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Kettlebell Training 101: 4 Moves for Beginners

Fitness • December 13, 2018

Kettlebell Training 101: 4 Moves for Beginners

Whether you’re new to kettlebell work or just getting back on the mat after a break from the bells, there are a few movements you can practice that will help you improve your strength and power. As is the case with most things, working with kettlebells is a skill that will have to be developed over time. The moves that will be listed in this article are a great place to start, as you’ll be developing the basic foundation of your skillset. 

Many people think you have to be at a certain level to train with kettlebells, but that’s a common misconception. Even as a beginner, there are moves that you can perform to start building your strength and power while getting your body adjusted to the exercises. 

Working with kettlebells is versatile. You will be able to successfully work out with kettlebells so long as you are picking up the appropriate weight for your level of comfort. Whether you’re a beginner or well-versed in working with kettlebells, you will be able to enjoy the benefits!

Another crucial part of working out is to make sure that your form is good. Kettlebells are known for making people aware of their bodies, which will prove to be useful when it comes to maintaining proper form. This bodily awareness will transfer over to other areas of life, proving its value down the line.

I know what you may be thinking; what’s so special about kettlebells that any other weight wouldn’t be able to accomplish the same results? The answer is pretty simple. When it comes to traditional weights such as dumbbells and barbells, you have more control being that you are holding the weight directly in your hands. When working with kettlebells, you need to have better control over the weights as the weight itself is several inches away from your hands. 

Being that the center of gravity is several inches away, you need to master that control, which is not usually the case with other equipment. For that same reason, your body will use more muscles to perform the exercises properly, giving you more bang for your buck when it comes to the overall benefits of the workout.

Fortunately, if you’re not sure where your strengths and weaknesses lie, doing various exercises with kettlebells will be sure to expose them relatively quickly. Odds are that you’ll feel the areas that you need to improve. If you need to work with your core some more, you may feel it in your back or ribs. Even if you’re not quite sure what the proper form is, your body will most likely tell you and you’ll quickly learn how to correct yourself.

Even the grip of a kettlebell is different than the grips on other weights such as dumbbells, improving yet another area that would otherwise be ignored. The kettlebell’s handle is more difficult to work with in the sense that it is slicker, forcing you to hold on a little tighter.

Below are four kettlebell training movements fit for any level: 

  1. Swing
    Swings are one of the most common kettlebell movements you’ll see in a strength training program, and for good reason. Swings increase your strength and overall power making them a highly effective move.
    How-to: Start with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed forward with the kettlebell resting directly in front of you. Grab the horns of the kettlebell, keeping your arms loose. Keeping a flat back, send your hips back and slightly bend your knees. Swing the bell slightly forward then push it back through your legs. Hinge at the hips and swing the bell up until it reaches eye level. Repeat the movement as one continuous motion.
  2. Sumo Deadlift 
    When performed properly, the kettlebell sumo deadlift is a move that will help you improve strength and overall performance. When performed correctly, this movement can also help you prevent injury.
    How-to: Start with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly turned out. Hinge at the hips and reach for the bell, keeping a neutral spine. Press through the floor and stand up straight, pushing into your heels. Return the bell to the floor and repeat. It’s important to keep your back straight rather than rounded as it will help you prevent any potential injuries.

  1. One-Arm Clean 
    The one-arm clean, when performed properly, works the hamstrings and back muscles. The move also requires you to engage your core throughout, making it a great full-body movement. 
    How-to: Begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell resting between your feet. The horns of the bell should run parallel to your feet. Keep a flat back, hinge at the hips, and grip the kettlebell with your thumb pointing forward. Drive through your legs and hips as you pull the bell up the midline of your body into a standing position. When the kettlebell reaches your chest, rotate your grip on the kettlebell so your thumb points towards your body. Return the bell to starting position, reversing the direction of your hand so your thumb points away from your body, and repeat.
  1. Goblet Squat 
    The kettlebell goblet squat is a movement that helps improve lower-body strength and power. To avoid injury, make sure to keep your back straight and your chest proud throughout the movement. 
    How-to: Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell by the horns against your body. Keeping your core tight, back straight, and head up, lower into a squat, pushing your hips back. Return to standing position and repeat. The kettlebell should be held close to your chest throughout the movement.

One of the best things about working with kettlebells is that they always work the entire body at once rather than isolating specific areas. Who doesn’t love a total body workout with a limited amount of equipment?