Having a strong core isn’t just about looking good in a swimsuit.  It helps you move with ease and it protects your vital organs and central nervous system.  Core training with kettlebells can improve your balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities.

A kettlebell, sometimes called a bell, is a type of weight made of cast-iron or cast steel with a round, flat base and an arched handle.

It resembles a cannonball with a handle or a kettle without a spout (lending to the name kettlebell).  These weights are used to perform powerful exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.

History of Kettlebells

It is believed that hundreds of years ago Russian warriors used kettlebells in strength competitions against neighboring villages.  More recently, in 1948, kettlebell lifting became Russia’s national sport, eventually becoming known as girevoy sport.

In recent years, the use of kettlebells in Western gyms has returned to popularity and personal trainers are using them more frequently for training clients.

Trainers in particular like kettlebells because they are portable and allow them to share a full body workout with their clients without requiring extensive equipment.  A kettlebell workout can be performed at a gym, in a studio, at home, and even outside for some fresh air.

Why Use kettlebells

Kettlebell routines allow you to get a cardio and strength workout done at the same time while being gentle on the body.  Many kettlebell exercises involve swinging the weights in different positions, quickly elevating your heart rate to the same level as a traditional aerobic workout.  Because you are lifting weights at the same time, you burn more calories than you would if you were just doing aerobics.

The added bonus of a kettlebell routine is that one exercise flows into the next, similar to yoga.  These fluid transitions are easier on the joints and pose less risk of injury than some forms of high intensity exercise and strength training.

Kettlebells are a great way to improve your functional strength.  This develops the muscles we need to get through our daily activities like climbing stairs, bending down to pick something up, and even standing for extended periods of time.  When you swing a kettlebell, you are building muscles and improving joint mobility, coordination, and balance.

Importance of Core Strength

Any exercise that combines the use of your abdominal, oblique, and back muscles in acoordinated fashion is considered a core exercise.

Many exercises using kettlebells involve maintaining a stable trunk which can train and strengthen several of your muscles, including your core muscles.  When you have a stable core, your spine is protected from injury.

People assume that if they have strong arms and legs they are less likely to be injured. In reality, all movement stems from your core, so having a strong core will help to keep your whole body injury free.

Core Exercises

A typical kettlebell workout requires at most two kettlebells, making it a cost-effective workout compared to other equipment you could buy.  Another advantage is that bells don’t take up much room and are easy to store when not in use.  So, grab a kettlebell or two and try these exercises to work your core:

  • Half Kneeling Halo – complete five reps then switch legs
  • Single-Leg Deadlift – complete eight reps on each leg
  • Swing – complete ten reps
  • Overhead Press – repeat for ten reps on each side
  • Offset Squat – repeat for ten reps on each side
  • Push Press – complete twelve reps
  • Off-Balance Step Up – repeat for fifteen reps on each side
  • Rotating Lunge – complete ten reps on each side

Detailed instructions for these exercises, including pictures and videos, can be found in the Ultimate Kettlebell Challenge Workouts program. This program was created by Forest Vance,a former pro athlete, Russian kettlebell expert, gym owner, boot camp instructor and personal trainer based out of Sacramento, CA.

His program will help you progress in your kettlebell training by teaching you how to perform a variety of exercises safely and effectively.  The program includes 41 kettlebell exercises, 33 kettlebell challenge workouts, and an eight-week training plan.

It comes with videos and illustrated guides providing detailed instruction, coaching, cues, technique corrections, and drills.

Kettlebells may seem intimidating, but they are a great way to get tight, toned abs. Their shape is designed to test your balance with core stabilization exercises that build lean muscle.

Not only will kettlebells strengthen your muscles, but their effect on your cardio will increase your stamina and allow you to perform better for longer periods of time.

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