If you are like me and hate to do regular cardio, then you may fall in love with kettlebells! Yes, with kettlebells, you can get a great cardio workout while you are lifting weights. And to top it all, you will barely need 15 minutes to get the job done.
If you still have not done any kettlebell lifting, then I will help you with a simple kettlebell complex that does not need years of experience, and one that you can start off with now.
First of all, you will need to understand that a kettlebell is a different object than a barbell or a dumbbell. Even if you have years of experience lifting standard free weights, a kettlebell at first will feel awkward and things will seem out of order.
The reason for this is that the main weight in a kettlebell is placed differently than a barbell/dumbbell, and it actually floats in the air when you swing it. This calls for greater work for your grip and your core muscles. Thus I would suggest that men start with a 16 kg kb, and women start with an 8 kg kettlebell, to first get a feel of the movements before going heavier.
There are many kettlebell cardio programs available on the net that call for a high number of snatches, and the more challenging exercises. While these programs do deliver great results, they are also technically more challenging for newcomers.
Kettlebell Complex Overview
In the kettlebell complex that I will share with you we will use relatively less technical exercises and will do lesser number of reps to minimize the chances of injuries. You can do this complex anywhere between 1-3 times a week after your heavy strength training. You can also do this as a fun recovery day workout. If you are doing this on a recovery day, then do make sure that you warm up thoroughly before you begin lifting the kettlebell.
The complex consists of 4 major compound movements, namely the swing, clean, push press and squat. You will complete 6 reps for all the exercises on one side, and then without keeping the bell down change hands and complete the reps on the other side. Below is a description of the 4 moves:
Start by standing about 6-10 inches away from the kettlebell and feet slightly wider than hip width. Now grab the kettlebell and swing in between the feet while exhaling.
Reverse the motion and swing the bell upwards while inhaling on the way up. Focus on using your legs, hip and back muscles to do most of the work and very little on the arms.
Do a swing like before, and when the bell comes to about the waist level, insert your hand into the handle and catch the handle in a 45 degrees in your palm, while keeping the bell close to your body. This position is called the “rack” position.
If your grip is correct and your hand has inserted properly, then you should be able to open and relax your grip while the handle rests on the base of your palm. And if you are flexible enough then you can also rest your elbow on your hip crest to get in a more restful position.
To drop the bell, turn the palm upwards and let the bell fall back down into a swing, and clean it again.
Kettlebell Push Press
The next move is the push press. Start by bending the knees slightly, and use the legs to stand up forcefully while using the momentum to press the bell overhead.
If you do this right, then the workload will be about evenly divided between the upper and lower body, and thus will burn more calories as you will be using more muscles. Using the legs efficiently will also allow you to lift more weight when compared to doing a strict press. Reverse the motion by letting the bell fall back into the rack position.
Holding the bell in the rack position, start by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Drop down to a bottom position of a squat while trying to keep your upper body as upright as possible. Reverse, and stand back up using your leg muscles.
A major advantage of the kettlebell squat is that most people can usually go lower when compared to a barbell squat due to the way the kettlebell rests on the body. Also, the relatively upright position of the upper body during a kettlebell squat works the abs hard, and helps to create a rock hard midsection.
You can watch the demonstration of the entire complex in the video below:
After doing a round, rest for about 60 seconds and repeat another 3 times taking the same amount of rest each time. Over time try to do the entire 4 rounds with lesser rest, and finally do all 4 rounds with no rest. When you can do the 4 rounds with no rest, go to the next size kettlebell and repeat with the 60 seconds rest between sets.
Give this complex a try and see how it makes you far more conditioned than spending 30 minutes on the treadmill can. And if you add in a clean diet along with some regular heavy strength work, you will watch the fat melt off in record time!