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How Kettlebells Solve these Problems
Kettlebells however can solve these issues in a number of ways by allowing us to move in new, more challenging ways and to train muscles that we had almost forgotten. A kettlebell works like a dumbbell in theory but is quite different in practice. This is due to the unique design: the cannonball like body that is attached to a single handle. When you grab the handle, the weight will hang underneath and in this way, you are changing the center of gravity so that it is hanging underneath and so that the weight moves in more unpredictable ways.
This shape also allows you to swing the kettlebell in various ways: around your head, between your legs and more. It also means you can change the angle: pushing it from underneath or pulling it from above – all while maintaining the same grip on the top of the handle.
The kettlebell allows you to introduce momentum, pulling against you as it swings away and pushing toward you when it comes back. It is constantly changing and your body needs to adapt in order to cope: you need to be able to stop it mid swing, or balance on one side as it weighs more to the left than the right.
Suddenly, you begin to train your body to learn new movements and every single swing is marginally different. Your brain is forced to wake up and respond to this, producing the neurotransmitters associated with growth once again like dopamine and BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). This makes you a better learner, more energetic and more switched on to the world around you.
Meanwhile, your body responds by letting you rebuild those small supporting muscles that had long since been forgotten. You develop grip strength in your arm from holding onto the handle, you develop obliques as you press the weight overhead with one arm and you develop your transverse abdominis to protect against injury as you tighten your core through kettlebell swings.
The kettlebell also allows you to bring a range of new movements into your training that train your posterior chain: things like kettlebell swings, like goblet squats, like kettlebell clean and press and like deadlifts. A kettlebell can double for a bar and a squat rack as well as offering its own unique training advantages. In short, the best kind of training is training that is unpredictable and that forces your body to adapt. That’s exactly what you’re getting with kettlebell workouts and it’s why they’re the perfect addition to your routine.
And there’s something else you’re going to notice once you start training with kettlebells too: it’s fun.
No longer are you just lifting weights through boring, easy movements over and over again. All of a sudden, you’re learning new movements, spinning around on the spot and learning. This is rewarding, fun and challenging and that’s the sign that your brain is engaged and adapting along with your body.
Suddenly, you will want to train and you’ll find it’s much easier to find time in your routine to do something you actively want to do!
How to Get Started With Kettlebell Training
So how do you get started and begin to enjoy all these benefits?
Important is not to jump straight into heavy kettlebell lifts or intense workouts. The problem is that your body has become so adapted to a largely stationary lifestyle that introducing new movement suddenly can be enough to cause serious injury.
This is what happens when a lot of people introduce squats and deadlifts into their routine to begin with – as they insist on starting with big heavy weights and performing movements that they can’t cope with.
It only takes a short amount of time for something to snap or give way and they blame the deadlifts.
Again, the kettlebell is the perfect solution here because it is hard to find kettlebells as heavy as barbells in squat racks.
It’s also important to recognize that in the wild, we would never have had a reason to squat with 200kg on our backs. Your aim is not to build massive size here or to break world records, your aim should be to restore normal full range of motion.
Try and touch your toes right now. Can you do it? And how about squatting all the way to the ground while keeping your heels flat on the floor? These are basic movements that the human body has been capable of and we’re going to use kettlebells to first of all restore those movements.
When you do that, you will feel like a youthful teenager again in comparison to your current stiffness!
Again then, don’t aim to build strength or challenge yourself: just aim to get good at the movement of squatting and of deadlifting. Squat down slowly, grab the weight and deadlift it slowly. Likewise for goblet squats: grab a light weight and squat with it paying close attention to your range of motion.
Once you’ve built up a fair bit of regular movement, you can then start to introduce the more complex kettlebell specific movements.
A great example is the kettlebell squat. This basically involves swinging the weight up in-front of you then back between your legs. You use your hip to thrust through the movement, thereby generating the momentum and keeping the weight constantly swinging like a pendulum. This movement is brilliant for building the posterior chain and targets the slower twitch muscle fibers as well as the fast ones. It can help to give you a better jumping height, running speed and more and it will strengthen your back and leg extensors considerably.
Even better is the one handed clean and press. This involves picking a weight up from the floor in one hand and then pressing it above the shoulder in one hand. Here the movement uses your entire body as you’re using your leg muscles, upper body muscles and core all at once. It’s also more challenging than a regular clean and press because you’re using the weight in just one hand. This means you need to use your obliques to support your body on that side, while tensing through your legs to avoid falling over.Other Details
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