5 simple Kettlebell exercises – where to start?
I have recently been asked to demonstrate some exercise ideas for the good ‘ol kettle bell that can be done at home. I love this simple but amazing piece of equipment and this is a fab first piece to purchase if you are looking to do some exercises from the comfort of your own home. You don’t need lots of space or lots of pre-training to work with a kettle bell, but always be mindful of correct posture. Kettle bells can get quite heavy so ensure it is left in a safe place where the little ones in your life can’t start playing with it or that you don’t drop it on your toe – that hurts L
1. Kettle bell swing
The most popular exercise to use with this piece of equipment, but you do need to practice the technique to ensure it is effective. This is a hip hinge not a squat so ensure your legs remain unlocked but not fully bent and keep your back straight. Legs a minimum of hip width apart and hold the bell with both hands on the handle. Start swinging the bell between your legs and use your hips with a forward thrusting movement and your arms to swing the bell forward to about 90 degrees. The heavier the bell, the more you have to use your hips to ensure the bell reaches 90 degrees. This exercise is fantastic for a number of muscles including: core, quads, arms, shoulders, glutes and your hip flexors. This should not aggravate your back though – if it does, drop the weight down and start again with the technique, ensuring your hips are thrusting forward correctly. At first, try 10 swings on a fairly light bell (8kg or less) and build up the weight and the reps. Challenge yourself to get up to 100 swings in one go J
2. Goblet squat
Another classic. Take hold of the bell with both hands and ‘cup’ it close to your chest. The idea of this exercise is that your chest doesn’t fall forward as you squat down. Push your bum backwards and hinge at your hips whilst you bend your knees to squat. This will ensure you are sitting backwards enough in your heals. Keep your shoulders back and your chest up. Start with a lighter weight and increase as your confidence grows and your technique remains consistent. Try 10 goblet squats for 3 sets, and as you improve either increase the weight or the reps per set.
3. Overhead press
This is one of those exercises that looks very simple but is actually quite tough, even if you don’t go that heavy with the kettlebell. Anything overhead is always tough. Start by cupping the bell in your hands and keeping a very firm grip on it – this is going over your head! Stand with your feet hip width apart and your legs unlocked. Hold the bell close to your chest and push it towards the ceiling, ensuring your arms are straight at the top. Bring the bell back down with control. You can experiment with different tempo’s quite well with this exercise – try 1 second up and 4 seconds down. Feel the difference with this tempo than just with straight up and down. Go for 12-15 reps on a medium weight for 3 sets to really give your shoulders a work out.
4. Plank row
This exercise is great for your arms, works a part of your back and is super tough on your core – all at the same time. Start by coming into a plank position on the floor with your arms straight and on your toes if you can. Keep your bum down, your shoulders strong and your core tight. Place the kettlebell in the middle between your arms to start. Pick up the bell with one hand and row it up to the side of your body, with your elbow leading. Bring your arm and the bell back down to the ground with control. Repeat 10 times on one side then swap arms and do exactly the same movement with your other arm. Repeat for 3 sets for a good burn in your arm and your core.
5. Weighted slow sit up
A variation on the sit up that requires a little more control. I use this exercise a lot to warm up the core – it does a nice job of this JStart by sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you and bent so your feet are also on the floor. Cup the kettlebell with both hands and keep a firm grip on it and ensure it is in front of you but not touching your chest. Tilt your pelvis and slowly curl your back so the bottom of your back finds the mat first and you roll down vertebrae by vertebrae until your whole back is on the mat. Then reverse the movement by pushing the weight towards your knees and slowly rolling your spine back up off the mat and using your core muscles to control yourself. This takes practice and strong core muscles to control the movement slowly. Beginners use a very light weight at first (max 4kg) as this can be quite tough on shoulders as well, as you are holding the weight away from your body for part of this.
Let me know how you get on and just DM me if you have any particular questions on the above moves.