If you're looking for a way to shake up your training regimen and increase your intensity in the gym, look no further than kettlebells. Training with kettlebells is an effective way to increase your strength and power, and work your whole body with just a few exercises. You'll burn a high number of calories too. According to the American Council on Exercise, kettlebell training burns up to 20 calories per minute and improves core strength, aerobic capacity and balance.
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Snatch and Grab
The snatch is a difficult exercise to master, but the benefits it provides are worth the time it takes to learn the move. Start with the high pull. Hold the bell in one hand and swing it back through your legs, then drive your hips as you pull the bell up to head height. Keep it close to your body, pull your shoulder back at the top of the move and make it explosive. To turn the high pull into a snatch, simply keep the high pull going above your head until your arm is straight and catch it with your shoulder, elbow and wrist extended. (Ref 3) You can do snatches with one or two kettlebells at a time.
Stick to Squats
Squats may seem like a simple exercise at first, but squatting with kettlebells is challenging and versatile. The goblet squat is your first stop, performed by holding the kettlebell at chest height and squatting as low as you can. Other variations include single-arm or double-arm overhead kettlebell squats, along with overhead split squats. Hold a kettlebell in one hand in the top position of the snatch, stand with one foot in front of the other and squat down. Trainer Andy Haley of Stack Magazine also recommends the double squat to press, where you hold a kettlebell on either shoulder, squat down and press the bells up as you return to a standing position.
Always on the Up
For your upper body, keep it simple -- presses and rows. You can use kettlebells as you would dumbbells for shoulder presses, floor presses -- like dumbbell bench presses but performed lying on the floor -- or as makeshift pushup handles. For rows, either switch to a kettlebell as a replacement for one-arm dumbbell rows, or opt for renegade rows. Place your bells shoulder width apart on the floor and adopt a pushup position with a hand on each bell, then perform alternate rows up to your midsection. Keep the bells directly under your shoulders, hold your core tight and squeeze your glutes, advises kettlebell trainer Marianne Kane.
The Ultimate Gym Workout
One huge benefit of kettlebells is their versatility. You can use them as your sole piece of training equipment, or mix them with other training methods at the gym. For a kettlebell-only routine, complete a circuit consisting of high pulls, snatches, a squat variation, a press and a row for 10 to 15 reps each with minimal rest in between. Alternatively, try mixing kettlebells with more traditional weight or cardio training. Try a 60-second treadmill or bike sprint followed by 60 seconds of goblet squats, or a circuit of pushups, barbell squats and kettlebell snatches for instance.