Using a Kettlebell and 3 Workouts to Try!

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.

Why Kettlebells?

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

The Routines

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?

My 2015 Vision Board

I was inspired by this post from Light by Coco to make a vision board. Here is how I am visualizing 2015!

2015visionboard

Images sourced from Pinterest searches

From right to left, top to bottom:

  1. Do a handstand. Build strength. Continue my yoga practice. Stay strong.
  2. Run more. Make a habit of it. Increase distance. Find new trails.
  3. Keep a prayer journal. Be consistent. Be faithful. Become a prayer warrior.
  4. Keep an art journal. Be consistent. Improve on texture. Improve on light.
  5. Keep knitting. Use yarn from the stash. Make my first sweater.
  6. Give better gifts. Remember birthdays. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  7. Maintain my blog. Post regularly. Keep up social interactions. Take more pictures for it.
  8. Do more “big girl” paperwork. Help with taxes, mortgage. Create and maintain a budget.
  9. Curate my wardrobe. Nicer shoes. Sleeker shirts. Increase professionalism.
  10. Pray more.
  11. Communicate. Makes more calls. Skype more. Remember birthdays. Friends, family, acquaintances.
  12. Eat what I love. Indulge in complicated dishes. Fill the pantry with my favorites.
  13. Bake a perfect loaf of bread.
  14. Handle my anxiety. Journal. Talk. Breathe. Fight back. Stay positive. Remember to smile.
  15. Work toward my dream. Get my sub license. Assistant teach. Stay sharp. Find a mentor.

The Mindset

I’m knitting my first garment, if it can be called that. It’s the Tulip Tank Top from Purl Bee, which is a scant short-row front crossed behind the back and finished with thin straps and a slightly cowled front. I blocked my Hemlock Ring Blanket and the dried octopus blocked out to a larger dried octopus. The edges don’t lie flat and I don’t know what I did wrong. It’s rumpled on the back of the couch right now, looking rumpled-squared just because of it’s horridness. I have to read up on frogging and reusing blocked yarn because that’s the only redeeming action I can think of to do with it. Our placemats are in the wash, and I couldn’t even throw it on the table.

These (the blanket and the tank) have been my longest projects in recent memory. I’ve been dreading picking up the needles and sliding the sticky cotton back and forth in short rows until I started picturing the end result. Back at school, in a chic, unique top. Washing it carefully in the utility sink in the basement, answering questions from passerby on what this special item is that demands the attention of a lost art (hand washing). I do this when I work out, too. Ab lines, sculpted hips, and firm triceps dance in my head when I’m neck deep in Pilates.

If anyone is wondering, this magic stops once the item is finished. No amount of wistful imagination is fixing the dried octopus blanket.