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Kettle bells

health and fitness Updated: Feb 21, 2010 14:24 IST

Hindustan Times
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Never heard of them? You’re not the only one. This form of exercise has been around for decades but is now gaining credence as a great way to build core strength. There’s far more to kettles than just tea!

What’s cool about it?
Kettlebells were used in Tsarist Russia before all the modern equipment came about. They are a back-to-basics form of functional fitness.

So, what is it?
Essentially it’s a cast iron bowling ball or a cannon ball with a handle. It can weigh anything from two to over 100 pounds (1 kg to 45 kg).

How does it work?
Using a kettlebell forces the entire body, and specifically the core, to contract as a group, building both strength and stability. A kettlebell combines both cardio and weight training workouts in a short time. They are used to perform fluid swinging exercises using your body’s full range of motion, thus engaging multiple muscle groups at the same time.

How do I get started?
Join a gym to practise with a kettlebell. But if you can’t, here are some basic moves.

Two arm snatch: Hold the kettlebell with both hands and bend, with your back straight. Look forward and swing it slightly backwards. Then with force, straighten up and swing the kettlebell upwards keeping it close to the body. Dip your knees slightly and get under the weight to absorb the impact.

One arm snatch: Hold the kettlebell between your legs and bend. Swing the kettlebell backwards and then forcefully swing it up extending your hips, knees, and ankles. Keep your arm straight.

One arm clean: Keep your torso straight. Bend forward at the hips slightly. Explosively raise the kettlebell by extending the hips, knee and ankles fully in a “jumping action”. Keep it close to the body.

Lift: From one arm clean end- position (previous exercise), stretch your arm up, then bring it back. The palm should face upward, the feet should be shoulder-width apart and the knees slightly bent. Repeat with other hand.

Squat: From the one arm clean end position, hold the kettlebell at chest level, squat and come up. In the squat, stand with feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Knees should be slightly bent. Upper body can flex forward at the hips slightly (5°) during movement. Be sure to “sit back” so that knees stay over the feet. Once thighs are parallel to floor, return to start position. Repeat with the other hand.

Windmill: Extend the arm holding kettlebell fully overhead. With feet shoulder-width part, bend forward at the hips and keeping the back flat, extend the free arm towards the floor. Keep looking at the kettlebells and do not bend the arm. Do a set of repetitions. Repeat with the other arm.

1. Increases muscle tone.
2. Burns a greater amount of energy.
3. Combines cardiovascular and resistance work to improve overall fitness.
4. Develops inter-muscular teamwork and functional core stability.
5. Increases stamina and endurance; improves flexibility.
6. Delivers an intense workout that can be done in half the time of a traditional workout.
7. Can be done at home and doesn’t require much space.