July 2014 ISSUE

 

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Russian Kettlebells Vamp up Your Workouts
By now we all know that in order to lose weight we need to be conscious about what we eat and integrate some exercise into our daily routines. Fewer people however place as much stock into strength training, but the fact is, by adding this to your workout regime, you can increase your fitness results by an absorbent amount.

The latest technique, which has its roots in Russia, is known as Kettlebell Training and it is quickly becoming one of the most popular and effective training programs in around the World.

What Are Kettlebells?
Kettlebells are constructed of heavy cast iron and very much resemble a typical cannonball but also include a thick handle for gripping. Because of their weight, some may find it challenging to work with them at first, but their benefits are many.

Utilizing the kettlebell requires a lot of strength and balance and it is within those aspects that the myriad of benefits can be reaped. When exercising, the more we engage our core muscles and focus on stabilization and balance, the more toned those muscles become. When combined with the calories burned, weight loss happens at a much more rapid rate, so you are toning and burning fat simultaneously.

Kettlebells come in weights that begin at 8 pounds and are upwards of 105 pounds. Until you get used to working with them, experts recommend beginning with the smaller weights in order to avoid injury.

Incorporating Kettlebells into Your Regime
The added weight of the kettlebell and the techniques that one needs to implement when using them ensures that not only is the exercise more challenging but they also promote proper body alignment. The shape of the equipment forces the user to keep it close to the body when conducting the exercises which means they are using movements that are naturally aligned with how we should be moving and helps them to stay within the natural range of movement.

Although challenging, using this piece of equipment is simplistic especially if one has ever worked with similar equipment like dumbbells or free weights. Many of the exercises are the same, as are the movements. The main difference is that the kettlebell does not provide as much free reign of motion that other equipment does, so the movements are more challenging and restrictive, which promotes better toning and faster weight loss.

Just with any other strength training, professionals recommend incorporating kettlebells into your routine a couple of times per week and in between your cardio days. Below are some of the exercises that beginners can start with.

Kettlebell Swing
This is a basic kettlebell move that all beginners can perform easily. The movements will engage your core muscles in the shoulders, abdomen and thighs. Remaining in proper form is essential so injury doesn’t occur so focus on your stance and movements as you learn.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keeping your back naturally curved and balancing your weight on your back heels. With your knees slightly bent (as if you were performing a squat) take one or two kettlebells in each hand and bring it up to chest level. With your elbows remaining tightly enclosed to your body.

Once your arms are parallel to your chest area, pause with the kettlebells for 5 seconds and then release them back to starting position. Keep your abs tucked in tightly and make sure you are pulling the kettlebells with your shoulders and arms, not your back. Do 10 reps to start with and then gradually increase to 3 sets of 10.

Turkish Get-Ups
Lie on your back while holding one kettlebell straight up in the air with your left hand. Your elbow should remain in a locked position and the kettlebell should rest on your forearm. Using your right hand for balance and to prop your body up, swing your left leg toward the butt area while putting your right knee on the ground.

This will put you in a half-kneeling position and is needed for stabilization as you complete the exercise. Keeping your arm straight, stand up while looking at the kettlebell. This stand up transition should be slow and deliberate as it is meant to work all the muscles in your core areas including the back, abdomen and thighs. That is one complete rep.

Start with 10 reps and then gradually work your way to 3 sets of 10.
Before attempting any exercise or diet modification, always consult a fitness or medical professional.
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