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The One Weight You're Not Using That You REALLY Should!

By Jamie Lloyd

Jamie Lloyd is an award winning Fit Pro, international best-selling author and fitness writer based in SW London…
Read more.

Unlock your full fat loss, strength and mobility potential by utilising one of the most underrated pieces of equipment in your gym…

The Kettlebell.

YES, you can swing, push, pull, squat, lunge and crunch your way to your dream bod with these cannonball like weights with handles in as little as 10 minutes!

Commonly known as “the handheld gym” the humble kettlebell really is all you need for overall strength and conditioning with one workout using all 600 muscles that make up your kinetic chain right the way from your calves to your traps.

the weight you're not using: the kettlebell

You'll even continue to burn through at least 800 calories for 48 hours post workout stripping those pesky pounds with ease!

Here Kettlebell King Jamie Lloyd explains…

Why should you give Kettlebells a go?

I’ve been using kettlebells now for almost a decade and I still always get asked, “What are the main benefits of using the old school training tool?”

kettlebell

Well in essence, when used correctly, like any other training tool, they give you a quick workout and are great for work capacity as you can get a lot done in less than 10 minutes. Plus, when training with kettlebells, you are using the 600 muscles in your body and they work the whole kinetic chain.

Essentially, you get a lot more bang for your buck!

Not only that, they are portable, you can train almost anywhere with them, and they add variety to your training as there are endless exercises you can do with them - plus they are FUN too so go give them a whirl you won’t look back.

Who are they best suited for?

Well anyone really. As long as you have no chronic injuries and can lift at least 6kgs then you can get started.

They are both suited for both men and women alike – making them a great all round gym tool. For some reason, however, their often seen as a female weight – maybe this has to do with the fact ladies have a higher pain threshold (sorry guys)!

What exercises are best and why?

Well where do we start? As there are a lot of great exercises that tax the neuromuscular system.

It depends on what you want really… all over conditioning? Strength? Core Strength? Rehabilitation…

woman exercising

Yep they can be used for rehabilitation too you know!

For all over body conditioning I love The Snatch.

This is like the king of all kettlebell exercises as it tests your cardiovascular and neurological system together. So when doing long sets and multiple reps you have to have great co-ordination, timing, mental strength, lung capacity and good mental conditioning.

And it really does challenge the whole body. Like anything, though, the more you practice the easier it gets.

So start out by doing 3 x 15 reps each side and always remember not to smash your forearm and seek out an experienced kettlebell coach who can watch your technique and progress you safely.

How can they benefit you?

Some fitpros have declared the kettlebell completely unsafe… To be honest, any weight can be completely unsafe when used incorrectly!

Like I said earlier, when done correctly you can get a phenomenal workout from them. It just depends on what your goal is - Fat Loss, Hypertrophy, increasing endurance of fitness or even rehabilitation.

Gym goers can get a fun workout in minimum time as you don’t have to spend endless hours training with them like running on a treadmill to see results and burning a shed load of calories!

From a one hour session you can probably burn up to 800 calories post workout as you tend to keep burning calories up to 48 hours post workout. Whereas running on a treadmill only burns up to calories 2 hours post work out and traditional weight training you will only keep burning calories 4-6 hours post workout.

Woman Using Kettlebells

You see - great fat loss tool!

However, if you want to build size and pack on muscle they’re great for that too…

Next time you are in the gym grab a pair of bells the same size, and try doing double front squats for 5 sets of 10 reps with short rest.

You’ll be feeling like you’ve been hit by a train as the front squat certainly strengthens the lower half- not to mention giving you an awesome core workout. If you are squatting with 2 bells for the first time, go light and keep the reps low - say just 5 reps.

Now, bodybuilders… they tend to hate kettlebells as they tend to lack the mobility and flexibility in the shoulders, hips and lower back unlike kettlebell lifters do. Plus as you need all round fitness, I tend to see bodybuilders throwing the towel in after a third round of a kettlebell circuit as they are not used to training the whole body as a unit and don’t have the lung capacity.

Essentially, kettlebell training is like doing peripheral heart training (PHA) where you use the whole body at once. Like Snatches, Jerks and Clean and Jerks these are some of the big lifts that require you to have greater motor control, strength, flexibility, fitness and mental toughness.

So as bodybuilders tend to just do isolation exercises, kettlebell training is more suited to endurance athletes and being an ex-runner, triathlete and endurance junkie myself I can say they are a great tool for training for endurance too! Let’s look at triathletes in particular…

Some of the main problems for triathletes are:

  1. They spend far too long in a protracted position hunched up over a bike- also compounded by sitting at a desk all day.
  2. Carry running injuries so therefore need to correct imbalances in the body to be injury free.
  3. They require a lot of shoulder stability to deal with multiple pool sessions.
  4. Require a lot of stability on a single stance leg for running and a hip drive for hills.
  5. Need a strong core to ensure efficiency in the water and run powerfully.

By kettlebell training, you can get all this form doing just 3 exercises!

kettlebell swing

For example if you combine a Turkish Get Up using a decent size kb, and do 1 minute of kettlebell swings and doing a single leg deadlift you are gonna’ have a ready-made strength program.

These 3 exercises are 20% of exercises that every triathlete should be doing. As they are incredible powerful and train the posterior chain, and allow the body to work together as a unit- and you need this functional force if you are an endurance athlete.

How can you incorporate them into your workouts?

Very easily is the short answer… but the trick is to start off light.

Women tend to use 8kg bells and depending on the motor skills, injuries, athletic backgrounds guys can start on anywhere between a 12kg-16kgs. Then, with practice, go up in weight.

Kettlebells are a great tool if you want to mix it up with bodyweight, training, boxing or even barbell work. You just have to train smart and keep the sessions short to begin with say 10-30 minutes that’s all you need to get kettlebelling!

What results will you get?

If you have a good enough coach you will see phenomenal results! Like anything in life you only get out what you put in. So if you aim to do 2-4 sessions a week within 4-6 weeks your fitness and strength levels will go through the roof and you will probably be fitting into your old clothes!

And who doesn’t fancy that?!

So go on, get started with this beginners guide!

group exercising with kettlebells
  • Find an experienced coach to help you first and foremost.
  • Don’t copy exercises from social media or You Tube - I’ve heard too many horror stories where people get injured.
  • Go get yourself a decent kettlebell and chose the right size. (ask a coach if you aren’t sure)
  • Train 2-3 x a week to begin with – any more than this you will set yourself up for injury and will lack motivation.
  • Keep the sessions short and sweet. 10-30 minutes is suffice.
  • Get some chalk to protect your hand as you will get callouses.
  • Hand care - keep an eye on them, keep moisturising and remember ripped up hands delays training time.
  • Always warm up doing dynamic stretching followed by joint mobility. When using kettlebells you will train the whole body so you need to mentally prepared, and the whole body needs to be warm and lubricated to avoid injury.
  • Listen to your body. If your back starts hurting, or you start to get painful joints like in your shoulder, take a rest and listen to your body.

    Tell your coach straight away and it might be that he/she will have to re-evaluate your technique, correct any muscle imbalances like strengthening the glutes and hamstrings first if you are experiencing back pain or even drop down a weight.
  • Practice, practice, practice. The key to successful kettlebelling is to keep practicing - like anything really and keep it consistent. Set achievable and realistic goals and don’t try pressing a 32kg bell just cos you saw someone do it on a video and look cool!

Happy kettlebelling folks!

Jamie Lloyd

About Jamie

Jamie Lloyd is an award winning Fit Pro, international best-selling author and fitness writer based in SW London.

He can be contacted on contact@jamielloydfitness.com for personal training, group fitness training and nutrition coaching www.jamielloydfitness.com.

Alternatively, you can connect with Jamie via his Social Media Channels – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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