Q. I've recently added kettlebells to my home gym equipment and was wondering if you had suggestions on some exercises I could add to my workouts. I want to strengthen and tone, but also build endurance.
A. Thanks for your inquiry Tom, as kettlebells are a great tool that can be used by themselves or in conjunction with other free weights. Because a kettlebell has most of its weight hanging below the handle, the grip to weight distribution is different from a dumbbell. You create more momentum once the kettlebell starts moving and this momentum can be advantageous when harnessed and used properly.
Three exercises to try are the kettlebell swing, the kettlebell squat to press and the lunge to lateral kettlebell swing.
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 one hand, 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 arm to swing the kettlebell upward to about shoulder height. As soon as the kettlebell reaches 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 arm slightly relaxed but straight the entire time. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.
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 overhead as you exhale. Slowly squat down as you bring the kettlebell back down to shoulder height. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.
Lunge to lateral kettlebell swing: Take hold of a kettlebell in your right hand and assume a staggered position with your left foot forward. As you lunge down to a 90-degree knee bend, allow the kettlebell to swing behind your left calf and in front of your right quad. As you stand back up out of the lunge, thrust the kettlebell laterally until it reaches shoulder height. Drop back into the lunge as the kettlebell swings back down to the bottom position. This is an advanced movement and it may be necessary to hold on to a stationary object with your free hand for balance. Perform for 30 seconds and then switch to the other side.
You can treat these three exercises as a total body routine or you can pick one exercise and add it in-between your current exercises. It's a great way to increase your heart rate while working big muscle groups and improving overall muscle tone, power, endurance and stability.
For more exercise and nutrition tips, visit our blog at PushFitnessTraining.com or find Push Fitness Schaumburg on Facebook or Pinterest.
• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.