5 Kettlebell lifts for beginners

  • January 24, 2015
  • / By Tom

kettlebell lifts

Kettlebells are a unique and versatile tool to add to your training arsenal, but many beginners are scared or confused about how to implement them into their training. The kettlebell lifts below are friendly for newbies to get started working with them right away.

Kettlebells are unique in that, although you can use them for almost any traditional lift, their makeup is such that you can do exercises that you just can’t with barbells and that might be difficult with dumbbells. Their build and handle make it so you can perform movements with a center of mass that is further away from the body than the gripping point.

Still, for beginners it is a good idea to focus on traditional lifts until you get more familiar with the feel of kettlebells and are ready for more advanced exercises. Their versatility and the fact that the only need limited storage space makes them a great choice for anyone who wants to begin collecting home gym equipment.

If you don’t know, a kettlebell is generally made of iron or steel and looks like a ball with either a rounded or triangular handle on top. This handle allows it to be gripped differently than other common weight room equipment, which can give more flexibility in movements. Their versatility also allows them to be used for both strength training as well as conditioning or cardiovascular work.

The lifts below are hardly the most advanced among and don’t even take advantage of the unique nature of the kettlebell. What they do is teach fundamental skills and familiarize beginners with the feel of the equipment so they will be able to try more complex lifts down the line.

Kettlebell Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the most fundamental lifts one can perform. Picking up weight off of the ground is one of the oldest tests of strength there is. Begin with the KB on the ground slightly in front of you and between your legs. Squat down while maintain a stable, upright posture and lift the KB up.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

The goblet squat may be a more advanced lift for some, but it should be doable as long as you have decent overall flexibility. The video below shows the KB being held upside down, but it can be performed right-side up once you figure out the proper grip.

This is a similar movement to the barbell front squat or at least it works muscles in a similar manner. It is a good exercise for developing deep squatting flexibility. Really challenge yourself to get low on this while maintaining solid footing and not getting a forward lean with your upper-body.

Kettlebell Military Press

The upper-body can be worked in a variety of ways with KBs. The military press is a great lift for building shoulder pressing strength. This exercise is shown using 1 KB, but it can be performed with 2 or it can be done in an alternating manner.

One of the weaknesses for kettlebells can be that it is difficult to work certain upper-body movements with them. They are still a great choice for a variety of pressing movements, including the military press, push press and more. You can absolutely work upper-body strength as long as you are creative enough.

Kettlebell One Arm Clean

Olympic lifts can also be done with kettlebells and they are a great choice for getting explosive work in and learning technique. Begin with performing the clean with just 1 KB in 1 of your arms and then rotating. Once you develop the technique, you can have a KB in each hand, but that is too many moving parts for beginners.

This can be a tricky lift, but mastering it is important if you want to diversify your training in the future. Once you have this exercise down you can move onto double KBs, the clean and jerk, and the snatch.

Kettlebell Overhead Squat

Overhead squats are great for working core stability and overall flexibility. You’ll want to be very conservative and cautious with this exercise if you don’t have experience with it, as you are holding weight over your head. Focus on having good posture and a stable core throughout the entire range of motion.

This might seem like an easy exercise, but you will want to perform it with little or no weight until you are confident in your technique. If you are ever not 100 percent sure about what you are doing or think there is any chance a weight might be too much, you shouldn’t be doing the overhead exercise.

Deadlifts, goblet squats, military presses, one arm cleans, and overhead squats are a great combination of exercises that will give your full body a quality workout. You can cater your training based on if you want a strength response or a cardiovascular workout.

If you are using this as a strength workout, you will want to choose a heavier KB and perform fewer reps with longer rest periods. If you are using this workout as a way to boost your conditioning levels, try choosing a lighter KB but challenging yourself to perform more reps with shorter rest periods. You can even perform all of the exercises consecutively to make a circuit and really get the blood pumping and boost your metabolism.

As a beginner, you’ll want to be very careful with any new exercise, but especially so with those that require you to hold weight overhead. If you aren’t absolutely certain you are strong or flexible enough to perform the lift, don’t even attempt to do it until you are.

These are hardly the most advanced kettlebell lifts out there and it would be easy to argue that these exercises don’t take advantage of the unique setup of the equipment. Still, these lifts are great options for beginners because it gets them familiar with the design and feel of kettlebells and teaches fundamental skills that can transfer to more advanced exercises in the future.
Photo By: Victor

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