10 Core-Strengthening Kettlebell Moves
Last Updated: Oct 15, 2013
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Ditch the dumbbells and pick up a kettlebell instead! You'll challenge your core strength, balance and stability with these moves from World Kettlebell Club certified trainer and co-founder of the Cross Train Method David Schenk. You'll hold the kettlebell with just one hand and transition from one big calorie-burning exercise to another in order to get into a rhythm and blast fat fast. These moves are not for the faint of heart, so make sure to take it slowly and start with a lighter kettlebell the first time you do them. Once you get the form down, move onto a heavier kettlebell and start torching away those love handles.
ABOUT THE RACK POSITION
You’ll notice that Schenk’s kettlebell rack position is a bit different than what you might have seen before. He explains that the rack position used in this workout is the most efficient way to rest in between each exercises without having to set the kettlebell down. It enables you to flow back and forth, maximizing calorie burn. Rather than having to work to hold the elbow up and off the hip, as is the case with most kettlebell workouts, Schenk recommends resting your elbow on your hip, relaxing your grip and pulling your hand close to your chest, as is done in kettlebell competitions.
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All other swinging movements depend on the single-arm kettlebell swing. It develops your hamstrings, glutes, quads, upper and lower back, your arms and your grip strength. HOW TO DO IT: In simple terms, you swing the kettlebell back and forth between your legs in a pendulum-like motion while maintaining a neutral spine -- avoid arching your back and neck. At the top of the swing, you should be standing up tall (knees locked) with the kettlebell at mid-torso and a slightly bent elbow in your swinging arm. Inhale at the top of each swing and exhale as the kettlebell goes between your legs.
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The snatch is the natural progression of the kettlebell swing. It's a full-body movement with an emphasis on the back, glutes, hamstrings and shoulders. HOW TO DO IT: Swing the kettlebell over your head, ending in a fixed position with your arm completely straight, parallel to your head, and the kettlebell resting on the back of your forearm. The goal is to time your snatch perfectly so that the kettlebell makes contact with the back of your forearm at the height of your swing as you straighten out your elbow in order to avoid banging your forearms.
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The clean is similar to the swing and will strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, quads, both upper and lower back, arms and your grip. However, instead of swinging the kettlebell out and away from your body you "clean" it up into your body and hold it for a moment in rack position. HOW TO DO IT: In the rack position, the kettlebell should be resting in the V shape crevice created by your bicep and forearm, while your elbow rests on your hip or is at least reaching towards it. You then swing the kettlebell back between your legs and repeat.
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This is a big movement that targets the front of your legs and your arms. HOW TO DO IT: Start holding the kettlebell in rack position. Dip down no more than a foot in order to load your legs and then begin to drive the kettlebell over your head, ending in a fixed position with your arm completely straight and your knees locked.
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This is one of the most powerful kettlebell pressing exercise. You'll lift the weight overhead in order to challenge your legs and arms. HOW TO DO IT: Start in the rack position. Now, dip down in order to load your legs, and then begin to drive the kettlebell overhead. Halfway through this driving phase, drop underneath the kettlebell while it continues to move upward, allowing you to lock out your elbow while loading your legs for the second time. You then stand up to complete the jerk.
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CLEAN & JERK
Just as the name implies, this movement is a combination of the clean and jerk. It allows you to fluidly move the kettlebell up and over your head, giving your shoulders and triceps extra work. HOW TO DO IT: Clean the kettlebell to the rack position. Dip down in order to load your legs, and then begin to drive the kettlebell overhead. Halfway through this driving phase, drop underneath the kettlebell, locking out your elbow while loading your legs for the second time. Stand up to complete the jerk. The jerk is a double-dip movement that will allow you to lift heavy loads overhead for long periods of time in order to burn tons of calories.
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This is a big total-body movement that allows you to isolate one arm at a time while hitting all of your leg muscles. Start with a lighter kettlebell until you have the form down. Having the right form will help you prevent injuries and burn more calories at the end of the day. HOW TO DO IT: Holding the kettlebell in rack position, squat down until your elbow is close to your knee. Now stand up and press the kettlebell overhead as you rotate your hand to face forward. Use your other arm for balance.
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The overhead squat is a great exercise to develop all the major muscle groups in your legs while increasing shoulder strength and flexibility. HOW TO DO IT: Start off with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and angled away from the kettlebell at 45 degrees. Look up at the ceiling through the kettlebell. Begin by slightly twisting at the waist (toward the kettlebell), and then squat down until your hips are parallel with your knees as you plant the left hand inside the left foot. Then return to the starting position. The real challenge is to maintain an equal distribution of weight on both legs while keeping your heels on the ground throughout the movement.
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This exercise will develop your legs and shoulders while challenging your balance and postural strength. HOW TO DO IT: Start standing with the kettlebell in your left hand locked out overhead. Step the left leg back far enough to feel a slight stretch on your left hip flexor. Your shoulders and hips should be facing forward. Then lower down until your back knee almost touches the ground and you make a 90-degree angle on the front leg with your knee directly over your ankle. Stand back up and repeat. Make sure to repeat on the other side, as well.
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This exercise will increase your hamstring flexibility, tighten up the love handle areas and strengthen your lower back. HOW TO DO IT: Start off standing with the kettlebell in your right hand, arm locked out overhead. Your feet should be positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and angled away from the kettlebell at 45 degrees. Look up at the ceiling through the kettlebell. Start the movement by pushing your right hip out and back as you reach the left hand down to the floor, eventually placing it inside your left foot. Once you have touched the floor with your left hand, stand back up.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you tried kettlebells yet? Do you use them at your gym or at home? Are you getting good results with them? What are some of your favorite kettlebell moves? What other types of workouts would you like to see on LIVESTRONG.COM? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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