Mastering the Kettle Bell
By Ryan Unverzagt
Welcome once again to another missive From the Trainer…..This month will begin with a new look as I explain and show the techniques of some of your favorite exercises. Keep in mind that every exercise has some sort of variation to it, so I will mention a few of them along the way. If you’ve been reading my column for any amount of time, you might remember that I suggested buying a kettle bell for a fitness gift. However, I did not explain anything about how to use one. This is my chance to explain the most basic exercise to master with the kettle bell – the swing.
The starting position begins by straddling the kettle bell with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Squat down keeping your back aligned and dropping the hips. Grab the kettle bell handle with an overhand grip with both hands. I like to start the swing with a “counter movement,” just like what you do before jumping. Lift the kettle bell by squatting upwards, keeping the arms straight so it hangs between the legs. This is your true starting position.
Next, slowly lower the kettle bell toward the ground while keeping good back posture. As soon as your knees bend about 90 degrees, explode back up using the power in your legs as if you wanted to jump. This will develop enough momentum for you to swing the kettle bell out away from you using the arms. There are many ways to finish the swing, but I suggest swinging it about 135 degrees or ¾ of the way up, not all the way over your head. There is a good chance of falling backwards if you do this!
You’re not done just yet. Let gravity take the kettle bell back toward the ground. You must keep your squat technique in tact without leaning forward and the arms straight. As soon as the kettle bell swings between the legs, explode back up using the same technique. Let your legs do most of the work. Your arms shouldn’t have to lift very much, just enough to swing it away from you. Try at least 10 reps with a very light weight so you master the movement before progressing to a higher resistance. If you do this one correctly, your legs and butt will be sore, not so much in the arms.
To finish, don’t just drop the kettle bell on the floor. Absorb the momentum of it when it comes back down by finishing in the squat position, and then set it on the ground. One variation of the kettle bell swing is using only one arm and switching hands at the top of the swing. Let me know how you do! Feel free to send emails to my attention at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Unverzagt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wellness Management from Black Hills State University. He is a certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.