What used to be the province of Russian body builders, kettlebells are gaining in popularity at gyms and fitness studios with a diverse group of fitness seekers. This one piece of equipment can provide an excellent cardiovascular and strength-training workout in record time and can be mastered by just about anyone with the right instruction, no matter their personal fitness level.
Kettlebells can look awkward and intimidating to a beginner (especially when performed by a room full of fit jocks!), however, with proper instruction and the right attitude, you can quickly learn the core concepts and see powerful results.
With that in mind, Fit Bottomed Girls asked the pros for their favorite tips for kettlebell newbies to get you motivated to give them a go!
Robert Ramsey, Drill Fitness
Start light. It amazes me how so many people start with a heavy weight and end up injuring themselves. Start light and master the movement first. Allow the instructor of the class to give you the okay to graduate to a new weight.
Proper breathing is so important and often overlooked in most exercises studios. While performing the swing, on the down swing you want to inhale through the nose and with pursed lips you want to exhale through the mouth — nice and strong as you come to the top of that swing.
Have fun. Mindset is a very important tool for a successful workout session. After we remember there are kinetic checkpoints for each and every rep, now it’s time to get after it, push hard and earn your recovery. Focusing on that high intensity is key to pushing past your limits. Remember your level may help push someone to their new level. Intensity is addictive, and we want to inspire everyone.
Julie Petrusak, Pongo Power
Don’t be afraid to thrust! Believe it or not, you will be using your butt to swing that bell, not your arms. Focus on quickly squeezing your glutes and thrusting your hips forward to create momentum that will launch the bell into the air. Explosive power from your butt will protect your low back, not hurt it. Just be careful not to thrust too far. At the top of your swing your hips should be under your shoulders. Don’t “tuck” the pelvis; this will pinch your low back.
Perfect your squat. Swings, high pulls, and lifts such as snatches and cleans originate out of a squat position, and keeping good form is essential to avoiding injury. Make sure you are squatting with your weight in your heels. Knees track over your ankles and stay behind the line of your toes. Keep your back straight and supported with your abdominal muscles. Initiate from your glutes to come out of any squatted position. Squeeze the heck out of those glutes! Kettlebell workouts are all about the booty!
Michele Olsen, kettlebell expert
Consider wearing a wrist band if you are a kettlebell novice. When learning how to “clean” the kettlebell, it’s common to experience some banging of the bell on the backside of your wrist. You can double up wrist/sweat bands (wear double thickness — pile on two on each arm). There are also special kettlebell wrist guards you can look into purchasing.
Don’t wear running shoes. The kettlebell masters in Europe do kettlebelling in bare feet. You should wear a shoe with a low sole such as a court shoe or cross-trainer with a low sole. Swinging kettlebells requires subtle control of your balance. So, don’t wear running shoes with a high, cushioned platform; you could roll your ankle.
Do you use kettlebells in your workout? What is your favorite piece of advice for newbies? —Margo