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Old-school kettlebell workouts yield results

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Change up your strength training routine and try out a kettlebell. A kettlebell is an ancient Russian exercise tool that is increasing in popularity for fitness enthusiasts. Shaped like a cannonball, it's a cast iron weight with a handle. The kettlebell allows for ballistic movements and swinging motions you can't do with traditional weights.

Many trainers will tell you that no single other tool can do it better. Kettlebells can replace barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls and even cardio equipment. Choose the proper size kettlebell where you are able to complete eight to 10 repetitions per exercise.

Know the benefits

The kettlebell helps to develop power in the hip thrust, the source of power for most athletics. Whether you jump, kick, throw or swing for your sport, the power comes from the hips.

The kettlebell will help stabilize and strengthen your back. Some of the traditional Russian exercises condition your back from every possible angle. You can work on strength, flexibility and stability.

Because the center of gravity is offset from the bell due to the handle, you can work shoulder strength, flexibility and mobility.

The handle and swinging motions also make the kettlebell popular for strengthening the wrist and forearm.

Start with the basics

Try the traditional Russian Swing. Stand with your feet a little wider than hip width apart and place one kettlebell between your feet. Squat and grab hold with both hands on the horn. Set your shoulders and brace, maintaining stability through the movement. Exhale to initiate an explosive forward movement to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder level keeping the wrists neutral. Then return to squat position and repeat. Focus on the power coming from the pelvis. The work is in the lower body and not the shoulders.

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