Following on from the preparation for this workout, here is the first half – pay attention to the instruction!

1) The Swing

Body parts targeted: Back (particularly lower), legs (particularly hamstrings), forearms and grip

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“The best way to get a feel for kettlebells and their dynamics is the swing. The swing is excellent for full body conditioning.”

How to perform the exercise:

Hold the kettlebell with two hands. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back in natural alignment without rounding or arching it (this is called ‘neutral’ spine posture). Keeping your eyes fixed on an elevated point in the distance will help achieve this. ‘Snap’ your hip through by contracting your butt muscles explosively – this will make the kettlebell rise, then continue to lift the weight with your arms. These should be extended in front of your body. The height of the swing may vary – anywhere from waist to above the head is fine. As the kettlebell is lowered tighten the abs for sock absorption and snap into the next swing.

Training tip:

Think of the swing as a leg exercise first, your arms only contribute to the movement. The main momentum for the exercise comes through your legs and hips and then transfers to the arms. Gain confidence with lower swings before progressing to higher ones.

Swing variations: Single hand swing

Swing the kettlebell using one hand only. This variation will allow you to balance your strength and will also develop greater core strength, due to the different forces that will be directed through your body.

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2) Clean

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees bent and back in neutral. Swing the kettlebell, in a similar motion to the swing, using your legs and hips. As the kettllebell rises pull it in towards your body and absorb the shock on your forearm/shoulder. In the final position your wrist should be straight and your forearm in a vertical position, very similar to a boxers guard.

Training tip: It takes practice to make the impact smooth when the kettlebells rotate to come to rest on the back of your forearms. The key is to ‘give’ throughout the body. To make things a little easier at first you could wear a tracksuit top or sweat shirt to reduce the impact on the backs of your forearms until your technique improves.

3) Military press

Body parts targeted: Shoulder, triceps, core

Military pressing with a kettlebell develops great upper body strength. It’s also excellent for learning proper pressing technique and body alignment, vital for all other kettlebell pressing movements.

How to perform the exercise:

Clean the kettlebell to the shoulder to the racked position. Start the press with the working shoulder ‘pulled’ down with your elbow pressed as low as it can go. The elbow should also be pulled in toward your belly button. This will ensure that a maximum range of motion occurs throughout the lift and that optimum amounts of shoulder muscle are recruited.

To press the kettlebell visualise pushing outwards with your elbow (like a lateral raise) whilst keeping your forearm vertical. When lowering, use the muscles on the outer sides of your back, to ‘pull’ the weight down.

Training tip:

Pushing the hip out slightly on the working side helps to provide a solid base from which to lift – this is necessary when using very heavy weights. Do not lean back to avoid injury. Tightening the stomach muscles can help maintain a strong and safe back position. Perform this lift at a slow-moderate pace with control.

Military press variations:

Seesaw press

Use two kettlebells. Clean both to the shoulders to the racked position and press one overhead, as you do this pull the other back down in time. “It should look like there is a cord linking the two ‘bells’ together,” says comrade Ratty adding, “Don’t lean back, but leaning to the side to side is fine.” Look at the kettlebell you are pressing.

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4) Kettlebell front squat

Body parts targeted: Legs, shoulders, core

“Kettlebell front squats are excellent for developing awesome leg power and your shoulders will also get a great workout as they hold the bells in place.”

How to perform the exercise:

Clean two kettlebells to the racked position and bring your hands in close together. Squat down with your weight over your heels until your butt almost touches the floor. However, we won’t send you to Siberia if you can’t do this! If your heels lift from the floor during the lowering phase you should squat no further than this point. Also, if you have knee problems don’t squat any further than a thighs parallel to the floor position. Flex your knees and hips to push back up. Keep your back in neutral throughout the move.

Training tips:

Make sure that your knees do not move laterally outside of your ankles and that they do not push forward beyond your big toes when lowering and raising.

Front squat variations:

Overhead squat

This displays the might of soviet strength. The exercise will increase your shoulder flexibility and stability, as you perform the exercise with just one kettlebell held aloft. Clean and press the kettlebell and overhead. Keep your arm locked. Look at the kettlebell as you flex your hips and thighs to lower your butt toward the floor and push back up.

You will want to wobble but you must work hard through your core not to!

Read more about the kettlebell workout in tomrorrow’s post.

Connect with Expert John Shepherd.

 

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