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How to Diversify Your Workout with Kettlebells

Published: 7/14/14

If you have been exercising and seeing results, that’s wonderful! But, if you have suddenly hit a plateau with your workouts that can be a real demotivator. If you have stopped seeing progress with your exercise routine, there is something that can do to get back on track to conquer your fitness goals – kettlebell workouts.

Kettlebells are a piece of strength training equipment that originated in Russia. Kettlebells have been a staple of Russian fitness and strength training since the 1700s. As recently as 14 years ago, kettlebell workouts became a popular fitness tool in the United States.

Kettlebells are usually fashioned out of iron and can be found in weights of 2 pounds all the way up to 100 pounds. Many fitness professionals and avid exercisers prefer taking a class with kettlebells due to this fitness tool’s ability to amp up a workout – as well as provide high intensity cardiovascular training and strength training. Another reason why some people like to train with kettlebells is the kettlebell’s ability to target muscles that can be harder to train through traditional exercises and free weights. Also, using this fitness tool burns fat at a rapid pace and provides a person with more strength building mechanics due to the intensity of the kettlebell workout, according to a study that was conducted by the American Council on Exercise.

Several kettlebell exercises that can diversify your workouts include Kettlebell Front Squats, the Kettlebell Lunge, Kettlebell Windmills and the One Armed Kettlebell Split Jerk, courtesy of Laura Schwecherl of Greatist.

The kettlebell front squat works the arms, glutes, legs, and shoulders. To complete this workout you’ll start by turning your toes out in a 45 degree angle with your feet a little more than shoulder width apart. You will then put your kettlebell on the floor between your legs and begin to squat – gripping the kettlebell by the handle with one hand. Next, use your hips to push upward, pushing your kettlebell upward over your head, then slowly lower your kettlebell back to starting position and perform the same movements with your opposite side.

The kettlebell lunge can be used by beginners and advanced exercisers. This exercise can perk up your usual routine due to the fact that these kettlebell lunges will work your glutes and hamstrings like no other! First, stand straight, holding your kettlebell in front of your chest with two hands and with your arms bent; your palms should be facing each other. You will then lunge forward and push the kettlebell up over your head then return to standing position. Continue this exercise by performing the same actions with your other side.

Kettlebell windmills place an emphasis on the front abdominals, the obliques, hips, and back. To do this kettlebell exercise you will use your left hand and position it at least 45 degrees away from your right arm. You will then push the kettlebell up and lock your arm, then shift the weight of your body to the left leg and bend to the front at your waist. Keep the left arm up and as you bend forward at the hip position the right arm toward your left foot. You will then swing the kettlebell to the opposite hand and perform the same movements in the other direction.

The kettlebell one armed split jerk targets the back, chest, legs and shoulders. To do this exercise you will bring the kettlebell to the left or right shoulder with the palm facing upward. You will then bend your knees and press upward with the kettlebell while jumping and landing in a split position.

The exercises listed above can be performed at home or in your local gym. To get your body out of a plateau and into the next phase of your workout goals, perform these exercises in sets of four – 10 to 12 repetitions per set.

If you are not experienced with the kettlebell there are plenty of fitness classes available that can teach you how to properly utilize this piece of fitness equipment. A word of caution to those who have a weak back or core, do not use kettlebells without first using them under supervision by a reputable, kettlebell-experienced fitness professional. This will help minimize the chance of injury. Also, taking a class with kettlebells can assist you in becoming familiar with the proper techniques and motions associated with kettlebell workouts. These classes will help you refine your mechanics and ensure that you are able to use kettlebells properly.