K is for Kettlebell
I am a recent convert to kettlebells. And like the newly-converted, I am a zealot for my latest pursuit.
A kettlebell is a cast iron weight shaped like a ball with a handle on top. They come in various weights, just like dumbbells. Unlike dumbbells they lend themselves well to fluid movements in which controlling the weight’s momentum becomes part of the exercise. Maybe you’ve seen people swinging them around at the gym and kept your distance for fear they’d lose their grip and the thing would go flying. Hopefully that’s an extremely rare occurrence!
Part of the beauty of a kettlebell is that you’re forced to keep it balanced in your hand(s) while you’re lifting. The weight shifts around, so you must use the small muscles in your arm to stabilize it. Also, more so than with dumbbells, using kettlebells forces you to engage your core to compensate for the weight’s motion.
For all of those reasons my trainer, Taryn, loves them. I asked her to write a kettlebell workout for us, so naturally she made me try it out first. It’s challenging, but definitely doable. As a bonus move I included a video of myself doing one of my favorite kettlebell moves: the Turkish Get Up (sometimes the names of these things are a hoot!).
Like always, only start an exercise program after you’ve discussed it with your doctor.
- Kettlebells ranging from 10-20 pounds for women, 15-35 pounds for men
- Yoga mat
Most moves are 10 reps, some are 10 in each direction or with each arm. Rest can vary based on how you feel, but no more than 45 seconds between moves. Run through the set 2-3 times, depending on time.
Taryn’s Kettlebell Workout
Warm up: 4 minute Tabata on treadmill (this is a high intensity interval training method in which you do 20 seconds as fast as you can, then hop off the treadmill for 10 seconds, repeating that cycle 8 times). You will be warm afterwards; trust me.
Kettlebell dead lift x 10 (works hamstrings, glutes, arms, back, core) – single leg if both legs is too easy.
Kettlebell renegade row x 10 each side (works arms, back) – either use two kettlebells of the same weight, or pass one from one hand to the other.
Kettlebell swings x 10 (works shoulders, back, hips, glutes) – deep squat, then thrust hips forward as bell comes up over your head. Stabilize the bell at the top before dropping it down again.
Kettlebell windmill x 10 each side (works shoulders, glutes, core) – maintain locked out arms. If you can’t keep your arm straight, the weight is too heavy. Swap for a lighter bell.
Kettlebell squat figure 8 x 10 each direction (works arms, back, core) – just like the basketball drill you used to do in PE class … minus the bounce in the middle. That part doesn’t work very well with a kettlebell :0)
Kettlebell Russian twists x 20 each side (works abs, obliques) – feet flat on floor as a starting position, legs up to tabletop when you’re ready.
BONUS ROUND: Turkish Get Up x 8 each side (full body move) – there is almost no way to describe this move, so I’m going to show you in this quick video. Practice it without the kettlebell until you get the motion down.