Mastering Basic Kettlebell Moves

 

For the most part, the fitness industry has taught people to sub-divide and train their muscles separately. Most traditional weight training workouts that use dumbbells and free weights zone in on just one or two specific muscles at a time. Kettlebells trainers and supporters are revolutionizing that way of thinking and training by promoting the use of three-dimensional movements that simultaneously work muscles throughout your entire body—with cardiovascular training added in, too!

Kettlebells — cast iron or steel weights that look like cannon balls with a handle — can be used to strengthen and enhance your body, regardless of your age, size, or fitness level. Whatever your fitness goals may be, training with kettlebells can help you get there and achieve those goals faster.

Body Sculpting with Kettlebells for Men, due to release in December 2013, gives readers a comprehensive guide to using this unique fitness tool, complete with workouts for people of all fitness levels. Simple to learn, easy to use and with a ton of benefits, Body Sculpting with Kettlebells for Men provides the perfect core or supplement to your existing workout routine.

You are no doubt excited and ready to begin your kettlebell training, eager to reap the benefits, and that is great. But, before you jump right into trying all the killer advanced kettebell movements, it is important for you to master the basics. So harness that energy for a little while, take it slow, and focus it on first learning the proper form for the basic movements. The following basic movements shared from Body Sculpting with Kettlebells for Men will form the foundation of your training techniques and will later be incorporated into many of the more advanced exercises.

 

The Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is the foundation for all kettlebell work and should be the first move that you learn to master. It’s also one of the most comprehensive exercises ever created, so take your time and get this one right before you move on to the others.

Begin with your feet placed shoulder-width apart. Grasp the kettlebell using both hands, with your arms straight and allow the kettlebell to hang, resting in front of you down by your legs. Push your hips back and swing the kettlebell far back between your legs. Forcefully snap your hips and knees to move the kettlebell forward and up into the air. Once the kettlebell reaches chest height (the peak of the swing), squat back with the downswing and allow the kettlebell to swing back between your legs as far as you can go. Make sure to keep your heels planted firmly on the ground the entire time. Exhale on the upswing and inhale on the downswing.

Once you have mastered the basic double arm kettlebell swing, you can progress and add the single arm kettlebell swings to your routine.

This one move alone makes for an intense and stimulating workout. Your glutes, hamstrings, back, shoulders, chest, and abdominals will all be worked with every swing of the bell. When you perform a kettlebell swing, your core engages to maintain your balance and everything from your chest to your knees gets a workout all at once. You will also experience a boost in your cardiovascular endurance. In fact, the same muscles that would typically be used for a vertical leap are used with every kettlebell swing. The difference is that with the kettlebell swing, the explosive force is used to propel the kettlebell up instead of lifting your body off the ground. Using the kettlebell makes it possible for you to repeat the exercise several times and to slowly increase the amount of weight load.

 

The Kettlebell Squat

Start with both hands on the kettlebell handle, allowing it to hang in front of you with your arms straight down. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and allow your toes to turn out slightly. Bend your knees and push your butt back and away from you like you are lowering yourself into a chair. Squat as far as you can go, with your heels pressed into the ground and your knees facing out. Keep your chest up and arms straight while you come back up to the start position.

Once you have mastered the basic double hand kettlebell squat, you can progress and add the single hand kettlebell squat to your routine.

 

The Kettlebell Clean

Begin with the kettlebell resting on the floor. Straddle it with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width and turned slightly outward. Squat and grab the handle with one hand in an overhand grip. Make sure your shoulder is over the top of the kettlebell, your back is straight, and you are looking straight ahead. In one swift motion, pull the kettlebell off the floor and up using your shoulder, keeping it close to your body and with your elbow bent out to the side. The move should simulate the same motion as pulling the starter cord on a lawnmower. Once the kettlebell reaches your chest, rotate your elbow under the kettlebell. Catch the bell on the outside of your arm between your forearm and bicep. Keep your wrist straight and knees slightly bent. This is called the “rack” position. Lower to the start position. Once you have completed the desired amount with one arm, switch to the other side and repeat.

 

The Kettlebell Press

Start by holding the kettlebell in the rack position, as explained above. Press your shoulder down and unfold your arm until it is straight overhead. When you unfold your arm, make sure that your palm is facing the front and your hand is relaxed. Bend your elbow again and return to the rack position. Your legs should remain straight for the entire movement. Once you have completed the desired amount with one arm, switch to the other side and repeat.

 

The Kettlebell Clean and Press

The kettlebell clean and press incorporates the kettlebell clean described above with a press to create a full-body movement. Begin with the kettlebell resting on the floor. Straddle it with your feet a little wider than shoulder–width and turned slightly outward. Squat and grab the handle with one hand in an overhand grip. Make sure your shoulder is over the top of the kettlebell, your back is straight, and you are looking straight ahead. In one swift motion, pull the kettlebell off the floor and up using your shoulder, keeping it close to your body and with your elbow bent out to the side. Once the kettlebell reaches your chest, rotate your elbow under the kettlebell. Catch the bell on the outside of your arm between your forearm and bicep into the rack position. Remember to keep your wrist straight and knees slightly bent. Explosively press the kettlebell straight up over your head until your arm is fully extended (referred to as “lockout”). Lower the kettlebell back to the rack position and back to the start position on the floor. Once you have completed the desired amount with one arm, switch to the other side and repeat.

 

It is always encouraged for beginners to ease into kettlebell training and take it slow while you are learning the basics. Listen to your body during these workouts and only complete what you feel comfortable with. Listen to your body and do not train as hard when your body is failing or fatigued.

 

Reprinted with permission from Body Sculpting with Kettlebells for Men. ISBN: 978-1-57826-478-0 $19.95 (paperback). ISBN: 978-1-57826-479-7 $12.99 (eBook). From Hatherleigh Press. Distributed by Random House.