The first time I used a kettlebell was back in the early 2000s. I was in the midst of a deep martial arts obsession; the studio where I trained was old-school to the max. The only strength training equipment at this place was a pull-up and dip station, an adjustable bench, a squat rack and an assortment of beat-up York weight plates. Then one day, the owner showed up with something new, something strange that I’d never seen before.
These iron-handled cannonballs, we were told, were the missing links in our training. Russian commandos use them! Good enough for me.
Now kettlebells are as common as treadmills and stability balls. Still, for the uninitiated they can be scary. Fear not! With a bit of patience you’ll master these kettlebell basics.
Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing
The kettlebell swing may look intimidating, but it’s less complicated than meets the eye. The KB swing is an explosive hip hinge, similar in execution to the Romanian or stiff-legged deadlift. It targets the hamstrings, lower back & butt, an area collectively known as the Posterior Chain. The swing also one helluva cardio exercise.
A variation on the swing that adds more of the upper body to the mix. Great exercise for the trapezius & upper back.
Goblet squats are front squat variations that enhance hip mobility. Front-loaded exercises engage the core muscles, too.
This deadlift variation focuses more on the inner & outer thighs (the hip adductor & abductor muscles).
Part sumo deadlift, part goblet squat. What’s the difference between a squat & a deadlift? The point of action is at the knees rather than the hips.
Turkish Get Up
Also known as a Get Up, this is a total body exercise that enhances mobility as well as aerobic endurance. Take your time with this one, working your way through the progressions.
A Deeper Dive into Kettlebells