Posts Tagged ‘weights’

How to Do a Kettlebell Swing

October 8, 2017

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“The kettlebell swing is the ultimate single exercise to improve strength, endurance, coordination, stability of the hips and core, and grip strength,” says Grant Anderson, co-owner and director of strength at Chicago Primal Gym. The move involves your whole body from start to finish, so it forces your cardiovascular and muscular systems to work together, which translates well to outdoor sports. And a set of swings is a total sufferfest, so you’re building some serious mental grit in the process.

“Many people are quad dominant,” says Noam Tamir, founder of TS Fitness in New York City. “Kettlebell swings fire up the hip-dominant muscles rather than the quads, which helps to bring balance to the body.” Translation: Your body will distribute weight and effort more equally, which is crucial if you want to prevent injury and maximize performance.

There are two types of basic kettlebell swings: the Russian version and the American version. You may have seen people doing the American swing in the gym or at a CrossFit box, where they swing the bell up and overhead, but this can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. “There isn’t much more gained from going overhead with the kettlebell, but there is a lot more risk,” says Tamir. Without proper mobility, this move can put pressure on the neck and possibly throw you out of alignment. The overhead position also makes it difficult not to go into hyperextension of the lower back, says Tamir, which could lead to injury. The Russian swing—where you stop swinging the bell upwards at eye-level and bring it back down—is your best bet: You’ll avoid injury and get the same physical payoffs.

Perfect the Basic Swing

If you’re brand new to the kettlebell, start with a 16-kilogram (35-pound) option; but if you have a little experience, use a 24-kilogram (53-pound) bell. That may sound heavy for your first swing, but going big can actually help you learn better technique and going too light can downgrade the impact of the exercise, says Anderson. “Doing swings with light bells is often counterproductive, because your upper body can easily take over the load,” he explains. This leaves your hips and hammies—the main targeted areas—out of the exercise.

Start by standing with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out and the kettlebell about a foot in front of you. Hinge your hips back so your chest and eyes are pointed toward the ground about five feet in front of you. Reach and grab the handle of the bell with an overhand grip, tilting the bell back toward you. Your shoulders are higher than your hips, and your hips higher than your knees. Sharply inhale through your nose as you hike the bell back between your legs, keeping it high above your knees. Sharply exhale through your mouth as you stand quickly, driving your feet into the ground and bracing your body in a “vertical plank,” squeezing your glutes and quads and bracing your abs. As you do, keep your arms straight and use the momentum of your hip thrust to bring the bell in front of your chest. Let the bell hang there around shoulder height for just a moment. Bring the bell back down toward hip height by hinging your hips back; repeat. Repeat in sets of five to ten reps.

Scale It Up

After you’ve learned the basic swing and progressed with heavier loads to the point where doing more than three or four swings feels very difficult, these variations will spice up your training so you continue to improve, says Tamir.

Single-Arm Swing

How It Helps: Focusing on a single arm forces you to practice grip strength and activates the smaller stabilizer muscles in your shoulder.

How to Do It: Set up the same way as you do for a double-arm swing, but grip the kettlebell with one hand. Line up the free hand parallel to the hand that’s gripping the kettlebell. When swinging the kettlebell backward between your legs, your free hand should mimic the movement pattern, parallel to the arm in use. Continue the hinge motion as you would if both your hands were on the bell.

Alternate KB Swings

How It Helps: This progression builds hand-eye coordination and teaches your muscles how to react quickly to changing demands.

How to Do It: Set up the same way as you do for the single-arm swing, but when the bell reaches shoulder height, transfer it to the other hand by placing the free hand over the working hand and quickly exchanging the kettlebell to the other hand during the floating phase. Continue the swing, switching hands at the top of each swing.

KB Clean

How It Helps: This exercise develops strength in the entire legs while working on muscle control during tighter, smaller movements.

How to Do It: Set up the same way as you do for the single-arm swing. As you hinge forward and bring the bell toward your chest, loosen your grip when the bell reaches your hips. Quickly tuck your elbow back toward your body so it touches your side and turn your palm inward so it’s facing your head. The bell should fall naturally over the top of your wrist. Return to the backswing by rotating your hand down toward the ground with the thumb facing your body and the pinkie facing away from you, keeping the kettlebell as close to your body as you can and swinging back through your legs.

Article sourced here: https://www.outsideonline.com/2243661/how-do-kettlebell-swing

The importance of strength training

August 28, 2012

Strength training as a form of exercise gets little to no attention compared to cardiovascular training. Most people know that walking or riding their bike is an essential part of maintaining good health; strength training is often acknowledged as a beneficial thing to do for optimal health, but not essential enough to regularly incorporate into their exercise routine.

Strength training, by definition, is a concerted effort to use resistance or weights to work a muscle group. Many people falsely believe that being active, such as standing and moving during a shift at work, or doing house work, is enough effort to keep muscles healthy and strong. Being active is beneficial to the body, but it takes a focused effort to work muscles by either using weights, or your own body weight, to get the benefits of strength training.

The benefits of strength training are much too important to omit when committing to a healthy lifestyle, and many of these benefits cannot be accomplished with cardiovascular training alone. A well-designed strength-training program can provide the following benefits:

Strength Training:

Increases muscle mass, and muscle burns more calories than fat. Even at rest, your body will burn more calories if you strength train regularly. As muscle mass increases, metabolism increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. If you don’t intentionally rebuild muscle through exercise, every ten years you will need to eat 150-450 less calories each day to maintain your current weight.

Helps to slow down or halt muscle loss that accompanies aging. A typical adult loses about one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 20, which means you feel less energetic and generally weaker.

Slows bone loss that accompanies aging and increases bone density.

Maintains or increases joint flexibility.

Helps to manage or reduce pain from ailments such as arthritis and old injuries.

Improve fitness variables such as glucose metabolism, blood pressure, muscle strength endurance, body composition and even insulin sensitivity.

Improves your mood. Research from Harvard University found that strength training is very effective at reducing depression in older adults (Singh, Clements, & Fiatarone, 1997).

Improves brain function. The coordination that is required to strength train keeps your brain active.

Enhances appearance.

Improves balance and decreases your risk for injury.

Helps you sleep more soundly.

Allows you to do activities you otherwise could not do.

When beginning a strength training program, follow these tips:

Consult with a certified fitness professional to learn safe technique before beginning a strength-training program.

Warm up properly. Spend a few minutes before exercising to warm muscles and connective tissues up and reduce risk for injury.

Perform every exercise at a slow, controlled and consistent rate of speed throughout the movement.

Engage in a strength training program that is designed to achieve muscle balance. Make sure each muscle has a chance to be worked equally.

Perform all exercises through a full range of motion.

Breathe through each exercise. Inadvertently holding your breath while strength training can cause excessive stress to your heart.

Vary your program. Machines, free weights, pilates and fitness ball exercises, to name a few, are all effective tools for strength training. Try one or two together to further enhance muscle strength and decrease boredom.

Exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with at least two days rest in between workouts.
You don’t have to spend three hours a day to see the benefits of strength training. Exercise two to three times a week for thirty minutes a session and you will reap all of the great rewards mentioned above. Strength training is undeniably worth your effort and time.

About the Author: Alice Burron is an affiliate spokesperson and highly successful personal trainer for the American Council on Exercise. She earned a master’s in physical education with an emphasis in exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming and is a leading national fitness and wellness program expert.