“This kettlebell workout is killer! And I love that it only takes a few minutes at home.”
We all know that exercise is important to our health, but many times it’s the first thing to go when our schedules are hectic with everyday life. I know that I’ve had trouble finding a time and place to exercise, but I’ve shifted how I think about working out. I use the time that I do have to get an amazing workout in my schedule at least a few times a week. I like to exercise in my living room, so I use items around my house to gain strength. One amazing piece of workout equipment that you’ve probably never heard of is a kettlebell.
What is a Kettlebell?
They’re becoming more popular now, but a few years ago no one knew what they were. A kettlebell is Russia’s version of the dumbbell, except it looks like a cannonball with a handle. The center of mass of a kettlebell, when you’re using it, stretches beyond the hand, as compared with a dumbbell, which has weight on both sides of the hand. This design lets you complete more explosive and high-intensity movements than with traditional American weights. Kettlebells range in size from five to more than 100 pounds.
Make a Kettlebell from Household Containers
Don’t have a kettlebell? Neither do most people I know. Remember the design, though: It is a heavy object with a handle on it. What do you have around your house that is heavy with a handle? Liquid laundry detergent! Here’s how to make your own kettlebell.
- Rinse a detergent container out. Any size container will do as long as it has a handle. Obviously, a larger container means you can make a heavier kettlebell, but you can always make a container lighter.
- Add the “weight” to the container, which could be water, rocks, sand, or concrete. Water is the lightest weight and maybe the easiest to start out with. Fill your container with water. If you find later that it’s too heavy, you can always pour some out.
- Replace the lid and make sure it’s on as tight as possible.
- Once you use your “kettlebell” and find a weight that works for you, I suggest using thread tape on the inside of your lid to create a firm seal. (You can find thread tape in the plumbing section of your local hardware store.) Now you are ready to use your kettlebell.
How to Swing a Kettlebell
The fundamental movement associated with the kettlebell is called the swing. Here’s a video demonstrating the classic kettlebell swing.
For readers, here’s how it works:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. With the kettlebell resting on the ground between your feet, grab its handle using a stance as if you are about to hike a football.
- Now, hike the kettlebell back and use your legs to thrust your hips forward and propel the kettlebell (make sure to hold onto it this whole time). Aim to have the kettlebell come up to about as high as your chest. At this point, your legs and back should be straight, as though standing.
- Let gravity take control and let the kettlebell swing back between your legs. Without putting the kettlebell down, thrust your hips forward again to propel the kettlebell to chest height.
The kettlebell should swing back and forth between your legs like a pendulum. Your arms are only there to make sure it doesn’t go flying. Your legs should be doing all the work to propel it.
12-Minute Kettlebell Swing Workout
So how much time do you need to get a good workout?
Yes, just 12 minutes. I am all about finishing my list of things-to-do in the quickest and most efficient way possible, and this kettlebell workout aligns with this thought. Doing short workouts means that they need to be high-intensity to achieve maximum results.
To do this, I follow the Tabata protocol to set up my kettlebell swing workouts. The Tabata protocol (named after the doctor who first studied the method) is an exercise regimen that prescribes 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is to be repeated eight times continuously, which totals four minutes. I like to do three different types of exercise movements, which is where the 12-minute kettlebell swing workout comes from.
The first movement should be our newly learned kettlebell swing. For the second and third movements, I recommend some sort of body-weight exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, or squats.
Pick any three movements, get a timer, and you are ready to begin. Remember that for 12 minutes, we are doing 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Set your timer to count out 24 rounds, which will equal 12 minutes. Doing this 12-minute kettlebell workout three or four times a week will get your heart rate up and is a good start to an exercise regimen for those with packed schedules.
by Claire Wolf