At a time when people are stuck at home and only now gradually getting back to work as restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic begin to loosen after several months of lockdown. Although the virus slowly starts to give ground, worries of a distant second wave beginning in fall and the worry of the virus persisting until a vaccine is developed, many other facilities such as gyms and community centres, both private and public remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. As a result, many who have become accustomed to the gym-going lifestyle have become frustrated. Nowadays, they can’t go to their local gym to exercise and purchasing your own gym equipment is expensive, especially now.
The goal is to find a piece of equipment that can give you the most benefits while also allowing you to keep your wallet full. Those benefits are the reasons for which you started working out in the first place. Those can include anything from controlling your weight, to a reduced risk of heart disease, helping manage blood sugar levels, improving your mental health or of course for some, getting ripped. If you’re one of these people, kettlebells are a good choice for you.
Working with Kettlebells
A kettlebell is a cast iron or cast steel ball with a handle attached on top and can be used for a variety of exercises which are labeled under ballistic exercises. These are exercises which are also called power training. These types of exercises all share the feature of maximizing the acceleration of the object and minimizing the deceleration. The benefit of these exercises is their well-roundedness since they combine both cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training, all in one exercise.
The variation in kettlebells varies with the amount of weight, the type of grip you choose and the exercises you do. If you’re starting off and don’t have experience with kettlebells before, it’s recommended to have women start off with an 8kg or 18lb kettlebell. For men, a 16kg or 35lb is the best place to start. The key is to not have a weight that’s too light or too heavy. If a weight is too heavy, it’s evident that you won't be able to perform the lift with proper technique and not work the muscle groups you’re supposed to. On the other hand, a weight that’s too light could also result in you lifting the weight by force without using proper technique and not even noticing.
What are kettlebell swings good for?
The magic of kettlebell swings are that they work out a huge portion of your body all at once. Specifically the Russian kettlebell swing, which is the standard works out your abs, deltoids(shoulders), glutes, quads, hips, hamstrings, and lats. All of these muscle groups being worked out at once is great for obviously building muscle and bone mass but also increasing your stamina/endurance, burn fat and calories faster than with traditional workouts and unlike other weight training exercises, doesn’t carry the same high risk of injury.
Where should you feel kettlebell swings?
Feeling sore during and after a workout is a natural part of muscle growth which involves destroying your muscle fibers from the stress of a workout and then letting them grow back the next day stronger than before. The sore feeling after a good kettlebell swing exercise should be felt in the muscles mentioned previously that you work out when you perform the kettlebell swing. However, in order to get that feeling, you need to perform the exercise with proper technique.
The Proper Technique
Start with keeping your feet just wider than the length of your hips but not greater than that of your shoulders. Bend your knees a bit into a sort of semi-squat. This type of position is one of maximum stability which is important for strength training with weights. Make sure to keep your back straight at all times and move your hips back to pick up the kettlebell. Hold it close to your groin area between your knees and ready your core. Then use your lower body muscles; glutes and hamstrings, to lift the kettlebell with your hips.
Make sure to keep your shoulders from shrugging, they should remain relaxed when the kettlebell reaches its apex. Your knees and hips should lock at that apex at which the kettlebell stops for a second before it swings back down and settles at the starting position before starting again.
How often should I do kettlebell swings?
In the beginning, it’s better to start off slow and build up gradually rather than start off big and get a cramp. You can begin with practicing with swings in sets of 10 with reps of 10. After getting used to completing that in a 10 minute span, you can go up by 5’s in terms of the number of sets or the number of reps. It’s usually advised that increasing the number of sets is more effective than increasing the number of reps when it comes to building muscle. This is because of the power of consistency over intensity.
In terms of how often to do these exercises in a month, week, or day, it’s recommended to do this exercise 3-4 times a week. Why this number? Because any more than this amount results in suboptimal muscle growth. This number reflects doing the kettlebell swings every other day, one day to do the workout and the next day to rest and let the muscles regrow.
Is the kettlebell swing a complete workout?
The kettlebell swing is a very versatile exercise that is considered a full-body workout since it impacts so many different muscle groups. That does not necessarily mean that you can work out your whole body with this one exercise. For instance, the kettlebell swing does not work out your biceps or triceps which is usually a big drawback for many. However, that isn’t a bad thing, exercising all your muscle groups all in one day is not recommended for beginners due to the stress and strain you put on yourself. The fact that your arms are left out is actually a blessing in disguise.
That day in between each exercise in which you're resting in your 3 to 4 days a week plan of kettlebell swings is the perfect time to work out your arms since you know you won’t need them as much the next day. That way, you can have a perfect routine of one after the other until you’ve reached your fitness goals.
Kettlebells are a very convenient, affordable, and efficient way of working out on a budget. If you do the right amount with the right weight and with proper technique, you’ll feel the difference in no time. Kettlebell swings are not the only exercise with kettlebells but is one of the most popular and effective. The price ranges with $100 on the lower end where you can either choose a hard iron/steel kettlebell or an adjustable water dumbbell for lighter weights. On the higher end, they usually go for around $200 for the metal and heavier weight ones. So go to the kettlebell rack, pick one up and start swinging since after all, if not now, then when?