I won’t lie to you, I don’t love exercising. My being actually revolts against it. Growing up, my exercise came in the form of intense ballet and highly-competitive volleyball, so I’m naturally more fond of sports-focused fitness. I’m not one of those people who, after a stressful day at work, wants to run a few miles to burn off steam. No, I pitch my tent in the I-need-to-drown-my-stress-in-cookies-and-HGTV camp. BUT! I absolutely love the way I feel when I exercise. I love feeling strong; I love having energy; I love focusing my energies on something productive and healthy; I love the virtues that fitness cultivates; and, let’s face it, I love the way I look when I am in shape. So I make myself do it.
Unfortunately, when my schedule is full of lightyear-long to-do lists, taking care of my physical health tends to be the first thing to slide
down off the list to make room for the more “essentials”. Which is why I love working out with kettlebells. It’s been my favorite workout as an adult and continues to be my sole source of cardio and strength-training post-baby. As we seek to incorporate fitness into our daily routines, I suggest that kettlebells are an excellent route to travel. It is feasible to complete a kettlebell workout, and complete it well, while keeping your eye on the kiddos or during your dash to get things done during nap time.
A Russian kettlebell is basically a cannonball with a handle. They’ve been used for hundreds of years by “the strong men of old”, as my husband describes with heartfelt fondness. Over the last decade, the United States has caught on to the benefits of the kettlebell. Pavel Tsatsouline, a former member of Russia’s Spetsnaz (the country’s special forces – think Navy Seals), brought the kettlebell to the U.S. when he moved to California to chase the American Dream. He began to train people using kettlebells, and this method spread like wildfire. And for good reason.
Working out with a kettlebell is both effective and compatible with the busy schedule most of us keep nowadays. My favorite benefits of the kettlebell are:
- Workouts with the kettlebell are simple to learn.
- Working out with a kettlebell is fast. You can complete a good workout in 20 minutes. But it still …
- Kicks your butt in a good way. The workouts are short and intense equaling impressive results.
- It’s free (minus the initial investment in the kettlebell itself) – no gym membership!
- You can use it in the comfort of your own home. Again, no trips to the gym or tracking down childcare! And you can do it in your underwear. 😉
- It’s easy on your joints. Since women have wider, baby-birthing hips, many exercises end up wearing on our joints, particularly our knees. Kettlebell exercises take care to ensure safety for your hips, knees, and other joints.
- The workouts tone your entire body, not just isolated parts at a time.
- It blends strength with flexibility for a more all-purpose exercise.
- Did I mention that it’s fast, free, simple, and effective?
Now that I’m certain you’re convinced about the benefits of kettlebell training, let’s jump right into the kettlebell swing.
Before you start your kettlebell workout, it’s important to get your stretch on. This will loosen your muscles in order to assume proper form during a kettlebell swing and will also help you bounce a baby on your hip while bending down to wipe up your spilled coffee. This video demonstrates the best stretches to complete in order to optimize your workout and to keep you safe (and yes, my beloved is the one in the vid ;), he’s a Hardstyle Kettlebell Instructor).
The Basic Swing
The kettlebell swing engages your entire body, toning your core, thighs, calves, arms, and shoulders. One stop shop? Sign me up! The swing can be done with both arms or with individual arms. I recommend this tutorial for a simple explanation of how to do the kettlebell swing. As a beginner, start by doing consistent swings for 30 seconds, then taking a 30 second break. Repeat this four more times. As you advance in both endurance and strength, you can increase the time you’re swinging and decrease your rest period (ex: 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off). The swing is just the starting point for the numerous exercises you can complete with a kettlebell. From there, you can venture into the Turkish getup and different presses. Don’t be afraid to push yourself!
Have you ever tried working out with kettlebells? What was your experience? How do you work fitness into your daily life? Share below!
Special thanks to Gina for having me! Her blog is one of my favorite reads, and I’m honored to be a part of this brilliant series!
Olivia lives in Kentucky, where sweet tea and bourbon flow like milk and honey. She’s a middle school religion teacher turned SAHM who is married to her high school best friend. She spends her time changing diapers, exploring the crunchy side of life, organizing anything she can get her hands on, and dancing in the moonlight. You can come along for the adventure at To the Heights.