to motion. Bend your left knee while your right leg remains straight. With your right hand, reach down and grab the kettlebells. Once you’re in position, pull the kettlebells up while keeping your back straight and legs in the same position. If you’re doing it right it should look like this:
Don’t forget to alternate between sides, and, despite this picture only showing one kettlebell, it is recommended to use two.
Kettlebell Front Squats
Legs are the most important muscle group in your body. It’s where all of your strength, force and speed comes from and kettlebell front squats are perfect for working the quads, glutes, hamstrings and core.
Start off with two kettlebells on the ground. Once you clean them onto your forearms and shoulders, find a comfortable foot stance. Squat down, pushing your butt outwards until you are as low as you can get. Now get up. Boom, you just did a kettlebell front squat! This motion is pretty basic, but here is a picture to help you see not only proper position and motion, but also what position (clean) the kettlebell should be in when you start:
Make sure you breathe in when squatting down, and out when standing back up.
The kettlebell deadlift not only goes hand in hand with the kettlebell swing but also helps to improve it. On this one we’re focusing on the lower back which has great benefits for explosiveness, speed, and core strength. The dealift is commonly looked over because it seems so simple, but it the gains you can earn form this little exercise is quite outstanding.
What we’re going to do is have the kettlebell on the floor between our legs. Bend down, pushing your butt out while maintaing a straight back and outward chest. From here we grab the kettlebell and stand up straight. You should feel this in your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Here is what it should look like:
The kettlebell clean is the first step into more complex kettlebell exercises like the military press, jerk, push press and more. This one, like the swing, is going to hit your core while working your cardio.
Cleans will be performed like a swing, but with one arm. As you reach the top of the swing you’re going to flip the kettlebell up onto your forearm and shoulder. This should not hurt your forearm, despite what people think. If done properly you should feel no pain as the kettlebell comes down softly. Tuck your elbow in forearm straight. Push with your hips! This one is important to get right so here is a video of the movement:
The snatch can be performed with either one hand with one kettlebell or two hands with two kettlebells (double snatch). This is one of my favorite exercises because it really boosts your explosiveness while torching fat and building a strong core.
Once again we’re going to start with the kettlebell between our legs. Reach down and grab the kettlebell keeping your back straight and chest outward. In one smooth motion, thrust your hips forward just like the swing except this time we’re going all the way up. Pretend your trying to take off into flight as you burst upward. Once you move past your head, in one smooth motion, the kettlebell should fall onto your forearm as your arm is straight, pointing to the sky.
Watch this video to really nail down the motion:
I have a love hate relationship with the Turkish get-up. This is one of those exercises that really challenges your strength because you’re going to use every muscle in your body to perform it. It also takes quite a bit of functional strength, so if you’re just starting out, try and get comfortable with the kettlebell swing and snatch before moving onto this one. Also, please use a lighter weight when you first try this, technique is always more important than how much you’re lifting.
So, start on the ground on your back. Turn to your right side and grab the kettlebell. Rotate so your back is flat on the ground again and the kettlebell resting on your chest. This is an important step because we don’t want to hurt our shoulder trying to get into position. From here, lift the kettlebell with your right arm into the air, in line with your chin so your arm is straight. This is our starting position. The first step is to sit up, keeping your back straight and the kettlebell to the sky the whole time. Make sure to look up. Your left hand should be on the ground supporting you. Your left leg is now going to scoot under you and in one smooth motion you’re going to push off with your left hand and stand up. The arm holding the kettlebell should remain vertical the entire motion. Once you’re standing up, reverse the motion to get back onto the ground, switch arms, and repeat. Watch this to really get the idea down:
Do you really want to torch fat, boost muscle and testosterone, and work your cardio all at the same time? Do you want to look like Zeus except in better shape? Well, my friend, thrusters are for you. As far as the motion goes, its fairly simple, but the strength and endurance it takes to do this exercise is of kettlebell veteran status. For this one you’re going to need two kettlebells, both in the clean position while you set your feet up in a comfortable position.
Once you’re set, begin squatting down, pushing your butt out with a straight back and head up. This is where the fun begins. As you begin to squat upwards, breathing out, push those kettlebells to the sky like your favorite team just scored a touchdown. Keep those elbows tucked in and use the momentum of your upward motion to really drive those kettlebells upwards. You will certainly feel this in your legs, glutes and shoulders but it’s also a great lower back and core work out as well as chest. Balancing those kettlebells above your head will work the smaller muscle groups that are necessary for explosive speed. Here’s what it looks like:
Kettlebell Push Press
If you’re looking for the one exercise that will give you the most bang for your buck in regards to full motion efficiency look no further than the push press. You’re going to work your legs, core, chest, arms and shoulders all in one motion. I kid you not when I say that this one exercise has made more of an impact for me than any other kettlebell exercise I have experienced. Not only will it build explosive power and endurance but it will leave you breathless by the end of it.
Start with one kettlebell beneath you (this can move to two with both hands once you’ve mastered it). Reach down and clean the kettlebell to either side with your elbow tucked into your body. This is our starting position. Once your in position your going to slightly move your hips back like a squat and than burst upward. This alone will push the kettlebell to your head from forward momentum. From here you push your arm up and extend upwards. You should finish like the thruster but with only one arm. The key for the push press is to generate most of the power from your hips alone. Here is a great video demonstrating the movement:
Kettlebells are essential for explosive gains and a cut physique. I truly believe it is the most effective tool you can own to get the most results. Why spend upwards of $40 a month on a gym membership, or $500 on some fancy exercise equipment that doesn’t even work when you can buy one kettlebell that will last you forever and give you more results? You wouldn’t. The kettlebell also offers a wider range of exercise options and strength that translates to sports and activities much more effectively than bicep curls ever could.
One of the best websites to buy kettlebells or other training materials is Onnit.com. You can get all kinds of awesome stuff here including battle ropes, medicine balls, supplements and much more. If you want to be a manly man, Onnit is the place to go. Im a frequent buyer and recommend it to everyone I talk fitness with, really a great online store.
Alright guys, have some fun with these and let me know what kind of progress you make!