Kettlebell workouts, how often?

Knowing if you should be resting today or performing kettlebell workouts is vital to your fitness goals along with reducing the risk of potential injury. Exactly how much exercise you need on a daily basis depends on the type of lifestyle that you want to maintain. It is recommended by most experts that you should exercise at least 20 minutes per day three times per week. Increasing the amount of time you workout should only be considered once your body has acclimated to the initial routine. Many athletes workout 5 times per week for hours each session. The key component in any workout routine is simply creating the time for it and doing it.

What to consider when designing your kettlebell workouts?

Individuality

Each person is unique and will respond differently to the same training workouts. Your climate, elevation, genetics, previous injuries, body type, diet, sleeping habits, and motivation will all play into how your respond to your workouts. Individuality means that some will naturally become stronger than others and some will have better endurance than others. Do not be discouraged if your body does not gain strength quickly, you could very well have more endurance than others.

Adaptation

The body will adapt to workouts over time and in small increments.  While it may not be visible on a day to day basis these changes are happening. The only way truly realize the adaptations in the body is to take measurements on a frequent basis and log them in a journal. If you do not like to take the measurements do not be surprised if you wake up one day and your clothes do not fit so well.

Overload

For a training program to have an effect, the intensity of workouts must be higher than normal everyday activities. Strength will not improve if your heavy lifting consists of a 16oz curl nor will endurance if your longest walk is to the parking lot.  Overload will cause the muscle fibers to grow stronger and bigger in order to handle the extra load.

Progression

As the fitness level improves one must increase intensity duration and frequency of workouts to ensure overload. This is true for both cardiovascular endurance and strength.   With each adaptation to the current overload, you must systematically increase the overload for continued results.

Specificity

Specificity means that you awesome at what you practice. If you are constantly doing the kettlebell swing in your workouts then you will get faster and stronger with that exercise. Conversely if you never practice the Turkish Get Up then you will not receive the benefits from those workouts.

Regularity

For any workout routine to be effective whether it is kettlebell workouts, weight training, martial arts etc. it must be consistent throughout the days, weeks, and months ahead. Working out once a weekend here or there will do nothing for your overall physical fitness and may increase your chance of injury.

Recovery

As the body exerts itself with hard exercise it needs time to recover. Most experts agree that 48 hours is needed for the muscle groups to recover between very strenuous workouts.  Let’s say you workout biceps on Wednesday you should not workout them again till Friday, however there is nothing wrong with working your triceps or other muscle groups on Thursday.  This example still allows sufficient time for recovery.  Sufficient sleep and a balanced diet will also aide in your recovery process.

Balance

In order to obtain a balance in overall fitness one must not only perform the activities that they enjoy but also the ones that you do not. If you enjoy the cardiovascular component of a particular exercise you may naturally want to perform other exercises that contain cardiovascular and endurance components.  This does not mean that you can ignore the strength component of other exercises. There must be a balance in activities to achieve awesome overall fitness.

Variety

If you only perform the kettlebell swing then it will not be long before you are bored with it and may even give up your fitness goals. As with most things in life variety is a key to success.

Reversibility

If you workout for two months consistently then have an unexpected delay in your routine for a month all your gains will be lost. With fitness workouts it takes longer to build up than it does to tear it back down. We all know that “life happens” and some things are just out of our control. The more gains that you have from working out the less you will be affected when life throws you a curve ball and can not work out for a period of time.

Moderation

Ever had too much of a good thing? As with life all things must be done in moderation. Kettlebell workouts while you are injured would not be the smartest thing to do now would it? Know your limitations and do not push it to the extreme.

Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts

The kettlebell became an integral part of athlete and fitness routines in the past five years, but this brilliant exercise has been around for much longer than that. Many people have experienced incredible enhancements with kettlebell workouts. They are able to enhance cardio and increase muscle definition just with a few simple exercises. Top coaches, athletes and celebrities around the world incorporate the kettlebell into their routines as part of strength training. These are just a few of the benefits from training with the kettlebell.

1. The Ultimate Cardio Test

Burning fat is easy with just a few swings of the kettlebell. These workouts are best known as ballistic exercises. The harder that you swing, the more calories and fat you burn on your body. Some workouts for cardio include high repetition snatches and arm swings. These workouts build up the muscles in your shoulders, hips and lower back. For example, you can do a combination of one arm and two arm swings with a repetition of 10 taking 30 second breaks in between each set.

2. Power Combinations

Kettlebells are even better when you combine training with other exercises. Then it becomes a full body work out. There’s no better feeling than 30 minutes of kettlebell training. Your muscles feel incredibly powerful. One exercise to combine with the kettlebell is jump roping. By joining sets of one and two arm swings with one minute of jump roping, you get a full cardio work out. It’s best to do 10 reps f one arm swing followed by a minute of jump roping, alternating between both arms and two arms when you swing. It’s also essential that you pause for about 60 seconds between each set.

3. Recovery with Kettlebells

Whether you’re an athlete or battling some type of injury, working the kettlebell into your recovery routine can greatly improve your dexterity and muscle strength. In addition, these workouts greatly improve performance and work best for conditioning. One way that you can use the kettlebell in active recovery is passing the bell from hand to hand in mid air. Not only does this help with hand-eye coordination, it also increases strength and shock absorption. There are also has several combination work outs and drills that use the kettlebell. Some of best exercises include the Push Press, the Windmill, the Turkish Get-Up and the kettlebell snatch.

4. Focus Major Muscle Groups

The kettlebell helps train and strengthen muscles. When you focus muscles with the kettlebell, you immediately feel the burn. These are a few of the most successful kettlebell workouts.

  •   Snatch - In crossfit gyms, the snatch exercise is used with the kettlebell. To do this workout, stand with feet shoulder length apart and place the kettlebell on the floor between your feet. Bend at the knees and push hips backward while keeping butt near the ground. Swing the kettlebell between your legs and spin it upward until it rests on your forearm. Now bring it to your chest quickly. Snatches are very quick. When done in repetition, they are a full body workout.
  • Clean and Press – Like before, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Bend just a little at the knees and take the kettlebell with one hand. Lift the bell to your chest, turn it over until it rests on your forearm. Explode from your feet and raise the bell up to your chest, tighten in your midsection and raise over your head. This is a great exercise for biceps and shoulders as well as stability.
  •   Windmill – For this exercise, legs need to be separated a little bit more than shoulder width. Bring one arm over your head and bend at the waist to pick up the bell. Raise your hand over your head and bring the kettlebell to the ground. Bend at the hips and keep back straight as you lower, then raise the kettlebell. This exercise works out your oblique and hamstring muscles.
  •   One Arm Swing – At start, place feet shoulder width apart. Bend at the waist and a little at the knees. Hold the kettlebell between your legs. Swing the kettlebell backwards first, then bring it up to your chest all the while keeping your entire body straight. Switch hands to catch the kettlebell, bring to your chest and repeat the exercise.

Kettlebells aren’t difficult to work with and make exercises more rigorous on the body. These are just some of the basic kettlebell exercises that you can do but there are several videos and training exercises available online with kettlebells. There are a variety of benefits to working with the kettlebell. Whether you want a full body exercise or just focus muscle groups, it’s a great way to train and sculpt all over your body. If you’re an athlete, you can also improve your strength and endurance by doing cardio exercises with the kettlebell every day.

Kettlebells vs Free Weights: Who the Winner is?

There are plenty of opinions out there when it comes to getting the best workouts. One of the biggest debates concerns kettlebell exercises vs. free weights. Each have their backers who are willing argue their benefits until their ears burn. So is one better than the other? Or is there room for both in the world of weight training.

Anyone who has ever worked out knows what free weights are. Not as many know what kettlebells are, at least until they see them. Kettlebells — picture a handle attached to an iron ball — were popularized in Russia and have been around for ages. Now they’re gaining popularity as a partner, or to some an alternative, to free weights.

So which is better? As with most things in life, it all depends on what a person is looking for. Kettlebell workouts offer different benefits than free weight training. The key is to define your goals, then find the right tool for the job.

What are kettlebells?

There are examples of kettlebell-type weights that date back to the athletes of ancient times. Grecian halters were handed weights that differed in appearance to their modern cousins, but used the same concept. Kettlebells made their modern debut during the turn of the 18th century in Russia. Girya — Russian for a kettlebell— is a ball of cast iron or other heavy material with a suitcase-style handle. It differs from free weights or dumbbells in that its center of mass sits beyond the hand.

Kettlebells became popular in Russia in the early 1700s. Russian and Soviet athletes used kettlebell workouts as a central part of their training, as did the military. The popularity of kettlebells gave birth to Girevoy sport, a competition similar to Olympic weightlifting with different events that tested an athlete’s strength and agility with kettlebells.

Kettlebells are a latecomer to the United States. They didn’t gain popularity until the early 2000s when the first certified training programs developed.

Kettlebells vs. Free weights

The difference between kettlebells and free weights lays in the results. Free weights build strength and bulk. Kettlebells workouts build muscle to a lesser extent than free weights, but they also build endurance and burn fat. It all comes down to how each is utilized.

Free weights use repetition and increasing weight to challenge muscles and gradually build up strength. Kettlebells, on the other hand, are used in ballistic exercises, which lift the weights in a more accelerated and explosive manor. With its lower center of gravity, kettlebells exercises demand agility. This in turn brings more muscle groups into play, working not only the arms and chest (depending on the exercise) but the core as well.

So which is better, kettlebells or free weights? Again, it all comes down to your goals. If your goal is to become bigger and stronger, there is no better alternative to good old, reliable free weights. They’re easy to use, accessible and they get results.

Kettlebells may not build the same kind of bulk that results from free weight training, but the offer a more versatile form of weight training. Kettlebell exercises can build muscle mass, but are also the kind of high-energy workouts that increase heart rate, improve agility and work multiple muscle groups.

Kettlebell Exercises

The first thing to do before working out with kettlebells is finding the right weight that is manageable while still offering a challenge. It’s important to remember that these weights will be lifted and swung in repetition; pick a weight you can handle.

There are any number of kettlebell exercises that will work just about any muscle group. Here are just a few examples:

Two-handed kettlebell swing:

This easy to do exercise works the shoulders, back, hips, glutes and legs. Stand straight holding a kettlebell with both hands at weight level. Spread out your legs so that your feet are wider apart than your hips. Bending your knees slightly, swing the kettlebell between and behind your knees, then up to chest level with your arms extended, then come back to a standing position. The swinging motion should be generated from the hips, not the arms. Do about 12-15 reps depending on your fitness level. This exercise can also be done with one arm, alternating each arm after 10-12 reps.

Two-arm kettlebell row:

This exercise works the back, arms and shoulders. Start with two kettlebells at your feet. Reach down with a slight bend at the knees, pick up the kettlebells and lift them toward your stomach, keeping the back straight and the elbows drawn close to the body. Use lower weights since you’ll have one in each hand; do about 12-15 reps.

Kettlebell figure eight:

This exercise not only works the arms, back and abs, it also tests your hand-eye coordination. Start with your legs spread wider than your hips and standing in a mini squat with your back straight. With the kettlebell in your left hand, move it between your legs, grab it with your right hand and bring it behind and around your right leg. Take it again with your left hand and move it behind and around your left leg. Keep repeating this motion so that you’re doing a figure eight around your legs. Keep going as long as you can. Go for a minute if you can.

These are just three examples of effective kettlebell workouts. You can try variations of these exercises or incorporate other workouts to include kettlebells. The only limit is the imagination (and fitness level).

Kettlebells and free weights can both provide effective workouts. Combined, they can provide great results. The key is to find out which one fits best for the results your looking for.