Kettlebell workouts are a swinging way to get fit, and to help you meet your new year goals, here’s the best kettle bell workout for beginners. Because, when it comes to versatility and achieving a sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping workout, nothing quite compares to the compact, time-saving excellence of a kettblebell.
"These really are an ancient method of training that derived from Olympic weightlifting techniques," says Marvin Burton, Head of Fitness at Anytime Fitness UK, when quizzed about these funny-looking steel lumps with little handles.
"Exercises such as the snatch, cleans and swings provide an entire body integration to complete each move successfully. Thus, elevating the heart rate, burning more calories and training the whole body in a short space of time," he adds.
The kettlebell's versatility is its major selling point, as the rounded handle and ergonomic shape means they can be held in all manner of positions, while escalating weights enables the user to gradually progress, lose belly fat, get stronger, and achieve a pretty rocking body as a result.
"Having been used historically by many Olympic athletes, kettlebell competitions and events still exist to this day in many countries around the world. In modern day exercises, the kettlebell is a popular and effective way of conditioning, but it's definitely something that requires mastering to use correctly," Marvin adds.
How to get started with kettlebell training
It is highly likely that when you think about kettlebell training, your mind is instantly transported to a place where muscular folk nonchalantly swing these heavy iron lumps around with gay abandon.
That's partly true, but learning to swing a kettlebell correctly requires a lot of practice, while the correct form is essential to avoid jarring injuries. Swinging an 8kg kettlebell creates a lot of momentum, and if you don't have the control or muscle mass to keep on top of this, it can cause all manner of damage, especially to the vulnerable lower back.
"The kettlebell is heavier at the base, therefore as the weight swings or moves, there will be an additional pull or stretch to your muscles and joints," Marvin explains.
"For those new to the art of kettlebell training, it is wise to start with some simple moves that restrict the amount of inertia the kettlebell creates. Remember, start each movement slowly and gradually increase speed. Make sure you have enough space around you, because dropping the Kettlebell could cause considerable damage, and transition between the exercises safely. Most accidents occur when we become tired and our awareness decreases," he adds.
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A complete kettlebell workout for complete novices
It’s much easier to work to a set time rather than counting repetitions when using kettlebells. There are a lot of muscles working and the movements can be complex, so remove the mental strain of counting and set your stopwatch - then you can focus on your technique and controlling the weights.
Complete each exercise for 60 seconds, taking a 30 second rest after each one. Cycle through the five exercises and perform three circuits in total. This brings your total workout time to less than 20 minutes.
Remember to start off light, selecting a kettlebell you can comfortably press, lunge and squat with. These can be bought easily online, but it is worth getting a selection of weights to aid with progression. Also, some exercises will require a slightly heavier 'bell.
All the exercises listed below will work the entire body. Although, the main muscle groups and benefits are listed for each one, so you can pick and choose if you want to specialise..
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Squat and Press (two light kettlebells of equal weight)
Hold a kettlebell in each hand with the weight mounted on the back of the forearms (this is calledthe racked position). Hold the kettlebells close to the body at shoulder height, while lowing into a deep squat. As you accelerate back up to a standing position, extend both arms up overhead to a press. Keep the feet flat and back straight. Try to perform the motion in one continuous action.
Muscles worked: Glutes, thighs and shoulders
Reverse Lunge with pass under (single medium kettlebell)
Hold the kettlebell by the handle in one hand at the side of your body. With the opposite leg to the side you are holding the kettlebell, lunge backwards. While in a lunge position, pass the kettlebell under your front thigh and collect the bell in the opposite hand. Return to a standing position and repeat using the opposing leg and passing the bell under the front leg.
Muscles worked: Almost everything, this is especially good for balance and coordination
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Seated twist (single light kettlebell)
Start seated on the floor holding a single small kettlebell around the base of the bell (the main body). Lean slightly back to engage your core, rotate your shoulders and torso, turning from left to right, twisting the upper body. Start with the feet grounded. You can elevate from the ground if you feel confident and want an extra balance challenge.
Muscles worked: Abdominals and some lower back
Sumo Squat (single heavy kettlebell)
Stand with your legs wide and toes turned outwards. Hold the kettlebell in two hands by the handle, between your legs. Squat to a low position and rise back to the starting point. Keep the feet flat and back straight.
Muscles worked: Glutes, most leg muscles and inner thighs
Lateral Lunge Goblet Hold (single medium kettlebell)
Start standing with your feet together, holding a medium bell in front of the body, by the handle. Step to the side (lateral) into a lunge position and allow the weight to lower between the legs, towards your ankle. Keep your chest lifted and avoid leaning forwards from the hip. Return back to the start and alternate the exercise to the opposing side.
Muscles worked: Most major muscle groups with added coordination and balance benefits
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