Become a Better Athlete With Kettlebells

Kettlebell

Athletes are always looking for ways to improve strength, power, flexibility, endurance and stamina. Kettlebell training is a great way to check off the entire wish list. (Learn more about kettlebell training.) Kettlebells' unique design and varied weights allow you to mix and match your exercises and get an amazing workout in limited space and in a short amount of time.

Some people think this is a new workout fad. On the contrary, kettlebells were designed in the 1700s and have been a favorite tool among athletes and bodybuilders since the 1940s. In recent years, they have made a comeback, as well they should. More and more people are looking for a lean, muscular and athletic look as opposed to the bulky bodybuilder look.

Kettlebell training is also a triple threat for fat loss. First, continuously moving kettlebells increases the energy requirement compared to standard weight training. A 2010 study performed by The American Council on Exercise (ACE) showed that people completing a 20-minute kettlebell workout burned an estimated 20 calories per minute, the equivalent of running a 6-minute mile. Second, kettlebells build muscle, which burn more calories when at work. Finally, the complex movements involving large muscle groups stimulate the release of natural human growth hormone, leading to a stronger and leaner physique.

Kettlebell training helps to strengthen the entire body. After a brief session with some of the exercises listed below, you will leave no muscle untouched. This is perfect for any athlete looking to get stronger for his or her sport without focusing solely on building mirror muscles.

Select three to five exercises from the ones below and perform them in a circuit. Do each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat the circuit three to five times.

Swings (single or two-handed)

  • Assume athletic quarter-squat stance holding kettlebell between legs
  • Keeping arms straight, drive through heels and explode up with hips to bring kettlebell to chin level in front
  • Return to start position with control
  • Repeat rhythmically for specified duration

Snatches

  • Begin in athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart; hold kettlebell in one hand between knees
  • Squat slightly, then quickly press off ground using a jumping movement
  • Extend ankles, knees and hips while pulling kettlebell up and out
  • Allow momentum to carry kettlebell up and over shoulder
  • Hold fully extended position for one second, then lower
  • Repeat rhythmically for specified duration
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Clean

  • Begin in athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart; hold kettlebell in one hand between knees
  • Squat slightly, then quickly press off ground using a jumping movement
  • Extend ankles, knees and hips while pulling the kettlebell up and out
  • Allow momentum to carry kettlebell up to shoulder
  • Drop into quarter squat and catch kettlebell at shoulder; stand up
  • Lower kettlebell to start position
  • Repeat rhythmically for specified duration
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Get-Ups

  • Lie on ground holding kettlebell overhead with right arm, right knee bent and opposite arm extended to side
  • Slowly sit by shifting weight to left hand and bringing feet toward butt
  • Drive through left hand and right heel to extend hips
  • Swing left leg under body and assume kneeling position
  • Drive though right heel to rise to standing position
  • Return to start position with control through same movement pattern
  • Repeat rhythmically for specified duration
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Clean and Press

  • Perform Clean as described above
  • Press kettlebell straight overhead
  • Lower to rack position and repeat Clean
  • Repeat rhythmically for specified duration
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Windmills

  • Assume athletic stance holding kettlebell with right arm extended overhead
  • Bend at hips and touch left foot with left hand; look up at kettlebell
  • Extend hips to return to start position
  • Repeat for specified duration
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


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