It’s no secret that kettlebells provide a seriously effective total-body workout in less time, but these cannonball-shaped iron orbs with handles do much more than just build strength. For starters, kettlebell workouts burn an average of 20 calories per minute (when you factor in calories being burned both aerobically and anaerobically), which is equivalent to running at a 6-minute mile pace, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Talk about impressive!
In addition to that crazy calorie- and fat-burning potential, a new study from the American Council on Exercise found that kettlebell training also improves core strength, dynamic balance, and aerobic capacity, eliciting the same type of cardio improvement you would expect to get from regularly attending your favorite spin class.
So if you’re in the market to add new intensity to your workout routine, grab a bell and get ready to break a serious sweat with these five creative moves courtesy of Steve Cotter, director and founder of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, who was named by Men’s Health as one of the 100 fittest men of all time.
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Bottoms Up Clean and Press
|2-Hand Flip and Catch
Grasping a kettlebell by the handle with both hands, swing the kettlebell forward and back between your legs. As the kettlebell reaches chest level, flick your wrists toward you, letting go of the kettlebell as it does one complete rotation. When the handle faces up again, catch the kettlebell by the handle with both hands at chest height and swing it back between your legs. Do 10 to 15 reps.
|Figure 8s (Between-the-Legs Pass)
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart holding a kettlebell in one hand. Begin passing the kettlebell between your legs from front to back, grabbing it with the opposite hand each time the kettlebell moves behind you. Do 5 to 10 reps, then reverse directions and pass the kettlebell from back to front for another 5 to 10 reps.
Stand with one kettlebell in your right hand and one on the floor outside your left foot. Bring the kettlebell in your right hand to chest height, then press it overhead, fully extending your arm and turning feet to left 45 degrees. Keeping eyes on the kettlebell overhead, push right hip out to the side so that it is underneath the raised kettlebell and flex your body to the left until your left hand reaches the kettlebell on the floor. Grab the lower kettlebell and extend your body back up to the starting position. Do 5 to 10 reps on the right side and then repeat on the left.
|Behind-the-Neck Jump Squats
Hold a kettlebell handle on the sides with both hands behind your head, pinching shoulder blades together so that the upper back muscles serve as a cushion to keep the kettlebell from resting directly on your spine. With the ball of the kettlebell facing down, perform a squat jump, landing softly as you descend to absorb the impact forces sequentially through your toes, feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Do 10 to 20 reps. Rest for 1 minute and repeat again for a total of 3 to 5 sets.