A Quick And Easy Guide To Get Started With Kettlebell Training
If you are interested in strength training and want to get the best results in the quickest time possible, then you need to get started with kettlebell training.
Kettlebell training is used by men and women of all ages from weekend warriors to elite athletes.
Because they are awesome, that’s why!
Sadly, most people do not ever attempt using kettlebells. Mostly because of the fear of not knowing what to do combined with the fear of making mistakes.
With that said, I hope to put an end to this in this article.
In this article, we are going to give you a very brief introduction to kettlebell training to get you started right away.
This article is part of our strength training for beginners series, be sure to read our workout plans article first.
The Incredible Benefits Of Kettlebell Training
I could write an entire article about the benefits of kettlebell training (I just might!). But for the sake of convenience, let’s just keep it SIMPLE.
A Very Brief Lesson In Physics
Any weighted object has a point where all of its forces intersect and converge. This is called an object’s center of mass.
The center of mass of an object determines the objects mechanical properties.
Quite literally, it determines how an object will move and which muscles you will use to move that object.
Back To Kettlebells…
If you look at the shape of a kettlebell, it looks like a cannonball with handles on it. As awkward as it may look, this shape is the secret to it’s power.
You see, a dumbbell has two separate pieces of metal attached together, both evenly spaced apart.
Resulting in the center of mass of a dumbbell being directly in the middle of the grip.
Thus a dumbbell will isolate a muscle more than a kettlebell, but it will have less real world carryover.
A kettlebell, on the other hand, has it’s center of mass in the center of the bell itself, not the handle.
This forces our joints and muscles to generate an incredible amount of stability in order to move the kettlebell safely and with maximal force.
Giving you much more bang for your buck!
“Real World” Benefits
Kettlebell training will:
- Increases Mobility
- Increase Speed And Power
- Increases Vertical Jump
- Melt Off Body Fat
- Increase Cardiovascular Conditioning
- Bulletproof Your Joint Health
- Increase Athleticism
- Strengthen the Posterior Chain
- Uproot Hidden Weaknesses
- Improve Your Posture
- Improve Your METCON Stats
- Increase Your Squat And Deadlift
- Superior Form Of Cardio
- Work Your Entire Body
That was a big list! But it is not everything. There are so many more benefits to kettlebell training.
However, this is an introductory article, so I will keep it brief.
Learning The Basics Of Kettlebell Training
To begin kettlebell training, we have to start with the basics. That is….
Learning to Deadlift.
I go into this in much more detail in my check your deadlift form article. Be sure to give it a read, because learning the deadlift is much easier with a kettlebell than it is with a barbell.
First, position the kettlebell directly between your feet with your toes pointed slightly out. Make sure that the handles are in-line with the center of your foot.
Next, keep your weight on your heels and push your hips behind you while keeping your back flat.
Grip the kettlebell, keep your arms straight, push through your heels and stand up straight at attention.
That is 1 rep!
Now reverse the motion until you place the kettlebell down on the ground and repeat for around 10-15 repetitions.
One you get the form down, aim for 3-4 total sets.
This is the first step to using kettlebells, but we are far from done. The first kettlebell exercise we will learn is the kettlebell swing.
The Kettlebell Pre-Swing
If I could rate on a scale of 1-10 the hardest part learning to swing, it would be the pre-swing.
This is where we transition from the deadlift to the kettlebell swing.
You are going to perform the deadlift first, but this time at the top, you are going to push your hips forward when you lock your hips out.
The kettlebell will swing slightly in front of you, when it comes back to your hips, immediately go back down into a deadlift.
This is not as easy as it sounds, the temptation is to bend your elbows when the kettlebell swings, but DO NOT BEND THE ELBOWS!
Keep them straight, if you catch yourself bending them, stop and start over again.
One you start to get the hang of this, perform for 3 sets of 20 repetitions to really drill the form down.
Now we are actually going to start swinging.
Perform the same exercise from phase 1 but this time when the kettlebell swings in front of you, you are going to swing it back.
To do this, you need to fold your hips and push your butt behind you, but keep the knees slightly bent and do not go back down into a deadlift.
This is called a hip hinge and it is vital to you success in kettlebell training.
Once your hips are behind you, contract the glutes and shoot your hips forward explosively until the kettlebell is about shoulder height.
When it comes back down, absorb the impact with the hips and shoot the weight back up again.
While doing this:
- Do not bend the elbows at any time.
- Keep the knees slightly bent (except during the lockout).
- Keep the kettlebell close to the body
- Make sure you keep the spine neutral (do not bend)
Phase 2 covers a lot of new movements, but with practice you will master them in no time.
If you catch yourself performing any part of the swing poorly, stop the exercise and correct yourself.
Start slowly and just do many small sets of 3-5 swings at first. This will help reinforce good technique.
Gradually work your way up to 20-25 swings.
When you finish a set, simply absorb the impact with your hips and place the kettlebell back on the ground in a deadlift fashion.
Once you get this down, phase 3 is a piece of cake.
Once you master phase 2, phase 3 adds just one more movement, the hike.
In order for your kettlebell training to be complete you need to learn how to hike the kettlebell into a swing instead of deadlifting it.
The hike gives you a more explosive start, which allows you to lift more weight and get stronger.
To perform, set up the same way you would for a deadlift, but instead place the kettlebell on the ground about 6 inches in front of your toes.
Grab the handle and hike the kettlebell behind you with straight arms.
Then squeeze your glutes and explode forward with your hips with as much force as possible until the kettlebell reaches shoulder height.
Then proceed as you would during a regular swing from phase 2.
It’s that simple!
Once you get the hike down you have officially started kettlebell training.
Aim for sets of 20-30 reps to start, then you can start to increase the weight just like you would normally for any weight training.
When To Train The Kettlebell Swing
If your new to kettlebell training then you want to train swings at least 2-3 times a week, preferably at the end of your workouts. This way you are nice and warm.
The absolute best way to train the kettlebell swing is with interval circuits.
If you made it through phases 1-3 with all of the strength and movement exercises at the end of each phase, then you should be good to go for interval circuits.
Try this one:
Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and swing for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this until the timer runs out.
After performing this circuit you will feel like you just ran a 10k. But the benefits are amazing.
You will torch body fat and build sculpted lean muscle like crazy.
My goal with this article was to teach you how to use kettlebells if you are new to kettlebell training.
There is too much info out there about a wide variety of kettlebell exercises.
However, the kettlebell swing is THE most important part of kettlebell training. If you don’t take the time to learn the kettlebell swing, then all of your future training will be build on a foundation of sand.
There is so much more detail I could get into but for the sake of length, I don’t want this article to get too long.
For more information be sure to check out the following resources:
Need More Deadlift Practice?
Having Trouble With The Hip Hinge?
Need Help Selecting A Kettlebell To Buy?
Our Recommended Kettlebell Brand For Anyone On A Budget:
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