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What’s the deal with Kettlebells?

Kettlebells have become somewhat of a staple in CrossFit training and we know that Coach Louis and Manrico love to throw in a cheeky Kettlebell only workout every now and then. But why have they become so popular and how do you get the most out of such an odd piece of equipment?

The Kettlebell originated in Russia in the 18th Century. That’s right, almost over 100 years ago and they were first used as counterweights to measure grains. Shortly thereafter the farmers realized they could use these weights and challenge one another to lift the heaviest one. This soon become a sport and by the 1970’s the Soviet Union adopted Kettlebell lifting as its official sport. Today several gyms, sports and fitness centers readily adopt the Kettlebell into their programs and the versatility of it has made it one of the most sought-after pieces of home-gym equipment.

So, what are the benefits?

Firstly, the center of gravity is offset from the horns or handle. This means that you need more control over the weight than you would with a dumbbell. As a result, any movement performed with the Kettlebell requires stricter form and increased muscle activation than is required with the standard dumbbell. In a nutshell the Kettlebell almost forces you to do the movement correctly, and if you don’t you’ll know about it due to the offset center of gravity.

Another great benefit is the improved core strength, grip strength and aerobic capacity that is associated Kettlebell movements. For example, Kettlebell swings burn fat, and increase your heart rate similar to the way a cardio machine would while engaging your core more than you would on a typical machine.

Here are the 5 best Kettlebell exercises:

1. Kettlebell goblet squat – hold the weight by your chest, stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Squat down while keeping your core tight and torso upright. Drive through your heels to return to your starting position.

2. Kettlebell deadlift – place the heavy Kettlebell on the floor, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. With a slight bend in your knees, push your bum backwards and lower your upper body until your arms reach the handles of the Kettlebell. Focus your eyes slightly ahead of you and drive through your heels to lift the weight up. End off by locking your hips.

3. Overhead press – hold the bell with one hand at shoulder height. Take a deep breath, and embrace your core. With an exhale press the weight overhead.

4. Sit-up to press – start in a sit-up position with the Kettlebell held against your chest. As you come up in your sit-up, push the bell out and overhead so that once you’re fully extending the bell is above your head.

5. Kettlebell swings – start with your feet shoulder width apart with the weight in your hands. Hinge forward at the hips, slightly bending your knees and swing the bell between your knees. Stand back up using the momentum driven from your hips to swing the weight up to your chest (Russian version) or overhead (American version).

Yours in Fitness,

CrossFit Uhuru

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