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For whom the bell tolls: Maximize your workouts with kettlebells

If you are looking to start working out in the convenience of your own home, a local park or anywhere that does not require much equipment, then your best bet for a great full body workout is to invest in a few kettlebells.

The advantage to working out with kettlebells is that they can be used to perform metabolism boosting combination exercises with a comfortable grip due to their large handles.

One such exercise is the “Figure 8.”  In this exercise you begin by standing with the feet a little wider than shoulder width in a squat stance.

Bend the knees just enough to allow room to pass the kettlebell through the front of the opening between the legs with one hand while the other hand receives it from behind the legs.

Alternate the hands making the kettlebell move in an “S” pattern for each side. Completing each side will make the full “Figure 8” path of the kettlebell.

Another advantage to using kettlebells is that they are a very safe way to incorporate ballistic training into your workout routine.

Ballistic training is defined as strength training performed with controlled but fast motion with power. The large handle and balance of a kettlebell make ballistic training with the equipment extremely effective.

A great ballistic exercise for hamstrings, lower back and overall core is the kettlebell swing. It is a great calorie burning movement.

One of the most important aspects of the kettlebell swing is the joint at which the body bends. Many times the spine is bent during the exercise. This is incorrect and harmful.

The correct way to perform the exercise is to use the hip hinge to bend the body. This will keep the lower back in alignment throughout the movement.

The best way to lock into a hip hinge is to slightly bend the knees as if you are doing a partial squat. Let the chest go forward while keeping the glutes high.

There should be no bending of the spine whatsoever. The shoulders and back remain straight with no rounding or curving.

To perform the kettlebell swing motion hold both hands over the handle of the kettlebell and swing it upward with straight arms. As the weight of the kettlebell comes down let the hip hinge bend the body in a very fluid motion.

Try to keep the kettlebell as close to the groin as possible as it swings downward. Let it swing back between the legs a good bit to engage the hamstring muscles effectively. It should feel similar to hiking a football.

Another great exercise for toning and burning calories that can most effectively be done using a kettlebell is the tactical lunge.

Basically a tactical lunge is a regular forward lunge stepping forward and bending both knees at 90 degree angles combined with the motion of passing the kettlebell from one hand through the opening between the legs to the other hand receiving it on the other side.

Alternate sides as you alternate legs with tactical lunges. By adding the motion of passing the kettlebell through the legs the oblique muscles are worked out to help tone up the sides of the abdominals.

As with regular forward lunges make sure to keep the shoulders and chest back and maintain good posture throughout the movement.

These three exercises are excellent additions to any full body workout program. They incorporate movements that are new for the body and will help accelerate your results.

Kettlebells are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at almost any store that sells sporting goods. They last a lifetime and do not take up much space.

Start using this amazing piece of equipment and see for yourself why they have become a new standard in fitness!

Sammy Cusimano is the founder of Genesys Training based out of New Orleans, Louisiana, and has been a professional trainer since 2001. His experience with training clients ranges from competitive athletes to senior citizens. Cusimano’s goal as a trainer is to help clients safely reach their fitness potential and become the best version of themselves for overall health and wellness.


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