By Cody Lichthardt, Personal Trainer, Rock Valley Physical Therapy
If you work out in a gym, you may have seen kettlebells. They are worth adding to your fitness routine.
A kettlebell’s shape is unique. Unlike a dumbbell with a handle centered between 2 weights, a kettlebell’s weight is positioned directly below the handle. This makes it easier to balance and hold.
Some exercises are made safer because of this design. Here are 2 that will enhance your strengthening goals.
The kettlebell swing is one of the most popular exercises performed with a kettlebell and for good reason. It can be used to achieve a wide variety of training goals, from developing power to improving conditioning.
The swing is a hip hinge movement pattern that utilizes several large muscle groups including the glutes, hamstrings, quads and shoulders.
To perform the swing, start by picking out a kettlebell. It’s important to use a kettlebell that is heavy enough to force you to use your lower body. If you can raise the kettlebell up to shoulder height using just your arms, it is too light.
Standing with your feet shoulder width, pick up the kettlebell by the handle with a double overhand grip. (See more photos below.)
Before starting the movement, make sure your chest is up and shoulders are back. Your spine should be neutral.
Bend at the hips as you lower the weight down and back between your legs, making sure to minimize the amount of knee bend.
Trying to squat the kettlebell is another mistake I see often. Remember the swing is primarily a hip hinge movement.
Now flex your glutes, which will make your hips and the kettlebell go forward and up until it reaches shoulder height, and swing in a controlled movement.
Now, without coming to a complete stop, allow the kettlebell to fall, using your lower body to absorb the force. Repeat.
The goblet squat is the squat variation that I myself use the most and the one that I program for my clients more than any other variation.
It is a squat movement pattern that primarily utilizes the quads, glutes and hamstrings.
To perform the exercise, first choose a kettlebell that you can do at least 8 reps with. (This squat variation is not ideal for higher weight, lower repetition training.)
Pick-up the kettlebell by the bell with the horns below the bell and hold it like a goblet at your chin. Holding the weight in this position allows you to maintain a more upright spine position, reducing the chance of injury to your lower back.
With your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and your toes pointed out slightly, descend as far as you feel comfortable, keeping in mind that a full range of motion is going to be more beneficial.
Without leaning forward, push through your heels while keeping your knees out to return to the start position. Repeat.
Cody Lichthardt is a Performance Enhancement Specialist at Quad City Sport Performance and a Certified Personal Trainer at Rock Valley Health. Cody works to help others gain the benefits of training and proper nutrition. You can read Cody’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.