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Simple Home Gym Must Have—Kettlebell

By Miguel J. Ortiz

The kettlebell is arguably one of the most underutilized pieces of equipment in the gym because most people don’t know or understand how to use it. The variety in which you can use a kettlebell is fantastic, because of its unique design and hold positions. The kettlebell can help improve strength as well as overall joint stability, stabilization and general hand-eye coordination. The various ways one can use a kettlebell make it a must have for the home gym 

You don’t need to buy every weight or size of kettlebell. Once you get used to the different movements, you’ll understand why you may want to change or increase weights. However, I would start light with a kettlebell between 10 and 20 pounds depending on how comfortable you’re feeling. Kettlebells force you to utilize more muscle groups than usual because of the type of exercise you’re doing or how you are holding it. In this column, I want to share my three favorite kettlebell movements. I do them weekly within my own workout routine. I highly recommend adding them to yours.

The first move is a classic, the Kettlebell Swing. This move is great for hip and core strength. It helps develop coordination and stabilization. It’s talked about a lot and most people believe that this is the only exercise for the kettlebell – it’s not. This move is the basis for many other exercises especially as your kettlebell skill increases. The swing requires you to control the weight throughout the entirety of the movement which forces a higher level of focus. When you master the swing, it will help you with more advanced movements. When I have a lighter weight, I usually go for higher reps (15-20 ). When working on power and lifting a heavier kettlebell, I go for fewer reps (6-8). 

The second exercise requires a lot more balance, The Kettlebell Windmill. This exercise requires a good bit of flexibility in the legs. I recommend first trying it without any weight at all. This is also a great exercise to see the difference between a kettlebell and a dumbbell as the same size weight will feel completely differently when preforming this movement. The kettlebell will require more stabilization which will increase muscular activation around the shoulder and hip joints. The movement should be done slowly and controlled since you are hinging at the hip. Protecting your back by bracing your core is of upmost importance. Because of the stability and endurance, I will do 12-15 reps a side with a lighter weight. If I’m challenging my strength stabilization I will do 4-8 reps on each side with a heavier weight.  

The third movement is my favorite. This movement combines strength, coordination, stabilization and power. It is the Kettlebell Snatch. It is good to learn the Kettlebell Swing before stepping into this movement. You’ll also notice I need to catch the kettlebell at the top of the motion so that it softly lands on the other side of my wrist. This is where the coordination comes in. You need power from the hips to initiate the kettlebell swinging up and enough strength and finesse to smoothly press it above your head. Once caught above your head, you want to keep the kettlebell close to the body on the way down to load it, absorbing into the hips so you can properly go into the next swing.  

Have fun with these movements. If you are short on time, I would do these three exercises together in a circuit workout of 4 rounds with 10 reps of each. Stay active and make sure to grab a kettlebell and get to work.

– Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a Master Trainer for Pain-Free Performance and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz. Readers can find videos of the exercises under the “videos” tab at tinyurl.com/ORTfitness.

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