Tips for Training With Kettlebells

By Mick Travis , last updated December 17, 2011

Kettlebell training is a unique form of exercise utilizing multiple muscle groups simultaneously, and there are helpful tips for training with kettlebells that can make the experience more productive and efficient. Unlike traditional dumbbell lifting, which involves repetitive, limited movements of select muscle groups, the exercises which are part of kettlebell training are whole body exercises engaging the core and all limbs. The result is a lean, toned, flexible and athletic body. Remembering the following tips will help you get that body, and reduce the risk of injury and accident that can come with the complex movements involved.

The first tip for training with kettlebells flies in the face of the "no pain, no gain" maxim: don't attempt to train with the maximum weight you can lift. Kettlebell movements are complex, and attempting to repeatedly lift or swing your lifting maximum will prevent you performing these movements properly, and will likely lead to muscle failure and/or injury. Instead, use a weight with which you can perform 15 to 20 repetitions, at a minor to moderate level of exertion. This level of weight will likely be somewhere between 25% to 50% of your maximum weight lifting ability.

Another tip regarding kettlebell training safety is to train in a space where you have plenty of room to move with little to no obstruction. Rooms with low ceilings and lots of furniture are a no-no with kettlebell training. Kettlebell exercises involve a great deal of swinging and explosive upward arm movements. You should be able to make these movements freely, with no worries about striking something nearby, and you should be able to freely drop the weight on the floor if you find yourself in the middle of an unbalanced repetition. Expanding further on this last point, don't try to recover an unbalanced movement, as this can lead to muscle strain or sprain. Letting the kettlebell simply drop in these situations is strongly recommended. The floor on which you stand during kettlebell training should be flat, stable and unobstructed, and you should be able to drop the weigh without damaging the floor. A large, thick exercise mat is perfect for this purpose.

One last tip for kettlebell trainers is to switch up their routines to prevent plateauing, and to continue doing more static dumbbell exercises in conjunction with kettlebell training. Kettlebell routines should be switched up every four to six weeks to prevent stasis. Switching up your routines doesn't require doing different kettlebell exercises, but rather changing the order in which you do the exercises, and altering the intensity levels of the workouts by changing the weight levels lifted and/or shortening or lengthening the rest periods between sets. The more intense your kettlebell workouts, the fewer of them you'll have to do during the week, while moderately intense workouts will need to be performed more often throughout the week. incorporating kettlebell training on alternating days, in between days of traditional dumbbell weight lifting, is also a good way to prevent a plateauing of muscle gain progress, as well as muscle injuries incurred by repetitively performing the same sorts of exercises every day.

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