Want to learn how to workout with kettlebells? Make sure you do it right! Learn the fundamentals from a certified instructor.
Today my friend Taylor is here to chat fitness! Specifically, how to workout with kettlebells. If you haven’t checked out her blog Lifting Revolution, go do so immediately. I started following her a couple years ago and have been hooked ever since. I follow a lot of food blogs and Taylor is like a breath of fitness fresh air, sharing great workouts, motivational posts, podcasts and more! I met her in person at Blend Retreat a couple years ago and then we connected again this summer in Savannah at Fitbloggin!
So today we’re taking a break from food and talking fitness! Ever since I started Crossfit, I’ve kinda fallen in love with kettlebells. Since I know Taylor loves them too AND that she recently got certified to teach them, I asked her to share some of her knowledge so you guys can start to use them too!
Hello, hello! I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is to be visiting today. Lindsay’s blog was one of the first I found and I immediately was pulled in. The recipes, oh my word… how can anyone not come back regularly to see what she’s cookin’ up?
Then, a couple of years ago, we met face to face at a blog retreat and that’s the end of that. I went from considering her another blog I read to being a friend. Okay, enough corny chit-chat. Let’s get down to business. You see, I love kettlebells. Like really love them.
A few years ago my husband bought me my first kettlebell as a birthday gift. He thought it would be fun for us to learn together and perhaps a new element we could bring into our studio (we own a gym in Charleston, SC).
It became much more than that.
For both of us, kettlebells became a passion and we quickly realized that we wanted to learn everything we could. So that’s what we did. We flew to San Franisco to become kettlebell masters… we got certified. Since then, I’ve spent far too much time studying moves, designing workouts and teaching others how to use these things. And today, I’m going to cover a few of the basics with y’all. I know they can seem intimidating. But they aren’t. They really are for everyone… that is if you go about training the correct way.
What I want to do is go over a few basic training concepts, answer the most common questions I get and finish with a killer, I mean awesome, workout. Sound good? Sweet.
Rule #1: If you’ve never picked up a kettlebell, don’t just watch a YouTube video and begin swinging it around. If you do a YouTube search for “kettlebell swing”, I promise you’ll find people doing them SO many different ways. And yes, there is a right way and a wrong way.
Find someone that knows the fundamentals and can help you master form. The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to find someone certified in kettlebells. Not just a personal trainer. I can’t tell you how many times I have closed my eyes and shuttered while watching trainers do really bad swings, snatches and everything else with a KB.
Rule #2: Sometimes lighter isn’t better. You might assume that when you first get started, a light kettlebell is best. Yes and no.
The lighter weight might help you grasp an understanding for how the kettlebell should move, but at the same time, using a weight that is too light can lead to short cuts and potential injuries. For example, my husband was demonstrating a clean with a weight that was too light for him and he used so much power that he dislocated his shoulder. <— Not cool.
(See below for the best weight for beginners.)
Rule #3: Forgo on the wrist guards when starting out. If you watch my kettlebell workouts or see a picture floating around, chances are you’ll notice wrist guards. No, they aren’t fancy sweat bands.
Wrist guards help keep the kettlebell from pressing into your wrists when doing moves like snatches and presses. Let me tell you, when you’ve got a heavy steal ball digging in, the bruises can get nasty. But for beginners, I don’t recommend them. This way you’re forced to learn the movements correctly. You’ll get tired of having the kettlebell plop onto your wrist so you’ll learn grip and proper rotation real fast.
Once you have the moves down to a T, then it’s a great idea to pick a pair of guards up. Unfortunately when doing presses, nothing helps avoid bruises like kettbleguards.
Rule #4: Have basic body weight moves mastered, along with mobility. If you can’t do a squat without a kettlebell, it’s time to start there. Master body weight moves to ensure proper range of motion and basic skills.
Kettlebells basically just take the basic moves and add to them. What exercises should you have?
- Push-Ups (basic shoulder mobility)
If you can do those 4 moves, then you should be ready to get started.
Okay… now you have the 4 rules of kettlebells. Let’s answer just a few of the most common questions I receive!
Common Kettlebell Questions From Beginners
What weight should I start out with?
I recommend 2 different kettlebells. Why? Because, especially when you’re starting out, you will likely use a heavier weight for swings, squats and other lower body moves than you will for upper body ones like presses.
Most women do wonderful starting off with an 18-lb (8 Kg) and 26-lb (12 Kg). As you get stronger, a 35-lb will likely be all you will need for amazing results.
How can I make my hands stronger?
Grip is key for kettlebell training. Of course it will get stronger with time but I do recommend using chalk to help keep the handle from getting slippery and love your calluses. You’ll get calluses, learn to love them. They make your hands strong and your grip better.
My back hurts, is that normal?
Yes, it’s normal to feel some back tightness when first mastering the swing. It’s a big range of motion move that targets your entire trunk, not just the abs. However, make sure it’s nothing more serious. Have someone watch your form to make sure the back is straight and hips are hinging properly. It also helps to use your phone to take slow-motion video!
What are the fundamental moves?
Like most fitness, the sky is the limit with what you can do with kettlebells! But, there are a few fundamental moves that need to be mastered in order to do ALL the moves.
Here are the key exercises listed in order of how I teach:
- Dead lift (hip hinge)
Get those moves down and you can do anything.
Wow, that’s a lot of information to soak up! I think we should stop here to avoid going overboard. To change things up, I will leave you with a great workout to try (if you’ve mastered the moves).
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Do you use kettlebells? What’s your favorite exercise?
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