Fitness & Exercise
Kettlebell Workouts For Men
Going Ballistic = Getting Fit
Shaped like a cannonball with a handle, a kettlebell offers a total body workout and big bang for your exercise buck. They’re more portable and take up less space than dumbbells, so you can get an on-the-spot workout at home or in your office.
A 20-minute routine with these workout power tools boosts your aerobic capacity, builds your overall strength, and increases your balance and flexibility. Read on for more about safe and effective kettlebell workout strategies.
Watch Before You Hoist
Before you grab a kettlebell and swing it around, get tips from a pro to avoid injury. “Kettlebell movement is ballistic,” says John Porcari, Ph.D., director of the Clinical Exercise Physiology program at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. “Men have a tendency to lift too much weight,” he observes.
Porcari recommends working with a personal trainer for two or three kettlebell workouts or watching several videos to get a consistent view of how the exercises should be done. Porcari’s research documents the increased oxygen intake, heart rate, and aerobic capacity that kettlebell routines offer.
How do you know if you’re fit enough for kettlebell training? San Diego physical therapist and kettlebell expert Ben Fung, D.P.T. advises using this simple screening method: face a wall or doorframe and squat. If you can squat without touching the wall or doorframe, you’re ready, he says. Not there yet? “Do stairs all day at work,” Fung says. “That engages many of the same muscles used in kettlebell workouts.”
Start Light for Heavy Benefits
Resist the temptation to snatch up the heaviest kettlebell you can lift. Instead, start with a weight between 15 to 25 pounds. Begin with 6 to 8 repetitions and rest for 30 seconds between each exercise. Do this twice a week, and gradually increase the number of repetitions and weight—or time—as you gain power. Remember to warm up beforehand and cool down with stretching afterward.
Deadlift for Lively Results
Place the kettlebells adjacent to each foot. From a standing position, pull in your abdomen and squeeze your shoulders. Slowly and with control, lower yourself to the floor. Keep your heels on the ground, grasp the kettlebells, and slowly rise while exhaling. This exercise strengthens your glutes, quads, and back.
Swing into Shape
To build your quads and glutes, place a kettlebell between your feet. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, pull in your abs, set your shoulders, and lower your body while exhaling. Pick up the kettlebell with one arm and rise, holding your arm parallel with the floor. Be careful not to jerk or swing your arm out of the parallel position.
You’re Halfway There
The kettlebell Turkish half get-up builds your abs, core, and shoulders. Here’s a step-by-step of how to do it:
- Lie flat with your right knee bent and right heel planted. Place the kettlebell next to your right shoulder.
- Rest the kettlebell against back of your right forearm. Keep your wrist neutral and use both arms if needed.
- Extend your right arm out to the side and rest it on the floor.
- Keeping your shoulder on the floor, lift the kettlebell up without bending your wrist.
- Exhale, pull in your abs, and push off your left arm. Curl halfway up into a sitting position while keeping the kettlebell lifted.
- Hold briefly. Then uncurl slowly and lower yourself to the floor. Support yourself with your left arm. Do 6 to 8 reps and repeat with the other arm.
Your Push to Fitness
In this push-up variation, you grasp the handle of each kettlebell from a full or bent-knee push-up position. Keep your trunk firmly braced without curving your back. Inhale, and lower your body until your chest aligns with your hands. Exhale and press up. As with regular push-ups, this exercise targets your chest, triceps, and core.
Take the Lunge
Stand and hold a kettlebell close to your chest with both hands. Step forward with one foot, and slowly perform 6 to 8 lunges. Make sure your knee doesn’t extend beyond your foot. Repeat with the opposite leg. Your quads and hamstrings reap the benefit of the extra weight from the kettlebell in this exercise.
A Lot (of Fitness) on Your Shoulders
For a great shoulder workout, stand with both feet together while holding a kettlebell in your right hand. Set your shoulders and brace your abs. Pull the kettlebell upward to your shoulder, keeping your forearm vertical and pressed just inside your hip. Exhale and slowly press the kettlebell up, being careful not to bend your wrist. (If you prefer, you can grasp your right forearm with your left arm, and use both arms to press the kettlebell up.) Lower slowly, and repeat 6 to 8 times. Then do this exercise with the opposite arm.
Polish Your Halo
Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell in both hands. Set your shoulders and brace, maintaining these contractions throughout the exercise. Exhale and slowly raise the kettlebell above your head. Keep your elbows bent. Move the kettlebell in slow circles around your head, forming a “halo.” Keep your wrist neutral and your elbows bent.
Strengthen your core with 6 to 8 repetitions. Then repeat this exercise, this time moving the kettlebell in the opposite direction (clockwise or counterclockwise).
Customize and Enjoy
Vary your kettlebell workout setting and make it your own. To get into the spirit, try creating a soundtrack that includes upbeat songs, such as The White Stripes’ “My Doorbell,” AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” and The Byrds’ version of “The Bells of Rhymney.” Head out to a park or beach with kettlebells in tow. Or, as Fung advises, take a class for diverse circuits and to keep you accountable. His kettlebell fitness class at a San Diego hospital brings in 18- to 79-year-olds alike.