3 Kettlebell Training Exercises to Test the Waters

I’m just coming off an exhausting weekend where I hardly spent any time at home and barely had any time to do any kettlebell training.  

As a result, I’ve decided to share a great article written by Craig Ballantyne about 3 kettlebell exercises that you can try if you’re just getting into kettlebell training.

Enjoy….

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3 Kettlebell Training Exercises to Test The Waters

There seems to be a certain reservation among “regular” gym goers when it comes to trying Kettlebell training.

I say this because when I train with my clients at the gym and have them do work with kettlebells, there always seems to be 3 or 4 wandering eyes peering over at what we are doing.

It’s pretty humorous because some will resort to stealth-like ninja techniques to perform the “wandering-eye-walk-by” whereby they pretend to be on their way to the water fountain and just casually stroll by 4 or 5 times to try and catch some instruction.

But honestly, 4 drinks in between your sets of ab/adductor machine?

Truth be told, Kettlebell Training is gaining momentum and it’s good to see that people are actually taking an interest in a simpler alternative to “traditional” weight training.

So with that being said, let me see if I can ease you into Kettlebell Training.

Here are 3 exercises you can start doing today, just by “subbing-in” a kettlebell for a dumbbell…

1. Substitute KB Military Press for any type of Overhead Pressing with a Dumbbell

Pick up a kettlebell and bring in it in close to your body ensuring that 1) your WRIST STAYS IN NEUTRAL (never flexing or extending) and 2) it is resting in the nook of your arm between your bicep and forearm (take a look at the picture of me above left in the header).

Brace your abs hard, pretending that someone is about to punch you in the stomach. Keeping your wrist straight, squeeze the handle of the KB as tight as you can and take a breath in, creating and even tenser brace in your abdomen.

Now press the kettlebell overhead moving your arm from a neutral GRIP (palm facing towards your midline) to a pronated GRIP (palm facing away) as you lock your elbow out over your head.

The important thing here is to LOCK OUT.  I know in some body building circles they tell you to keep a slight bend in your elbow, even in the overhead position, to “keep tension on the muscle”.  That’s not the case here.  This isn’t body building.

You are going to LOCK OUT and make sure that 1) Your shoulder is depressed.  That is, it’s not up by your ears, it’s down and back 2) Your bicep is almost touching your ear and 3) The kettlebell, while in the overhead lock-out position is in line if not BEHIND your head.

Slowly lower the KB back to the starting position following the same pronated to neutral curve you used when you pressed it over head.

2. Try a Modified Renegade Row in place of a standard 1-Arm Bent-Over Row

Unlike a standard DB Row, where you rest a knee on the bench, the Modified Renegade Row will force you to really use your abs to keep your low back stable.

Place a kettlebell on the floor on the left side and then place both hands on the edge of a bench (or chair).  With your hands on the bench/chair, set yourself up so that you’re in  a “push-up” position with your feet slightly wider that hip-width apart.

Reach down and grab the KB with your left hand.  Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes and row the kettlebell into your body towards your hip.  Remember when you row to squeeze your shoulder blades together prior to bending your elbow.

As you row, you’ll notice that your body will want to twist and rotate because of the uneven distribution of weight.  You must prevent this from happening.  By bracing your abs and squeezing your glutes, you will work your abs like they’ve never been worked before!

Slowly lower the weight, again not allowing yourself to rotate and repeat for the required reps.

3. Replace regular squats with a 1-Arm KB Front Squat

Just as the Military Press above, pick up a kettlebell and bring in it in close to your body ensuring that 1) your WRIST STAYS IN NEUTRAL (never flexing or extending) and 2) it is resting in the nook of your arm between your bicep and forearm (take a look at the picture of me above left in the header).

Brace your abs hard, pretending that someone is about to punch you in the stomach. Keeping your wrist straight, squeeze the handle of the KB as tight as you can and take a breath in, creating and even tenser brace in your abdomen.

Now, keeping the bell close, push your hips back and bend your knees.  You’ll notice that as you descend, because of the uneven distribution of weight, your body will want to twist or even bend sideways.  Just like the Modified Renegade Row above, you want to resist this and brace your abs hard.

Descend into the squat by pushing your knees out allowing your hips to go below parallel and keeping your spine straight.

Push your feet into the floor (keeping your heels on the ground the entire time) and drive your body up to the standing position.

So there are 3 exercises you can try out today, using only 1 KB, to help familiarize yourself with Kettlebell Training.

In addition to the benefit of only needing one piece of equipment for the above exercises, the uneven distribution of weight during KB Training allows you to use your abs like no other exercises can. They force you to stabilize your spine and to try to stay straight forcing your abs to work the way they were meant to be worked – as stabilizers of your torso and spine and not as “prime movers”.

And because of this, you’ll find that people who train with KBs tend to have bullet-proof abdominals, while eliminating low back pain and gaining usable strength that will help you in everyday life.

by: Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit http://www.kettlebellworkouts.com/fatloss

 

3 Comments

  • Reply March 1, 2011

    aizan

    Hi Chris
    I think the kettlebell overhead press and kettlebell front squat are a good way to start getting acquainted with the good old cannonball with a handle. These moves are challenging, yet not intimidating.

    But kb renegade rows? I have my reservations.

    This is just a personal opinion though. It comes from my observation of using the kettlebell in my training. Admittedly, I don’t use it as often as I’d like…

    I think someone who wants to try ‘kettlebelling’ for the first time should and must learn the swing. As it is the basis of all things kb related. The kb swing teaches you to be aware of and activate the hips and the lats which play a big role in enabling someone to be fast, agile and powerful.

  • […] 3 Kettlebell Training Exercises to Test the Waters […]

  • Reply March 5, 2011

    Sher khan

    Great post. I like the details… Getting myself a kb very soon.

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