Advantages of the Kettlebell Workout

Photo Credit: GiryaGirl  CC-BY-SA-3.0 2011

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a study in 2010 to measure the benefits of kettlebell workouts. Kettlebells are large iron balls with a handle. They vary in weight from a 2 pounds to more than 100 pounds. The kettlebells can be lifted, pressed and swung during an intense workout. The ACE study revealed that kettlebells produced a more intense workout than lifting weights alone. The participants in the study burned about 400 calories in a 20-minute workout, or about the same amount of calories as running a mile in 6 minutes. Beginners should work with a personal fitness trainer to learn to use kettlebells safely and effectively. Start with a light-weight, 2-pound, kettlebell and gradually work up to a heavier weight. Increase the amount of weight under the supervision and instruction of a fitness trainer. Some exercises using kettlebells includes the deadlift, the shoulder press and the arm swing.
Kettlebell deadlifts will primarily work your  glutes, quads, hamstrings and back muscles. Begin the exercise by standing with your feet flat on the floor with a kettlebell beside each foot. Spread your legs about hip-width apart and squeeze your abdominal muscles tight. Drop your shoulders slightly and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Breathe in deeply and lower your upper body straight down toward the floor. When your hands reach the kettlebells, grasp each handle overhand with your palms pointed toward your body. Keep your body straight and breathe out and then lift the kettlebells as you stand up straight in a smooth motion. Repeat the deadlift exercise 5 times and increase the repetitions as you get stronger. 
The arm swing will exercise your glutes, quads, hamstrings, core and back muscles. Stand with your feet apart about hip-width and put one kettlebell between your legs. Brace your upper body by squeezing your abdominal muscles, lowering your shoulders slightly and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Inhale, quat down and grasp the handle of the kettlebell in an overhand position with your palm down. Exhale and swing the kettlebell upward as you simultaneously return to a standing position. Swing the kettlebell until your arm is parallel with the floor, or straight out from your body. Keep your arm straight from your shoulder to your wrist. Do a 3 to 5 repetitions with each arm. 

The kettlebell shoulder press will work your shoulder and triceps muscles. Prepare for this exercise in the same position as before, standing, feet apart and shoulders back. Hold a kettlebell in one hand. Your palm facing  your body. Raise the kettlebell to your shoulder. The weight should be on the outside of your arm resting against your wrist and forearm. Push the kettlebell upward until your arm is extended straight up. Breathe out and return your arm to the start position. 

For more information and kettlebell exercises, see:

ACE Fitness, Kettlebells: Twice the Results in Half the Time?,Chad Schnettler, et al., 2010

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