Familiar with kettlebells?  If you’ve set foot in a gym recently, you’ve likely caught sight of the Russian girya, or kettlebells. Thanks to an uptick in CrossFit-based fitness programs, these ball-shaped weights (kettlebells) with their horn-shaped handles have surged in popularity. If you’ve been intimidated to pick one up, you’re not alone. Because kettlebells are often used in full-body exercises that can involve swinging—and potentially a quick tweak to the back—it’s especially important to learn the basics before you get started. Once you do, you’ll find the kettlebells are easy to use and can accelerate results no matter where you are in your fitness regimen.

Select the proper kettlebells (weight)

When starting out with kettlebells, remember it’s the same principle as starting out with weights. Start with a lower weight, develop great form, set your reps and sets high and conquer. As you get stronger, your weight load will increase. Just remember don’t rush, take your time with these kettlebells. Rome wasn’t built in one day!

Your form with kettlebells is important

Kettlebells – Form is ImportantThe key thing to remember with kettlebells besides weight selection is perfecting your form. It is extremely important to maintain proper form and technique when using kettlebells. This is essential not only to avoid injury, but to make the exercise as efficient as possible.  This will lead to faster gains in strength. Using proper form isolates the exact muscle groups you want to focus on. There is nothing worse than putting in the time and energy and not seeing the results. Pay attention to form and go for it!

Don’t underestimate the workout

I’m so laughing at this one. When I was first introduced to Ms. Kettlebells, I thought, “gee I can do this – no problem at all”. WRONG! You may run six hours a week, surf, do yoga, or ride your bike as much as a pro cyclist does—but even the most fit of athletes can still get a great workout in a super short amount time with kettlebells. In one continuous 20-minute session, a person can burn up to 200 calories. After my first workout, I found muscles that were sore that I didn’t even know existed. You’ll be amazed if you try kettlebells.

Do prepare to sweat

Make sure you have a towel and water bottle near by my dear fitnistas! Kettlebells are no joke. If you’re doing things correctly and challenging yourself, you’ll be sweating up a storm within minutes of swinging your first weight. Adding kettlebells to your fitness program will increase your cardiovascular fitness at the same time you’re strengthening and lenghtening your muscles. You can also burn more calories by incorporating more muscles into each movement. This workout is great for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just getting started.  Remember, stay focused and keep that form.

Don’t lift the kettlebell like a dumbbell

While dumbbells are usually lifted in a curling motion, kettlebells with their “horn-shaped” handles and eccentric weighted bells allow the kettlebells to be swung and moved in multiple directions.  This increases your range of motion. This unique design keeps the resistance of the weight offset and away from the body which challenges your muscles to work harder and more effectively. But remember, because the weight is away from the body you must always keep that core “turned on“ in order to protect your back and neck. Kettlebell training is more functional as opposed to the isolated, single-plane movements associated with traditional weight training exercises. Exercises with kettlebells simulate body movements you perform during normal daily activities such as picking up an object off the ground. These movements activate multiple muscle groups in the arms, legs, and back simultaneously. These movements with kettlebells makes so much sense for we don’t move in one plane throughout our day. Instead, we twist, bend and extend in our daily lives.  Why not focus on those same muscles with kettlebells to protect our bodies from overuse or injuries?

So there you are Ms. Kettlebells! Next time you’re in the gym and see the kettlebells in the corner, give them a swing or two and see how it can change, challenge and create a whole new you!

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Juetta West

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