At the end of January, it was too cold to run outside and too cramped in my tiny living room to do heart-racing HIIT. So I ordered a kettlebell and started sampling some workouts. Here are my thoughts on this workout method, as well as my three favorite routines.
A kettlebell is basically a weighted ball with a large, solid handle on top. The reason it is an excellent workout is physics. In most kettlebell moves, the weight is held far away from your body. The kettlebell turns your entire body into a lever and fulcrum. By adding more weight to the end of the lever, the rest of your body has to work harder to move it around. This gets your heartrate up doing simple, static exercises. Muscle-building kettlebell moves are slower and more stationary compared to dumbbell sets; your body is already working hard enough to try to stabilize the extra weight at the end of your wrist!
The only downside to kettlebells is that form is vitally important to prevent injury, and therefore cannot be modified. With other workouts, like Pilates, there are easy modifications within the form for beginners. With kettlebells, the only modifications are fewer reps or a lighter weight.
Kettlebells worked out great for my small space and my boredom with repetitive routines!
Picking out your Kettlebell
Kettlebells come in weights ranging from 5 pounds up to 40-50 pounds (ridiculous). Kettlebells should generally be heavier than the dumbbells you might typically use, because in general you will be holding or swinging the weight and not lifting it.
I use a 15 pound kettlebell, for reference. I’m 5’0″ and I’m not carrying extra weight, but I’m not muscular, I can do about two chin ups, and I can hold a plank for ages. The 15 pound kettlebell feels appropriate for most parts of my workouts. In all of these videos, there are some moves that I simply have to do fewer reps on.
The best way to pick out a kettlebell is to try one in stores. Brush up on the form for a few kettlebell moves, like the rack and the windmill. Try these out (carefully!) next time you’re at a sporting goods store. They should be challenging but not unbearable, and shaking is not a good sign. Once you have your ideal weight, shop around for the best price. I found mine on Amazon.
All of the routines I’m about to suggest show no one in wrist guards. I can’t imagine the bruises on these instructors’ arms after their routines. Before you do too many racks, Turkish get-ups, and locks, get yourself some wrist guards. I like these ones, because they’re bright and the padding is all the way around. Having the wrist guards on gives me the confidence to be more aggressive with the kettlebell
For Cardio: This one has plenty of modifications, and it really gets my heart rate up.
For Total Body Toning: After doing this one, my laterals were so sore for the first time in ages!
For a Quick Boost: I did this one on a day when I was tired from a lack of sleep. It was a really nice pick me up!
Do you use kettlebells? What are your favorite routines?