How to Use a Kettlebell
Kettlebells are having a moment. These cannonball-like weights with handy grab bars come from a traditional Russian sport called girevoy sport. Unlike the ubiquitous barbells you can find in any weight-training room, kettlebells help you build flexibility as well as muscle. Many kettlebell workouts burn fat, strengthen your grip, and improve your balance as well. Even if you’ve seen these unique exercise tools at the gym, you may not have taken the time to learn how to use a kettle bell, so today we’re discussing kettlebell safety tips and common workout moves.
Fun Kettlebell Facts
Before we dig into practical safety and exercise tips, let’s learn a bit more about kettlebells.
A Hulking Tool
The standard weight range for kettlebells is 15 to 75 pounds. When you are first learning how to use a kettlebell, it might seem heavier than a free weight. This is because you hold it away from your body when doing many of the exercises.
Kettlebells are made from cast iron or steel. Some are cast as a single pieces for added strength and durability, while others combine the handle piece and ball piece.
Cast-iron kettlebells graduate in size as they get heavier. Be aware, however, that the weight stamped on each unit is approximate rather than precise. Cast-iron kettlebells are somewhat less expensive than their professional-grade steel counterparts.
In contrast, Steel Kettlebells are precision engineered to be within a gram or so of their stated weight. All steel kettlebells are the same size, though the shape may vary from one manufacturer to the next. The size of the hollow space inside the bell determines the weight of each unit.
Merry & Bright
Most kettlebells have a color coating to help you recognize their weight by sight. The following weights and colors are standard:
- Red — 32 kg (70.5 lb)
- Orange — 28 kg (61.7 lb)
- Green — 24 kg (52.9 lb)
- Purple — 20 kg (44.1 lb)
- Yellow — 16 kg (35.3 lb)
- Blue — 12 kg (26.5 lb)
- Pink — 8 kg (17.6 lb)
Kettlebells have flat bottoms, so they stay put instead of rolling away when you set them down. This is important because you may be using more than one weight during your workout, and you need to know you can grab it easily without breaking your stride. The coating colors also make it easier to grab the right one mid-workout.
Safety Tips for Picking Up the Kettlebell
Form and technique are crucial to an effective kettlebell workout. You must hold your body correctly to prevent injuries, paying particular attention to your back. If you are new to the kettlebell, be sure to keep the following safety tips in mind:
- As with any new exercise or sport, ease into your routine to prevent beginner injuries. Consider working with a personal trainer at first to ensure that you understand the proper form for kettlebell exercises.
- Maintain a standard foundational stance, with your feet planted firmly and your weight back on your heels.
- Avoid lifting the kettlebell above your head or shoulder because a slip could cause a serious injury.
- Be mindful of your lower back when lifting and working out with kettlebells. Source your power from your glutes and quads.
How to Use a Kettlebell
When you are first learning how to use a kettlebell, you should focus on three basic moves: the swing, the figure 8, and the double-hand high pull.
The swing is an elemental exercise that benefits your core, glutes, hamstrings, and heart. Begin by setting a lightweight kettlebell at your feet. With your feet just a bit farther apart than your shoulders and your toes slightly splayed, squat down, bending your knees. Keep your back straight and relaxed. Grab the kettlebell with both hands. Take a deep breath, and straighten your knees in an explosive, piston-type movement while you swing the kettlebell upward to shoulder-level, arms straight out in front of you. Exhale as you slowly lower the kettlebell, keeping your back straight and your abs clenched. Resume your starting crouch, resting the bell on the floor. Repeat eight to 10 times.
The Figure 8
The figure 8 familiarizes you with the feel of the kettlebell while strengthening your core muscles. Place the bell on the floor just in front of your feet, which should be about shoulders’ width apart. Remember to ground yourself with your weight on your heels. Position yourself in a crouch with your thighs roughly parallel to the floor. Grasp a lightweight kettlebell in one hand, swinging it slowly between your legs and switching it to the opposite hand behind. Bring the bell around the leg to the front and repeat. You should be moving the kettlebell in a figure 8 pattern, which crosses when it passes through your legs. Do eight to 10 repetitions your first time out.
The Double-Hand High Pull
The double-hand high pull begins like the swing, but you pull the kettlebell upward rather than swinging it outward. With your back relaxed and straight, feet apart, squat and grasp the kettlebell with both hands. Inhale, piston your legs upward while pulling the bell straight up to your chest, arms bent and elbows pointing upward. Slowly lower the kettlebell, keeping it under control, while you squat back down to place it on the floor. Do eight to 10 repetitions to start. This exercise not only works your glutes, abs, and quads but also builds arm strength.
Purchasing a Kettlebell
Once you learn how to use a kettlebell and your body is acclimated to this new form of exercise, you can challenge yourself with more complicated routines that keep you fit and engaged. You should aim to work with kettlebells three or four times per week. Now that you know how to use a kettlebell, why not purchase some kettlebells to use at home?
If you’re looking to buy kettlebells or any other sort of exercise equipment, Fitness Gallery is here to help. We handpick each piece of fitness equipment sold in our stores, so you know that you’re getting high-quality products at a great value. Plus, we have top-of-the-line used equipment for those on a budget. To learn more, please visit our online store, or stop by our showrooms in Denver (CO) or Highlands Ranch (CO). Our knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect equipment for your fitness goals.