As far as modern gym equipment goes, kettlebells are ancient. They were a rage in the early years of the 20th century, when European strongmen and Russian wrestlers used them extensively to condition their bodies. The kettlebell is basically a round weight attached to a handle, and it’s used primarily to build explosive strength—movements where you need bursts of power, and which build real strength in muscle, not just volume. Because the weight tends to swing around when you lift it, a kettlebell demands more effort from smaller, stabilizing muscles as well as the core. Its small size also encourages a greater range of motion in comparison to a barbell—all this translates to a workout where the entire body has to pitch in to provide power, not just isolated muscles. Here are two of the best moves you can do with the kettlebell.
Grasp the kettlebell with both hands, make sure you have a good grip and it doesn’t go flying out of your hands when you swing it. Lift the kettlebell in front of you, with your hands straight, but keep your elbows slightly bent. Now push back into a squat position, brace your core, keep your back straight, and focus on putting your weight on your hips and your heels. Once in the squat position, make sure you are well balanced, and your heels are digging into the ground. Now squeeze your glutes and explode upwards from the hips, swinging your hands up using the momentum from the hips. This is not a shoulder exercise, so the main thrust of raising the kettlebell should not come from the shoulder muscles. All major muscle groups come into play for this exercise, but the glutes, hamstrings and core, which are involved in almost all lifting, running and jumping movements, bear the brunt of the load. Do a set of 10 swings with a weight that you are easy and comfortable with, before progressing to heavier weights and/or more repetitions. You can also use it for an effective cardio and muscle endurance conditioning session by doing lots of quick repetitions with a light kettlebell.
• Keep your back straight and your core tight, • Press your heels hard into the ground; • The hamstrings, core and hips take the maximum load, • Use the momentum from your hips to swing the bell up
2. Dead lift
• Look straight ahead, and keep your weight on your glutes; • Don’t curve your back at the end of the movement
Hold a kettlebell in each hand, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outwards. Look straight ahead and bend your knees and hips and push down into a squat with the kettlebell held straight in front of you. The elbows should be bent very slightly and not locked. Brace your core, and keep your back straight. Push down with your heels on the floor and drive yourself upwards into a standing position in one smooth motion. Generate the power through the legs, hips and core. Pay careful attention to keeping your back straight throughout the exercise. If the back is rounded, there is little benefit in the movement and a lot of scope for injury. Start with one set of 10 lifts per session with weights you are comfortable using.
Model: Nirbhey Singh. Workout details: Ozone Fitness and Spa, New Delhi.
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