March 19, 2019

Some Kettle Bell exercises to target your core

Some Kettle Bell exercises to target your core

The kettlebell is well known as a tool for building strength and power. You’ve probably used it to do exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, cleans, snatches, and swings, with the goal of training your lower body, back, and shoulders. But something you may not consider is that a lot of kettlebell moves also make great core exercises.

Some kettlebell exercises may target the core specifically—you’ll feel the muscles in your midsection working hard throughout—while others are sort of “sneaky” in that they are meant to target other muscles but simultaneously challenge the muscles in your midsection. You might not feel a burning sensation in your abs or feel like your core is getting as fatigued as the other muscles that are working, but trust, they’re still putting in serious work.

“Many kettlebell skills are compound exercises, which require your whole body to accomplish them in the most effective and optimal way,” says certified personal trainer Sarah Polacco, fitness director of Achieve Fitness in Boston and StrongFirst Team Leader. As a result, these moves call on your core to provide both stability and strength.

For example, take the kettlebell swing, one of the most widely known kettlebell exercises. The majority of the power and strength comes from your lower body (specifically, your hamstrings and glutes). But your core has to engage the entire time to keep your trunk stable and sturdy as you thrust your hips forward and stand upright. Same goes for other classic kettlebell moves like the clean, snatch, squat, and carry.

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The kettlebell exercises below are great choices for building core strength and stability. “You should feel some solid engagement from your core during these movements,” says Polacco. While core strength and stability is essential for nailing your workouts with proper form, it’s also something we need to move through everyday life comfortably and confidently. “In life, your core, or your trunk, is designed to stabilize you while your limbs are moving,” Polacco says, “so doing these kinds of kettlebell exercises will not only get you stronger overall, but they will also help with real-life functional strength.”

Next time you are looking for a total-body challenge that will improve your core strength and stability (and work other muscle groups at the same time), try adding some of these kettlebell exercises to your workout. To create a full workout out of these moves, choose three or four that target a variety of muscle groups and do them as a circuit. A good place to start is with a medium-weight kettlebell, doing 3 sets of 8 reps of each exercise, and working your way up to more reps and a heavier kettlebell when the exercises start to feel too easy (like when you can do 20 reps and still keep going).

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Some of the movements directly focus on core strength, while others target the core secondarily and play a large part in training stability. “You most likely won’t feel that burning feeling, but your core will be working to maintain alignment and position,” says Polacco. Either way, your core, and entire body, will be better off.

Demoing the moves below is Amanda Wheeler, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ community and allies.

Katie Thompson

1

Kettlebell Squat

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell in each hand and rest them at your shoulders with your palms in and the weight hanging against the back of your forearms. Your elbows should be bent and pointed toward the floor. This is the starting position.
  • Bend your knees and push your hips back as you lower into a squat.
  • Drive through your heels to stand and squeeze your glutes at the top. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core.

Katie Thompson

2

Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms relaxed by the front of your quads with a kettlebell in each hand. This is the starting position.
  • Hinge forward at your hips and bend your knees slightly as you push your butt way back. Keep your back flat and shoulders engaged as you slowly lower the weight along your shins toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your heels to stand up straight and return to the starting position. Keep the weight close to your shins as you pull. Pause at the top and squeeze your butt. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, back, and core.

Katie Thompson

3

Kettlebell Single-Leg Deadlift

  • Stand with your feet together, holding a kettlebell in each hand in front of your legs. This is the starting position.
  • Shift your weight to your left leg. Keeping your back flat and a slight bend in your left knee, hinge forward at the hips, push your butt back, and raise your right leg straight behind your body as you lower the weight toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your left hamstring.
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your left heel to stand up straight and pull the weight back up to the starting position, squeezing your butt at the top. Bring your right leg back down to meet your left, but just let your toes tap the floor lightly—don’t put any weight on your right foot. That’s 1 rep.
  • Complete all your reps on one side and then repeat on the other leg.

Targets the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, back, and core.

Katie Thompson

4

Kettlebell Clean

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with a kettlebell on the floor between your feet. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower and grab the kettlebell with your right hand, palm toward your body. This is the starting position.
  • Drive through your heels to stand as you pull the weight up to your right shoulder. At the top, your right elbow should be bent and facing the floor, your palm should face forward, and the kettlebell should rest against the back of your forearm.
  • Squeeze your glutes and pause. Then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
  • Complete all reps on one side and then repeat with the other arm.

Targets the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, deltoids, back, and core.

Katie Thompson

5

Kettlebell Swing

  • Make a triangle with the kettlebell and your feet, with your feet at the bottom of the triangle and the kettlebell about a foot in front of you at the top of the triangle.
  • With a soft bend in your knees, hinge forward at your hips, push your butt back, and grab the handle with both hands. Tilt the bell on its side, handle toward your body.
  • Hike the bell high up in your groin area (your wrists should touch high in your inner thigh) and thrust your hips forward aggressively so that at the top of the swing, you are essentially in a standing plank, looking straight ahead, squeezing your core, glutes, and quads.
  • Once the bell reaches about chest height (and not above shoulder height), hinge forward at your hips and push your butt back again, letting the bell drop on its own as you do. You should not feel like you’re using your arms to lift anything. Let your eyes, head, and neck follow so that you don’t strain your neck. This is 1 rep.
  • When you’re done with all of your reps, perform a back swing: Bring the bell through your legs but instead of thrusting your hips forward to bring it to shoulder level, safely place it back on the floor.

Targets the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, deltoids, back, and core.

Katie Thompson

6

Kettlebell Hand-to-Hand Swing

  • Make a triangle with the kettlebell and your feet, with your feet at the bottom of the triangle and the kettlebell about a foot in front of you at the top of the triangle.
  • With a soft bend in your knees, hinge forward at your hips, push your butt back, and grab the handle with one hand. Tilt the bell on its side, handle toward your body.
  • Hike the bell high up in your groin area (your wrists should touch high in your inner thigh) and thrust your hips forward aggressively so that at the top of the swing, you are essentially in a standing plank, looking straight ahead, squeezing your core, glutes, and quads.
  • Once the bell reaches about chest height (and not above shoulder height), grab onto the kettlebell with your other hand. Hinge forward at your hips and push your butt back again, letting the bell drop on its own as you do. You should not feel like you’re using your arm to lift anything. Let your eyes, head, and neck follow so that you don’t strain your neck.
  • Repeat the swing, switching hands again at the top. That’s 1 rep.
  • When you’re done with all of your reps, perform a back swing: Bring the bell through your legs but instead of thrusting your hips forward to bring it to shoulder level, safely place it back on the floor.

Targets the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, deltoids, back, and core.

Katie Thompson

7

Kettlebell Snatch

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with a kettlebell on the floor between them. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower and grab the kettlebell with your right hand, palm facing your body.
  • Tilt the bell on its side, handle toward you. Then hike the bell up to your groin area and thrust your hips forward as you straighten your legs and simultaneously pull the weight up, first to your right shoulder and then continuing until your arm is fully extended toward the ceiling. It should be one fluid motion. At the top, your right arm should be locked out, your palm should face forward, and the kettlebell should rest against the back of your forearm.
  • Squeeze your glutes and pause. Then reverse the movement to return to that “hike” position. This is 1 rep.
  • Complete all your reps on one side and then repeat with the other arm.

Targets the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, shoulders, back, and core.

Katie Thompson

8

Kettlebell Rack Carry

  • Stand tall with a kettlebell on the floor next to each of your feet, the handles running horizontally.
  • Squat to grab the weights with your palms facing your torso.
  • Keeping your chest up and core braced, stand up while pulling through your arms to raise the weights to your shoulders. At this point, the weight should hang against the back of your forearms. Your elbows should be bent and pointed toward the floor.
  • Walk forward, keeping an upright torso and engaging your abs so that the weight doesn’t dump into your low back. Imagine there’s a string connected to the top of your head that’s pulling you toward the ceiling.
  • When you’re finished, squat to place the weights back on the floor.

Targets the deltoids, biceps, triceps, glutes, back, and core.

Katie Thompson

9

Kettlebell Halo

  • Start in a half kneeling position with one foot and one knee on the floor, both knees bent 90 degrees. Or, stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold a kettlebell bell-up at your chest with both hands gripping the handle. This is the starting position.
  • Lift the weight to eye level and slowly circle it around your head counterclockwise, making a halo shape. As you circle the weight around your head, maintain a tight core, and keep your elbows close to your body to engage your triceps.
  • Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
  • Then repeat in the opposite direction. This is 1 rep.
  • Continue, alternating directions each time.

Targets the deltoids, pecs, triceps, and core.

Katie Thompson

10

Sit-up to Press-up

  • Lie faceup with your knees bent and feet flat, holding a kettlebell with both hands at your chest. This is the starting position.
  • Using your abs, lift your body up until you are sitting upright, back straight. At the same time, press the weight overhead, extending both arms until your elbows are straight.
  • Slowly lower back to the starting position. This is 1 rep.

Targets the core, pecs, deltoids, biceps, and triceps.

Katie Thompson

11

Kettlebell Windmill

  • Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart with both of your feet turned about 45 degrees to the left. Grip the weight in your right hand and raise your right arm straight overhead (don’t bend your elbow) so that it’s “almost touching the ear,” says Saladino. Pull your right shoulder away from your right ear and engage your lats to keep the weight hoisted. Your left hand should be resting straight by your side. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your right arm directly overhead and your eyes on your right hand, perform the “hip bump,” pushing your right hip out to the side and your glutes slightly back. Your left knee will be slightly bent as your right leg remains straight.
  • Hinge forward at your hips as you lower the left hand to the floor between your thighs, rotating your upper body slightly inward so that your right arm stays pointing toward the ceiling. Keep your core tight and your back flat (not arched or rounded).
  • When your left hand reaches the floor, pause for a moment before slowly standing back up, keeping your right hand raised straight above you as do you so. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, deltoids, back, and core.


Gifs and images: Photographer: Katie Thompson. Hair grooming: Yukiko Tajima. Makeup: Risako Matsushita. Stylists: Rika Watanabe.

Model Amanda Wheeler is wearing Nike Bliss Lux Mid-Rise Training Pants, $90, nike.com; a Nancy Rose Performance tank; and Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 sneakers, $120, nike.com.

This is a SELF magazine post and it appeared first on Flipboard

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