Correct kettlebell technique can go a long way toward maximizing your training gains. The kettlebell is a great tool to develop metabolic conditioning. However, it can also be used to train strength. The shape of the kettlebell allows for a great deal of shoulder, thoracic spine, core and balance work.
Let's look at five kettlebell exercises that can really increase your strength.
1. Goblet Squats
Goblet Squats strengthen your lower body, core, and thoracic spine.
- Stand up, holding the kettlebell with both hands (one hand should grip each side of the handle).
- Hold the kettlebell against your chest.
- Stick your chest out and pull your shoulders back. Your feet should be hip-width to shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your weight on your heels, push your hips back and flex your knees as you squat down as far as is comfortable.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
2. Single-Leg RDLs
The Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift is an important exercise for training your hamstrings, glutes and lower back, not to mention training mobility and balance.
- Stand up with the kettlebell in your right hand.
- Hold the kettlebell in front of your right leg, keeping it close to your body.
- Pull your shoulders back and stick your chest out.
- Keeping your left leg straight, lean forward from your hips.
- As you bend forward, lift your left leg straight up behind you, making a straight line from your head through your left leg.
- As you lean forward, allow the kettlebell to slide down your right leg. Lean forward as far as is comfortable.
- Reverse directions and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Switch sides.
3. Overhead Lunges
This movement strengthens your lower body, core, thoracic spine and shoulder. It also develops mobility and balance.
- Stand up straight with the kettlebell in your right hand.
- Bring the kettlebell to your shoulder and press it overhead. Keep your chest out and your elbow fully extended throughout.
- Take a big step forward with your left foot, stepping heel-to-toe.
- As you step forward, flex your left knee and hip and lower yourself until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Take as many steps back as you need to maintain your balance.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then switch sides.
4. Prone Rows
The Prone Row develops the shoulders, upper back, arms, thoracic spine and core.
- Assume a narrow push-up position with a neutral grip (i.e., both palms should face in toward each other).
- Grip a kettlebell with each hand (you will be supporting yourself on the kettlebells).
- Shift your weight slightly to the left. As you do so, pull the kettlebell in your right hand up toward your right side.
- Keep your elbow in and your upper arm close to your body.
- Lower and repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then switch sides.
5. Kettlebell Press
This is a great exercise for shoulder and triceps strength as well as developing your core and thoracic spine.
- Stand up straight with your chest puffed out.
- Grip the kettlebell and place it on your right shoulder with your right elbow angled down slightly.
- Press the kettlebell straight up and slightly behind your head (it should end up in line with your hips).
- Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch sides.
With all of these exercises, take three to four weeks to become comfortable with the technique. Begin by performing sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. After three to four weeks, you can begin increasing the weight and dropping the volume until you are eventually training heavy with sets of 4-8 repetitions.
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