Kettlebell Kamp

(Hey look!  It’s a #workoutwednesday post!  Am I a cool blogger now?)

A lot of gyms are getting kettlebells these days, which also means a lot of people are getting hurt using kettlebells these days.  In truth, I think everyone using a kettlebell (heretofore abbreviated to KB) for the first time should be supervised by a trainer or physical therapist, because these dense little guys are actually quite technical to use.  

That said, as technical as they may be to learn at first, they are effective as hell, and make for a fantastic workout when used correctly – which is why I recommend them to many of my clients for strength, fat loss, agility, and balance.

The first thing you need to know about KBs is to start light – lighter than you think.  I put a 15-pound KB in the hands of most folks; 10-pound if they are relatively new to exercise without strong core musculature.  The basic movement is the KB swing, which comes in two forms – Russian and American – distinguishable only by the height of the swing (shoulder vs. overhead).  

The proper way to swing the KB is to “push” with your legs (hinging at the hips like a deadlift, NOT bending the knees into a squat), “stabilize” with your core (i.e. don’t arch your lower back), and let your (straight) arms act as ropes – simply swinging overhead rather than trying to lift the KB.  This is why people use heavier KBs than they do dumbbells; whereas you eliminate momentum when lifting weight, you want to maximize it when swinging KBs.

The second thing you need to know about KBs is that they are equally effective used as a substitute for dumbbells, weight plates, etc. in moves like squats, lunges, pushups, and situps (holding KB at chest).  Sometimes having a weighted object with a handle makes seemingly complicated moves seem easier (say, Russian twists holding onto a KB rather than a spherical medicine ball).

Now that you’ve gotten down the basics, how do you combine the KB moves into an actual workout?  That, my friends, is what makes the KB so amazing – it only takes about 20 minutes to get a heart-pumping cardio and strength combo workout that will leave you feeling exhausted but accomplished.  So, without further ado – your (roughly) 20 minutes of KB action:


20X Russian swings to warm up, then:

  • 20X KB squats
  • 20X KB lunges per leg
  • 20X jump squats w/KB
  • 20X jump lunges w/KB

20X American swings, then:

  • 20X KB pushups (10 with KB under each hand)
  • 20X KB Russian twists (left-right is ONE rep)
  • 20X KB sumo squat to high pull

20X swap swings, then:

*short for ThisFitBlonde    **short for “death by kettlebell

Let me know if you give this one a try – and if you already use kettlebells regularly – what’s your favorite move?


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