Kettlebells are by far one of the most economical ways to be able to get in a full body workout at home. Having a selection of weighted kettlebells to choose from is inexpensive when compared to other home gym equipment.
They also don’t take up very much space, but offer some unique benefits. Even if you already have an awesome home gym you’re happy with, kettlebells will still add the kind of exercise variety needed to keep you motivated to workout every day.
On the surface, choosing and using kettlebells might seem easy. It is for the most part, but there are a number of things to keep in mind before purchasing and using them. After all, you want to get the most out of each workout while making sure that you don’t hurt yourself, right?
Note: If you haven’t read our guide on how to choose the right kettlebell yet, read this article first.
Let’s take a look at how to get the most out of your kettlebell workouts, while staying injury-free in the process:
If you’re not fond of hand calluses, you’ll want to decide on how you prefer to protect your hands. Kettlebells will tear them up when you first start using them. Chalking your hands and the kettlebell handles before each workout is a great idea if you’re the hardcore type. Chalk will help you maintain an iron grip while also preventing blistering and calluses.
If you don’t like using messy chalk and still want to protect your hands, consider purchasing a good pair of weight lifting gloves. And please don’t skimp on quality. Cheap ones simply won’t last and usually don’t offer any real padded support.
There aren’t any firm rules when it comes to the type of footwear you should use when performing kettlebell exercises. Most purists prefer flat-footed shoes or bare feet. Shoes with excessive heel height will cause you to lean forward, often without realizing it, and don’t allow for the best balance.
Running shoes and other sport shoes often have an excessive heel-to-toe drop which impedes proper form. If you’re serious about getting the most out of your kettlebell workouts, consider purchasing a pair of Olympic-style lifting shoes or CrossFit shoes. Both types offer less than a 4mm heel-to-toe drop. Otherwise, give barefoot training a try if that’s your thing.
Footwear is essential for keeping your spine in alignment and allowing your hips to engage properly during each kettlebell exercise you perform.
Back Positioning and Conditioning
You want to keep your back in a neutral spine position while performing all kettlebell exercises. Poor back positioning is how most all back injuries occur during any work out. Most of us understand what good posture is, yet ignore it in practice.
Watch this video to see just how easy it is to achieve a neutral spine:
Notice that this technique doesn’t involve arching your lower back or craning your neck excessively. If you have excessively poor posture, now’s the time to see a chiropractor and get their opinion on treatments and training techniques you can use to get your back into proper alignment.
Kettlebell Movements are Heavily Hip Dependent
In almost any kind of free-standing weight training exercise that works the entire body, the hips are key to proper spine alignment and execution of the movement. Make sure to follow all instructions and diagrams for any exercise you attempt, and practice each move before increasing the weight.
The key to proper hip engagement is to:
- Make sure your weight is centered on your heels (remember footwear is important).
- Ensure your back is always in neutral spine alignment and that your core muscles are engaged fully and not relaxed.
- Wear clothing that doesn’t restrict either your lower or upper body movement (Protip: too loose is just as bad as too tight).
Kettlebell Workout: Form and Efficiency Checklist
- Chalk the kettlebell handle before each workout or wear quality lifting gloves to prevent blisters and calluses.
- Wear flat footed shoes that don’t have an exaggerated heel-to-toe drop or go barefoot.
- Learn and practise how to keep neutral spine alignment while doing all kettlebell exercises.
- Always keep your feet shoulder or slightly wider than shoulder width apart to ensure good balance.
- Look straight ahead – not up or down – to ensure proper spine alignment and coordination.
- Ensure nothing (and nobody) is in the way of your range of motion including: in front, above and behind you.
Follow these simple suggestions and you’ll stay safe while achieving your fitness goals and having fun at the same time!