A kettlebell is a cannonball-shaped heavy weight made of cast iron with a single handle. In the early 1700s, kettlebells were developed by Russian strongmen to enhance their endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and strength.
But can women use them for fitness training?
Fitness instructors are of the opinion that for women kettlebell exercises are a good way to combine cardio and strength training. Kettlebell exercises for women are in fact; wildly popular because they provide results in half the time it takes when using regular heavy weights.
Women also find kettlebell exercises particularly suited to them because they help them get a lean and fit body without gaining bulk. They also provide a sense of overall well-being and make daily activities easier. In addition, they make losing weight easier than when using other methods of weight loss.
How do kettlebell exercises for women work?
Unlike dumbbells or barbells, where the center of mass is around the middle, in a kettlebell, most of the weight is in the bowling ball-shaped portion at the bottom. This ensures that all the major muscles of the body are exercised, rather than just a few specific muscles. This is because kettlebells are amenable to exercises with swinging motions similar to everyday work that requires lifting and moving.
The design of the kettlebell is such that it is ergonomic, both physically and naturally. The kettlebell design of a heavy object attached to a handle mimics the design of many things that we use in our day-to-day lives like suitcases, bags, door handles, buckets, chairs, shopping carts and so on.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted an experiment to determine the actual effects of kettlebell workouts. The results? It was found that kettlebell exercises help burn approximately 272 calories during a 20-minute session. This excludes the calories that are burnt later through anaerobic efforts. In other words, around 20.2 calories were burnt per minute by performing kettlebell exercises. For your reference, the only other activity that burns so many calories per minute is cross-country skiing uphill at high speed.
Researchers who conducted the experiment suggested that the reason that kettlebell exercises enabled people to burn calories this quickly is that these exercises involve the entire body and are performed very quickly. Thus, it is an intense workout.
Best Kettlebell Exercises:
Following is a description of the best kettlebell exercises for women. Six to ten pounds would suit best for beginners to start with kettlebells. Rest for 30 seconds after each kettlebell exercise. Remember to warm up before beginning the workout and ensure that you do stretching exercises after the session.
#1. Lunge and pass:
This kettlebell workout for women exercises the abdominal muscles, biceps, glutes and quadriceps. The benefit of these exercises for women is that they strengthen the entire body.
- With your elbow bent, hold the kettlebell with your right hand at shoulder height.
- Take a large step to your left and sit back into a side lunge.
- Transfer the kettlebell under your left knee and hold it with your left hand.
- Let go of your right hand and press downward on your left heel to push your body back into standing position.
- Raise the kettlebell to your left shoulder.
- Repeat the kettlebell exercise 20 times.
#2. Squat and flip:
Squat and flip exercises work the leg muscles and build endurance. For women, it is one of the best exercises to increase power and strength.
- Hold the kettlebell with both hands above your right shoulder and place your feet apart at hip width.
- Gently lower into a squat while pushing your hips backward.
- Push your heels downward and raise your body into a standing position. At the same time, lift the kettlebell with both hands above your head.
- Next, lower your body into a squat as you bring the kettlebell down to your left shoulder.
- Repeat this kettlebell exercise 20 times.
This kettlebell ab exercise also targets the shoulders, obliques, back, and hips. This is one of the best kettlebell exercises for women.
- Place your legs a little more than shoulder-width apart: let your arms hang loosely by your sides. Hold the kettlebell in your right hand.
- Bend the right elbow such that your right hand is in front of your shoulder. The ball of the kettlebell should rest on the front of the forearm.
#4. High pull:
This kettlebell exercise for women works the shoulders, arms, buttocks and hamstrings.
- Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-length apart and turn your toes out at 45 degrees. Your arms should be by your sides and the kettlebell should be on the floor, between your legs.
- Lower your body into a squat while keeping your chest open and abs engaged. Grip the handle of the kettlebell with your right hand; ensure that your palm faces inward.
#5. Sling shot:
This is another good kettlebell exercises for women that works the back, arms, abdominal muscles, and obliques.
- Stand with your feet apart at shoulder width. Hold the kettlebell with both hands and hold it out in front of you at waist level.
- Let go of the kettlebell with your left hand. Only your right hand should be holding it now.
#6. Side plank row:
- This exercise will tone the oblique abdominal muscles, arms, and upper back muscles.
- Lower your body into a push-up position. Place your feet a little more than hip width apart. Hold the kettlebell with your right hand.
- Using your left arm to support your body, rotate into a side plank. Simultaneously, row the kettlebell to the side of your chest.
- Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each side.
#7. Push press:
The shoulder muscles are mainly exercised by this kettlebell workout for women. In addition, the calves, quadriceps and triceps are also targeted.
- Hold the kettlebell by the handle and raise it to your shoulder, turning your wrist as you lift it. Your palm should be facing forward.
- Bend your knees slightly while keeping your upper body straight.
- Push your heels downward and raise your body.
- Push the kettlebell upward, above your head and lock your arms.
The primary muscles involved in the halo exercise are the shoulders and the supporting muscles. It also targets the muscles of the upper body.
- Place your feet apart while holding the kettlebell with both hands above your head in an upside-down position.
- Rotate your waist in a circle to the right. Keep your abdomen tight.
- Repeat six times on each side.
Benefits of doing kettlebell workouts:
Here’s why kettlebell exercises are the latest in workout trends today. They have the following benefits:
1. Increase flexibility:
Kettlebell exercises increase the flexibility of the hip flexors. Tight hip flexors are associate with weak glutes. Kettlebell workouts strengthen the abdominal muscles and correct pelvic tilt. Thus, they can help to prevent lower back muscle injuries and lower back pain. The force created when the kettlebell swings back and forth between the legs is 3.75 times the weight of the kettlebell. This is good for building a strong lower back. Everyday activities such as playing with your children in the playground can become a lot easier.
2. Improve balance:
According to studies by Luchkin (1947) and Laputin (1973), kettlebell exercises have been shown to increase agility and improve balance and coordination. The body learns how to stabilize itself during exercise, and this helps reduce the incidence of injuries.
3. Facilitate weight loss:
Kettlebell exercises for women make weight loss programs fun and bring variety that keeps one motivated. When regularly performing kettlebell exercises, the body’s metabolism is increase. Thus, the percentage of body fat is reduce.
4. Increase strength:
Women want to be able to work out without developing a bulky body like bodybuilders. Kettlebell exercises for women are not mean to increase muscle mass. Rather, they increase lean muscle tissue. Thus, they help women get a lean-looking body and build strength without bulking up. Kettlebell workouts for women incorporate movements that involve the entire body and several groups of muscles that are use in daily life.
5. Improve posture:
According to studies conducted by Jay et. al in 2010, kettlebell exercises for women reduce neck pain, back pain and shoulder pain. They increase trunk extensor strength. Thus, they help improve posture.
Not surprisingly, kettlebell exercises have been used by physiotherapists to treat patients with ankle sprain, lower back pain, shoulder impingement, knee pain, mitral valve replacement, myocardial infarction and so on.
The ballistic kettlebell swing exercise has been used to treat knee instability and hip abduction since it strengthens the knee muscles and the glutes. Women suffering from conditions like osteoporosis can greatly benefit from performing all kettlebell exercises.
Kettlebell exercises for women provide a much more intense workout as compared to heavy weight-strength training. It improves aerobic capacity and also helps lose weight. In addition, while not being exactly compact, kettlebells are small enough to pack in your travel baggage and use in the hotel room or the hotel gym. The good news is that kettlebell exercises provide all these benefits in lesser time than a usual workout.