How To’s Top Five Kettlebell Movements

How To’s Top Five Kettlebell Movements

By Kettlebell Kings:

Goblet Squat

The Goblet Squat is a front-loaded leg exercise that can also provide quite a challenge for the arms and core. While getting depth in the squat is important to to involve the glutes and hamstrings (as opposed to using the quads only), the spine should stay neutral throughout the movement. Try not to let your butt tuck under in the bottom position; if it does, you are likely going lower than your range of motion allows and your lower back will take some of the load. Mobilizing the hips and hamstrings prior to squatting can improve depth and activation of the posterior chain.

The Goblet Squat can be utilized to build strength by completing sets of 3-5 reps; Kettlebell Kings bells go up to 203 lbs, so there is a bell weight to challenge almost anyone’s strength! The Goblet Squat can also increase strength endurance and metabolic conditioning; simply use a repetition range of 8-20 with a lighter weight. A fun variation to try is the Goblet Squat Curl, which requires holding the bottom position while doing a bicep curl – guaranteed to cause extra muscle pump!

  1. Stand with feet about hip width apart. Bring the kettlebell into the goblet position, grabbing hold of the handle on other side.
  2. Squat down while keeping the chest up and weight in the heels. An easy way to determine proper depth is to bring the elbows to the inside of the knees. The spine should stay neutral.
  3. Drive into the ground as to come back up to standing position, contracting the glutes and fully extending the hips.

Video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l1Vg7ue9Bw&feature=youtu.be

Turkish Get Up

The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a total body movement that builds shoulder stability and core strength. Since there are many parts to the movement, be sure to practice the sequence with bodyweight initially. Ensure proper and smooth execution of the entire movement before adding a kettlebell. You should have control over each part of the movement; if someone yelled “freeze!” at any point, you would be able to stop and maintain stability of the kettlebell.

The TGU is best practiced in sets of 1-5 repetitions. There is a lot of focus required, so doing a lower rep count will ensure better quality movement. Build up your volume slowly by increasing the number of sets. I recommend being able to do at least 3-5 perfect repetitions with the weight you are using before moving up in weight. A perfect repetition means there is no wobbling of the kettlebell and you have complete control of each portion of the movement (including the return to the floor).

The TGU can be practiced in parts as well. Typically, the most challenging part of the movement is the Turkish Sit Up (also known as the Half Get Up), which is the initial portion of the movement where you come to an upright torso position with hips still on the floor, then slowly return to the floor. When training toward a heavy TGU, it’s helpful to work on the TSU with heavier weights than what you would use for the full TGU. Besides the TSU, other parts of the TGU to isolate would be the pass through of the leg from the TSU into the Kneeling Windmill, the Kneeling Windmill, and the Overhead Lunge.

  1. Start lying on your side in the fetal position. Insert your hand fully through the kettlebell handle.
  2. Roll onto your back, keeping both hands over the kettlebell handle and elbow tight to the body. Set the legs about 45 degrees apart, with the leg bent and foot flat on the side you are holding the kettlebell. The other leg should be straight.
  3. Press the kettlebell up until the arm is straight and the weight of the kettlebell is balanced over the shoulder. Remove the free arm and place it on the floor, palm down and about 45 degrees from the body.
  4. Use the elbow of the free arm and the foot of the bent leg to drive into the ground and bring yourself up onto your elbow, then up onto your hand.
  5. Lift the hips, then pass the straight leg underneath until the knee is under the hip. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell.
  6. Bring the torso up straight, then pivot the back leg so you are in a lunge position.
  7. Drive into the heel of the front leg to come up to a standing position.
  8. To reverse the movement, step back with the leg opposite to the side you’re holding the kettlebell and come back into the bottom of the lunge position (knee resting on the floor).
  9. Pivot the back foot in, then slide the free arm down the thigh and onto the floor directly beneath the shoulder. Pass the back leg through the free arm and the front leg and set your hips down onto the floor.
  10. Lower down to the elbow. As you lower all the way down to the floor, feather the kettlebell across the body slightly to slow its descent.

Video Turkish Get Up- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zalJizBr4k&feature=youtu.be

Bottoms Up Press

The Bottoms Up Press (BU Press) is an upper body pushing exercise that encourages proper mechanics for the shoulder and activates the neuromuscular system. Due to how hard the handle must be gripped during this movement, muscles that wouldn’t contract on a regular press are suddenly brought to life, i.e. rotator cuff, core, glutes, lats.

Since the BU Press is much harder than a regular press, start with a light weight and let the body adapt before trying anything heavy. The BU Press can be utilized in a training program like any other upper body pushing exercise — and may actually be better than other pushing exercises for anyone with shoulder pain. To build muscular endurance, train higher repetitions with lighter weight. To increase strength, train lower repetitions with heavier weight.

Before even attempting the BU Press, you should know how to fail out of the movement safely. If you fail before the kettlebell reaches shoulder level, you can simply use the free hand to prevent the bell from hitting you. If you lose control of the bell in the top position, simply let the bell fall and step in the opposite direction so the bell drops onto the floor. Another precursor to doing the BU Press is to have a solid and stable BU Clean. If you perform a poor BU Clean, the BU Press that follows will not go well! You should be able to stabilize the kettlebell in the BU rack position before attempting a press overhead.

  1. Start in a standing position with feet about hip width apart and a kettlebell in front of your feet.
  2. Hinge at the hips and grab onto the kettlebell handle, then hike the kettlebell back between the legs. Fully extend the hips and bring the kettlebell into the rack position, with bottom side up. Stabilize the bell here first; if you have a bad clean, re-clean the kettlebell before attempting the press.
  3. From the bottoms up rack position, inhale and engage the lats by pulling the shoulder down and away from the ear. Press the bell overhead as you exhale.
  4. Hold the bell in the top position for 1-2 seconds before slowly lowering the bell down with control, again engaging the lats by pulling the shoulder down.
  5. Once back in the rack position, prepare for the next repetition.

Snatch

The Snatch is one of the quintessential kettlebell movements; the combination of strength, power, stability, and cardiovascular fitness embodies kettlebell lifting perfectly. Whether you want to build power or strength endurance, the Snatch is a great exercise to add to your training. Another reason to love the kettlebell Snatch is that the movement is accessible to a larger population than the barbell Snatch; the mobility requirement is less stringent, with many of the same benefits.

Since the Snatch is a highly technical movement, take plenty of time to practice with a light kettlebell. The neuromuscular system needs time to coordinate the movement and build muscle memory. The shoulder also needs time to build stability in the overhead position. A great way to start is to practice the Half Snatch. This allows you to focus on the upswing of the movement before tackling the more challenging drop into the backswing. Once the upswing is mastered, you can work on the drop, making sure that you allow the bell handle to skip the center of your hand on the way down so there is no pulling on your palm, which can cause blisters and tears.

There are two variations in technique you can use on the Snatch. The first is a Snatch that uses a hinge motion, which is great for building strength and power. The second is a Snatch that uses a pendulum leg action, which is ideal for endurance work. Choose the variation that suits your goals, or simply the one you enjoy more!

  1. Start in a standing position with feet about hip width apart and a kettlebell in front of your feet. Grab onto the kettlebell with hook grip (bell handle in the fingertips, and thumb locked over the fingers).
  2. Pull the bell into the backswing, then drive with the legs to bring the kettlebell up. For the hinge-based power swing, use a hinge motion and extend the hips forcefully. For the pendulum-based endurance swing, use a slower pendulum leg action that follows the motion of the kettlebell.
  3. When the kettlebell reaches the “float point” (somewhere between hip and shoulder level), redirect the kettlebell into the overhead position as you punch the hand up and through the bell handle to meet the kettlebell in the overhead position. For the power swing, the arm and the kettlebell should stay tight to the body on the way up. For the endurance swing, the bell should be allowed to follow its natural path (which will be farther from the body) before redirecting into the overhead position.
  4. After stabilizing the kettlebell in the overhead position for a couple seconds, turn the bell and allow it to drop; give the kettlebell a head start before following it into the backswing with the torso. The arm should hit the hip before the torso folds forward.
  5. Once the kettlebell completes the backswing, go into the next repetition.

Renegade Row

The Renegade Row is a challenging core exercise that involves both pushing and pulling upper body components. The movement is comprised of one kettlebell push up followed by a row on each side from the plank position. One of the main functions of your core is to prevent trunk rotation, which requires your core, glutes, and hips to work together. Keeping the hips in place while performing rows in the plank position is a great way to train anti-rotation, as well as upper body pulling. The push up provides the upper body pushing component and requires the core to stay active.

The Renegade Row should be trained with focus on form, not speed. Moving quickly typically leads to hip rotation and less core engagement. Instead, move slowly and deliberately to ensure proper body position in each part of the sequence. Start with 3-5 repetitions and work up to 10 repetitions. When you can easily complete 10 repetitions at a particular kettlebell weight, you can move up to a heavier weight.

  1. Start in the plank position with a kettlebell underneath each shoulder. Begin with the feet spread apart wide, and move them closer if you want to make the movement harder.
  2. Perform a push up, keeping the elbows in close and the belly button pulled up toward the spine to engage the core.
  3. From the plank position, perform one row on each side. Try not to move the hips — this is the anti-rotation component — and think of pulling the elbow and hip toward each other while you row.
  4. Once you complete the rows, go into the next repetition.

About Kettlebell Kings

Kettlebell Kings is a premium-quality kettlebell and kettlebell content provider, based in Austin, Texas. You can view our equipment, kettlebell how-to’s, and get expert advice at https://www.kettlebellkings.com and https://www.kettlebellkings.com/blog/. For more information, call us at 855-7KETTLE to learn more.

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