Why We’re Krazy for Kettlebells (with Workout Videos)

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Why We're Krazy for Kettlebells (with Workout Videos)Weight loss and getting in shape can be a challenge. Maybe you’re short on time and can’t make it to the gym. Or you’ve finally found the time to hit the gym, but you’re not sure what to do once you’re there. A personal trainer is out of your price range. So what now?

How about giving a kettlebell workout for weight loss a try?

The kettlebell is an effective and versatile piece of exercise equipment. If you’re wondering what exactly a kettlebell is, think of a small bowling ball with a handle attached. Picking the kettlebell up for the first time, the genius of the design is revealed. Unlike a dumbbell or barbell, which have weight distributed evenly and is effortless to hold, the kettlebell is unbalanced when you hold it, placing the weight or resistance away from your body. As a result, multiple muscle groups are forced to work just to control the weight as its being lifted or swung around.

The Unique Benefits of Kettlebells

That’s right – kettlebell workout can include swinging and pressing movements that engage the entire body. With just one piece of equipment, it’s possible to train strength and cardiovascular fitness at the same time. Exercises like the kettlebell swing will build muscle while sending the heart rate through the roof. Training in this manner burns fat while promoting the development of lean muscles, not bulk.

Whereas traditional exercise routines require hours or time and a trip to the gym, a kettlebell workout fits into the busiest of lifestyles. Using a kettlebell, it’s possible to workout at home for weight loss in as little as 20 minutes. Studies have shown that it is possible to burn up to 20.2 calories per minute while training with a kettlebell.  That’s comparable to running a six-minute mile or cross-country skiing up hill. 

Getting Started

When beginning a kettlebell workout routine, it’s important to take things slow and practice proper form. Increase the amount of weight and difficulty of workouts over time. Remember, it is the legs, core, and lower body that are used to move the weight – not your arms.

Kettlebell Workout for Beginners

For the first go-around, try to perform each of these four kettlebell workouts for 30 seconds each. Pause for 30 seconds between each exercise, and then allow yourself one minute rest after the entire circuit of exercises has been completed. Repeat this circuit up to four times.

1. The Kettlebell Swing

The two-hand kettlebell swing is the foundation exercise of kettlebell training.  Hold the handle of the kettlebell with both hands and sink into a squat, allowing the weight to hang between the legs.  Keep the chest upright, the core flexed, and the arms loose as your swing the kettlebell to your left and right, at about shoulder level height.  At the bottom of the movement, shift your weight back onto your heels. Drive through the heels while using the hips and legs to move the weight, resisting the urge to pull with the arms.

2. The Kettlebell Thruster

Combining a front squat and an overhead press, the thruster is an excellent total body exercise. To begin, grab hold of the kettlebell handle with two hands. With the weight at chest height, sit back and down into a squat. Pressing off the heel, use the legs to rise out of the squatted position. As you rise, bring the weight overhead by pressing the kettlebell to towards the ceiling. Then, return the weight to the chest and repeat the movement.

3. Kettlebell Deadlift High-Pull

A surefire way to tone the legs and boost your metabolism is to feature the deadlift high-pull in your workout routine.

With two hands on the handle of the kettlebell, sink down to the bottom of the squat position. Keep the arms straight and lose as the weight hangs between your legs, while the chest is upright and the abs flexed. Driving through the heels, thrust the hips when rising to the standing position. Near the top of the standing position, pull with the arms to bring the elbows up and the weight to chest height.

4. Weighted Sit-up

Last, but certainly not least, the weighted sit-up is an abdominal shredding kettlebell exercise.

This exercise is done on the ground in the traditional sit-up position, so it might be helpful to have a mat to lay on. To grip the kettlebell, place the thumbs through the handle and palms around the ball of the weight. Lay on the floor with knees bent in a sit-up position. Extend the arms and press the weight off of the chest as you begin to sit up, pressing the weight up at the same time. At the top of the sit-up position the arms should be overhead before descending to the starting position. 

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