This month's workout uses kettlebells to build total body muscular strength and endurance while challenging your cardiovascular system with interval-style training.
The kettlebell is basically a weighted ball with a handle on one side of it. Kettlebells add a dynamic that your don't get from dumbbells, because with a kettlebell, the weight is hanging below the handle rather than being balanced in line with the handle like you get with dumbbells. Therefore, the kettlebell really challenges your stability and is a great tool to add to your workouts.
Our kettlebell workout consists of five exercises performed in a row with 30 to 60 seconds of work followed by 30 to 60 seconds of rest. Once the first round of all five exercises is completed, repeat the entire circuit two to three more times depending on your fitness level. Take just enough rest time to allow a brief heart rate recovery before moving on to the next exercise.
Kettlebell swing: Take a shoulder-width foot position over the top of a kettlebell. Slowly squat down while inhaling and maintaining your natural posture. Grab the kettlebell with two hands, tighten your core, and make sure your heels are firmly planted. As you stand up, exhale and force your hips forward while straightening your legs and allowing that force to move up through your arms to swing the kettlebell upward to about shoulder height. As soon as the kettlebell has reached its highest point, begin to drop back into your squat, allowing the kettlebell to swing downward between your legs. Once the kettlebell reaches the lowest point, stand back up with force and continue to move with the momentum of the kettlebell. Keep your body tense and your arms slightly relaxed but straight the entire time.
Kettlebell squat to press: Grab a kettlebell and flip it upside down so the handle is down and your grip is on the sides of the handles with your palms facing each other. The kettlebell should be held at shoulder height to begin. With feet shoulder-width apart, slowly squat down to a comfortable depth while inhaling. As you stand up out of the squat, push the kettlebell straight up into a shoulder press as you exhale. Slowly squat down as you bring the kettlebell back down to shoulder height. Repeat.
Kettlebell alternating rows: Take hold of a kettlebell in your right hand and bend forward at the waist. Keep a slight knee bend while pushing your hips back and maintaining the natural curve in your low back. At this point your chest should be facing the floor. Pull the kettlebell upward in a rowing motion while squeezing your right shoulder blade. Extend your arm back down toward the floor and grab the kettlebell with your left hand. Repeat the same motion with the left arm and continue alternating back and forth between both arms.
Kettlebell push-up: Assume a push-up position with one hand on the handle of a kettlebell and the other on the floor. Keep your feet wider than shoulder width and tighten your core. As you exhale, push upward with enough force and stability that your hand comes up off the floor for just a second. At this point you must balance between your feet and the hand that is grasping the kettlebell. Allow your floating hand to touch the floor as you drop back down into the push-up. Repeat and then switch sides.
Kettlebell sit-up/standup: While holding a kettlebell in one hand, lay back on a bench and extend your arm toward the ceiling. Tighten your abdominals and push your lower back down onto the bench. As you keep the tension in your core, sit up to a seated position, all while keeping the kettlebell extended toward the ceiling and your arm straight. Once you get to the seated position, continue to a standing position. Reverse your steps and control back to your starting point. Repeat and then switch sides. The key on this exercise is to keep the arm extended and the core engaged the entire time.
So give this workout a try to see and feel the advantages of kettlebell training. For a video of this workout, visit PushFitnessTraining.com.
• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at PushFitnessTraining.com.