How do I correctly use a kettlebell? Perhaps one of the most desperately underutilized questions in any gym, judging by the number of people that swing them around with little regard for their own safety, let alone anyone else’s. Here we will go over how to use kettlebells for beginners, and anyone else who has an interest in exercises using kettlebells.
Using a kettlebell can seem difficult at first. They can appear unwieldy and awkward, however, once you know how to use them properly, they are one of the most effective and useful functional strength tools around. Here is a brief guide on how to use these weights and not do them in your back every time you swing one around. We would also recommend looking up videos and asking professionals at your gym, some people learn best visually and that may be the case for you.
What they do and benefits of using kettlebells
First, you are going to want to know what they actually do. Obviously, they are weights so you may assume that strength training is its primary function, and you would be half right.
Depending on what exercise you are doing it can increase your strength, improve flexibility, improve your aerobic capacity and work out all areas of your body, from your head to your toes (not literally). The value of kettlebells really comes down to their versatility. They are able to be used for a far wider range of exercises than dumbbells and as such have a much wider range of applications.
Some things to keep in mind are that you should never try to use a kettlebell that is too heavy for you and if you have any kind of health condition you should consult a doctor first. A kettlebell workout is almost invariably going to be high intensity, and so anyone with a heart condition or similar should be careful when using them.
A good first exercise: The Swing
You have probably seen someone at a gym performing a kettlebell swing and thought “I wish I was cool enough to do that” well you’re in luck because the kettlebell swing is a very easy and effective exercise you can do with your kettlebell. The movement patterns of kettlebells can seem tricky at first, but they simply take time to get a hang of.
First things first, start with a lighter weight, you are trying to get a feel for the weight at this point, so don’t be overly ambitious with what you can manage.
We at UKSF sell a variety of Bells in different sizes, weights and styles. Here is our selection. If you are a beginner it may be best to pick the cast iron kettlebells and pick a weight that suits you.
Now you have a good kettlebell you will need to stand with your legs approximately shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Pick up the bell from the floor from a squat position and then explode up swinging the bell forward
Then drop to a half squat, swinging the bell between your legs and explode back up with the bell at around chest height
This will complete one rep, continue with the exercise, getting a feel for it and feeling what parts of your body get impacted the most.
Once you have become comfortable with doing the kettlebell swing with both hands, you can try alternating hands as you do it. The primary reason for this is to improve stability and core strength while using the bell, and as such is a little more advanced.
How to use kettlebells for arms
When the sun doth rise, the armaments must be unveiled, or so the saying goes... If your primary concern is your arms then kettlebells are ideal both in terms of size and practical strength capabilities. The previously discussed swing will actually improve your arm strength more than you might expect, but for more concentrated efforts, here are a few potential workouts.
A really good initial kettlebell workout would be the old fashioned bicep curl. Simply have two appropriately weighted kettlebells in either hand, holding them by the handle with your palms facing you.
Then raise them up and down with your elbows staying to the side of your body. Keep going up and down to the side of your body and you should feel the tension in your bicep.
Another good exercise for the arms is the tricep extension, which will work out the other side of your arm. It is a good idea to work out these two muscles in tandem.
Take the kettlebell and raise it with both hands at the base.
Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and hold the bell behind your head with your elbows pointing upwards
Raise the kettlebell above your head and back down again slowly. Obviously, be careful not to slip the kettlebell so it does not fall and bonk you on the head. You should feel the burn in the back of your arm
Are kettlebells good for weight loss?
When we go over how to use kettlebells for beginners very often people have a specific goal in mind when they start. The benefits of using kettlebells are very clear and well known and working out can often be its own reward, but using kettlebells for weight loss is an increasingly common reason given as to why people begin using them.
Overall we would not recommend weighing yourself regularly and getting overly obsessed with the scales. Certainly, if your goal is fat loss then using kettlebells and doing the various kettlebell exercises for beginners laid out here will help you do that. However the main goal is personal fitness, and remember that muscle weighs more than fat, and you will be building up muscle inevitably.
Ultimately a kettlebell is a very useful tool for working out, and even though you may be a beginner in the art of harvesting mighty gains, it can still be used effectively when you know what you’re doing. While this article should be useful, we would always recommend you check out a person who knows what they are doing in person so as to get a direct showing of what you are supposed to do. Even better, you could hire a personal trainer or go to class.
Kettlebells are amazing tools and we at UKSF provide the best in the country. Kettlebells are ideal home workout tools and can be easily stored and carried. Here is our range and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.