Learning how to use kettlebells will probably be one of the more fun fitness activities you ever do. Kettlebells offer a great way to break up the tedium of lifting free weights. Even better, kettlebells can be incorporated into your cardio routine! This article will teach you the basics to get started with kettlebells today.
Use the Right Kettlebell for Your Needs
This is the most common problem we see with people who are new to kettlebell use. It is so important to choose the right weight of kettlebell so you don’t injure yourself while learning. Luckily, like free weights, kettlebells come in many weights.
Also, you can use just one kettlebell and grip it with both hands, or use two separate kettlebells, gripping each in one hand.
Experts suggest starting with these weight levels:
- If you are a woman of average fitness level, start with 8 lbs., 10 lbs. or 12 lbs.
- If you are a woman skilled at lifting free weights, start with 18 lbs. or higher.
- If you are a man of average fitness level, start with 20 lbs., 25 lbs. or 30 lbs.
- If you are a man skilled at lifting free weights, start with 35 lbs. or higher.
If you can lift the kettlebell over your head and back down again without losing control or stability, that is a good weight for you.
Maintain the Right Posture
Perhaps the most important tip when starting to use your new kettlebell is to maintain a posture that will keep you injury-free. Your hips should absorb all the impact from the swinging kettlebell, NOT your back!
First, stand straight and relaxed, with arms hanging down by your sides and feet hip-distance apart. Then imagine there is a chair behind you. Begin to bend and use the backward movement of your hips to begin to sit in the chair. As you do this, let your arms fall in line with your hips.
This is the correct position to begin any kettlebell exercise to avoid back injury.
Two Kettlebell Schools
There are two widely recognized instruction methods for kettlebells: the Russian school and the American school. The difference relates to the swing of your arms.
The Russian style is best for beginners. This swing begins at the pelvis and arcs up to chest level, then comes back down.
The American style swing offers variety once you are comfortable with your new kettlebell. With the American style, your swing starts at the knees and can go as high as over the head before arcing back down.
Great Kettlebell Warm-Up Exercises to Try
Now that you have your new kettlebell in hand, it is time to learn how to use kettlebells! You will notice your new kettlebell has a round handle so you can maintain a secure grip.
The Double Arm Swing (Russian Style) – Start in the correct posture with both hands gripping the kettlebell. Engage your core muscles. As you swing out with the kettlebell, swiftly bring your hips forward until the kettlebell reaches chest-level height, then reverse immediately and swing it back down again.
The Single Arm Swing (Russian Style) – Do the Double Arm Swing but with one kettlebell in each hand. OR, alternate arms with a single kettle bell.
Double Arm Row (Russian Style) – Holding one kettlebell in each hand, get in the correct posture. Then bring your arms up and towards your midsection and back down again. Keep your elbows hugging the body during this exercise.