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A Beginners Guide to the Kettlebells

A Beginners Guide to the Kettlebells

First of all, here’s a little bit of history...I bet you did not realise Kettlebells are not a recent fitness fad? In fact, they date back 350 years and were first used in the rural areas of Russia as a weigh and measure to distribute crops. Farmers found that handling them built strength and improved their muscle conditioning and so using the bells for work developed into using them for competitions and physical challenges during festivals and community events.

In the 1700’s, in Russia, to be the strongest man in the village, or “Bogatir’, was a title that was much sought after, it proved you were strong and honourable. These men were looked up to and even became the subject of fairy tales, using their super strength to conquer evil! That said, even if you are not a Russian farmer or a fairytale hero, they are an extremely versatile fitness tool and there will be an exercise that you can benefit from, whether you are aged 14 or 74!

A Kettlebell looks a bit like a cannon ball with a handle. It is a solid mass of weight that can be used in a number of strength and conditioning exercises. Kettlebells come in a range of sizes, the smallest you might find would be 2kg and the largest, a whopping 48kg.

What will you get from Kettlebell training? - Not just good strong shoulders it seems! Used as part of your workout routine, the Kettlebell will improve
    • heart and lung fitness
    • strength and condition muscles or
    • build muscle strength and size
There are lots of variations of exercises and many different types of exercises you can do with a kettlebell but here are some of the most common ones. These are a good place to start if you haven’t done any training before.

Good starter exercises

Kettlebell Swing - Stand up straight with feet a bit wider than hip-distance apart. Grab the handle with both hands, keeping the palms face down and arms in front of the body. Maintain a slight bend to the knee and drive the hips back, lowering the body—but not too low (this isn’t a squat!). Then, in a smooth motion, explosively drive the hips forward while swinging the kettlebell, keeping the glutes and core muscles engaged. remember: the motion should come from the hips, not the arms, as the body returns to standing. Lower the weight back down between the legs and keep this swinging motion going for 12 to 15 reps.

Step 1. Kettlebell Swing - keep knees slightly bent and shoulders relaxed.

Step 2 Kettlebell Swing - focus on the core muscles in your abdomen, keep them firm and breathe regularly.

Swing Kettlebell exercise 3
Step 3 Kettlebells Swing - maintain a flat back and keep tension in the core muscles, keep shoulders relaxed!

Two Arm Press - Grab one kettlebell for this one, hold it in front of the chest and bend the knees slightly. Next, press the kettlebell up to above your head, keeping the elbows close to the body and the back straight. Lower the weight. Repeat for 12 to 15 reps max. This one is good for toning arms and shoulders.

Two Arm Press
Step 1 Two Arm Press - shoulders relaxed, knees soft and think about pulling in your core muscules for good posture.

Two Arm Press Kettlebell
Step 2 Two Arm Press - do not let the weight go behind you, maintain control and move slowly.

And for the more advanced amongst us;

Push Press - This is a push-up, but with kettlebells included! Grab hold of each handle in the usual start position, then lower the body before pushing back up. It’ll definitely feel challenging with those hands on handles rather than on the floor! Try 5 to 15 reps.

Push up with kettlebell
Push press with kettlebells - keep stomach tight and lifted, remember your breath, make slow and controlled movements.

Kettlebell Snatch - Start with a kettlebell between the feet with the knees bent. Then, explode up into standing position, pulling the kettlebell until it reaches the chest with the elbow tucked in. From there, bring the weight overhead (hold on tight!). Then bring it back down close to the ground—that’s one rep; try for 6 to 8!

Kettlebell Snatch 1
Step 1 Kettlebell Snatch - back is flat but with core muscles engaged, raise your chin and look forward.

Kettlbell Snatch 2
Step 2 Kettlebell Snatch - maintain position, utilise resting arm for balance and control.

Kettlebell Snatch 3
Step 3 Kettlebell Snatch, make sure you don’t hyper-extend the back, keep core muscles engaged, try and relax the shoulders and breathe regularly.

Time to choose your Kettlebell - In terms of weight, for women, grab something between 8kg and 16kg and for men 16kg to 32kg. However you can start off lighter and work up. Do not just try them for a few weeks, for great results incorporate them into your training routine twice a week.

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