Posted in Training
It doesn’t take much to see that kettlebell-mania is popping up all over the country. While this traditionally Russian strength training tool was relatively unheard of just a few years ago, it has now become the cornerstone of core body workouts.
After a high-profile controversy surrounding Jillian Michael’s misinformed workout DVD, kettlebells became the hot new tool to sculpt muscles and boost core strength. While Jillian’s technique may not have exactly made the cut, experts agree that following proper guidelines when working with kettlebells can provide an intense and effective workout.
If you are new to kettlebells, or need to brush up on kettlebell protocol, here are tips and tricks from fitness experts to set you on the right course. Have kettlebell tips of your own? Share them in the comments section below!
- Choose the right weight
Kettlebells are meant to be heavy, which forces you to use power from your core muscles instead of just your arms. However, starting with a kettlebell that is too heavy for you can encourage poor form, leading to accidents and injury. It is recommended for women to begin training with a 20-pound (9kg) kettlebell and men to use a 35-pound (16kg) weight to start, slowly working up to heavier weights.
- Find a friendly mirror
When you are beginning to use kettlebells for the first time, always have someone watching your posture, or stand next to a mirror and monitor your own form. Take extra care to never overextend your back, which can lead to serious health problems.
- Keep your grip relaxed
The design of a kettlebell is meant to allow the weight to swing back and forth as it is raised and lowered. This swinging motion creates a natural, additional resistance and encourages balance in your core muscles. When doing kettlebell swings or snatches, keep your arms and fingers relaxed, allowing your body to follow the movement of the weight.
- Mix up your movements
Kettlebell exercises are generally either ballistic (fast and repetitive) or high-tension (slow and intense). Design a workout routine that mixes both ballistic and high-tension movements to complement each other and ensure all major muscle groups get a workout. Try mixing kettlebell swings with the Turkish get-up.
- Rest, recharge & repeat
Doctors and fitness experts alike recognize the need to recuperate in between workouts to allow muscles to bounce back after a strenuous test. If you simply can’t keep yourself out of the gym for a day or two each week, vary exercises to work only one area of your body each day, giving other muscle groups time to rest.
Want more kettlebell tips? Check out our kettlebell training video from CrossFit Milford’s Jason Leydon.