Fads come and go in the fitness world. For example, the Thigh Master, the Atkins Diet — and we’re even in the midst of a gluten-free craze that is the subject of much debate. But every once in a while, something comes along that seems to stick around, and find a permanent place in the fitness echelon due to its effectiveness. Protein powder could be counted among these things. And now, the kettlebell.
For beginners, the kettlebell can be a little intimidating. Its odd shape, compared to the classic barbell or dumbbell, may turn you immediately away from wanting to give it a shot — particularly if it has a gorilla or zombie face embedded within. But trainers are turning more and more people on to kettlebell workouts. They’re great for strength training, cardio workouts, and even recovery and rehabilitation. The versatility of the kettlebell really can’t be understated.
With that in mind, you might want to give kettlebells a shot. And in order to do so, you can start with a few simple exercises, and then expand into more intricate and complex workouts. On the next several pages, we’ve put together a few of these simple exercises to start with.
Read on to see four kettlebell exercises that are perfect for beginners.
1. The swing
The kettlebell swing may be the most simple of all kettlebell exercises. But its relative simplicity masks the complexity — it actually works a number of muscles throughout the body. You can see a short demo above, from Reebok CrossFit, and give it a shot in your own living room. Just make sure you work on form to begin with, as with any other lift, and leave plenty of room around you to swing the weight around. The last thing you want to do is smash a hole in the wall, or even worse, knock a passerby off their feet with your wrecking-ball motion.
2. The kettlebell snatch
The snatch is another easy and simple kettlebell exercise that is ideal for beginners, especially if you’re trying to lay a foundation of exercises to base future workouts on. Again, a demo can be seen above, but keep in mind that there are numerous variations of this exercise, and that you can do it any way you like. One thing to be careful of is that you’re taking it easy on your shoulders, and focusing on lifting, rather than whipping the weight around. You’re trying to strengthen your muscles — not tear ligaments and tendons. The tutorial is from Rogue Fitness.
3. Squat clean
The squat. The clean. Both of these lifts are familiar to gym-goers. But now, you can incorporate them into one lift and motion — using kettlebells. Voila: the squat clean.
Check out the video above for a primer, and then give it a shot yourself. It may be a little tricky at first, but once you get the form and motion down, it can be an incredibly effective exercise that works just about every muscle in your body. You get the benefit of squats, with the power of a clean — from your legs, all the way through your upper-body. This is another exercise that can tailored in a number of ways, so experiment. Just make sure you’re using proper form, and don’t hurt yourself.
4. The kettlebell shoulder press
The final entry on our list is a kettlebell shoulder press, which is exactly what you might suspect. It’s a simple overhead press, substituting a barbell or dumbbell for the kettlebell. It’s simple enough, and can easily be mastered to become one of the bedrock lifts for any kettlebell routine. Check out the tutorial video above, and explore variations to this exercise that can help you target more specific body parts.