Kettlebell exercises are an effective way of shaping up from head to toe. And because the weights themselves are small and super easy to use, they make the perfect home gym staple!
Simple to master, these five kettlebell workouts will help you to tone up your legs, arms and abs, while also strengthening the muscles in your back
Simple to master, these five kettlebell workouts will help you to tone up your legs, arms and abs, while also strengthening the muscles in your back to support your spine and boost your overall health.
So if your fitness goal is to tone your muscles, shed a few pounds, protect your body against future injuries or simply up your fitness level, grab a kettlebell and let’s get started!
THE KETTLEBELL SWING
Good for: As well as working your legs and toning your arms, abs and thighs, this exercise is also great for improving range of movement in your hips, and building strength in your lower back.
How to do it: Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell in front of you with both hands. Your arms should be relaxed and resting against your thighs, with your palms facing in. Keeping your chest up and your back flat (not rounded), squat down slightly as you prepare to swing the kettlebell up and out, making sure you have a good grip on the handle. As you swing the kettlebell up, gently thrust out your hips and keep your stomach muscles tight. Remember to bend the knees as you bring the kettlebell back down to protect your back, swinging it backwards through the middle of your legs. Return to the starting position, and repeat the whole movement 10 times.
TIP: It’s much safer to use a lower weight kettlebell and perform more repetitions to work up a sweat, rather than risk injury with a weight that’s too heavy.
AROUND THE BODY PASS
Good for: This is a great exercise for strengthening your body’s core. As well as toning your abs and obliques (where love handles sit), it helps improve your range of movement and boosts the strength in your arms too.
How to do it: Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, back straight and knees slightly bent, holding the kettlebell in front of you with both hands. Shift the kettlebell into your right hand, and move both arms behind your back. Using your left hand, take the kettlebell and bring it back to the front, so that the weight has travelled in a complete circle around your body. Repeat the circle 10 times, and then switch direction for another 10.
TIP: Keep your stomach muscles firm while you perform this exercise to reap the benefits for your core, and try not to twist your hips while you pass the kettlebell behind you.
Good for: Primarily an abdominal exercise, the figure-8 movement helps to tone and strengthen your core, while also working your thighs, arms and shoulders.
How to do it: Once you get the hang of this, it’s really quite fun! Start with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart and knees bent in an almost half-squat position, with your back straight and your chest up. Hold a kettlebell behind your left leg with one arm on each side of your leg (one arm will be reaching ‘through’ your legs). Now, with your left hand, swing the kettlebell in front of your leg and through the middle of your legs until it’s behind your right leg. With your right arm, grab the kettlebell, and swing it in front of your right leg, through the middle of your legs returning it to the starting point behind your left leg. That’s one figure-8, now repeat 10 times
TIP: Start off slow with this one and keep control of the kettlebell. You should be moving steadily and smoothly, rather than fast and unevenly.
Good for: Squats are a great way to work your whole body. Though it’s your legs and glute muscles (thighs and bum) doing most of the work, you’ll also be strengthening your lower back and stomach muscles, as well as toning your arms and shoulders.
How to do it: Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest. Your elbows should be bent and close to your body. Keeping your back straight (this is important to avoid injury) and chest up, push your hips back and bend your knees as you squat down. Press into your heels to really engage your glute muscles as you push back up to return to standing. Do 10 to 15 repetitions.
TIP: To reduce any strain on your knees, try to keep the tips of your knees directly over the tips of your feet as you squat down, rather than letting them jut further forward.
Good for: Another exercise that works several areas of your body at the same time, one-arm rows focus on your upper back muscles, but also use your biceps, triceps, stomach muscles and lower back to help complete the movement.
How to do it: Hold the kettlebell in one hand, squat slightly and bend from your hips, so that your torso is almost at a 90 degree angle. Lean against a wall or a sturdy chair with your free hand if you need some extra support. Letting your arm holding the weight hang loose, tighten your core muscles and start to pull the weight towards you, bending at the elbow and keeping the weight in line with the outer edge of your chest. Lower it back down steadily and then repeat 10 times before switching arms.
TIP: Keep your elbow close to your body while you lower the kettlebell, and focus on using the muscles in your upper back to control the movement.
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