Kettlebell exercises originated in Russia, within bodybuilding circles looking for ways to improve grip, strength and achieve constant contraction of muscular tissue during each weighted repetition.
What followed was the Kettlebell itself and then more kettlebell workouts than could ever of been imagined 300 years ago in the cold gymnasiums of Russia.
The kettlebell itself is unspectacular to look at, appearing awkward, clunky and as cold as the Russian winter itself. Up until very recently you could walk into any gym in the U.S.A or mainland Europe and see the Kettlebell rack shoved into a corner, far away from the crowds of Gym fanatics performing endless sets of dumbbell curls in the mirrors.
Kettlebell exercises have become the most fashionable of all gym based activities, with well known fitness establishments ordering more and more to meet the demand of the crowd gathered at the kettlebell rack. Kettlebell workout classes are oversubscribed in top European and North American cities, all the top fitness and muscle magazine are jam packed with kettlebell articles and celebrity endorsements.
Kettlebell exercises are not just a flash in the pan, now in the forefront of the public perception of training and exercise they will stay there due to one simple reason – they work and the science backs this up!
The thick and heavy looking handles challenge your grip throughout every kettlebell movement and the relationship between the weight and its position below the handle ensure your core muscles have to work exceptionally hard.
Best of all, the Kettlebell weight is vastly versatile in its application. They are ideal for dynamic and explosive exercises that work major muscle groups, burn fat, build muscle and build power. They can also be used to add a new dimension to classic dumbbell exercises such as the alternative Bicep curl, chest press and upright row.
As Kettlebell exercises continue to evolve, so does the amount of Kettlebell workouts. Here at Intense Kettlebell Workouts, we provide many different and bespoke Kettlebell workouts depending on your training goals. Alternatively we encourage you to choose a few of the following exercises and create your own circuit or simply add a few from the selection of Kettlebell exercises below to your current training programme.
The Kettlebell Swing
To begin the Kettlebel Swing place A Kettlebell between your feet. To ensure that this Kettlebell exercisesis safe you need to push your buttocks backwards and bend your legs as if you are sitting in an imaginery chair. At this point the athlete's back should be straight with their head held straight. The athlete should be looking straight ahead. This is the correct and safe position to begin the Kettlebell Swing.
With one hand, take hold of the Kettlbell and swing it between your legs, then drive upwards using only your hips to generate the force and momentum so that the kettlebell is in front of you with your arm parallel to the floor. In one smooth and fluid movement lower the Kettlebell back between your legs with control.
*Keep in mind that during this Kettlbell exercise your Arms are only to be used like a pendulum and at no point during the Kettlbell swing are you to be using the force of the muscles in your arms or shoulders to generate force or lift the weight. The initial drive of your hips will swing the Kettlebell upwards and you simply let it fall backwards between the legs (with control and a strong grip) and continue back and forth.
As with any of the Kettlebell exercises you will see throught this site, brace your abdominal wall throughout the movement, although the Abs are contracted throughout the movement makesure you are inhaling on the way down and exhaling at the top of the movement. Alternate between which hand you use on each set.
As a checking mechanism to ensure you are perfoming the Kettlebell swing correctly, observe the position of the very bottom of the Kettlebell. At the end of the repitition the bottom of the Kettlebell should be facing away from the Athlete and not at the floor - this last point is a very important indicator of whether or not you are using a weight that is too heavy or not.*
The Kettlebell Clean
To begin the Kettlebell Clean, place a Kettlebell between your feet. Bend your legs and then keeping the back straight, push your buttocks outwards as if you are trying to sit in an imaginary chair.
Clean the Kettlebell towards your shouder, using the Hips and Thights to generate the force and momentum. As the Kettlebell approaches your shoulder, rotate your wrist inwards and rest the Kettlebell on the outer arm.
Slowly and smoothly with a fluid movement, lower the Kettlebell back towards the floor, ensuring that the weight is loaded onto the Hamstrings at all times.
*Focus the force and weight of the Kettlebell on the target muscle, which for this paticular kettlebell exercise is the Hamstrings. To make sure the weight is loaded onto the Hamstrings at all times, ensure the movement is smooth and deliberate and keep your butt outwards.
As the Kettlebell is driven up towards your Shoulders focus on the muscular feeling within Hamstrings as they extend upwards. The negative (reverse) part of this Kettlebell exercise is when the athlete lowers the Kettlebell. To do this correctly make sure you lower the weight down the same path you used to drive the weight upwards. When doing this, it is also important to ensure the weight and strain is on the Hamstrings and that you feel the muscle extending and stretching downwards under pressure*
The Kettlebell Windmill
Clean and Press a Kettlebell overhead in preperation to perform the Kettlebell Windmill. Keeping the Kettlebell locked out at all times, push your buttocks behind you towards the arm holding the Kettlebell overhead. With the non working arm kept behind your back at all times, turn your feet out on a 45 degrees angle from the arm holding the Kettlebell.
Once in the position above, simply lower yourself as far as possible and bring yourself back up on the same path.
*Always ensure that most of the weight of the Kettlebell has to be loaded through the leg which is directly below the overhead kettlebell with the force going through the heel of the foot.
Be aware that your body will naturally want to shift the weight ratio to 50/50 between both of your legs to make this kettlebell exercise easier. Stay fully focused throughout each and every repetition, as any transference of the weight onto both Legs will restrict the productivity of this Kettlebell exercise.
Always ensure that you focus the tension of the weight and the movement through your core at all times ensuring your abdominal muscles never loose total tension throughout each and every rep*
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Double Kettlebell Windmill
Out of all the Kettlebell exercises available for you to try, the double Kettlebell windmill is often one that most people fear. Do not fear as it is a lot more basic than it seems.
All you are simply doing is setting yourself up as above in the Kettlebell windmill. The only difference being that whilst setting yourself up with your clean and setting your body posture correctly, you have a spare Kettlebell on the floor.
Once you are ready to begin the movement reach down and take hold of the Kettlebell with your spare hand. From here simply perform the Kettlebell windmill. The extra weight that you are holding will put even greater strain on your core muscles so as with all Kettlebell exercises ensure that your abdominal wall is tight throughout the movement.
The Kettlebell Slingshot is one of the easiest of the Kettlebell exercises to perform, yet one of the most important for building strength and muscular definition in the Abdominal Wall and Oblique muscles.
One of the best sport specific exercises to place in your Kettlebell workouts, the Kettlebell Slingshot strengthens the core to help take impact from tackles in Rugby, Body shots in Boxing and Kicks in UFC. This Kettlebell exercise will also help generate power during twisting motions such as throwing a Left Hook in Boxing or passing the ball sideways in Rugby.
The Kettlebell Slingshot is simple to perform and simply requires the athelte to hold the Kettlebell in one hand and swing around the body and then change hands behind the back.
Kettlebell Push-Ups can be performed in a few different ways. For instance, the most basic way of using the Kettlebells to perform Push-Ups is to simply use them as the bases to place your Hands and support your weight. This allows a greater stretch to be placed on the Deltoids and Pectorla Muscles whilst also engaging the core for stability as the Kettlebells will move under the pressure of the movement.
For the more extreme of Athletes then the Plyo Kettlebell Push-Up is what you should be attempting to perform. In this Kttlebell exercise the Athlete uses just the one Kettlebell.
With one Hand on the floor and the other on the Kettlebell slowly lower your body keeping your core locked throughout the movement. As you drive your body back upwards, power yourself towards your opposite side so you can switch hands for the next rep using the Hand previously on the floor to use the Kettlebell and the Hand previously on the Ketlebell to support your body using the floor.
Kettlebell Renegade Row
Out of all the Kettlebell exercises you see performed in the Gym, the Kettlebell Renegade Row is probably the least seen. There is one very obvious reason for this and that is that it is simply very difficult.
To perform this and add it into your Kettlebell Workouts on a regular basis a fantastic amount of core strength is required. To perform this exercise you will have to be very strong on other Kettlebell exercises such as the Kettlebell Push-Up, Kettlebell Rows and of course the always popular bodyweight exercise, The Plank.
Assuming that the Athlete is proficient at all of the above exercises, the Kettlebell Rengade Row is a movment that you may want to include in your routines and possibily superset with Wide Grip Pull-Ups.
To perform the movement, the Athlete is required to set themselves in the Push-Up position, then by pushing one Hand into the Kettlebell as hard as possible, row the other Kettlebell up towards the Chest muscles. Then reverse the movement and plant the Kettlebell you have just rowed upwards back into the floor pushing as hard as possible and row the ohter Kettlebell upwards towards the Chest muscles.
Kettlebell Shoulder Press
The Kettlebell Shoulder Press is one of the very best mass building Kettlebell exercises. Truly powerful Shoulders are developed with compound Shoulder exercises such as pressing movements. The Kettlebell Shoulder press allows for an athlete to use the exercise in a number of different ways depending on the training goal.
For true mass building qualities to be achieved then the kneeling Kettlebell Shoulder press is the exercise to fit into your Kettlebell Workouts. From this lower centre of Gravity all stabilisation is put aside and allows raw power to be used to drive the Kettlebells upwards from the racked position.
Other variants of this Kettlebell exerciseinclude using a Swiss ball which will make the athlete use the Abdominal Wall and core muscles to stabilise the ball and lift the weight at the same time. This is a simple twist which really challenges the Abs as well as the Deltoids.
Whichever stance or starting position you choose to use the form is critical yet simple. With the Kettlebells in the racked position, press them upwards to an almost locked elbow position. At the top of the movement allow both Kettlebells to almost touch each other before lowering the Kettlebells back down towards the upper arms into the racked position.
Kettlebell Lateral Raises
Kattlebell Lateral Raises are an isolation exercise for the muscles in the Shoulders. One of the very best isolation Kettlebell exercises, these are a must for any athlete wanting that rippling muscle effect in the Deltoids. Whether it is mass building, definition or something to include in your HIIT cardio training, the Kettlebell Lateral Raise is an exercise that should be considered instrumental in your Kettlebell workouts.
The kettlebell Lateral Raise is very simple to perform and the keys to its productivity as an exercise is to maintain perform form throughout the movement. After taking hold of a pair of Kettlebells, that athlete is required to lift the weights upwards and outwards away from their sides and into a position so the arms are parallel to the floor with the kettlebells hanging from the hands with the bottom of the kettlebells facing the floor. The athlete is then to lower the arms slowly back towards the side of his or her body, resisting the weight the whole way down.
Kettlebell High Pull
The Kettlebell High Pull is a Kettlebell exercise which combines the Dead Lift with the Upright Row. A physically demanding movement the Kettlebell High Pull allows the athlete to a lift a lot heavier weight than they would during the traditional Upright Row and the force and momentum of the initial Dead Lift part means that by the time the lift portion of the exercise has arrived the Kettlebell is already moving with force upwards.
The Kettlebell High Pull is an exercise which also encourages the development of stronger Legs as the Posterior Chain is required to shift the weight from a dead position of the floor.
HIIT cardio is another way in which the Kettlebell High Pull can be used, this compound Kettlebell exercise engages a lot of major muscle groups at the same time which causes great Oxygen demands on the body and therefore puts enormous strain on the Cardio Vascualr system.
To perform the Kettlebell High Pull, the Athlete is required to start from a Squatting position with a Kettlebell placed on the floor in between their Legs. The Kettlebell is then driven upwards using the force created in the Hips and posterior Chain and once at Hip height is rowed upwards towards the Chin. The movment is then reversed downwards so the Kettlebell is placed back on the floor with the body in the Squatting position.
The Kettlebell Goblet Squat is a fantastic strength building exercise for the lower half. With physical training it is very important not to become your typical ‘Gym Body’. What is meant by this is that you do not want to become one of the people you see in your local gym with massive Arms and Chest and little skinny Legs. You will find people like this in every gym and if you are one of the people who find Kettlebell exercises to be your cup of tea, you will certainly want to master the Goblet Squat.
In essence this is a mass building exercise in the Legs and one that will help you generate power in the whole of the posterior chain. The beauty of the Goblet Squat is it can be added into an athletes kettlebell workouts with minimum fuss as the exercise is very simple to perform technique wise, even if it is quite physically demanding.
To perform the Kettlebell Gioblet Squat, the athlete is required to take hold of a Kettlebell with both hands on the handle. Hold the Kettlebell out in front of your body at Chest height and begin to Squat downwards. As with all Kettlebell exercises, remember to deliberately keep your core contracted throughout the movement. At the bottom range of the Goble Squat, allow your elbows to push your knees outwards before retuning back to a standing position.
The Kettlebell Hindu Squat is one of the most beautiful Kettlebell exercises that exist. The reason for this is simple; the Hindu squat has been around for hundreds of years and yet has only evolved in the smallest of ways to make it the mass building exercise it is today.
The Hindu Squat has always been popular and although looks very simply is very physically taxing on not just the muscular tissue but the cardio vascular system. Simply adding a Kettlebell to this exercise, or two depending on how you wish to perform the Hindu Squat transforms this into a key power building movement.
The whole posterior chain is called in for support during this movement which is one of the reasons that the cardio vascular system is stretched during this movement. The activation of the posterior chain engages the fast twitch muscle fibres in the Legs and this is when the potential for building lean muscle mass is really unlocked.
Performing the Kettlebell Hindu Squat is rather simple, providing you can Squat in the first place. The main decision for the athlete to be made is whether they are going to perform this movement with the Kettlebells in the racked position or simply hanging in the hands at either side of the body. Performing from the racked position changes the centre of gravity if the athlete and makes this exercise a lot harder, so do bare this in mind and work within but at the top end of your limitations.