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Russian Kettlebells for Women? -Absolutely!

June 10, 2004 10:22 AM

Listen up, ladies! I finally found the perfect form of exercise. Training with kettlebells! I won't be going back to traditional weight training because kettlebells give me quicker results and more challenging exercises. The name of the game in fitness these days is intensity. That is, everyone is trying to get the most out of their workouts for maximum results in the shortest amount of time. Kettlebells will provide intensity. Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells displace weight, so physics forces body awareness and requires you to work against resistance through a longer range of motion. This increases the intensity of your workout and improves flexibility. Because the kettlebell hangs behind your hand and rests on your forearm it makes the weight easier to balance. And the handle makes it easier to hold on to for ballistic movements. This more intense workout will result in achieving your fitness goals more quickly.

I know after reading about kettlebells either in ads or on the website, they can seem intimidating. After all, anything proven to enhance the performance of Special Forces units, Olympians, or professional athletes must be hard core right? Even the kettlebell itself looks a little uninviting, a round, black cannonball looking thing with a handle? What could a woman possibly get out of this? Everything. Kettlebells will improve your quality of life. They will increase your energy level, reshape your body, increase your strength, relieve stress, increase your metabolism and take up less time.

No matter what stage of life you find yourself, everyone is busy these days. Usually the first thing to get cut out of a busy schedule is your workout. However, even the busiest mom, career woman or student can spare 15 minutes a day. And now with kettlebells that is all you need. I used to spend over an hour in the gym with weight training and cardio exercise almost everyday. I now have two young children and I don't have time for long workouts. I still made time to work out but my training was inconsistent and something always had to be left out. Usually it was my cardio. I did get back in shape after having my children but my fitness level wasn't where I wanted it to be.

Kettlebells solved my workout problems by giving me a great cardio and strength training workout at the same time. After only 6 weeks, and having hardly scratched the surface of all the kettlebell specific exercises, I looked better and felt better than I had in years. In fact, I had reached a fitness level higher than at any time during my 20 plus years of traditional weight and cardio training! I attribute my success to the better and more intense workouts I get with the kettlebells. I am also more consistent due to the decreased time working out with a kettlebell requires and the different and greater variety of exercises.

Women often complain about how a slow metabolism contributes to their inability to lose weight. Increasing your metabolism is easy. High rep ballistic exercises and circuit training with kettlebells really boost your metabolism. You can include ballistic exercises in every workout. Swings, snatches, and cleans can be performed in numbers from one to hundreds. Just make sure you do the ballistics at the end of your workout. You want to be fresh and strong for all the pressing exercises for safety reasons. You can perform ballistic exercises in greater numbers with kettlebells than with dumbbells because it is easier to keep your technique in check and easier to hold.

Here is how to perform your sets to increase your metabolism and melt fat. Make sure your sets last a minute, then rest for only one minute, then move on to your next set. Working out this way really gets your heart rate going. Start slowly and work your way up. You shouldn't have to worry about dieting again. I didn't diet and I have achieved my goals, and you will too. As long as you control the quality of food you eat, and don't increase the quantity, you should lose weight and decrease body fat.

Give these beginner exercises a try: Box Squats, Good Morning Stretches, and 2-Arm Swings. Start with a 20-pound dumbbell. These exercises will give you a good overall body workout and give you a good feel for what training with kettlebells is all about. Perform these exercises in a circuit of 3 to 4 sets and work out three times per week.

The Box Squat: 10-20 reps. The box squat will help you perfect your squat form, work your legs and hips, plus improve your flexibility. Take a sturdy chair or box; stand about 12 inches in front of it, facing away from it. Your feet should be a shoulder distance apart. Hold the weight in front of you with both hands at about chest level. Remember to keep your weight on your heels and sit back on the box by arching your lower back and pushing your butt back as you descend. Lightly touch your butt to the box and then plant your feet and stand up squeezing your glutes the whole way up or, you can sit lightly on the box and rock back only on your butt then instantly rock forward and stand up. This will also work your mid-section.

The Good Morning Stretch: 5-8 reps. The GM stretch will strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and tone your hips. Bend at your hips, arch your back and stick your butt out. Your knees should be only slightly bent. Hold the weight with both hands hanging down. Lower yourself slowly, pause at the bottom, and then rise up by squeezing your glutes the whole way up. Don't lean back when you are straight up. You should feel a really good stretch in your hamstrings and all the way down the back of your legs.

The 2-Arm Swing: 15-20 reps. Swings work your hips, inner thighs, glutes, shoulders, back, and help flatten your stomach. You also get a great cardio workout. Place a 20-pound dumbbell on the floor between your feet. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your knees should track them. Squat down and pick up the weight with both hands. You should feel the weight loading your hamstrings. Then stand up explosively and at the top push your hips forward tucking your tail in. At the same time your arms will project the weight up about waist level. Your arms act as chains holding the weight. You do not use your arms or shoulders to lift the weight. The ballistic movement of your legs and hips is what swings the weight up. When you get to the top with your hips forward, immediately squat back down with the weight descending and swinging through your legs and behind your knees. Continuously repeat the move for 10-20 explosive reps.

Once you have tried this with a dumbbell imagine a three-fold increase in intensity! That is what working out with kettlebells is all about and results come quickly. In as little as a week you can decrease body fat and see more muscle tone and definition. Kettlebells deliver on the promises. When you get the proper form down for the exercises your strength and flexibility will increase rapidly. You will be moving into new and more advanced drills in no time. Adding even more variety and intensity to your workouts. After almost a year I'm still making progress. Plus my workouts are so varied that I no longer get bored. I look forward to working out with my kettlebells every day. Challenge yourself and experience exercise at the maximum level with kettlebells!

Lisa Shaffer, RKC certified is based on the East Coast and is available for private and group sessions. You can contact her at KBELLINSTRUCTOR@AOL.COM. Visit Lisa's page.