Reflex Guest Blog: Getting the Most out of Kettlebell Movements

Kettlebells are a hugely versatile and functional bit of kit and have been used for decades to great effect.  They have seen resurgence in recent years due to the popularity of so called functional training and rightly so. There are very few movements in the gym that you can’t recreate with a set of kettlebells and there are a couple of movements that are unique to them including the lowly kettlebell swing. With the swing alone, you can do a huge variety of sessions ranging from cardiovascular fitness type work to high intensity intervals to even a strength or power session (have you ever tried swinging a 80kg of kettlebell?).

Firstly and most importantly is learning the technique for the kettlebell swing as this will provide a safe base for all of the most common movements including the kettlebell clean and snatch. Teaching the kettlebell swing technique is way beyond the scope of this post so I’ve outlined some common pitfalls below.

The biggest pitfall is squatting when you do the kettlebell swing. By this I mean sitting into it instead of pivoting at the hips. This is meant to be a very natural movement and if you imagine you were trying to throw the kettlebell as far forward as possible, that would be how you would do the basic movement. Swing it between the legs, keeping it close to the crotch and then as it comes out, extend the knees and hips and contract the glutes. Simple.

Another one I see a lot is swinging the kettle to a vertical position above your head. The only reason people swing the kettlebells to this position is to allow for easy judging in certain competitions. For any other purpose, I highly recommend swinging to shoulder height only to promote effectiveness and prevent injury. This is how it was intended and this is how it should be done.

Finally, people tend to use too little weight. When a kettlebell is picked up for the first time, people often curl it to get a feel for it and based on this they decide what they are going to use. However most kettlebell movements are full body, compound movements more akin to the squat or deadlift than the curl so bear that in mind when choosing a weight. By all means take it easy and learn the technique first but don’t be afraid to push the weight up once you’re happy and you’ve got the hang of it.

The workouts below are two examples of how to use kettlebells. The first is a longer workout and suitable for beginners through to advanced users. It’s simply swinging a kettlebell for time. For variety, you can swap hands every few reps or just using both hands on a single kettlebell. You’ll get a sweat on doing this and you can use shorter rest intervals and heavier weights for higher intensity. Alternatively, this is perfect for beginners just to get used to the movement and once the basic technique is down, practice is the key.

WORKOUT

Kettlebell swings.
AMRAP for 4 minutes.
1 minute break.
Do 3-5 rounds.

This second workout is a higher intensity version and shows off the versatility of kettlebells. It combines some of the kettlebell classics (cleans and swings) but also brings in some more traditional movements for variety. The possibilities are endless and this is just one of many variations.

BEGINNER

10 kettlebell swings
10 goblet squats
10 kettlebell deadlifts

INTERMEDIATE

10 kettlebell swings
10 goblet squats
10 kettlebell deadlifts
10 tactical lunges

ADVANCED

10 double kettlebell swings
10 overhead squats
10 kettlebell deadlifts
10 tactical lunges
10 single arm thrusters

For all of the workouts rest for 90 seconds and repeat the circuit 4-6 times depending on fitness level.

Deadlift:

deadlift

Double Kettlebell Swing:

double-kettle-bell-swing

Overhead Squat:

overheadsquat

Tactical Lunge:

tactical-lunge

Thruster:

thruster

Check out our kettlebells here >

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