Q:

How Can I Get the Most from My Kettlebells?

It's a great fitness tool—but there are other ways to use it besides swings

Jul 16, 2015
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Use the right kettlebell moves and you can hit nearly every muscle group in one workout.    Photo: lvinst/iStock

A:

Kettlebells can be a great addition to your weight routine, even if you already use a bar or dumbbells. The easy-grab handle allows you to adjust your grip as you move through each exercise (and often more quickly, so the moves double as cardio), and the off-center mass means your muscles work harder to maintain stability.

“Done with proper form, kettlebell training has so many benefits, including building core strength and improving heart health," says Juan Hidalgo, an instructor for BFX Studio's Box and Bell classes in New York City. "It is also a key way to boost flexibility, balance and coordination.”

Add these moves (along with the good old kettlbell swing) to your routine three times a week. Some things to keep in mind: The weight you choose for your kettlebells should vary depending on the exercise, but a good starting point is to select ones that are 5 to 10 pounds heavier than the weight you'd use for similar dumbbell moves, says Hidalgo. You should be able to complete all reps, but should be fatigued by the end of each set. 

Do three sets each.  

Kettlebell Windmill

kettlebell-windmill.jpg
  Photo: Courtesy of Juan Hidalgo

Main muscle group: Abdominals
Secondary muscle group: Hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, triceps
 
Start with the kettlebell in your right hand, feet shoulder-width apart, left foot turned out. Press the kettlebell overhead so it forms a straight line with your right shoulder and hip. Turn head and chest to look up at the kettlebell. Keeping eyes on the kettlebell and the kettlebell directly over right shoulder, hinge to the left at waist. Activate core and slide left hand down your leg to touch left heel. To return to the starting position, squeeze glutes, hamstrings, and abdominals to pull body back up to standing. Do 10 to 12 reps; switch sides and repeat. 

Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up 

kettlebell-turkish-getup.jpg
  Photo: Courtesy of Juan Hidalgo

Main muscle group: Shoulders
Secondary muscle group: Abdominals, hamstrings, quadriceps, triceps
 
Start lying on your back, kettlebell in right hand, right arm pressing up so kettlebell is directly over shoulder. Reach left arm straight out on the floor, palm down. Bend right knee so right foot is flat on the floor. Activate your core as you start to sit up, keeping kettlebell over your shoulder. As your upper body reaches upright position, push through your right foot and left palm, raising your hips off the floor and slipping your left leg behind you into a lunge, left knee under hips. Continue to squeeze your core and obliques and push through your right foot to stand, bringing your left foot to meet the right. Reverse to start. Do 8 to 10 reps; switch sides and repeat. 

Kettlebell Squat-Press

kettlebell-press.jpg
  Photo: Courtesy of Juan Hidalgo

Main muscle group: Quads, shoulders.
Secondary muscle group: Glutes, hamstrings, calves, triceps
 
Start with your stance shoulder-width apart, two kettlebells between your feet. Bend knees and grab a kettlebell handle with each hand. "Clean" the kettlebells http://kettlebellsworkouts.com/teaching-points-for-the-kettlebell-clean/ by exploding upward with knees and hips, hoisting the kettlebells up and rotating your wrists so your knuckles touch in center of your chest, kettlebells resting on forearms. Lower into a squat, keeping weight in your heels and knees behind your toes. As you rise back up to standing, press the kettlebells overhead in one fluid motion. Lower your arms to clean position. Do 12 to 15 reps. 

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