What is a kettlebell?
You may have seen them in your gym. Ominous lumps of metal that essentially look like cannon balls with handles. Little did you know that these may be your secret weapon in your quest to get fitter, leaner, bigger, stronger or better. Adding kettlebells into your routine can benefit you in many ways, no matter what your goals are.
There are many different types of exercises that you can do with a kettlebell. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll have a look at the potential benefits of that most iconic of all kettlebell movements – the swing.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW6ax_Wp0P4
The swing is an excellent movement for cardio-vascular fitness. It is a metabolic conditioner that incorporates the benefits of resistance training to really work your system.
The suggested starting weight for the average person is 12kg for females and 20kg for men. Using this weight is a great way to start off with the swing. So, once you’ve got your technique down, get blasting out some reps and really feel your heart start to pound!
If you goal is fat loss then in addition to the benefit to your fitness levels you’ll also be expending some serious calories.
The kettlebell swing has greater benefits than a lot of other forms of cardio too, as you’re also seeing metabolic and muscular benefits that combine for a potentially huge calorie burn. If you want to increase your calorie expenditure whilst minimising the risk of losing muscle, the swing is a top choice for this.
If your goal is to build muscle then the swing can help you pile on the volume. The swing is a compound movement, using several muscles at the same time, including some of the smaller ones that you can’t hit directly with isolation work.
You’ll find quite quickly that once you have the correct form and technique you can start progressing onto heavier weights. Selecting a heavier kettlebell and going all out will show some real results. The swing hits, to varying degrees, the following muscles – quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals, gluteus maximus, lower back, lattisimus dorsi, deltoids.
This exercise helps you build muscle where it counts – your posterior chain and stability muscles.
After a heavy kettlebell workout you can then get those much-needed calories in by rewarding yourself with a tasty treat, because, why not?
The swing has obvious carry-over benefits to other movements; it works, conditions and strengthens the entire posterior chain, as well as a lot of the muscles that are used for stability. These are both key components in many exercises, including one of the big ones; the deadlift.
The key to a properly executed kettlebell swing is mastering the hip-hinge. This allows the swing to really flow and enables you to achieve proper form and technique to really feel the benefits. This has direct-portability to the deadlift where the hip-hinge is also an extremely important factor.
Heavy kettlebells also work on and condition the grip, something that any serious lifter can benefit from.
Kettlebells can also potentially help improve performance in your sport. Swings improve the same mechanisms in the body that are used in sprinting and jumping, for example.
The explosive nature of the swing and the forces generated in its execution can be similar to those generated when sprinting and can be used to improve power output. Speed comes from the hips and the swing is the master hip conditioner.
If your sport has a running or jumping component to it, then chances are the swing can increase your performance.
As you can see, the kettlebell swing is a hugely beneficial movement no matter what your goals are and almost anyone can benefit from using it. Going by this, and the fact that we haven’t even looked at anything else this wonderful tool can be used for, can you afford not to have a kettlebell in your routine?