At least two people have asked me about kettlebells in the last week so I want to give you my favorite kettlebell exercise that works the whole body. This exercise is also a great warm up for for any full body workout, but especially for Olympic lifting. This combo move can be a great intro into Olympic lifting as it mimics the moves without the strict movement pattern required when using the bar.
This is my favorite kettlebell exercise for a couple of reasons: It activates so many muscles that it can be used many ways. This a great builder of core, leg, back, shoulder strength. It’s great as a full body warm up with a light weight. (I use this with a lot of clients who want to warm up and get some actual work done at the same time.)
If you don’t have a lot of time and need to get in and out of the gym quickly, you can do a few sets of this as a full body work out.
Start with light weights for a set or two to warm up. Then go heavy and do as many sets as you have time for. Challenge yourself and save time by making the rest time very short between sets. You will work a lot of muscles, work up a sweat to release toxins and strengthen your cardio respiratory system. For muscle maintenance, add a few extra sets of pushups or bench presses, maybe an arm exercise or two, and you are good too go. If your current focus is leaning out add some HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio, and you can be out of the gym fast with a solid.
1) Squat down. Gab the kettlebell handles with your palms facing the wall behind you.
2). Keeping your spine in a neutral straight position with your chest up, explode up through an extension of the knees and the hips to a standing position.
3) As you hit the top of the standing position, start to drop back into a squat. Simultaneously the elbows revolve forward as you swing the kettlebells up and over your hands.
4) As the kettlebells swing up and over your hands and you hit the bottom of the squat, explode back up from the squat while pressing the kettlebells straight up over your head in the same motion.
5) As you bring your arms down and your elbows are about parallel with your shoulders, swing the kettlebells back over your hands with your wrists to get them back in front of you.
6) Drop back into the squat position with the kettlebells on the ground and repeat!
If you want to use this as a warm up, do two sets and go light and do 15 to 20 reps. I always recommend that people err on the side of caution and really start light. If you do a couple reps and it feels like nothing, go up immediately and just start over from the first rep. It is much better to be safe than sorry. If you start too heavy, you can hurt yourself, and nobody wants that. So don’t try and play the hero!
If you want to make this a big workout set, I would do four sets of 12 to 15. I would test the weights out the same way I recommended for the warm up.