The Swing is a movement that can almost always be refined. I’ve said this many times before, but mastery of the other basic balistic kettlebell moves (like the Clean and Snatch) all starts with the Swing. In this video with Senior RKC David Whitley and RKC Matt McBryde, you’ll learn:
Background and history of the kettlebell
Why ‘cushy’ shoes are a no-no for your kettlebell training
How to learn the ‘hip hinge’ and the proper swing movement pattern from the KB deadlift
Variety in your kettlebell training program, contrary to popular belief, can be both good and bad.
If you keep doing the same workout for a long period of time, your body adapts and you stop making progress. It also gets super boring :).
On the other hand, change things up too much and it’s difficult to measure progress.
Sticking with your program just long enough and changing things up when your gains start to stall is the ticket to steady progress. And that being said, here are a few kettlebell routines to give you ideas for your workouts and to help you keep things interesting. Most of these have written descriptions and video – enjoy!
If you’re short on time, here’s two kettlebell workouts you can do in 15 minutes or less.
Kettlebell Basics Combo Series
A video series by yours truly that features four ‘kettlebell combo’ videos so far. Take combo #1 for example – the one arm Swing to one arm Squat to Overhead Press to one arm Snatch. All combos also have a basic workout you can do with them.
Being that combat athletes come from a broad group, this kettlebell circuit workout can be adapted to your training program; it is done for time instead of reps and requires the use of a kettlebell in each exercise
Women require different training needs than men and this routine targets that issue with a combination of lunges, get ups, rows, swings, snatches, and cleans
Now, these kettlebell routines are just a start – we’ve got many more to come, so stay tuned!! Comments and questions are always welcome.
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For the forth installment of the Kettlebell Basics Combo series … The Super Full Body Attack!!
This one is really just a single exercise, but I’m calling it a combo because it’s a bunch of kettlebell moves all mixed together … it’s truly a smoker. I challenge you to find a muscle group in your body that this exercise doesn’t work.
Here’s the video:
Start this one in a standing position with the kettlebells about six inches in front of you. The first trick is to make sure the KB handles are placed in such a way that your palms can face each other when you jump back to your Push Up.
Jump your feet back to a Push Up position – like a Burpee. Do a Push Up. Now, jump the feet forward in one motion and make sure your feet land outside of the kettlebell handles.
Clean the ‘bells up, do a Front Squat, and move straight from the Front Squat to an Overhead Press. Rack the KB’s, return them to the ground and you’ve done one rep.
For a quick, incredibly tough full body blast, do 50 of these for time. You must pay very close attention to your form with this combo. Especially as the rep count starts to climb, your form can easily break down.
If you’re just starting out, you can of course scale the workout down and do maybe half the amount of reps. You could also do more if 50 is too easy.
(BTW, I got the idea for this one from the ‘original’ full body attack – I’ve just added a Push Up and Front Squat to make it tougher.)
Here’s a video of the original for reference:
That’s it for kettlebell basics combo #4! Enjoy and keep training hard.
Still strugling to learn the basics of kettlebell training? Your first move is to read through the archives and check out the videos on this blog – there’s a ton of great info here. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter, and you’ll get a free Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell Training – you can do that by simply inputing your name and email into the form at the upper right of the page. For a more complete and in-depth guide that teaches you basic kettlebell exercises and workouts, check out my KettlebellBasics.net Quick Start Guide. And last but not least, visit the recommended resources page of this blog to order kettlebells and all the other stuff you need to make your kettlebell training a great experience!
Are you having problems mastering the basic kettlebell exercises?
Is your lower back aching after a KB training session?
Do you just feel like you’re not getting all you can out of your kettlebell training?
Good news: You’ve landed in the right place. This post is intended as a ‘jumping – off point’ for kettlebell beginners, as well as a reference resource for more advanced trainees. You’ll find detailed descriptions of each ‘basic’ kettlebell exercise (swing, Turkish get up, goblet squat, clean, press, and snatch), additional coaching points and technique tips for each, and much more.
Questions, comments, etc. are more than welcome – please leave them in the comments section at the bottom of the post and I’ll do my best to get back to you ASAP. Thanks, and enjoy!
– Forest Vance, RKC
1. The Kettlebell Swing
The Kettlebell Swing forms the foundation of kettlebell training exercises. It hits almost all of your major muscle groups, with a special emphasis on the glutes, hamstrings, back extensors, and lats.
Your next foundational kettlebell training exercise – it hits all of the muscle groups that the Swing doesn’t. The Get-Up is considered a ‘grind’ (slow and controlled), in contrast with the Swing, which is considered a ‘ballistic’ (fast and explosive).
Also, if you liked this post, why not sign up for our newsletter? You’ll get tips and tricks just like these delivered straight to your email inbox – plus a couple of free bonuses just for signing up! Just enter your name and email into the box to the upper right of the page.
Time to time, you might find yourself away from your kettlebells – maybe on the road for work or vacation – and still in need of the fast and efficient conditioning-style workout you get with your KB’s. The Dumbbell Complex is a great alternative.
Istvan Javorek is the strength coach who has recently popularized the dumbbell complex concept – here’s a video of the Javorek Complex #1:
Quick summary of the complex in the video if you missed it:
Dumbbell Upright Row X 6
Dumbbell High Pull Snatch X 6
Dumbbell Squat Push Press X 6
Dumbbell Bent Over Row X 6
Dumbbell High Pull Snatch X 6
Perform In A Non-Stop, Continuous Order As Listed Above.
Five Exercise X 6 Reps = 30 Reps/Set
This complex can be done once or twice for a warm-up or three to five times for a complete workout.
Enjoy and have a great weekend!
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Kettlebell Basics Combo #3 incorporates four basic kettlebell drills into a giant circuit: Clean and Presses, Snatches, Goblet Squats, and Hand to Hand Swings.
To complete the circuit, you’ll perform 2 Clean and Presses on each side, 4 Snatches on each side, 12 Goblet Squats, and 16 Hand to Hand Swings. Repeat this circuit 5 times for an amazing, efficient, full-body-blasting workout!
Don’t forget: You can get free access to the Kettlebell Rx video and a free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell Training by signing up for our newsletter! Just drop your name and email into the box at the upper right of the page.
Do you realize the impact the footwear you choose when training with kettlebells has on your strength, balance, and cordination? Kettlebell training – and most other training, in fact – is best done with no shoes at all.
Prior to the invention of shoes, people had healthier feet. The modern Zulu population, which often goes barefoot, had the healthiest feet in a study sited in the above article. Europeans, the habitual shoe wearers, had the most foot problems.
So here are five reasons why you should think about losing your shoes for your next kettlebell training session:
1. ‘Feel’ the floor
Going barefoot allows you to build a nice strong base from the ground up for performing kettlebell drills. Also, cross trainers or running shoes may have elevation in the sole as to pitch your feet forward and impair mobility.
2. Strengthen the foot muscles
You get this only with barefoot (and some very unique footwear that I’ll mention in a bit) training. Plus you can use your toes to grip things better.
3. Improves balance
This is almost immediate. Just try it and report back.
4. No tension loss
If you follow Pavel’s teachings, you know that tension is strength. So cushy shoes are out.
5. Proper gait
Wearing shoes makes natural gait impossible. And chronic shoe wearing can result in lower and upper back pain.
So now let me address the common objections I get to this:
“I train in a gym and I can’t take my shoes off”
“I train at the local park and don’t want to cut my feet/step in dog poo/etc.
“I don’t want to drop a kettlebell on my foot”
Stop being a sissy 🙂
But if these are serious problems for you,Vibram Five Fingers are a cool alternative footwear that are well worth a look. Wearing a pair of Vibrams is, from a biomechanical standpoint, like going barefoot, but gives you some protection against the elements.
Check out this article on Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Blog for more about problems with wearing shoes and the Vibram Five Fingers:
Here’s the second installment of the Kettlebell Basics Combo series – if you missed the first one, you can check it out here.
For the second kettlebell combo, we have just two exercises – the Snatch and the Turkish Get Up. You’ll do 5 Snatches on the right side, go immediately into a ‘top-down’ Get Up (see the video for a demo of this one – it’s simply a Get Up that starts and ends in a standing position and with the kettlebell locked out overhead), do a half swing to switch hands, and repeat the same sequence on the left side. Repeat this five times on the right and five times on the left for a fast, efficient full-body workout. Here’s a video of Kettlebell Basics Combo #2:
Enjoy! While I’ve got ya here, I’d also like to point you towards a brand new page on this blog – Recommended Resources. It’s a list of all the ‘tools of the trade’ you need to learn how to use kettlebells safely and effectively. I put it together as a resource for you to refer back to on a regular basis, and it’s something I plan on updating frequently as I test more kettlebell-related products and services and learn more myself. Check it out by clicking the link below:
I know I’ve talked exclusively about Dragon Door kettlebells on this blog – and that’s truly because I think they’re the best. I’m not personally biased one way or the other just because I’m an RKC – I just want the best ‘bells. And it’s funny, as kettlebell brand seems to be a kind of sensitive topic for people in the kettlebell community. So I thought I would put together a list of major brands of kettlebells with a few of the good and bad things about each. This list is by no means exhaustive – feel free to leave your opinion on the best kettlebell brand in the comments section. If there are any brands that you like and use that I’ve left out, feel free to point that out as well.
1st Tier Brands: Ader + Dragon Door
It seems that the kettlebell brands most widely used are Dragon Door and Ader – this is just from personal observation and other discussions I’ve seen about this topic.
Generally agreed upon that the ‘bell is more comfortable
DD ‘bells have a nice, flat bottom that’s great for stuff like renegade rows
Nicely built and well balanced ‘bell
For a more detailed review of the Dragon Door ‘bells, click here
Harder to grip, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it
Generally well reviewed bell and slightly cheaper price than Dragon Door
2nd Tier Brands: Powermax + Apollo
These ‘bells aren’t as good quality and aren’t as well made – they’re also considerably cheaper. Reviews aren’t as good across the board. But, the lower price makes them attractive to some – and if you’re just planning on doing some occasional swings with them – maybe using them for CrossFit workouts or something – they’re probably just fine in all honesty.
This is a new kettlebell breed. The purists like myself would never consider something like this, but for some, it may be a good option. Positives are that one can have only one kettlebell and adjust the weight as you get stronger, switch exercises, etc.