Up your strength-training game with these exercises that are especially effective when using a heavier kettlebell.
By now, you're probably training with kettlebells on your own or using them in your classes at the box or studio. Or at the very least, you've heard about the benefits of using these handy weights in your training.
Need a reminder? "Kettlebells are so versatile," says Lacee Lazoff, certified personal trainer and FHIT Pro at Fhitting Room in NYC. "I love that they challenge my grip, forearms, and core strength. They really work and shape the total body unlike any other piece of equipment." Plus, "the core engagement needed to lift heavy bells in a deadlift, front squat, and even a reverse lunge not only strengthen the lower body, but also force the upper body, core, and back to work in order to support the weight."
This is why, if you're comfortable with some basic kettlebell moves (and know which kettlebell mistakes to avoid), it's probably time to challenge and build on your strength by going heavier. Lazoff specifically designed these exercises with heavy kettlebells in mind.
"Ballistic, fast movements such as kettlebell swings are best done with heavy weight to not only increase strength and stamina but help with getting the most out of the intended movement—more force is needed to lift a heavy bell," she says. "Heavy weight equals not only strength but often forces better form," as often if the weight is too light, form can suffer and body compensations can happen. (Next, check out this 20-minute fat-burning kettlebell workout to tone your whole body.)
So, what's considered a "heavy" weight? That’s going to be different for everyone, says Lazoff. But a general rule of thumb is to use the heaviest weight possible that allows you to maintain proper form throughout all of the assigned reps or time.
How it works: Move through each exercise completing the allotted reps, then repeat the entire workout 5 times, resting for 1 minute between each round.
What you'll need: A heavy kettlebell. "Heavy" should be something that you lift with proper form for all of the assigned reps.
Heavy Kettlebell Workout
A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out slightly, kettlebell on the floor between feet. Hinge forward at the hip, pushing butt back, dropping hips and bending the knees.
B. From this position, grab kettlebell handle with straight arms. Push through heels to come to standing as you lift the weight; arms remain straight.
C. Reverse movement to slowly tap weight to floor.
Do 10 reps.
Goblet Chest Press with Hip Bridge
A. Lie on floor with knees bent and feet flat on the ground with heels near butt. Grip kettlebell around the goblet, holding it by chest, palms facing each other.
B. Lift hips while squeezing the glutes, coming into bridge position. From here, hold the bridge and press the kettlebell directly above the chest until arms are fully straight.
C. Maintain bridge position and lower the bell slowly to your chest, and repeat press.
Do 10 reps.
Hand-to-Hand Kettlebell Swing
A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart kettlebell about a foot in front of toes in the center. Hinge at the hips, pushing butt back and down, maintaining a flat back with hips low.
B. Grab handle of the bell with right hand and squeeze armpits as tight as possible. From here, reverse hike the bell above the knees and aggressively thrust hips forward to lift the bell with straight arm to about chest height.
C. Once bell reaches this point, quickly switch hands in midair, grabbing handle with left hand.
D. Follow weight back down as it naturally drops and swing bell back behind legs almost hitting your butt. Continue kettlebell swings, alternating hands at top.
Do 10 reps on each side.
Alternating Hinged Row
A. Stand with feet under hips, holding kettlebell in right hand. Hinge forward, sticking butt back, maintaining a flat back and tight core.
B. Bend right elbow, pulling kettlebell up and back while keeping arm right to side body.
C. Straighten right arm to return kettlebell to hover above floor, then switch hands, grabbing handle with left hand. Repeat row on left side, return to center, and continue alternating.
Do 5 reps on each side.
Squat and Press
A. Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart, holding kettlebell near chest, elbows tight to the body. Come down into a squat, sitting as low as possible while keeping back flat and chest lifted. Hold here for 3 seconds.
B. Push through heels to come to standing and press kettlebell up overhead with straight arms. Return weight to chest height and repeat.
Do 10 reps.
Single-Side Reverse Lunge
A. Stand while holding kettlebell with left hand in racked position.
B. Step backward with right foot into reverse lunge, tapping back knee to the ground and keeping bent front knee over left ankle. Push through floor to come to standing, keeping weight racked the entire time. Complete all reps on this side, before switching.
Do 5 reps on each side.