Kettlebells, used for hundreds of years in Russia as a means of improving muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance, can do both for you. Looking like a bowling ball with a handle, a kettlebell allows you to create cardio or muscle-building workouts, depending on the weight of the bell and how you use it. In addition, the distinctive method of using the weight creates more abdominal muscle contractions, helping you improve your core.
Good Core Workout
Because the kettlebell has two components (the heavier ball and the lighter handle), the weight is unstable. Regardless of what type of exercise or workout you’re performing, you will frequently need to use your core muscles to balance yourself to counter the instability of the kettlebell. These contractions in the abdominal area create abs and obliques contractions during your many of the exercises you do.
You can perform familiar exercises such as deadlifts, biceps curls and squats with a kettlebell, building muscles just as you can with other weight systems. Performing several reps of exercises with a heavy kettlebell is one way to build muscle. Using less weight, but performing more reps, is another. If you use this latter method, use enough weight so that you’ll fatigue to failure in 90 seconds from the reps if you want maximum muscle building.
You Can Burn Lots of Calories
You can create moderately intense “fat-burning” workouts, vigorously intense cardio workouts, or high-intensity interval workouts with a kettlebell. All three help you build calories. The trick is, using the right weight kettlebell, or creating the right kind of workout for the weight you have. You don’t want to have to take long breaks because you’ve exhausted your muscles. This means completing a number of reps that lets you take a quick break (15-30 seconds), then starting another exercise. Keep this pattern going throughout your workout.
Kettlebell swinging is a unique form of cardio exercise this piece of equipment lets you perform. Start with the kettlebell on the floor between your legs. Grab it with both hands, then swing it upward until it reaches shoulder height, or your arms are parallel with the floor. Use your legs and hips to start the motion to prevent back strain. Look for a demo video on YouTube to learn the correct technique.
OK, so there’s really no such thing as “toning” your muscles. But you can achieve the goal (ditching flab and getting lean in specific areas) with a kettlebell. Using a lighter kettlebell lets you create cardio workouts to burn excess fat. You can also target specific muscles you wish to strengthen. For example, if you wish to work the backs of your upper arms, use a kettlebell to perform triceps extensions, raising the weight from behind your back to over your head. Work the backs of your lower legs by performing calf raises while you hold a kettlebell.
Like dumbbells and other free weights, kettlebells come in various weights. Using a lighter kettlebell allows you to perform cardio workouts, keeping your intensity high with such movements as swinging. Swinging uses the kettlebell’s weight to create momentum so you can swing the weight back and forth, requiring some muscular effort to change direction but not so much that you will fatigue to failure. This allows you to continue working, burning calories.
Use a kettlebell for a variety of workouts, using this one piece of equipment for cardio, muscular endurance, circuit training, abdominal and body-building workouts. Even a lighter kettlebell, used slowly and with enough reps, can create some muscle.