BlogFest is officially over, and it was amazing & I can’t wait to share all of the details and fun with you. There’s still 2 more days of our trip though, so we’re going to explore California (I’m in love)! I am excited to have another amazing blogger guest post for me while I’m away though. 🙂
Hello, dear readers! I’m (also) Jessica, and I blog over at Fierce in the City, your one-stop shop for learning how to juggle a crazy busy career/degree with an awesome, happy and healthy lifestyle – all the while loving yourself fiercely! I’m thrilled to be contributing to Healthy = Happy today and hope that you’ll enjoy hearing what I have to say about one of my favourite workout props ever: the mighty kettlebell.
If you’re interested in fitness and like to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry, chances are you’ll already know what a kettlebell is – in fact, you’ve probably already tried using one in your workouts! If not, though, don’t fret: I’m going to tell you all there is to know about this fabulously odd-looking object, why it’s such a brilliant addition to your athlete’s arsenal and which workouts you should try!
Why the Kettlebell Rocks
Before I start getting into the juicy stuff, let’s take a look at what a kettlebell actually is: simply put, it’s a weight moulded in the shape of a bowling ball with a thick handle on top, that comes in different sizes depending on how heavy it is. It can be used much in the same way as dumbbells are in strength training exercises, but its handle also allows for a two-handed grip, which opens the door to a whole new world of fast-paced cardio moves, like the two-handed kettlebell swing that is featured in so many workouts! It does take a little bit of getting used to, but I’m pretty sure that once you give them a try, you won’t ever look back. To help you make up your mind, here’s what I love about kettlebells:
They make you work HARD.
For all their simplicity, kettlebells really pack a punch: because of the way the weight is distributed, you have to work a lot harder than you would with dumbbells of a similar poundage. (This also means that there’s more potential for injury if you use improper form, so if you’re thinking of trying them out, make sure you have a seasoned veteran around to show you the ropes!) I remember reading somewhere that this one trainer managed to make an entire team of English rugbymen cry after a ten-minute kettlebell session with her. Impressive (and equal parts terrifying!), don’t you think?! Furthermore, because of their unusual shape, kettlebells require quite a bit of core strength to stabilise your body while using them, which means you’ll be working your whole abdominal area indirectly, too. Bonus!
They combine killer cardio and hardcore strength.
To be honest, this is probably the biggest perk of using kettlebells, for me. As a digital marketer by day and a blogger/attentive girlfriend by night, I’m generally pretty short on time and because of this, I need my exercise routines to be quick, explosive and effective. Not only are kettlebells hard work, like I mentioned above; they also allow you to work your muscles (because of the weight of the kettlebell) and your cardiovascular system (with the quick succession of moves – trust me on this, or see what I mean by watching one of the videos below) in one fell swoop, meaning that if you do it right, you don’t need to exercise a million times a week to get both vitally important types of training in. Lean and strong and a social/love life? Yes please!
They’re super practical!
This won’t matter as much if you do the bulk of your workouts at the gym, but if you do exercise at home on a regular basis – MAN, are kettlebells practical! Compared to traditional free weights – let’s say, dumbbells and a bar bell – they take up way less space and their shape makes them easy to move around. Compounded by the fact that most kettlebell workouts generally only require a pair of them (for some of them, you can even get away with just one), and you’ve got a pretty compact, useful piece of equipment.
This is How You Do It!
Interested in giving kettlebells a try? Of course you are! But where should I start, Jessica? I hear you ask. Well, ideally, you’d have a one-on-one session with a trainer who knows his or her way around them; like I said, they’re a little technical and as you are new to them, it’s important to get the basics down pat before trying anything too extravagant. Group classes would be great, too, so definitely try one out if you get a chance! If neither of the above is an option for you just yet, here are some resources that might help you out:
- Bodybuilding.com’s Benefits of Kettlebells with Sample Workouts (I’m a big fan of Bodybuilding.com, because they know exactly what they’re talking about and are usually able to provide the science to back up their statements.)
- Greatists’s list of 22 Kick-Ass Kettlebell Exercises (A fun infographic with detailed explanations of how to do some standard kettlebell moves, and which muscle group each one targets. Brilliant!)
- Greatist’s Kettlebell Workout for Beginners (A great, simple workout for beginners that incorporates non-kettlebell moves for some balance.)
- FitbodyHQ’s Beginners’ Guide to Kettlebells (A fantastic guide with a detailed pros and cons list, tips on how to approach kettlebells for the first time and a sample workout for beginners.)
But what if I’m a visual learner, Jessica? No problem! I love working out to a video, too. Here are some of my very favourite picks, all of varying lengths and difficulties. If you’re unsure about your level and whether you can do the workout or not, I urge you to watch the whole thing through beforehand. Remember: there’s absolutely no shame whatsoever in wanting to take it slowly, so as not to injure yourself!
Over to you! Do you love kettlebells? What are your favourite moves? Share in the comments! 🙂
Jessica Johansen is the author of Fierce in the City, your one-stop shop for learning how to juggle a happy, healthy life with a hectic schedule – all the while loving yourself fiercely! Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr for more on radical self-love, fitness, sexy food, and of course, her fabulous life in Paris.
Huge thanks to Jessica for her lovely post about the magical kettlebell! I am also a fan of them and hope this has made you one too! Share your thoughts in the comments.