Beyond the Swing

Kettlebells, the round weights with handles on top, are ubiquitous in gyms. What sets them apart from traditional dumbbells is their center of gravity, which extends beyond their grips. The kettlebell swing is the classic, full-body, ballistic swinging movement that takes full advantage of this. But that doesn’t mean a kettlebell can’t pull double duty in more traditional movements. Three examples of the kettlebell’s versatility:

Like all squats, the kettlebell version is an effective way to strengthen the quads, glutes and hamstrings. Begin with feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold a relatively heavy kettlebell by the handle, with both hands, resting the weight between the legs. Start the squat by inhaling then bending the knees while keeping the back straight and core engaged. Dip low enough for the weight to nearly reach the floor, or until thighs are parallel to the ground. Exhale, squeeze the glutes and push up through the heels to the starting position. Note: Maintain a relaxed grip on the kettlebell handle.

This movement works the core from a seated position. Keep knees bent in front and grasp a medium-weight kettlebell with both hands. With the weight in front the chest, elbows bent and shoulders relaxed, fully rotate the torso to the right and then back to the left. Engage the core throughout the movement. That’s one full rep. Note: The motion is generated via core strength with arms and shoulders working to hold the kettlebell.

Work both biceps by standing with feet about hip-width and holding a single medium-to-heavy kettlebell. Keep hands on either side of the weight. With back straight and core tight, exhale and bend the elbows, curling the weight up to the collarbone. Lower the kettlebell back down with an inhale and keep the grip relaxed and both arms working equally hard.

Final note: The advice presented above is not meant for anyone with contraindicated health problems. Please consult a medical or fitness professional.