January Fitness Tips: Kettle Bell Obsession
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to freshen up your workout routine, and if you haven’t started incorporating kettlebells (KB) into your routine, this is the perfect time to try them! KB exercises are my new obsession for several reasons. Most importantly, they use multiple muscle groups in the body at once, they increase your overall athleticism and coordination, plus they strengthen tendons and ligaments. That protects you from joint injury down the road. I love the fact that 20-30 minutes of KB exercises uses your entire body, while incorporating strength and cardio training at once. It’s the perfect exercise for busy people! Kettlebells are also affordable, some retailers offer three different weights in a package (5, 10 and 20 pounds). I bought two sets of the three-weight package (one for each hand) and then a single 30-pound weight. When time is short, I can squeeze in a productive 20-minute workout at home before running to work or to catch a flight. Yes, they’re different from dumbbells because the weight is off center, which means your muscles have to work to stabilize it. Personally, I’ve found KBs give me a leaner, toner look as opposed to traditional weights and machines. Here are some of my favorite KB moves. Do the list three times for a total body workout. If you’ve never tried exercising with kettlebells, start with the deadlift first and work your way down. Definitely work out in front of a mirror to make sure you’re using proper form.
- Kettlebell Deadlifts – one 30 lb weight: this teaches you correct KB form and works your hamstrings, glutes and back.
- Kettlebell swings – one 30 lb weight: burns fat and works your core, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and back. Make sure you’re engaging your hips and letting them lead the swing. You don’t want to lead with your shoulders and back – that’s where injuries occur.
- Tricep Overhead Squeeze-one 20 lb weight: more of an isolation exercise, but helps keep the back of your arms firm and toned. Keep those elbows tight by your temples!
- Tricep rows or push backs – two 5 lb weights: I grasp the actual weight instead of the handle for these and row like a downhill skier. It’s a smaller motion then many people realize. Your upper arms stay tight against your body. The only movement is from the elbow – up and down as if you’re skiing.
- Squat, Press –two 10 lb weights: My favorite! Start in a standing position, with the kettlebells at your shoulders. Squat down and as you rise up, push your arms above your head, keeping them close to your ears. Feet should be shoulder-width apart and when you squat down, make sure your weight is evenly distributed, not all in the front or back of your feet. Squeeze your glutes hard as you stand up.
- Lunges – two 20 lb weights: Make sure your stance isn’t too wide. Yes, you want to lunge straight down, with that front knee staying behind your front ankle. However, I see a lot of beginners over compensate for this by starting in a lunge that’s way too wide to be productive.
Jennifer Hale is a Fox Sports Sideline Reporter/Women’s and Health Spokesperson for Thibodaux Regional Medical Center