Kettlebells have many great benefits but injuries can easily be achieved if you start off too fast and don’t build a strong foundation. It is for this reason that I have outlined below what is required before you start your beginner kettlebell workout.
As with any workout, gradual progression is the key and this is even more important with kettlebells because the movements are ballistic meaning you need be able to decelerate the movement of the kettlebell quickly. In order to workout with kettlebells safely you need both good joint stability and great movement mobility.
There are 2 kettlebell exercises that everybody should master whether you are a man or a woman. Get comfortable with both of these exercises first before moving onto the more ballistic kettlebell workouts.
The Turkish Get UpThis superb kettlebell exercise works every muscle in your body and increases your ability to stabilise your joints under load. You begin the exercise lying on your back with the kettlebell held above your chest in one arm, you then proceed to slowly stand up until the kettlebell is held overhead and then slowly returned to the lying down position again. Each repetition should take approximately 1 minute.
Performing the Turkish Get Up will help you get used to the kettlebell as well as bomb proofing your shoulders and teaching your core to work correctly with the rest of your body. The Turkish Get Up will also show you where your weaknesses lie, if you have mobility issue then you may struggle with certain stages, if you have core issues then you may not be able to even sit up. For many people it is worth practicing the Turkish Get Up without the kettlebell to begin with and then advancing to a lighter bell, before going heavier.
One great tip is to attempt the Turkish Get Up holding a full glass of water rather than a kettlebell to practice your technique. Can you complete the exercise without spilling a drop?
The Single Leg Dead LiftThis second crucial exercise is very similar to the Turkish Get Up in that it coordinates your movement skills along with developing core strength. You will find that if you struggle with one side of the Turkish Get Up then you will struggle with the same side of the single leg deadlift.
Practicing the single leg dead lift will improve your hip hinge skills which are vital for all of the main dynamic kettlebell exercises like the kettlebell swing, high pulls and snatch. The single leg deadlift will also identify any mobility issues that you may have. For example an inability to reach the floor with the single leg dead lift is often due to weak core muscle and thus tight hamstrings. If you struggle with keeping your back straight during this exercise then you may want to raise the floor up a little and place the kettlebell on a box rather than the ground.
Perfecting the single leg deadlift is vital before moving onto the kettlebell swing because with a good hip hinge movement you will be using your lower back to swing the kettlebell rather than your hips. Practice makes perfect so get great at the single leg deadlift.
The Beginner Kettlebell Workout
So you have now mastered the above 2 exercises and you are ready to proceed. Here are a few beginner workouts for you to practice:
- Double Handed Kettlebell Swing – 30 secs
- Rest 30 seconds
- Repeat 5-10 times
- Single Handed Kettlebell Swing – 20 reps each side
- Turkish Get Ups – 1 each side
- Rest 1-2 minutes
- Repeat adding 1 extra Turkish Get Up
- Stop when your Turkish Get Ups begin to lose form
- Single Handed Swing – 20 reps each side
- Push Ups – 10 reps
- Repeat 5-10 times