Are you new to strength training and wondering how to get started? Looking for a new way to mix up your gym routine? Let’s talk about kettlebells.
They’re convenient, versatile, and will work every muscle group. It’s a step up from body weight exercises and can be used as a good introduction to barbell exercises.
Here’s a breakdown of the five reasons I’d recommend kettlebell exercises to my clients.
Why You Should Start Using A Kettlebell In Your Workout Routine
1. Build strength.
Kettlebell exercises are a great way to build strength while targeting multiple muscle groups at once. The kettlebell swing, for example, will work your hamstrings, glutes, core and shoulders while back rows will target your quads, biceps, shoulders and upper back.
Kettlebells are also a useful tool when building muscle simply because of the number of options. Barbells typically start at 45 pounds, so if you’re just getting started or coming back from an injury, kettlebells allow you to do the same type of exercises with less weight while you work up to that amount.
2. Build endurance.
Running isn’t the only way to get in your cardio. Switch it up by incorporating kettlebell exercises using lighter weights and high reps.
If you’re just starting out, aim for sets of 8-12 reps and then increase to 20-25 reps at a time to initiate fat loss. Pushing yourself is good, but remember to pay attention to your form. If you can’t maintain it, it’s probably time to take a break.
3. Improve functional movement.
If you want to train your body in the way that it naturally moves, especially in sports, use a kettlebell. It forces your body to work together as a whole and activates more muscles than traditional weight machines, which tend to target isolated muscles.
Not only will you be improving your strength in movement, kettlebell exercises also improve your muscles’ ability to stabilize. This is especially important for your core, but it also applies to your upper and lower body. Gymnasts, for instance, work on their strength and stabilization in order to stick landings.
4. Work your core.
Ditch the traditional crunches and work your core using a kettlebell. Exercises like shoulder presses and back rows will engage your abdominal muscles while you work other muscle groups.
This stabilization of the core is crucial in just about every athletic movement, whether you’re lifting weights, doing yoga, running or cycling.
5. Reduce injury risk.
Non-contact ACL injuries often happen when an athlete is de-accelerating, cutting or landing – activities that require a high degree of strength. Those injuries can’t always be prevented, but strengthening the muscles involved in those movements can reduce the risk.
Kettlebell exercises allow you to increase mobility, to strengthen that motion you have and to control your range of motion, all of which are essential to reducing injury risk.
The kettlebell is a convenient and versatile tool to improve your performance and overall fitness, depending on how you utilize it. Whether you’re looking to improve your half-marathon time, build muscle, burn fat or win your next game on the court, kettlebell exercises will help you develop the form, mobility, core, strength and endurance to achieve your goals.
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Jeff Richter, CSCS, USAW, is a strength and conditioning coach, certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, at St.Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis. For more tips, follow @DefiningSports on Twitter.
Photo by mbodystrength