In recent years, an increasing number of women are discovering the importance of an active lifestyle and are considering making fitness a part of their daily routine. This is partly due to the dissemination of information about the benefits of exercise and the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Many women are not comfortable working out with barbells and machines as they tend to feel that they are imposing. This is where the kettlebell comes in. Kettlebell exercises are a great and fun way to work out and are perfect for women who have just stepped into the world of fitness. In this article, you will learn more about kettlebells and their benefits, and about some effective kettlebell exercises that you can do.
What is a kettlebell?
A Kettlebell is an odd-looking piece of equipment that looks like a ball with a handle on top. It is usually made entirely from cast iron or cast steel and is typically used to perform exercises with ballistic movements which help you develop explosive power. It is so versatile that it can be used for other, more traditional exercises as well. Unlike the more traditional free weights and exercise machines, kettlebells target many aspects of fitness simultaneously such as endurance, strength, flexibility, balance, and agility. With kettlebells, the workouts are always challenging and efficient and can be done almost anywhere as you only need this one piece of equipment.
Benefits of kettlebell exercising
When people first take a look at the kettlebell, many immediately assume that it is just a dumbbell that comes in a different shape. This couldn’t be any farther from the truth. The mechanics of a kettlebell are completely different from a dumbbell as the inverted U handle changes the way the weight works with your body. Unlike a dumbbell, a kettlebell’s center of gravity lies outside of your hand, meaning it can change depending on how you move it. This gives kettlebell exercises some distinct benefits, some of which are explained below.
Kettlebells are versatile
Exercising with a dumbbell or a barbell requires you to use slow and controlled movements and recruits only a group of muscles in your body. A kettlebell, on the other hand, is extremely adaptable as it can be used to work out your muscles with both slow and controlled movements as well as with explosive and ballistic movements. Additionally, kettlebell exercises recruit almost all of the muscles in your entire body and focus on endurance, power, and flexibility.
Combines Strength and Cardio
Many kettlebell exercises are both strength-centric and cardio-centric. The kettlebell swing, for instance, is considered by many as ‘ballistic cardio’ wherein you use explosive movements to thrust the weight up and down as fast as possible. This activity can rapidly get your heart rate up, mimicking most cardio exercises. As you recruit multiple muscle groups while performing this exercise, you ultimately end up working them out and developing their strength as well.
Improves Functional Strength
Functional strength is the strength that your body needs to get you through your daily life. Functional workouts like kettlebell exercises develop muscle coordination and train them to work together by simulating common movements that you do at home or at work. The Turkish get-up, for instance, mimics the way you pull yourself up from the floor to the standing position. Also, kettlebells constantly work your forearms and help you build grip strength and endurance. This makes it easier for you to perform everyday activities that involve lifting heavy items, such as hauling a hefty grocery bag up the stairs.
Increases Fat Loss
We all know that cardio and strength training are both great ways to burn calories and fat. As kettlebell exercises incorporate both cardio and strength training movements, you can experience fat loss that is twice as fast. This is due to the increased levels of stress that the muscles in your body have to go through. Additionally, the strength training component of these exercises helps build muscle mass, which in turn burns more calories by increasing your resting metabolic rate.
Takes less Time
Kettlebell exercises are simple and can be performed almost anywhere. All you need is a single piece of equipment, just in different weights. As the workouts are simple, straightforward, train multiple muscle groups, and focus on almost all the aspects of training, they are highly time-efficient and can be performed well within an hour.
Decreases the chances of injury
Most of the time, injuries occur due to weak muscles and the inability of your body to deal with eccentric deceleration. Kettlebell workouts train the body to better handle eccentric deceleration, thereby allowing you to move fast and to come to a stop without putting your muscles or joints at risk.
5 kettlebell exerCises for women
Kettlebell exercises for women are a fun way to swing into shape. Some of the exercises that women with access to kettlebells can do are explained below.
1. Kettlebell Deadlifts
The deadlift is a staple movement for anyone looking to enhance their strength, build muscle mass, and stay in shape. This is a compound movement that works multiple muscle groups in your body such as the upper back, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and forearms.
To perform this exercise, start off by positioning your legs shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight and your knees slightly bent, bend down and grab the handle of the kettlebell with both your hands. Pull the kettlebell off the floor by rising up and standing tall. Squeeze your glutes at the top and slowly lower the weight back down. While doing this exercise, make sure you don’t curve your back as that can put pressure on your spine.
2. Kettlebell swings
The kettlebell swing is another compound movement that works a range of muscles such as the glutes, legs, back, and even the abdominal muscles. In addition to working out these muscles, the swing also has a cardio effect as it can elevate your heart rate up exponentially.
To do this exercise, take a wide stance with the kettlebell placed between your legs. Bend down and grab the handles of the kettlebell while keeping your knees bent and your back straight. Lift the kettlebell and swing it through your legs. Then, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward, allowing your arms to swing the kettlebell back through your legs and up to your chest level. Let the momentum you generated take you back to the starting position.
3. Single-arm kettlebell snatch
Kettlebell snatches are a great way to work the major muscles in your upper body such as the shoulders, chest, and back. To perform this exercise, start by standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width. Place a kettlebell on the floor right between your legs. With your knees slightly bent and back straight, bend down and grab the handle of the kettlebell with just one arm. Then, in a single explosive motion, pull the kettlebell up with your elbows tucked in until it reaches your chest. From there, push the kettlebell overhead and lock your arms. Finally, bring the weight back down to the starting position.
Once you’re done with a set, switch up your arms and perform the same movement. Remember to do this exercise in one fluid movement. Start off with a low enough weight to get accustomed to this exercise before you start loading more.
4. Kettlebell twists
The kettlebell twists are responsible for working out your abdominal and oblique muscles. They’re really efficient at targeting those stubborn abs. Start by sitting on the floor with your torso upright, your legs bent, and your feet flat on the floor. Grab a kettlebell with both your hands and bring it up to your chest. With your knees still bent, lift your legs off the floor and lean back slightly. Then, twist your torso from left to right from the waist taking the kettlebell along with you. While twisting, make sure to keep your legs together.
5. single-arm kettlebell rows
Kettlebell rows are among the set of kettlebell exercises that target your core and your back. To perform this exercise, place a kettlebell in front of your legs. Bend down while keeping your back straight and your knees slightly bent. Push your butt out as much as possible. Grab the handle of the kettlebell with your arm and pull it to your stomach by flexing the elbow; this will retract your shoulder blades. Lower the weight back down to the starting position. Once you are done with a set, perform the same movement on the other side.
These five kettlebell exercises for women are just the tip of the iceberg as there are tons more. If you are new to working out with kettlebells, start off with a low enough weight and increase it over time. This way, you can properly get used to kettlebell exercises and prevent any injuries or muscle cramps. More than hard work, consistency is the key to success. So, make sure you train regularly. Apart from working out, you should also focus on eating clean and nutritious food to fuel your workouts and initiate the recovery process. Also, adequate sleep is necessary to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle.