It’s National Fitness Day here in the UK and that means people are being especially encouraged to look at fitness and physical activities and try new things. Gyms, sports and activity clubs have opened for free and the public can try a few new experiences.

I’m sure many of you have heard of kettlebells but perhaps the majority still haven’t got to grips with the unusual looking weights. Today could be the ideal excuse to give them a go and discover the fun and effectiveness of this way of training. And just to give you an extra prompt here is an exercise programme to help you on your way!

1. Alternating Clean & Press

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Targets: Legs, glutes, core, shoulders

How to perform – Hold two kettlebells at arms length whilst sitting back in hip drive position.

Use hip drive to bring one kettlebell to rack position and then press above head.

Lower back to rack position.

Return to start position and repeat with other arm.

Technique tips: Extend your thighs and hips when performing the initial movement to project the kettlebell in a vertical line. Brace your core throughout.

kb 1

2. Double Windmill  (improves flexibility)

Targets: Shoulders, upper back, core.

How to perform – With a kettlebell in the bottom hand, clean and press the other kettlebell.

Stand with feet two shoulder widths apart with one foot at right angles to the other.

Bend the lead leg slightly and fold at the hips, keeping the back leg straight and start to lean over.

Keep bending the torso over until level with the floor, while the upper arm remains vertical.

Return to start position. Change to other side and repeat.

kb 5

 3. Alternating Floor Decline Press

Targets: Chest, arms, core

How to perform – Lie on the floor with a kettlebell in each arm.

Press the kettlebells to arms length while raising the hips as shown. While keeping one arm straight, lower the other arm perpendicular to torso until elbow touches floor.

Straighten to start position and repeat with other arm. Keep core tight throughout.

kb 2

 4. Two Hand Rotational Swing

Targets: Legs, glutes, core, shoulders

How to perform – This is a dynamic movement which requires the bell to be driven explosively with the hips and held briefly at the top position.

Adopt the swing stance and take hold of the kettlebell with two hands. Keeping your back flat, fold at the hips and sit back into start position.

Swing kettlebell slightly behind and then drive the hips to project the kettlebell outwards and upwards.

Exhale at top position while maximally contracting glutes.

At this position, hold kettlebell briefly, while pivoting on one foot 90 degrees.

Use the downward momentum to initiate the reverse movement.

Repeat procedure while pivoting back to start position.

Repeat whole movement pattern but rotate 90 degrees to the other side.

kb 3

5. Turkish Get Up to Side Plank

Targets: Legs, obliques, back, arms, shoulders

How to perform – Hold the kb in position shown.

From standing position, kneel back with left leg and lean over to side placing left hand on floor.

Slide left leg through to a straight position underneath torso while supporting on left arm.

Slowly bring other leg round and either rest beside other leg or for a more advanced version rest on top of this leg.

Hold this position with arm vertical for 10 seconds keeping core tight and hips up.

Make sure supporting arm is directly under shoulder.

Bring right leg back to bent position and left leg back to kneeling position and return to start.

Repeat on other arm.

kb 4

6. Double Swing Snatch

Targets: Legs, glutes, core, shoulders

How to perform – This is an extremely dynamic exercise requiring strong hips and a good core.

Assume start position shown.

Swing both kettlebells slightly behind your hips and then explosively drive the hips forward to project the kettlebells outward and upwards.

As the kettlebells reach approx. face height, pull slightly back to encourage bells to flip over onto back of arm and punch through to finish with arms above head.

This movement should be performed in one smooth but dynamic motion with no pause whatsoever.

Return to start position by tipping the kettlebells back over, letting the arms swing back and behind while bracing the core.

Use this momentum to drive the kettlebells above the head again in one continuous movement.

kb 6

Suggested protocol

Perform 10 reps on each exercise in a circuit fashion with 45-60 seconds rest in between.

For the Double Windmill and Turkish Get Up to Side Plank perform 5 reps each side.

After performing 10 reps start at the beginning and perform 8 reps on each exercise, then 6, 4 and finally 2 reps.

Use a loading parameter that would enable you to perform 2 more reps than is required.

Warm up thoroughly by performing some dynamic functional movements such as arm swings, jumping jacks, squats with front arm swings.

To read more from  Ina Gutowska, visit her Expert Profile 

Photography by Simon Howard   www.snhfoto.com

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