A few years ago I decided to take a kettlebell class as a way to change up my fitness routine. I have to admit they were a little intimidating to me; big heavy iron balls with a handle. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much I would truly enjoy working with them and how much they would change my body.
Functional fitness is a form of exercise that trains your body to do everyday things. Most people exercise to improve their quality of life and functional fitness does just that. It makes you stronger so that you can lift things without hurting yourself, twist to catch something and hopefully not pull something and otherwise manage better day-to-day. Kettlebells are all about functional fitness. After training with bells, I found that shoveling snow happened differently then it had before, I would engage more of my lower body, my shoulders rested lower and operated as a full unit within the shoulder girdle, I even breathe differently while shoveling. Ditto for moving heavy bags of dog food or paddling dragonboat.
Basic two handed swing is the essential element of kettlebell training. It is called “ballistic” training because there is an explosive element to how you bring all the muscles of the body together to throw the bell in the air. As frightening as it sounds, once you learn the form it happens almost effortlessly. You push through your heels, flexing and extending knees and hips in a natural manner. You drive your hips forward using the entire posterior chain of your body and your upper body guides and controls the movement of the bell up. Done correctly it can feel effortless and the bell will float at the top of the arc before falling down for the next swing. Forceful breathing used with kettlebell swings stabilizes the spine and allows the body to exert more force during the swing. It is a very rhythmic and relaxing exercise that not only strengthens muscles but strengthens ligaments and increases heart rate.
If you are looking for something to shake up your routine, kettlebells might be just the thing.
Theresa RolletMcWilliams NSFA certified FT & RTL
Kettlebell Training in the HRM
Daniyele Belliveau, Dartmouth Sportsplex
Laurissa Manning, Core Essentials
Bell’s Taekwondo & Kettlebell Concepts
Breakdown of kettlebell swing:
Video talking about the posterior chain: