What is the most common health and fitness goal?
If you guessed weight loss, then you are right. If you guessed fat loss, then you are also right.
Many people want to drop a few pounds from their frame for health and/or cosmetic reasons. Even people who have no desire to lose weight usually want to shed some body fat to get a more lean and toned body.
There are many different ways to accomplish this. However, I am a simple person and therefore prefer a simple program made up of exercises that produce results without spending hours in the gym. Do such exercises exist?
Enter the Kettlebell
The kettlebell is an ancient tool used to develop all-terrain strength, stamina, and durability. Kettlebells were introduced in the United States by Pavel Tsatsouline, who brought this timeless form of training from Russia.
Much like competitive power lifting or Olympic lifting in the United States, Kettlebell lifting has been a long time competitive sport in Russia with both men and women achieving exceptional feats of strength. Thierry Sanchez cites in his work, Introduction to Kettlebells, that in 1981, the Russian government enforced mandatory kettlebell exercises for its labor workforce to maintain fitness, improve productivity, and decrease healthcare costs for the country.
Kettlebells are the most versatile form of training and have tremendous carryover to other activities and sports performance. They can be used by anyone from 70 year old grandmothers to 20 year old elite athletes. Whether your goal is weight loss, getting stronger, building muscle, or living a higher quality of life, kettlebell exercises will help you.
Respect the Kettlebell
This goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: use common sense. Kettlebell exercises are very safe and effective when done properly.
People get hurt when they attempt to push through mobility/flexibility restrictions, train before they practice (and master) the exercises, or attempt more weight than they can handle. This can be avoided by hiring a trainer, who is competent in kettlebell training and uses the Functional Movement Screen to identify movement restrictions and correct deficiencies.
Kettlebell Exercises for Weight Loss
The following exercises are not the only kettlebell lifts that will aid in weight loss. However, these kettlebell exercises should be learned and mastered before someone progresses to more advanced movements (like the clean, press, snatch, jerk, etc.). Not only do these kettlebell exercises build a solid foundation of strength and conditioning, they also provide the most benefits in the least amount of time.
• The Kettlebell Swing
This kettlebell exercise will build your overall stamina, develop power in the hips, strengthen the core, improve cardiovascular health, and enhance weight loss by revving up the metabolism. It is also easy on the knees and has health benefits to the low back. In his book, Simple & Sinister, Pavel explains how the hinging motion of the hips under the dynamic load of the kettlebell produces virtual force. This makes the exercise safe on spine and hips while providing the strength benefits of slow grind lifting, such as deadlifts.
In addition to building all around strength and stamina, the kettlebell swing will forge a durable body. It is a good option for “high mileage” individuals who have a history of injuries, because it conditions the individual without breaking down their body. The kettlebell swing is also the ultimate fat burner to kick start weight loss because it skyrockets one’s metabolism due to its high intensity nature. The increased metabolic effect allows the body to keep burning calories at an increased rate for up to 24 hours after performing the exercise.
• The Getup
Also known as the Turkish getup, this is the best bang-for-your-buck kettlebell exercise. Gray Cook, Physical Therapist, coins the getup as “loaded yoga,” to describe the similarities between yoga movements under the weight of the kettlebell. The nature of the movement improves total body mobility, stability, and strength while providing m
ind-body awareness unlike any other form of exercise.
The getup is best done with a kettlebell due to its off-center gravity and unique stability experience. The getup should be practiced without any weight before making it a kettlebell exercise. Performing the bodyweight version will help you get comfortable and confident with the movement.
Once kettlebell resistance is applied, the getup builds whole body strength and stability. One repetition can take anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds. This time under tension is just what the body needs to build lean muscle and burn fat, a great recipe for weight loss.
These two kettlebell exercises can be nice additions to improve an existing fitness regimen. The swing and getup can also stand alone to deliver a complete program that will produce incredible weight loss results.
Kettlebell exercises like the swing and getup require a high degree of technical skill. To ensure a safe, effective, and enjoyable experience with the kettlebell, hire a qualified trainer or coach who is competent with kettlebell exercises and also performs thorough movement screening and assessment. Regardless if your goal is weight loss, cutting some body fat, or both, the kettlebell swing and getup will get you results safely and efficiently.